21. Where was Julian educated?
22. Did Constantius visit Rome?
23. How did Julian conduct himself in Gaul?
24. What led to the war between Julian and Constantius?
To him, as to the bursting levin,
Brief, bright, resistless course was given,
Till burst the bolt on yonder shore,
Burn’d, blaz’d, destroy’d—and was no more.—Scott.
1. Julian was in his thirty-second year when by the death of his cousin he became undisputed sovereign of the Roman empire; his worst error was his apostacy from Christianity; he hated the religion he had deserted, and laboured strenuously to substitute in its place an idle system which combined the most rational part of the old heathen system with the delusive philosophy of the schools. Vanity was his besetting sin; he chose to be considered a philosopher rather than a sovereign, and to acquire that title he thought fit to reject the decencies of this life, and the best guide to that which is to come. A treatise is extant from Julian’s pen, in which he expatiates with singular complacency on the filth of his beard, the length of his nails, and the inky blackness of his hands, as if cleanliness was inconsistent with the philosophic character! In every other respect, the conduct of Julian merits high praise; he was just, merciful, and tolerant; though frequently urged to become a persecutor, he allowed his subjects that freedom of opinion which he claimed for himself, unlike Constan’tius, who, having embraced the Arian heresy, treated his Catholic subjects with the utmost severity. 2. But, though Julian would not inflict punishment for a difference of opinion, he enacted several disqualifying laws, by which he laboured to deprive the Christians of wealth, of knowledge, and of power; he ordered their schools to be closed, and he jealously excluded them from all civil and military offices. 3. To destroy the effects of that prophecy in the Gospel to which Christians may appeal as a standing miracle in proof of revelation,—the condition of the Jews,—Julian determined to rebuild the temple of Jerusalem, and restore the children of Israel to the land of their fathers. Historians worthy of credit inform us, that his plan was defeated by a direct miraculous interposition, and there are few historical facts supported by more decisive testimony; but even if the miracle be denied, the prophecy must be considered as having received decisive confirmation, from the acknowledged fact, that the emperor entertained such a design, and was unable to effect its accomplishment.
[Illustration: Julian the Apostate, ordering the Christian schools to be closed.]