« ElőzőTovább »
History. morning, the Præfect, attended by Generals, Tribunes, Attended by any discovery. A fortnight afterwards, Of the
Christian and Receivers of the revenue, proceeded to the Church the Palace was again in flames. The conflagration,
Church From of Nicomedia, which stood on an eminence within the indeed, was soon observed and extinguished ; but the
in the Illrd view of the Imperial Palace. The doors were imme- impression which it left on the mind of Diocletian was Century. 211.
diately forced open, and an ineffectual search was made implacable resentment against the whole Sect, to which
for the Image of the God, whom the Christians wor- the calamity was immediately ascribed. Every kind of From 313.
shipped. The sacred Scriptures, which were found torment, which the most ingenious cruelty could invent,
more heard; the mighty tide of Persecution had set in, First Edict
On the ensuing day an Edict was issued, by which it and, no longer stemmed by prudence, it swept all before
was decreed that the Churches should be demolished it in its progress. The cause of the calamity is still
therefore, it arose from accident or from design, it is Rash con- This most unjust Edict was no sooner fixed up in the not for us, in these later Ages, with no additional clue duct and most public part of the city, than it was torn down by to guide our researches, to determine. punishment a Christian, who severely reflected on the conduct of the The Edict of Diocletian was published in all the Edict of of a Chris tian.
Emperors; and accused them of betraying a spirit as nar- Provinces of the Empire; but it circulated so slowly, Diocletian.
that baffled, to the last, the efforts of his tormentors. it must be confessed, were actuated by very different
Palace wherein Galerius and Diocletian resided, and the voluntary sacrifice of their lives, which were to them a
Scriptures, and were in consequence branded by the re* Lactant. de Morl. Persecut. c. 12.
+ Comp. Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. viii. c. 2. and Lactant, de Mort. * Lactant. de Mort. Persecut. Persecut. c. 13.
of Orat, ad Sanctor. Cætum, c. 25. 1 Τους δε εν οίκετιάις .... ελευθερίας στερήσθαι.
I Hist. Eccles. lib. viii. c. 6. s Lactant, de Mort. Persecut. c. 12. Euseb, lib. viii, c. 5.
§ August. Brevical. Collat. cum Donat, lib. iii. c. 13.
History. proachful apellation of Traditors.* But, notwithstand- he gave full scope to the measures of the most savage Of the ing the ignominy which attended their conduct, it would cruelty. His associate, Maximin, lent a willing cooper- Christian
Church From surely be a breach of Charity to assert, that they meant ation in the enormities of this eventful period.
in the Ilird by this act to express their formal renunciation of the The heart-sickening details of refined torments, which
Century. 211, Christian Religion.
the Historians of the Church have transmitted to us, In consequence of some civil commotions in Armenia and which almost stagger belief, cannot be even touched From 313.
and Syria, a new Edict was published, commanding upon without a feeling of mental convulsion. The Second and that all the Presidents of the Churches should be seized, method of burning by a slow fire, employed by men, 211.
and the prisons were soon filled with Bishops, Presby- whose only fear was lest the violence of their fury
, another, in which it was ordained that they who were were then so frequent. The victims were chained, and imprisoned, should be set at liberty on their consenting a gentle fire was applied to the soles of their feet, by
to sacrifice, but that they who refused, should be com- which the callus was contracted, till at last it fell off from Fourth pelled to undergo every variety of torment. And just the bones. Torches which had been just lighted and Edict.
before the resignation of Diocletian, a fourth Edict was extinguished, while still hot, were pressed against every
to overpower their feelings and subdue their spirit, before the full measure of barbarity was exhausted. ` At
state in the different parts of the Roman Empire. But on a funeral pile and burned to ashes, which were
punishments adopted. They varied, indeed, in their Maximin
Constantius Chlorus, who presided over Gaul, was naturet and duration, according to the caprice of the andCoastan- induced by the natural mildness and benignity of his different Provincial Governors, but they were even tige, Cesars character, and by the favourable opinion which he marked by circumstances more harrowing than imagi
entertained of the Christian doctrines, to mitigate seve- nation can conceive that cruelty could inflict. State of the rities which he could not prevent. Unwilling to oppose In Egypt, Syria, and Palestine, which the superstitious Christians the authority of Diocletian, he complied with it, so far as
Maximin administered, the same spirit of vengeance in the de.
regarded the demolition of the Churches, but he exerted pursued the devoted Christians, who must have shrunk partment of Constantius
, his power to shield the persons of the Christians from from the trial, had not Faith lifted up for them the veil violence and injury. And that protection, which he of Immortality, and soothed and strengthened their had partially exhibited as Cæsar, he subsequently main- oppressed spirits. tained in all its vigour as Augustus. The tranquillity The cessation of Persecution in the Eastern part of Edict of enjoyed by Gaul under Constantius, and afterwards the Empire was, if not caused, at least accelerated, by Galerius. under Constantine, was probably extended to Britain. a dreadful and loathsome disorder, under the protracted But in Spain, which though it also belonged to the pains of which Galerius issued an Edict, permitting 311. same Department, was not so directly under his superin- the Christians to resume their worship in tranquillity, tendence, the Governor Datianus appears in no degree and expressing his hope, that, in return for this indulto have relaxed the rigorous conditions of the Imperial gence, they would supplicate the Deity, whom they Edicts, and the consequent misery of the Christians is adored, for his health, and for the welfare of themselves
attested by the extant relations of numerous Martyrdoms. and of the State. In this Edict he assigns as the Italy and In Italy and Africa, where Maximianus, the inveterate motive which engaged him to employ means to compel enemy of the Christians, whom he regarded as oppo
the Christians to return to the institutions of their an-
Persecution of this period ought not to be omitted. We are informed
population, not excepting the Magistrates, professed Christianity, and the restraints which a cautious policy had imposed on refused to sacrifice, was burned, with its inhabitants, by soldiers, sent, his impetuous spirit, no sooner obtained the Purple than doubtless, to enforce the execution of the Imperial Edicts. (Hist. Eccl.
viii. 11.) Lactantius only says, speaking of the Provincial Magistrates • Optat. Milevit. de Schis. Donat. lib. i. g 12, 13.
who had put Christians to death, Alii ad occidendum præcipites ex| Euseb. Hist. Eccles, lib. viii. c:13. De Mart. Palest. c. 13. titerunt, sicutsunus in Phrygiâ qui universum populum cum ipso pari
See the view of this persecution taken in Dodwell, Dissert, ter conventiculo concremavit. (Inst. Div. lib. v. c. 11.)
Ø Euseb. Hist. Eccles. I. viii. c. 17. Lactant, de M, P. c. 34.
History. ments; though they no longer worshipped the God of To give force and consistence to the Religious system Of the
the Christians, yet they adored not the Gods of Rome.* of Paganism, he appointed Priests in all Cities, and Christian From He felt at last, that Persecution may make hypocrites, but over them a Chief Priest in every Province, selected
in the Illrd not converts. This Edict, which was warmly supported from the most distinguished ranks, and honoured with 211.
Century. by Licinius and Constantine, was productive of much a military guard. Temples were everywhere erected 313.
benefit to the Christians. But Maximin, who, after its or repaired. All that brutality can inflict, all that From Persecution promulgation, presided over the Asiatic Provinces, fortitude can endure, was again inflicted and endured. renewed by although at first he had so far acquiesced in its execution, Superstition, now armed with all the energies of power, 211. Maximin. that the Christians, delivered from prison and from the and guided by all the artifices of policy, seemed fitted
mines, were returning to their habitations with hymns to demolish the structure, so long assailed, of the Chris- 313.
de M. P. c. 36.
+ He had already relented and published an Edict in favour of
I Gibbon computes it at somewhat less than 2000. Decline and * Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. viii. c. 17. Lactant. de M. P. c. 34.
Fall of the Roman Empire, c. 16, sub fin. * Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. ix, c. 1.
The two Inscriptions found at Clunia in Spain, in Gruter, Inscript. I Ibid. c. 2.
p. 280. num. 3. 8 Ibid, c. 5. Ñ Ibid.
OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
ECCLESIASTICAL WRITERS OF THE SECOND AND THIRD CENTURIES.
of the Chris
History Of many Writers, it may be confidently asserted, that
1. It is necessary to inquire into his Early Life and it is impossible to enter into their full meaning and Pursuits. Many of the Fathers were born and bred in siastical Necesity of design without an adequate acquaintance with the Paganism, popular and philosophical. The defects of Writers of Biography. general circumstances of the Time and Country in which this education were sometimes imperfectly felt, and and IJIrd
they flourished. But of some, in particular, it may be seldom wholly remedied. The seam of the wound was Centuries. added, that, in order to form a correct judgment on always visible, and it was liable to reopen. Even retheir Works, the reader must previously inquire into solution was not unfrequently the dupe of habit. Some Effects prothe peculiar incidents of their lives; the nature of their portion of early error still adhered to the opinions of education ; the tone of their opinions, considered in the convert ; just as, in later thnes, some remains of the
the Writings relation to the prevalent sentiments of their contempo- spirit of the Church of Rome broke out in the conduct tian Fathers raries; the profession which they followed; the estima- of the Reformers. Bearing this fact in mind, we shall by early tion in which they were held; and, lastly, the order in not be apt to lay undue weight on the authority of the Pagan edu which their Writings appeared, and the occasions which Fathers, wherever there is reason to suppose that their
cation. respectively called them forth. Without much of this judgment has been warped by the prejudices and assointroductory knowledge, the scope of many an argu- ciations of their youth. We shall not be surprised to ment is unnoticed; the spirit of many an observation find vestiges of Platonism in the writings of men who unfelt; and the fine thread of allusion, which is often
were formerly Platonists, any more than to observe the the best clue in unravelling intricacies, insensibly figures of Rhetoric still appearing in the language of escapes us.
such as were formerly Rhetoricians. Antecelent These remarks are, in an especial degree, applicable
2. It is also necessary to mark their age in reference By the state points of to the study of the Christian Fathers. Their style and to particular Heresies. In examining their opinions on
of Heresies. manner are materially influenced by their situations doctrinal questions, not formally made the subject of disand pursuits, and often vary at different periods of their pute in their time, it is not just to weigh the casual exlives. Origen, in more advanced years, repents of what pressions of the early Fathers with so much nicety as he had composed in his early days.* Tertullian, after the studied sentences and qualified terms of such as his adoption of Montanism, treats many points with lived either during or after the agitation of the controfeelings unlike those which actuated him before his
verted points. This equitable rule prevails in the secession from the Church.
common conyerse of life. We draw a strong line of disMoreover, in investigating any particular Treatise, it tinction between incidental remarks and deliberate judgis of much consequence to ascertain beforehand, not
ments. For words dropped at random, or in a lax and merely (as must be obvious to the most hasty examiner) unguarded manner, are necessarily deficient in precision, whether the Author was at the time of its publication and sometimes applicable to the support of opinions, esteemed orthodox or schismatic, whether he was a which, if stated to him, the speaker would probably layman or a Priest, and whether he wrote at a period have rejected. We are not
, therefore, to be surprised of tranquillity or of Persecution; but also, whether he if the Ante-Nicene Fathers speak of the Trinity in had received a Pagan or a Christian education, and, language much less measured and pointed than their above all, whether he wrote before the birth, or during the height, or after the extinction, of certain Heresies. As inattention to these points has occasionally led to mistakes, it may not be useless to illustrate, as briefly * Multa latebant in Scripturis, et cum præcisi essent Hæretici, as possible, our reasons for laying down such of these quæstionibus agitaverunt Ecclesiam Dei. Aperta sunt quæ latebant,
et intellecta est voluntas Dei. Numquid enim perfectè de Trinitate antecedent queries as may not at first sight appear
tractatum est antequam oblatrarent Ariani ? Numquid perfecte requisite.
de Pænitentia tractatum est untequam obsisterent Novatiani ? — Sic
non per feciè de Baptismate tractatum est, antequam contrudicereni * Hieron. ad Pammach, et Ocean. Ep. 41. (al. 65.)
foris positi, rebaptizatores. Nec de Unitate Christi, nisi posteaquam
History. Again, another fact is not to be forgotten. Various animation, and splendour, often disfigure the Writings Eccle. terms were used at particular periods in a different of our best ancient authors ; yet no one on that ac
Writers of Variation
acceptation from that in which they are at present' count would undervalue their opinions, or heap ridicule the find in the use understood; such, for instance, are the words, Pope, on their abilities. Before we quit this subject, we are and IIird of terms. Mass, Confession, and some others.
anxious to draw attention to the fact that it is Centuries. Methods of And here we may be allowed, by way of caution, to wholly improbable that the intention of the Fathers reasoning, make a few observations on the reasoning of the Fathers. should have been to equivocate, (however weak style, &c.
Attention must be roused to determine whether their their reasoning may occasionally be deemed,) when it
which led, as it was calculated to lead, to the most erroare, it is true, sometimes puerile, $ and generally redun- neous conclusions. It ought also to be remarked, that dant: they are flowers which, being neither tastefully they frequently quote Scripture (if the present text of chosen, nor happily assorted, give a kind of quaint and their Writings be correct) without sufficient accuracy.ş grotesque appearance to the matter which they incum- Indeed, literal exactness appears not to have been ber. But the same judgment might be passed on the scrupulously affected by ancient Writers of any party. strained conceits and absurd embellishments, which,
Another circumstance deserves eonsideration. Some Disciplina insinuating themselves into passages of infinite force, of the Fathers, either from the fear of confiding truths of Arcani.
a higher order to weak minds, or, in order to spread an
ing in enigmatical obscurity. Clemens Alexandrinus.||
some points he had not ventured to write, scarcely to
speak, lest, being misunderstood, he should be found to
have put, as it were, a sword into the hand of a child. ponere: argumentari ut libet, aliud loqui, aliud agere, panem, ut
The Sacraments, especially, they treated with the dicitur, ostendere, lapidem tenere. In sequenti autem aperta frons, utmost mystery et, ut ita dicam, ingenuitas necessaria est. Aliud est quærere, aliud definire: in altero pugnandum, in altero docendum est.
Hieron. Ep. * Just. Mart. in Apolog. i. sec. 39. 30.(al. 50.) ad Pammach.
+ Hieron. Apol. adv. Rufin. The way in which Jerome professes to Η Κατ' οίκονομίαν.
have written his Commentaries is not entitled to much praise. After I As, for instance, the reasons given by Irenæus, why there are having spoken of Origen, Didymus, Apollinaris, and others, he adds, only Four Gospels, (Adv. Hæres. lib. iii. c. 11.) and by Tertullian, Legi hæc omnia et in mente meá plurima coacervans, accito notario, why there were Twelve Apostles, (Adv. Marcion. lib. iv. c. 13.) In vel mea vel aliena dictavi, nec ordinis nec verborum interdum, nec somewhat the same manner, Sir Edward Coke discovered “abun
Ep. 74. (al. 89.) ad Augustin. dance of mystery" in the “ Patriarchal and Apostolical number" e.g. The derivation of the word Jesus by Irenæus, Abraham by twelve, of which the Jury is composed. See Blackstone's Commenta- Clemens Alexandrinus, Cephas by Optatus, &c. See also I. Le ries on the Laws of England, book iii. c. 23. An amusing instance Clerc, in Hist. Ecclésiast. Ann. ci. of ingenious absurdity on the ancient conceit” of the number five Ś e.g. Justin cites as from Zephaniah what is found in Zechariah. may be found in ch. v. of Sir Thomas Brown's Garden of Cyrus, Tertullian alleges as being said to Moses what was said to Samuel. or The Quincunx Mystically considered.
1 Strom. lib. i.