« ElőzőTovább »
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 :
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
The wishes of the powerful are no less variable
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
that the bigotry of Macrianus
sæpeque ipsæ sibi adversæ. Sallust. Jugurth. Bell.
Ø Dionys. Alexandr. ep. ad Herm, ap. Euseb. lib. vii. c. 10.
Mosh. de Reb. Christ. p. 548.
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
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
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
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
to the necessity of executing the ancient penal laws,
Several accounts of the Martyrdoms which took Martyrdom
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.
From A. D.
From A. D.
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
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.
From A. D.
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,
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
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-
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
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-
character of his harsh and unfeeling associate, Maxi- sence of the enemy, destroy a considerable portion of
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
If this were true, it would be strange that Ambrose, Bishop of
+ 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.
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,
The twenty-third of February, which was the Festival
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.