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he performed many miracles, particularly, transporting himself in the air from one place to another, and even raifing the dead. He is alfo faid to have afcended into heaven, and to have appeared to the emperor Alexander.
But it certainly tends to difcredit the ftory, that Apollonius had been dead, or tranflated, above a hundred years before Philoftratus wrote, and that his history was compiled partly from the commentaries of one Damis, which were never published, but given to this writer by the empress Julia, as fecret memoirs, without any evidence of their being genuine; and partly from the writings of Maximus Æginenfis, and Meragenes, the former of whom only wrote a few particulars; and, according to the character given of him by Philoftratus himself, was a very fabulous and romantic writer."
It is, indeed, faid, that there were public monuments of fome of the Miracles of Apollonius, but they are alfo faid to have been in diftant cities of India and Ethiopia, where
no writer pretends to have found them. Some letters of Apollonius are mentioned, but Philoftratus owns that they did not relate to any of his miracles, but only to the curiofities of the countries through which he travelled.
The manner in which Philoftratus writes, gives us but a very indifferent opinion of his own character, and his ftyle is affected and extravagant, full of an oftentation of learning, and fhewing a difpofition to exaggerate every thing that could tend to the reputation of his hero.
Many of the miracles afcribed to Apollonius were faid to have been done in fecret, or before very few witneffes; fome were felfcontradictory, and others were evidently vain and foolish; and not a few of them appear to have been borrowed from the hiftory of the Evangelifts.
The occafion of Philoftratus's writing feems to have been his defire to ingratiate himfelf with Julia, the wife of Severus, and with Caracalla the fuccceding emperor, by
detracting from chriftianity, to which they both had a very great averfion.
Laftly, the ftory of thefe miracles prefently died away, and the difciples of Apollonius were fo few, that there is littlereafon to believe that he was, in any respect, fo extraordinary a perfon as Philoftratus pretended.
As to the magical rites of the heathens, nothing could be more wicked or abfurd. Nero fhewed the moft extravagant fondnefs for this odious and contemptible art, and fent for the moft eminent profeffors of it from all parts of the world; but the iffue of it was his own, and a general conviction of the folly of their pretences.
The emperor Vefpafian is faid to have
cured a blind and a lame man at Alexandria; and this, Mr. Hume fays, is one of the beft attefted miracles in all profane history. But it may be cafily collected from the accounts of the two hiftorians, who mention B 4
these miracles (neither of whom it is proba ble believed in them, and one of them evidently did not) that thefe extraordinary narrations were very convenient, in order to give weight to the authority of Vefpafian, who was newly made emperor.
Mohammed himself did not pretend to any miracle, except the Koran itself; and that this was a divine compofition he does not pretend to give any positive proof; but contents himself with appealing to its own excellence; and it was probably superior to the poetical compofitions of other Arabians of his time; and this it might very well be, though written by himself, or his confidents. In the tranflation of Mr. Sale, who is allowed to have been a great master of the Arabic language, and who certainly meant to give it all poffible advantage, it is, upon the whole, a very mean performance. The style of the Koran cannot be faid to be comparable to that of many parts of the Old Teftament, which, however, was never alledged as any proof of its divinity.
It does not appear that this only pretended miracle of Mohammed gained him any followers; the propagation of his religion having been owing chiefly to the fword. Moreover, though the Mohammedan religion be very abfurd, and unnaturally harsh in fome refpects, especially in the abfolute prohibition of wine, it flatters men with the greatest indulgence in others; every man being allowed four wives, and as many concubines as he can keep; and the future rewards of good Muffelmen are reprefented as being of a fenfual nature. The great advantage which Mohammedanifm had over the corrupt chriftianity of the times in which it was published, was, that it afferted the great doctrine of the unity of God, against the Trinitarians; but, in other refpects, all who profess this religion are flaves to the most abject fuperftition. And yet Mr. Chubb fays, that whether Mohammedanifm be a divine revelation, or not, there feems to be a plaufible pretence, arifing from the circumftances of things, to ftamp a divine character upon it.