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punishment which she had imprecated on herself immediately overtook her.
6. Sentences were only pronounced in the day time; of which circumstance notice is taken in Saint Luke's narrative of our Saviour's mock trial. (xxii. 66.) It was the custom among the Jews to pronounce sentence of condemnation in this manner.—He is guilty of death. (Matt. xxvi. 16.) In other countries, a person's condemnation was announced to him by giving him a black stone, and his acquittal by giving him a white stone. Ovid mentions this practice thus:
His damnare reos, illis absolvere cu
A custom was of old, and still obtains,
Which life or death by suffrages ordains:
White stones and black within an urn are cast;
The first absolve, but fate is in the last
In allusion to this custom, our Saviour (Rev. ii. 17.) promises to give the spiritual conqueror a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiteth it; which may be supposed to signify—Well done, thou good and faithful servant. The white stones of the antients were inscribed with characters; and so is the white stone mentioned in the Apocalypse. According to Persius the letter Q was the token of condemnation:
Et potis es nigrum vitio prefigere Theta.
Fixing thy stigma on the brow of vice.
But on the white stone given by our Lord was inscribed a new name of dignity and honour, which no man knoweth but he who receiveth it; agreeably to the custom of nations, from the earliest ages, by which a person raised to dignity was commonly invested with a new name, expressive of his deserts."
7. Such were the judicial proceedings in ordinary cases, when the forms of law were observed. On some occasions however, when particular persons were obnoxious to the populace, it was usual for them to demand prompt justice upon the supposed delinquents. It is well known that in Asia, to this day, those who demand justice against a criminal, repair in large bodies to the gate of the royal residence, where they make horrid cries, tearing their garments and throwing dust into the air. This circumstance throws great o upon the conduct of the Jews towards Saint Paul, when the chief captain of the Roman garrison at Jerusalem presented himself to them. (Acts xxii. 28–36.) When they found the apostle in the temple, prejudiced as they were against him in general, and at that time particularly irritated by the mistaken notion that he had polluted the holy place by the introduction of Greeks into it, they raised a tumult,
1 Wetstein, Doddridge, and Dean Woodhouse on Rev. ii. 17. WOL. III. 16
and were on the point of inflicting summary vengeance on Saint Paul. As soon as the chief captain of the Roman soldiers, who resided in a castle adjoining the temple, heard the tumult, he hastened thither. They then ceased beating the apostle, and addressed themselves to him as the chief official person there, exclaiming, Alway with him. Permission being at length given to Paul to explain the affair in their hearing, they became still more violently enraged, but not daring to do themselves justice, they demanded it nearly in the same manner as the Persian peasants now do, by loud vociferations, tearing off their clothes and throwing up dust into the air." V. As soon as sentence of condemnation was pronounced against a person, he was immediately dragged from the court to the place of execution. Thus our Lord was instantly hurried from the presence of Pilate to Calvary: a similar instance of prompt execution occurred in the case of Achan; and the same practice obtains to this day, both in Turkey and Persia. In those countries, when the enemies of a great man have sufficient influence to procure a warrant for his death, a capidgi or executioner is despatched with it to the victim, who quietly submits to his fate.” Nearly the same method of executing criminals was used by the antient Jewish princes. It is evidently alluded to in Prov. xvi. 14. Thus, Benaiah was the capidgi (to use the modern Turkish term,) who was sent by Solomon to put to death Adonijah, a prince of the blood royal (1 Kings ii. 25.), and also Joab the commander in chief of the army. (29–31.) John the Baptist was put to death in like manner. (Matt. xiv. 10.) Previously, however, to executing the criminal, it was usual, among the antient Persians, to cover his head, that he might not behold the face of the sovereign. Thus, the head of Philotas, who had conspired against Alexander the Great, was covered;’ and in conformity with this practice, the head of Haman was veiled or covered. (Esth. vii. 8.) So zealous were the Jews for the observance of their law, that they were not ashamed themselves to be the executioners of it, and to punish criminals with their own hands. In stoning persons, the witnesses threw the first stones, agreeably to the enactment of Moses. (Deut. xvii. 7.) Thus, the witnesses against the protomartyr Stephen, after laying down their clothes at the feet of Saul, stoned him (Acts vii. 58, 59.); and to this custom our Saviour alludes, when he said to the Pharisees, who had brought to him a woman who had been taken in adultery, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. (John viii.) As there were no public executioners in the more antient periods of the Jewish history, it was not unusual for persons of distinguished rank themselves to put the sentence in execution upon offenders. Thus, Samuel put Agag to death (1 Sam. xv. 33.); and in like manner Nebuchadnezzar ordered Arioch the commander in chief of his forces to destroy the wise men
Harmer's Observations, vol. iii. p. 367–369.
of Babylon, because they could not interpret his dream. (Dan. ii. 24.) Previously, however, to inflicting punishment, it was a custom of the Jews, that the witnesses should lay their hands on the criminal's head. . This custom originated in an express precept of God, in the case of one who had blasphemed the name of Jehovah, who was ordered to be brought without the camp : when all, who had heard him, were appointed to lay their hands upon his head, and afterwards the congregation were to stone him. By this action they signified, that the condemned person suffered justly, protesting that, if he were innocent they desired that his blood might fall on their own head. In allusion to this usage, when sentence was pronounced against Jesus Christ, the Jews exclaimed,—His blood be upon us and our children. (Matt. xxvii. 25.) From the above noticed precept of bringing the criminals without the camp, arose the custom of executing them without the city. But in whatever manner the criminal was put to death, according to the Talmudical writers, the Jews always gave him some wine with incense in it, in order to stupify and intoxicate him. This custom is said to have originated in the precept recorded in Prov. xxxi. 6., which sufficiently explains the reason why wine, mingled with myrrh, was offered to Jesus Christ when on the cross. (Mark xv. 23.) In the latter ages of the Jewish polity, this medicated cup of wine, was so generally given before execution, that the word cup is sometimes put in the Scriptures for death itself. Thus, Jesus Christ, in his last prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, said—If it be possible, let this cup pass from me. (Matt. xxvi. 39.42.)
of THE Roman JUDICATURE, MANNER of TRIAL, AND TREATMENT OF PRison ERs, As MENTioned IN THE NEw TESTAMENT.
I. Judicial proceedings of the Romans.—II. Privileges and treatment of Roman citizens, when prisoners.-III. Appeals to the imperial tribunal—IV. The Roman method of fettering and confining criminals.-W. The Roman tribunals.-VI. #. Areopagus of the Athenians.
WHEREVER the Romans extended their power, they also carried their laws; and though, as we have already seen, they allowed their conquered subjects to enjoy the free performance of their religious worship, as well as the holding of some inferior courts of judicature, yet in all cases of a capital nature the tribunal of the Roman prefect or president was the last resort. Without his permission, no person could be put to death, at least in Judaea. And as we find numerous allusions in the New Testament to the Roman Judicature, manner of trial, treatment of prisoners, and infliction of capital punishment, a brief account of these subjects so intimately connected with the political state of Judaea under the Romans, naturally claims a place in the present sketch." I. “The judicial proceedings of the Romans were conducted in a manner worthy the majesty, honour, and magnanimity of that people. Instances indeed occur of a most scandalous venality and corruption in Roman judges, and the story of Jugurtha and Verres will stand, a lasting monument of the power of gold to pervert#: and shelter the most atrocious villany. But in general in the Roman judicatures, both in the imperial city and in the provinces, justice was administered with impartiality; a fair and honourable trial was permitted; the allegations of the plaintiff and defendant were respectively heard; the merits of the cause weighed and scrutinised with cool unbiassed judgment; and an equitable sentence pronounced. The Roman law, in conformity to the first principle of nature and reason, ordained that no one should be condemned and punished without a previous public trial. This was one of the decrees of the twelve tables: No one shall be condemned before he is tried.” Under the Roman government, both in Italy and in the provinces, this universally obtained. After the cause is heard, says Cicero, a man may be acquitted : but his cause unheard, no one can be condemned.” To this excellent custom among the Romans, which the law of nature prescribes, and all the principles of equity, honour, and humani dictate, there are several allusions in Scripture. We find the holy apostles, who did not, like frantic enthusiasts and visionaries, court persecution, but embraced every legal method which the usages and maxims of those times had established to avoid it, and to extricate themselves from calamities and sufferings, pleading this privilege, reminding the Romans of it when they were going to infringe it, and in a spirited manner upbraiding their persecutors with their violation of it. When Lysias, the Roman tribune, ordered Saint Paul to be conducted into the castle, and to be examined by scourging, that he might learn what he had done that enraged the mob thus violently against him, as the soldiers were fastening him with thongs to the pillars to inflict this upon him, Paul said to the centurion who was appointed to attend and see this executed, Doth the Roman law authorise you to scourge a freeman of Rome uncondemned, to punish him before a legal sentence hath been passed upon him (Acts xxii. 25.) The centurion hearing this went immediately to the tribune, bidding him be cautious how he acted upon the present occasion, for the prisoner was a Roman citizen The tribune upon this information went to him, and said, Tell me the truth, Are you a freeman of Rome He answered in the affirmative. It cost me an immense sum, said the tribune, to purchase this privilege." But I was the son of a freeman,” said the apostle. Immediately, therefore, those who were ordered to examine him by torture desisted; and the tribune was extremely alarmed that he had bound a Roman citizen. In reference to this also, when Paul and Silas were treated with the last indignity at Philippi by the multitude abetted by the magistrates, were beaten with rods, thrown into the public gaol, and their feet fastened in the stocks, the next morning upon the magistrates sending their lictors to the prison with orders to the keeper for the two men whom they had the day before so shamefully and cruelly treated, to be dismissed, Paul turned to the messengers and said, We are Roman citizens. Your magistrates have ordered us to be publicly scourged without a legal trial. They have thrown us into a dungeon. And would they now have us steal away in a silent and clandestine manner: No! Let them come in person and conduct us out themselves. The lictors returned and reported this answer to the governors, who were greatly alarmed, and terrified when they understood they were Roman citizens. Accordingly they went in person to the gaol, addressed them with great civility, and begged them in the most respectful terms that they would quietly leave the town. (Acts xvi. 37. “Here we cannot but remark the distinguished humanity and honour which St. Paul experienced from the tribune Lysias. His whole conduct towards the apostle was worthy a Roman. This most generous and worthy officer rescued him from the sanguinary fury of the mob, who had seized the apostle, shut the temple doors, and were in a tumultuous manner dragging him away instantly to shed his blood. Afterwards, also, when above forty Jews associated and mutually bound themselves by the most solemn adjurations, that they
1 The materials of this section are principally derived from Dr. Harwood's Introduction to the New Testament (a work now of rare occurrence), vol. ii. section xvi. the texts cited being carefully verified and corrected. The subjects of this and the following section are also discussed by Dr. Lardner, Credibility, part i. book i. c. x. § 9–11. ; and especially by Calmet in his elaborate Dissertation sur les supplices dont il estparlé dans l'Ecriture., inserted in his Commentaire Litterale, tom. i. part ii. pp. 387–402. See also Merrill's Notae, Philologica in passionem Christi, and Wyssenbach's Nota Nomico-Philologica in ionem, in vol. iii. of Crenius's Fasciculus Opusculorum, pp. 583–691, and Lydius's Florum Sparsio ad Historiam Passionis Jesu Christi, 18mo., Dordrechti, 1672.
2 Interfici indemnatum quemcunque hominem, etiam xii Tabularum decreta vetuerant. Fragment xii. Tab. tit. 27.
2 Causa cognità multi possunt absolvi; incognità quidem condemnari memo potest. In Verrem, lib. i. c. 25. “Producing the laws which ordain that no person shall suffer death without a legal trial.” Dion. Halicarn. lib. iii. p. 153. Hudson. “He did not allow them to inflict death on any citizen uncondemned.” Ibid. lib. vi. p. 370. lib. vii. p. 428, edit. Hudson, Oxon. 1704. “They thought proper to call him to justice, as it is contrary to the Roman customs to condemn any one te death without a previous trial.” Appian. Bell. Civil. lib. iii. p. 906. Tollii, 1670. “Did not you miserably murder Lentulus and his associates, without their being either judged or convicted f" Dion Cassius, lib. 46. p. 463. Reimar.
1 Dion Cassius confirms what the tribune here asserts, that this honour was urchased at a very high price. “The freedom of Rome formerly,” says the istorian, “could only be purchased for a large sum;” but he observes, “that in the reign of Claudius, when Messalina and his freedmen had the management of every thing, this honour became so cheap that any person might buy it for a little broken glass.” Dion Cassius, lib.60. p. 955. Reimar. 2 “But I was free born.” Probably St. Paul's family was honoured with the freedom of Rome for engaging in Caesar's party, and distinguishing themselves in his cause during the civil wars. Appian informs us, that “He made the Laodiceans and Tarsensians free, and exempted them from taxes; and those of the Tarsensians who had been sold for slaves, he ordered by an edict to be released from servitude." Appian de Bell. Civil. p. 1077. Tollii 1670.