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CHRISTIAN STUDY MANUALS 



Edited by the Rev, 
R. E. WELSH, M.A. 



REK PROFESSOR JAMES ORR\S 
THE EARLY CHURCH 



LONDON 

HODDER AND STOUGHTON 

27 PATERNOSTEJl ROW 



MCMI 



CHRISTIAN SYMBOLS FROM THE CATACOMBS (Key, p. vUl,). 
'tolograpliedfiyimcailiofthtoriginali, in the pmiHriim i^ the Iiet>, Arclut. PaUrmn, B.D.) 



THE EARLY CHURCH 



ITS HISTORY AND LITERATURE 



BY 



JAMES ORR, M.A., D.D. 

Professor of Apologitics and Systematic Theology, 
United Fru Church College, Glasgow 



LONDON 

HODDER AND STOUGHTON 
27 PATERNOSTER ROW 



MCMI 



One Shilling Net. 



Tj 




G 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I. 

PAGE 

Thb Jbwish and Gentile Pbeparations ... 1 

The Old Testament Preparation — The Post-Exilian 
Preparation : Synagogue Worship, Jewish Sects, 
etc. — The Greek Preparation — The Roman Pre- 
paration — Christianity and Roman Law. 



CHAPTER II. 

The Apostolic Age and Later Jewish Christianity . 14 

The Church of the Apostles — Paul and the Judaising 
Party — Constitution and Worship of the Apostolic 
Churches — Transition to Later Jewish Christi- 
anity — Nazarenes and Ebionites — The '* Clemen- 
tines '*. 

CHAPTER III. 

Gentile Christianity : Nero to Domitian (a.d. 64-96) 30 

First Contact with the Empire — Persecution under 
Nero — Martyrdom of St. Paul and St. Peter — 
Persecution under Domitian — Last Days of St. 
John — The Catacombs. 



vi CONTENTS 

CHAPTER IV. 

PAOS 

The Age of the Apostolic Fathers (a.d. 96-117) . 89 

The Persecution in Bithynia: Pliny and Trajan — 
Martyrdom of Ignatius — Literature of the Period : 
Clement, Barnabas, Hermas, etc. — Theology of 
"The Apostolic Fathers "—The Ignatian Episco- 
pacy. 

CHAPTER V. 

The Age op the Apologists (a.d. 117-180) ... 63 

Hadrian and Antoninus Pius — Martyrdom of Poly- 
carp — Age of the Antonines — Persecutions under 
Marcus Aurelius — Martyrs of Vienne and Lyons 
— The Earlier Apologists : Justin Martyr — Later 
Apologists — The Literary Attack on Christianity : 
Celsus and Lucian. 



CHAPTER VI. 
The Age of the Apologists (continued) : Gnosticism 

AND MONTANISM (A.D. 117-180) 69 

The Apologists as Theologians — The Gnostic Systems 
— Montanism — Apocryphal Writings. 



CHAPTER VII. 

The Age of the Old Catholic Fathebs (a.d. 180-250) . 81 

From Commodus to Severus — Persecution under 
Maximin — Progress of Christianity — Develop- 
ment of the Idea of the Old Catholic Church — 
New Testament Canon — ^Rule of Faith— Apos- 
tolic Succession. 



CONTENTS vii 

CHAPTER VIII. 



PAGE 



The Age of the Old Catholic Fathers (continued) 

(A.D. 180-260) 93 

Irenseus of Gaul — Tertullian of Carthage — The 
Alexandrian School: Clement, Origen — The 
Church of Borne — ^Hippolytus and Callistus — 
Cyprian of Carthage. 



CHAPTER IX. 

The Age of the Gbeat Persecutions: Victory op 

Christianity (a.d. 250-324) Ill 

Decian and Valerian Persecutions — Effects of Perse- 
cutions — Schisms — Empire and Church till 
Diocletian — Neo-Platonism — Career and Char- 
acter of Constantine — Victory of Christianity — 
Donatist Schism. 



CHAPTER X. 

The Age of the Great Persecutions: Victory of 

Christianity (continued) (a.d. 260-824) . . .126 

Establishment of Christianity — Constantine^s Later 
Years — The Church Outside the Roman Empire 
— Manichseism — The Monarchian Heresies — 
Church Teachers and Literature — Church Build- 
ings, Ofl&ces, Services, etc. — Councils — ^Bank in 
the Episcopate — Conclusion. 



EXPLANATION OF FRONTISPIECE. 

{For the lUtbstration and the Explanation the author is indebted to 

the Rev, Archd. Paierson, B,D,) 

1. The Good Shepherd (John x. 11). In Barlv Christian Art, the G. S. is 
always represented as bearing the sheep on his shotUders (Luke xv. 5). 
" Apuleia Crysopolts who lived seven vears, 2 months : The Parents placed 
this to (the memory of) their very dear daughter." Of very early date 
(first half of second century ?). 

2. The Anchor, symbol of hope (Heb. vi. 19), set within the name 
DOMNA. 

3. The Anchor. The Pish or IXOYC, i^. Ina-ovi Xpioro;. Oeov Yto$, 
Gwrnp: Jesus Christ, Son qf Ood, Saviour. **The faithful (i.«. baptised) 
child of faithful (i.e. baptised) parents, Zosimus, here I lie : having lived 2 
years, 1 month, 25 days." 

4. The Anchor : Dove (synibol of the Holy Spirit, Matt. iii. 16). URBICA, 
a design (like a ship) set within a circle (eternity ?). Of very early date 
(first hsdf of 2nd. cent. ?) : so, probably, the central design hsis no such 
highly developed symbolicsil intention. 

5. Orante, i.e. a figure (femsde generally) in the attitude of prayer (1 Tim. 
ii. 8) : on other side a shepherd holding a (?) mulctrum (milking pail) and 
leaning on a staff; a sheep, or goat (?) beside him. " Moses in his lifetime 
had this monument prepared for himself smd his wife." 

6. Anchor, Pish, Bread (Bucharistic Bread?). "Aegrilius Bottus Phila- 
despotus, most sweet smd dutiful (son). His parents erected this to his 
memory. He lived 9 years, 40 days." M.S. (?) memoriae sacrum, i.e. 
" sacred to his memory ". This monument is not a slab but sm upright 
stele or pillar of square section. 

7. Our Lord rsusing Lazsunis. Our Lord is touching the head of Lazarus 
with the virga potestatiSt or rod of power. 

8. Sheep: Peacock (symbol of immortality?). " Aelia Victorina placed 
(this slab) to (the memory of) Aurelia Proba." 

9. A Chirurgeon's outfit : forceps, etc Part of a very long slab. 

10. Dove perched on Olive Branch : Lsunb : Anchor. In the * stock ' or 
transverse beam of the anchor it map be that we are to find a furtive 
representation of the Cross. " Paustmisuius." Of very eariy date (first 
half of 2nd. century ?). 

11. A 'modius' or com measure filled with wheat: (sdso a sheaf of 
wheat on either side ) : a figure standing by, holding, not the * rod of 
power' as in nos. 7 suid 13, but a roller. for pressing along the rim of the 
modius, and so g'ving ^ust measure. *' Maximinus, who lived 23 years : 
the friend of sdL" This, like no. 9 smd in part no. 12, is a trtide symbol, 
not a religious symbol. The amiable Maximinus was probably a com 
merchant. 

12. Chi-Rho (first two letters of XPICTOC, Christ), commonly called 
"the Constantine monotfram," with Alpha smd Om«2a (Rev. i. 8); the 
whole set in a chaplet. The barrel denotes that SBVBRUS was a vintner. 

18. Raising of Lazarus (as in no. 7). Our Lord's head is encircled by a 
nimbus or halo. The inscription, in bad Latin, probably meant, **Datus 
and Bonosa^ the parents, placed this to the memory of their son Datus, 
who lived 20 years. In peace." 



CHAPTER I. 

THE JEWISH AND GENTILE PREPARATIONS. 

The history of the Church may be said in strictness to 
begin with the Day of Pentecost. The Day of Pente- 
cost, however — the conception of the Church alto- 
gether — had its antecedents. The New Jerusalem 
did not come down from heaven quite as it is pictured 
in the Apocalypse, without manifold links of connec- 
tion with the past. St. Paul has this in view when 
he says that it was in " the fulness of the time *' that 
Qod sent forth His Son (GsA. iv. 4). 

1. The Old Testament Preparation. — Mani- 
festly, the Christian Church has a peculiar and genetic 
relation to the Old Testament. For the Old Testament 
community was also in its way a Thbocraoy — a Church 
(c/. Acts vii. 38; Heb. ii. 12). The word ecclena^ 
used in the New Testament to designate the Christian 
society, is that chiefly used in the LXX as the equi- 
valent of the Hebrew word qahcUy assembly or congre- 
gation.^ Though bound up with national forms, 
that theocracy ever cherished in its bosom the con- 
sciousness of a UNivBRSALiSTic DESTINY. Older than 
the national form in its existence was the patriarchal 
— the covenants with the Fathers — ^and here already we 
have the clear enunciation of the idea that Israel was 
a people called with a view to the ultimate blessing 
of the race (Gen. xii. 3, xviii. 18, etc.). That idea 

1 On terms cf. Hort's Christian Ecclesia, Lect. I. 



2 THE EARLY CHURCH 

reaches its fullest expression in the glowing predic- 
tions of the Prophets and the Psalms (e.^., Is. Ix. ; Ps. 
Ixxxvii., KV.). With the prophets, too, we see the 
rise of a new idea — the thought of a Church within a 
Church, a true and spiritual Israel within the natural 
Israel — which is the birth of the Church idea proper 
(c/. Is. viii. 16-18). A further important step in the 
formation of the Church consciousness was taken in 
the Babylonian Exile, when the people, driven from 
their land, and deprived of holy city, temple and 
sacrifices, became a Church in the full meaning of the 
word. Their return to Palestine did not annul this 
feature of their religious life. On the contrary, their 
return was marked by a new development of religious 
institutions — priestly government, the formation of a 
canon of Scripture, the rise of scribism, the reading 
and teaching of the law — all which prepared the 
way for the liberation of the Church idea from its 
national and political form. 

2. The Post-Exilian Preparation. — Of special 

importance in this connection are the four following 
series of facts : — 

(1) The rise and spread of Synagogue Worship. — 
The synagogue may go back to the days of Ezra; in any 
case it was a prominent institution after the return, 
both in Judea and in the lands of the dispersion (Acts 
XV. 21). We note about it, in contrast with the 
temple, its local character, giving it practical uni- 
versality; its simple and spiritual worship — reading 
of law and prophets, reciting of prayers, singing or 
rather chanting of psalms, a discourse or exhortation, 
in which the passage read was expounded and applied, 
a concluding blessing ; and the absence of all priestly 
or sacerdotal offices. The officials were the " elders " 
(probably identical in towns with the civic elders), the 



JEWISH AND GENTILE PREPARATIONS 3 

a/rchuynagogo8 or " ruler " (one or more), who had the 
charge of the public worship, the ** minister " or 
servant (Luke iv. 20), corresponding to the modern 
sacristan or beadle, "collectors of alms," with an 
** interpreter " (Targumist) to give the sense of the 
lessons in the current Aramaic.^ There was consider- 
able freedom in the service. The Scriptures were 
read, the prayers recited, the exhortations given, not 
by officials, but by persons selected from the congrega- 
tion (Luke iv. 16-20 ; Acts xiii. 15). The resemblance 
to a simple Christian service is obvious. 

(2) The rise of the Jewish Sects. — The greater 
part of the period after the exile is an absolute blank 
in our knowledge. The one thing certain is that from 
the time of Ezra the nation set before it as its ideal 
the strict observance of the law of Moses. Hence the 
rise of an order of men whose special business it was 
to guard, develop and expound the law — the order of 
the Scribes. When the curtain lifts again in the time 
of Antiochus Epiphanes (b.c. 175), we find ourselves 
in a different atmosphere, and the three parties of his- 
torical note among the Jews are already in existence. 
The Pharisees first appear as a party of protest 
against the lax Hellenising tendencies of the period. 
The name they bore — ** Assidseans" (Heb. Chasidim) 
— denotes them as the strictly ** pious " or ** Puritans " 
of their day. Parties of this kind, however, are 
peculiarly liable to degeneration, and in their exag- 
gerated scrupulosity and excessive literalism, the "Assi- 
daeans'' soon sank into the "Pharisees" (separated) 
as we know them in the Gospels. The Sadduobes 
(from Zadok), on the other hand, were not a religious 

1 The " ten men of leisure," said to be retained to form a 
quorum, are subject of controversy. 



4 THE EARLY CHURCH 

party at all, but simply a political or aristocratic 
clique, into whose possession the honours of the high 
priesthood and other influential offices hereditarily 
passed. They represent the worldly-wise, diplomatic, 
time-serving party in the state, men of sceptical, 
rationalistic temper, and epicurean in their view of 
life. Of much greater importance for the history of 
the Church, though not mentioned in the Gospels, is 
the third of these parties — the Essbnbs. These had 
their chief settlement in the desert of Engedi, on the 
north-west shore of the Dead Sea, but were found also 
in the towns and villages throughout Palestine. Their 
total number was about 4,000. At Engedi they lived 
as a sort of brotherhood with customs of their own. 
They ofiered no animal sacrifices, contenting them- 
selves with sending to the temple gifts of incense. 
They abounded in lustrations, and wore white gar- 
ments. They rejected marriage, and practised com- 
munity of goods. Their employments were chiefly 
agricultural, but in the towns they exercised trades. 
They had the peculiar custom (perhaps Oriental) of 
greeting the sunrise with prayers. They forbade 
slavery, war, and oaths, were given to occult studies, 
had secret doctrines and books, etc. The superficial 
resemblances have led some to trace Christianity itself 
to Essene sources, but in fundamental ideas no systems 
could be more opposed* We shall see that Essenism 
probably became ultimately merged in a form of 
Christianity. 

(3) The Judaism of the Dispbbsion. — The dispersion 
had its origin in the captivities, but was more due to 
voluntary settlements for trade. The Greek rulers 
did everything they could to attract settlers to their 
newly-founded cities, and the troubles in Palestine 
made multitudes willing to leave their native country. 



JEWISH AND GENTILE PREPARATIONS 5 

Thus it came about that there was hardly a land or 
city where Jews were not to be found. They some- 
times had rights of citizenship, and in many places, 
as in Alexandria, enjoyed special privileges. The 
effect on the Jew himself was profoundly and insensibly 
to modify his whole manner of thought. A freer 
spirit was necessarily introduced. From being a 
citizen of Zion, he became a citizen of the world. 
The dispersion provided points of contact for Christi- 
anity through the spread of the synagogues (c/. Acts, 
pdsmn), the circulation of the Jewish Scriptures in 
the Greek tongue, above all through the creation of 
a large body of proselytes. But outside the circle of 
proselytes proper there was in most communities a 
following of converts — ^the ** devout persons ** of the 
New Testament (Acts x. 2, 22 ; xiii. 16, 26, etc.) — 
who, while attending the synagogues, only observed 
the Mosaic law in certain leading points — e.g., the Sab- 
bath. Many of the first converts of the Gospel were 
drawn from this class. It is noteworthy that the 
admission of proselytes was not only by circumcision 
and sacrifice, but by baptism, and, if Talmudic state- 
ments are to be trusted, the children of proselytes were 
baptised with their parents. 

(4) The contact of Jewish thought — ^particularly at 
Alexandria — with Hbllbnio Culture and Philosopht. 
— The classical name here is Philo, though the elements 
of Philo's doctrine are already met with in the Apocry- 
phal Book of Wisdom, Philo was bom about b.c. 20, 
and lived till near the middle of the first century. 
He was therefore a contemporary of both Christ and 
St. Paul. Profoundly versed in Greek philosophy and 
literature, he sought to bring about an amalgamation 
of Jewish and Greek modes of thought. His character- 
istic doctrine is that of the Logos or " Word " of Gtod, 



6 THE EARLY CHURCH 

whom he conceives of partly in Platonic and Stoical 
fashion, but whom, at the same time, following hints 
of the Old Testament and of the Jewish schools, he 
tends to bypostatise, or interpose as a distinct person- 
ality between Qod and His creation. His doctrine has 
often been compared with that of the Apostle John. 
There are, however, radical contrasts. The Apostle 
has his feet on historic facts (John i. 14 ; 1 John i. 
1-3). Philo's theory would have repelled an incar- 
nation. 

3. ProYldential Mission of Opeeoe and Rome. — 

The splendour of Athens in the age of Pericles should 
not blind us to the fact that for Greece as a whole the 
fifth century B.C. was an age of decline.^ The great 
colonising energy of Greece was in the previous century. 
The mission of the Greeks was not to be the rulers, 
but the INTBLLBCTUAL EDUCATORS of mankind. The 
rule passed to Macedonia, and for a brief moment it 
seemed as if Alexander's dream of a Greek empire of 
the world was to be realised. His empire fell to pieces 
at his death, but his great design was fulfilled of 
diffusing Greek letters and culture wherever his arms 
had gone. Rome gradually gathered up the fragments 
of the Macedonian empire, but Rome herself yielded 
to the intellectual supremacy of Greece. It cannot 
be too firmly grasped how profoundly Greek influences 
had taken possession of the Roman empire at the be- 
ginning of the Christian era. Greek language, Greek 
philosophy, Greek literature, Greek culture were every- 
where. Rome itself was at this time in great measure, 
what Juvenal calls it, a Greek city. It is a fact which 
may not always strike us that the Epistle to the Romans 
was written in Greek. 

* Cf. Freeman. 



JEWISH AND GENTILE PREPARATIONS 7 

While, however, profoundly influenced by Greece, 
Rome's providential mission was different from hers. 
It was the task of Greece to show what the human 
mind can do at its highest and best in the way of 
natural development ; to teach the world the elements 
of her own culture and civilisation; to give it a 
language fitted for every noble purp)ose of thought and 
life. It was the function of Rome to bind the nations 
together into a great political unity — to weld them 
by strong bonds of law and government into a vast, uni- 
versal commonwealth. The practical instinct of the 
Roman people and their genius for government enabled 
them to accomplish this as no other people of the world 
could have done. It is no chance coincidence that 
the hour of the completion of this great political fabric 
was also that of the birth of Christianity — ^that the 
two events almost completely synchronised. The 
world-empire and the world-religion came into being 
together. 

4. The Opeek Preparation. — The very intensity 
of the intellectual development in Athens tended to 
hasten a moral dissolution. The Greek religion was 
not one which would bear looking at critically. The 
POPULAR thbology in Greece was simply that of the 
poems of Homer. When this is said, it is easy to see 
that its foundations must have been swept away the 
moment men began to inquire rationally into the causes 
of things, and to entertain more elevated moral concep- 
tions. Morality in the older period had rested largely 
on tradition — on custom. Now a spirit of inquiry had 
set in which would allow nothing to custom. A class 
of popular educators had arisen who had no difficulty 
in dissolving the most cherished beliefs in the play of 
their sceptical dialectic. Other causes aided the col- 
lapse. Even the enervation of morals by the refine- 



8 THE EARLY CHURCH 

ment and luxury of the prosperous period was not so 
fatal to moral life as the long-continued and exhaust- 
ing wars of states, with their woeful lack of principle 
in public men, the constant breach of faith in treaties, 
the strife of factions, and like evils. 

But Greece had a more important service to do for 
Christianity than simply to reveal the depths of her 
own moral impotence. The preparation had a positive 
SIDE as well. With the overthrow of the old religion 
there was going on, on the part of the nobler spirits, 
a search for a more rational and abiding foundation 
for religion ; with the overthrow of the old morality 
there began with Socrates the search for a deeper 
ground of morality in man's own nature ; with the 
breaking up of the old states there was seen in 
Stoicism the rise of the conception of a state or 
commonwealth based on reason, wide as the world, 
and embracing man in a new brotherhood. In these 
THREB DIRECTIONS therefore, (1) a more inward view of 
morality, (2) the recognition of a common nature in 
man, and the reaching out to a universal form of 
society, and (3) a tendency to Monotheism, clearly 
discernible in all the nobler minds, we are to look 
for the positive preparation for Christianity in the 
ancient world. But all these advances of the human 
spirit could not avert the dissolution of belief and 
morals. The note of uncertainty in later Greek 
philosophy is very marked (Sceptical Schools). The 
most earnest minds were those who felt it most 
deeply. Dissatisfied with human opinion they felt, 
as Plato phrases it, the need of some '* word of 
God," which would more surely carry them (Phsedo). 

S. The Roman Preparation. — If the philosophy 
of Greece could not save Greece itself, it was not to 
be expected that it would be able to save Borne. The 



JEWISH AND GENTILE PREPARATIONS 9 

Romans were a people of graver, morb sbrious dis- 
position than the Greeks. They had not the quick, 
. versatile imagination of the Greeks. Their gods were 
mostly personifications of abstract ideas (Justice, Pity, 
Clemency, Pleasure, and the like). Religion was to 
them a very serious part of the business of life, to 
be engaged in with strict formality, and punctilious 
observance of prescribed rites. Their gods were viewed, 
too, as more really the guardians of fidelity and virtue 
in household and state than among the Greeks. All 
testimonies accordingly bear witness to the severe 
virtue and simple manners of the early Romans. 

This simplicity did not endure. With the growth 
of power— especially after the fall of Carthage 
and Corinth — ^there was a great inrush op foreign 
CUSTOMS. The Greek gods came with the Greek 
culture, and a change took place in Roman reli- 
gion for the worse. Altered conditions in the state 
co-operated to bring about deterioration of morals. 
The old distinction of patrician and plebeian was 
supplanted by that of rich and poor. The wars 
destroyed agricultural industry, and threw the land 
into the hands of wealthy men, who farmed their 
estates by gangs of slaves. Slavery became the basis 
of the social structure, and labour was despised as 
beneath the dignity of citizens. The populace were 
supported by doles from the state, or largesses from 
nobles, and lived only to be fed and amused ("bread 
and games,'' Juvenal). The sanguinary spectacles of 
the amphitheatre fostered in them a cruel and blood- 
thirsty spirit. Marriage lost its sacredness, and licen- 
tiousness flooded society. 

What all this meant for religion it is not difficult to 
foresee. The chief features, in a religious respect, 
wre : (1) The wide prevalence of scepticism, or total 



10 THE EARLY CHURCH 

unbelief among the cultured or educated classes ; and 
(2), the vast growth of superstition and a great influx 
of foreign cults among the people in general. The 
cults chiefly in favour were the Oriental, and this 
again shows that the religious consciousness had en- 
tered on a deeper phase. For, whatever the defects 
of the Oriental religion, there was expressed in most 
of them a deeper feeling of the discord, the pain, the 
mystery of life, and many of their rites showed a long- 
ing for redemption. 

Special importance attaches to the rise of an en- 
tirely new cult — the worship of the emperor. In 
CiBSAR WORSHIP the religion of paganism may be said 
to have culminated. The Roman people had long 
been familiar with the idea of a Genius of the Republic. 
Now, when all powers and offices were gathered up 
in the emperor, he became to ordinary eyes an almost 
godlike being. From this the step was easy to formal 
apotheosis. The Senate took this step when they 
decreed divine honours to the emperors — many of them 
the basest and vilest of mankind. Yet this worship 
of the emperor took root, and, in the provinces especi- 
ally, gained amazing popularity. A special class of 
guilds {Augustales) sprang up to attend to it. The 
peculiarity of it was that it was the one worship 
which was common to the whole empire. In it also 
the Roman Empire expressed its inmost spirit. As 
the deification of brute power, it was the strongest 
possible antithesis to the worship of the Christ. It 

was THB WORSHIP OF THE BEAST. 

Luxurious, frivolous, sceptical and corrupt as the 
age was, however, there is not to be overlooked in it 
the presence of certain better elements. As in Greece, 
so here, the preparation was not wholly negative. 
Stoicism and Platonism had received a religious tinge 



JEWISH AND GENTILE PREPARATIONS 11 

(Seneca, Plutarch), and exercised an elevating influence 
on the purer minds. There were, doubtless, numerous 
individual examples of virtue. The Collegia (organ- 
ised associations or guilds) of the empire, and the 
MTSTEBiBS havc intimate and curious relations with 
the history of the Church in the first centuries. Dr. 
Hatch would explain from the former several of the 
ofl&ces of the early Church. ^ The mysteries of Mithras, 
Professor Hamack says, were in the third century the 
strongest rival of Christianity .^ The burial societies 
were legal, and the Christians took advantage of this 
for their protection. When all is said, the verdict of 
history on that old world must be that it was as 
corrupt as it could well be to exist at all, and what 
was worse, had not within itself any principle of 
regeneration. 

6. Christianity and Roman Law. — What is some- 
times said of the tolerance of the Romans requires to 
be taken with considerable modification. The Romans 
had laws enough against foreign rites ; even where 
the practice of a foreign religion was permitted, this 
permission did not extend to Romans. Christianity, 
therefore, fell under the ban op the laws in a double 
respect. It was unsanctioned (religio Ulicita), and 
it drew away Romans from the established religion. 
Even with this disadvantage, however, it might have 
escaped, for the authorities found it impracticable 
rigidly to enforce the laws. 

But there were special features about Christianity 
which, from a Roman standpoint, made tolerance im- 
possible. Christianity was not a national religion. 

1 C/. Hort, pp. 128-210. 

' Their strange oarioatures of Christian rites were a aouroe 
of perplexity to the Fathers. 



12 THE EARLY CHURCH 

The sentiment of antiquity respected the gods of other 
nations ; but Christianity appeared rather in the light 
of a revolt against the ancient faith from which it 
sprang, and had no national character of its own. 
It had no visible deity or temple, and to the pop\ilar 
mind seemed a species of atheism. Specially, it could 
not fail to be seen that, with its exclusive claims, it 
struck at the very existence of the Roman state re- 
ligion. If its precepts were admitted, the state 
religion would be overthrown. The more earnest men 
were, therefore, to maintain or revive the prestige of 
the established system, the more determinedly must 
they oppose this new superstition. The irreconcil- 
ability of Christianity with the established religion 
came naturally to its sharpest point in the refusal 
of Christians to oflTer at the shrine of the emperor. 
This was an act of disobedience in a vital point, which 
could not be passed over. 

Add to this the manner in which Christianity came 
into conflict with the laws prohibiting secret and 
nocturnal gatherings ; the powerful material interests 
affected by its spread (c/. Acts xix. 24-27) ; the odium 
in which Christians were held on account of the crimes 
imputed to them by their enemies ; the outbursts of 
popular fury to which they were opposed in times of 
public calamity, and it will readily be understood 
how, even when there was no general persecution, 
they lived in a constant state of insecurity, and how 
the very " name " of Christian should be held sufficient 
to condemn them. 

Pomts for mqmry and sivdy. — Compare Synagogue and 
Church (services, offices, etc.) Compare Essenism and Chris- 
tianity. Give a fuller account of Philo, and compare his 
doctrine with St. John's Prologue. Show how with Socrates 
and after him moral thinking in Greece took an inward turn. 



JEWISH AND GENTILE PREPARATIONS 13 

lUustrate MonotheiBm among Greeks and Romans. Read 
TertuUian's contrast of Christian meetings with heathen 
Collegia {ApoL, ch. 39). Find out more about the Mysteries 
and their relation to the Church. Illustrate the position of 
Christians in the Roman Empire from Pliny's letter to 
Trajan, and the Apologies of Justin Martyr and Tertullian. 

The following books may be consulted on the subjects of 
this chapter : Besides the Church Histories (Neander, etc.), 
Edersheim's Jesus the Messiah; Dollinger's Jew and Qentile^ 
Uhlhom's Conflict of Christianity ; Pressens^'s Ancient World 
and Christianity; Fisher's Begmnings of Christianity; 
Schiirer's Jewish People^ etc. ; Lightfoot on " Essenes " 
{Commentary on Colossians); Freeman's Chief Periods of 
European History; Loring Bruce's Oesta Christi and The 
Unknown Ood; Schmidt's Social Results of Early Christi- 
anity; Hatch's Organisation of Early Christian Churches 
and Infltience of Greek Ideas ; Ramsay's Chu/rch in Boman 
Empire. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE APOSTOLIC AGE AND LATER JEWISH 

CHRISTIANITY. 

Into the pagan world such as we have described it 
Christ's religion came as the breath of a new life. 
**The time is fulfilled," said Jesus, "and the King- 
dom of God is at hand*' (Mark i. 15). In Christ's 
life, deeds, preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom, 
death and resurrection, the moveless foundations of 
the Church were laid. 

Christ's last injunction to His apostles was to abide 
at Jerusalem till they should receive " the promise of 
the Father" (Luke xxiv. 49; Acts i. 4, 5). In the 
outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts ii.) the 
New Testament Church was bom. 

1. The Church of the Apostles.— Obvious reasons 
compel a glance at the phenomena of the Apostolic 
Age. Three main stages in the development may be 
distinguished : — 

(1) The first takes us to the martyrdom of Stephen, 
and may be called the period of unbroken unity with 
Jewish institutions. The Church in this stage was 
composed wholly of Jewish believers, and was presided 
over by the apostles as a body. The first disciples 
stood in unbroken unity with temple and synagogue 
(Acts ii. 46 ; iii. 1).^ Their specifically Christian 

^ Muoh later Saul sought the Christians in the synagogues 
(Aots ix. 2). 

(14) 



THE APOSTOLIC AGE 16 

fellowship expressed itself in domestic gatherings (ch. ii. 
46). Even the apostles did not dream of parting with 
their national usages {cf. Peter's scruples, Acts x.), but 
probably thought of the Gentile mission to which they 
knew themselves called (Matt, xxviii. 19; Acts i. 8; 
ii. 21, 39), as an incorporation into Jewish privilege. 
How long this naive stage lasted is uncertain, but the 
need must early have been felt for more independent 
assemblies. This became imperative when, xmder the 
new impulse of love, the so-called "community of 
goods '* was introduced (ch. ii. 44, 45). It is in connec- 
tion with the judgment on Ananias and Sapphira that 
the word " Church " first occurs (ch. v. 1 1).^ Even yet 
we must beware of attributing to these gatherings of 
the disciples too formal an organisation. Everything 
is as yet fluent, growing, unconstrained. The first 
mention of '* elders " is in Acts xi. 30, and, doubtless, 
the analogy followed there was that of the Jewish 
synagogue. 

The oldest definite step in organisation we read of 
was the appointment of The Seven (Acts vi.), called 
for by the disputes between Hebrews and Hellenists 
(Greek-speaking Jews) about the daily distribution. 
It is customary to see in these " Seven " the proto- 
types of the " deacons " ; but it may be questioned 
whether the design went farther than to meet a parti- 
cular emergency. Naturally, as believers multiplied, 
similar associations tended to spring up in the sur- 
rounding districts (Acts ix. 31 ; Gal. i. 22). These 
appear to have stood in a certain relation of depend- 
ence on the mother Church in Jerusalem. ^ But the 

1 Not in Acts ii. 47 ; c/. B.V. 

^ Even when so important a Church as that of Antioch was 
formed, it seemed the natural thing to send delegates to it 
from JerusaJem to look after its welfare (Acts xi. 22). 



16 THE EARLY CHURCH 

distinction of Hellenist and Hebrew had a further 
influence, and one of greater importance. It lay in 
the nature of the case that the Hellenistic Jews were 
men of a freer, more cosmopolitan spirit than their 
Hebrew compatriots. From their circle came Stephen, 
the forerunner of St. Paul. It seems plain that Stephen 
had clearly grasped the principle that salvation by faith, 
and the spirituality and inwardness of Christ*s religion 
generally, rendered obsolete the prescriptions of the law 
(Acts vi. 13, 14). His address in his defence turns 
throughout on this idea, that God's revelations are 
not tied to times and places, and that His worship is 
not necessarily bound up with these (ch. vii.). It 
was this that led to his martyrdom for blasphemy. 
It did not occur to anyone that he had left a suc- 
cessor in the young man at whose feet his clothes 
were laid, and who was the most clamorous for his 
destruction. 

(2) The second stage extends from the martyrdom 
of Stephen to the Council of Jerusalem, and may be 
termed the period of the founding op the Gentile 
Churches. The birth of Gentile Christianity was not 
an event which took place all at once, or without being 
prepared for within the Church itself. The first 
barrier broken down was that between Jews and 
Samaritans (Acts viii. 5-8) ; a second was broken 
down when Philip sought and baptised the Ethiopian 
eunuch (ch. viii. 26-40) ; a third and greater one was 
removed when Peter was sent to Cornelius (ch. x.) ; 
the last was broken down when some men of Cyprus 
and Cyrene, likewise Hellenes, boldly struck into a 
new line, and began to preach the Gospel to the 
Greeks at Antioch (ch. xi. 20, 21). This was quite 
A NEW DEPARTURE. Previously, it is said, the Word had 
been preached to none but Jews only (ver. 19) ; now 



THE APOSTOLIC AGE 17 

it was preached to Grentiles, and a purely Gentile 
Church was founded. The special thing to notice is 
how the Church at Jerusalem received the tidings of 
these advances. It did so in a way worthy of it. It 
saw itself being led into new paths, but it was not 
disobedient to the heavenly vision (c/. viii. 14; xi. 
18, 22, 23). 

Meanwhile God had been preparing His own instru- 
ment for this work. The conversion op Saul is one 
of the most remarkable facts in history ; one also 
the most far-reaching in its effects. ** Pharisaism has 
fulfilled its historical mission when it has brought 
forth this man" (Hamack). It is not an unlikely 
conjecture that the reason why Saul opposed the 
Christians with so unrelenting a hostility was that, 
with his powerful, consistent intellect, he saw more 
clearly than others that the logical consequence of 
this system was the utter overthrow of Judaism.^ 
When, therefore, it pleased God to reveal His Son in 
him (Gal. i. 15), this was to him one and the same 
thing as the call to preach the Gospel to the 
Gentiles. A prolonged retirement to Arabia was 
followed by a fifteen days' visit to St. Peter at 
Jerusalem ; the next few years were spent in his 
native district (Gal. i. 17-21). Thence he was brought 
by Barnabas to help him at Antioch, where a power- 
ful Church had been established, and the disciples 
had received the name by which they have since 
been known — "Christians" (Acts xi. 26). 

From this point begins a new development. St. 
Paul and Barnabas are separated for a mission to the 
Gentiles (ch. xiii. 2). We need not follow the Apostle 
in bis MISSIONARY JOURNEYS. His progress is marked 

^Thus Baur. 

2 



18 THE EABLY CHUBCH 

by light points^ for it was a principle with him, neg- 
lecting outposts, to aim at the great centres. This 
enables ns to trace him as he goes along — at Antioch 
in Pisidia, at Philippi, at Thessalonica, at Athens, at 
Corinth, at Ephesus — till finally his desire was gratified 
in a way he had not looked for, and he saw Rome also 
(Rom. i. 15 ; xv. 32). The conditions under which these 
Churches planted by St. Paul had their origin caused 
them to present certain peculiarities, (a) They were 
free to a greater extent than the Palestinian Churches 
from the law and synagogue; (p) they were mostly 
mixed Churches — composed in varying proportions of 
Jews and Gentiles ; and (c) they were more completely 
independent than the Palestinian and Syrian Churches. 
The latter, it was noted, stood in a certain relation of 
dependence on the mother Church at Jerusalem. 
The only bond of union among the Pauline Churches 
was their consciousness of a common faith, and the 
personality of their great apostle, whose letters and 
travels from Church to Church kept them in touch 
with him and in connection with one another. 

(3) The third stage extends from the Council of 
Jerusalem (inclusive) to the end of the apostolic age, 
and is marked as the period of thb great gontro- 
VBRST BBTWBBN Jbw AND Gbntilb. The Church in 
Jerusalem appears, to have been considerably rein- 
forced by the more conservative section (Acts vi. 7 ; 
rv. 5 ; xxi. 20). These had been content to be silent 
when it was only the case of one individual (the 
eunuch), or one family (Cornelius), or one Church 
(Antioch), directly under the eyes of their own 
delegates. Now (close of first missionary journey), 
the Gentile mission had been pushed far and wide, 
and there seemed a danger that their distinctive 
Jewish privilege would be altogether swamped. A 



THE APOSTOLIC AGE 19 

BBAGTiONABT PARTY accordingly emerged, whose 
watchword was " Except ye be circumcised, ye cannot 
be saved" (ch. xv. 1, 5, 24). Their machinations at 
Antioch led to Paul and Barnabas being sent up to 
the apostles and elders at Jerusalem for a settlement 
of this question, and to the calling of the Great 
Council of Acts xv. The chief points to be noted are 
the entire agreement of the Jerusalem leaders with 
Paul on the main issue (thus also Gal. ii.),^ and the 
broad basis on which the decision was arrived at — 
" The apostles and elders, with the whole Church " 
(ch. XV. 23). 

The decision itself was of the nature of a compro- 
mise, but it left untouched a point of great importance 
for the future peace of the Church. The Jews were 
not to insist on circumcision; the Gentiles were to 
observe precepts (vers. 28, 29). But it was not settled 
whether Jewi were at liberty to dispense with the 
customs of their nation. On this point real difference 
of opinion still existed.^ St. Paul was probably the 
only one perfectly clear in principle ; the majority of 
the Jewish believers took the other view. The dififer- 
ence was one which was bound to emerge in mixed 
Churches — especially in eatirug. Hence the collision 
OP St. Paul and St. Peter at Antioch (Gal. ii. 11-14), 
which turned on this point. The question of principle, 
however, once raised, could only be settled in one way 
in th« interests of the liberty and unity of the Church 
(cf, the Epistles of St. Peter and St. James, which lay 
not the slightest stress on the observance of the law 
of Moses — this though both are directly writing to 
the Diaspora), Still, as a matter of usage, the Jewish 
Christians continued to walk faithfully in the customs 

' Some do not identify these visits. ' Thus Hitsohl. 



20 THE EARLY CHURCH 

of their fathers (thus even St. Paul, Acts xxi. 24; 
xxviii. 17).^ 

It will be seen from this that the Judaising party 
which opposed St. Paul with so much bitterness in the 
Churches did not consist entirely of those who insisted 
on circumcision. This was the nature of the opposi- 
tion in Galatia (Gal. v. 1-4 ; vi. 13, 14). But it would 
include also those who, without insisting on the cir- 
cumcision of the Gentiles, resented the abrogation of 
the law for Jews. This was probably the nature of 
the opposition at Corinth, where we do not read of any 
attempt to raise the question of circumcision, but of 
attacks on St. Paul's apostleship, and the attempt to 
form a Petrine in opposition to the Pauline party 
(1 Cor. i. 12 ; ix. 1). After this the controversy seems 
to have died down (a last trace in Phil. iii. 2). From 
this time St. Paul had to contend with mixed forms 
of error, in which legality had a place, but in associa- 
tion with Essenian and other heretical elements (c/. 
Colossians). By the time we reach the Gospel and 
Epistles of St. John we are moving in an atmosphere 
far above these oppositions, and find all antitheses 
resolved in the calm assurance of the possession of 
'* eternal life." 

2. Constitution and Worship of the Apostolic 

Ghurohes. — Fresh light has been thrown on these 
subjects by the recently discovered Dida/ch^ — probably 
a work of the end of the first century.^ With respect 
to constitution^ the chief gain in our knowledge is the 
distinction we are enabled to make between obdinart 
and extraordinary office-bearers. 



^ C/. the desoription of St. James (from Hegesippus) in 
Eusebius, Hist.^ 11., 28. 

8 See Chap. Iv. 



THE APOSTOLIC AGE 21 

The ordmary ofl&ce-bearers are the eldbbs (or bishops) 
and DEACONS. The facts may be thus exhibited : (1) 
Each congregation was presided over by a number of 
elders or bishops (Acts xi. 30 ; xiv. 23 ; Titus i. 5, etc.). 
With these were joined the deacons, who seem to have 
served or assisted the elders in temporal matters. (2) 
Elders and bishops were identical. The names are inter- 
changeable (Acts XX. 17, 28 ; Phil. i. 1 ; 1 Tim. iii. 1, 
8 ; Titus i. 5, 7). There is no reason for supposing 
that the persons described more generally in 1 Cor. 
xii. 28; 1 Thess. v. 12; Heb. xiii. 8, etc., are other 
than the elders. (3) The elders had spirittud, and 
not merely administrative, functions.^ They have 
oversight of the flock, watch for souls, speak the 
Word, pray with the sick, etc. (Acts xx. 28; Heb. 
xiii. 17 ; 1 Pet. v. 2 ; James v. 15). (4) As in the 
case of " the Seven," election was popular (thus also 
Dida>che), with subsequent ordination (Acts vi. 5 ; 1 
Tim. iv. 14 ; v. 22 ; Titus i. 5). 

While this was so, there was a class of extraordinary 
ofl&ce-bearers, to whom the work of teaching and ex- 
horting more especially belonged. These were the 
APOSTLES and evangelists, prophets and teachers 
(Acts xiii. 1; 1 Cor. xii. 28; Eph. iv. 11). They 
differed from the others in that their ministry was 
itinerant. The Didache gives minute directions re- 
garding the apostles, prophets and teachers (ch. 
xi.-xiii.). Their support is to be voluntary. The 
apostle is not to tarry more than two days in one 
place. If any asks for money, he is a false prophet. 
The prophet may settle in a congregation and become 

^ This against Hatch. His conjecture that the designa- 
tion ** bishops " in Gentile churches was suggested by the 
guilds connects itself with his idea that their functions were 
mainly financial or administrative. 



22 THE EARLY CHURCH 

what we would call its pastor. If prophets or 
teachers are absent, the bishops and deacons perform 
their service. 

Besides this special and general ministry in the 
Church, there were cases in which the ordering of 
the affairs of the Church was put into the hands of 
specially appoint.ed apostolic delegates — men like 
Timothy and Titus. Their position is probably to be 
looked on as deputed and exceptional, and adapted to 
the circumstances of a transition period {cf. 1 Tim. 
i. 3 ; Titus i. 5). 

The above was the general constitution of the 
Gentile churches, and the Jewish churches in the main 
agreed with it. In one important respect, however, 
a different type was presented by the Church at 
Jerusalem. This Church, we saw, was presided over 
by the apostles, and took an oversight of the Jewish 
churches in its neighbourhood. Afterwards its presi- 
dency was in the hands of James, the Lord's brother, 
who, from his personal pre-eminence and relationship 
to Christ, held practically apostolic rank. From this 
circumstance the idea seems to have grown up that 
the head of the Church at Jerusalem should be a blood 
relation of Christ; and, after St. James's martyrdom 
(c. A.D. 70), a cousin of the Lord, Symeon, was elected.^ 
He held this position till his own martyrdom (c. a.d. 
107). Soon after, in the reign of Hadrian, the Jewish 
Church in Jerusalem came to an end. 

In its worship, as in its constitution^ the Church was 
modelled partly on the usage of the synagogue. In 
Jewish-Christian, and even wider circles, the name 
" synagogues " was long in use for Christian assemblies 
{cf. James ii. 2). What was new came from the freer 

^ Hegesippus in Eusebius, Hiat^ iii., 11. 



THE APOSTOLIC AGE 23 

spirit which Christianity introduced, and from the 
entrance of specific Christian ideas and observances. 
Chief among these nbw elbmbnts may be noted : (1) 
The new day of Christian service — the first day of 
the week, or Lord's Day (Acts xx. 7 ; 1 Cor. xvi. 2 ; 
Rev. i. 10 : thus also Didache), (2) The exercise of 
the spiritual gifts — ^tongues, prophesyings, etc. (1 Cor. 
xii.). (3) The singing of Christian hymns (c/. Eph. 
V. 19). Fragments of these hymns are believed to be 
found in such passages as Eph. v. 14 ; 1 Tim. iii. 16. 
(4) The reading of apostolic letters (Col. iv. 16; 
1 Thess. V. 27). (5) The observance of Baptism and 
the Lord's Supper (breaking of bread, eucharist). 

Baptism, after Oriental custom, was administered 
generally, though not exclusively, by immersion. 
Another method was pouring, for which directions are 
given in the Didache (vii.).^ {Cf, the baptism of the 
Spirit by outpouring. Acts ii. 33 ; x. 46, etc.). The 
rite was administered on profession of faith — Whence 
primarily to adults — and was frequently accompanied 
with spiritual gifts (e,g,, Acts xix. 16). Opinions 
differ as to the baptism of the children of believers. 
A class of cases may indicate that the Jewish analogy 
was followed of receiving the household with its head 
(Acts xvi. 15, 33 ; 1 Cor. i. 16; cf. 1 Cor. vii. 14). 

The crowning act of the New Testament religious 
service was the Lord's Supper, with which in this age 
was always combined the Agape^ or ** love-feast." The 
two formed, indeed, one sacred meal, in the course of 
which, after blessing, bread was broken and wine 
drunk after the example of the Lord (1 Cor. xi. 23- 
34). Different types of observance may, however, 
be distinguished. In Gentile churches the service 

^ Illustrated also in Catacomb pictures. 



24 THE EABLY CHUBCH 

tended to be adapted to the freer model of the Greek 
feast (hence the abuses at Corinth, 1 Cor. xi.); in 
Jewish churches there was closer adherence to the 
ritual of the Passover. The eucharistic prayers in the 
Didache are on the latter model (chs. ix.-x.). The 
directions do not include the words of institution; 
but these may be presumed to be presupposed. 

8. Transition to later Jewish Christianity. — 

We have foimd two parties in Jewish Christianity — one 
our extreme Pharisaic party, who riot only observed 
the law themselves, but would have imposed it on the 
Crentiles ; the other, more tolerant and liberal, and 
friendly to the mission of St. Paul. A series of events 
now took place which had the twofold effect of (1) 
finally separating the Jewish Christian Church from 
the older Judaism ; (2) finally separating the two 
Jewish parties — the stricter and more tolerant — from 
each other. Such events were : — 

(1) The catastrophe of the destruction of Jeru- 
salem (a.d. 70). Warned, it is said, by a divine 
revelation (more probably mindful of the predictions 
of the Lord), the Christians had withdrawn to Pella, 
in the Decapolis, and there beheld the storm sweep 
over their doomed nation which wrought its over- 
throw. So awful a providence could not but lead 
them to ponder anew their relation to a system which 
had thus perished, as it were, under the visible curse 
of God. 

(2) The REVIVAL OF Rabbinism, and increasing 
hostility of the Jews. The political fall, far from 
destroying Rabbinism, became the occasion of a great 
increase in its power (new centre at Jamnia, schools 
opened, court of justice established, etc). This stiffen- 
ing and concentration of Judaism was accompanied 
by a bitterly intensified hostility to the Christians 



THE APOSTOLIC AGE 26 

(Minim), who, repelled, cursed, persecuted by their 
brethren according to the flesh, were naturally in- 
fluenced to ally themselves more closely with Gentile 
believers. 

(3) Matters were brought to a crisis by the great 
RKBBLLiON UNDER Barcochba (" Son of a Star**), in 
the reign of Hadrian (a.d. 132), when the refusal of 
Christians to enlist under the banner of the false 
Messiah exposed them to the worst cruelties. The 
revolt was followed by the erection on the site of 
Jerusalem (a.d. 135) of a new heathen city, ^lia 
Capitolina, from which by express decree all circimi- 
cised persons were excluded. The old Jerusalem 
Church was thus finally dispossessed, and a Gentile 
Church took its place, which served itself heir to its 
traditions and prestige. 

i, Nazarenes and Ebionites. — The same causes 
which led to the separation of Jewish Christianity 
from Judaism proper led also to the separation of its 
two sections from each other. It is evident that the 
narrower of these sections, the old opponents of St. 
Paul, had never really grasped the essential nature 
of Christianity, and were bound to become more re- 
actionary as time went on. Even the more liberal 
section, who recognised the legitimacy of the Grentile 
mission, were necessarily hindered by their environ- 
ment from attaining any large and worthy conception 
of the religion they professed ; and, cut off from the 
great developing body of Gentile Christianity, tended 
likewise to become a historical anachronism. This is 
what actually happened. Justin Martyr (c. a.d. 150) 
describes two kinds of Jewish Christians, one of whom 
did not wish, while the other did, to impose the law 
upon the Gentiles. The latter he already treats as 
heretical. Jerome (beginning of fifth century) knows 



26 THE EARLY CHURCH 

of two olasses distinguished by like peculiarities, 
whom he names respectively Nazarenes and Ebionites. 
Supplementing his statements by those of others, we 
gain the following points: — 

The Nazarenes (oldest Jewish name for Christians, 
Acts xxiv. 5) were a sect small in numbers. Their 
chief seats were in Syria, about Pella, in Bashan, etc., 
where they lived among the Jews quite apart from the 
Grentile community. They held themselves, as Jews, 
imder obligation to observe the law, but did not 
extend this obligation to the Gentiles, and recognised 
the mission of St. Paul. They used an Aramaic 
Gospel called the Gospel of the Hebrewsy corresponding, 
with considerable changes and interpolations, to our 
Gospel of Matthew. They regarded Jesus as bom of 
the Virgin Mary, and in a special way filled with the 
Divine Spirit, who came upon Him at His baptism. 
The Ebionites {" poor"), on the contrary, held the law 
to be binding on all, and refused to have any fel- 
lowship with imcircumcised Gentiles. They bitterly 
calumniated St. Paul. Jesus they regarded as a mere 
man, chosen to be the Messiah for His legal piety. 
Their version of the Grospel omitted the story of the 
supernatural birth. The identity of the two parties 
with those formerly described seems as clear as it can 
be, and is not set aside bv the fact that other Fathers 
(e.^., Trenseus, Origen, Eusebius), to whom the Nazar- 
enes were not well known, ^ group all under the common 
designation of Ebionites, attributing to them the views 
of the law proper only to the narrower section, while 
aware of the distinction in their views of Christ. 
Neither party had a future. The Ebionites were still 

' Epiphanius and Jerome had first-hand knowledge of them. 
Augustine, like Jerome, looks kindly on the Nazarenes. 



THE APOSTOLIC AGE 27 

numerous in the fourth century, but, as a sect formally 
rejected, seem to have melted away in the first half 
of the fifth century. The Nazarenes are not heard of 
after the time of Jerome. 
5. Essenian Ebionitism— the '^Clementines." 

— The Ebionites above described are of the ordinary 
Pharisaic type. But Epiphanius (end of fourth century) 
is our authority for another type of Ebionitism, whose 
peculiarities are best explained by supposing a fusion, 
some time after the fall of Jerusalem, of Jewish Chris- 
tianity with Essenism.^ 

An interesting monument of this party appears to 
remain in the so-called Clbmbntinb writings (Be- 
cognitions and Homilies), originating in the latter 
part of the second century (possibly in the beginning 
of the third).2 The titles do not designate distinct 
works, but denote divergent recensions or forms 
of the same work, which again embody older docu- 
ments. In character the Clementines are a story or 
romance — an early instance of the religious novel — 
one, too, wrought out with no slight literary art. 
Clement, to whom the writings are attributed, is 
represented as the son of a noble Roman, whose wife 
and twin children had become lost, and who himself 
disappeared in seeking for them. The youthful Cle- 
ment's mind is consumed with an ardent passion for 
truth. He meets with Barnabas at Rome {Ham,, 
Alexandria), and ultimately attaches himself to Peter 
at Ceesarea. Peter's great mission appears to be to 
follow Simon Magus (a supposed mask for St. Paul) 

* Thus Neander, Ritschl, etc. 

* The first to mention them is Origen. The RecogmHons 
exist only in a Latin trsmslation ; the complete Greek text of 
the Hoimlies was first published in 1853. There is also an 
EpitonU of the Homilies. 



28 ' THE EABLY CHURCH 

about from place to place and counteract his influence. 
Clement is instructed by Peter, acts as his amanuensis, 
and sends accounts of his discourses, debates with the 
Magus, etc., to St. James at Jerusalem. In the course 
of their travels reunions are effected of all the members 
of Clement's family (mother, twin brothers, father) 
— hence Recognitions. This romance is the frame- 
work in which the theological ideas are skilfully set. 
The Ebionitism of the Homilies is the more pro- 
nounced, but the type of doctrine in both forms is 
similar. The key- thought is that of the one "true 
prophet," who, changing form and name, goes down 
through the ages, appearing now as Adam, now as 
Moses, now a^ Christ. Christianity is thus the re- 
promulgation of the eternal law. Over against Adam, 
as the true prophet, stands Eve as the bringer in of 
false or "female" prophecy, to which is attributed 
everything in the Old Testament false or unworthy 
of Grod. Sacrifice is rejected (in the Recognitions 
viewed as a provisional expedient; in the Homilies 
as a work of false prophecy). A remarkable feature 
in these works is that the point of circumcision is con- 
ceded (only baptism), and the Gentile mission itself is 
taken over from St. Paul, and claimed for St. Peter. 
The ecclesiastical system is that of second century 
episcopacy. In these circles the Lord's Supper was 
observed with water (Epiphanius). 

Intimately connected with the Ebionites of the 
Clementines were the Elkbsaitbs, who take their 
name from a supposed leader, Elkesai, in the reign 
of Trajan. It has been plausibly conjectured, however, 
that " Elkesai " (" hidden power ") is rather the name 
of a revelation book^ with which this sect is always 

^ It was actively circulated in the third century. 



THE APOSTOLIC AGE 29 

associated. This book, of whose origin mythical 
accounts are given, aimed at an amelioration of discip- 
line by teaching a second forgiveness of sins through 
baptism. Unlike the Clementines, it insisted on 
circumcision. The whole movement appears to show 
a bold attempt to popularise a type of Ebionitism 
on Gentile soil, and within the Catholic episcopate. 
It met, however, with no permanent success. 

Points for inquiry and study, — ^Bead relevant sections of 
the Didache. On early constitution, read Lightfoot, Hort, 
and Hatch (see below). On gift of tongues, see Stanley's 
"Excursus" in Commentary on Corinthians, 

Books, — Gonybeare and Howson, Lewin, and Farrar on St, 
Paul; Bamsay*s St. Paul the Traveller; Bartlet's Apostolic 
Age ; Lightfoot on ** Christian Ministry " (in PhiUppians) ; 
Hort's Christian Ecclesia; Hatch's Organisation; Lechler's 
Apostolic and Post-Apostolic Age ; Gore's Ministry of Christian 
Church, 



CHAPTER III. 

GENTILE CHRISTIANITY : NERO TO DOMITIAN 

(A.D. 64-96.) 

Thb indications in the New Testament of a rapid pro- 
gress of the Grospel are filled out by traditions of the 
labours of the apostles after their dispersion from 
Jerusalem (Thomas in Parthia, Thaddeeus in Edessa, 
Andrew in Scythia, etc.), often untrustworthy, but in 
their main features bearing out an early extensive 
diffusion of Christianity throughout the countries of 
the known world. Corroboration will be found in the 
facts now to be recited. 

1. First Gontaot with the Empire. — The world 

has rarely seen more perfect specimens of human 
wickedness than in the series of emperors who suc- 
ceeded Augustus. **The dark, unrelenting Tiberius ** 
(Gibbon) was followed by the mad Caligula, and he by 
the dull, sottish Claudius (a.d. 41), to whose reign 
belongs the first distinct notice we have of the pre- 
sence of Christianity in the empire. The historian 
Suetonius relates that Claudius '' banished from 
Rome all Jews, who were continually making disturb- 
ances at the instigation of one Chrestus" This is the 
banishment referred to in Acts xviii. 2 (a.d. 52). 
There is little doubt that '^Chrestus" is a misspelt 
name of "Christ," and that what Suetonius alludes 
to is tumults in the Jewish quarters which had arisen 
through the preaching of Christ. This is six years 

(30) 



NERO TO DOMITIAN 31 

before the Epistle to the Romans (a.d. 58), and shows 
how remarkably Christianity had already spread in 
the capital (c/. Rom. i. 8, and Tacitus below). In 
A.D. 54 Claudius was poisoned to make way for his 
step-son, Nebo, in whom every vice that tongue can 
name seemed concentrated. Under Nero happened 
what is usually reckoned as the first pbrsbcution, 
though this mode of enumerating persecutions is in 
many ways misleading. 

2. The Pepseoution under Nero. — One night 

(a.d. 64) Rome was discovered to have been set on fire 
by an unseen hand. The fire spread with terrible 
rapidity till ten out of fourteen quarters of the city 
were destroyed. Popular suspicion fastened this 
crime on Nero, and he, to avert odium from himself, 
turned it on the Christians. A frightful persecution 
ensued. An "immense multitude" were convicted, 
not so much, as Tacitus confesses, on evidence of 
having set the city on fire, 943 on account of their 
"hatred of the human race." To the most exquisite 
tortures were added mockery and derision. Some 
were covered with the skins of wild beasts, and thrown 
to be devoured by dogs ; others were crucified ; num- 
bers were burnt alive ; and many, covered with pitch, 
were lighted up when the day declined, to serve as 
torches during the night.^ The emperor lent his own 
gardens for the spectacle^ and heightened the gaity of 
the occasion by games. The persecution was local, 
but so terrible an event occurring in the capital could 
not but have the most serious consequences affecting 
the status and treatment of Christians in the pro- 
vinces {cf, 1 Peter and Apocalypse). 

* ** At the stake they shine, 
^ho stand with throat transfixed, and smoke and bum." 

— Juvenal, 



32 THE EARLY CHURCH 

Apart from its inherent pathos, the persecution 
yields instructive light on the rapidly growing num- 
bers of the new sect, and on the estimate in which 
they were held by the pagans. When even an intel- 
ligent writer like Tacitus can speak of them as uni- 
versally detested, and deservedly punished for their 
crimes, and of their religion as a ** pernicious super- 
stition," it is easy to imagine how the ignorant and 
unreasoning crowd must have thought and felt regard- 
ing them ! It was not only into the lower strata of 
society, however, that Christianity had penetrated. 
We have at least one interesting case in this reign to 
show that it had foimd its way into higher circles 
as well. Tacitus relates that in a.d. 57 a very dis- 
tinguished lady, PoMPONiA Gr-ecina, wife of Aulus 
Plautius, commander of the army in Britain, was 
accused before her relatives of having adopted a 
"foreign superstition," which led her into habits of 
seclusion and melancholy. This "foreign supersti- 
tion " has been generally understood to be Christianity ; 
and the discovery of a crypt in the catacombs con- 
nected with the Pomponian gens (one descendant bear- 
ing this very name, Pomponius Greecinus), puts the 
matter beyond doubt. 

3. Martyrdom of St. Paul and St. Peter.— To 

this reign of Nero, according to the concurrent testi- 
mony of antiquity, belong the martyrdoms of the two 
great apostles — St. Paul and St. Peter. 

That St. Paul suffered at Rome, having carried the 
Grospel " to the extreme limit of the west," is attested 
by Clement (a.d. 96) ; and is indeed evidenced by his 
own latest epistle (2 Tim.), which anticipates a speedy 
death by the sword of the executioner. Clement's 
language favours the supposition that he did not meet 
this fate at the end of the imprisonment recorded in 



NERO TO DOMITIAN 33 

Acts xxviii. 30, 31, but had a new period of activity, 
journeying perhaps as far as Spain (c/. Rom. xv. 28). 
His second imprisonment is probably to be regarded 
as an after effect of the terrible persecution already 
described. His trial seems to have had two stages. 
He himself writes pathetically that at his first answer 
or defence he could get no one to act as his patron 
or advocate (2 Tim. iv. 16) — a testimony to the general 
terror Nero's recent acts had inspired. He suffered, 
tradition says, on the Ostian Road, probably a.d. 67 
or 68. 

To the same period must be assigned the martyrdom 
of his brother apostle — St. Pbtbr. The fiction of St. 
Peter's seven years' episcopate at Antioch and twenty- 
five years' episcopate at Rome (source in the Cletnen- 
tines ^ and in apocryphal Acts) may be disregarded. 
On the other hand there is a consensus of testi- 
mony to the fact that St. Peter came to Rome in the 
end of his life, and suffered martyrdom about the 
same time as St. Paul. This we may accept as the 
historical nucleus round which embellishments of 
legend subsequently gathered. The story of St. Peter 
desiring to be crucified with his head downwards is 
first found in Origen (beginning of third century). 
Most beautiful of the legends about St. Peter is the 
well-known Quo Vadis story (fourth or fifth century). 
Peter was fleeing from the city when he met the Lord 
carrying His Cross. "Lord," he asked, "whither 
goest Thou?" " I go to Rome," said Jesus, " to be 
crucified again." Smitten with the rebuke, St. Peter 
turned back to prison and t<o death. 

4. The Empire till Domitian.— From Nero to Do- 

^ In an epistle prefixed to the Homilies Peter is represented 
as transferring his episcopate to Clement. 

3 



34 THE EARLY CHURCH 

mitian, the next emperor who concerns us, is thirteen 
years (a.d. 68-81). In this short interval no fewer 
than five emperors were raised to the purple. The 
reigns of three of them (Galba, Otho, Vitellius) were 
compressed in the brief space of eighteen months. 
Vespasian and Titus were good rulers. Their names 
are connected with the Jewish war and the destruction 
of Jerusalem. On the death of Titus (a.d. 81), not 
without suspicion of poison, the empire was taken by 
Domitian, Vespasian's younger son. Historians say 
he took Tiberius for his model. His moroseness, 
dissimulation, cruelty of disposition, are dwelt on by 
all who speak of him. Under him took place what 
it is customary to call the second pbrsbcution. 

5. The Perseoution under Domitian. — Domitian 

began as a precisian, but ere long developed qualities 
which made him what Pliny calls " the enemy of all 
good men." His rapacity and lust of blood foiuid 
a fitting prey in the Christians. Clement (a.d. 96) ^ 
speaks of " a vast multitude of the elect " who suffered 
for Christ, and gives vivid glimpses of the indignities 
they endured. An interesting story is told by Hege- 
sippus,2 of TWO grandchildren of Judb, the brother 
of the Lord, whom Domitian caused to be brought 
before him, but dismissed as simpletons on finding 
that they had no money, and expected only a celestial 
kingdom. A more remarkable instance in every way 
is that of Flavius Clemens, the consul, and his wife, 
DoMiTiLLA, who, the heathen historian Dion Cassius 
informs us, were in this reign (a.d. 96) accused of 
"atheism," and "going after the customs of the 
Jews." These two persons were of the highest rank. 
Clemens was the cousin, Domitilla the niece, of the 

1 See Chap. iv. « In Eusebius, ill., 20. 



NEBO TO DOMITIAN 35 

emperor, and their two sons had been adopted by 
Domitian as his heirs. Yet Clemens was put to death, 
and his wife was banished to an island in the ^Egean. 
The peculiarity of the charge implies Christianity, 
and this is i^ow confirmed by the discovery of the 
cemetery of Domitilla in the catacombs. So near 
even in that early age had Christianity come to the 
throne of the Caesars 1 Dion further relates that 
" many others " were put to death or had their goods 
confiscated on the^ same charge, and instances Acilius 
Glabrio, who had been consul with Trajan, and whose 
family was one of the most illustrious in the state. ^ 
In 1888 the crypt of the Glabriones, in the catacombs, 
was likewise laid bare by De Rossi. Other discoveries 
show that Christianity had penetrated deeply into the 
family of the Flavians. 

6. Last Days of St. John. — To this reign also, if 
the oldest witnesses are to be trusted, is to be referred 
the banishment of the apostle John to Patmos,^ and 
the composition of the Apocalypse. It is in any case 
to the period after Nero we must assign St. John's 
removal to Asia Minor, and his labours and teaching 
in Ephbsus, of which there is ample attestation. 
Here, surrounded by a circle of friends and disciples, 
he continued to an extreme old age, his residence 
broken only by the banishment above mentioned. 
Among those about him in his later days wp have 
notices of the apostles Philip and Andrew, of Polycarp, 
of a second John (the " Elder "), and of other " elders," 
who continued his tradition. Ephesus, in short, in the 
closing years of the century, became the new centre 

^ On this family see Lsbnoiani (note at end). 

^ Tacitus tells us, with evident reference to this reign, that 
the islands were filled with exiles, and the rocks stained with 
murder {Histy i., 2). 



• 



36 THE EAKLY CHUECH 

of the Church, as Jerusalem had been earlier, and 
Rome was to be later. 

As St. John grew old, tradition relates, his friends 
gathered round him and besought him to write down 
what he had taught about Christ. Thus his gospel 
originated. There seem to have been two editions of 
it, if we may judge from the supplementary chapter 
xxi., itself attested by a note from the elders (vers. 
24, 25). Many beautiful stories remain to us of St. 
John's later days, how, for instance, when too weak 
to repair to church, he caused the young men to 
carry him thither, and, being unable to speak much, 
contented himself with saying, " Little children, love 
one another " (Jerome) ; or the fine story told by 
Clement of Alexandria of his reclaiming the young 
man who had become a robber.^ St. John's life is 
said to have extended into the reign of Trajan, i,e., 
beyond a.d. 98. His tomb was shown in Ephesus. 

7. The Cataoombs. — Beference has been made to 
the catacombs. These singular excavations are immense 
SUBTERRANEAN BURIAL-PLACES of the early Christians, 
in the fields around Rome, near the great roads, 
within a circle of three miles from the city. They 
began in the first century, probably as private burial 
places in the vineyards or gardens of the wealthier 
converts. The older cemeteries, which formed the 
nucleus of the catacombs, can in this way in several 
instances be distinguished. These smaller burial- 
places, as the excavations proceeded, ran into each 
other, and formed the larger areas. 

The EXTENT of the catacombs is enormous. They 
consist of a vast maze or labyrinth of passages, often 

^ See the story in full in Godet's Introdtiction to 8t John's 
-Oosfpel, 



NEKO TO DOMITIAN 37 

in descending levels, intersecting each other in all 
directions, with little rooms or vaults on either side. 
The total length of the passages is reckoned at some 
587 geographical miles. These corridors with the 
accompanying chambers are literally packed with 
graves. The number of the dead int.erred in them 
has been variously estimated, but can hardly be less 
than 2,000,000. This fact speaks volumes for the 
extent to which Christianity had spread in and around 
Rome during the three centuries or thereabouts that 
the catacombs were in use. The oldest cemeteries, 
as those of Lucina (Pomponian), of Domitilla, of 
Priscilla, etc., are distinguished by their architectural 
elegance and classical style of decoration. 

Special interest attaches to the art-features, sym- 
bols and inscriptions of the catacombs. They make 
large use of painting. The oldest tombs exhibit this 
art in its highest perfection. Afterwards painting 
becomes conventional, and often, as in the pictures 
which stand for Noah in the Ark, Jonah and the fish, 
etc., sinks well-nigh to the ridiculous. The Biblical 
representations embrace scenes from both Old and 
New Testaments. The figure of the Good Shepherd 
appears from the very first, and there are early repre- 
sentations of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, The 
SYMBOLS of the catacombs bear striking testimony 
to the circle of ideas in which the Christian mind 
moved, and to the hopes by which it was sustained. 
They are of all kinds, from rudest scrawls to care- 
fully-executed designs. Most were Biblical, a few 
pagan (Orpheus, etc.). Favourite symbols were the 
anchor, the dove, the lamb, the ship, the palm, the 
crown. The cross is not early. Chief among em- 
blems, on account of its mystical significance, was the 
JUk. It finds its explanation in the fact that the 



38 THE EARLY CHURCH 

letters of the Greek name ichthus stand for the first 
letters of the names of Christ — "Jesus Christ, the 
Son of God, Saviour." Like the symbols, the inscrip- 
TiONS are often rude in style, but show also how 
differently death, and everything connected with it, 
was looked upon in Christian, as compared with 
pagan circles. The inscriptions are marked by a 
rare simplicity — often no more than *' in peace " — but 
breathe always the spirit of hope, trust, and charity 
towards others. There is about them nothing horrible 
or revengeful. The tools of labour are portrayed, 
but not the instruments of torture. They speak to 
the power that overcome death. The catacombs 
were long lost to knowledge : were rediscovered by 
Bosio in 1578 ; and have been carefully explored in 
the present century by De Rossi and his coadjutors. 

Points for inquiry and study, — Read Suetonius and 
Tacitus on Nero and Domitian (Tacitus on Domitian in Life 
of Agricola), Test the grounds of St. Peter's alleged Roman 
Episcopate (c/. Barrow's Supremacy). Illustrate from the 
New Testament the penetration by the Gospel of the upper 
ranks. Collect the legends of the later life of St. John (cf. 
Qodet). Read Browning's Death in the Desert. Study further 
the testimony of the catacombs. 

Books. — On the history, Meri vale's Romans under the 
Empire; Farrar's Early Days of Christianity and story 
Darkness and Davm ; Lightfoot's '* Later School of St. 
^ John " in Essays ; Lanciani's Pagan and Christian Borne ; 
Northcote & Brownlow's Boma Sotterranea ; Withrow's 
Catacombs; Orr's Neglected Factors in Study of the Early 
Progress of Christianity (deals with numerical progress, 
spread of Christianity in higher circles, etc.). 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE AGE OF THE APOSTOLIC FATHERS 

(A.D. 96-117). 

With the mild Nerva, after the murder of Domitian 
(a.d. 96), begins the series of what are sometimes 
known as * * The Five Good Emperors. * ' Nerva was suc- 
ceeded (a.d. 98) by the frank and soldier-like Trajan, 
under whom we reach, as ordinarily reckoned, the 

THIRD PERSECUTION. 

1. The Perseoution in Bithynia — Pliny and 
Trajan. — ^A correspondence preserved to us between 
Pliny and the emperor serves as a flashlight to reveal 
the EXTRAORDINARY PROGRESS made by Christianity in 
certain parts of Asia Minor in the beginning of the 
second century. 

Pliny at the time (a.d. 112) was proconsul of the 
extensive province of Bithynia-Pontus. So widely 
spread was Christianity in this province that the 
temples were almost deserted, the sacred rites had 
long been suspended, and sacrificial victims could 
scarcely find purchasers. Persons of all ages and 
ranks, and of both sexes, had embraced the new 
" superstition." Informations had been laid before the 
proconsul, and numbers of Christians had already 
been put to death. The test applied was to offer 
wine and incense before the images of the gods and 
emperor, and to revile Christ. The multitude of the 

(39) 



40 THE EARLY CHURCH 

persecutions involved Pliny in doubt as to how he 
should act, and he referred to the emperor for direction. 
Trajan's reply in eflfect was that he was not to look 
for cases, or receive anonymous informations, but if 
Christians were brought before him and proved ob- 
stinate, he was to punish them. If this letter of 
Trajan afforded Christians a measure of protection, 
in other respects it was a distinct worsening of their 
position. Hitherto Christians had fallen only under 
the general laws of the empire ; now they were, so to 
speak, singled out* as a party definitely proscribed. 
Their illegal standing was directly afl&rmed. Hence- 
forth the very name of Christian sufl&ced to condemn 
them. On the other hand, Pliny's letter is a powerful 
VINDICATION of the Christians. Investigation, even 
under torture, had demonstrated that their proceed- 
ings were perfectly innocent, and that all that could 
be charged against them was (as Pliny judged of it) 
an absurd and extravagant superstition. 

The letter throws valuable light also on the worship 
of the time. The Christians met, it is told, on a 
** stated day " (Sunday) before daybreak, sang a hymn 
to Christ as God, and bound themselves by an oath 
(the pledge of the Supper 1) to abstain from every kind 
of crime ; in the evening they reassembled to eat a 
harmless meal (the Agape, now separated from the 
Supper). This latter meeting they discontinued after 
Pliny's prohibition. Not without reason has this re- 
markable epistle been called *^ the first apolo^ for 
Christianity." 

2. Martypdom of Ignatius— The Ignatian Epis- 
tles. — Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, is the first martyr- 
hero of whom we have a definite account. The often- 
told story of his condemnation by Trajan, his dialogue 
with the emperor, his play upon the word Theophoros 



THE AGE OF THE APOSTOLIC FATHEES 41 

(God-bearer), etc., is derived from old "Acts,** and is 
imaginary. All we really know of the martyr is drawn 
from his own much-controverted Epistles. The Middle 
Ages were familiar with an enlarged and interpolated 
edition of twelve epistles. In 1644 Ussher brought 
to light a shorter Latin edition of seven epistles, and 
the Greek text of these was discovered soon after (six 
by Vossius). This corresponds with the number known 
to Eusebius. In 1845 a yet shorter Syriac edition of 
three epistles, much abbreviated, was discovered by 
Cureton ; but opinion has now fairly well settled down 
in favour of the seven Vossian epistles as the genuine 
Ignatius. From these we glean that Ignatius was 
tried and condemned at Antioch (c. a.d. 110), not by 
the emperor but by the governor, and was sent across 
Asia Minor under the care of ten guards (" leopards," 
he calls them) to Rome, to be thrown to wild beasts. 
The road to Smyrna, where a halt was made, divides 
into two, a northern and a southern. The martyr was 
taken by the upper route, but the Churches along the 
lower route were asked to send delegates to meet him 
at that city. The Church of Smyrna at the time was 
presided over by the holy Polycarp. 

This brings us to the origin of the epistles. Before 
leaving, Ignatius wrote letters to the Churches along 
the lower road {Ephesians^ MagnesianSy Trallians) \ 
one also to the RomanSf breathing an ardent de- 
sire for martyrdom. The remaining three letters 
(PhUaddphians, SmyvTiceans, and a personal one to 
Polycarp) were written from Troas, the next impor- 
tant halting-place. He passes thence to Philippi, 
and this is the last glimpse we get of him. The call 
at Philippi, however, was the occasion of obtaining for 
us another valuable relic of the period in the Epistle 
of Polycwrp (see below), to whom the Philippians had 



42 THE EARLY CHURCH 

written, asking for copies of the martyr's letters.^ In 
due time Ignatius would arrive at Rome, would be 
delivered into the proper custody, then when the 
f^te-day came would be led into the blood-stained 
arena, to meet his death at the jaws of the beasts, 
amidst the roar of thousands of delighted spectators. 
His epistles are his legacy — and his photograph. Of 
warm Syrian temperament, eager and impetuous, a 
bom " impeller of men," yet consumed with a pas- 
sionate devotion to Christ, which made him not count 
his life dear to him if, at any cost, he could " attain " 
to union with His Lord, he is to all ages the typical 
** Martyr." 

3. The Literature of the Period— The '' Apos- 
tolic Fathers." — The name " Apostolic Fathers " is 
given to a number of writings whose authors were 
believed to be, in the strict sense, apostolic men, i.e., 
either contemporaries (e.^., Clement, Barnabas, Hermas) 
or disciples (Polycarp, Ignatius) of the apostles. This 
use of the designation is now abandoned. No one 
pretends to find in each of the authors of these 
writings direct personal relationship with the apostles. 
In another respect, however, these writings are fitly 
grouped together. They all emanate from the sub- 
apostolic age, and represent the thought and feeling 
of a period in regard to which they are nearly the 
only Christian monuments we possess. Incomparably 
inferior to the writings of the New Testament (a fact 
which the authors themselves were fully aware of), they 
have yet many beauties and a distinct interest. 
Leaves and scraps of a lost literature — for such they 
really are — they are far from lacking in variety of 
subject and style. 

^ To this is probably due the collection of these letters. 



THE AGE OF THE APOSTOLIC FATHERS 43 

At the head of the list stands the Epistlb of 
Clbmbnt to the Corinthians (a.d. 96).^ The author, 
formerly, but mistakenly, identified with the Clement 
of Phil. iv. 3, is the same who appears in the early 
lists as the third of the Roman bishops (Linus and 
Anacletus being the first and second), whose fabulous 
history is given in the Clementines.^ The occasion 
was a revolt of the Corinthian Church against certain 
of its elders, which had issued in their forcible expul- 
sion from office. Clement writes in name of the 
Roman Church to urge concord and submission to 
authority. The tone is one of " sweet reasonableness," 
yet in parts there is a note of imperiousness, which Dr. 
Lightfoot not unfairly regards as prophetic of future 
claims to domination. The epistle is an early witness 
to St. Paul's (first) letter to the Corinthians, in which 
the apostle also dissuades from contentions. Its closing 
chapters (59, 60) are a prayer of a distinctly liturgical 
character. The so-called second epistle of Clement 
is really an ancibnt homily or sermon — the first of 
the kind we possess.^ Its date may be about a.d. 
130-40. It is a simple edifying production, with 
here and there a touch of ultra-spiritualising. A 
peculiarity in it is the quotation of several sayings 
of our Lord from an apocryphal source* (chs. 4, 5, 
12). 

^The dates are approximate only. The oomplete Greek 
text of Clement, and of the so-called second Clement, was 
discovered by Bryennios at Constantinople (1873) in the same 
volume from which the Didache was afterwards published 
(1883). 

' Some scholars would identify him with Flavins Clemens, 
but on insufficient grounds. 

3 It seems to be a read exhortation. 

* Possibly the Gospel of the EgyptianSf see Chap. vi. 



44 THE EARLY CHURCH 

A third writing, the so-called Epistle op Barnabas, 
derives its name from the belief that it was the pro- 
duction of the companion of St. Paul. Internal 
evidence entirely negatives this supposition. The 
epistle was written after the destruction of Jerusalem 
(to which event it alludes), and bears a strongly 
anti- Judaic character. Yet it is of very early date 
(a.d. 70-100). Its literary peculiarities suggest that it 
emanated from Alexandria. It is marked by excessive 
fondness for allegorising, and by a far-fetched, fanciful 
style of treatment generally. It aims at imparting 
a higher "knowledge" {gnosis) in the mystical inter- 
pretation of types {e,g,, Abraham's 318 servants, ch. 
9 ; clean and unclean beasts, ch. 10.). Both Barnabas 
and, in a slighter degree, Hermas (below) incorporate 
matter found in the earlier chapters of the Didache 
— thus raising an interesting literary problem. 

The Shbphbrd op Hbrmas is our oldest allegory. 
It has been fitly called the PilgrlwHs Progress of the 
early Church. It was held in the highest repute 
in the Church ; is spoken of even as " scripture " 
(Irenseus, Origen). The author was at one time 
identified with the Hermas of Romans, xvi. 14 ; but 
this is now abandoned. An early notice makes him 
the brother of Pius I., Bishop of Rome (a.d. 140-155). 
He speaks of himself, however, as a contemporary 
of Clement of Rome (ch. 4), and the simplicity of 
the Church order in the book agrees with this earlier 
date (c. A.D. 100). Hermas, according to his own 
account, was the slave of a Roman lady, named 
Rhoda, who set him free and showed him many kind- 
nesses. His book consists of three parts — Visions, 
Mandates, and Similitudes. The chief figure in the 
Visions is the Church, represented by a venerable 
lady, who appears younger in each new vision. In 



THE AGE OF THE APOSTOLIC FATHERS 45 

the last Vision the Saviour appears as a Shepherd 
(hence the name), and bids him write down the 
commandments and parables He would give him. 
The Mandates show acquaintance with the Didache. 
The Similitudes remind one of Banyan's Interpreter's 
House. They contain ten parables, and give their 
interpretations. 

The Epistles op Ignatius (a.d. 110) have already 
been described. Their chief interest is in their bear- 
ings on the origin of Episcopacy (see below). Allusion 
has also been made to the origin of the Epistle of 
PoLYCARP to the Philippians (a.d. 110), a beautiful 
letter, remarkable in a critical respect for the use it 
makes of 1 Peter and 1 John, and for the authen- 
tication it gives to St. Paul's epistle to the same 
Church. One of the finest of all the post-apostolic 
writings is the Epistle to Diognetus, which, though 
it really belongs to the next period (c. a.d. 150), 
is best taken here. It found its way into our list 
from the belief that its author was a disciple of the 
apostles ; then was long attributed to Justin Martyr. 
The Diognetus to whom it is addressed may not 
improbably have been the tutor of Marcus Aurelius of 
that name. It combats idolatry, defends theism, and 
gives a strong and clear presentation of evangelical 
truths. One thought dwelt on is the cosmopolitan 
character of Christianity. "What the soul is in the 
body, that Christians are in the world." 

The ** Didache," or ** Teaching op the Apostles " 
(one of the most valuable "finds " of recent years) has 
been before us in an earlier connection. It is in part 
a book of moral instruction, in part our oldest work 
on Church order (baptism, eucharist, offices). The 
literary relations with Barnabas and Hermas can best 
be explained by supposing that both the Didache and 



46 THE EARLY CHURCH 

Barnabas work up material from an older source — a 
moral treatise on " the two ways " (" there are two 
ways, one of life and one of death, and there is a 
great difference between the two ways "), which, in 
that case, must go back to apostolic times. The book 
in its present form may be dated about a.d. 100. 

There remain certain fragments op Papias, Bishop 
of Hierapolis. Papias was a man of weak judgment, 
but a diligent collector of traditions about the sayings 
of our Lord. He wrote a work in five books entitled 
An Exposition of Oracles of the Lord^ which is alleged 
to have been still in existence in 1218 at Nismes. It 
may yet possibly be recovered. Eusebius gives from 
it well-known extracts on the authorship of two of the 
Grospels (Matthew, Mark). Papias was martyred about 
the same time as Polycarp (c. a.d. 155). 

4. The Theology of '' The Apostolic Fathers." 

— The writings above-named have little independent 
theological worth, but are valuable as reflecting the 
state of mind in the early Church ere theological 
reflection had yet well begurr. The descent from the 
full and vigorous presentation of doctrine in the 
apostolic epistles is very marked. There is plentiful 
use of Scriptural language, but often little real insight 
into its meaning. As if to efface past differences, and 
emphasise Catholicity, there is a studious linking 
together of the names of St. Peter and St. Paul as of 
equal honour and authority. But the sharp edges are 
taken off the thoughts of both, with the result that 
we have what has been called an average type of 
doctrine,^ in which common features are retained, and 
distinctive features tend to be lost. 

The Christology of these writings is in the main 

1 Thus Ritsohl. 



THE AGE OF THE APOSTOLIC FATHEES 47 

strong and clear. It follows the lines of New Testa- 
ment teaching on the pre-existence, deity, incarnation, 
and true humanity as well as true divinity of the Son. 
Hermas has been thought to be an exception, but his 
ninth Similitude, in which he compares Christ to a 
** rock " and a *' gate " — a '* rock " because it is old 
(so the Son of God is older than all creation, and 
was the Father's adviser in creation), and a " gate ** 
because it is new (so He was made manifest in the 
last days that we may enter the Kingdom of God 
through Him), should clear him from this imputation.^ 
On the Doctrine op Salvation there is greater vague- 
ness. In some of the writings the evangelical note is 
feeble and hardly discernible (Hermas, Didache), in 
others it is remarkably pronounced (Polycarp, Epistle 
to Diognetm), By most stress is laid on the blood- 
shedding, the sufferings, the death of Christ, as the 
medium of cleansing and redemption, but there is no 
attempt at explanation. Pauline phraseology is used, 
but the Pauline thought is generally blunted, and, 
under the conception of Christianity as a ** New Law" 
(Barnabas, Hermas, Didache), there is a tendency to 
obscure the relation of faith and works, and to lay 
a one-sided emphasis on obedience as the condition of 
salvation. Forgiveness is connected with Baptism; 
the rule after that is obedience, and good works (e.^., 
alms-giving) aid repentance in the covering of sin. 
"Alms-giving removeth the burden of sin" (2 Clem, 16). 
In EscHATOLOGT, bcsides retaining the ordinary ele- 
ments of apostolic doctrine (resurrection, return of 
Christ to judgment), most of the Fathers seem to have 

^ Professor Hamaok makes Hermas a representative of an 
*' adoptionist," in contrast with a " pneumatic," type of 
Ghristology. There is a tendency in Hermas to confuse 
" Son " and '• Sphit." 



48 THE EAELY CHURCH 

been millenarians, t.f., held the doctrine of 1,000 
years' reign of Christ upon the earth (Barnabas, 
Papias ; Dldache speaks of first resurrection). This 
doctrine, especially when bound up with material and 
sensuous elements, as in Papias, is named Chiliasm. 
The punishment of the wicked is viewed as eternal 
(" For after we have departed out of the world, we 
can no more make confession there, or repent any 
more," 2 Clem. 8). 

5. The Ignatian Episcopacy. — We are brought 

at this stage face to face with the question of the 
origin of Episcopacy. Two sets of facts meet us : — 
(1) A large body of evidence exists to show that, in 
the sub-apostolic age, in thb Churches op the West 
at least, the constitution was not essentially different 
from that which earlier prevailed. The Churches are 
ruled by elders or bishops and deacons, and there is 
no hint of any higher office. Thus, in dementis 
EpisUe, elders and bishops are still the same persons, 
and these, with deacons, are the only office-bearers 
recognised. This is evidence for both -Rome and 
Corinth. The writer, afterwards called Bishop of 
Rome, makes no claim of the kind for himself. The 
testimony of Hernias^ likewise emanating from Rome, 
is to the same effect. Hermas knows only of bishops 
who are also elders. The names are interchangeable. 
The Didaehe bears the same witness, ** Choose for 
yourselves bishops and deacons." A higher order is 
unknown. Ignatius, in his Epistle to the Romans ^ 
fails in any reference to a bishop existing in that city 
similar to the bishops in Antioch, Smyrna, Ephesus, 
etc.^ This, in so strenuous an upholder of episcopacy, 

^ Mr. Gore, therefore, oversteps the evidence when he says, 
on the strength of a rhetorical expression of Ignatius, that 
Ignatius knows of " no non-episcopal area." 



THE AGE OF THE APOSTOLIC FATHERS 49 

shows that even in his time there waa still no 
monarchical bishop in Rome. Polycarp's Epistle to 
the Philippians bears testimony of the same kind for 
Philippi. There was still in that Church no office 
higher than the apostolic bishops and deacons. 

(2) When we turn to the remaining Epistles of 
Ignatius different conditions confrcmt us. It will be 
observed that the evidence under this head relates to 
the Churches of a defined area — Syria and Asia Minor. 
We find not only a bishop for each Church distinct 
from the presbyters (elders), but the most extravagant 
exaltation of the office of the bishop. The bishop is 
as God, and the presbyters as the council of Grod. Or 
the bishop is as Christ, and the presbyters are as the 
council of the apostles. The presbyters are to be 
attuned to the bishop, as the strings of a lyre to the 
lyre. The great thing is to be united with the bishop. 
Without the bishop it is not lawful to baptise or cele- 
brate the eucharist. There is here, therefore, as 
clearly three grades of office-bearers — bishops, presby- 
ters and deacons — as formerly there were two. Other 
evidence confirms the testimony of these epistles. We 
have Poly carp, e,g,, at Smyrna, Papias at Hierapolis, 
etc. 

How, now, is this state of things to be accounted 
for 1 By apostolic authority ? or by the operation of 
natural causes, elevating the episcopate from the pres- 
byterate ? It is important, in answering this question, 
to look precisely at the nature of the Ignatian Epis- 
copate. Distinction must be made between the facts 
to which Ignatius witnesses and the theory he holds. 
Ignatius was firmly persuaded that in exalting the 
power of bishops he was taking the best means of 
securing the peace and unity of the Chiu'ch. But it 

^oes not follpw that bishops had yet all the power he 

4 



50 THE EARLY CHURCH 

claimed for them. The very vehemence of his advo- 
cacy implies that they had not. When facts are 
calmly considered, it is surprising to discover how 
little affinity, after all, the Ignatian bishop has to the 
bishop of the developed episcopal system. (1) He is 
a purely congregationalj not a diocesan bishop. Each 
several Church — Antioch, Smyrna, Ephesus, Tralles, 
etc. — had its own bishop, who, in this respect, diflfers 
little from the modem "pastor." (2) He makes no 
claim to apostolical succession. There is no hint of 
this in Ignatius. Had the idea existed, so keen a 
defender of episcopacy could jiot have passed it over. 
(3) He has no sa/ierdotal functions, "There is not 
throughout these letters the slightest tinge of sacer- 
dotal language with reference to the Christian ministry " 
(Lightfoot). This should be decisive as to the ideas of 
the age in question. Such are the facts — a govern- 
ment by presbyters in the Churches of the West ; a 
form of congregational episcopacy in Asia Minor and 
Syria. By the middle of the second century all the 
Churches would seem to have advanced to the Ignatian 
stage. 

How did the change come about ^ The theory of a 
DIRECT APPOINTMENT of bishops, as a third higher order^ 
by the original apostles is no longer tenable in view 
of the above. Canon Gore, accordingly, would supple- 
ment the action of the original apostles by that of 
" apostolic men *' — such apostles and prophets as we 
read of in the Didache, We cannot doubt, he thinks, 
that one of these prophets settling down in a Church 
would become its bishop (pastor?). Apart, however, 
from the objection that the functions of prophets and 
bishops were distinct, this, even if admitted, would 
cover only a fragment of the facts. We have seen 
that even at the beginning of the second century 



THE AGE OF THE APOSTOLIC FATHEES 51 

leading Apostolic Churches had no one-man bishop, 
and it is pure assumption that the bishops of all other 
Churches owed their origin to the '* settling down " of 
travelling prophets. There is not a word of this in 
Ignatius. 

There remains the possibility that the system, how- 
ever introduced, had the sanction of apostles — at 
least of the Apostle John (Lightfoot). Clement of 
Alexandria has a statement that St. John went about 
from place to place establishing bishops and organising 
Churches. The fact can neither be proved nor dis- 
proved, for Clement may well be reading back into 
John's action a meaning from his own times, ^ and we 
have no clue to the nature of the bishops (a plurality^ 
or single). In any case this is hardly an account of 
the origin of the system. Of that the simplest ex- 
planation is probably the truest. The president of 
the Council of Elders {primus inter pares)^ as the 
official representative of the Church, having the 
ordinary direction of business, the conduct of public 
worship (a sort of archisynagogos),^ and generally an 
outstanding man, would naturally acquire a position 
of prominence in distinction from the other elders. 
Times of stress and trial, such as came to the Church 
after the death of the apostles, when tendencies to 
disintegration and schism were rife, would powerfully 
strengthen his authority. The need of the time was 

1 Mr. Gk>re says about Tertullian that we have to acknow- 
ledge ** a little idealising " in his statements about the apos- 
tolic institution of the Episcopates at Corinth and Philippi 
(p. 336). 

^ThusRltschl. 

8 The •* angel" of the Book of Revelation (oh. ii. 1, 8, 12, 
etc.) might find his analogue here. But it is doubtful if an 
individual is meant at all. 



52 THE EARLY CHUECH 

good leaders, strong and stable government, wise 
direction. Under these circumstances, episcopacy, 
such as we know it in Ignatius' day, may well have 
arisen without the assumption of any apostolic inter- 
position. 

Points for inquiry and study. — Follow out the traditions 
and traces of the early progress of Christianity. Bead the 
legend of Ignatius' trial. Bead Clement's appeal for concord 
drawn from creation (20), also the final prayer (59, 60). Bead 
the vision of the shepherd in Hermas (v.). Bead chapters 5 
and 9 in Epistle to Diognetus, Collect the passages on 
Christ's passion and its effects in this group of writings. 
Show the equivalence of bishops and elders in Clement, 
Hermas and Polycarp. 

Books. — Pressensa's Early Tears of Christianity ; Farrar's 
Lives of the Fathers ; Bamsay's Church in Roman Empire ; 
Orr's Neglected Factors ; Lightfoot's (or other) translation of 
Apostolic Fathers ; Donaldson's Apostolic Fathers ; Hatch's 
Organisation ; Lightfoot's Essay on " Ministry ". 



CHAPTER V. 

THE AGE OF THE APOLOGISTS (a.d. 117-180). 

Thb period of the Apologists is covered by the three 
remaining names in our list of the ** Gkxxi Emperors." 
They are Hadrian (a.d. 117-138), Antoninus Pius 
(a.d. 138-161), and Marcus Aurelius (a.d. 161-180). 
The period is marked externally by intermittent, but 
severe persecution of the Christians, and by the com- 
mencement of written attacks on Christianity ; inter- 
nally by the rise of apology, and the development of 
Gnosticism and Montanism. Despite persecution, the 
remarkable progress of the Church is continued. 

1. Hadrian and Antoninus Pius. — The attitude 

of the versatile emperor Hadrian, in whose reign 
written apology began (see below), was on the whole 
not unfavourable to Christianity. There is, however, 
evidence that both in his reign and that of his suc- 
cessor, though no formal persecution is reckoned, the 
Christians were continually exposed to harassment 
and outbreaks of violence. A rescript of the emperor 
to Fundanus, the proconsul of Asia, whose predecessor 
had written, much as Pliny did, to ask direction, for- 
bids him to receive irregular accusations, or to yield 
to popular outcry. If Christians are proved to break 
the laws,^ they are to be punished, but libellers are 
to be punished still more severely. 

1 It is a moot point whether breaking the laws here means 
more than the mere proof that one was a Christian. 

(53) 



54 THE EARLY CHURCH 

Hadrian nominated to succeed him Antoninus, better 
knoAvn (from his dutifulness in insisting on the deifi- 
cation of Hadrian) as Antoninus Pius. With him was 
associated during his reign of twenty-three years his 
nephew, Marcus Aurelius. Antoninus was, howcTer, 
the acting and responsible emperor. His clemency, 
uprightness, and affableness of disposition are the 
praise of all historians. His reign has commonly 
been regarded as free from the stain of persecution. 
This is a mistake, though probably the emperor him- 
self was not to blame. It is doubtful whether he is 
the Antoninus who, when proconsul of Asia, after 
some Christians had been condemned, and when the 
rest in great numbers presented themselves at his 
tribunal, said : " Miserable men, if ye desire to die, 
have ye not ropes and precipices?" (Tertullian). But 
the two Apologies of Justin Martyr, and his Dialogue 
with Trypho — all of this reign — are indubitable 
evidence that Christians were everywhere objects of 
hatred and persecution, and had to endure losses, 
tortures, and death for their religion (e.^.. Dial,, 110; 
specific cases in 2 ApoLy i. 2). Melito of Sardis, 
another apologist, speaks of numerous edicts issued 
by Antoninus (e,g,y to the Larissseans, Thessalonians, 
Athenians, forbidding the cities to take new measures 
against the Christians. This shows that the emperor 
both knew of these persecutions, and, in accordance 
with his humane character, took steps to check their 
violence. 

2. The Martyrdom of Polycarp. — We have, how- 
ever, one undoubted instance of martyrdom in this 
reign, the details of which, preserved in a contem- 
porary narrative, throw light upon the whole. Poly- 
carp OF Smyrna has already been before us in con- 
nection with Ignatius. Of his earlier life we know 



THE AGE OF THE APOLOGISTS 55 

little. He was eighty-six years old at the time of his 
martyrdom (a.d. 155) : so may have been bom a.d. 
69 or 70. He was a disciple of St. John, in Asia 
Minor, and often repeated to the youthful Irenaeus 
(who was his disciple) the things he had heard from 
the apostle.^ 

The account of his martyrdom is given in a beautiful 
and affecting letter of the Church of which he was 
bishop. The great festival of Asia was being held at 
Smyrna. Some cause had aroused the fury of the 
populace against the Christians. The Jews are 
specially mentioned as active in the persecution. 
Several Christians had already perished amidst dread- 
ful torments, when the cry went up, *'Let search be 
made for Polycarp." Poly carp at first concealed him- 
self, then, on his retreat being discovered, surrendered 
himself to the will of Grod. On the way to the city 
he was taken up into the chariot of the captain of 
police, who, with his father, urged him to recant. 
Failing in their object, they thrust him out with 
violence. Arrived at the stadium, he was interro- 
gated by the proconsul, "Swear by the genius of 
CsBsar; say. Away with the Atheists!" Polycarp, 
looking to heaven, said, **Away with the Atheists!" 
"Revile Christ," urged the proconsul. "Fourscore 
and six years have I served Him," was the memorable 
RBPLT, " and He hath done me no wrong. How can 
I blaspheme my King who saved me ? " The herald 
proclaimed, " Polycarp hath confessed himself a 
Christian," and the cry rose to have a lion let loose 
on him. But the games were ended. The shout 
then was that he should be burned alivb. Polycarp, 

^ On his visit to Anioetus, the Boman bishop, see below, 
Ohap. viiL 



56 THE EARLY CHURCH 

at his own request, was only bound, not nailed to the 
stake. It seemed for a time to the wondering by- 
standers as though the fire refused to touch him. To 
end the scene, an executioner was ordered to stab 
him.^ The poor malice of the Jews frustrated even 
the desire of the brethren for possession of his body, 
which was consumed. The bishop's death stopped 
the persecution, and probably sent many home to 
think, with the consequence that they became 
Christians too. Such, at least, we know to have been 
a frequent outcome of these martyrdoms (Justin, DiaL^ 
110; 2Apol,,\i, 12). 

3. The Age of the Antonines — Marous Aure- 

lius. — Marcus Aurelius is the classic representative of 
his age. Vespasian, in the previous century, had in- 
stituted a salaried hierarchy of teachers — rhetoricians, 
grammarians, philosophers — by whom the Roman 
people was to be lectured into wisdom and virtue. 
The result was a species of ethical, philosophical, and 
even religious revival in the empire. Paganism had 
its itinerant preachers (e.^., Dion Chrysostom, Maxi- 
mus of Tyre), whose orations or harangues were 
the counterparts of the Christian sermons. These 
tendencies came to a head in the reign of Marcus 
Aurelius. For once in the world's history, Plato's 
dream of a state which had a philosopher for its 
ruler, and was governed by philosophic maxims, 
seemed about to be realised. 

Personally, Marcus is justly reckoned one of the 
noblest characters of heathenism. His " Meditations " 
embody the highest ideal of stoical morality, in union 
with a firm confidence in a rational ordering of the 

^ The legendary feature of a " dove " issuing from his side 
is not in the oldest version (Eusebius), and is probably a cor- 
ruption or interpolation. 



THE AGE OP THE APOLOGISTS 57 

world, characteristic of the later Stoicism. Yet it is 
the STOICAL, not the Christian ideal. It lacks the 
tenderness, humility, dependence, benignity, hopeful- 
ness of the Christian temper. Between Christianity, 
with its confession of sin and moral weakness, and 
Aurelius, with his philosophic self-sufficiency, passive 
resignation, stem suppression of passion, and cheer- 
less fatalism, there could be nothing but antagon- 
ism. There is but one allusion to Christianity in 
the Meditations (xi. 3), and it breathes the iciest 
contempt. Marcus, too, if a Stoic, was a devoted 
Roman, fixed in his determination to maintain the 
established institutions. His character was not with- 
out its strain of superstition,^ and it is noted of him 
that in his latter years his melancholy disposition grew 
upon him, and he became peculiarly zealous in heathen 
rites. It is scarcely wonderful, therefore, that, even 
under this paragon of emperors, " Christian blood 
flowed more freely than it had flowed any time during 
the previous half century " — that ** in fact the wound 
was never staunched during his reign " (Lightfoot). 
To him is ascribed what we are accustomed to reckon 

the FOURTH PBRSBCUTION. 

4. Persecutions under Marous — The Martyrs 
of Yienne and Lyons. — There is one story told of 
Marcus which, if it could be believed, would clear his 
memory in part of the stain of persecution. It is the 
story of the Thundering Lbgion. Tertullian and 
others relate that in one of his campaigns the army 
waa in extreme distress from thirst. The Christian 
soldiers of the twelfth legion prayed, and, in answer 
to their prayers, copious showers of rain fell, and a 
violent storm drove away the enemy. Appended to 

* See Froude, Benan, Uhlhom, etc. (note at end). 



68 THE EAELY CHUKCH 

Justin's first Apology is an alleged epistle from the 
emperor to the senate, ascribing his deliverance to 
the prayers of the Christians, and conmianding that 
they be no more molested. Unhappily the epistle is 
not genuine. It seems certain that the deliverance 
took place, only the heathen attributed it, not to the 
prayers of the Christians, but to the interposition of 
their own gods. In the pagan account Marcus is 
represented as stretching his hands to heaven, and 
invoking Jupiter. 

The positive evidences of persecution in this reign, 
and of the emperor's implication in it, are not few. 
At Rome itself there is the case of Justin Martyr 
AND HIS SIX COMPANIONS, who Suffered under the 
prefect Rusticus (a tutor of Aurelius) about a.d. 163-66 
(see below). The emperor could hardly have been 
ignorant of this case. There is the testimony of 
Melito of Sardis (c. a.d. 170) to a very severe persecu- 
tion in Asia Minor. He speaks of God's servants 
being persecuted as they never were before by " new 
edicts " which gave the property of Christians to their 
accusers. Melito professes to doubt whether these 
edicts emanated from the emperor, but the doubt can 
only be assumed for the purposes of his appeal. A 
proconsul would not issue such ** edicts "on his own 
responsibility. Even the heathen Celsus, who wrote 
in this reign (see below), speaks of Christ as banished 
from BVBRY LAND AND SEA, and of His servants as bound 
and led to punishment, and put upon the stake 
(Origen, viii. 39). 

But the chief persecution we know of, which stands 
out with the distinctness of a limelight picture in its 
blending of the horrible and the sublime, is that of 
the Churches of Vienna and Lyons in Gaul. It was 
a case in which Marcus Aurelius was expressly con- 



THE AGE OF THE APOLOGISTS 69 

suited, and gave his sanction to what was done. The 
account of it is contained in a circular epistle ad- 
dressed by the Churches^ to their brethren in Asia 
and Phrygia — "the pearl of the Christian literature 
of the second century," Renan calls it. Lyons and 
Vienne were two cities of Gaul where the Rhone and 
the S4one join. Lyons was a great seat of Csesar- 
worship, and the place of the annual meeting of the 
Gallic deputies in council. The persecution was in 
A.D. 177, in the midst of the closing troubles of 
Marcus's reign. It began with acts of mob-violence ; 
then the prominent persons of the two Churches were 
arrested, and dragged with clamour and insult before 
the tribunals. Tortures beyond description were ap- 
plied to the Christians to make them confess to secret 
crimes, but without effect. 

Four names stand out conspicuous for heroism and 
constancy — Sanctus, a deacon from Vienne ; Maturus, 
a recent convert; Attains, from Pergamos ; above all, 
Blandina, a slave girl, whose mistress was also one of 
the martyrs. Blandina was torn and mangled almost 
beyond recognition without extorting from /her more 
than the words, " I am a Christian ; there is nothing 
vile done among us." The aged bishop Pothinus 
(ninety years old) was dragged before the judgment 
seat, and there so cruelly maltreated that, when cast 
into prison, he lingered only two days. Iren^us 
succeeded him. A new round of torments was devised 
for the others — mangling by wild beasts, roasting in 
an iron chair, etc. Blandina was suspended on a stake 
and exposed to the attacks of wild animals. But they 
refused at this time to touch her. Attains, a Roman 
citizen, was reserved till Caesar's pleasure should be 
known. 

^ Possibly written by IrensBus. 



60 THE EARLY CHURCH 

The FINAL SCENE of the martyrdom was on the day 
of the great festival. The emperor's reply had come, 
ordering that such as confessed themselves Christians 
should be put to death. All who proved steadfast 
were brought forth to punishment. The Romans were 
beheaded ; the rest were taken to the amphitheatre. 
Again the round of frightful torture was gone through. 
Attains, as a specially notable Christian, was, despite 
his Roman citizenship, roasted in the chair. Blandina 
herself, after renewed manglings and burnings, was 
enclosed in a net and given to be tossed by a bull. 
Thus, last of all her company, she perished. The 
knell of slavery was surely rung when scenes like 
these could be enacted ! The rage of the people wreaked 
itself even on the lifeless remains of the victims. To 
prevent resurrection they burned them, and scattered 
the ashes in the Rhone. What strikes one in the 
pathetic narrative of these sufferings is its tone of 
calm sobriety — its utter absence of boasting, or 
spiritual pride, or over-eager desire for martyrdom. 
Other religions have their martyrs — but have they 
martyrs like these 1 

5. The Rise of Apology. — The rise of a written 
apology for Christianity in this age is a fact of great 
significance. It shows that Christianity had entered 

LITERARY CIRCLES ; showS also the GROWING BOLDNESS 

of the Christians, and their confidence in their ability 
to refute calumny and vanquish prejudice by an 
openly-reasoned statement of their case. They had 
the world against them ; but their invincible reliance 
was on the power of truth. They were ready to lay 
down their lives as heretofore; but they would not 
let the world remain in blindness as to the nature 
of the religion it assailed. They set themselves to 
VINDICATE Christianity ; to expose also the folly 



THE AGE OF THE APOLOGISTS 61 

and IMMORALITY of the pagan idolatry by which it 
was opposed. 

The apologetic literature of the second century, 
therefore, is both voluminous and rich. It covers a 
wide area in space. Its authors are men of cxjlturb 
AND liBARNiNG, skilled reasouers, many of them philo- 
sophers by profession, who, at the cost of their worldly 
prospects, put their talent and eloquence at the ser- 
vice of the religion they had espoused. It breathes 
throughout a tone of dignity and lofty conviction, 
and must have been a powerful factor in aiding the 
progress of Christianity it so strikingly describes. 
Such an apology was demanded, if by nothing else, 
by the slanders in circulation about the Christians, 
and almost universally believed (cannibalism, promis- 
cuous immorality, worship of ass's head, etc.). The 
refutation of these charges is complete. Scarcely 
less effective is the reply to the charges of impiety 
and disloyalty ; while the exhibition of the truth and 
reasonableness of Christian doctrine, and of the purity 
and simplicity of Christian worship and morality, is 
heightened by the dark background of heathen irreli- 
gion and vice against which it is cast. The apologists 
may be grouped as those belonging to the reign of 
Hadrian (Quadratus, Aristides), those of the reign of 
Antoninus (Justin, Tatian), and those of the time of 
Marcus Aurelius (Athenagoras, Theophilus, Melito, 
Minucius Felix, etc.). TertuUian and Origen belong 
to the next period. 

6. The Earlier Apologists — Justin Martyr. — 

The oldest apologist, Quadratus, is little more than 
a name to us.^ He addressed an apology to the 

^Possibly he is identical with Quadratus, an evangelist 
mentioned by Eusebius (iii. 37). 



62 THE EARLY CHURCH 

Emperor Hadrian (Athens, a.d. 125-26?), of which 
only a single extract is preserved. He lays stress 
upon the Saviour's miraclbs. The other apologist 
of this reign, Aristidbs, was, till lately, even more 
completely unknown. It was only known that he 
was a philosopher of Athens, and had also presented 
an apology to Hadrian (a.d. 125-26). In 1889, how- 
ever, a complete Syriac version of this apology was 
brought to light ^ (two Armenian fragments earlier). 
Then the remarkable discovery was made that scholars 
had this apology all the while, and were not aware of 
the fact. In a famous mediaeval romance, Barlaam 
and Josaphat, an apology for Christianity is put into 
the mouth of one of the characters. This turns out 
to be substantially the apology of Aristides, of which 
the Greek text has thus been obtained. The apology 
is mainly a defence of theism against the errors of 
paganism, and a powerful vindication of Christian 
morality. It testifies to the existence of a written 
Gospel. A third writer, Aristo op Pblla, reputed 
author of a lost dialogue between a Christian (Jason) 
and a Jew (Papiscus), may belong to the end of this 
reign. The work is before or about the middle of the 
century. 

Greatest of all the apologists of this period whose 
works have come down to us is Justin the Martyr. 
From him we have two Apologies^ addressed to Anto- 
ninus Pius and the Roman Senate (c. a.d. 150), and 
a Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew, a little later in date. 
Other writings attributed to him are of doubtful 

^The discovery was made by Dr. Rendel Harris, in the 
Convent of St. Catherine, Mount Sinai. An inscription in 
the Syriac version puts the apology under Antoninus, but 
the ordinary date seems preferable. The author knows the 
Didachet or the work on which it is based. 



THE AGE OF THE APOLOGISTS 63 

genuineness or spurious. Justin was a native of 
Flavia Neapolis (Sychem) in Samaria. In the intro- 
duction to his Dialogue he narrates the manner of his 
CONVBRSION. He had gone from one philosophical 
school to another in search of truth. A conversation 
with an old man whom he met on the seashore directed 
him to the Scriptures and to Christ. He became 
persuaded that here was the only sure and worthy 
PHILOSOPHY, and, still wearing his philosopher's cloak, 
thenceforth set himself to impart to others the light 
he had obtained. We find him at Ephbsub and Rome 
teaching and disputing in his double capacity of 
philosopher and Christian. His disputes brought 
him into collision with one Crescens, a cynic, who 
plotted his death and that of his disciples. Through 
the machinations of this man, or in some other way, 
he and six companions were apprehended. Brought 
before the prefect Rusticus, they were condemned to 
DEATH by decapitation 1 (a.d. 163-66). 

Justin's FIRST APOLOGY is in the main a nobly con- 
ceived and admirably sustained piece of argument. 
It consists of three parts — the first refuting the charges 
against the Christians, the second proving the truth 
of the Christian religion, chiefly from prophecy,^ the 
third explaining the nature of the Christian worship. 
The second apology was evoked by a specially shame- 
ful instance of persecution under Urbicus the prefect. 
The Dialogue with Trypho is the account of a long 
disputation at Ephesus with a liberal-minded Jew, and 
meets his objections to Christianity. 

^ The " Acts " of this martyrdom are accepted as reliable. 

' The apologetic argument from prophecy would need to be 
wholly recast in the light of modem knowledge; yet the 
Scriptures chiefly relied on are those which the Church has 
^ways accepted as in a true sense Messianic. 



64 THE EARLY CHURCH 

Incidentally, Justin's writings throw valuable light 
on many matters of importance, as, e,g,j on the 
existence and use of the canonical Gospels, called by 
him the "Memoirs of the Apostles" (1 Apol,, 66-7 ; 
Died., 10, 100, 103), on the victorious spread of 
Christianity (Dial,, 117),^ and on the details of the 
Christian weekly service (1 Apol.y 65-7). The picture 
of the last is singularly life-like and minute. The 
day of worship, as in Pliny, is Sunday, the service 
is under the direction of a " president " (not even yet 
by Justin called a bishop), the reading of the Prophets 
and the Gospels is an established part of the service, 
the president delivers a "homily" or discourse, the 
congregation rise at prayer, and respond to the prayer 
of the president with an "Amen," the eucharist is 
celebrated at the close of the prayer after sermon 
(the agape probably in the evening), the distribution 
is made by the deacons, who take portions to the 
absent, after the eucharist offerings are made for the 
poor, the sick, prisoners, etc. 

The other apologist of the reign of Antoninus is 
Tatian, an Assyrian by birth, and disciple of Justin's. 
He afterwards fell into gnostic heresy.^ Tatian's 
apologetic work is an Address to the Greeks (a.d. 150), 
learned, but bitter, biting, and contemptuous in spirit. 
He is better known through his famous Diatessa/ron, 
or "Harmony of the Four Gospels," the discovery 
of which in its complete form in an Arabic translation 
is one of the sensations of recent years.^ This finally 

^ The catacombs too attest this, and show that Christianity 
had entered the highest ranks (e.g.,, cemeteries of Prsetextatua 
and Csecilia). See Neglected Factor s^ p. 132 ff. 

* See Chap. vi. 

^ Published in 1888. Latin of an Armenian translation of a 
Syriao conmientary on the Harmony was published in 1876. 



THE AGE OF THE APOLOGISTS 66 

establishes the character of the " Gospels " described 
by Justin as m use in the Churches. 

7. Later Apolo^sts. — The apologists of the reign 
of Marcus Aurelius can be more rapidly enumerated. 
The first, Athbnagoras, was, like Aristides, a philo- 
sopher of Athens. He is the most polished and classical 
in style of all the apologists. His apology, entitled an 
Intercession for the Ghristicms (a.d. 177), is chiefly 
devoted to the refutation of the charges against the 
Christians (atheism, eating human flesh, immorality), 
and is a piece of calm, reasonable, efiective pleading. 
He wrote also a work on the Besvrrection. Thbo- 
PHILU8, Bishop of Antioch, belongs to the severe school 
of apologists. He wrote an apology in three books 
addressed to his friend Autolychus (c. a.d. 180). He 
can see no good in the philosophers and poets, whose 
errors and contradictions he shows up in detail. The 
few grains of truth he finds in them were stolen, he 
thinks, from the Hebrew prophets. He has some 
forcible chapters on the purity and beauty of the 
Christian morality. Theophilus is the first to men- 
tion the Gospel of St. John by name. The Gospel 
itself^ of course, was in use long before. It was in- 
cluded, e.^., in the Diatessa/ron of Tatian. Mblito^ 
Bishop of Sardis (c. a.d. 170), has been quoted on the 
edicts of emperors. His apology to Marcus Aurelius 
is known only from extracts. It is characteristic of 
the age that, in addressing the emperor, he speaks 
of the new religion as *'our philosophy." Melito 
wrote numerous other works. To him we owe also 
the first Christian list of the Hebrew Scriptures, i.e,, 
of the Old Testament canon. Hbrmias, date uncertain, 
wrote A Mockery of Heathen Philosophers, still extant. 
The title explains the character of the work. 

Other writers, whose apologetic works are lost, 

6 



66 THE EARLY CHURCH 

were Afolinabius, Bishop of Hierapolis (c. a.d. 174), 
and MiLTiADBS, the former the author of Five Books 
against the Greeks, addressed to the emperor, the 
latter of an apology addressed To the Rulers of this 
World, with other treatises. Finally, there is the 
beautiful and able book of the Latin apologist Minu- 
0IU8 Fblix. There is a doubt, indeed, whether this 
work should be placed here, or later, after Tertullian ; 
but the presumption is strong in favour of the earlier 
date. Fronto, e,g,, who wrote against the Christians 
in this reign (see below), is spoken of as a contem- 
porary. The piece itself is in the form of a dialogue 
between Octayius and a heathen Csecilius (friends of 
Minucius, a Roman advocate) — ^hence its title Octavius. 
CsBcilius states the case for the old faith and Octavius 
replies. The intrinsic worth of the book is enhanced 
by its high artistic and literary merit. 

8. Other Writers. — A passing allusion should be 
made to two other writers of note in this age— 
Hegbsippus, who wrote five books of Memoirs some 
time between a.d. 175 and a.d. 189 ; and Dionysius, 
Bishop of Corinth (c. 170), whose fame rests chiefly on 
his pastoral epistles, of which he wrote a great many. 
The works of both are lost, but Eusebius has pre- 
served valuable extracts. The Memoirs of Hegesippus 
were not history in the strict sense, but appear to 
have been a collection of reminiscences of the apos- 
tolic and post-apostolic ages, drawn partly from 
written, partly from oral sources, in part also from the 
writer's own observation. The author was extensively 
travelled, and the information he had to convey 
would, if we possessed it, be extremely useful. 

9. The Literary Attaok on Christiaaity.— No 

sketch of the literature of this period would be com- 
plete which, besides a survey of the apologists, did not 



THE AGE OF THE APOLOGISTS 67 

iaclude some reference to the literary opposition to 
Christianity. It is another testimony to the growing 
importance of Christianity that the age which saw the 
rise of a formal Christian apology saw also the begin- 
nings of a formal literary attack of exceptional skill 
and keenness. The earliest of the literary assailants 
we know of was Fronto, tutor of Marcus Aurelius, 
who published an oration in which he reiterated the 
scandalous charges brought against the Christians. 
His argument is conjectured by Renan to be nearly 
textually embodied in the discourse of Csecilius in 
the Octavius of Minucius Felix. 

A more formidable assailant was Cblsus, whose 
True Discowse (c, a.d. 180) was the subject of 
Origen's later classical refutation in his Eight Books 
against Celsus (a.d. 249). Celsus is probably to be 
identified with an (alleged) Epicurean of that name, 
an able literary man, and friend of Lucian, who wrote 
also against magic. Of wide reading and undeni- 
able acuteness, he spares no pains to damage and 
DISCREDIT the Christians, while acquitting them of 
the graver calumnies that were current. He first 
introduces a Jew to gather up the slanders of 
the synagogue; then in his own name subjects the 
Gospel history and beliefs of the Christians to criticism 
and ridicule from the standpoint of the true philo- 
sophy. Everything in Christianity — particularly its 
doctrine of redemption —is an offence to him. It is 
not too much to say of his work that, relatively to its 
age, it was as trenchant an assault as any that has 
since come from the artillery of unbelief. Yet, as far 
as can be seen, its influence was nil in stopping the 
triumphant march of Christianity. Its obvious un- 
fairness and utter insensibility to the holy love and 
power of the Christian religion, deprived it of all effect 



68 THE EARLY CHURCH 

on minds that knew from experience what Christianity 
was. 

Another typical opponent of Christianity in this 
age was the sceptical and witty Lucian op Samosata, 
a bom hater of shams, but withal cynical and heart- 
less in his judgments on men and things. In his 
Peregrinus Proteus he describes how a cynic charlatan 
succeeded in imposing on the Christians, and was 
made the object of their lavish kindness when in 
prison for his faith. Yet the picture he draws of the 
attentions of Christians to their unfortunate brethren, 
intended to cover them with ridicule, in reality re- 
dounds to their highest honour. Only Lucian was 
not the man to see this ! 

Points for inquiry and study. — Read the original narra- 
tives of the martyrdom of Polyoarp and of the martyrs of 
Yienne and Lyons (Eusebius, Lightfoot). Note indications 
in the latter of the social rank of the victims, and compare 
catacomb testimony (Orr). Compare more fully the ethics of 
the Meditations with the morality of the Gospel. Study the 
character of Marcus on its Roman side. Read Justin's 
account of his conversion and of the Christian worship. 
Analyse the Tru^ Discourse of Celsus (Pressens^), and account 
for its failure. Classify the principsJ branches of- second 
century apology. 

Books. — Merivale, Pressens^, Uhlhom, Farrar, Orr, etc., 
as before ; Cape's Age of the Antonines^ in " Epochs " series ; 
Froude's *• Origen and Celsus," " A Cagliostro of the Second 
Century," "Lucian," in Short Studies; Renan's Marcus 
Aurelvus ; Long's Thoughts of Marcus Aurelvus ; Diatessaron^ 
etc., in additional volume of " Ante-Nicene Library." 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE AGE OF THE APOLOGISTS (Continubd)— 
GNOSTICISM AND MONTANISM (a.d. 117-180). 

The external conflict of the Church in this period was 
with paganism. Its internal conflicts were with Gnos- 
ticism and MoNTANiSM. The conflict with Gnosticism 
reacted powerfully on the development of theology ; 
the conflict with Montanism did much to strengthen 
the bands of ecclesiastical authority. But the apolo- 
oiSTS also, from the nature of their task, had to state 
and defend Christian doctrines, i.e., to theologise. 
They are our first theologians. They form the link 
between the Apostolic Fathers, whose theology is as 
yet naive and unreflective, and the later Church 
teachers, with whom the construction of a system of 
Christian truth has become a distinct and conscious 
aim {e,g,y Origen). 

1. The Apologists as Theologians. — It is usual 

in recent years to speak of the apologists as teachers 
of a RATIONAL THBOLOGY (a doctrine of God, virtue, 
immortality), which misses the distinctive essence of 
Christianity — to which Christianity is related only as 
revelation and supernatural attestation. There is 
colour for this judgment, but it is one-sided and 
defective. From the necessity of their position, the 
apologists dealt chiefly with the truths of what we 
may call "natural religion" — the imity and moral 
government of God, the creation of the world, 

(69) 



70 THE EARLY CHURCH 

judgment to come, a future state of rewards and 
punishments, etc. — and sought to emphasise these in 
opposition to pagan idolatry, stoical pantheism, epi- 
curean indifFerentism, and belief in fate. If they gave 
these doctrines a rational dress, this is explained by 
their training and habits as philosophers, and by 
accommodation to the spirit of the age. It would 
have been out of place in reasoning with pagans to 
have discussed the interior doctrines of the Christian 
religion about which the pagans knew and cared 
nothing (c/. St. Paul, Acts xvii. 23-31 ; xxiv. 25). 

But the doctrines taught are Christian doctrines 
(in contrast with Greek and other speculations), and 
are treated in their Christian aspects and relations. 
The morality also is the spiritual morality of the 
Gospel. The apologists, one and all, held strongly to 
the doctrine of the Trinity, and in this connection gave 
prominence to the doctrine of the Logos (** Word"), 
the Father's instrument in the creation of the world, 
who became incarnate in Jesus Christ. This too is 
Scriptural doctrine. It is to be noted, however, that, 
while holding Son and Spirit to be truly of the nature 
of God, they fell short in one important respect of the 
doctrine of the later creeds. Assuming in some sense 
an eternal distinction between the Logos and the 
Father, they yet seem to have believed that the 
coming forth of the Son (Spirit also) into distinct 
PERSONAL existence (as second " Person " of the 
Trinity) was not eternal, but was immediately prior 
to creation, and with a view to it. The Logos 
(" Word ") was held to be the source of all rational 
intelligence and wisdom in men (c/. John i. 4, 9), and 
what portions of truth heathen sages possessed were 
due to His presence in their minds. In Christ the 
whole Word was incarnate ; hence in Him Christians 



THE AGE OF THE APOLOGISTS 71 

have the full truth (Justin). The apologists are 
witnesses to Gospel facts and hopes — Justin especi- 
ally. From the writings of Justin a great part of the 
Gospel history can be reproduced. 

Further, while most of the apologists confine them- 
selves to the general ("rational") truths indicated 
above, Justin has something to say of the specipic 
Christian doctrines. Man through disobedience is 
become the child of necessity and ignorance, and has 
fallen under the tyranny of the demons (1 ApoL, 10, 
54-61, etc. The heathen world generally is viewed as 
ruled by the demons). Jesus by His sufferings and 
death has redeemed us from the curse, and obtained 
remission of sins for those who repent, believe, and 
keep His commandments (e.g., Dial., 94-6). Forgive- 
ness is bestowed in Baptism, which is spoken of as^ 
"regeneration" (1 ApoL, 61, 66, etc.). The sacra- 
mentarian idea is thus already well established. A 
mystical virtue, in like manner, attaches to the bread 
and wine of the eucharist, which are no longer " com- 
mon food and drink," but the flesh and blood of Jesus 
Christ, through which our own flesh and blood are 
nourished (1 ApoL, 66). Still it is true that Justin 
regards Christianity, in accordance with the temper 
of the time, too much as " a new philosophy " and " a 
new law." 

2. Onostioism — Its General Character.— Gnos- 
ticism is the peculiar heresy of the second century. It 
is one of the most remarkable appearances of any age. 
It may be described generally as the fantastic pro- 
duct of the blending of certain Christian ideas — 
particularly that of redemption through Christ — with 
speculations and imaginings derived from a medley of 
sources (Greek, Jewish, Parsic, Oriental ; philosophies, 
religions, theosophies, mysteries) in a period when 



72 THE EAKLY CHUKCH 

the human mind was in a kind of ferment, and when 
opinions of every sort were jumbled together in an 
unimaginable welter. It involves, as the name de- 
notes, a claim to ** knowledge" — knowledge of a kind 
of which the ordinary believer was incapable, and in 
the possession of which " salvation " in the full sense 
consisted. This knowledge of which the Gnostic 
boasted related to the subjects ordinarily treated of 
in religious philosophy ; Gnosticism was a species of 
RELIGIOUS PHILOSOPHY. Such qucstious were the 
relation of infinite and finite, the origin of the world 
and of evil, the cause, meaning, purpose and destiny 
of things, the reason of the difference in men's capa- 
cities and lots, the way of salvation, etc. Imagination 
ran riot in inventing solutions of these problems, and 
as the answers which would satisfy the Gnostic had no 
real relation to Christianity, and could not by any 
rational process of interpretation be educed from 
Scripture, they had to be drawn from it by applying 
to the sacred text the method of allegory. 

It is difficult to give an intelligible account of 
systems so multiform and continually changing ; 
and hardly any features can be named common to all 
systems. The following may serve as a general in- 
dication. At the head is the ultimate, nameless, un- 
knowable Being, spoken of as the " Abyss." Forming 
a connecting chain between Him and the finite crea- 
tion are the "^ons" (or "powers," "angels," etc.) 
proceeding from the highest Being by '* emanation." 
These " seons," taken together, form the "pleroma," 
or fulness of the Divine (His self-unfoldings). The 
origin of the world is generally explained by a fall or 
rupture in the "pleroma," or the descent of some 
lower or inferior " seon." Matter is conceived of as 
INHERENTLY EVIL — sometimcs as independently exist- 



THE AGE OF THE APOLOGISTS 73 

ing. In all Gnostic systems ^ a distinction is made 
between the Supreme God and the " Dbmiubqb " or 
author of this lower world. The latter is regarded as 
an inferior, limited, imperfect Being, and is identified 
with THE God op the Old Testament and of the Jews. 
The God of the Gospel revealed by Jesus Christ is 
thus invariably contrasted with the God of creation 
and of the Old Testament. This might almost be said 
to be the hinge on which Gnosticism turns. Jesus 
Himself is conceived of either as a heavenly " seon " 
who descends to earth, clothed with the appea/rance of 
a body — ^a phantasmal body (doketism), or as an 
earthly Messiah, on whom the heavenly " 8eon " 
descends at the Baptism, but leaves Him again at 
the Crucifixion. Redemption is through knowledge, 
and is possible in the full sense only to the "spiritual " 
part of mankind (the " Gnostics "). The rest are 
either " carnal," wholly incapable of salvation, or 
belong to an intermediate class (** psychical," soulish) 
who have a modified benefit. In practical operation 
Gnosticism was sometimes ascetic (mortifying the body, 
forbidding marriage, etc.) ; sometimes, as an assertion 
of the superiority of the spirit to the flesh, it passed 
over into unrestrained licentiousness. 

3. The Onostio Systems. — The beginnings of 

Gnosticism are" already manifest in the New Testa- 
ment (ColoBsian heresy ; 1 Tim. i. vi. 20, " gnosis 
falsely so called " ; Rev. ii. 24 ; St. John's epistles). 
As known in Church history, we may distinguish the 
EARLY gnostic systems, the sbmi-dbvblopbd systems 
(Ophite, etc.), and finally the developed systems 
(Basilides, Yalentinus, Marcion). At the head of 

* 

^ An exception such as that of Bardesenes (Syria) is hardly 
worth noting. 



74 THE EARLY CHURCH 

gnostic teachers the Fathers always place Simon 
Maous. Claiming to be "the Power of God which 
is called Great " (first and chief of the emanations, 
Acts viii. 10), Simon had associated with him a female 
companion of low character (Helena), represented as 
the " power " next in rank to himself, from whom 
proceeded the makers of the world. The angels 
detained this " seon " in the lower world, and Simon 
descended to redeem her. His disciple was Menandbr. 
A sect of Simonians lingered on till the third century. 
Among early Christian Gnostics a prominent place is 
given to Cbrinthus, the contemporary of St. John. 
It is he of whom the story is told that St. John, 
seeing him one day in a bath at Ephesus, exclaimed : 
** Let us fly, lest the bath should fall while Cerinthus, 
the enemy of the truth, is in it." He distinguishes 
between the lower, earthly Christ bom of Joseph and 
Mary, and the higher, heavenly Christ who descended 
on Jesus at the Baptism, but left Him again before His 
death. ^ Carpocratbs is the first of the openly licentious 
Gnostics. Christ in his system has no essential pre- 
eminence over others. Hence, in the Carpocratian 
worship, the image of Christ was placed alongside 
those of other philosophers (first notice of images). 
The duty of the Gnostic is to show his contempt for 
the rulers of the world by unbridled indulgence of the 
passions. The sect was continued by Epiphanbs (son 
of Carpocrates) and Prodicus. 

The semi'devdoped Gnosis is chiefly represented by 
the remarkable group of systems known as Ophitb 
(from ophis, serpent). They derive this name from 
the honour paid to the " serpent " as the symbol of 
intelligence. The Creator of this world is an ignorant, 

^ St. John's epistles may have this system in view. 



THE AGE OF THE APOLOGISTS 75 

imperfect Being (laldabaoth = *' Son of Chaos "), who 
thinks Himself the Supreme God. It is therefore a 
merit when the serpent (Gen. iii.) persuades the first 
pair into disobedience of Him. The most characteristic 
of the multitude of sects bearing this name (Naasenes, 
Peratae, Sethites, etc.) is the Cainttbs, who reversed 
all the ordinary standards of moral judgment, choosing 
as their heroes the persons whom the Bible condemned 
(Cain, men of Sodom, Esau, Korah, etc.). The Syrian 
Gnosis was represented by Saturninus, said to be a 
disciple of Menander, whose system is marked by 
strong dualimi and gloomy asceticism. He is reputed 
one of the founders of the Encratite heresy (condemn- 
ing marriage, etc.). To this party Tatian fell away 
after the death of Justin, holding, it is said, with the 
other Gnostics, a series of " seons," and a distinction 
between the Supreme God and the Demiurge. 

It is, however, in the developed Gnostic systems that 
we naturally see the movement in its perfection. The 
first great name here is Basilidbs, of Alexandria (reign 
of Hadrian, a.d. 117-38), who, with his son Isidore, 
taught a system (c/. Hippolytus), afterwards con- 
siderably modified in a popular direction. Basilides 
was a man of powerful speculative intellect. His first 
principle is a Being so abstract that thought cannot 
give Him a name. The world is continuously evolved 
from a pansperma or " seed of the world," in which 
all things were originally potentially contained. It is 
ruled by two great Archons, who yet subserve the 
designs of the Supreme. There are no " seons," but 
the highest " light " descends through the successive 
spheres till it rests on Jesus of Nazareth. The process 
is complete when the Divine element (** sonship ") is 
all drawn out and restored to God ; oblivion then falls 
on lower intelligences. Many fine sayings are attri- 



76 THE EARLY CHURCH 

buted to Basilides, e.^., "I will say anything rather 
than doubt the goodness of Providence." 

Valbntinub, likewise an Alexandrian, taught in 
Rome (reign of Antoninus, a.d. 138-61). His system 
is as imaginative and poetical as that of Basilides is 
speculative. It is a sort of poem of the exile of the 
soul. Sophia^ the lowest of the **a3ons," bums with 
desire for the knowledge of the Father, and nearly 
loses her existence in seeking to obtain it. Harmony 
is only restored in the Pleroma through the creation 
of two new " aeons " (Christ and the Holy Spirit). 
The expulsion of the product of this disturbance 
(Achamoth) leads to a repetition of the tragedy in a 
lower world ; and this, in turn, to the formation of 
our own world, in which, a third time, the drama of 
fall and redemption is enacted. 'I'he Redeemer here 
is ** Jesus the Saviour" — an " eeon" produced by the 
Pleroma as a thank-offering to the Father for the 
restoration of their own harmony. He descends on 
the earthly Jesus, whose own body, however, is 
wrought of higher substance. The disciples of Valen- 
tinus (refuted by Irenseus) are Ptolem^us, Marcus, 
(a charlatan), Hbraglbon, who wrote a commentary 
on St. John, etc. 

Lastly we have the system of Marcion, of Pontus 
(disciple of Cbrdo), who taught in Rome (c. a.d. 140- 
55). He was later vigorously refuted by Tertullian. 
Marcion is properly classed among Gnostics, inasmuch 
as he makes an absolute distinction between the God 
of the Old Testament and the God of the New 
Testament, is dualistic, and ascribes to Christ only 
a seeming body. Otherwise his system is wholly 
unlike those of other Gnostics. He lays, like St. 
Paul, the stress, not on knowledge, but on faith. His 
system may be described as an overstrained Paulinism. 



THE AGE OF THE APOLOGISTS 77 

The Pauline contrasts of law and Gospel, sin and 
grace, works and faith, are strained till they break 
asunder, and become irreconcilable antagonisms. The 
God of the Old Testament (and of creation) is opposed 
to the God of the New Testament as the "just" 
Grod (ignorant, harsh, rigorous) to the "good" Grod, 
whose nature is wholly love. Marcion wrote a book 
on the Antitheses between the Old Testament and the 
New Testament, and drew up also a Canon of Scrip- 
ture (Marcion*s "Canon"), which had but one Gospel, 
viz., a mutilated Luke, and ten epistles of St. Paul. 
In practice he was rigorously ascetic. Only water, 
e.g., was used in the Lord's Supper. Marcion founded 
a " Church," which endured for some centiuies. Of 
gnostic literature (apart from apocryphal Gospels, 
etc.) the only complete work that remains to us is 
the book Pistis Sophia (Ophite or Valentinian Gnosis). 
Some Ophite MSS. have recently been discovered. 
For the rest we are dependent on the descriptions and 
quotations in the Fathers. 

4. Montanism. — Montanism is another influence 
that wrought powerfully in the Church from the 
middle of the second century. It is best explained as 
a RBACTioN against the growing rigidity of Church 
forms, the increasing laxity in Church morals and dis- 
cipline, and the dying out of the spontaneous element 
in Church life and worship. It had its origin in 
Phrygia, the population of which had naturally a 
strong tendency to excitement and extravagance 
(hence the name Kataphrygicms). The essence of the 
movement lay in its claim to be a nbw prophecy.^ 
Montanus gave himself out as a new organ of the 
Spirit. The Paraclete promised by the Saviour had 

1 The singular resemblance to the modem Irvingism will be 
noticed throughout. 



78 THE EARLY CHURCH 

come in him. He was the fomider of the new age 
or dispensation of the Spirit. With Montanus were 
associated two prophetesses — Pbisca, or Priscilla, and 
Maximilla. It is characteristic of the Montanist 
prophecy that it was delivered in trance or ecstasy. 
One of the oracles of Montanus says : ** Behold, the 
man is as a lyre, and I (the Spirit) sweep over him 
like a plectrum. The man sleeps and I wake." The 
content of the prophecy did not affect doctrine, but 
chiefly practice. The tendency of the sect was 
severely ascetic, and its view of Church disciplinb 
was of the strictest (no forgiveness of mortal sin, 
etc). Like most movements of the kind, it was 
strongly millenarian. The place was even named 
where the New Jerusalem was to descend — the small 
village of Pepuza, in Phrygia. 

In its later form Montanism aimed more at being 
a simple movement of reform in the direction of 
stricter life and discipline. The antagonism between 
the Montanists and the Church party grew naturally 
very bitter. The Montanists called themselves 
" spirituals," and spoke of the Catholics as " psychi- 
cals ; " the latter denounced the new prophecy as 
Satanic delusion. Local synods were held which 
condemned the movement and excommunicated its 
adherents. Notwithstanding the opposition of the 
Church authorities, however, Montanism spread, and 
attracted a good deal of sympathy from earnest 
minds. In North Africa it must have obtained a 
strong hold. Tertullian of Carthage was its most 
distinguished convert (a.d. 202) — indeed, its only 
great man. When, at a council in Iconiiun (c. a.d. 
233), it was decided not to recognise Montanist 
Ijaptism, the separation from the Church was com- 
plete. By Cyprian's time (a.d. 250) Montanism must 



THE AGE OF THE APOLOGISTS 79 

have nearly died out in Carthage — at least he never 
refers to it. 

6. Apocryphal Writings, — The second century 
was marked by the production, chiefly in Ebionitic and 
Gnostic circles, of a profusion of Apocryphal Gospels, 
Apocalypses, and similar works ('* Acts of Apostles " 
generally later). Such were the Gospbl of the 
Hebrews,^ the Gospel of the Egyptians, the first 
form of the Protevangelism of Jambs, the Gospel 
OF Thomas, the Apocalypse, preaching, and Gospel 
OF Peter, etc. A fragment of the Apocalypse of Peter, 
which stood in high repute in the early Church, was 
discovered in 1892. The Gnostics had gospels of 
their own, e,g,, the Cainites had a Gospel of Jude, 
Of the above-named, the Gospel of the Egyptians and 
Gospel of Thomas originated and were in wide use in 
Gnostic circles. A special interest attaches to the 
Gospel of Peter, the use of which was forbidden in 
church in the end of the second century by Serapion, 
Bishop of Antioch, on account of its doketic character. 
An important fragment of this gospel was discovered 
in 1886 (at Akhmin, Upper Egypt). It begins in the 
middle of the history of the Passion and breaks off 
in the narrative of the Resurrection. The gospel 
implies the canonical accounts, but greatly alters and 
adds to them. It bears out the charge of doketism, 
Jesus when crucified ** held His peace as though hav- 
ing no pain." His exclamation on the cross was, 
'* My Power, My Power, Thou hast forsaken Me," etc. 
The Gnostic trail is apparent. 

Pomts for inquiry and study.— Oomi^e the doctrines of 
the Logos in the Apologists with that of the Nicene Creed. 
3how that Justin's writings presuppose our Gospels. Study 

1 See Chap. ii. 



80 THE EARLY CHURCH 

the system of Valentinus as a type of Gnostioism (Pressens^). 
Illustrate the gravity of the crisis of Gnosticism from the 
place Gnosticism holds in the works of the early Catholic 
Fathers. Note the lines of TertuUian's refutation of Marcion. 
Show the evidence which Gnosticism affords to the growing 
influence of Christianity (Orr). C/. Montanism and Irving- 
ism. Contrast the apocryphaJ and canonical Gospels. 

Books. — Lightfoot on "Colossian Heresy" in Commentary 
on Colossians ; MansePs Gnostic Heresies ; Pressens^*s Early 
Years ; Orr's Neglected Factors ; Sanday's Gospels in Second 
Century; Westcott's Canon; Apocryphal Gospels and addi- 
tional volume in ** Ante-Nicene Library". 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE AGE OP THE OLD CATHOLIC FATHERS 

(A.D. 180-260). 

Thb death of Marcus Aurelius proved how superficial 
was the ethical revival associated with his reign. The 
accession of his son, Commodus (a.d. 180), reopened 
the floodgates to the worst evils and vices. The 
period that followed was one of frequent changes of 
emperors, of rampant military licence, of much dis- 
order and disorganisation in the state. This was to 
the advantage of the Christians, in so far as it drew 
away attention from them, and left the emperors no 
time to concert measures to their hurt. But it told 
also to their disadvantage, in placing them more at the 
mercy of popular tumult and of governors imfavour- 
ably disposed. The very calamities of the empire 
were made a ground of accusation against them. *' If 
the Tiber overflows the walls," says Tertullian, **if 
the Nile does not irrigate the fields, if the skies are 
shut, if the earth quakes, if there is a famine or 
a pestilence, immediately the cry is raised, *The 
Christians to the lion * ** (ApoL, 40). Nevertheless, 
the Church during this period made unprecedented 
progress, and, under the guidance of the great anti- 
Gnostic Fathers (IrensBus, Tertullian, Clement, Origen, 
etc.), assumed definitely the character of a Church 
Catholic and Apostolic. 

(81) 6 



82 THE EARLY CHURCH 

1. From Commodus to SeTeras— The SeTerian 

Peraecution. — During the evil reign of Commodus 
no systematic attempt was made to molest the 
Christians. Marcia, the emperor's mistress, was even 
friendly to the Church, and interested herself on its 
hehalf, cg.y in procuring the release of certain con- 
fessors from the Sardinian mines. Yet, as illustrating 
the general insecurity above referred to, Clement, 
writing shortly after the close of this reign, could 
say, " Many martyrs are daily burned, crucified or 
beheaded before our eyes " {Strom,, ii. 20). Apol- 
lonius, a distinguished senator, suflFered in this reign. ^ 
The murder of Commodus was succeeded by a season 
of confusion, calamity, and bloodshed. Pbrtinax was 
killed after a reign of a few months. Then followed 
a scene of degradation such as the empire had never 
yet witnessed. The imperial oflBce was put up to 
public auction on the ramparts of Rome, and unblush- 
ingly sold to the highest bidder. The purchaser, 
JuLiANUs, did not keep his dearly-bought honours long. 
The legions rejected him, and out of the anarchy that 
ensued Sbptimius Sbvbrus, the Pannonian general, 
emerged as the strongest man. 

The eighteen years' reign of this emperor (a.d. 193- 
211) proved him to be an able and vigorous, if also a 
stem ruler. He was at first favourably affected to 
the Christians ; his Syrian wife, Julia Domna, a lady 
of literary and eclectic disposition, was also friendly. 
It is not clear what led to his change of policy. He 
may have been influenced by his growing dislike of 
illegal associations, or by cases of insubordination like 
that related by Tertullian (On the Soldier's Crotvn), 

^His Acts have recently been recovered. The Soillitan 
martyrs in North Africa (c/. Neander) are now also referred 
to the reign of Oommodus. 



AGE OF THE OLD CATHOLIC FATHERS 83 

where a soldier refused to wear the ordinary laurel 
garland in going up to receive his donative from the 
emperor. In any case, in a.d. 202, he issued an edict,^ 
forbidding under severe penalties conversion to either 
Judaism or Christianity. Thus was initiated what is 
reckoned as the fifth pbrseotjtion, though we have 
interesting proof from a tract of Tertullian, To the 
Martyrs (before a.d. 202), that even prior to the 
publication of this edict martyrdom was far from 
unknown. The severity of this persecution seems to 
have fallen chiefly on Egypt and North Africa, and 
some noble martyr incidents are recorded from these 
regions. A chief seat of the persecution was Alex- 
andria. Lbonidas, the father of Origen, was put to 
death at this time by beheading; Origen himself, 
then a youth of seventeen, would have perished also 
had not his mother forcibly prevented him from 
giving himself up. Another conspicuous instance 
was that of the maiden Potami^na, who, with her 
mother, Marcella, was, after many tortures, burned 
to death with boiling pitch. Her constancy was the 
occasion of the conversion of others, among them of 
Basilides, the oflBcer in charge. 

To North Africa — Carthage or Tuburbium — be- 
long the famous martyrdoms of Pbrpetua and her 
COMPANIONS, of which an account is preserved written 
partly by Perpetua herself. Perpetua was a young 
married lady, of noble rank, recently a mother, who, 
for her faith, was thrown into a loathsome prison with 
four companions. One was a slave girl, Felicitas ; the 
three others were youths — Revocatus, Satuminus, and 
Secundulus. All were catechumens, and were baptised 
in prison. Perpetua's father was a pagan, and sought 

^ Or rescript : thus Neumann. 



84 THE EAELY CHURCH 

by the most heartrending entreaties to induce her to 
recant. She and her companions stood firm, and were 
condemned to die at an approaching festival. In 
prison Felicitas was overtaken by the pangs of mater- 
nity. When asked how she would bear the keener 
pain of being torn by the wild beasts, she answered, 
"It is I who bear my present sufferings, but then 
there will be One within me to suflFer for me, because 
I too shall suffer for Him." The men were torn to 
pieces in the amphitheatre by wild beasts ; the women 
were exposed in a net to be tossed by a cow, and 
ultimately killed by the swords of the gladiators. The 
document which tells the pathetic story has in it a 
tinge of Montanistic enthusiasm, and contains the first 
traces of prayers for the dead.^ 

2. Suoceeding Emperors — The Persecution 
under Maximin. — The persecution went on through 
the whole reign of Severus ; in the later stages of it some 
of Origen's disciples suffered. That it continued into 
the reign of his son, Caraoalla (a.d. 211-17), is evident 
from Tertullian's address To Scapula, in which Severus 
is spoken of as already dead. But that ** common 
enemy of mankind " was too much absorbed in his 
vices to trouble about the Christians, and persecution 
gradually stopped. Under the wicked and effeminate 
Syrian emperor Elagabalus, nephew of Severus (a.d. 
218-22), the Christians were also allowed peace. Ela- 
gabalus had been high-priest of the Sun at Emesa, 
in Syria, and now imported into Rome the lewdest 
excesses of the Syrian Sun and Astarte worship. He 
had a settled design of blending all worships with his 
own, and, as a step to this, every foreign religion, 

^ There is a traoe as early as Hennas of purgatorial 
sufiering. 



AGE OF THE OLD CATHOLIC FATHERS 85 

including Christianity, was tolerated. Other influences 
may have been at work, for we find Hippolytus 
addressing a treatise to Julia Aquila, the second wife 
of the emperor. She may therefore be presumed not 
to have been unfriendly to Christianity. Elagabalus 
was cut off before the full effect of his plans could 
be seen, and the Church for the first time enjoyed a 
season of real favour and protection under his gentle 
and virtuous cousin, Albxandbr Sbvbbus (a.d. 222-35). 

Alexander profitably divided the hours of his day 
between private devotion, assiduous attention to 
public business, the cultivation of his mind through 
literature and philosophy, manly exercises and rational 
and refined intercourse in the evenings. In religion 
he was an eclectic. The bust of Christ was placed in 
his private chapel alongside of those of other persons 
held in special reverence — Abraham, Orpheus, Apol- 
lonius, etc.; and he had inscribed on the walls of his 
palace and public monuments the maxim, " What ye 
would not have others do to you, do ye not to them." 
This maxim, it is said, he was constantly repeating. 
Under the reign of such an emperor the position of 
Christianity was practically that of a religio licita. 
The mother of Alexander, Julia Mammeea, who 
exercised a considerable influence on the government, 
was also deeply interested in Christianity, and invited 
Origen to confer with her at Antioch. A reign like 
Alexander's, however, was naturally displeasing to the 
rude military, and an unfortunate Persian war led to 
his murder, and to the accession of the Thracian 
savage, Maximin (a.d. 235-38). Under this tyrant 
occurred what is known as the sixth pbrsbcution. 

Maximin seems to have been moved in his rage 
against the Church chiefly by hatred of his prede- 
qessor. His acts were directed at first only against 



86 THE EARLY CHURCH 

the heads of the Churches. Origen, as a friend of 
Julia Mammsea, was marked as a victim, and had to 
flee from Caesarea. Anti-Christian fury, however, 
ODce let loose, did not readily confine itself within 
limits, and the Church suffered severely in different 
places, especially in Cappadocia and Pontus, where 
destructive earthquakes had awakened the passions 
of the populace. A beautiful work of Origen on 
Mwrty^'dom relates to this persecution. 

The times of confusion that followed — the reigns of 
the TWO GoRDiANs, of Balbinus and Maximus, of 
GoRDiAN III. (a.d. 238-44), yield nothing for our 
purpose. During this period the Christians enjoyed 
a respite, which was continued and even confirmed by 
the next emperor, Philip thb Arabian (a.d. 244-49). 
Philip was the son of a Bedouin robber-chief — called, 
therefore, ** Philip the Robber '* — but he has the dis- 
tinction of figuring with some ecclesiastical writers as 
the fii-st Christian emperor. Both he and his wife 
Severa had correspondence with Origen. It is cer- 
tain that he looked with very favourable eyes on 
Christianity, without, however, showing any trace of 
its influence in his public conduct. At the great 
secular games, e.g.y in celebration of the completion of 
the thousandth year of Rome's existence — which was 
the great feature of his reign — the ceremonies were 
entirely pagan. Philip was slain in conflict with 
Decius (a.d. 249). 

3. Progress of Christianity in this Period. 
— The astonishingly rapid spread of Christianity in 
this age is one of the most remarkable facts about it.^ 
The apologetic writers, «.</., Tertullian and Origen, give 
the strongest expression to their consciousness of com- 

^ For fuller details, see Neglected Factors, eto. 



AGE OF THE OLD CATHOLIC FATHERS 87 

ing victory. "Men cry out," says TertuUian, "that 
the state is besieged ; the Christians are in the fields, 
in the ports, in the islands. They mourn, as for a 
loss, that every sex, age, condition and even rank is 
going over to this sect " (Apol,, i.). Origen, in the 
reign of Philip, writes, ** Every form of religion will 
be destroyed except the religion of Christ, which will 
alone prevail. And indeed it will one day triumph, 
as its principles take possession of the minds of men 
more and more every day " (Against CelsiM, viii. 68). 
With every allowance for rhetorical exaggeration, it is 
impossible to doubt that Christianity was taking root 
throughout the empire with a rapidity and vigour 
that astonished both friends and foes. The Church 
had spread, in greater or less measure, from Britain in 
the west to the Tigris in the east, from the Rhine in 
the north to the Libyan desert in the south. It had 
extended itself in Gaul and Spain and North Africa, 
in Asia Minor, in Mesopotamia, in Arabia. It had 
penetrated across the Danube into the tribes of the 
barbarians. It included not only great ^umbers of 
the population, but pbrsons of all ranks in sogibtt. 
There were Christians of high standing in the house- 
holds of the emperors ; the rebukes administered by 
Tertullian and Clement to the wealthy and luxurious 
in the Churches prove, what other testimonies bear 
out, that many in these classes had received the 
Gospel. 

The very suddenness with which the existence of 
large and influential Churches like those of Carthaob, 
Albxandrla. and Lyons bursts upon us in this period 
is evidence of the marvellous energy of propagation 
Christianity was displaying. It is not, therefore, to 
be wondered at that the writers of the period point 
exultantly to this astonishing progress and draw from 



88 THE EARLY CHURCH 

it an argument for the divineness of their faith. The 
BOAST OP Tertullian in his Apology is, it should be 
remembered, that of a contemporary : " We are but of 
yesterday, and yet we have filled every place belong- 
ing to you — cities, islands, castles, towns, assemblies, 
your very camps, your tribes, companies, palace, 
senate, forum ; we leave you your temples only. . . . 
All your ingenious cruelties can accomplish nothing. 
Our number increases the more you destroy us. The 
blood of the martyrs is their seed " (37, 50). How- 
ever rhetorically coloured, there must have been a 
strong basis of truth in such representations to pro- 
cure for them any acceptance. 

4. DeTelopment of the Idea of the Old Catholic 

Churoh. — In its conflicts with Gnosticism and Mon- 
tanism — especially the former — the Church was mean- 
while undergoing an internal development which 
more than paralleled its marvellous outward extension. 
In combating Gnosticism the Fathers were not waging 
war with an ordinary foe. They had, as we have 
already seen, to deal with a system which spumed the 
literal acceptance of the Gospel facts, and, under 
pretence of a higher wisdom, transformed them into a 
phantasmagoria of its own creation ; which attacked 
the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith — ^the 
identify of the Grod of Creation and the Grod of Re- 
demption, of the God of the Old Testament and the 
Grod of the New Testament, the true humanity of the 
Redeemer, the reality of sin and atonement, etc. In 
waging this conflict, moreover, they laboured under 
the very peculiar difficulty that there was as yet no 

UNIVERSALLY RECOGNISED STANDARD OF TRUTH tO gO by 

— no fixed canon of Scripture, no fixed creed, no fixed 
court of appeal in matters of faith such as the council 
afterwards became. 



AGE OF THE OLD CATHOLIC FATHERS 89 

What bulwark was to be reared against this inno- 
vating tide of speculation? Dr. Hatch has pointed 
out that the idea struck out by the Church as giving it 
firm footing in this sea of controversy was that of the 
"Apostolic." That was true which was Apostolic; 
that was false — at least not authoritative — which 
could not claim apostolic sanction. This thought was 
applied by the Fathers of the age specially in three 
ways.^ They applied it (1) to an apostolic collection of 
Scriptures — the idea of a New Testament Canon. We 
have seen that the Gospels were already read in 
Justin's day in the ordinary service of the Church; 
collections of apostolic letters were also very early 
formed (2 Pet. iii. 16; c/. free use of epistles in 
Polycarp, etc.). Such collections, however, grew up 
naturally, informally, with a view to edification, and 
not with the idea of forming what we mean by a 
canon of Scripture for the whole Church. The con- 
flict with Gnosticism gave a new turn to this con- 
ception. The first attempt at a formal canon of 
New Testament Scripture we know of was the muti- 
lated canon of Marcion.^ Other Gnostic and Ebionitic 
sects were flooding the Church with apocryphal writ- 
ings. Under these circumstances, as well as to find 
a solid basis from which to repel the assaults of oppo- 
nents^ it was of the first importance for the Church, 
not only to gather the true Scriptures together, but 
to lay emphasis on that which gave them their claim 
to authority. This was their apostolic origin and 
character, Le.^ their origin either directly from apostles 
or from men immediately belonging to the first apos- 
tolic circles, and having apostolic sanction for their 
work. Thus sprang up in the latter part of the second 

^ Thus Hamack. > See above, Chapter VI. 



90 THE EARLY CHURCH 

century the conception of a definite canon ^ of New 
Testament Scripture — of a " New Testament," as it 
begins expressly to be called, which takes its place 
beside the "Old Testament" as of equal validity 
and authority with it. Lists are now drawn up of 
the sacred books, e,g,y the Canon op Muratori ; and 
the Fathers show the clearest consciousness of deal- 
ing with a code of writings of inspired character and 
authority. Tertullian is the first to use the name 
" New Testament," though the designation seems im- 
plied earlier in certain expressions of Melito of Sardis ; 
Iremeus usually speaks simply of the " Scriptures." 

The category of the apostolic was applied (2) to an 
apostolic **RuLB op Faith" — the idea of a traditional 
CREED. It was soon manifest that in controversy with 
Gnostics the appeal to Scripture was not always so 
conclusive as it seemed. Even where Scripture was 
not rejected the Gnostics had their own way of inter- 
preting it. Their use of allegorical methods (to which 
the Fathers themselves gave too much countenance) 
enabled them to get from the text as much support 
for their theories a« they pleased. The question was 
no longer as to the canon of Scripture, but as to the 
sense to be drawn from Scripture when they had it. 
It was here that the Fathers stepped back from the 
written Word to the constant and steadfast tradition 
of the truth which had been maintained in the Church 
since apostolic days. From earliest times the Church 
had employed a simple baptismal confession. This 
had become enlarged till in the second century it 
assumed substantially the outline of our present 
Apostles' Creed. A form of this kind was certainly 
in use in the Church of Rome before the middle of 

^ The term itself is later. 



AGE OF THE OLD CATHOLIC FATHERS 91 

the second century ; and the forms in use in other 
Churches show, with variation and paraphrase, essen- 
tial agreement. This form, gradually crystallising 
into settled shape, was laid hold of by the Church 
and erected into a "rule of faith," which, standing 
behind Scripture, could be employed as a check on 
the wanton licence of Gnostic interpretation. It was 
not intended to supersede Scripture, but to corroborate 
it ; still it marks the introduction of that principle of 
" tradition," as regulative of faith, which, at a further 
remove from the primitive source, became the parent 
of so many abuses. 

Finally, this thought of the apostolic was applied 
(3) to an apostolic stjccbssion op opfiob-bbarbrs in 
the Church — the idea of a continuous historic epis- 
COPATB, viewed as depository and guardian of the 
aforesaid tradition. It was not enough that there 
should be apostolic tradition ; there must be some 
guarantee for the secure transmission and purity of 
the tradition. This was presumed to be found in the 
continuous succession of bishops from the days of the 
apostles. Lists op the Succession of bishops in the 
greater Churches are carefully given by the Fathers 
in proof that this transmission of apostolic tradition is 
a possibility and reality. There is clearly here an 
imhistorical element ; for it has already been shown 
that bishops, in the sense supposed, do not go back to 
apostolic days.^ It is in this form, i.e., as a guarantee 
for the purity of tradition, that the doctrine of an 
** Apostolic Succession" of bishops first enters. It 
has not yet the sacerdotal associations of the next 
age. Already, however, there has now distinctly 

iC/. Mr. Chore's admission, above noted, p. 51. The 
bishops in Ignatius are never represented as successors 
of the apostles. 



92 THE EARLY CHURCH 

shaped itself, as the result of the above processes, the 
idea of a Catholic Church, i.e., a Church resting on 
the jides catholica et apostolica^ and finding its unity 
in the episcopate, which is regarded also as the de- 
pository and guardian of its sacred tradition. From 
this time, accordingly, the term ** Catholic Church " 
— already found in Ignatius, but simply in the sense 
of " universal *' — gets into currency (Tertullian, Cle- 
ment, Muratorian fragments, etc.). It needs only the 
Cyprianic idea of the priestly character of its clergy 
to complete it. 

Points for inquiry a/nd study. — Illustrate the Severian 
persecution from the writings of Tertullian (c/. Neander's 
Antignostictis). Bead the full story of Perpetua and her 
companions. Collect the evidences of the remarkable spread 
of Christianity in this period. Show the extent of the 
knowledge of the New Testament implied in the writings 
of Irenseus, Tertullian, etc. Compare the difierent early 
versions of the traditional " Rule of Faith " (SchafE, Zahn). 
Study the earliest form of the doctrine of " Apostolic Suc- 
cession " in IrensBus (iii., 2, 3, 4 ; iv., 26) and Tertullian {On 
Prescription^ 82, etc.). 

Books, — For history, Gibbon, Milman, Neander's Anti- 
gnostictis (Bohn); Orr's Neglected Factors; Zahn's The 
Apostles' Creed (also Schaff, Swete, etc.). 



CHAPTER VIIL 

THE AGE OF THE OLD CATHOLIC FATHERS - 
(Continued). (a.d. 180-260). 

Thb chief interest of the period whose external history 
and internal development we have sought to describe 
is connected with the names of its grbat teachers. 
These form a galaxy of rare brilliance. The study of 
their works is at the same time the study of the 
theology and literature of the age. 

1, Irenseus of Gaul. — The personal notices of this 
great Father are scanty. He was bom about a.d. 120, 
perhaps a little later ; was a native of Asia Minor ; in 
early life was a disciple op Polycarp, the disciple of 
St. John. In an epistle to his fellow-pupil Flomius, 
who had lapsed into Gnosticism, he speaks of the 
vivid recollection he retained of Poly carp's discourses, 
and how they agreed with what was related in the 
Scriptures. He was a presbyter in Lyons during 
the persecution under Marcus Aurelius in a.d. 177.^ 
The Montanist controversy was raging, and Irenscus 
bore an intercessory letter on behalf of the Montanists 
from the martyrs to Eleutherus, the Bishop of Rome 
{Em., V. 4). 

After the martyrdom of the aged Pothinus, Irenseus, 
as the fittest man, was chosen bishop in his place. ^ 

^ See above, page 59. 

> Lyons would appear at this time to have been the only 
bishopric in Gaul. 

(93) 



94 THE EARLY CHURCH 

The only other occasion on which he comes into view 
is a few years later (a.d. 190-94) in connection with 
the action of Victor of Rome in the Quarto-Deciman 
controversy (see below). The date of his death is un- 
certain (a.d. 202-3 ?). All through Irenseus showed 
himself a man of peaceful and conciliatory spirit — in 
marked agreement, Eusebius says, with his name ( = 
peaceful). 

His one literary monument (besides fragments) is 
his great work, in five books, "Against Hbrbsibs," 
directed specially against the Valentinians (a.d. 180- 
90). It exists only in an early Latin translation ; 
portions of the Greek, however, are preserved by 
other ¥rriters. The author's thboloqical opinions 
are developed incidentally, but sufficiently to show 
that Irenseus had a theology of a very definite and 
organic character. The central thought in his con- 
ception of Christianity is the incarnation. Creation 
needs the incarnation for its perfecting. Only through 
the entrance of the Word (Logos) into humanity could 
man be led to his destination as a son of God. 
Irenseus has no dubiety as to the eternal existence of 
the Word. ** The Son has always existed with God, 
has always revealed the Father, has always revealed 
the fvll Godhead " (Hamack). Redemption is brought 
under his favourite idea of a recapitulation of 
humanity in Christ. Christ is the compendium of the 
race ; sums up the nature, the experiences, the history 
of mankind in Himself. His obedience retracts the 
disobedience of the Fall. As our Head he wins for us 
a complete victory over Satan. He enters into our lot 
and doom as sinners, and ransoms us by His death. 
A trace only is discernible of the theory afterwards 
developed that Satan through the Fall obtained rights 
over men which had to be respected. In bschatology 



AGE OF THE OLD CATHOLIC FATHERS 95 

IrensBus is crudely Chiliastic (Antichrist, the first 
resurrection, the New Jerusalem, the 1,000 years' reign, 
etc.). His SACRAMENTAL TEACHING conforms to the 
now well-established Catholic type. The Eucharistic 
elements, e,g.^ are ** antitypes " of the Lord's body and 
blood; yet there is a real mystical imion of these 
elements with the body and blood of Christ, so that in 
receiving them the commimicant is nourished by the 
latter. 

2. Tertollian of Carthage. — Tertullian is the first 
of the great Ijatin Fathers, and founder of Latin theo- 
logy. His general place in the history is about 

TWENTY YEARS AFTER I»BNJ5US. He foUowS IrenSBUS 

closely in his antignostic polemic and doctrine of the 
Church. The two men, however, are as different as 
can well be conceived. The calm, temperate spirit 
of Irenseus bears no resemblance to the fiery, impetu- 
ous NATURE of the North African Father. No impartial 
person will doubt his deep or sincere piety; yet the 
fire within him burned often with a murky flame. 
Tertullian was bom at Carthage probably about a.d. 
160. His father is said to have been a proconsular 
centurion, and he was educated for the law. His life 
till manhood was spent in heathenism, but its follies 
and pleasures left his soul unsatisfied. His conver- 
sion TO Christianity may have been about a.d. 192. 
He probably became a presbyter of the Church at 
Carthage. We know that he was married, and that 
his wife also was a Christian. 

The decisive event in his career was his conversion 
TO MoNTANiSM (c. A.D. 202). Thereafter his relations 
with the Church were embittered, and he withdrew 
from its communion {Against Praxeasy 1). It is doubt- 
ful, however, how far this withdrawal went. It is 
certain that Tertullian always regarded himself as 



96 THE EARLY CHURCH 

belonging in a true sense to the Catholic Church, and 
there are evidences that towards the end of his life 
the asperities softened. His death is placed a.d. 220- 
40. Whatever his faults of temperament, Tertul- 
lian's ability as a Christian advocate is second to none. 
His LITERARY ACTIVITY was prodigious. His pages 
sparkle with brilliant and original thoughts ; are, in- 
deed, for vigour, terseness and mastery of literary ex- 
pression unsurpassed in patristic literature. Cyprian's 
admiration of him was such that it is said a day 
never passed without his calling for some of his works, 
saying, "Give me the master." His writings are 
usually divided into those written before and those 
written after he became a Montanist, though it is 
doubtful to which class some are to be referred. 

To the FIRST PERIOD (a.d. 197-202) belong the tract 
To the Martyrs (a.d. 197), the Apology (a.d. 198-99), 
to which two books, To the Nations^ are related 
(possibly as an earlier sketch), the beautiful tract On 
the Witness of the Sovl (the germ of which lies in " the 
soul naturally Christian " of the Apology ^ 17), with a 
number of short treatises — "Tracts for the Times," as 
they have been happily called — dealing with questions 
arising out of the life of the time, and with practical 
subjects (e.g., on The Spectacles ; on Idolatry ; on l^he 
Attire of Women ; two treatises To my Wife, discussing 
second marriage ; on Penitence, Prayer, Patience, etc.). 
These shorter pieces especially exhibit a mixture of 
argument, wit, sarcasm, raillery, very characteristic 
of Tertullian. Though not yet a Montanist, his 
standard of judgment is always severe. 

The SECOND PERIOD (after a.d. 202) reflects his 
changed attitude to the Church, and shows Tertullian 
at his best and his worst. The resources of his 
rhetoric, his brilliant antitheses, his Christian zeal, 



AGE OF THE OLD CATHOLIC FATHERS 97 

his powerful and often convincing reasoning, com- 
mand admiration ; on the other hand, his faults of 
TEMPER AND ARGUMENT are often glaring. Here, again, 
we have to distinguish between his shorter occa- 
sional pieces called forth by special circumstances (as, 
e.g.y on The Soldier's Crown^ on Flight from, Persecu- 
tioThf on The Veiling of Virgins^ on Single Marriage, 
on Fasting, etc.), and his longer controversial works. 
The principal of these are his great work, in five books. 
Against Marcion, and his treatise Against Praxeas ^ 
(other works. Against Hermogenes, Against the Valen- 
tinia/ns, etc.). Reference should be made also to his 
forcible tractate To ScapiUa (the proconsul), in which, 
A.D. 212, he powerfully champions the cause of the 
whole of the Christians. 

TertuUian's abiding services to the Church are those 
which he rendered as apologist and theologian. The 
APOLOGY of Tertullian is by universal consent regarded 
as his masterpiece. It is addressed to the emperor, 
and is a noble piece of pleading. The opening chap- 
ters are introductory ; they urge that Christianity 
is hated because it is unknown. The body of the 
Apology is -divided into two parts — the first refuting 
the charges against the Christians (first the popular 
calumnies of killing infants, practising incest in 
their assemblies, etc., then the capital charges of 
irreligion and disloyalty to the emperor) ; the second 
describing in beautiful words the simple, spiritual, and 
orderly character of the Christian worship, and the 
real nature of the much-maligned love-feast. The 
closing portion replies to objectors, and reminds of 
coming judgment. As a theologian Tertullian left 
his deep stamp on after thinking. He practically 

^ See below, Chap, z, 
7 



96 THE EARLY CHURCH 

created the Latin ecclesiastical tongue, and gave to 
theology many of the terms which have become its 
permanent possession {e.g.y one substance, three 
persons, satisfaction, merit, New Testament, rule of 
faith, etc.). On the Trinity he followed the views 
of the apologists in not attributing to the Son an 
eternal persorud existence. The Trinity is an internal 
Divine " economy " or dispensation, with a view to 
creation and redemption. He follows Irenseus pretty 
closely on the doctrines of Man and the Incarnation. 
Man was made after the image of the future Incarnate 
One {Christi futwri in came). The earlier appear- 
ances of the Son to the patriarchs are " rehearsals " 
of the Incarnation. Tertullian has a much deeper 
view of sin than obtained in the Greek Church ; but 
his ideas of penitential satisfaction obscure grace, 
and give a gloomy tinge to his theology. The words, 
" This is My body " in the Supper are explained, 
" This is ihQ figure of My body '* ; but a real presence 
in the elements is presupposed. 

8. The Alexandrian School — PantaBnus and 

Clement. — Alexandria was, next to Athens, the city 
of the Greek world in which intellectual tendencies of 
every sort met and commingled. It was to be ex- 
pected, therefore, that in this busy centre the attempt 
would early be made to unite Christianity with what 
was best in the thought and culture of the time. This, 
accordingly, is what we see taking place in the famous 
Catbchbtioal School at Alexandria. It is charac- 
teristic of the Alexandrian School that it takes up 
a genial attitude to heathen learning and culture ; 
regards Greek philosophy and science as in its way 
also a providential preparation for the Gospels ; seeks 
to meet an antichristian Gnosis by a better Gnosis, 
which grows out of faith and love. It is speculative. 



AGE OF THE OLD CATHOLIC FATHEKS 99 

LIBERAL, IDEALISTIC in Spirit; in its Scriptural methods 
ALLEGORICAL, though not to the subversion of the 
history, as in the heretical Gnosticism. 

Of the founder and first teacher of this school, 
PANTiBNUS (c. A.D. 180), wc know very little. He was 
a Stoic philosopher, well trained in Greek learning, 
and the first, Origen says, who applied this learning 
in Christian instruction. His school was designed for 
CATECHUMENS, *.e., thosc in training for baptism, but 
many heathens who desired instruction attended. 
Either before or after his catechetical labours he 
travelled widely in the East as an evangelist, pene- 
trating as far as India (Arabia Felix 'i), and finding 
there, it is said, a copy of the Gospel of Matthew (in 
Hebrew), which had been left by St. Bartholomew. 

His most distinguished pupil was Clement, who 
succeeded him as head of the school in a.d. 189. 
Clement of Alexandria was born, probably at Athens, 
A.D. 150-60. Brought up in paganism — he speaks 
even of his initiation into the mysteries — he under- 
took a SERIES OF travels in pursuit of truth, but 
found no rest till he met with Panteenus. That 
"Sicilian bee," he says, "gathering the spoil of the 
flowers of the prophetic and apostolic meadow," en- 
gendered in his soul a deathless element of knowledge 
(Strom,, i. 2). His own genius gave new lustre to 
the school, over which he presided for thirteen or 
fourteen years, till the persecution of Severus (a.d. 
202) compelled his withdrawal. From this time 
Clement is well-nigh lost sight of. He is supposed 
to have died about a.d. 220. Throughout he may be 
regarded as contemporary with Tertullian. Clement's 
genius is cast in a mould totally different from that 
of the other Fathers we have named. He was, like 
Tertullian, a man of amazing learning, but he applied 



100 THE EARLY CHURCH 

his learning in quite another way. He has none of the 
austerity of the Carthaginian Father ; but was soaring, 
POETIC, IDEALISTIC, large and sympathetic in his views 
of truth. On the other hand, his power of reducing 
his ideas to logical order and connection is limited. 
His thought loves to roam free and unfettered, and 
his style in writing is exuberant and discursive. 

Of the KNOWN WORKS of Clement we are fortunate 
in possessing the three greatest — which, yet, in 
their connection form one work. They belong to the 
j>eriod of his work in Alexandria, and give a good idea 
of his instruction. They are entitled respectively 
The Address to the Greeks (aiming at conversion from 
paganism). The Pobdagogue or Tutcyr (a manual of 
moral discipline, entering into minute details of con- 
duct), and The Stromata or Miscellanies (initiating 
into the higher knowledge). These follow, he tells 
us, the method of the all -glorious Word, who first 
addresses, then trains, and finally teaches {Peed., i. 1). 
The Word is the ** Pjedagogue ". The Stromata, 
while dealing largely with the relations of faith and 
knowledge, do not give much help in apprehending 
Clement's theology. Had we possessed his Outlines 
(a lost work) we might have been in better case. 
The central idea is the Logos (Word) as the enlighten- 
ing source of all truth in humanity. The Logos is 
eternal, but the Trinitarian distinctions are so idealis- 
tically conceived as almost to lose their personal 
character. Even the sacraments are apprehended in 
a highly ideal way. Clement prepares for Origen by 
teaching a preaching in Hades for those who died 
without opportunity of repentance here (second pro- 
bation), as well as for the righteous through the law 
and philosophy, i.e., just men, both Jews and Gentiles, 
who died before the Advent. 



AGE OF THE OLD CATHOLIC FATHERS 101 

4. Origen. — Origen was the favourite pupil of 
Clement, as Clement had been the disciple of Pan- 
tsenus. We can hardly err in recognising in him the 
greatest of the teachers of the early Church — one o¥ 
THE GREATEST MINDS the Church has seen in any age. 
Origen was bom at Alexandria in a.d. 185. His 
parents were both Christians. He showed remark- 
able ABILITY as a boy, committing to memory large 
portions of Scripture, and often perplexing his father, 
Leonidas, by the questions he asked. His father 
reproved him, but in secret thanked God for such a 
son, and often, while he slept, kissed his breast as 
a temple of the Holy Ghost. When the persecution 
broke out (a.d. 202) his father was one of the first 
victims. Origen laboured to support the family, and 
managed to collect a small library. His reputation 
was such that, on the withdrawal of Clement, he was 
induced, though only a youth of eighteen, to take the 
OVERSIGHT OF THE SCHOOL and give instruction in it 
(a.d. 203). The persecution still raged, and many of 
his early pupils suffered martyrdom. Origen, how- 
ever, was nothing daunted, and his labours were 
crowned with remarkable success. To procure sub- 
sistence, as he would receive no payment, he sold 
his valuable collection of classical books. He went 
further, and taking literally the injunction in Matthew 
xix. 12, he performed an act of self-mutilation, which 
he lived bitterly to regret. In order better to qualify 
himself for his work, he took lessons in philosophy 
from Ammonius Saccas, the founder of the Neo- 
Platonic school. He learned Hebrew also to prepare 
him for his Biblical studies. His course embraced 
ARTS AND letters as wcU as studies properly theo- 
logical. These preparatory studies he subsequently 
handed over to a colleague. 



102 THE EARLY CHURCH 

His PERIOD OF LABOUR IN ALEXANDRIA lasted for 

twenty-eight years (a.d. 203-31). It was broken by 
visits to Palestine, in the first of which (a.d. 215-18) 
he taught in the churches ; in the second (extended 
to Achaia), a.d. 228-31, he was ordained presbyter.^ 
These steps drew down on him the displeasure of the 
narrow-minded bishop Demetrius, and compelled his 
departure from Alexandria. A council convened by 
the bishop excommunicated and deposed him (a.d. 
231). The bishops in Palestine and elsewhere treated 
this sentence as null. The second period of his 
WORK was at Csesarea, where he opened a school on a 
still larger scale, and conducted it with even more 
brilliant success. His labours at Cfesarea, broken 
only by a brief withdrawal during the persecution of 
Maximin (a.d. 236), continued for nineteen years (a.d. 
231-50). Origen was apprehended, imprisoned and 
TORTURED iu the persecution of Decius^ (a.d. 250). 
He was released in a.d. 251, but died from the effects of 
the torture in a.d. 253 (? 254), at the age of sixty-nine. 
It is impossible to give more than an indication of 
this Father's extraordinary literary labours. Dur- 
ing his later residence at Alexandria he wrote many 
of his Commentaries, and also his book on "First 
Principles " — our first work on systematic theology. 
A wealthy layman, Ambrose, provided him with the 
means of carrying on his labours on the most extended 
scale, gave him shorthand writers, etc. A colossal work, 
which occupied him for twenty-eight years, was his 
" Hexapla," a collation of the LXX with the Hebrew 
text, and three other Greek versions (the Hebrew 
being printed also in Greek letters as a sixth column). 

^ Shorter visits were paid in this and the subsequent period 
to Borne, Arabia, eto. 
* See Chap. ix. 



AGE OF THE OLD CATHOLIC FATHERS 103 

The work, except the LXX part, has perished. To 
Csesarea belong Hmnilies, treatises on Prayer, Martyr- 
donif etc. In a.d. 249, in the reign of Philip, he 
wrote his great work in eight books, "Against 
Cblsus "1— the noblest apology of the early Church. 
It has already been hinted that his expositions of 
Scripture give large scope to the allegorical method. 

As a THEOLOGIAN Origcn shows a speculative 
QENius hardly equalled. He distinguishes between 
what belongs to the rule of faith (to which he 
adheres) and points which the doctrine of the Church 
leaves undetermined ; and claims for his speculations 
on these points only tentative and provisional value. 
He emphasises in the Trinity the ** eternal genera- 
tion " of the Son ; on the other hand, lays such stress 
on the hypostatic distinction, and subordination of 
Son and Spirit to the Father, as almost to dissolve 
the Divine unity. He speaks even of the Son in rela- 
tion to the Father (absolute deity) as "a second God." 
As God, he thinks, must eternally have worlds on 
which to display His omnipotence, he teaches eternal 
creation. There is a pre-bxistence op souls, and 
sin is explained by a pall op souls in this pre-existent 
state. There was one pure soul that did not fall, 
but clave in love to the Logos. This is the soul of 
Jesus. Thus Origen explains the sinlessness of Christ. 
Redemption he regards under many points of view — 
among them that of a deception of Satan, who cannot 
retain the soul of Jesus, given him as ransom price 
for men. Origen is the first pronounced restitu- 
tionist in the Church. All souls and worlds, he 
thinks, will yet be brought back to God. The daring- 
ness of some of these speculations involved the Church 

^ See above. Chap. v. 



104 THE EAKLY CHURCH 

in much after trouble (Origenistic controversies). 
Apart from his theological views, Origen is a valuable 
witness to Christian pacts. He bears witness, e,g., 
to the usage of the Church in infant baptism, and 
traces the custom back to the apostles. TertuUian, 
on the other hand, advised delay. 

8. The Chupch of Rome in this Period— Hip- 

polytus and Callistas. — Many circumstances com- 
bined to exalt the Church of Rome in the second 
century to a position of bxcbptional prb-bminbncb 
(the political capital, antiquity and apostolic character 
of Church, wealth and liberality of members, etc.). 
This pre-eminence was, however, solely one of respect 
and honour. It did not mean that the Church of 
Rome was as yet allowed any real authority or juris- 
diction over other Churches. The aim of the bishops of 
Rome, on the other hand, was to change this position 
of honour into one of actual authority. Every claim 
of this kind was, by other bishops, strenuously resisted. 
A case which makes this clear, and at the same time 
marks a stage in the claims of the Roman bishop, is 
that known as the Quarto-Dbciman controvbrsy or 
dispute about the time of keeping Easter. In Asia 
Minor the Churches began and finished their celebra- 
tion on one day — the fourteenth day of Nisan, or day 
of the Jewish Passover, on whatever day of the week 
it might fall. They held that this was the custom 
handed down to them from the apostle John. Rome 
and the Churches of the West, on the other hand, 
followed not the day of the month but the day of the 
week. They began on Friday of the Passover-week 
(Good Friday) and ended on the Easter Sunday 
morning. The matter was discussed in a friendly 
spirit between Polycarp, of Smyrna, and Anicbtus, 
Bishop of Rome (c. a.d. 155), without, however, a 



AGE OF THE OLD CATHOLIC FATHEJftS 106 

settlement being arrived at. It was the occasion of 
a sharp controversy in Asia Minor itself between 
Melito of Sardis and Apollinaris of Hierapolis (c. a.d. 
170). Melito defended the Asiatic practice. But the 
most important stage in the controversy was in a.d. 
190-94, when Victor, a haughty and imperious man, 
was bishop of Rome. Victor issued a mandate re- 
quiring conformity to the Roman practice ; then, when 
protest was made, threatened the excommunication 
of the Asiatics. This assumption of authority was 
too much even for many who agreed with Victor in 
principle, and immediate remonstrances were made. 
The chief of these was from Irenseus, who, in a letter 
to Victor, earnestly reproves him for his arrogance. 
Irenseus was successful in his protest, and the excom- 
munication was not carried out. The Roman custom 
was ultimately affirmed at the Council of Nicsea (a.d. 
325), though not till it had become generally accepted 
throughout the Churches. 

The bishops next in succession to Victor were 
Zbphyrinus (a.d. 200-18) and Callistus (a.d. 218- 
23), regarding whom (especially the latter) there is a 
curious story to tell which is best connected with the 
accoimt of another great Church Father — Hippglytus. 
Hippolytus has had a most singular fate. A volu- 
minous and learned writer, and one of the most con- 
spicuous figures in the Roman Church of his day, he 
seems afterwards to have dropped almost entirely out 
of view. Two interesting discoveries in modem times 
have restored him to our knowledge. First, his 
statub was dug up in Rome in 1551 (on the back of 
the chair his Easter cycle and list of his writings) ; 
and second, in 1842, his long-lost work, in ten books, 
A Refutation of all Heresies^ was recovered (published 
in 1851). The first book had long been attributed to 



106 THE EARLY CHURCH 

Origen, under the name Philosophoumena ; the seccmd 
and third books are wanting in the MSS., but the 
rest of the work is nearly entire. A valuable feature 
in the book is the original light it throws on the 
system of Basilides. But by far its most interesting 
service is its account of the state of the Roman Church 
under the two bishops above named, and of Hip- 
polytus's own relation to them. 

Hippolytus in early life was a hbabbr of Iben^sus 
in Gaul or Rome. Later he headed a party op 
OPPOSITION in Rome to the bishops Zephyrinus and 
Callistus, whom he accuses at once of doctrinal heresy 
and of scandalous laxity in discipline (Bk. ix.). 
Zephtrinxjs he describes as a weak and illiterate 
man, covetous and accessible to bribes, and in the 
latter part of his life completely under the influence 
of Callistus. The latter used him for his own pur- 
poses, and among other things mclined him to the 
adoption of the Patripassian heresy,i then being 
actively disseminated in Rome. The account of Cal- 
listus is in the highest degree unfavourable. Origin- 
ally the slave of a Christian master, he embezzled the 
funds of a banking business; fled, and, when about 
to be captured, tried to commit suicide ; was sent to 
the house of correction ; later, for a disturbance in the 
Jewish synagogue, was banished to the Sardinian 
mines, etc. We next find him in the confidence of 
Zephyrinus, who set him over the cemetery ever since 
called by his name. On the death of Zephyrinus, he 
had influence enough to get himself appointed as 
bishop in his place. His scandalous administration 
is pictured in the darkest colours by Hippolytus. 

The dif&culty is to know what position precisely 

^ See below, Chap. z. 



AGE OF THE OLD CATHOLIC FATHEE8 107 

Hippolytus himself occupied. He assumes the office 
of bishop and withholds that designation from Cal- 
listus ; speaks of Callistus only as head of a school. 
A late and worthless tradition makes him bishop of 
Portus — the seaport of Kome. He was more probably 
really a rival bishop to Callistus, set up by his own 
party — the first of the long line of anti-popes. Yet, all 
unwitting of his real history, the Church later canon- 
ised him as a saint ! The remaining fact of his life 
of which we can speak with certainty is that he and 
the bishop Pontianus were transported to Sardinia 
in the persecution of Maximin (a.d. 235). Some kind 
of reconciliation must have taken place, for the bodies 
of both were brought back to Rome about a.d. 236-37, 
and deposited in their respective sepulchres on the 
same day (13th August). Besides the work on 
heresies, we have from Hippolytus a treatise Against 
NoeiuSy and minor works and fragments. 

6. Cyprian of GfiU!»thage — Completion of Idea 
of Old Catholic Church. — Cyprian is the last of the 
old Catholic Fathers, and he marks the transition to 
the next period. Cyprian is not great as a theologian, 
but he is a orbat churchman. To him belongs the 
distinction of having placed the copestone on the 
edifice of the old Catholic Church which we have 
seen being built up by many hands from the days 
of Ignatius. His persona] history presents us with a 
career of splendid self-sacrifice. 

Cyprian was born at Carthage, about a.d. 200, of 
noble and wealthy parents. Previous to his conversion 
he was distinguished as a teacher of rhetoric. He was 
WON TO Christ about a.d. 245 through the instru- 
mentality of an aged presbyter, Csecilius, who directed 
him to the study of the Bible. Cyprian gave proof 
at once of the thoroughness and decision of his pro- 



108 THE EARLY CHURCH 

fession by taking Christ's command literally, and 
voluntarily selling his fine estate for the benefit of the 
poor. Baptism followed rapidly on conversion, and 
was signalised by his adoption of the name of his 
spiritual father, CsBcilius. In a writing of this period, 
To DonatuSy Cyprian gives a beautiful description of 
the effects of his conversion, and of the contrast 
between Christianity and heathenism in a moral 
respect. He was shortly after ordained a presbyter, 
and a little later — only two years after his baptism — 
was compulsorily raised by popular acclamation to 
THE DIGNITY OP BISHOP. His clcvation gave deep 
offence to the presbyters who had been passed over. 
Five presbyters objected to his ordination, and to the 
jealousy thus created is to be traced most of his after 
troubles. Thus at the very beginning of his Christian 
course Cyprian found himself at the head of the clergy 
of North Africa. 

In A.D. 250 the storm of the Decian persecution 
broke on the Church, and Cyprian thought it prudent 
to withdraw for a time that he might better direct 
the affairs of the Church, and prevent it from being 
deprived of its head. Of the troubles which arose out 
of this persecution and the difficulties in which they 
involved Cyprian, we shall speak in the next chapter. 
He returned to Carthage in a.d. 251, when the persecu- 
tion had ended through the death of the emperor. In 
A.D. 252 came the great pestilence, which afforded 
opportunity for a display of Christian devotion and 
charity such as paganism was incapable of. A scheme 
was drawn up for the systematic visitation of the city ; 
a ministry of help was organised ; some undertook 
the work of nursing and burial ; and through their 
unremitting efforts a general pestilence was averted. 
Under the Valerian persecution, a.d. 257, Cyprian 



AGE OF THE OLD CATHOLIC FATHEES 109 

was banished to a city some forty miles distant. A 
year later (a.d. 258) a more severe edict was issued, 
and he was sentenced to death by beheading. The 
martyrdom took place on a level plain near the city 
in presence of a vast concourse of spectators, all of 
whom, even the pagans, did him reverence. 

Cyprian, as said above, was less a theologian than a 
GREAT CHURCH LEADER. The trying circumstances in 
which he was placed, and the oppositions he had to 
encounter, forced on him the task of strengthening to 
the utmost the bonds of church unity, and of seek- 
ing, in argument with his opponents, a dogmatic basis 
for that unity. The chief works in which this basis is 
set forth are his eighty -one Epistles (a few not his), and, 
above all, his treatise on The Unity of the Chv/rch — 
the Magna Chartay as it has been called, of the old 
Catholic and High Church conception. 

Cyprian's doctrine of the Church may be summed 
up in three points. (1) The unity of the Church as 
represented by the episcopate, Cyprian gives this a 
new grounding in basing it on the promise of Christ 
to St. Peter (Matt. xvi. 18, 19). Peter, however, 
only represents the unity of the Church in a sym- 
bolical way. It is not the bishop of Rome only, but 
the whole body of the episcopate, which inherits 
Peter's prerogatives. (2) The priesthood of the clergy, 
Cyprian is the first to give this conception fixed 
and definite shape. The way had ]ong been preparing 
in the development of the idea of sacramental grace, 
and especially of the eucharist as a sacrifice. The 
sacrifice in the eucharist was originally the spiritual 
sacrifice of prayer and thanksgiving, or the offering 
up of the worshipper himself. The idea was extended 
to the gifts from which the elements of the Supper 
were taken ; then to the elements. Now that the 



110 THE EARLY CHURCH 

idea was established of a real mystical presence of the 
Lord's body and blood in the elements, it was natural 
that the conception of the sacrifice should change. 
The Sacrament becomes a real opfbring up of the 
body and blood of the Lord — ^a renewal of the 
sacrifice on the Cross. Thus the idea of the sacrifice 
as A siN-OFFERiNO, and of the priest as an offerer at 
the altar (in the Jewish and pagan sense), becomes 
established in the Church. The clergy are a priestly 
class, mediating between the people and Grod, and 
conveying grace to the people from Grod. The 
distinction of clergy and laity becomes absolute. 
(3) With all this Cyprian held firmly the autonomy 
of each bishop in his ovm Chwrch. He resisted all 
arrogant pretensions on the part of the bishop of 
Rome. On the question of the re-baptism of heretics, 
e.g,, he came into violent collision with Stephen of 
Rome (a.d. 255-56), who wished to impose his own 
views on the Churches of North Africa. The Pope's 
unqualified primacy gets little help from the Fathers 
of this age. From the above positions follows logically 
the conclusion which Cyprian now boldly draws, that 
out of this visible, episcopally-organised Church there 
can be no salvation. Extra ecclesiam nulla salus. 
Hence schism is the worst of sins; excommunication 
dooms the soul to perdition. 

Points for inquiry and study. — Study more fully the lives 
of the Fathers. Contrast the idea of the bishop in IrensBus 
and Cyprian. Show more fully the degree of honour allowed 
to the bishops of Rome in the second and third centuries, 
and contrast with modem claims. Trace the development of 
the eucharist as a sacrifice. 

Books. — Lightfoot's " Churches of Gaul " in Essays ; 
Brown's Apostolical Succession; Farrar's Lives of Fathers 
(also Pressens^, etc.) ; Barrow's Supremacy of Pope / North 
Africa/n Church in ** Home Library ". 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE AGE OF THE GREAT PERSECUTIONS : 
VICTORY OP CHRISTIANITY {a.d. 250-324). 

It is a curious coincidence that the completion of 
Rome's millennium should also mark the beginning of 
its downfall. The Gothic invasions had commenced 
even in the reign of Philip ; in that of DBcnxs (a.d. 
250-51) they spread frightful desolation through Rome's 
fairest provinces. The turning-point in the history of 
the Church is not less marked. Everything seemed 
going prosperously. It appeared as if an easy and 
peaceful victory were about to be achieved. But 
observant eyes, like Origen's, saw that this season of 
respite was only thb calm bbforb thb storm of a 
great final struggle. The breaking of that storm was 
not long deferred. Hitherto there had been severe 
and distressing persecutions, but they had been more 
or less local and limited in range. Now the empire 
woke up to see that the very existence of paganism 
was at stake^ and for the first time we have systbma- 
ticallt plannbd and strictly univbrsal persecutions. 
1« The Deoian and Valerian Persecutions. — The 

Emperor Decius was a Roman of the old school. His 
two years* reign ended in a defeat by the Goths, in 
which he and his army perished miserably in a morass; 
but they were years fraught with important conse- 
quences for the Christians. Decius was a persecutor, 
pot from impulse but from settled policy. He 

(111) 



112 THE EARLY CHURCH 

honestly believed that the salvation of Rome lay in 
its old institutions, and that Christianity, as a rival 
power, could not be too speedily or effectually crushed. 
He is credited with the saying that he would rather 
have a second emperor at his side than the bishop of 
Rome. He^ was therefore scarcely established in the 
empire when he launched the edict which inaugurated 
what is deemed the seventh persecution (a.d. 250). 
He does not seem at first to have desired the death 
of the Christians. His policy was to terrify them by 
citing them before the tribunals and requiring them 
to recant ; then, if they proved obstinate, to coerce 
them by imprisonments, confiscations, tortures, exile. 
It was only when these measures failed that the 
extremest tortures and death were inflicted on con- 
fessors, and specially on the bishops. 

The persecuting edict was sent throughout the 
empire and rigorously enforced. Christians who did 
not appear before the tribunals on an appointed day 
were to be sought after, and brought before a com- 
mission composed of the magistrate and five of the 
principal citizens. The edict fell like a thimderbolt 
on the Church. The Epistles of Cyprian, his Treatise 
on the Lapsed, and a letter of Dionysius of Alexandria ^ 
give us vivid pictures of the persecution, but show 
also how ill-prepared the Church was to meet it. 
Multitudes in time of peace had joined the Church 
who had no deep-rooted piety ; and these, especially 
the wealthier classes, now fell away in large numbers. 
Dionysius pictures them approaching the altar, pale 
and trembling, as if they were going to be sacrificed 
instead of to sacrifice, while the populace who thronged 
around jeered them. Special names had to be in- 

^Eus.,v\, 41. 



THE AGE OF THE GREAT PERSECUTIONS 113 

vented to designate the classes op the lapsicd 
(sacrijicati, those who had sacrificed ; thur/Jicati, those 
who offered incense ; libellatici^ those who for payment 
obtained a certificate that they had sacrificed though 
they had not done so ; ^ and acta facientes, those who 
without certificates pretended they had sacrificed). 
Many, however, did not apostatise, but submitted to 
be tormented with heat, himger, and thirst in their 
prisons, stretched on the rack, torn with hooks, burnt 
with fire, and finally put to death. One of the first 
victims of the persecution was the aged Fabian, Bishop 
of Rome. For more than a year after this no bishop 
of Rome could be elected. Other distinguished suf- 
ferers were Babylus of Antioch and Alexander of 
Jerusalem, Origen's friend. Origbn himself, it will 
be remembered, was imprisoned and tortured. The 
death of the emperor set him free. The persecution 
broke out again under his successor, Gallus (a.d. 
251-54). 

It is, however, under the more important reign of 
the next emperor. Valerian (a.d. 254-60), that we 
come to what is usually numbered as the eighth 
persecution. Valerian was a man of unblemished 
virtue, and for the first four years of his reign was 
not unfavourably disposed towards the Christians. 
His house is described by Dionysius as " filled with 
pious persons, and a house of God " (Ev'S,, vi. 36). 
The change seems to have been brought about by 
a dark-minded man, Macrianus, who had acquired 
great influence over him. The reign of Valerian was 
the most calamitous the empire had yet experienced ; 
this also had doubtless its eflect. The persecution 
that ensued exceeded even that of Decius in severity. 

^ Specimens of these libelli have been recovered. 

8 



114 THE EARLY CHURCH 

Its first stage was in a.d. 257, and went no farther 
than to remove bishops from their churches, and 
forbid Christian assemblies on pain of death ; the 
SECOND stage (a.d. 258) was far more drastic, decreeing 
that office-bearers of churches should immediately be 
put to death, persons of rank should be degraded, and, 
if they persevered, should be put to death, noble women 
and persons of lesser rank should suffer confiscation 
and banishment. 

One of the first to sufl^er was again the bishop of 
Rome, SiXTUS, who was beheaded in his episcopal chair. 
We saw that Cyprian suffered in this persecution. In 
Spain we read of a bishop and two deacons being burned 
alive in the amphitheatre. The persecution came to 
an end with the captivitt op Valerian in Persia 
(a.d. 260). How little all these persecuting edicts 
had done to destroy Christianity is shown by the fact 
that the first step of his frivolous son and colleague, 
Gallienus (a.d. 254-68), was to restore to congrega- 
tions their right to worship, and give bishops permission 
to return to their charges. Christianity thus became 
once more practically a religio licita. 

2. Effects of the Persecutions— Schisms of Feli- 
cissimus and Novatian. — A delicate and difficult 
question for the Church, as soon as the severity of 
the persecutions had abated, was the restoration of 
THE lapsed. These formed a wide class, and among 
them were included many shades and degrees of guilt. 
Multitudes had little real sense of their sin in apostasy, 
and were indisposed to brook delay in restoration. The 
evil was aggravated by faction, and by a practice which 
had grown up of allowing confessors a right of inter- 
cession for the fallen, and even of granting certificates 
op peace with the Church. In Carthage especially 
this privilege was abused beyond all bounds. The 



THE AGE OF THE GREAT PERSECUTIONS 115 

result was two schisms — one at Carthage, the other 
at Rome, the latter of which, at least, had important 
historical consequences. 

Cyprian's views on the restoration of the lapsed tended 
to strictness ; he was at any rate opposed to action till 
a council could be called to settle deliberately terms 
of re-admission. It will be remembered that a party 
of opposition to Cyprian existed in Carthage — the result 
of jealousy at his ordination. The head of this party 
was a presbyter, Novatus, who had already shown his 
disregard for Cyprian by ordaining one Felicissimus 
as his deacon. These threw in their influence with 
the advocates of lenity, and received back all and 
sundry to Church fellowship. Novatus shortly after 
went to Rome, where we find him assuming the 
opposite 7'dle of a leader of the strict party. Cyprian 
gradually softened in his views, but without effect on 
the opposition. Felicissimus openly revolted against 
his authority, and refused to receive a delegation 
which Cyprian had sent to inquire into the neces- 
sities of sufferers by- the persecution. At a council 
held A.D. 251 Felicissimus was condemned, and at a 
second council (a.d. 252) milder rules were adopted. 
The party of Felicissimus now set up a bishop of their 
own, named Fortunatus, and the schism was complete. 
It seems to have had no permanent success. ^ 

At RoMB a much graver contest was being waged. 
Cornelius, the bishop-elect, was opposed by Nova- 
TIAN, a man of sombre temper and rigorous principles, 
who resisted all re-admission of the lapsed to Church 
commimion. He did not deny that the penitent 
might receive mercy from God, but held that the 
Church had no power to grant it. Novatus, from 

^ A third (Novatian) bishop was afterwards set up. 



116 THE EARLY CHURCH 

Carthage, threw himself into this new strife, and, on 
the rejection of Novatian, persuaded his party not to 
accept Cornelius as their bishop, but to elect a bishop 
for themselves. Novatian was chosen opposition 
bishop, and a rival Church was formed which deve- 
loped into a great organisation, spread into many 
countries (G^aul, Africa, Asia Minor, etc.), and con- 
tinued for centuries, with a great reputation for piety. 
Epiphanius, e.g., mentions that in Thyatira there were 
no Catholics for a hundred and twelve years. Novatian 
was a genuinely able and learned man, as his work 
on The Trinity shows. 

Following on the schisms, embittered disputes arose 
on the RE-BAPTISM OP HBRBTics. Thcsc, as formerly 
mentioned, brought Cyprian into collision with 
Stephen, Bishop of Rome (a.d. 255-56). Cyprian, 
with the North African Church, took the stricter 
view (insisting on re-baptism) ; Stephen took the 
milder. The more charitable view ultimately pre- 
vailed. 

3. Empire and Ghurch till Diocletian — Neo- 

Platonism. — The death of Gallienus in a.d. 268 left 
the empire in a state bordering on ruin. From this 
period a rapid succession of emperors held sway whose 
main task it was to clear the provinces from the bar- 
barians that infested them. They were mostly men 
of obscure rank, of lUyrian extraction (hence known 
as the Illyrian Emperors), and of great bravery and 
skill. The only one that need be mentioned here was 
AuRBLiAN (a.d. 270-75), who achieved a series of 
brilliant triumphs in east and west, but made himself 
odious by his pride and severity. He was zealous for 
the maintenance of pagan rites (was himself a devoted 
worshipper of the sun), and was on the point of sub- 
scribing an edict for the persecution of the Christians 



THE AGE OF THE GREAT PERSECUTIONS 117 

when he was cut off by conspirators. Some allege 
that the edict was actually issued. It is this, never- 
theless, which is reckoned as the ninth pbrsbcution 
— a. persecution, it will be seen, only on paper. The 
murder of the Emperor Numerian in a.d. 284 opened 
the way for Diocletian, with whom a new era in the 
empire begins. 

During all this period (apart from the danger under 
Aurelian), as well as during the first nineteen years of 
the reign of Diocletian (till a.d. 303), the Church 
enjoyed peace. This is known as the forty years' 
PEACE, and, while it lasted, the Church continued to 
grow in numbers, wealth and influence, but also in 
worldliness and corruption. Large and magnificent 
churches began to be erected, greater splendour was 
introduced into the services, church offices were multi- 
plied, etc.^ Christians were found in the highest 
positions in the palace. In the same proportion 
Church discipline was relaxed, and the old evils from 
which the Decian persecution had done much to 
purify the Church returned in full tide. 

Reference may be made here to a new form of 
opposition which had sprung up on the philosophical and 
literary side, viz., Nbo-Platonism. This philosophical 
form of faith, while bitterly hostile to Christianity, is 
the strongest testimony to its influence. It no longer 
poured unqualified ridicule on Christianity, as Celsus 
had done, but dealt with it in an eclectic spirit, con- 
demning only its exclusive claims. " We must not," 
said Porphyry, ** calumniate Christ, but only pity 
those who worship Him as God." The founder of 
this school, Ammonius Sacoas of Alexandria (died 
A.D. 243), was bom of Christian parents, and, indeed, 

^ See Chap. x. 



118 THE EARLY CHURCH 

for a time himself professed Christianity. A trace of 
Christian influence may be seen in the Neo-Platonic 
doctrine of the Trinity, which, however, has little in 
common with the Christian, but is wrought up from 
Platonic elements. The problem which Neo-Platonism 
set itself to solve was the union of the finite and in- 
finite ; and its means of bridging the opposition of 
the two was ** ecstasy." 

The most illustrious teachers of the school after 
Ammonius were Plotinus (died c. a.d. 270) and 
Porphyry (died a.d. 304). Porphyry wrote a book 
entitled Discourses against the GhristianSy of which 
fragments are preserved in the Fathers who replied 
to it. Some of his objections to the books of Scripture 
(e,g,y to the book of Daniel) anticipate modern critical 
attacks. A literary opponent of a coarser stamp, 
generally reckoned to this school, was Hibroolbs, 
prefect of Bithynia (afterwards of Alexandria), a 
cruel persecutor of the Christians. His book, Truth- 
loving Words to the Christians (!), attempts to disparage 
the character and miracles of Jesus by comparison with 
those of AristsBus, Pythagoras, and the pagan miracle- 
worker, ApoUonius of Tyana. Eusebius wrote a reply 
to it. The school afterwards degenerated into theurgy 
and magic (e.^., Jamblichus of Chalcis, who died c. 
A.D. 330). Its last famous teacher was Proclus of 
Constantinople, the commentator on Plato (died a.d. 
485). 

4. The Diocletian Persecution. — The last and 

most violent of all the persecutions that overtook the 
Christians (the tenth pbrseoution) was that in the 
reign of Diocletian (a.d. 303-13). Diocletian, the 
son of a slave, introduced changes into the organisa- 
tion OP the empirb of far-reaching importance. He 
assumed personally the style of an Oriental despot ; 



THE AGE OF THE GREAT PERSECUTIONS 119 

divided the empire into two parts (West and East), with 
an "Augustus " for each ; changed the seat of empire 
from Rome to the new capitals, Milan (W.) and 
Nicomedia (E.); further, subdivided the empire by 
associating with each " Augustus " a " Csesar," who 
was in due course to succeed to the higher dignity. 
In pursuance of these arrangements, Diocletian (E.) 
associated with himself, in a.d. 286, Maximian, a 
rude but able soldier (W.), and in a.d. 292 added, as 
the two "Csesars," Galbrius, originally a herdsman, 
and CoNSTANTius Chlorus, father of Constantine the 
Great. To consolidate the relations Constantius was 
required to put away his wife Helena (mother of 
Constantine) and become son-in-law of Maximian, 
while Galerius became the son-in-law of Diocletian. 
Constantius received the rule of Gaul and Britain, and 
Galerius had Illyria. 

If Diocletian did not molest the Christians during 
the FIRST NINETEEN YEARS of his reign (his own wife, 
Prisca, and daughter, VcUetna, were reputed Chris- 
tians) it was not from any love of their religion. But 
Diocletian was a wary, politic man, and knew better 
than most what a conflict with Christianity which 
was to end in its suppression would mean. The 
REAL INSTIGATOR of the persecution wals the low-bred, 
ferocious Galerius. Diocletian long held back, but, 
plied with arguments by Galerius and the pagan 
nobles, he at length gave way, and a persecution was 
agreed on, to take effect on 23rd February, a.d. 303. 
There was to be no halting or turning back, but 
measures were to be taken for the entire suppression 
of Christianity. Proceedings began at daybreak on 
the day named by the demolition of the magnificent 
GHDRGH at Nicomedia (one of the architectural orna- 
ments of the city), and the burning of all copies of 



120 THE EAELY CHURCH 

the Scriptures found in it. Next day an edict was 
issued giving the signal for a general persecution. All 
churches were to be demolished ; all copies of the 
Scriptures were to be burned ; Christians holding 
official positions were to be degraded and deprived 
of civil rights ; others were to be reduced to the 
condition of slaves ; slaves were made incapable of 
receiving their freedom. 

This first edict (a.d. 303) was aimed, it will be ob- 
served, rather at the churches and the Scriptures 
(a new policy) than the persons of the Christians ; 
disobedience was punished by degradation, not by 
death. A second edict (a.d. 303) ordered all clergy, 
without option of sacrifice, to be thrown into prison. 
Some time after a third edict was issued, yet more 
severe. The clergy in prison were required to sacri- 
fice ; if they did not, they were to be compelled by 
every means of torture. Finally, in a.d. 304, a fourth 
EDICT extended this law to the whole body of the 
Christians. The most fearful tortures were inflicted 
on the Christians to compel them to submit, and 
though death was not mentioned in the edict, it was, 
as we see from Eusebius, freely inflicted. The sweep- 
ing severity of this persecution is apparent from the 
rehearsal of these edicts alone. Their publication, as 
in the Decian persecution, caused indescribable con- 
sternation. Immediately on the publication of the 
first, a soldier rashly tore it down with opprobrious 
words ; for this act he was roasted over a slow fire. 
Fires that broke out in the palace were blamed on the 
Christians, and led to many being burned, beheaded 
and drowned. Formerly trusted chamberlains of the 
palace were put to death. Diocletian's own wife and 
daughter had to clear themselves by sacrifice. 

Special panic was created by the order for the 



THE AGE OF THE GEEAT PERSECUTIONS 121 

SURRENDER and DESTRUCTION of the Sacred Scriptures. 
The scenes of the Decian persecotion were repeated 
in new forms. Multitudes hastened at once to give 
up their copies of the Scriptures ; some palmed off on 
the officers worthless and heretical writings ; others, 
more enthusiastic, not only retained their Scriptures, 
but boasted of their possession, and challenged the 
magistrates to do their worst. Those who for any 
reason gave up their Scriptures were branded with 
the name traditors, and the antagonism to these 
afterwards gave rise to a new schism — that of the 
Donatists (see below). The later edicts still further 
tried the faith and patience of the Christians. In 
Gaul and Britain, first under Constantius, then under 
Constantino, the Christians enjoyed comparative peace. 
But throughout the rest of the empire the persecu- 
tion raged with dreadful cruelty. Egypt and Pales- 
tine were specially afflicted. 

In A.D. 305 Diocletian abdicated, but this rather 
made matters worse for the Christians. Galerius, the 
chief promoter of the persecution, was now emperor, 
and his creatures, Severus and Maximin, in West and 
East respectively, were entirely devoted to his in- 
terests. The revolt of Maxentius in Italy (a.d. 306) 
was favourable to the Christians in so far as it was 
his interest to attach them to his side ; and with the 
defeat of Maxentius by Constantine at the Milvian 
Bridge, a.d. 312 (see below), persecution in the West 
may be said to have ended. In the East, under the 
savage Maximin, it went on with intensified severity 
till A.D. 311, when a welcome relief came. In that 
year the arch-persecutor, Galerius, smitten with a 
dreadful internal disease, was moved to make peace 
with the Christians, and issued an edict of tolera- 
tion, granting full liberty of opinion and worship. 



122 THE EARLY CHURCH 

This was followed in a.d. 313 (after a provisional 
edict in a.d. 312) by the famous Edict op Milan of 
Constantine and Licinius (see below). Maximin him- 
self, defeated by Licinius, likewise issued an epistle 
in which he granted full liberty of worship. One 
reason he gives for the persecution is that the 
emperors " had seen that almost all men were aban- 
doning the worship of the gods, and attaching them- 
selves to the party of the Christians" {Etbs,^ ix. 9). 
Thus on every hand the persecution was admitted to 
have failed, and Christianity emerged triumphant. 

5. Career and Character of Constantine — Vic- 
tory of Christianity. — To j udge fairly of Constantine, 
distinction should be made between the period before 
he arrived at supreme power and the period that suc- 
ceeded. In the BARLT period his character and conduct 
stand before us in a most favourable light. The son 
of Constantius Chlorus and Helena (said to be the 
daughter of an innkeeper), he was bom at Naissus, 
in Dacia, probably in a.d. 274. After his mother's 
divorce he continued to reside at Nicomedia as a 
hostage for his father's loyalty. He joined his father 
in Gaul in a.d. 305, and was proclaimed emperor by 
the troops in Britain on the death of Constantius in 
A.D. 306. Galerius, however, only granted him the 
rank of ''Csesar." At the courts of Diocletian and 
Galerius he seems to have been a general favourite. 
His high reputation was maintained in Britain and in 
Gaul. He was tall and commanding in appearance, 
affable in manners, just and tolerant in his rule, pure 
in his personal morals. He was a man undoubtedly 
of large ambitions, but these rested on a conscious 
ability to rule. 

From the first he was a protector op the Christians, 
and, as he sped on from victory to victory in their 



THE AGE OF THE GREAT PERSECUTIONS 123 

interests, it is perhaps not wonderful that in their 
eyes, and in his own, he should come to be regarded 
as a sort of second Cyrus — a special instrument raised 
up by God for the deliverance of His Church. In 
A.D. 305 Maxbntius, the son of Maximian, had (with 
his father) usurped the supreme power in Italy. His 
reign was one of intolerable oppression. A historical 
battle was fought between Constantine and Maxentius 
at THE MiLViAN Bbidob, about nine miles from Rome, 
A.D. 312, which issued in the defeat and drowning of 
the latter. 

It was on the march to this battle that Constantine 
had his famous Vision op the Cross, which some speak 
of as his " Conversion." He saw, or believed he saw, 
a cross in the sky, above the brightness of the sun, 
bearing on it the words "By this Conquer." The 
same night Christ appeared to him in sleep, and 
directed him to make a standard of like pattern, which 
should be to him a token of victory.^ There is nothing 
improbable in the supposition that the emperor may 
have seen an appearance in the heavens which his 
excited imagination construed into a cross ; or that 
in the agitation of his mind, on the eve of so critical 
a contest, he may have had such a dream as he 
describes. If his mind was already pondering the 
question of the acceptance of Christianity, this becomes 
the more probable. The sacred standard — the 
Labarum — was at least made, and the monogram of 
Christ was displayed on shields and helmets of 
soldiers, and on gems and coins. Even yet, however, 
Constantine was very dimly instructed in the real 
nature of Christianity. Christianity, indeed, was never 

^The incident was narrated on oath by Constantine to 
Eusebius. 



124 THE EARLY CHURCH 

much more to him than a system of Monotheism and 
providence. 

The Roman world was now divided between Con- 
stant! nb AND LiciNHJS (an "Augustus " of Galerius), 
and the final struggle could not be long delayed. In 
A.D. 313 the two emperors issued jointly the Edict of 
Milan, already mentioned. In a.d. 314 two battles 
were fought, in which Licinius was worsted. A truce 
of eight years followed. In this interval the mind of 
Constantine was clearing, and not a few of his laws 
show a Christian impress. Licinius, on the other 
hand, took the side of paganism, and the last war, 
in A.D. 323, was avowedly waged in the interests 
of the old religion and the old gods. **The issue of 
this war," said Licinius, " must settle the question 
between his god and our gods." The decisive victory 
at Hadrianoplb (a.d. 323), therefore, was well under- 
stood to be a victory for Christianity. In the following 
year (a.d. 324) the Christian religion was established. 
The nature of this settlement, and some of the later 
events of Constantine's reign, on which dark shadows 
rest, are touched on in the next chapter. 

6. The Donatist Schism. — Even before arriving at 
full power Constantine had been asked to adjudicate 
in an ecclesiastical dispute arising out of the perse- 
cution in Carthage. Mbnsurius, Bishop of Carthage, 
had given offence to the stricter party by evasive con- 
duct when called on to surrender his Scriptures and 
in other ways. They could accomplish nothing in his 
lifetime, but when his successor, C^cilian, was elected, 
in a.d. 311, they broke out in revolt under the leader- 
ship of one Donatus, accused Ccecilian of having been 
ordained by a traditor Felix, and, at a synod attended 
by seventy bishops, set up a rival bishop in the 
person of Majorinus. Appeal was made (by the 



THE AGE OP THE GREAT PERSECUTIONS 125 

Donatists) to Constantine to have the question deter- 
mined whether Felix was really a traditor ; and a 
SERIES OP INVESTIGATIONS Were held (a.d. 313-16), in- 
cluding one by the Council op ARiiBS (a.d. 314), and 
a final inquiry by the emperor himself (a.d. 316) — all 
with the same result of clearing Felix and upholding 
Cificilian. Majorinus died in a.d. 315, and was 
succeeded as bishop by a second and greater Donatus, 
from whom the sect specially takes its name. Donatus 
proved utterly irreconcilable, and Constantine was pro- 
voked to order the party into banishment. This edict 
he recalled next year (a.d. 317). Donatism continued 
to spread, and, by the end of Constan tine's reign, was 
able to summon a synod of 270 bishops. It became a 
rallying point for all the forces of discontent in the 
district, and gave rise to outrageous manifestations in 
the roaming bodies of Circumcellions (= round the 
cottages), whose violence spread terror through the 
country. The better Donatists, of course, repudiated 
these abuses. The party was still powerful in the 
days of Augustine (fifth century). 

Points for inquiry and study. — Make a picture of the state 
of the Church in the Deoian persecution from Cyprian's 
letters. Read the letter of Dionysius of Alexandria. Study 
the evidences of the large numhers and social rank of the 
Christians in this period (Orr). Compare the different esti- 
mates of the character of Constantine. Illustrate the Dio- 
cletian persecution from Eusebius. 

Books. — For history, see Gibbon ; Stanley's Eastern 
Church; Bigg's Platonists of Alexandria; Constantine the 
Great in *' Home Library." 



CHAPTER X. 

THE AGE OF THE GREAT PERSECUTIONS : VICTORY 
OF CHRISTIANITY (Continued) (a.d. 260-824). 

1. Establishment of Christianity — Constantine's 

later Years. — The Christians not unnaturally were 
as men that dreamed at the great revolution which 
had taken place in the state of their affairs. By one 
turn of the wheel they saw themselves raised from 
the lowest depths of abasement and suffering, and 
their religion placed on the throne of the empire. 

When, however, we speak of the bstablishmbnt op 
Christianity by Constantine, we must beware of 
importing into that phrase the associations of modem 
alliances of Church and State. On the one hand, the 
position of the Church in its relation to the empire 
was very different from that held by the pagan 
religion. The old Roman religion was part of the 
state ; it had no independent existence, no rights, no 
jurisdiction of its own. Its ofl&cers were state officials, 
and the emperor himself was Pontifex Maximus. In 
fact the Roman state establishment was not abolished 
till the reign of the emperor Gratian, near the end of 
the century (a.d. 382). The Christian Church was 
in quite a different position. It had grown up inde- 
pendently of the state, and possessed a vast organisa- 
tion of its own. It had its own office-bearers, its own 
laws, its own canons of discipline, its own councils, etc. 
It was an imperiium in vmperio which the state did not 

(126) 



THE AGE OP THE GREAT PERSECUTIONS 127 

create, but could only recognise. On the other hand, 
NO FORMAL ALLIANCE was entered into between Church 
and State such as we are familiar with in modem 
times. The establishment of Christianity was not an 
act done at once, but grew up from a series of proclama- 
tions, letters, edicts, enactments, gifts, appeals in dis- 
putes, meetings of councils, etc., and only gradually 
took shape as time went on. 

The following are some of the chief heads : (1) 
There were proclamations of the emperor, publicly 
announcing himself a Christian, restoring their liberty 
to the Christians, ordering restitution of property, and 
recommending the Christian religion to his subjects. 
(2) The emperor encouraged everywhere the building 
and repairing of churches, contributing liberally from 
his own funds to the expenses. (3) He extended his 
Christian legislation and increased the privileges of the 
clergy. One important measure was the legalising of 
the decisions of the Church in civil disputes where 
parties preferred to take their case before the bishops. 
Another was the conferring on the Church the right 
to receive bequests. (4) The public acts of the state 
were purified from pagan associations, and conformed 
to Christian principles. A law had already been 
passed in a.d. 321 enforcing the civil observance op 
Sunday {dies solis) to the extent of suspending all 
legal business and military exercises on that day. 

(5) The emperor exercised the authority which the 
Church conceded to him of fswmmoning councils for 
the settlement of doctrinal disputes, and otherwise 
took part in ecclesiastical affairs. The chief example 
of this was the summoning of the great Council op 
NiC-fflA, in A.D. 325, to decide the Arian controversy. 

(6) While Christianity was thus protected and privi- 
leged, paganism wa^ tolerated^ or suffered to dwindle 



128 THE EARLY CHURCH 

away under the shadow of royal disfavour, except in 
special instances, where rites of a licentious character 
were forcibly suppressed. The above were no doubt 
substantial advantages to the Church ; yet through 
them the Church was drawn into the sphere of earthly 
politics, and the ill-defined boundaries between civil 
and ecclesiastical jurisdiction led to the gravest evils. 
The victory of the Church in the state marks at the 
same time the beginning of an era of secularisation 
and declension, from which Monasticism was a species 
of reaction. 

It does not fall within the limits of this sketch to 
recount the later events of Constantine's reign. Even 
in this later period it is just to acknowledge that 
Constantine is distinguished by many great and 
STRIKING qualities. His life remains unstained by 
private vices; he maintained, with slight exception, 
the policy of toleration with which he set out ; 
he took a sincere interest in the progress of the 
Christian cause, and laboured to the best of his 
knowledge and ability for the peace and unity of the 
Church. Even the dark domestic tragedies of his 
life in a.d. 326 are too much wrapped in mystery to 
enable us to apportion fairly what measure of blame 
attaches to him. 

On the other hand, it is not difficult to see in him a 
GROWING ELATION AND COMPLACENCY in liimsclf as an 
instrument chosen by God to fulfil His purposes — a 
consciousness hot sufficiently tempered by the feeling 
of personal un worthiness. With this tendency to self- 
elation went a strong dash of personal vanity and 
growing love of splendour, seen not only in the adorn- 
ment of his person in robes of Oriental sumptuousness, 
but in the gratification of expensive tastes in building. 
The most conspicuous example of this was the rear- 



THE AGE OF THE GEEAT PERSECUTIONS 129 

ing of his new and splendid capital — Constantinople 
(dedicated a.d. 330). The lavish expenditure on this 
city and on the gorgeous establishment of his court 
involved him in the necessity of imposing heavy 
taxation on his subjects, so that his reign came to be 
regarded as despotic and oppressive. Even on the 
subject of his blameworthy self -exaltation account 
should be taken of the temptations to which he was 
exposed, and of the extravagant adulation he received 
from the Christians around him. One of the most 
remarkable facts in his career is that while the patron 
of Christianity, the friend of bishops, judge of their 
controversies, president in their councils, a preacher 
and exhorter to Christian living, he himself did not 
RBOBiVB BAPTISM till the last days of his life (a.d. 337). 
We may, despite it all, find much in Constantine not 
unworthy of the great repute he has always had in 
the Church. 

2. The Church Outside the Empire— Hani- 

chSBism. — The Grospel by the time now reached had 
penetrated into many countries outside the bounds of 
the Roman Empire. There had long been Christians 
in Arabia ; a Gothic bishop was presient at the Council 
of Nicaea ; Armenia, under Tiridates, at first a violent 
persecutor, had been persuaded to receive the Gospel 
from Gregory the Illuminator about a.d. 302 ; Georgia 
received Christianity about a.d. 326. Persia, too, 
had large numbers of Christians, who were soon to 
imdergo a fierce persecution. The Grospel found its 
way into Ethiopia (Abyssinia) through two captive 
youths, Edesius and Frumentius, one of whom after- 
wards (under Athanasius) became the bishop of the 
Church. 

In connection with Persia, notice must be taken of 

the rise in the latter part of the third century of the 

9 - 



130 THE EARLY CHURCH 

form of heresy known as MANiCHiBiSM. In general, 
Manichaeism is a mixture of Persian dualism with 
ideas borrowed from Christianity and Gnosticism. Its 
fantastic ideas might seem to put it beyond serious 
consideration ; but it is to be remembered that it had 
fascination enough to enslave for nine years even such 
an intellect as Augustine's, and that, despite persecu- 
tion, it went on propagating itself for centuries, giving 
rise to sects in the Middle Ages, which were no small 
trouble to the ruling powers (Paulicians, Cathari, etc.). 
The rise of Manichseism was coincident with the acces- 
sion of a NEW Persian dynasty (the SassanidsB), and 
of a great revival of Zoroastrianism. / 

The founder of the sect, Mani, was a young and 
talented Persian, who, under Sapor I. (a.d. 240-72),^ 
conceived the idea of bringing about a fusion of the 
Zoroastrian and Christian religions. He had to flee, 
and in the course of extensive travels (India, etc.) 
evolved his religious scheme into definite form. Re- 
turning to Persia on the death of Sapor, he met at first 
with a flattering reception, but finally was denounced 
as a heretic and flayed alive (a.d. 277 ?). The system 
is a piece of extravagant mythology from first to last. 
It starts with the dualistic conception of a Kingdom 
of Grood (Light) and a Kingdom of Evil (Darkness). 
The Kingdom of Evil invades the Kingdom of Good, 
and bears off from it a portion of its light substancb. 
It is these particles of light imprisoned in the chaotic 
elements of this lower world which give to the latter 
its mingled character. They suffer acutely, it is 
supposed, in being thus held in material bonds. The 
Manichpeans spoke of this as the crucifixion of the 
Eternal Christ throughout creation. Creation (organi- 

^ The dates in Hani's life are quite uncertain. 



THE AGE OF THE GEEAT PEKSECUTIONS 131 

sation) is an expedient for their liberation. Man is 
created by the evil powers that the higher elements 
might be more securely Bound ; but the concentration 
aids, instead of retarding, the process of evolution. 
Redemption' is through a higher power (the ** Primeval 
Man "), identified with the Spirit of the Sun, or 
Mithras. The end of the development is the total 
separation of the light from the darkness. Mani 
formed a Church, with two grades of members i 
(1) the auditors, or outer circle ; and (2) the electa 
or sacerdotal caste, the ** perfect" of the Manichsean. 
sect. These did no work, but were maintained by 
the auditors. Augustine wrote elaborate refutation* 
of the system. 

3. Theolo^ — The Honarohian Heresies.— As 

the second century was the period of the Gnostic 
heresies, so the third century is pre-eminently the 
period of what are known as the Monarchian heresies. 
We have reserved a brief connected account of these 
to the present point. They arose partly as a reaction 
against the doctrine of the Trinity, developed by the 
Apologists and old Catholic Fathers, which seemed 
to put in jeopardy the unity {monarchia) of God ; 
and partly as a protest against the subordinationist 
doctrines of certain of the Fathers, which seemed to 
imperil the Christian interest of the true divinity of 
the Son. 

The simplest form of reaction against Trinitarian 
views is an Ebionitic, humanitarian, or purely Uni- 
tarian VIEW of Christ, and this we find developing 
itself in the end of the second century and begin- 
ning of the third. Of Jewish Ebionitism we spoke in 
the second chapter. In the Gentile Church we have 
an early form of Monarchianism in the Alogi (deniers 
of the Logos), an obscure sect of Asia Mincnr, about 



132 THE EARLY CHURCH 

A.D. 170, who rejected the Gospel of St. John. At 
Rome pure Unitarianism was represented in the 
Theodotians^ under Victor and Zephyrinus (a.d. 190- 
218), and the ArtemoniteSf a few years later. Christ, 
in this view, was " mere man." The Artemonites 
were replied to in a book called The Little Labyrinth, 
by Caius, a Roman presbyter, who adduces against 
them the testimony of ancient hymns. 

More remarkable was the type of Monarchianism 
produced by the Christological interest. Here the 
aim was to make sure that in Christ men had no 
secondary or derived being, but the absolute God ; 
and this was thought to be secured only by the 
assertion that in Christ the Father Himself had 
become incarnate and suffered. Hence the name 
Patripassians given to this party. The oldest re- 
presentative of it we know of was Praxeast at Rome 
(about A.D. 177-90), against whom TertuUian wrote 
a treatise. Praxeas tried to explain that Christ, 
according to the flesh, was "Son," but the divine 
element in Him was the ** Father." He stayed him- 
self upon the words, " I and My Father are one '* 
(John X. 30). A more subtle form of the same 
doctrine was taught under succeeding episcopates by 
Noetus (about a.d. 200) and his disciple Cleomenes. 
Noetus aflBrmed the capacity in God of existing in 
different modes. As ingenerate, God was Father ; as 
generate, He was Son. Hippolytus wrote against 
Noetus. Both TertuUian and Hippolytus accuse the 
Roman bishops of the period of sympathy with this 
error. Origen, at a synod in Arabia (a.d. 244), had 
the satisfaction of recovering BeryllvSy of Bostra, from 
a similar heresy. 

The defect of these theories was their failure to do 
justice to the Trinitarian distinction plainly involved 



THE AGE OF THE GREAT PERSECUTIONS 133 

in the New Testament doctrine of God. This fault was 
met in the Modalistic Trinitarian ism of Sabellitis — 
the most completely evolved and longest enduring of 
these Monarchian heresies. Sabellius (a Libyan?) is 
first met with in Rome under the episcopate of 
Zephyrinus (a.d. 202-18) as an adherent of Cleomenes. 
He was excommunicated by Callistus (himself a Patri- 
passian). His heresy had a powerful revival in North 
Africa about a.d. 260, and reappeared in the fourth 
century as a reaction against Arianism (Marcellus). 
In principle its solution is the substitution of a 
Trinity of revelation for a Trinity of essence ; a Trinity 
OP MODES OR ASPECTS of the ouc Divinc Being for a 
Trinity of Persons. The one God (Monas) expands 
and contracts in successive revelations, as the arm 
may be outstretched and drawn back again. (Jod 
revealed in the Law is the Fathevt ^^ Jesus Christ 
is the Son, in the indwelling in believers is the Spirit. 
The incarnation is thus a passing mode of God's mani- 
festation. Pushed to its issue, it means nothing 
more than a dynamical presence of God in the soul 
of Christ. 

This yields the transition to the last phase of 
Monarchian doctrine, viz., the dynamical Unitarian ism 
of Pavl of Saniosata, Bishop of Antioch, a.d. 260-70. 
Paul was a vain, ostentatious, theatrical man, of whom 
many discreditable things are related. He held, like 
the earlier Unitarians, that Christ was mere man, but 
affirmed a union of the Divine Logos (or reason) with 
Christ in a degree predicable of no other. Through 
this interpenetration by the Divine power Christ ad- 
vances by " progressive development " till He be- 
comes God, or is raised to Divine rank. Deity here 
only means that Christ was deemed worthy for His 
peculiar excellence of Divine honours — not that He 



134 THE EARLY CHURCH 

became Grod in nature. It was apotheosis ; deifica- 
tion by favour. Two influential synods were held at 
Antioch on the subject of Paul's heresy (a.d. 264 and 
269), at the second of which he was condemned. He 
held, however, by his palace and dignities till forcibly 
expelled three years later (a.d. 272). 

4. Church Teachers and Literature of the 

Period.- The Church teachers of this period are not 
men of the mental stature of the great Fathers of the 
previous age, but they are interesting characters, and 
took an active part in the Church life of their day. 
Among the Greek writers, the chief interest centres 
in the school of Origen — the Alexandrian school — 
graced by such names as Dionysius of Alexandria, 
Gregory Thaumaturgus, Firmilian of Cappadocia, and 
Pamphilus of Ceesarea. 

Dionysius op Alexandria has already been before 
us as a witness to the facts of the Decian persecution. 
He was a man of the utmost mildness and concilia- 
toriness of disposition, and on this account his advice 
and mediation were much sought after in the various 
disputes of the Church. He was born about a.d. 190 
of wealthy parents, and in early life was brought to 
faith in Christ. He attached himself to Origen ; was 
made presbyter in a.d. 233 ; became head of the 
catechetical school in Alexandria ; in a.d. 247 or 248 
was elected bishop. He suffered loss and exile in the 
Decian and Valerian persecutions, but returned at the 
peace under Gallienus. He died a.d. 265. A good 
many fragments of his works and some of his letters 
remain to us. 

Not unlike Dionysius in some respects was a second 
great pupil of Origen — Gregory Thaumaturgus (the 
wonder-worker). Gregory's original name was Theo- 
dorus, and his surname was given him on account of 



THE AGE OF THE GREAT PERSECUTIONS 135 

the repute he came to have as a miracle-worker. The 
accounts of these miracles, however, are late. In 
a Panegyric on Origen^ delivered when leaving the 
school at CsBsarea, he gives a full account of his life up 
to that time. He was born at Neo-Csesarea, in Pontus, 
about A.D. 210, of noble and wealthy parents. Led 
accidentally to Ceesarea in Palestine, he was £),rrested 
by the genius of Origen, and became his most devoted 
disciple. His soul became knit to Origen, as he says, 
like the soul of Jonathan to David. He remained 
with Origen five years (c. a.d. 233-38). About a.d. 240 
he became bishop of his native city, and had such 
success that, at his death about a.d. 270, it is said 
there were only seventeen pagans remaining. His 
evangelising activity was incessant, but he erred in 
too great concession to pagan customs. Like all 
Origen's pupils, Gregory was a man of liberal, candid, 
cultured mind, actuated by a strong love of truth, and 
of earnest and glowing piety. Several of his genuine 
writiDgs remain to us. 

FiRMiLiAN, Bishop of Csesarea in Cappadocia, was 
one of the most influential bishops of his time, but 
does not seem to have written much. Origen took 
refuge with him during the persecution of Maximin in 
A.D. 235. A letter to Cyprian denouncing Stephen of 
Rome is all we have from his pen. 

Mention must be made finally of a member of the 
school of Alexandria who did splendid service to the 
cause of sacred learning in the end of the third cen- 
tury — Pamphilus op C-fflSARBA, fouudcr of the famous 
library in that city, and friend of Eusebius. Pam- 
philus was a native of Phoenicia, and, like the others 
named, came from a wealthy family. He studied at 
Alexandria under Pierius, and there contracted an 
unbounded admiration for Origen. Removing to 



136 THE EAELY CHUECH 

Csesarea, he devoted himself to the great task of his 
life — the collection and copying of MSS. of the 
Scriptures, of commentaries, and other works of value. 
The literary treasures thus amassed were of priceless 
worth, and furnished Eusebius with ample material 
for his literary undertakings. In the fifth year of the 
Diocletian persecution Pamphilus was thrown into 
prison, and was finally martyred, with eleven others, 
in A.D. 309. He wrote in conjunction with Eusebius 
an elaborate work. The Defence of Origen, So intense 
was Eusebius's appreciation of this good man — ** the 
holy and blessed Pamphilus," as he calls him — ^that 
after his martyrdom he adopted his name as part 
of his own. 

Origen, however, had also his opponents, of whom 
the principal was Methodius, Bishop of Olympius, in 
Lycia (later of Tyre), who perished under Maximin 
about A.D. 311. We have from him a mystical 
dialogue in praise of virginity, The Banqitet of the Ten 
Virgins, Only fragments remain of his attacks on 
Origen's views of creation, pre-existence, the resur- 
rection, etc. 

It was formerly mentioned that the Alexandrian 
theologians were speculative, idealising, Platonising, 
allegorising in their tendency, liberal in their whole 
attitude to culture.^ Before the century closed, how- 
ever, we note the beginnings of another school — the 
Antiochian — which was to have a long and influential 
history as the rival of the Alexandrian. This second 
school is marked from the commencement by a sober, 
matter-of-fact tendency, a preference of Aristotelianism 
to Platonism, and an adherence to ^ a strictly gram- 
matical and historical method of exegesis. Its founder 

^ See above; Ohap. viii. 



THE AGE OF THE GREAT PERSECUTIONS 137 

was LuoiAN, who, like the heretical bishop Paul, was a 
native of Samosata. Lucian himself fell under sus- 
picion of unsound views, and was separated from the 
Church during three episcopates. He was restored to 
the Church, carried on his school with distinguished 
success, and finally crowned his career by a heroic 
martyrdom in a.d. 311 or 312. His method was 
predominatingly exegetical, and his style of exegesis 
was grammatical and literal. His school is the 
reputed fountain-head of the Arian heresy. Later it 
had such distinguished representatives as Chrysostom, 
Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Theodoret. A creed 
attributed to Lucian was presented to a Coimcil of 
Antioch in a.d. 341. 

The Latin writers of the period may be more 
summarily alluded to. Commodian (about a.d. 250) 
wrote Instructions fcyr Christian Living, and an apo- 
logetic poem against Jews and Gentiles, both in rude 
Latin hexameters. A little earlier Julius Apricanus 
(died about a.d. 240), the first Christian chrono- 
grapher, had drawn up a work, in five books, setting 
forth the course of sacred and profane history till 
the reign of Elagabalus. The two Latin writers who 
belong properly to our period are Arngbius and Lac- 
TANTius, both apologists in the time of the Diocletian 
persecution. The apology of Amobius, a teacher of 
rhetoric, Against the Nations, is in seven books, and, 
as might be expected in a recent convert, is not very 
mature in Christian doctrine. It is, however, an able, 
learned, and convincing defence of the Christians from 
many of the objections brought against them, and 
an effective enough exposure of the folly of idolatry. 
Amobius lays stress on the unique and well-attested 
character of Christ's miracles and the excellence of 
the Christian morality. Lactantius is reputed the 



138 THE EARLY CHURCH 

moBt classical and elegant of all the Christian writers. 
His apologetic work, The Divine Institutes, in seven 
books, was, in its finished form, dedicated to Constan- 
tine. He wrote also a work, On the Death of the 
Persecutors, narrating the judgments of God on the 
persecutors of the Christians from Nero onwards. He 
died in old age, about a.d. 330. 

A last name to be noticed is that of the Greek writer 
and great Church historian, Eusebius of CiSSABEA, 
who, though he belongs properly to the next age, yet 
begins his activity in this. He is indeed the link 
between the old and the new order. He was bom prob- 
ably about A.D. 260. His early associations are with 
Caesarea, of which city he became bishop about a.d. 
315. He held this position till his death in a.d. 339 
or 340. Eusebius was a man of extraordinary learn- 
ing and industry, and his works form a little library 
of themselves. They are of all classes — historical, 
apologetic, exegetical, critical, doctrine, orations, etc. 
Reference need only be made here to his Ecclesiastical 
History, extending from the birth of Christ to the 
defeat of Licinius in a.d. 323 ; his two apologetic 
works, the Evangelical Preparation (fifteen books), 
and the Evangelical DemoTistration (twenty books, ten 
extant) ; his Chronicle (based on Julian Africanus, part 
in Jerome's translation) ; and his Life of Constantine, 
a panegyric rather than a biography, yet important 
for facts. The works of Eusebius are often desultory 
■and ill-arranged ; he has little independent merit as a 
theologian, and inclines to laxity of opinion ; he plays 
the courtier with too much success to "our pious 
emperor ** ; yet his writings are invaluable as sources 
of information, and for the extracts they preserve. In 
the use of authorities he shows himself most accurate, 
painstaking and faithful — a virtue of the first rank. 



THE AGE OF THE GREAT PERSECUTIONS 139 

5. Points in Church Constitution and Worship. 

— ^The chief matters requiring to be glanced at here 
may be gathered up under a few heads. 

(1) Church Buildings. — These became common in 
the course of the third century, and were greatly 
multiplied after the victory of Constantine. The 
model usually followed was that of the Roman basilica. 
The hoMlica was a building of oblong shape, which 
served the double purpose of a hall of justice and 
place of concourse. The body of the building con- 
sisted of a central portion or nave and side aisles, one 
or more, separated off by pillars. At the upper end, 
in a semi-circular recess, were the praetor's chair, the 
seats of the judges, and in front the altar, where 
incense was burned and oaths were taken. This form 
of building readily adapted itself to Christian pur- 
poses.^ The larger churches stood in a court or atrium^ 
surrounded by colonnades. The doors opened into a 
vestibule or narthexy which was as far as penitents were 
permitted to approach. The congregation assembled 
in the nave^ or broad middle part of the church. At 
the upper end a railed-oflf portion was reserved for the 
choir and inferior orders of clergy — the chancel (fr., 
camsellvs, a railing). Here also on one side stood the 
pulpit (ambo). Finally, the semi-circular part (apse) 
formed the special sanctuary. The praetor's seat 
became the bishop's throne ; around him sat the 
presbyters and deacons ; the altar in front became 
the communion table (now also called altar) , etc. In 
the more splendid churches all the parts, doors, pillars, 
apse and galleries, were finely adorned. In contradic- 
tion to later practice the church was sometimes so 



^ The description of the Church of Tjrre, in Eus,^ x. 4, may 
be compared. 



140 THE EARLY CHURCH 

placed that the rising sun might strike upon its front 
(so at Tyre). 

(2) Devblopmbnt op Church Offices. — In the third 
century Church offices became greatly multiplied. The 
clergy were now divided into two groups — the Greater 
Orders {cfrdines majores), consisting of bishops, presby- 
ters and deacons ; and the Lesser Orders {ordines 
minores)^ consisting of sub-deacons, readers, acolytes 
(attendants on the bishop), exorcists, precentors, door- 
keepers, catechists, etc. The distinction between 
clergy and laity was now firmly established. 

(3) Development of Church Service. — If we may 
trust the oldest liturgies (that, e.<:/., in the so-called 
ApostoliccU Constitutions from fourth century), the 
Church service had by the end of the third century 
become highly liturgical and elaborate. The service 
was now divided into two parts — catechumens, peni- 
tents, etc., being dismissed before the Eucharistic 
celebration began. The Eucharistic service itself 
was highly complex and ornate, including long prayers^ 
responses, prescribed actions of the priest. The clergy 
had distinctive vestments. Festival days were now 
observed — especially Easter and Pentecost. The whole 
period between these feasts was apparently observed 
as a time of gladness. Music in the Church was more 
highly developed. We have met with references to 
hymns, and there were now regular choristers and 
conductors. Baptism was generally connected with 
the above feast-days, and certain rites had gradually 
become connected with the original ceremony, e,g., 
trine immersion (thrice dipping of headj^ the sign 
of the cross on the forehead and breast, giving the 
baptised person milk and honey, unction on the head, 
a white robe, etc. The practice of exorcism had also 
become part of the ritual. Shortly before baptism the 



THE AGE OF THE GREAT PERSECUTIONS 141 

oreed was imparted to the catechumen as a sort of 
password {symbol). Baptism in grave cases of sick- 
ness was administered hy sprinkling (clinical baptism). 

The DISCIPLINE of the Church was also made more 
elaborate. This followed from the prominence given 
to the idea of penance for the removal of post- 
baptismal sin. Penitents were now regularly classi- 
fied into weepers (who prostrated themselves at church 
doors imploring restoration), hearers (who were allowed 
to hear the Scripture lessons and sermon), kneelers 
(who were admitted to the prayers, but in a kneeling 
posture), and slanders (who were allowed to take part 
in the whole worship standing).^ The course of pro- 
bation was often three or four years. 

(4) Dbvblopmbnt op Church Councils. — Meetings 
of this kind sprang up informally in the latter half of 
the second century. They were at first quite local, 
one bishop inviting other bishops and clergy to con- 
fer with him on matters of common concern, and their 
decisions had no binding force on other churches. In 
these early councils presbyters and laymen took part 
as well as bishops; latterly only bishops appear to 
have voted. As councils assumed a more regular 
character they came to be distinguished into dif- 
ferent KINDS. (1) There was the pa/rochial council 
of the bishop and the clergy of his city. (2) There 
were provincial councils, attended by the clergy of a 
whole province. These were generally held in the 
metropolitan city, and the bishop of that city pre- 
sided. (3) Tertullian speaks of councils of a whole 
region {regionis) — national councils. (4) Finally, 
when the empire became Christian, and the emperor 
himself undertook the summoning of councils, there 

^ThusSchaff. 



142 THE EARLY CHURCH 

became possible councils of the whole Church — 
ecumenical councils. The first of these was the Nicene 
(a.d. 325). In reality these were almost exclusively 
Greek councils. The decrees of the councils were now 
compulsorily imposed by the emperors. As examples 
of councils may be mentioned those in Asia Minor 
about the Montanists and Easter, those in North 
Africa on heretical baptism, those in Antioch about 
Paul of Samosata, the Council of Aries against the 
Donatists, the Council of Elvira in Spain (a.d. 306), 
etc. 

(5) Gradations op Rank in the Episcopatb Itself. — 
These sprung from the meetings of councils and other 
causes in the state of the Church. The bishops of the 
metropolitan cities soon attained from their position 
a higher rank than other bishops, and were known 
as metropolitans. The sanction of the metropolitan 
came ultimately to be necessary to the validity of the 
election of another bishop. This was followed in the 
fourth century by the elevation of the bishops of cer- 
tain Churches deemed worthy of special honour to the 
wider jurisdiction of patriarchs. Such Churches were 
Antioch, Alexandria and Rome, to which Constan- 
tinople (as new Rome) and Jerusalem were subse- 
quently added — five in all. This, however, carries us 
beyond our special limits. 

Our sketch has brought us to the triumph of Con- 
stantine, and formal adoption of Christianity as the 
religion of the empire. Ere, however, this consum- 
mation was reached, the Arian controversy had broken 
out (a.d. 318), and the Church was in flames from 
within, to the imconcealed delight of the pagan on- 
lookers, and the intense chagrin of the emperor, who 
had hoped to find in this monotheistic faith a bond 



THE AGE OF THE GREAT PERSECUTIONS 143 

of peace in his dominions. The Nicene Council itself 
(a.d. 325) did little more than open new controversies, 
with which for half a century the world and Church 
were filled. Narrow-minded imperial interference 
made matters ever worse. Over all the storms looms 
the noble figure of Athanasius, who appears already 
upon the scene before our period closes. To him the 
Church owes nearly all its real guidance in the dis- 
tractions of the age that follows. Athanasius contra 
mundvm. On the verge of this new era we cease our 
tale. 

Points for inquiry and study. — Study C5onstantine's later 
career, and contrast him with contemporaries. Bead the 
Fundamental Epistle of Mani and other Manichsean exposi- 
tions given in Augustine's works. Bead the account of Paul 
of Samosata in Eu>s, yii. 80. Study more fully the contrast 
of the Alexandrian and Antiochian schools of theology. Bead 
Gregory's Panegyric on Origen. Bead the so-called Liturgy 
of Clement in Apostolical Constitutions, Compare difEerent 
theories of the origin of Church huildings (see Lanciani, 
Pagan and Christian Borne). 

Books. — Gihhon, Neander, and Pressens6 on Manichaeism ; 
Hatch's Organisation of Ea/rVy Churches ; Farrar's Lives of 
Fathers (cf, Pressens^) ; Lanciani as ahove ; Brace's Qesta 
Ch/risti ; Church histories on theology and worship. 



TABLE OF ROMAN EMPERORS. 



Angustna . 


A.D. 

14 


Rei 


ipied. 


Tiberius . 


14-37 


23 


years 


Caligula . 


37-41 


4 


}* 


Claudius . 


41-64 


13 


tt 


Nero 


64-68 


14 


it 


Galba 


68-69 






Otho 


69 


> 




VitelliuB . 


69 






Vespasian 


69-79 


10 


»» 


Titus 


79-81 


2 


)) 


Domitian . 


81-96 


16 


a 


Nerva 


96-98 


2 


11 


Trajan 


98-117 


19 


11 


Hadrian . 


117-138 


21 


It 


Antoninus Pius 


138-161 


23 


11 


Marcus Aureliui 


3 . 161180 


19 


11 


Commodus 


180-192 


12 


11 


Pertinax . 


193 






Julianus . 


193 






Septimiufl Sevei 


Tis . . 193-211 


18 


It 


Caracalla 


211-217 


6 


11 


Macrinus 


217218 


1 


It 


Elagabalus 


218-222 


4 


11 


Alexander Sevei 


xis . . 222-236 


13 


11 


Maximin . 


236-238 


3 


11 


Gordians I. and 


n. . . 238 






Maximus and B 


albinus . 238 






Gordian Hi. 


238-244 


6 


t* 


Philip 


244-249 


6 


It 


Decius 


249-261 


2 


>t 


Gallus 


261-264 


3 


11 


^milianus 


263 







(146) 



10 



146 



THE EARLY CHURCH 



j Valerian . 
\ (HlUenas 
Olaudius II. 
Aurelian . 
Tacitus 
Plorianus . 
Probus 
Carus 

/ Oarinus . 
iNumerlan 
/ Diocletian 
\Maximlan 
rConstantius Chlorus 
^Galerius . 
'^Maxentius (Italy) 

rLiioiniua . 

V Constantine the Great 





A.D. 


Beigned 


254-260 


6 ,. 


254268 


14 „ 




268-270 


2 „ 




270-275 


6 M 




276-276 


1 » 




276 






276-282 


6 „ 




282-283 


1 » 




283-284 


1 „ 




283-284 


1 n 




284-305 


21 „ 




286-305 


19 „ 


IS 


305-306 


1 „ 




. 305-311 


6 ,. 




305-312 


7 „ 




307-323 


16 ;, 


teat 


306-337 


31 ,. 



THB ABERDBBN UNIVBRSITY PRESS UMITBD. 



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