A. D.



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

306. 323.

permitted to pass the rest of his days in peace and troduction of the new scheme of government by Dio-
security. The conditions were complied with ; aud cletian, which admitted a plurality of Sovereigns and

the Emperor of the East, after descending from the a corresponding distribution of territory. It was in
Throne to the condition of private life, was sent to A. D. 324 that this consummation was effected; and

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.
strangled ; a charge made by Eutropius and repeated
by St. Jerome. The younger Licinius was doomed by
the jealousy of the victor to undergo a similar fate, * Euseb. in Vit. Const. Eutrop. lib. x. c. 6. Aurel. Victor






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
may be derived.
measure in ignorance, not only of many events which

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
of the Ist, to the commencement of the IVth century. only guide. Where his Work ends, the Histories of
It was during this interval that the Church, no longer Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret, begin.*
directed by the Apostles, and not as yet established by researches are therefore confined to later periods, when
Civil authority, may be said to have sustained the most the state and manners of the Christians had undergone
severe part of its conflict against the principles, the a considerable change. This neglect of the Primitive
interests, and the passions, supported by the wealth, times may perhaps have arisen from a feeling of venera-

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
their sufferings ; the nature and extent of their Litera- subjects, which deserved more ample notice, are but
ture, and the influence of early associations and opin- meagrely treated; and that to a want of ease and ele-
ions; the origin and progress of Heresies, and the silent gance in his style, he should sometimes have added a
inroads of internal corruption : on the other hand, the want of exactness in his account of facts, and of acute-
aspect of ancient Polytheism, the causes and circum- ness in his estimate of evidence. The instances of in-
stances of its opposition, the force of popular prejudice, accuracy, which the skill and diligence of modern critics
the effects of Philosophic scepticism; the structure of have detected, naturally induce a suspicion that there
the Roman Government, its line of policy with regard may still lurk misstatements, which, from the scantiness
to Religion, and its efforts to overcome a strange impe- of remaining records, we are unable to discover. But
diment which suddenly crossed and embarrassed its there is one circumstance which, though some, perhaps,
movements; such are the prominent points which, may consider it a defect, we are inclined to reckon as
even on a cursory view, cannot fail to awaken the in- one of his merits. His History is for the most part a
terest of the Historical inquirer.

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-
their magnitude requires. Beset by various difficulties, sarily marked by inequality of language, and awkward
the early Christians had little leisure to consign to ness of manner. But the benefit drawn from it by the
writing the results of their experience. Their Works modern examiner, fully compensates for such disadvan-

were but few, and of those few some are much im- tages. As the fragments of each author are distinct,
Let'e 23- paired, others wholly lost. The most important Eccle- the credit due to his different relations varies in propor-
la History siastical Historian, after the Sacred Writers, is Eusebius, tion to the degree of assent which his different authori-
u seinas
, who wrote in the beginning of the IVth century. He ties deserve. Except

where he is obliged to translate,
declares at the very outset of his narrative, that he was

the sentiments of the original writers borrow no new
entering on “ a desert and untrodden road."* The colouring by passing into his narrative. And this ad.
scattered documents which he collected, are compared vantage is the greater, as it would otherwise have been
to distant lights, that serve but to disclose the track
which the investigator might with safety pursue. And

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,


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Works of

which may

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
and to deprecate the cruelties of their opponents. the Church, on the different parts of its Discipline;
There are great advantages peculiar to this class of Moral discourses and Commentaries on the Sacred
productions. For instance, the Apologists are obliged Scriptures. In all these Works there is undoubtedly
to advert to the objections and the calumnies of their much Historical information ; but it is scattered in a
enemies; they enable us, therefore, to discover the views mass of knowledge so vast, so obscure, and frequently
of the opposite party, and thus lay open the causes to so little connected with the direct studies of the Histo-
which the difficulties which attended their efforts are rian, that the task of eliciting and combining every latent
to be ascribed. They are, moreover, led to give some fact, and every incidental remark which may cast light
description of their habits and discipline, a subject on the early Ages of Christianity, is more perhaps than
which contemporary writers are most qualified to treat, can be expected to be performed by any single individual.
but most liable to omit. At the same time, such Works The notices of Christianity during the IId and IIId


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
in general are opened. But the Christian Apologists others, are circumstances which ought to excite regret
assume a tone as open and manly, as devoid of subter- rather than surprise. The progress of infant Sects* is
fuges and sophisms, as full of earnestness and piety as seldom considered as presenting those materials for
any unprejudiced examiner can expect. Indeed, they brilliant detail and curious investigation which draw
sometimes state the arguments, however subtle, the re- the attention of the Historian, or disturb the abstrac-
ports, however revolting, of their adversaries, and that tions of the Philosopher. It is considered a debasement
too in the very hour of danger, with far more minute- of their dignity to notice efforts which are expected to
ness, and far more force, than are usually found in con-

fall into the same state of obscurity and insignificance
troversial writings, even when published in times of from which they are regarded as having originally
security: That their manner is occasionally injudicious, sprung. Christianity was esteemed as one of the in-
cannot be denied; but this very absence of discretion numerable varieties of popular delusion, one of the
frequently arises from that simplicity which is a stranger many-coloured garbs with which Superstition, ever
to fraud. A full consciousness of innocence is the per- versatile, clothes its votaries. Raised, in their own
vading feature of their writings. Their greatest fault, imaginations, far above the influence of prejudice and
in the eyes of the impartial Historian, is the precipi- passion, the Sages cast a transient glance of pity, but
tancy with which, in some few instances, they appeal to not of inquiry, on a race of supposed Enthusiasts,
accounts, which, though current, required more cautious sectaries of a nation for which they entertained unquali-
examination. It might, indeed, have been supposed fied aversion.t And this neglect was increased as
that, as they addressed men whose means of information they observed that the early Christians were chiefly of
were necessarily great, and whose power was almost unli- humble origin and of inferior acquirements. Consider-
mited, they would be particularly guarded on all points, ing for the most part that all disquisitions on the nature
from a conviction that an erroneous assertion could and attributes of the Deityß were perplexed with doubts
be easily discovered, and, if discovered, would, however
unimportant it might be, have at least a tendency to ag-

* See Bp. Watson's Apology for Christianity, p. 129.
gravate the evils of which they complained. Yet, it must and the prevalent ignorance respecting their History, are evident from

to The contempt which the Romans entertained against the Jews,
be confessed, they seem not always to have sufficiently Cic. pro L. Flac. $ 28; Hor. Sat. lib. i. s. v. s. ix.; Pers. Sat. ';;
sifted reports* in their defence of a cause, to the excel. Tacit. Hist

. lib. v. ; Martial, lib. iv. ep. 4; lib. ii. ep. 95 ; Juvenal,

Sat. iii. vi. xiv. ; Plut. Sympos. &c.
* Blondel, Des Sibyles, &c. p. 3. Daille, du Vrai Usage des Tertull. Apol. c. 48. Arnob. Disput. ado. Gent. lib. i. p. 15, &c.
Pères, p. 320, &c.

See the instances collected by Grotius, Proleg. ad Stob. &c.

Design of

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.
+ Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. iii. c. 36.

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
tianity was

which it was effected. That it is to be ascribed to the Christians under sufferings; the improbability that men
directing Providence which vouchsafed it to man, no addicted to vice should submit to the loss of all that
sincere believer will deny. But as the instruments is desirable, and deliver themselves voluntarily to the
employed, and the feelings addressed, were human, it is executioner; such was the first circumstance which
not inconsistent, with a full conviction of Divine super- awakened the curiosity of the philosophic Justin ;
intendence, to examine in what manner those instruments such the first reasoning which led him to embrace a
acted, and those feelings were affected. With the Religion, of which he himself became subsequently a
superficial, the question seems to be resolved by a mere Martyr.t
reference, grounded on experience, to the effects of But it is not so much the method by which Chris- Effects of
novelty, and to the influence which the hopes and fears tianity was spread, nor the numerical state of the early the conver.
of futurity exert on the conduct of man. But, although Proselytes, which demands our consideration, as the sion of the

experience has certainly proved that the love of novelty mental effects which Conversion produced. The change
is not destitute of power, it has also taught us that the of conduct, as described by the early Christians, is un-
force of ancient habits and long cherished opinions paralleled in the History of Man: “We," exclaims
retains a far stronger hold on the mind; though it has Justin Martyr, "who formerly rejoiced in licentiousness,
shown that even the indistinct hopes and fears connected now embrace discretion and chastity: we, who resorted
with the idea of the invisible world, occasionally give to magical arts, now devote ourselves to the unbegotten
a sudden impulse to our actions, it has also assured us, God, the God of goodness; we, who set our affections
that the desire of present ease, and still more the dread upon wealth and possessions, now bring to the common
of instant pain, when counterbalanced by no motives of stock all our property, and share it with the indigent;
immediate interest or ambition, will operate with a we, who, owing to diversity of customs, would not
degree of resistance which a fixed belief, and an entire partake of the same hearth with those of a different
consciousness of rectitude can alone surmount. To race, now, since the appearance of Christ, live together,
attribute, therefore, the rapid diffusion of a Religion, and pray for our enemies, and endeavour to persuade
essentially hostile to the systems, establishments, cus- those who unjustly hate us, that by leading a life con-
toms, manners, and passions of the Gentile world, to the formed to the excellent precepts of Christianity, they
vague and arbitrary action of various irregular humours, may be filled with the good hope of obtaining the
is to take at least a very unphilosophical view of the same happiness with ourselves from that God, who is

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.

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