Oldalképek
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

A. D.

to

History. It must also be regretted, that the Christians should Africa, Agrippinus, Bishop of Carthage, had enforced, of the

Christian have so injudiciously resorted to arguments against by the authority of a Synod, the necessity of renewing From

Church their adversaries, which were constantly employed the rite ; and the same custom had prevailed in Cappa- in the IIIrd 211.

against themselves. They presumed to ascribe all docia, and probably in the other Eastern Churches. Century.

public calamities to the displeasure of Divine Provi- Cyprian was determined to resist any relaxation of dis313.

From dence, which the conduct of the Heathen world had cipline, and especially one which had the appearance of land:cions drawn down. You complain,” says the Christian recognising the validity of heretical Baptism. His arguments advocate, " that these misfortunes take place, because sentiments were confirmed by two Councils of African

211. of the

your Gods are not worshipped by us; but we answer, Bishops, and their decision was transmitted to Stephen, Cristians, that they happen because the true God is not wor- Bishop of Rome, who maintained a contrary opinion

313. shipped by you.Again, “ If your Gods are really with unbecoming vehemence and bitterness. Indignant powerful, let them arise in their defence, let them at this opposition, Stephen not merely refused to receive vindicate their majesty; or what can they do for those the two Bishops, who brought to Rome the account of who pay them worship, if they cannot avenge them- these proceedings, but forbad the Members of the selves upon such as refuse it?” The Philosophic Church from discharging towards them the common Pagans would naturally object, that if these events offices of hospitality; and in his Letters, after rejecting were proofs of the immediate interposition of the Deity the decree of the Council, called by Cyprian, declared against them, it was difficult to account for the fact, that he would not hold communion with such African that Plague and Famine fell upon

the most and Asiatic Bishops, as continued to denounce a practice pious and eminent Christians, as well as upon their which the tradition of his Church had sanctioned. In persecutors. * And the less enlightened class would consequence, a third Council, consisting of eighty-five continue to ascribe the general misfortunes of an Em- Bishops, was summoned by Cyprian from the three

pire, once flourishing, and the peculiar afflictions which Provinces of Africa, Numidia, and Mauritania ; and the Pjence of

oppressed them, to the neglect of their ancient Re- determinations of the two preceding Councils were again the Carise ligion.t The argument which the Christian, at least unanimously confirmed. The issue of the dispute,

the reflecting and devout Christian, derived from the conducted with great force on one side, and much under tais patience and resignation with which he submitted to uncharitableness on the other, is not related; both

the will of God, was entitled to more consideration. parties, however, seem to have retained their opinions :
While the Pagans are represented as being loud in but, in after times, the majority of the African and
their complaints under the pressure of evil, the Chris- Eastern Bishops retracted their decrees, and the judg-
tian supported it without murmurs, looking forward, ment of Stephen was generally followed. *
with the beautiful stillness of Religious confidence, to the The state of the Christians, during the entire period Persecution.
final accomplishment of the Divine word, in the re- previous to the Civil establishment of their Religion, was
wards of a future life. And, remembering the emphatic sometimes free from the actual exercise of violence, but
language of Scripture, he declared that though the was ever, in the highest degree, precarious and uncertain.
fig-tree should put forth no blossom, and the vine In the reign now under consideration they were doomed
should bear 10 fruit, though the labour of the olive to experience a sudden transition from extreme favour
should fail, and fields should yield no meat, though the to extreme severity. Valerian, a Prince of mild and
flock should be cut off from the fold, and there should benevolent disposition, had, at first, treated them with
be no herd in the stalls--yet would he rejoice in the more kindness than any of his predecessors, not except-
Lord, and joy in the God of his salvation.

ing those who had been suspected of having privately Palenan.

The early part of the reign of Valerian was, in an embraced the Christian Faith. His sentiments and 1. D. eminent degree, auspicious to the Christians. So affec- feelings on this subject soon underwent an extraordi253.

tionately disposed towards them was the new Emperor, nary change, of which it is difficult to ascertain the real
that his household was filled with Believers, and com-

The wishes of the powerful are no less variable
pared to a Church of God. I

than violent." By the Christians this alienation was Causes. It is our painful task, however, to pass from external attributed to the influence of Macrianus, a man who OTETTING peace to internal disputes. The propriety of rebap- sought, in the mysteries of superstition, the means of ei Heretics tizing such persons as had received Baptism from He- accomplishing his ambitious projects.

He is repres
retics, was warmly discussed. No fixed rule had been sented as having contracted enmity against the Chris-
adopted; but it appears to have been an ancient practice tians, in consequence of their opposition to magical
in the European Churches, without the repetition of this rites, and as having advised the Emperor to inspect
ordinance, to readmit them on their receiving the im- the entrails of new-born infants, and to engage in the
position of hands, accompanied with prayers. But in performance of strange and barbarous ceremonies.
See Dionys. Alex. ap. Euseb. lib. vii. c. 22. The tender solici But, without denying

that the bigotry of Macrianus
tode with which the Christians ministered to the wants of the sick, may have powerfully affected the plans of Valerian, and
at times when the Plague raged, exposed them in a high degree to contributed to blight the fair prospect which the opening
the contagion, Priests and Deacons, and the most devout members
of the Church, fell victims to their affectionate zeal. While the Pa.
gaas filed from their diseased, flung them half-dead into the streets, * Euseb. lib. vii. c. 2–6. and c. 8–10. Cyprian, Epist. 73. ad
and feared to pay them the rites of sepulture, the Christians em- Jubaïanum. See Mosh. de Reb. Christ, ante Const. Maj. p. 533-
braced the bodies of the Saints, closed their eyes, and bore them, 547.
with every mark of respect and decency, to the grave. Ibid. Comp. + Regiæ voluntates, plerumque, ut vehementes sunt, sic mobiles,
Tertull. Åpol. c. 41.

sæpeque ipsæ sibi adversæ. Sallust. Jugurth. Bell.
+ See also Bishop Kaye, on Tertullian, p. 127, 128. Bayle has I The Persecution by the Heathens is frequently ascribed to the
collected curious instances of this tendency in the party in power, to opposition which the practice of Magic experienced from the Chris.
charge their enemies with misfortunes arising from natural calamities. tians. Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. viii. c. 14, &c.
Dict. Hist. Art. Vergerius.

Ø Dionys. Alexandr. ep. ad Herm, ap. Euseb. lib. vii. c. 10.
| Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. vii. c. 10.

Mosh. de Reb. Christ. p. 548.

cause.

Disputes

VOL. XI.

P

Of the

A. D.

to

From

A. D.

to

313.

courses.

Roman

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

History of his reign presented, we ought carefully to remember the inferior members of various ranks in the Christian

that the early Christians were too apt to impute community. Such seems to have been the nature of Christian From motives for which there existed no stronger authority Valerian's Persecution in its first stage. It required in the Ilird than popular reports; and that they, in fact, the Chiefs of the Church to unite their worship with

Ceatury. 211.

had not often the opportunities requisite for a calm that of the State, under pain of banishment, and it forbad 313.

investigation of the complicated machinery of Court the people from collecting together. Thus the Chiefs
Politics. But whatever circumstances might have con- being banished, and the means of re-electing them
spired to bias the mind of Valerian, the progressive precluded, it was expected that Christianity would 211.
detail of his Persecution seems to us, at least, to prove gradually die away.
that his object was not to gratify private malice, but to The first Edict of Valerian appears to have failed of
effect an intercommunity of Religions, and to facilitate producing the desired effect. The Christians continued Second year
this design by removing the chief rulers of the new Sect. to throng to the prisons of their revered teachers, and

rian's Per. A. D. The first attempts of Valerian* bear no marks of that derived fresh ardour from their example and their dis- secution. 257. barbarity, which distinguished the conduct of those,

Thus it was of little avail to guard the pre- Causes of First year whose object was not to unite, but to extirpate. The cincts of the cemeteries with armed bands, if the very

his inof Vale

order, addressed to Aspasius Paternas, Proconsul of scenes of punishment contributed to stimulate rather greased rian's Per

hostility. secutions,

Africa, was, to enforce the observance of the Religious than to deter, and to increase rather than to diminish,

ceremonies of the Romans. Hence it is, probably, that the Christian population. The other Orders of the Nature of Æmilian, Governor of Egypt, proposed to Dionysiust to Clergy, doubtless, supplied the absence of the Bishops,

worship his own God, together with the Gods of Pa. and the organization of the new Body was varied, but Policy. ganism.

For the great maxim of ancient Government not dissolved. The Bishops too, though suffering under was, as we have already observed, whilst it left private the actual operation of the Imperial Edict, and threatjudgment free, to require a public expression of adhe- ened with the heaviest infliction which the violation of rence to the established system. The Imperial Letters its provisions could call down, with unabated, perhaps, also prohibited all public Asseinblies, and, in particular, with too precipitate zeal, encouraged the assemblages denied the Christians the enjoyment of those cemete- of the people, and pursued the great work of Gentile ries, or places, wherein the Martyrs were buried, and conversion.* But, be the cause what it may, it is ma- Edict. to which multitudes were, in consequence, not unfre- nifest that the indignation of the Emperor was violently quently drawn together.

raised from the severe Rescript which he subsequently The punishment inflicted on those, who refused to addressed to the Senate, and issued to the Provincial comply with the Roman ceremonies, was simply exile. Governors. By this he ordered that Bishops, Presbyters, And the Decree was directed specifically, or rather and Deacons should be put to death without delay; solely, against the Bishops and Presbyters. Among that Senators and men of rank, and Roman Knights these, Cyprian, and Dionysiust of Alexandria, were sent should be stript of their dignity and of their property; into banishment. A severer sentence awaited those and if they still continued to be Christians, should be

who, in violation of this decree, should continue to beheaded; that matrons should be deprived of their Alarm ex

hold meetings, or to frequent cemeteries. It has been goods and banished ; that the Cæsariani (probably the cited by large As

remarked, that one of the best of the Roman Emperors Emperor's household) who either had confessed, or semblies of refused to incorporate a Company even of an inconsi- should afterwards confess, should lose their property by

derable number of men, and for purposes, too, of un- confiscation, and should be sent, bound in chains, to
questionable utility. All associations were viewed with work, in the manner of slaves, on the Emperor's estate.t
distrust and apprehension. The fixed congregations of From this Decree it may very justly be inferred, that Remarks.
bodies so large, so united, and so independent, as com- persons of considerable influence professed the Christian
posed the Christian Churches, were, probably, beginning Religion. It may also be remarked, that no mention is
to excite, even in a pacific breast, some feelings of made of the mass of Christians of subordinate rank.
alarm. From the tombs of their Martyrs, over which And hence, in the accounts still extant of the Martyrdoms
they poured their fervent prayers, it was feared that they of that period, the lower Orders may be, in general,
might return with renewed zeal, or, according to Pagan observed to have been unmolested spectators; except
notions, with confirmed obstinacy. Against all such, when their own attachment to Religion urged them on
therefore, as infringed this clause, the punishment of to participate in the sufferings of its preachers, or when
death was denounced : and to this cause we must ass.gn some particular Governor exceeded the limits of his
the occasional severities which were exercised even on powers, or, lastly, when they reduced the Magistrate

to the necessity of executing the ancient penal laws,
* This is reckoned the eighth Persecution, by Sulpicius Severus, which, though suffered to slumber in consequence of
(lib. ii. c. 32.) Orosius, (lib. vii. c. 22.) and Augustine, (De Civ. later edicts, were, as yet, not formally annulled.
Dei, lib. xviii. c. 52.)
+ See bis Letters to a Bishop named Germanus, in Euseb. Hist.

Several accounts of the Martyrdoms which took Martyrdom
Eccles. lib. vii. c. 11.

place in this Persecution, still remain ; but the authority of Cyprian. # Dionysius has given an interesting account of his banishment, of many of these documents may reasonably be called first to Cephro, in Libya, and thence, in consequence of the in question. The most remarkable persons who fell crowds of followers whom he drew together, to the more distant and desert regions of Mareotis. In whatever spot, however dreary its

victims were, Sixtus, the Bishop of Rome, Laurentius, aspect, or remote its situation, the Christian exile was fixed, thither a Deacon, who was consumed by a slow fire, and Cythe solicitude of his brethren induced them, through imminent dangers, prian, Bishop of Carthage. Of the last, the prominent to repair. To visit, console, and assist the imprisoned, as well as to

part which he bore in the affairs of the Church, reinter the martyred, such were the objects which, notwithstanding the quires that we should offer a more particular description. prohibitions of the Roman Governors, were deemed too important to be neglected on any consideration. (Dionys. Alex. ap. Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. vii. c. 11.)

* See Dionys. Alex, ap. Euseb. Hist. Eccles, lib. vii. c. 11. Plin. Ep. lib. x. ep. 42, 43.

ť Cyprian, Ep. 82.

men.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

From A. D.

to

From A. D.

to

A. D.

Penal laws

History. Cyprian, who had returned from exile, was living in his Thus died Cyprian, the first, it is said, of the nume- or the

gardens near Carthage, not unprepared for the fate rous Bishops of Carthage who suffered Martyrdom. The Christian which he was conscious would await him, when he was above account is drawn from the Proconsular Acts

, in the Ilird apprehended by two officers of the Proconsul of Africa, which have 211.

every appearance of genuineness, and

Century Galerius Maximus. These officers placed him in a from the Life of Cyprian, written, it must be observed, 313.

chariot between themselves, and conveyed him to Sexti, in a highly rhetorical style, which is far from producing a place about six miles from Carthage, where the the intended impression, by Pontius, his Deacon, who Proconsul then resided for the recovery of his health. was present in this affecting scene. We have thus 211. In consequence of some occupation, he was carried largely detailed the circumstances of this Martyrdom, back to the house of the chief officer, and the consi- because it is calculated to give the reader a correct

313. deration of his case was deferred till the ensuing day. notion of the proceedings of the Romans and the Chris-Source of

the above The intelligence was soon widely circulated, and great tians at this period, and to suggest various reflections

account, numbers, from all parts of Carthage, thronged together on the respect paid to Episcopal dignity, and the in- and reto witness the scene. The excellent character of the creasing veneration attending Martyrdom, which it is marks. Bishop, and the beneficence with which he had attended unnecessary that we should point out. to those who, on a late occasion, had been afflicted by That the Persecution of Valerian continued three the Plague, conspired to ensure for him the respect of years and a half, has been deduced from the cirall ranks; and his present situation, whilst it animated cumstance, that Dionysius of Alexandria applies to him the courage of the faithful, excited the compassion of the passage in the Apocalypse :*—“And there was the unbelieving. The treatment, which he experienced given unto him a mouth speaking great things and from his guard, was mild and considerate; his friends blasphemies; and power was given unto him to conwere allowed to remain with him as usual, and the tinue forty and two months.” The capture of Valerian crowd passed the whole night, in anxious suspense, by the Persians, was the signal of tranquillity. before the door of the house. In the morning he was Gallienus, by his Rescripts of universal application,

Gallienus. led to the Prætorium, attended by a vast multitude; permitted the Bishops to renew the duties of their offices and, till the arrival of the Proconsul, he waited in a without molestation, and restored to the Christians the

260. private place and rested himself on a seat, which hap- enjoyment of the cemeteries. Yet that the ancient

Tranquillity

restored. pened to be covered with linen, that, adds the narrator, penal laws, against such as refused to comply with the "even under the stroke of death, he might still enjoy the established ceremonies of Religion, when formally re- not abrohonours of Episcopacy.” On the arrival of the Pro- quired, were not repealed, the following instance will serve gated. consul, he delivered, in answer to the interrogatories, to prove. In Cæsarea of Palestine, at a moment of deep Martyrdom his name and office, but resolutely refused to obey the tranquillity, Marinus, a man distinguished by his wealth of Marinus. Imperial mandate which enjoined sacrifice to the Gods. and high birth, was on the point of receiving the dignity The Proconsul exhorted him to consider the conse- of Centurion, when the next candidate for the vacant quences of his refusal, and, at length, having deliberated place objected to his nomination, on the ground that with his Council

, pronounced, with reluctance, the sen- he was a Christian, and refused to sacrifice to the tence of death in terms like the following. “You have Emperors. The Judge, astonished at the accusation, lived with a sacrilegious disposition a long time; you interrogated Marinus on the subject of his Religion, have drawn together great numbers into the same im- and, observing that he confessed himself to be a Chrispious conspiracy; you have shown yourself an enemy tian, allowed him three hours to consider whether he to the Roman Gods and their sacred laws, nor have our would persist in this profession. On leaving the Court, holy Princes been able to recall you to the observance Theotecnus, Bishop of the town, having joined him, led of their ceremonies. Therefore, as you are convicted him gradually into the Church, placed him before the of being the ringleader of most nefarious criminals, altar, and having pointed out on one hand the sword, you shall be made an example to those whom you which hung at his side, and on the other the Gospel, have associated with yourself in this impious course, he bade him choose which of the two he preferred. As and by your blood shall discipline be sanctioned.” Marinus unhesitatingly laid his hand on the book, le Having uttered these words, he read the Decree from was briefly exhorted by the Bishop to adhere to his a tablet : “It is our pleasure, that Thascius Cyprianus choice; and when he left the Church, the time of delibe. be put to death by the sword.” Cyprian exclaimed, ration being elapsed, he was summoned before the “God be praised;" and the crowd of his brethren tu- Tribunal, maintained the faith with renewed alacrity, multuously cried, “ Let us, too, be beheaded with him," and was beheaded. Astyrius, a Roman Senator of and followed in a numerous body. He was led into a eminence, took on bis shoulders the corpse of the wide plain, thick set with trees, on the boughs of which Martyr, and paid it the last honours.Ş This action many of the spectators, who filled the spot, had eagerly appears not to have subjected him to punishment; proclimbed. The Deacons and Presbyters were present; bably his rank, and the high favour of the Emperors and his brethren spread linen on the ground to receive which he enjoyed, deterred accusers. his blood. Cyprian

laid aside his cloak, and fell on his In the eight years during which Gallienus, the two Claudius. knees and prayed; then put off his Dalmatic or under years during which Claudius ruled, and in the first four garment, and remained in his shirt ; and, having ordered of the reign of Aurelian, the Christians, in general, Aureliar. five and twenty pieces of gold to be given to the exe- were undisturbed. But in the fifth year, Aurelian, eutioner, he covered his eyes with his hands, and his either at the impulse of some unknown adviser, or from head was severed from his body. His corpse was deposited near the spot, to gratify the curiosity of the

* Ch. xiij. ver. 5. Gentiles; but at night it was removed, with lights and

† Euseb, Hist. Eccles. lib, vii. c. 13. torches, in solemn procession, and interred in the

1 Ibid. c. 15. cemetery of Macrobius Candidianus, a Procurator.

Ibid.

From

A. D.

to

From A. D.

A. D.

to

284.t century.

and Con

1

History. the influence of his own strongly superstitious feelings, their necks to the executioners. This event is said to Of the determined to raise a Persecution, * which was expected have taken place at Agaunum, at the foot of the Alps,

Christian

Church to be severe. But the hand of death arrested him, as and is still honoured by ihe Romish Church. The

in the IIIrd it were, in the act of subscribing the Edicts against the famous Abbey of St. Maurice, is so called after the Century. 211.

Church; and the effects of his anger were, probably, supposed Captain of this Legion.

but little, if at all, experienced. After the murder of Such is the account, which was once as implicitly 313.

Aurelian, the Christians, with a few partial exceptions, received, as it is now generally suspected. It is deDiocletian. continued uninjured nearly to the end of this tailed in a letter, attributed to Eucherius, Bishop of 211. Lyons, who professes to have learnt it from certain

313. Diocletian

During the first eighteen years of his reign, Diocle- persons, who declared that they had heard it from and Maxi. tian exhibited no symptoms of a disposition to disturb İsaac, Bishop of Geneva, who, it was supposed, had Arguments mian, Em- the prosperity of his Christian subjects. Religious received it from Theodore, Bishop of Octodurum. or against its perors. conviction was gaining fast on the ininds of the incre- this relation there are two copies ; the first was pubGalerius

dulous, or a more enlarged policy was gradually ex- lished by Surius, and, among other internal proofs of stantius,

tending its influence. The reputation of the new Sect falsehood, mentions a period posterior to Sigismond, Cæsars.

was considerably raised, and procured for its members King of Burgundy, who lived, at the lowest computaToleration not merely protection against violence, but a peculiar tion, sixty-six years later than Eucherius. The second of Chris- exemption from the performance of such duties as were copy, free from this anachronism and other contradictianity. incompatible with their Religious tenets. When in- tions, was subsequently published by Chifflet, who

trusted with Provincial Governments, they were released asserted that it was drawn from a very ancient manu-
from the usual obligation of assisting at sacrifices to script in the Monastery of Mount Jura. The relation
the Gods and the Emperor. The Imperial household was attacked with great learning and ingenuity by M.
were permitted to exercise their Religion with the most J. du Bordieu, t who referred it to some Monk of the
undisguised freedom. The wife and the daughter of VIIth century.
the Emperor appear, in some degree, to have imbibed It must be acknowledged, however, that the history Date of the
the principles of Christianity. The most marked favour was known in the Vth century. From a Homily of narrative.
and affection were shown towards the Bishops, not Avitus, I published by Sirmond, who found it in a Ma-
merely by private persons, but by the Roman Governors; nuscript of unquestionable antiquity, it appears that the
and conversions increased with so much rapidity, that it anniversary of these Martyrs was, in his time, cele-

was found necessary to erect new and spacious Churches brated in the Church dedicated to them at Agaunum. Degeneracy throughout all the Cities of the Empire. But it is again It is evident, therefore, that these Acts may have been of the the melancholy duty of the Ecclesiastical Historian to written about the time of Eucherius, though it may, Christians.

mark, amid the lustre of surrounding prosperity, the perhaps, be concluded, from the style, that he himself
shades which fall on the interior of the Christian state, was not the author.
Sloth and negligence, envy and bitter calumny, and a The arguments, which invalidate the whole narrative, Internal
spirit of factious ambition which pervaded the higher are nearly insurmountable. The improbability of a evidence.
Orders of the hierarchy, are among the numerous proofs Legion which contained six thousand Christians--the
of degeneracy, which the writings of Eusebius patheti- improbability that Maximian should have drawn it from
cally, but, perhaps, to a certain extent, rhetorically the Eastern extremity of the Empire, to repress a revolt
display. I

in Gaul—the improbability that, if so strong a measure Conduct of

The mildness of Diocletian entered not into the were requisite, he should, when almost in the very pre-
Maximianus
Herculius.

character of his harsh and unfeeling associate, Maxi- sence of the enemy, destroy a considerable portion of
mianus Herculius. Actuated by deep hostility, which his own army—the improbability that, even under these
ignorance and superstition had nursed, against the circumstances, not one soldier should have redeemed
Christian faith, he could easily indulge in cruelty with- his life by an act of obedience to the orders of his Com-
out expressly refusing to acknowledge the general spirit mander, that not one should have defended himself
of toleration which then existed. One instance of se- with the arms he held, that not one should have escaped
verity is, however, cited, which can hardly be esta- in a country, surrounded by woods and mountains,

blished by evidence sufficient to command our belief. which offered the means of safety—these are circumSupposed

It is pretended that Maximianus Herculius brought stances which, unless supported by the unequivocal evimartyrdom from the East a Legion, called the Thebean Legion, dence of competent witnesses, would be alone sufficient of the Thebean

consisting entirely of Christians, which he intended to to excite distrust, if not total disbelief, in the mind of Legion. employ against the Gauls. On his march, the Emperor the inquirer. But, in the present case, they are found

wished to oblige his army to sacrifice to the Gods, or, in a narrative, which was not published till more than
according to other writers, to persecute the Christians.
On the refusal of this Legion, he ordered them to be

If this were true, it would be strange that Ambrose, Bishop of
decimated; and, finding that the example of the suf- Milan, who must often have met Theodore, his Suffragan, should make
ferers produced no impression, he repeated the punish- no mention of this event, notwithstanding his veneration for Martyrs.
ment of decimation, but was unable to enforce obe- and Relics. (Biblioth. Raison. tom. xxxvi. p. 441.)

+ His work is entitled, Dissertation Critique sur le Martyre de dience. Exasperated at this inflexibility, he caused the la Legion Thebbene, 1705. The English translation, which apwhole Legion to be massacred. The soldiers relin- peared in 1696, was made from the author's MS. M. du Bordieu quished their arms in passive resignation, and presented was induced to write his Dissertation, by the disgust which he con

ceived at the honours paid by the Church of Rome to the memory of Euseb. lib. vii, c. 30. Lactant. de Mort. Persecut. c. 6, &c. the Thebean soldiers, (c. 1.) The Martyrdom was maintained' by + The 29th of Angust, A. v. 284, is the beginning of the æra of Joseph de L'Isle. Dartyrs, which is still in use among the Copts of Egypt, the Abys. The title of the Homily is, Dicla in Basilica Sanctorum sinians, and some other nations of Africa,

Agaunensium, in innovatione Monasterii ipsius, vel passione Mar. Euseb, lib. viii. c. 1.

tyrum.

From

to

Silence of

[ocr errors]

to

writers,

mianus

of some

[ocr errors]

History. one hundred and fifty years after the pretended event had made the sign of the Cross on their foreheads, and of the took place. All contemporary writers are silent: the thus expelled the Demons.* It was on this occasion Christian

Church fact is not mentioned, nor alluded to, by Eusebius, nor by that Diocletian, being incensed, commanded that sa

in the Illrd A. D. Sulpicius Severus, nor by Orosius, nor by the poet Pru- crifices should be observed, not merely by the Court,

Century. 211. dentius, nor by Lactantius; all of whom have written but by the Camp; and that those who refused, should

of the Martyrdoms, which reflected lustre on the be scourged; and soldiers, who would not comply, From 313. name of Christian; and the last, in particular, had should be dismissed. And to this extent only did his

A. D. resided in Gaul not more than thirty years after the anger then proceed. From this narration it is manifest 211. temporary remarkable occurrence which is said to have happened that the Aruspices, subtle and intriguing men, con

313. in that Country. Omitting the arguments which result trived to instigate the superstitious Emperor against

from the difficulty of assigning this pretended Martyr- the Christians, whose prosperity they viewed with a Probable

dom to any local or general Persecution, we are inclined jealous and fearful eye, by pretending that their preorigin of the to an opinion that the tradition may have originated in sence destroyed the efficacy of the sacrifices. Various tradition. some really severe punishment of certain Christians in other means were resorted to by the Priests, and,

the Roman army. "The Greek Martyrologies celebrate perhaps, by the Philosophers, to rouse the fears of an one Maurice, a Tribune, whom Maximian put to death, Emperor, whose unwillingness to similar Persecution together with seventy soldiers, at Apamæa, in Syria, could only be overcome by working on his credulity and the Department over which he presided. It has superstition. been conjectured, with great probability, that the sup- These wiles, however, might have been unsuccessful, Influence posed Maurice of Agaunum is the same person, and but for the unremitted exertions of Maximianus Gale of Maxithat the Roman relater transferred the scene from the rius; coarse and uneducated, his natural fierceness was

Galerius. East to Gaul, and enriched the detail with that variety easily excited by his mother, a woman of extreme suof improbable additions, which frequently attends the perstition, who had contracted hatred against the Chrisprogress of tradition.*

tians, in consequence of their refusal to assist at the Conduct We learn froin Eusebius, that Persecution first began sacrifices, which she was in the habit of almost daily

against the Christians who were engaged in a military performing.t Christian seldiers

life. To preserve their Faith, many abandoned their During the whole winter which he spent at Nicoprofession; others laid down their lives. If the extant media, Galerius held secret consultations with Diocleaccounts of the Martyrdoms of that period be genuine, tian on the subject of the Christians. The aged it cannot be denied that the conduct of some Christian Emperor, whom caution or lenity had inspired with soldiers was so public a violation of martial discipline, aversion to the exercise of extraordinary violence, is that it must naturally have been expected that the represented as having pressed on his rash adviser a Roman Commanders would visit it with severe proofs consideration of the scenes of disturbance and of bloodof their displeasure. At Tebesta, in Numidia, Maxi- shed, which would unquestionably attend the measures milian resolutely refused to follow the example of those of coercion that he proposed. Convinced, however, of Christians, who consented to serve in the army, and the dangers which might accrue to the State from an death was the punishment of this disobedience. At unbounded toleration of a hostile Sect, or unwilling to Tingi, in Mauritania, Marcellus, a Centurion, amid the offer an entire opposition to the wishes of his colleague, rejoicings and sacrifices which celebrated the birth-day he suggested, as a sufficient check, that no Christian of the Emperor, in the presence of the whole Legion should be allowed to continue in the Court or in the cast away his arms, his belt, and his vine-branch, the Army. Galerius, whose passions predominated over badge of his office, and cried aloud, that he was the his reason, was dissatisfied with an expedient which soldier of Jesus Christ, the eternal King, and that if to presented but a partial remedy to the pretended evil sacrifice to the Gods were the condition of a military of which he witnessed the continual growth. His relife, he would serve no longer under the Imperial ban- monstrances, at length, were successful in prevailing on ners. He was accordingly seized, and, after having Diocletian to summon an Assembly, composed of a few confessed, he was reproached by the Judge with having persons, who had acquired eminence in the judicial, or broken bis oath, and condemned to be beheaded as a in the military profession. Of these some were already deserter.g Similar instances may, possibly, have pro- prejudiced against the Christians, and others were too duced an unfavourable effect on the mind of the Em- much influenced by their fears, or by the desire of gra

peror. But the first cause of his enmity may, perhaps, tifying the powerful, to deny that Galerius was right in the Pazan be sought in the machinations of the Pagan Priests. deeming the destruction of Christianity essential to the Prestiged. It is related, that when Diocletian expressed an extreme permanence of the Roman institutions. Yet, even then,

desire of penetrating into future events, the Diviners the reluctant Emperor, distrustful of human counsels,
found that there were none of the ordinary marks in applied for further advice to the Oracle of the Milesian
the entrails of the victims, and attributed the want of Apollo. The Oracle, as might naturally be foreseen,
success, which attended the rites, to certain profane confirmed the sentiments of the enemies of Christianity;
persons who had intruded into their Assemblies. The and the acquiescence of Diocletian, in the adoption of
narrator affirms, that some Christians, being present, severe proceedings, was at length obtained. I

The twenty-third of February, which was the Festival
This conjecture, which seems to have been first suggested by

of the God Terminus, was chosen as an appropriate day 303. Baronius, (Annot. ad diem XXII. Septemb. Martyrologii Romani, to begin the task of fixing, as it were, a period to the Destruction p. 375.) is supported in a very able Dissertation on the subject of the Christian Religion. Thebean Legion, which is contained in he Bibliothèque Raisonnée,

At the first faint dawn of the of the

Church of tom, xxxvi. p. 427-454.

Nicomedia. + Euseb. Hist. Eccles, lib. viii, c, 4.

* Lactant, de Mort, Persecut. c. 10. 1 Acta Sincer. p. 299.

+ Ibid. Ibid. p. 302.

Ibid.

Arts of

A. D.

« ElőzőTovább »