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History. Another remark must force itself on the most incredulous necessary to state briefly on what grounds their autho
examiner. The Letter affords an unquestionable proof rity has been received. The chief points on which we Christina From of the rapid diffusion of Christianity, throughout the would insist are the following :-these Letters are not a
in the Ilnd Province of Pontus and Bithynia, in the short space of single, unconnected document, such, for instance, as the
Century. eighty years after the death of its Divine founder. The Acts of Pilate, which might be easily forged, but they
testimony of Pliny, corroborated as it is by the writings form a part of an extensive correspondence, into which From 211.
of Lucian, * ought to satisfy us that the expressions, in important Epistles could not without great difficulty be Wide diffu
101. which the Fathers describe the extent of the Church, interpolated; they are found in all manuscripts containsion of Christianity
, though doubtless hyperbolical, were not suggested by ing the Xth Book of Epistles, * in which this corre-
spondence is preserved, and some of these manuscripts 211.
, that his Reply of
number of its adherents. The answer of Trajan is brief Works were widely circulated ;t the quotation of TerTrajan. and positive. After declaring his approbation of the tullian is renewed without the slightest suspicion by
course pursued by Pliny, and admitting the impossi- Eusebius, by Jerome, by Orosius, and later writers;
precedent, unworthy of the Age of Trajan." It is in time of Semler, ever ventured to deny their genuineness. tions of Ter- speaking of this Rescript that Tertullian has severely In a word, the authority of manuscripts, the testimony tullian on
reflected on the anomaly of forbidding the adoption of of succeeding writers, the consent of commentators, the the Edict, active measures against the Christians, as if innocent, exceeding difficulty of any interpolation, the absence of examined.
and yet ordering them to be punished as if guilty. a sufficient motive for such an interpolation, the style
* It is but just to add, that suspicions have been entertained, but
, chiefly because it is found in very few manuscripts.
Ś They have been examined by Balduinus, in his Commentaries on
the Edicts of the Roman Emperors ; by J. H. Boehmerus, by Sam. Genuine. We have hitherto detailed and commented upon the Petitus, and other writers, enumerated by Fabricius in his Biblioth. ness of these contents of these Letters on the tacit assumption of their Lat. tom. ii
. P: 415. Ed. Ernest. For further remarks on these EpisLetters. genuineness. As Semler, however, has undertaken to tles, see G. J. Vossii in Ep. Plin. de Christian. Comment.;
and discover in them the traces of imposture, it may be
Lardner's Jewish and Heathen Testimonies, vol v. p. 3–86.
1 The above arguments will be found more fully detailed in Gierig's edition of Pliny the Younger, (tom. ii. 498-519.)
It is hardly necessary to notice a supposed Edict, by which * Alexander, the false Prophet, is represented as complaining,– Trajan is said to have put a stop to the Persecution in consequence of αθίων έμπεπλήσθαι και Χριστιανών τον Πόντον. (Pseudomann. sec. 25.) a letter from Tiberian, Governor of the First Palestine, complaining
+ 0 sententiam necessitate confusam! Negat inquirendos, ut inno- that he was wearied with destroying the Christians, on whom severity centes, et mandat puniendos, ut nocentes. Parcit et sævit, dissimulat had no effect. It is first mentioned by John Malela, a credulous et animadvertit! Quid temetipsam, Censura, circumvenis ? 'Si damnas, writer of the VIth century, and, though cited by Suidas, (v. Tpairvós,) cur non et inguiris? si non inquiris
, cur non ct absolvis ? (Apol.c.2.) contains undeniable marks of forgery. See Dodwell, (in Dissert. Apol. c. 5.
Cyprian. diss. 11. sec. 23, 24.)
History. opposed. Tranquillity, for the most part, came or de- Jews, who had, not long before, been engaged in a
Of the no parted according to the ebb or flow of popular feeling. wide and bloody revolt, had exposed them to the retribu- Christian From
On the accession of Hadrian, a Prince, whose super- tive excesses of the Roman populace. Their hardships in the IInd
stitious addiction to Divination and Magic, * and whose now arose from another quarter, but were accompanied Century. 101.
zealous activity in the maintenance of the Pagan cere- with circumstances of aggravated calamity. The vast
machinations,—the Christians were assailed by fresh the daring impostor Barcochebas,* spread terror and A. D. Accession c! Hadrian. charges, and harassed with increased violence. The desolation in every part of Palestine, and assailed with 101 public Games became, as usual, scenes of licentious- merciless fiiry the followers of Christ, as enemies alike
211. 117, ness inflamed by bigotry. The Civil Authorities were to the Liberty and the Religion of their Country.f The
unable to check the progress of an evil, of which they visitation of vengeance fell indeed no less rapidly than
witnessed the extent, and deprecated the consequences. dreadfully on that infatuated nation, and on the ancient A. D. Hence the complaints of Serenius Granianus, the Pro- seat of her departed glory ;I but it came too late to
126. consul of Asia, and the consequent Edict of the Emperor, protect numbers, who, amid scenes of slaughter and of
noticed. Though apparently not free from some am- unrecorded and unpitied, resigned their lives to pre-
Thus was it the singularly unhappy situation of the
favourable result may have been partly produced by as men attached to it. Whether the Apologies of Quadratus and Aristides. But how- The era of a new reign was generally the era of a A. D.
ever inclined the Emperor might be to shield the new Persecution. The salutary operation of Hadrian's 138. Csigned to Christians from insult and injury, we cannot admit Decree ceased in a great measure with his life; the Accession of Terples to
that it was his intention to have built a Temple to restless spirit of calumny revived, and impiety and Antoninus Christ? Christ, and to have enrolled him among the Gods. No Atheism were the reproaches to which the Christians
mention of any such design is to be found, where it is were exposed, even in the reign of the mild, the amiable,
misfortune. If the Tiber has overflowed its banks, or may safely draw one conclusion, that Hadrian was not the Nile has not overflowed ; if heaven has refused its
regarded as being hostile to the professors of Christianity. rain ; if the earth has quaked; if famine or the plague Esets of
It was particularly during the reign of Hadrian, as has spread its ravages, the cry is immediate, Away ke Jeišca. Eusebius informs us, that the cause of Revealed Truth with the Christians to the Lion.'"||
flourished.11 The deification of Antinous, the Temples In this instance the Emperor is said to have issued Edict of erected, Priests appointed, and victims offered, in
Antoninus honour of a depraved favourite, gave the Christians an
* Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. iv.c. 6. On the revolt of Barcochebas, Pius. opportunity of exposing the origin of the Pagan Deities,
see Hotlinger, Hist. Eccles. p. 68, and Encyclopædia, HADRIAN. which seems to have been successfully seized.lll
† Just. Mart. Apol. lib. ii. p. 12. Prist of
On the ruins of Jerusalem, Hadrian built Ælia Capitolina, from
favour, the Christians were still in a precarious and often Dial. cum Tryph.; Sulpit. Sever. Hist. Sacr. lib. ii. c. 31.) - Bardistressful situation. Their apparent identity with the
♡ Arnob. lib. i. in init.
|| Tertull. Apol. c. 40. Dion Cassius, lib. Ixiv. Ammian. Marcell. lib. xxv.
În the very beginning of his Apology, Arnobius complains of this
unjust accusation, that Christianity excited even the depredations of * Encyclopæd. Hadrian. Curiositatum omnium explorator. Tertull. Apol. c. 5.
locusts and of vermin. The object of Cyprian's Tract to Demetrian In colloquiis etiam humillimorum civilissimus. Spart. Adrian.c. 20. effects of Christianity. Indeed this persuasion continued to increase
is to prove that the evils which oppressed the Empire were not the 1 In Vit. Alexand. Sever. c. 43. The story is rejected by Caubon.
so strongly, that Augustine undertook his great work De Civitate
Dei, and Orosius composed his History, to remove the objections
the Religion of the State, it was charged, in the language of the dep.
245. # In Vit. Adrian.
fenders of Polytheism, with having chased away the Genii of the I Euseb. Præp. lib. iv. c. 17.
Roman People, (Symm. pro Sacr. Patr. ap. Prudent.,) and drawn I!!! See Univ, Hist, vol. xv. p. 169. note.
down the indignation of their forefathers, as they hent from their seats above to contemplate the land of their birth and of their fame. (16.)
History an Edict, preserved by Justin Martyr* and Eusebiust The situation of the Christians in those days of Of the
in which he not only prohibits his subjects from re- terror is delineated with minuteness and animation. Christian From sorting to vexatious and oppressive measures, but Debarred from mutual intercourse, excluded from the
in the lind contrasts the confidence of the Christians with the common rights of Society, exposed to mockery, reproach, 101.
Century. supineness and indifference of the Heathen world. He and outrage, they had no source of solace, but the con211. adds, “ if any shall continue to molest the Christians viction, that “the sufferings of the present time are From
merely on account of their profession, let the accused not to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed
ged the sufferer, as they pillaged his property, as they 211. It was the singular happiness of the Roman Empire, assaulted him with stones, as they converted his house 161. that the virtues of Antoninus Pius were transmitted to into his prison, these are scenes which, even on a tran. Accession of a successor, who illustrated by his life, as well as by sient glance, open a view of the calamities which atMarcus Aurelius
his writings, the severe precepts of the most rigid Sect tended the profession of Christianity at that juncture. Antoninus.
of ancient Philosophy. This happiness, however, was But, however afflicting, they sink in the shade when com-
still calumniated, still plundered, still persecuted. Even nibalism, infanticide, and promiscuous incest; “crimes,"
pain, viewed the sufferings and the fortitude of the committed by human beings." The calumny spread,
Pothinus, the Bishop of Lyons, though upwards of
ruled by the same laws of self-preservation, possessed Martyrdoms As an example of the Persecutions which raged in the of the same senses, affections, passions, fed by the at Lyons seventeenth year of the reign of M. Aurelius, Eusebiust same food, and hurt by the same weapons ?" and Vienne has preserved the account of the Martyrdoms of Lyons The whole description is perhaps more affecting than Remarks
and Vienne, written by the Churches there established. any other narrative in Ecclesiastical History. It speaks
of men who, though marked by the prints of the lash
and the scars of the burning iron, far from glorying in
always recommended peace, and in peace departed
to God." A tone of pious fortitude breathes through
, kə xarà fiagio cagárağı, as o Xperiavoì, it which comes home to the heart. Joseph Scaliger,
the fine edge of sensibility, declares that the perusal
of it was wont to transport him beyond himself, to
expression, it exerted its fall powers to charm, to de ou vixnors nusis berwaéyida. Ammian. Marcell. lib. xxv. c. 4.
Hist. Eccles.lib.v.c. 1. A part only of the accouit is preserved; the whole was inserted by Eusebius in his Collection of the Acts of
* Animad. in Euseb. p. 221. the Martyrs, which is now lost.
+ See his Evidences on Christianity, sec. 7.
History, which circumstances, unnatural and distorted, revolt that he intended to burn himself at the Olympic Games, Of the
and disquiet the reader, though ever so well disposed The report was extensively circulated, and natu- Christian From
Church to repel captious surmises, it is pleasing to point out rally excited unusual interest. The crowd assembled
in the Ilnd some relations, on many parts of which it is impossible was immense. Vanity proved stronger than fear.
to dwell without feeling the influence of Religion. Peregrinus cast himself on a lighted pile erected for
To this reign* may be referred the death of Peregri- the purpose; and, in the words of his Biographer," the From 211.
nus, an occurrence which has been depicted by the lively flames rising on every side, nothing more was seen Brief count of the pencil of Lucian.f The history of this singular person, of him." His death was widely published, and its cir- 101.
succinctly sketched, may serve to throw light on the cumstances were exaggerated. The satirical spirit of death of customs of the ancient Christians. In early youth, if Lucian was gratified as he heard a spectator seriously
211. Peregrinus. we may credit his hostile Biographer, he was guilty of protest, that he had seen prodigies attending this spec
vices which endangered his safety. He is even accused tacle which the writer himself (for his love of Truth
181. whilst in Palestiue, he embraced or affected to embrace Martyrdoms, however, are mentioned, and of these the Reign of
. the Christian Religion. The reputation which he ac- most remarkable was that of Apollonius, a man distinquired in the new Sect, who were either ignorant of his tinguished by his Learning and Philosophy. It is a former character, or satisfied with his subsequent repen- singular circumstance, that in this last instance both 189. tance, is said to have been considerable. He presided the accused and the accuser were executed. It has Execution of in their assemblies, and displayed so much zeal in their been supposed that this punishment was inflicted on
and the ACcause, that he was seized by their enemies, and cast the one in consequence of the Law of Trajan, and on cused : how into prison. Whilst in confinement, he received from the other, in compliance with the Edict of Antoninus explained. the Christians every attention which benevolence could Pius. It is possible, however, that this double punishsuggest, to mitigate the severity of his situation. Widows ment may have arisen from a different cause. The and orphans came anxiously to pay to him the duties accuser of Apollonius was, as we learn from Jeof humanity; the Ministers of the Church prevailed on rome,t his slave; it may therefore be conjectured, his guards to allow them to spend the nights by his that he was condemned according to the ancient Law, side; and Deputies were sent with money to relieve renewed by Trajan, by which the Slave, who informed his wants and to administer consolation. Feasts of against his Master, was to be put to death. It also love, intermingled with converse on sacred subjects, appears that Apollonius was of Senatorian rank; a were celebrated in the scene of his trial. And here proof, independent of the testimony of Eusebius, that even the raillery of Lucian affords honourable testimony the Christian Religion was now professed by men of to the disinterestedness and fortitude which actuated the wealth and station. Indeed, we are informed by Dion Cause of the Christians. . They are described as assisting their Cassius,|| (unless the passage be one of the additions tranquillity afflicted friends with incredible promptitude and libe- of Xiphilin,) that Marcia, the concubine of Commo- of the Chris
tians. rality, and as despising alike riches and sufferings, in the dus, exerted the influence which she possessed with the hope of becoming qualified for immortality by per- Emperor, in procuring benefits for the Christians. Thus, severance in the laws of their legislator; one of which without a formal abolition of the Penal Laws, which laws enjoined them to regard all the members of their were directed against its members, the Church received community as brethren. They had all things, it is added, little injury from the powerful, whose prudence soon in common. The Governor of Syria, a man of a Phi- taught them to abandon Persecution, when their sagacity losophic turn of mind, observing that Peregrinus was discovered that it was not the road to Imperial favour. resolved to submit to Martyrdom, rather than to renounce But it is deeply to be lamented, that though we possess the Religion he had adopted, refused him the honour most of the principal facts in Christian History, we are which he sought, and set him free. On his release he ignorant of numerous slight intermediate occurrences, returned to Parium, his native town, and ceded to the which, however trivial, when considered singly, afford public treasure the property which he had inherited from in the aggregate the best clue towards a discovery of his father; an action which excited the highest degree the true motives which actuate the conduct of Man. It of admiration. Although professing Christianity, he is now left to conjecture, to mould into a consistent wore the cloak and assumed the usual exterior of a whole a strange mass of unconnected and sometimes Cynic Philosopher. In his travels, the Christians con- discordant materials. tinued to supply him with the necessaries of life, till, No mention of the Christians occurs during the short Pertinax owing to some breach of discipline which he com- reigns of Pertinax and Didius Julianus; these Em- and Didius mitted, he forfeited their esteem. Thus discarded, he perors, unable to quell the troubles which immediately
Julianus. indulged in all the grossness of the School he had last surrounded them, had but little inclination to make joined, and wandering through different Countries, at- inquiries into the state of a Religious Sect. tracted notice by the scurrilities which he vented. But as the novelty of his conduct wore away, the attention
* Hist. Eccles. lib. iv. c. 21. which it had excited gradually diminished. He judged
of De Vir. Illust. c. 42. it necessary, therefore, to devise some new method of dent from many passages; e. g. Quid? quum domestici eos vobis
| That Slaves, however, frequently accused the Christians, is eviraising himself to celebrity. The expedient which he prodant ? omnes à nullis magis prodimur, &c. Tertull. i. ad Nation. fixed upon was extraordinary. He publicly proclaimed 6.7; Bishop Kaye, on Tertullian, p. 139, note.
Sce the conjectures of M. de Mandajon in the article Sur une • Respecting the Miracle of the Thundering Legion, see Ency- Prétendue Loi de Marc. Aurel, en faveur des Chrétiens. (Hist. de clopeedia, M. AURELIUS ANT. Phil.
L'Acad. des Inscript. tom. xviii. p. 222.) + De Morte Peregrini.
Il Lib. Ixxii, c. 4.
The Emperor Severus was at first favourably disposed conduct in a regular defence, but were asked the of the
towards the Christians, one of whom, named Proculus, simple question, whether they were members of the Christian From had cured him of a disorder by anointing him with oil, Sect to which they were reported to belong? and, on
in the IInd A. D.
and was in consequence retained in the Imperial Palace their confession, they were either immediately con- Century 101.
till his death.* From a sense of gratitude, he defended demned, or, by a strange perversion of the usual rea
several Romans of high rank, who had embraced Chris- sons for the application of the rack, were tortured, not From 211.
tianity, and openly checked the fury which the multitude in order to disclose, but in order to retract the truth. Accession of Severus.
displayed against its followers. Another circumstance The most dreadful crimes were, as formerly, laid to 101.
may have contributed to produce this fortunate effect: their charge, without any attempt being made to esta193. the Christians had wholly abstained from taking part in blish them by evidence, or even to show their probabi
211. the Civil dissensions raised by Niger in the East, and · bility. The reformation of life produced by conversion, by Albinus in the West.
was seen, felt, and yet disputed. Virtue in a Christian Ci:citer Incensed, however, at the rebellious spirit of the was no longer deemed Virtue. To the accusation of
Jews, and, it may be supposed, naturally averse to all abandoning the worship of the Gods, they answered 202. deviations from the established Creed, he issued an that they were justified in rejecting an Idolatry, which His Edict. Edict, prohibiting his subjects from abjuring their Reli- invested with divine honours* deceased mortals, and
gion in order to embrace the Jewish or the Christian contained a disgusting mass of incongruity and pollu-
reign of Severus became prolific in circumstances of spread, were still circulated and believed. The ChrisPersecution. deep and extensive calamity. In all parts, and par- tians were still often confounded with Jews; and the
ticularly in Egypt, Persecution assumed its most dread- history of the latter people was still misrepresented.
citas, of Marcella and Potamiæna, and of many other efforts of obloquy and Persecution. Apology of Martyrs are recorded.|| It was probably about the One cause of the hostility of the People arose from Conduct of Tertullian.
commencement of this Persecution that Tertullian pub- the abstinence of the Christians from all tumultuous the ChrisCirciter
lished his celebrated Apology, addressed to the Gover- expressions of joy on occasions of public festivity. Public 204. nors of Proconsular Africa.
Amid the revellings and banquettings of the crowd, Festivals. State of the
It is manifest from this Apology, that the Christians when the city was become, in the language of the Apo-
was but imperfectly learned, yet this name was used uncontrolled mirth was termed the effusion of a loyal
of reckless gaiety to the exercise of peaceful devo-
an excuse for luxury and licentiousness. But this con-
which shed a charm over human life.
It is impossible, however, to understand distinctly Opinions of
tians resubject; he conjectures that Euhodia was the daughter of Euhodus, sketch of the opinion of the Christians on the Heathen a freedman of Severus, who is called by Dion Cassius, Caracalla's
worship There was nothing of which the Christians Tgopeus, (i. e. the person who had the care of his education,) and that
origin and Proculus was her freedman. (Diatrib. de Jure Princip. Edict. Eccles.
entertained greater horror than Idolatry. It was the nature of quæsit. p. 62.) Bishop Kaye has observed, " It may be doubted general notion that, although the Heathen Deities were Idolatry. whether we ought to infer from this statement, that a practice then men, who during their lives had rendered eminent sersubsisted in the Church, of anointing sick persons with oil, founded vices to Society,|| the authors and promoters of their on the injunction in the Epistle of St. James. This, however, is worship were Demons. These Demons-either corrupt certain, that the practice, if it subsisted, was directly opposed to the Romish Sacrament of Extreme Unction, which is administered, not angels, ** or their progeny, tt-clothed in a texture of the with a view to the recovery of the patient, but when his tase is utmost tenuity, traversed the air, wandered over the hopeless.” (On Tertullian, p. 455.) Besides the authors above. mentioned, the reader may consult Fabric. Lux Evang. p. 232.
* Tertull. Apol. c. 2. + Tertull. ad Scapul. c. 2.
+ Ibid. c. 35, 36, 38, 39. | Judæos fieri sub gravi pæná vetuit. Idem etiam de Christianis Ibid. c. 33. sanrit. See Spart. in Vit. Sever. c. 17 ; on which see the contra- Ś Tertull. (de Idolol. c. 1,) calls it principale crimen generis hudictory remarks of Mosheim, (de Reb. Christ. ante Const. M. mani, &c. Cyprian, summum delictum. Ep. 10. Thiers, Traité des p. 456,) and Lardner, (Testim. vol.iii. p. 12.)
Superstitions, lib, ii. c. 3. This is reckoned the Vth Persecution by Orosius, (lib. vii. c. 17,) Il Tertull. Apol. c. 10, 11, &c. and the Vith by Sulpicius Severus, (Hist. Sac. lib. ii. c. 32.)
1 On this subject, see Gibbon, Decline and Fall, &c. vol. ü. || Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. vi. c. 1, &c.
ch. xv. p. 127, and Bishop Kaye, on Tertullian, p. 214–221. I They were called Chrestiani, instead of Christiani. (Tertull. ** Min. Fel. c. 27. Apol. c. 3.)
top Tertull. Apol. c. 22.