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Biography. employed the intercession of his wife, Constantia, the although he had only completed his eleventh year, and Constansister of the conqueror, to obtain a favourable hearing ;
had manifested no dispositions but such as From to whom was given a solemn promise, sanctioned by amiable and meritorious. *
From an oath, that after surrendering Martinianus and re- The events now stated paved the way for the reunion 306. linquishing the Purple, Licinius himself should be of the Roman Empire, nearly forty years after the in
permitted to pass the rest of his days in peace and troduction of the new scheme of government by Dio-
Thessalonica, the place chosen for his future residence, from this date Constantine is to be regarded as sole His death where he soon afterwards terminated his miserable Emperor of the East and West, as possessing all the at Thessa- existence by an ambiguous death, Zosimus hesitates power which was bequeathed by Augustus and exerlonica.
not to assert, that Constantine ordered him to be cised by the most warlike of his successors.
OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN THE SECOND AND
History, I. Introductory View of the Principal Sources from even this faint glimmering had died away. Without Of the
which the Knowledge of the IInd and II Ird Centuries his assistance, we should have remained in a great Christian
Church occurred in the remote Ages of the Church, but of writers and bird
in the lind Importance There is no portion of Ecclesiastical History more from whose Treatises, then extant, he derived his infor- Centuries. e te suve important than that which extends from the termination mation. As he is nearly our first
, so is he almost our
the power, and the learning, of the Gentile world. tion for the talents, and of confidence in the fidelity, of Lizing The spectacle, which it presents, is on all sides fitted Eusebius. Yet, valuable as his collections must unpoints of to arrest our attention. On the one hand, the situation questionably be deemed, it is to be lamented that, while mury.
of the Primitive Christians, their habits, their exertions, topics of inferior moment are largely detailed, many
series of extracts.f He proposed to himself little more But it is a subject of deep regret, that the loss of than to glean and bind together such passages as would astmatica, necessary materials precludes the possibility of develop- form a sequence of Ecclesiastical Memoirs. This
ing these points with the fulness and precision which method, it is true, is jejune and tedious. It is neces-
were but few, and of those few some are much im- tages. As the fragments of each author are distinct,
where he is obliged to translate,
the sentiments of the original writers borrow no new
In the XIVth century, Nicephorus Callistus composed a new
Ecclesiastical History of the first Three Centuries; but his work, it is fortunate that Eusebius undertook the task, before though not inelegantly written, is too replete with fables to b: en
titled to consideration. * Hist. Eccles. lib. i. c. I.
† Du Pin, Nouvelle Biblioth. des Auteurs Ecclés. tom. ii. p. 3. VOL. XI,
History. no longer in our power to ascertain if their meaning lence of which they were keenly alive. It is the part of of the had been faithfully expressed. a candid writer, to make full allowances for the harass. Christian
Church With the exception of the Historical works of Euse- ing series of obstacles which often checked investigation
in the lInd bius, to which may be added a few detached pieces, in an Age when tyranny leaned hard upon the Chris
and Ilird such as the Book of the deaths of the Persecutors, as- tians; but it is due to Truth, to avail ourselves of the Centuries. cribed to Lactantius; or succinct Treatises, such as the rules of sound criticism in weighing the internal crediHistories of Sulpitius Severus, and Orosius; and lastly, bility of Historical narratives. the numerous, but often doubtful and unsatisfactory, Next in importance to the Apologies addressed to the Remaining Acts of Martyrs, our knowledge of the IId and IIId Roman Rulers are, we think, the Defences of the Chris
the Fathers centuries must be chiefly drawn from indirect sources. tian Religion, written in answer to the attacks of the The Chris. Of these by far the most useful are the Apologies, pre- Philosophic Gentiles. The remaining Works of the tian Apolo- sented to the Roman Rulers by eminent Christians, Fathers consist mostly of Treatises against the Heathens, gies.
with a view to set forth the superiority of their Religion, the Jews, or Heretics ; on the various Doctrines of
Writers; are exposed to certain inconveniences. The reader is centuries found in Pagan Writers are, with a few valu
reasons of apt to regard them but as profiles, if we may so ex
able exceptions, of no considerable importance. What their silence press ourselves, which, however correctly they may ever mention of it occurs in the History of Dion or contempt. represent the side-face, convey but an inadequate idea Cassius is perhaps to be ascribed to his abridger Xiphiof the entire contour and expression. Apologists, it
lin, who lived as late as the XIth century. The is usually thought, are naturally disposed rather to Writers of the Augustan History have afforded us but select such circumstances as are calculated to produce Jittle additional testimony. Of the eminent Philosophers a favourable impression, than to enlarge on the abuses who flourished during that period, Plutarch has been
have crept into the Society to which they wholly silent on this point; Epictetus, Galen, Marcus belong. They may be honest advocates, but they are Antoninus, and Lucian have left but a few passing sarstill advocates. A defence commonly bears this re- casms; and as the direct attacks of Celsus, Hierocles, semblance to a panegyric,—all that is mentioned in it and Porphyry are lost, the substance of their Works can may be true, but all that is true may not be mentioned. only be gathered from the answers of their Christian Such are the anticipations with which Apologetic works opponents
. The silence of some, and the contempt of
fall into the same state of obscurity and insignificance
* See Bp. Watson's Apology for Christianity, p. 129.
to The contempt which the Romans entertained against the Jews,
. lib. v. ; Martial, lib. iv. ep. 4; lib. ii. ep. 95 ; Juvenal,
Sat. iii. vi. xiv. ; Plut. Sympos. &c.
See the instances collected by Grotius, Proleg. ad Stob. &c.
History and difficulties, not to be unravelled by the utmost Unable to procure correct information, and anxious to Of the
subtilty of which the human intellect is susceptible, admit the truth of statements deemed favourable to Christian their indignation was wound up to the highest degree, their cause, the early Christians seem often to have
Church when uneducated men seized with confidence on sub- spoken in a declamatory tone.
But their exaggeration and HIIrd
in the IInd jects which had for ages eluded the grasp of Philosophy arose not from a spirit of deceit. They knew that the centuries. itself.* The assent of the multitude, far from being successors of the Apostles exerted themselves with courted, was despised by all classes of the learned. indefatigable zeal in proclaiming the Gospel, and that An unquenchable pride glared through the veil of their many had distributed their property to the poor, in affected humility: This feeling must also have order that, unshackled by worldly considerations, they acquired force from the fact, that the scheme of Chris- might carry the Faith to the most distant nations if they tianity was presented rather in a popular form, than saw, moreover, the work of conversion advancing rapidly with systematic nicety. In short, it was long before under their own eyes, and they heard of its progress in they could bring their minds to submit to the authority other Countries from a diversity of sources ; hence they of a Religion, which, preaching virtues never urged in stopped not to investigate the origin and to estimate the eulogies of Poets, and doctrines never heard in the the probability of reports, which, uncontradicted by Schools of Philosophy, opened its arms to receive the surrounding appearances, were to them a theme of exweak and ignorant with no less tenderness than the ultation in their controversial writings, and of encouragewise and powerful. It is not surprising, therefore, if ment under their severest misfortunes. we find but little mention of Christianity in Writers Tertullian exclaims, “We are but of yesterday, yet who examined it at first not at all, and afterwards, we have filled your Empire,—your cities, your islands, superficially.
your castles, your Corporate towns, your assemblies, Such are, we think, the principal channels from which your very camps, your Tribes, your Companies, your De föllow. the knowledge of the Ild and IIId centuries may Palace, your Senate, your Forum: your Temples alone ing chapters, be drawn. In presenting to our readers the result of are left to you."Language, evidently rhetorical, ought
our inquiries, it is not our object to give circumstantial not to be examined by the rules of literal interpretation. descriptions, nor to enter into minute discussions; such The Apologist probably meant but to convey the same a plan would not be consistent with the nature of the idea which the Historian would have expressed by the present work. For accounts so extensive, the reader, simple assertion, that the Christians were extremely who cannot have recourse to the fountain heads, must numerous in places both far and near, in situations both consult and compare large and elaborate collections: Civil and military. At the same time, it must be allowed such as those of the Centuriators of Magdeburgh, of by any impartial inquirer, that the expressions of TerBaronius, Pagi, Tillemont, Fleury, Basnage, and other tullian, though perhaps too strong, could not have Writers,ll who have dilated on almost every point con- been hazarded in an address to persons who had ample nected with the subject. Although a wish to supply opportunities of discovering the truth, had they not deficiencies, where we believe them to exist, may have been warranted to a certain extent at least, by the induced us to dwell upon some particular points, our apparent state of the place in which they were written. general desire is rather to trace than to fill up the out- A description, inconsistent with the aspect of things, line, rather to direct to the sources than to exhaust the would have defeated the very purpose for which it was information which they contain.
The vast and commodious roads which intersected II. Diffusion of Christianity ; its Extent, Mode, and the whole Roman Empire; the union of different Consequences.
Countries under one Government; the consequent spread
of civilisation, and the partial adoption of the Latin Dizio di
of the extensive diffusion of Christianity in the IId Costanity. century, the repeated declarations of the Fathers, con
language in every district : these were advantages which firmed
by Historical research, afford unequivocal proof. facilitated the propagation of the Gospel in Countries subBut the various details of this great Moral revolution, in remote wilds must be deemed no inconsiderable bar. the exact periods, modes, instruments
, and circumstances May we not also reckon among the obstacles to the conof its progress, cannot, in the absence of authentic version of the nations of Northern Europe, ß the infludocuments, be developed with accuracy and precision. Although the existence of Christians in the heart of ence, not yet perhaps destroyed, of the ancient Bardic remote and barbarous Countries is sufficiently attested, system; a system which had inculcated the doctrine of
an immortality, corresponding with their habits and the names of the disciples who first penetrated into those obscure regions, and the successive steps by which they proceeded to conciliate, to enlighten, and to huma- nated, whether they wander in waggons or dwell in tents, among whom
Barbarians or Greeks, or by whatever appellation they may be designize their rude inhabitants, are almost utterly unknown.
prayers and thanksgivings are not offered up to the Father and Instead of distinct and circumstantial description, the Creator of all things, in the name of the crucified Jesus.” (Dialog. reader will find for the most part little but vague asser
cum Tryphon, p. 341.) Comp. Iren. Adv. Hær. lib. i. c. 11; Arnob tion* in ancient, and bold conjecture in modern Writers.
adv. Gent. lib. ii. p. 50; Lactant. Div. Inst. lib. v. c. 13.
Apolog. c. 37. Comp. ad Scapul. c. 5; adv. Judæos. c. 7. Mio. Fel. c. 5.
On the testimony of Tertullian, see Mosheim, de Reb. Christ, ante + Senec. Ep. xxix. &c.
Const. M. p. 204 ; Bishop Kaye, Lectures on Tertullian, p. 93. Diog. Laert. lib. ii. c. 36, &c.
$ It would, we think, be an interesting theme to explain the fact, that Lactant. Div. Inst. lib. v.c 1, &c.
the diffusion of Christianity among the Tribes of the North was neither Much valuable information may also be found in Mosheim's so rapid in its progress nor so lasting in its effects as in the more large work, De Rebus Christianorum ante Constantinum Magnum refined portions of the globe, particularly as those circumstances, Canmentarü. See likewise J. le Clerc, Historia Ecclesiastica duo- which Montesquieu (Esprii des Loir, lib. xxv. c. 2, 3) considers as Tum primorum sæculorum è veteribus monumentis deprompta. most favourable to conversion, may be supposed in this case to have * E. g. Justin Martyr asserts, "there is no race of men, whether existed.
History. wishes, and productive of an enthusiastic devotion far If we omit the exercise of Miraculous powers, the Of the beyond the powers of the Grecian and Roman Mytho- existence of which after the Apostolical Ages is dis- Christian
Church logies to excite. puted, (chiefly because the Fathers of the IInd and
in the Ilud In Britain, the Christian Church appears to have IIIrd centuries speak of it only in general language, an
and IIIrd been small and humble. * In Transalpine Gaul, which instance being seldom specified, and when specified Centuries
. was converted to the Faith at a later period than usually relating to the expulsion of Dæmons,* or to the other Countries, the progress of Christianity was healing of diseases, in which it is commonly admitted comparatively slow; since in the IIIrd century there there is more room for mistake than in any other class were but a few Churches, raised by the devotion of an of Miracles,) we must, doubtless, consider as among inconsiderable number of Christians, and under the the chief causes which, under the assistance of the Holy Emperor Decius it was found necessary to send thither Spirit, contributed to the conversion of the Heathen, the seven Missionaries from Rome. In Germany, the disgust which Paganism, notwithstanding its splendour, early state of Christianity is involved in obscurity; it is must often have left on the reflecting mind; the disrepute probable however that the persons who first diffused the into which Divination and Oracles had fallen ; the conknowledge of the Gospel in Gaul, were instrumental in trariety and unsatisfactoriness of the systems of Philoextending its blessings to the contiguous Countries. Sophy; the zeal, the fortitude, the affection, the hosBut a very different scene presents itself as we turn pitality, the general virtues of the Christians, so peculiar our view to the regions of the East and of the South. and so remarkable; the union of their well-organized Even beyond the Euphrates, Edessa || was the seat of Religious community; the unwearied efforts of their Christians; and from that river to the shores of Asia preachers; the circulation of Apologies, pious works, Minor, throughout the whole Country, the voice of Reve. and copies of the Sacred Scripture, (soon, in all prolation had gone forth. In Pontus and Bithynia, in bability, translated into Latin,) by which the evidences Greece, Thrace and Macedonia, in Rome, at Carthage, and the transcendent excellence of Revealed Religion in Egypt, the number of Christians was unquestionably were gradually discovered and appreciated. great. In fact, there was probably no City of much It is unfortunate, however, that the ancient converts extent in the Roman Empire, in which some portion of have not detailed with more minuteness the accidental
the population had not been converted to Christianity. [ circumstances which first arrested their attention, and Mode by
In considering this wide diffusion of Christianity, we the progress of their thoughts from increasing respect which Chris.
are naturally led to inquire into the peculiar means by to final conviction. The unparalleled patience of the
which it was effected. That it is to be ascribed to the Christians under sufferings; the improbability that men
Lord above all things."! In an Age of libertinism, the
The expulsion of Dæmons is considered by the Fathers as a Respecting the application for Christian teachers, which, accord- great cause of the conversion of the Gentiles. Iren. tom. ii. c. 57. ing to Bede, Lucius, a King of Britain, made to Eleutherus, Bishop Tertull. Apol. c. 23. Orig.c. Cels, lib. ii. p. 20. Lactant. lib. v. c. 27, of Rome, in the reign of M. Antoninus, see the observations of &c. That there was a strong prejudice in the minds of the learned Mosheim, (de Reb. Christ. p. 215.)
against this kind of demonstration, may be inferred from Ulpian, Sulpit. Sever. Hist. Sacr. lib. ii. c. 32.
lib. viii. de Tribunal.; in Digest. lib. 50. tit. 13. leg. i.; and Marcus Ruinart. Act. Mart. Sincer. p. 130.
Antonious in Med. p. I. Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc. lib. i. c. 28.
+ Apol. ii. c. 12. Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. i. c. 13.
Apol. i. c. 14. Comp. Orig. c. Cels. lib. iii.; Lactant. Div. Inst. 1 Gibbon, Decline and Fall, &c. c. 15.
lib. iii. c. 26.