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By HENBY hart MILMAN, D.D., 



VOL. n. 





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C \^(c2. 4o.? 




MNUAir 5t 1934 




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BOOK U. — Continued. 

Christianity to the Close of the First Centiuy— Constitu- 
tion of Christian Churches 5 

Christianity and Orientalism 34 


Christianity during the Prosperous Period of the Roman 
Empire 91 


Christianity and Marcus Aurelius the Philosopher . . . . 115 


Fourth Period — Christianity under the Successors of Mar^ 
cus Aurelius 152 


The Persecution under Diocletian 207 


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BOOK in. 


Con8t4&ntine 245 

Constantine becomes sole Emperor 816 

Fotmdation of Constantinople 334 

Trinitarian Controversy 354 

Christianity under the Sons of Constantine 409 

Julian 453 

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BOOK 11. — GonUnued. 


Christiiuiity to the Close of the Fint Centoiy — Gonstitadon of Christiaii 

The changes in the moral are usually wrought as im- 
perceptibly as those in the physical world, oreatwro- 
Had any wise man, eitlier convinced of the and gnMiaai. 
divine origin of Christianity, or even contemplating 
with philosophical sagacity the essential nature of the 
new religion and the existing state of the human 
mind, ventured to predict that from the ashes of these 
obscure men would arise a moral sovereignty more 
extensive and lasting than that of the Caesars; that 
buildings more splendid than any which adorned the 
new marble city, now rising from the ruins of the con- 
flagration, would be dedicated to their names, and 
maintain their reverence for an incalculably longer 
period, — such vaticinations would have met the fate 
inseparable from the wisdom which outstrips its age, 
would have been scorned by contemporary pride, and 
only admired, after their accomplishment, by late pos- 
terity. The slight and contemptuous notice excited 
by Christianity during the first century of its pro- 

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mulgation is in strict accordance with this ordinary 
development of the great and lasting revolutions in 
human affairs. The moral world has sometimes, 
indeed, its volcanic explosions, which suddenly and 
violently convulse and reform the order of things ; but 
its more enduring changes are in general produced 
by the slow and silent workings of opinions, remotely 
prepared and gradually expanding to their mature and 
irresistible influence. In default, therefore, of real 
information as to the secret but simultaneous progress 
of Christianity in so many quarters, and among all 
ranks, we are left to speculate on the influence of the 
passing events of the time, and of the changes in 
the public mind, whether favorable or prejudicial to the 
cause of Christianity, catcliing only faint and uncer- 
tain gleams of its peculiar history through the con- 
fused and rapidly changing course of public affairs. 

The imperial history, from the first promulgation of 
Imperial Christianity down to the accession of Con- 
diTidS stantine, divides itself into four distinct but 
perioda. uucqual pcriods. More than thirty years 
are occupied by the line of the first Caesars, rather 
less by the conflicts which followed the death of Nero, 
and the government of the Flavian dynasty. The 
first years of Trajan, who ascended the imperial 
throne A.D. 98, nearly synchronize with the opening 
of the second century of Christianity ; and that splen- 
did period of internal peace and advancing civilization, 
of wealth, and of prosperity, which has been described 
as the happiest in the annals of mankind, extends 
over the first eighty years of that century.^ Down to 

1 Among the writers who have discussed this question may be con/mlted 
Hegewischi whose work has been translated by M. Solvet, under the title of 
Essai sur TEpoque de THistoire Romaine la plus heureuse pour le Genre 
Humain. Paris, 1884. 

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fhe acceBsion of Constantine, nearly at the commence; 
ment of the fourth century, the empire became, like 
the great monarchies of the East, the prize of success- 
ful ambition and enterprise : ahnost every change of 
ruler is a change of dynasty ; and already the borders 
of the empire have ceased to be respected by the men- 
acing, the conquering Barbarians. 

It is remarkable how singularly the political char- 
acter of each period was calculated to ad- lintpeiiod, 
vance the growth of Christianity. arN«ro. 

During the first of these periods, the Oovernment, 
though it still held in respect the old republican insti- 
tutions, was, if not in form, in its administration 
purely despotic. The state centred in the person of 
the emperor. This kind of hereditary autocracy is 
essentially selfish; it is content with averting or 
punishing plots against the person, or detecting and 
crushing conspiracies against the power, of the exist- 
ing monarch. To those more remote or secret changes 
which are working in the depths of society, eventually 
perhaps threatening the existence of the monarchy 
or the stability of all the social relations, it is blind or 
indifferent.^ It has neither sagacity to discern, intel- 
ligence to comprehend, nor even the disinterested zeal 
for the perpetuation of its own despotism, to counteract 
such distant and contingent dangers. Of all innova- 
tions, it is, in general, sensitively jealous ; but they 
must be palpable and manifest, and directly clashing 
with the passions or exciting the fears of the sover^ 
eign. Even these are met by temporary measures. 
When an outcry was raised against the Egyptian reli- 

1 " Sttvi proximis ingnmnt." In this one pregnant sentence of Tiicitiis 
is explained the political secret, that the mass of the people have sometimM 
been oompantively nnoppreseed under the most sanguinary tyranny. 

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gion as dangerous to public morality, an edict com- 
manded the expulsion of its Yotaries from the citj. 
When the superstition of the emperor shuddered at 
the predictions of the mathematicians, the whole fra- 
ternity fell under the same interdict. When the pub- 
lic peace was disturbed by the dissensions among the 
Jewish population of Rome, the summary sentence of 
Claudius visited both Jews and Christians with the 
same indiflFerent severity. So the Neronian persecu- 
tion was an accident arising out of the fire at Rome, 
no part of a systematic political plan for the suppres- 
sion of foreign religions. It might have fallen on any 
other sect or body of men who might have been desig- 
nated as victims to appease the popular resentment. 
The provincial administrations would be actuated by 
the same principles as the central government, and be 
alike indifferent to the quiet progress of opinions, 
however dangerous to the existing order of things. 
Unless some breach of the public peace demanded their 
interference, they would rarely put forth their power ; 
and, content with the maintenance of order, the regu- 
lar collection of the revenue, the more rapacious with 
the punctual payment of their own exactions, the more 
enlightened with the improvement and embellishment 
of the cities under their charge, they would look on 
the rise and propagation of a new religion with no 
more concern than that of a new philosophic sect, 
particularly in the eastern part of the empire, where 
the religions were in general more foreign to the char- 
acter of the Greek or Roman Polytheistn. The pop- 
ular feeling, during this first period, would only under 
peculiar circumstances outstrip the activity of the 
Government. Accustomed to the separate worship 
of the Jews, to the many Christianity appeared at 


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chap.iy. its gradual progbess. 9 

first only as a modification of that belief. Local jeal- 
ousies or personal animosities might in difierent places 
excite a more active hostility. In Home it is evident 
that the people were only worked up to find inhuman 
delight in the sufierings of the Christians, by the 
misrepresentations of the Government, by superstitious 
solicitude to find some victims to appease the angry 
gods, and that strange consolation of human misery, 
the delight of wreaking vengeance on whomsoever it 
can possibly implicate as the cause of the calamity. 

During the whole, then, of this first period, to the 
death of Nero, both the primitive obscurity of Chris- 
tianity, and the transient importance it assumed, as a 
dangerous enemy of the people of Rome, and subse- 
quently as the guiltless victim of popular vengeance, 
would tend to its eventual progress. Its own innate 
activity, with all the fbrce which it carried with it, 
both in its internal and external impulse, would prop- 
agate it extensively in the inferior and middle classes 
of society ; while, though the great mass of the higher 
orders would still remain unacquainted with its real 
nature, and with its relation to its parent Judaism, 
it was quite enough before the public attention to 
awaken the curiosity of the more inquiring, and to 
excite the interest of those who were seriously con- 
cerned in the moral advancement of mankind. In 
many quarters, it is far from impossible that the strong 
revulsion of the public mind against Nero, after his 
death, may have extended some commiseration towards 
his innocent victims:^ that the Christians were ac- 
quitted by the popular feeling of any real connection 

1 This WM the case even in Rome. " Unde qnanqaam adveisus sontes et 
novissima exempla meritos, miseratio oriebator, tanqoam non utilitate piib- 
lic&j sed in Bnvitiam nnius abeumerentnr." — Tac, Ann. xv. 44. 

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with the fire at Rome, appears evident from Tacitus^ 
who retreats into vague expressions of general scorn 
and animosity.^ At all events, the persecution must 
have had the efiect of raising the importance of Chris- 
tianity, so as to force it upon the notice of many who 
might otherwise have been ignorant of its existence. 
The new and peculiar fortitude with which the suflFer- 
ers endured their unprecedented trials would strongly 
recommend it to those who were dissatisfied with the 
moral power of their old religion ; while, on the other 
hand, it was yet too feeble and obscure to provoke a 
systematic plan for its suppression. 

During the second period of the first century, from 
g^j^^ A.D. 68 to 98, the date of the accession of 
SS^JI^jJSJton Trajan, the larger portion was occupied by 
of Ti^jan. ^YiQ reign of Domitian, a tyrant in whom the 
successors of Augustus might appear to revive, both 
in the monstrous vices of his personal character and 
of his government. Of the Flavian dynasty, the father 
alone, Vespasian, from the comprehensive vigor of his 
mind, perhaps firom his knowledge of the Jewish char- 
acter and religion, obtained during his residence in 
the East, was likely to estimate the bearings and 
future prospects of Christianity. But the total sub- 
jugation of Judaea, and the destruction of the Temple 
of Jerusalem, having reduced the religious parents of 
the Christians to so low a state, — tiieir nation, and 
consequently their religion, being, according to the 
ordinary course of events, likely to mingle up with 
and become absorbed in the general population of the 
Roman empire, — Christianity, it might reasonably 
be supposed, would scarcely survive its original stock, 
and might be safely left to bum out by the same grad- 

1 ** Odio hnmani generis oonyicti." 


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Chap. IV. THE STOICS. 11 

ual process of extinction. Besides this, the strong 
mind of Vespasian was fully occupied by the restora- 
tion of order in the capital and in the provinces, and 
in fixing on a firm basis the yet-unsettled authority 
of the Flavian dynasty. A more formidable, because 
more immediate, danger threatened the existing order 
of things. The awful genius of Roman liberty had 
entered into an alliance with the higher philosophy of 
the time. Republican stoicism, brooding in g^,^ ^^^^ 
the noblest minds of Rome, looked back, with i««>p»>«»- 
vain though passionate regret, to the free institutions 
of their ancestors, and demanded the old liberty of 
action. It was this dangerous movement — not the 
new and humble religion, which calmly acquiesced in 
all political changes, and contented itself with liberty 
of thought and opinion — that put to the test the pru- 
dence and moderation of the Emperor Vespasian. It 
was the spirit of Cato, not of Christ, which he found 
it necessary to control. The enemy before whom he 
trembled was the patriot Thrasea, not the apostle St. 
John, who was silently winning over Ephesus to the 
new faith. The edict of expulsion from Rome fell not 
on the worshippers of foreign religions, but on the 
philosophers; a comprehensive term, but which was 
probably limited to those whose opinions were consid- 
ered dangerous to the imperial authority.^ 

It was only with the new fiscal regulations of the 
rapacious and parsimonious Vespasian that the Chris- 
tians were accidentally implicated. The emperor 
continued to levy the capitation tax, which had been 
willingly and proudly paid by the Jews throughout the 
empire for the maintenance of their own Temple at 

1 Tacit., Hist. iv. 4-0. Dion Caasiua, Izvi. 18. SnetoniuSy Vespas. 15, 
Tillemont, Hist des Empereuis: Vespasian. Art. 16. 

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12 TEMPLE TAX. Book U. 

Jerusalem, for the restoration of the idolatrous fane of 

the Capitoline Jupiter, which had been destroyed in 

the civil contests. The Jew submitted with 

Temple tax. •,•, ^ , . . , . 

sullen reluctance to this msultmg exaction ; 
but even the hope of escaping it would not incline him 
to disguise or dissemble his faith. But the Judaizing 
Christian, and even the Christian of Jewish descent, 
who had entirely thrown oflF his religion, yet was 
marked by the indelible sign of his race, was placed in 
a singularly perplexing position.^ The rapacious pub- 
lican, who farmed the tax, was not likely to draw any 
true distinction among those whose features, connec- 
tions, names, and notorious descent, still designated 
them as liable to the tax : his coarser mind would con- 
sider the profession of Christianity as a subterfuge to 
escape a vexatious impost. But to the Jewish Christian 
of St. Paul's opinions, the unresisted payment of the 
burthen, however insignificant, and to which he was 
not bound, either by the letter or the spirit of the 
edict, was an acknowledgment of his unconverted 
Judaism, of his being still under the Law, as well as 
an indirect contribution to tlie maintenance of Heathen- 
ism. It is diflBcult to suppose that those who were 
brought before the public tribunal, as claiming an ex- 
emption from the tax, and exposed to the most inde- 
cent examination of their Jewish descent, were any 
other than this class of Judaizing Christians. 

In other respects, the connection of the Christians 
with the Jews could not but affect their place in that 
indiscriminating public estimation which still, in gen- 
eral, notwithstanding the Neronian persecution, con- 

1 Dion Cassias, edit Reimar, with his notes, lib. IxvL p. 1062. Sneto- 
nius in Dom. t. 12. Martial, vii. 14. Basnage, Histoire des Jui&. vol. viL 
ch. xi. p. 304. 

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founded them together. The Jewish war appears to 
have made a great alteration both in the con- change in the 

condition and 

dition of the race of Israel, and in the popular estimation 

^ *^ "^ of the Jewi 

sentiment towards them. From aversion, afto^tiio^w- 
as a sullen and unsocial, they were now looked upon 
with hatred and contempt, as a fierce, a desperate, and 
an enslaved race. Some of the higher orders, Agrippa 
and Josephus the historian, maintained a respectable, 
and even an eminent, rank at Rome ; but the provinces 
were overrun by swarms of Jewish slaves or miserable 
fiigitives, reduced by necessity to the meanest occupa- 
tions, and lowering their minds to their sordid and 
beggarly condition.^ As, then, to some of the Romans 
the Christian assertion of religious freedom would 
seem closely allied with the Jewish attempt to obtain 
civil independence, they might appear, especially to 
those in authority, to have inherited the intractable 
and insubordinate spirit of their religious forefathers ; 
so, on the other hand, in some places, the Christian 
might be dragged down, in the popular apprehension, 
to the level of the fallen and outcast Jew. Thus, 
while Christianity in fact was becoming more and more 
alienated from Judaism, and even assuming the most 
hostile position, the Roman rulers would be the last to 
discern the widening breach, or to discriminate be- 
tween that religious confederacy which was destined 
to absorb within it all the subjects of the Roman em- 
pire, and that race which was to remain, in its social 
isolation, neither blended into the general mass of 
mankind, nor admitting any other within its The descend- 

• i_T t Ti» 1 • 1 antB of the 

msuperable pale. If the singular story re- hrethnmof 

t , t t -rr . o . 1 /. .1 our Lord 

lated by Hegesippus^ concermng the family brought 
of our Lord deserves credit, even the de- tribunat 

1 Compare Hist of the Jews, ii. 464. ^ Eusebios, iiL 20. 

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»cendaat8 of his house were endangered by their yetr 
unbroken connection with the Jewish race. Domitian 
is said to have issued an edict for the extermination 
of the whole hou^e of David, in order to annihilate for 
ever the hope of the Messiah, which still brooded with 
dangerous excitement in the Jewish mind. The 
grandsons of St. Jude, " the brother of the Lord," 
were denounced by certain heretics as belonging to the 
proscribed family, and brought before the tribunal of 
the emperor, or, more probably, that of the Procurator 
of Judaea.^ They acknowledged their descent from 
the royal race, and their relationship to the Messiah ; 
but in Christian language they asserted that the king- 
dom which they expected was purely spiritual and 
angelic, and only to commence at the end of the world, 
after the return to judgment. Their poverty, rather 
than their renunciation of all temporal views, was 
their security. They were peasants, whose hands 
were hardened with toil, and whose whole property 
was a farm of about twenty-four English acres, and of 
the value of nine thousand drachms, or about three 
hundred pounds sterling. This they cultivated by 
their own labor, and regularly paid the appointed trib- 
ute. They were released as too humble and too harm- 
less to be dangerous to the Roman authority; and 
Domitian, according to the singularly inconsistent 
account, proceeded to annul his edict of persecution 
against the Christians. 

Like all the stories which rest on the sole authority 
of Hegesippus, this has a very fabulous air. At no 
period were the hopes of the Messiah entertained by 
the Jews so little likely to awaken the jealousy of the 

1 Gibbon thus modifies the story, to which he appears to gire some 

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CHAF.iy. FLAYinS CLElfENS. 15 

emperor as in the reign of Domitian. The Jewish 
mind was still stunned, as it were, hj the recent blow : 
the whole land was in a state of iron subjection. Nor 
was it till the latter part of the reign of Trajan, and 
that of Hadrian, that they rallied for their last despe^ 
rate and conclusive struggle for independence. Nor, 
however indistinct the line of demarcation between 
the Jews and the Christians, is it easy to trace the 
connection between the stern precaution for the pres- 
ervation of the peace of the Eastern world and the 
stability of the empire against any enthusiastic aspirant 
after an imiversal sovereignty, with what is some- 
times called the second great persecution of Chris- 
tianity ; for the exterminating edict was aimed at a 
single family, and at the extinction of a purely Jewish 
tenet, though it may be admitted, that, even yet, the 
immediate return of the Messiah to reign on earth 
was dominant among most of the Jewish Christians 
of Palestine. Even if true, this edict was rather the 
hasty and violent expedient of an arbitrary sovereign, 
trembling for his personal security, and watchful to 
avert danger from Ids throne, than a profound and 
vigorous policy, which aimed at the suppression of a 
new religion, declaredly hostile, and threatening the 
existence of the established Polytheism. 

Christianity, however, appears to have forced itself 
upon the knowledge and the fears of Domitian in a 
more unexpected quarter, — the bosom of his own 
fieanily.^ Of his two cousins-german, the sons of 
Flavins Sabinus, the one fell an early victim to his 
jealous apprehensions. The other. Flavins j.^^^ 
Clemens, is described by the epigrammatic ^«°*«°* 
biographer of the Caasars as a man of the most con- 

1 Siietoniiu, in Bomit c 15. Dion Coasiiu, Izrii. 14. Eoaebim, ilL 18. 

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temptible indolence of character. His peaceful kins- 
man, instead of exciting the fears, enjoyed for some 
time the favor, of Domitian. He received in marriage 
Domitilla, the niece of the emperor; his children 
were adopted as heirs to the throne ; Clemens himself 
obtained the consulship. On a sudden, these harmless 
kinsmen became dangerous conspirators; they were 
arraigned on the unprecedented charge of Atheism 
and Jewish manners ; the husband, Clemens, was put 
to death ; the wife, Domitilla, banished to the desert 
island, either of Pontia or Pandataria. The crime of 
Atheism was afterwards the common popular charge 
against the Christians, — the charge to which, in aU 
ages, those are exposed who are superior to the vulgar 
notion of the Deity. But it was a charge never 
advanced against Judaism: coupled, therefore, with 
that of Jewish manners, it is unintelligible, uijless it 
refers to Christianity. Nor is it improbable that the 
contemptible want of energy, ascribed by Suetonius to 
Flavins Clemens, might be that unambitious superiority 
to the world which characterized the early Christians. 
Clemens had seen his brother cut oflF by the sudden 
and capricious fears of the tyrant ; and his repugnance 
to enter on the same dangerous public career, in 
pursuit of honors which he despised, if it had assumed 
the lofty language of philosophy, might have com- 
manded the admiration- of his contemporaries, but, 
connected with a new religion, of which the sublimer 
notions and principles were altogether incomprehen- 
sible, only exposed him to their more contemptuous 
scorn. Neither in his case was it the peril apprehended 
from the progress of the religion, but the dangerous 
position of the individuals professing the religion, so 
near to the throne, which was fatal to Clemens and 

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Domitilla. It was the pretext, not the cause, of their 
punishment; and the first act of the reign of Nerva 
was the reversal of these sentences by the authority 
of the senate. The exiles were recalled ; and an act, 
prohibiting all accusations of Jewish manners,^ seems 
to have been intended as a peace-offering for the 
execution of Clemens, and for tiie especial protection 
of the Christians. 

But Christian history cannot pass over another in- 
cident assigned to the reign of Domitian, i,egrod«of 
since it relates to the death of St. John the S'tSf^'*"* 
apostle. Christian gratitude and reverence SiSre"*"*^ 
soon began to be discontented with the ~'***^"- 
silence of the authentic writings as to the fate of the 
twelve chosen companions of Christ. It began first 
with some modest respect for truth, but soon, with 
bold defiance of probability, to brighten their obscure 
course, till each might be traced by the blaze of miracle 
into remote regions of the world, where it is clear, 
that, if they had penetrated, no record of their exist- 
ence was likely to survive.^ These religious invaders, 
according to the later Christian romance, made a 
regular partition of the world, and assigned to each the 
conquest of his particular province. Thrace, Scyth- 
ia, Spain, Britain, Ethiopia, the extreme parts of 
Africa, India, the name of which mysterious region 
was sometimes assigned to the southern coast of 
Arabia, had each its apostle, whose spiritual triumphs 
and cruel martyrdom were vividly portrayed and 
gradually amplified by the fertile invention of the 
Greek and Syrian historians of the early D^^thor 
Church. Even the history of St. John, ^^'^"^ 

1 Dion CaasioB, Izviil. 1. 

s Euseb., Ecc Hut. iu. 1. The tndition is here in its simpler and dearij 
more genuine fonn. 

VOL. II. 2 

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whose later days were chiefly passed in the populous 
and commercial city of Ephesus, has not escaped. 
Yet legend has delighted in harmonizing its tone with 
the character of the beloved disciple drawn in the 
Gospel, and illustrated in his own writings. Even if 
purely imaginary, these stories show that another 
spirit was workmg in the mind of man. While, then, 
we would reject, as the oflspring of a more angry and 
controversial age, the story of his flying in fear and 
indignation' from a bath polluted by the presence of 
the heretic Cerinthus, we might admit the pleasing 
tradition, that, when he grew so feeble from age as to 
be xmable to utter any long discourse, his last, if we 
may borrow the expression, his cycnean voice dwelt 
on a brief exhortation to mutual charity.^ His whole 
sermon consisted in these words, " Little children, 
love one another;" and, when his audience remon- 
strated at the wearisome iteration of the same words, 
he declared that in these words was contained the 
whole substance of Christianity. The depoi'tation of 
the apostle to the wild island of Patmos, where gen- 
eral tradition places his writing the Book of Revela- 
tions, is by no means improbable, if we suppose it to 
have taken place under tlie authority of the Proconsul 
of Asia, on account of some local disturbance in 
Ephesus, and, notwithstanding the authority of Ter 
tullian, reject the trial before Domitian at Rome, and 
the plunging him into a cauldron of boiling oil, from 
which he came forth unhurt.^ Such are the few ves- 
tiges of the progress of Christianity, which we dimly 

1 Easeb., Eoc. Hiat iii. 22. 

3 "Ubi (in Rom&) apostolus Johannes, postea qoam in olenm igneum 
demersns, nihil passns esf Mosheim suspects, that, in this passage of Ter- 
tullian, a metaphor has been oonyerted into a fact — De Reb. Christ ante 
Constant p. 111. 

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trace in the obscurity of the latter part of the first 
century. During this period, however, took oonsatution 

, of Christian 

place the regular formation of the young churones. 
Christian republics, in all the more considerable cities 
of the empire. The primitive constitution of these 
churches is a subject which it is impossible to decline : 
though few points in Christian history rest on more 
dubious and imperfect, in general or inferential evi- 
dence, yet few have been contested with greater perti- 

Tlie whole of Christendom, when it emerges out of 
the obscurity of the first century, appears uniformly 
governed by certain superiors of each community, 
called " bishops." But the origin and extent of this 
superiority, and the manner in which the bishop as- 
sumed a distinct authority from the inferior presbyters, 
is one of those diflScult questions of Christian history, 
which, since the Reformation, has been more and more 
darkened by those fatal enemies to candid and dis- 
passionate inquiry, — Prejudice and Interest. The 
earliest Christian communities appear to have been 
iniled and represented, in the absence of the apostle 
who was their first founder, by their elders, who 
are likewise called " bishops," or " overseers of the 
churches." These presbyter bishops and the deacons 
are the only two orders which we discover at first in 
the church of Ephesus, at Philippi, and perhaps in 
Crete.^ On the other hand, at a very early period, 
one religious functionary, superior to the rest, appears 
to have been almost universally recognized ; at least, 
it is difficult to imderstand how, in so short a time, 
among communities, though not entirely'disconnected, 
yet scattered over the whole Roman world, a scheme of 

1 Acts zx. 17, compared with 28; PhlL i. 1 ; Titos i. 6-7. 

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government popular, or rather aristocratical, should 
become, even in form, monarchical. Neither the times 
nor the circumstances of the infant Church, nor the 
primitive spirit of the religion, appear to favor a gene- 
ral, a systematic, and an unauthorized usurpation of 
power on the part of the supreme religious functionary.^ 
Yet the change has already taken place within the apos- 
tolic times. The church of Ephesus, which in the Acts 
is represented by its elders, in the Revelations ^ is rep- 
resented by its angel or bishop. We may, perhaps, 
arrive at a more clear and intelligible view of tliis 
subject, by endeavoring to trace the origin and devel- 
opment of the Christian communities. 

1 The moBt plausible way of accounting fbr this total revolution is hj 
supposing that the affairs of each community or church were governed by a 
college of presbyters, one of wnom necessarily presided at their meetings, 
and gradually assumed, and was recognized as possessing, a superior func- 
tion and authority. In expressing my dissatisfaction with a theory adopted 
by Mosheim, by Gibbon, by Neander, and by most of the learned foreign 
writers, I have scrutinized my own motives with the utmost suspicion, and 
can only declare that I believe myself actuated only by the calm and candid 
desire of truth. But the universal and almost simultaneous elevation of 
the bishop, under such circumstances, in eveiy part of the world (though 
it must be admitted that he was for a long time assisted by the presbyters in 
the discharge of his office), appears to me an insuperable objection to this 
hypothesis. The later the date which is assumed for the general establish- 
ment of the episcopal authority, the less likely was it to be general. It was 
only during the first period of undivided unity that such an usurpation (for 
such it must have been according to this theoiy ) could have been universally 
acquiesced in without resistance. All presbyters, according to' this view, 
with one consent, gave up, or allowed themselves to be deprived of, their co- 
ordinate and co-equal dignity. The fiirtherwe advance in Christian his- 
tory, the more we discover the common motives of human nature at work. 
In this case alone, are we to suppose them without influence? Yet we dis- 
cover no struggle, no resistance, no controversy. The uninterrupted line of 
bishops is traced by the ecclesiastical historian up to the apostles : but no 
murmur of remonstrance against this usurpation has transpired ; no schism, 
no breach of Christian unity, followed upon this momentous innovation. 
Nor does any such change appear to have taken place in the office of elder 
in the Jewish conmiunities: the Rabbinical teachers took the form of a regu- 
lar hierarchy; their patriarch grew up into a kind of pope, but ^ntcopal 
authority never took root in the synagogue. 

s Chap. ii. 1. 

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The Christian Church was almost universally formed 
hy a secession from a Jewish synagogue. Some syna- 
gogues may have become altogether Christian; but, 
in general, a certain part of an existing community of 
Jews and Gentile proselytes incorporated christian 
themselves into a new society, and met for fo,SJSftom, 
the purpose of divine worship in some pri- ^cro?the 
vate chamber, — sometimes, perhaps, in a ^°*8**8™- 
public place, as rather later, during the times of per- 
secution, in a cemetery. The first of these may have 
answered to a synagogue ; the latter, to an un walled 
proseucha. The model of the ancient community 
would naturally, as far as circumstances might admit, 
become that of the new. But in their primary consti- 
tution there was an essential point of difference. The 
Jews were a civil as well as a religious, the Christians 
exclusively a religious, community. Everywhere that 
the Jews were settled, they were the colony of a 
nation ; they were held together by a kindred, as well 
as by a religious, bond of union. The governors, 
therefore, of the community, the Zakinim or elders, 
the Parnasim or pastors (if this be an early appella- 
tion), were by on means necessarily religious func- 
tionaries.^ Another kind of influence besides that of 
piety — age, worldly experience, wealth — would ob- 
tain the chief and ruling power in the society. The 
government of these elders neither rested on, nor 
required, spiritual authority. Their grave example 
would enforce the general observance, their censure 
repress any flagrant departure from the Law: they 

1 In some places, the Jews seem to have been ruled by an Ethnarch, 
recognized by the Roman civil, authorities. Strabo, quoted by Josephus, 
Antiq. xiv. 12, speaks of the Ethnarch in Alexandria. Josephus mentions 
their Archon or chief, in Antioch. The more common constitution seems to 
have been the yepauoit and dwarol, the elders or authorities. 

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might be consulted on any difficult or unusual point 
of practice; but it was not till the new Rabbinical 
priesthood was established, and the Mischna and the 
Talmud universally received as the national code, that 
the foreign Jews fell under what may be considered 
sacerdotal dominion. At this time, the synagogue 
itself was only supplementary to the great national 
EsMQtiai religious ceremonial of the Temple. The 
wwTthe Levitical race claimed no peculiar sanctity, 
tu?^^* at least it discharged no priestly office, b^ 
***"*• yond the bounds of the Holy Land, or the 
precincts of the Temple ; nor was an authorized in- 
structor of the people necessary to the service of the 
synagogue. It was an assembly for the purpose of 
worship, not of teaching. The instructor of the peo- 
ple, the copy of the Law, lay in the ark at the east 
end of the building ; it was brought forth with solemn 
reverence, and an appointed portion read during the 
service. But oral instruction, though it might some- 
times be, and no doubt frequently was, delivered, was 
no necessary part of the ceremonial. Any one, it 
should seem, who considered himself qualified, and 
obtained permission from the Archisynagogi, tlie gov- 
ernors of the community, who exercised a sort of 
presidence in the synagogue, might address the as- 
sembly. It was in this character that the Christian 
apostle usually began to announce his religion. But 
neither the Chazan, or angel ^ of the synagogue (which 
was a purely ministerial, comparatively a servile, 
office), nor the heads of the assembly, possessed any 
peculiar privilege, or were endowed with any official 
function as teachers ^ of the people. Many of the 

1 The " angel " here seems to bear its lower meaning, — a messenger or 

'^ Vitringa labors to prove the point, that the chief of the synagogue exex- 

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more remote synagogues can rarely have been honored 
by the presence of the " Wise Men," as. they were 
afterwards called, — the lawyers of this period. . The 
Jewish religion was, at this time, entirely ceremonial ; 
it did not necessarily demand exposition; its form 
was moulded into the habits of the people ; and till 
disturbed by the invasion of Christianity, or among 
very flourishing communities, where it assumed a 
more intellectual tone, and extended itself by the 
proselytism of, the Gentiles, it was content to rest in 
that form.^ In the great days of Jewish intellectual 
activity, the adjacent Law-school, usually inseparable 
from the synagogue, might rather be considered the 
place of religious instruction. This was a kind of 
chapter-house or court of ecclesiastical, with the Jews 
identical with their national, law. Here knotty points 
were pubUcly debated ; and " the Wise," or the more 
distinguished of the lawyers or interpreters of the 
Law, as the Rabbinical hierarchy of a later period, 
established their character for sagacious discernment 
of the meaning and intimate acquaintance with the 
whole body of the Law. 

Thus, then, the model upon which the Church might 
be expected to form itself, may be called purely aristo- 
cratical. The process by which it passed into the 
monarchical form, however limited the supreme power 
of the individual, may be traced to tlie existence of a 
monarchical principle anterior to their religious oli- 
garchy, and which distinguished the Christian Church 

cised an office of this kind, bat, in my opinion, without sacoess. It appears 
to have been a regular part of the Essenian service, a distinction which 
Vitringa has neglected to observe. — De Syn. Vet. lib. iii. c. 6, 7. 

1 The reading of the Law, prayers, and psalms, were the ceremonial of 
the synagogue. Probably the greater part of their proselytism took place in 
private, though, as we know from Horace, the Jewish synagogue was even 
in Rome a place of resort to the curious, the speculative, and the idle. 


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in it8 first origin from the Jewish synagogue. The 
Christians from the first were a purely religious com- 
munity ; this was their primary bond of union ; they 
had no national law which held them together as a 
separate people. Their ciyil union was a subordinate 
efiect, arising out of their incorporation as a spiritual 
body. The submission of their temporal concerns to 
the adjudication of their own community was a con- 
sequence of their respect for the superior justice and 
wisdom which sprung from their religious principles, 
and an aversion from the litigious spirit engendered 
by the complicated system of Roman jurisprudence.^ 
cbriidaa ^^ their Origin, tliey were almost universally a 
to^'^ round commimity, formed, as it were, round an in- 
M indiriduai. ^iyi^u^jj^ fhe apostlc, or primitive teacher, 
was installed at once in the office of chief religious 
functionary; and the chief religious functionary is 
the natural head of a purely religious commmiity. 
Oral instruction, as it was the first, so it must have 
continued to be the living, conservative, and expansive 
principle of the community.^ It was, anterior to the 
existence of any book, the inspired record and supreme 
authority of the faith. As long as this teacher re- 
mained in the city, or as often as he returned, he 

1 The apostle enjoined thiB secession from the ordinary courts of justice. 
— ICor. vi. 1-8. 

2 For some time, indeed, as in the Jewish synagogue, what was called 
the gift of prophecy seems to have been more general : any individual who 
professed to speak under the direct impulse of the Holy Spirit was heard 
with attentive reverence. But it may be questioned, whether this, and the 
display of the other xop^^f^'^o^ recounted by the apostle, 1 Cor. xii. 4-10, 
were more than subsidiary to the regular and systematic teaching of the 
apostolic founder of the community. The question is, not whether each 
member was not at liberty to contribute, by any faculty which had been be- 
stowed on him by God, to the general edification; but whether, above and 
anterior to all this, there was not some recog^ed parent of each church, 
who was treated with paternal deference, and exercised, when present, pater- 
nal authority. 

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would be recognized as the legitimate head of the 
society. But not only the apostle, in general the 
primitive teacher likewise, was a missionary, travelling 
incessantly into distant regions for the general dis- 
semination of Christianity, rather than residing in 
one spot to organize a local community.^ In his ab- 
sence, the government, and even the instruction, of the 
community devolved upon the senate of elders, who 
were likewise overseers, miawmot (no doubt the name 
was used interchangeably for some time) ; * yet there 
was still a recognized supremacy in the founder of the 
church.^ The wider, however, the dissemination of 
Christianity, the more rare, and at longer intervals^ 
the presence of the apostle. An appeal to his au- 
thority, by letter, became more precarious and inter- 
rupted ; while at the same time, in many communities, 
the necessity for his interposition became more fre- 
quent and manifest;* and in the common order of 

1 Yet we have an account of a residence even of St Paul of eighteen 
months at Corinthf of two years at Ephesus, and he was two years during 
his first imprisonment at Rome. — Acts xviii. 11 ; xix. 10; xxviii. 80. 

2 I have now read with care the best and fairest book on this subject, 
Bothe, Anfange der Christlicher Kirche. Though my view of the original 
monarchical principle is stronger than Kothe*8, 1 see no reason to retract or 
modify my statement (1868.) 

Rothe's argument (pp. 227-288) against what are called " lay elders/* 
seems to me oonclasive. 

< St Paul considered himself invested with the superintendence of all the 
churches which he had planted. — 2 Cor. xi. 28. 

* St Jerome, quoted by Hooker (Ecdes. Polity, b. vii. vol. iii. p. 180), 
assigns the origin of episcopacy to the dissensions in the Church, which 
required a stronger coercive authority. ** Till, through instinct of the Devil, 
there grew in the Church factions, and among the people it began to be pro- 
fessed, I am of Paul, I of ApoUos, and I of Cephas, churches were governed 
by the common advice of presbyters; but when every one began to reckon 
those whom he had baptized his own, and not Christ^s, it was decreed tn (hs 
whole toorld that one chosen out of the presbyters should be placed above the 
rest, to whom all care of the church should belong, and so all seeds of schism 
be removed." 

The government of the Church seems to have been considered a suboidi- 

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nature, even independent of the danger of persecution, 
the primitive founder, the legitimate head of the com- 
munity, would vacate his place by death. That the 
apostle should appoint some distinguished individual 
as the delegate, the representative, the successor, to 
his authority, as primary instructor of the community ; 
invest him in an episcopacy or overseership, superior 
to that of the co-ordinate body of elders, — is, in 
itself, by no means improbable : it harmonizes with the 
period in which we discover, in the Sacred Writings, 
this change in the form of the permanent government 
of the diflferent bodies ; accounts most easily for the 
general submission to the authority of one religious 
chief magistrate, so unsatisfactorily explained by the 
accidental pre-eminence of the president of a college 
of co-equal presbyters; and is confirmed by general 
tradition, which has ever, in strict unison with every 
other part of Christian history, preserved the names 
of many successors of the apostles, the first bishops 
in most of the larger cities in which Cliristianity was 
first established. 

But the authority of the bishop was that of influence. 
Authority of Tathcr than of power. After the first nomi- 
the bishop. j^ai^Qji by ii^Q apostle (if such nomination, as 
we suppose, generally took place), his successor was 
elective by that kind of acclamation which raised at 
once the individual most eminent for his piety and 
virtue to the post, which was that of danger, as well 
as of distinction. For a long period, the sufirages of 
the community ratified the appointment. Episcopal 
government was thus, as long as Christianity remained 
unleavened by worldly passions and interests, essen- 

nate ftmctioo. " And God hath set some in the Chnrch, first apostles, sec- 
ondly prophets, thirdly teachers; ajler that, miracles, the gifts of healing, 
helps, government, divenities of tongues." — ! Cor. zii. 28. 


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tially popular. The principle of subordination was 
inseparable from the humility of the first converts. 
Rights are never clearly defined till they are contested ; 
nor is authority limited so long as it rests upon gen- 
eral reverence. When on the one side aggression, 
on the other jealousy and mistrust, begin, then it 
must be fenced by usage and defined by law. Thus, 
while I am inclined to consider the succession of 
bishops from the apostolic times to be undeniable, the 
nature and extent of the authority which they derived 
from the apostles are altogether uncertain. The or- 
dination or consecration, whatever it might be, to that 
oflSce, of itself conveyed neither inspiration nor the 
power of working miracles, which, with the direct 
commission from the Lord himself, distinguished and 
set apart the primary apostles from the rest of man- 
kind. It was only in a very limited and imperfect 
sense that they could, even in the sees founded by the 
apostles, be called the successors of the apostles. 

The presbyters were, in their origin, the ruling 
powers of the young communities ; but, in a society 
founded solely on a religious basis, religious qualifica- 
tions would be almost exclusively considered. In the 
absence, therefore, of the primary teacher, they would 
assume that oflSce likewise. In this they Thepiw- 
would differ from the Jewish elders. As the ^^'®"' 
most eminent in piety and Christian attainments, they 
would be advanced by, or at least with, the general 
cohsent, to their dignified station. The same piety 
and attainments would designate them as best qualified 
to keep up and to extend the general system of in- 
struction. They would be the regular and perpetual 
expositors of the Christian law,^ — the reciters of the 

^ Here, likewise, the poasesson of the ;tap£a/uaTa would be the cuual and 

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life, the doctrines, the death, the resurrection, of 
Christ: till the (Jospels were written, and generally 
received, they would be the living Evangelists, the oral 
Scriptures, the spoken Gospel. They would not merely 
regulate and lead the devotions, administer the rites 
of baptism and the Lord's Supper, but repeat again 
and again, for the fiirther confirmation of the believ- 
ers and the conversion of Jews and Heathens, the facts 
and the tenets of the new religion. Tlie government, 
in fact, in communities bound together by Christian 
brotherhood (such as we may suppose to have been 
the first Christian churches, which were happily un- 
distracted by the disputes arising out of the Judaical 
controversy), would be an easy office, and entirely 
subordinate to that of instruction and edification. 
The communities would be almost self-governed by 
the principle of Christian love which first drew them 
together. The deacons were from the first an inferior 
order, and exercised a purely ministerial office, — dis- 
tributing the common fund to the poorer members, 
though the administration of the pecuniary concerns 
of the Church soon became of such importance as to 
require the superintendence of the higher rulers. The 
other functions of the deacons were altogether of a 
subordinate character. 

Such would be the ordinary development of a 
Christian community, in the first case monarchical, as 
fomided by an individual apostle or recognized teacher 

subsidiary instmcton, or rather the gifted promoters of Christian piety, each 
in his separate sphere, according to his distinctive grace. But besides these, 
even if they were found in all churches, which is by no means clear, regular 
and systematic teachers would be necessaiy to a religion which probably 
could only subsist, certainly could not propagate itself with activity or to 
any great extent, except by this constant exposition of its principles in the 
public assembly, as well as in the more private communications of indi- 

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of Christianity; subsequentlj, in the absence of that 
teacher, aristocratical, under a senate formed accord- 
ing to Jewish usage, though not precisely on Jewish 
principles ; until, the place of the apostle being sup- 
plied bj a bishop, in a certain sense his representative 
or successor, it would revert to a monarchical form, 
limited rather by the religion itself than by any ap- 
pointed controlling power. As long as the same holy 
spirit of love and charity actuated the whole body, the 
result would be an harmony, not from the counter- 
acting powers of opposing forces, but from the con- 
sentient will of the general body ; and the will of tlie 
government would be the expression of the universal 
popular sentiment.^ Where, however, from the first, 
the Christian community was formed of conflicting par- 
ties, or where conflicting principles began to operate 
immediately upon the foundation of the society, no sin- 
gle person would be generally recognized as the authori- 
tative teacher, and the assumption and recognition of 
the episcopate would be more slow, or, indeed, would 
not take place at all till the final triumph of one of the 
conflicting parties. These communities retained, of 
necessity, the republican form. Such was the chuwh of 
state of the Corinthian church, which was JSptiaS!* 
from its origin, or almost immediately after, divided 
into three separate parties, with a leading teacher or 
teachers at the head of each.^ The Petrine, or the 

1 Such is the theory of episcopal government in a pleasing passage in the 
Epistles of Ignatius: 'Odev npeTrei ifdv awrpkxeiv ry tw eiriOKonov yvoyy. 
bntp Koi imuire. Td ydp &^uJv6fiaaT0V vfiuv Trpeo^vriptov^ tov ^eov a^tov 
ovTug ainfifpfiooTtu r^ iiriOKOTnp Ctg x^^P^ luOapgi' 6tit tovto kv ry bjuvol^ 
iffiuv, Kcu avfi^Wf} iiydiry ^Iriaov^ Xptaroc uderai Kot ol KaT* &v6pa Sk x^P^ 
yiveaOe, ha avfupcjvoi bvrti kv d/wvoi^, XP^f^ ^^^ hi^ovreg kv kv&njn^ 
adtre kv ^<jv^ /u^ dta ^Ifjaov XpnTTOv vp narplj k.t^ — Ad Ephes. p. 12, edit 
CoteL I speak of these Epistles in a subsequent note. 

3 I was led to conjecture that the distracted state of the church of Cor- 

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TiltranJudaic, the ApoUine, or more moderate Jewish 
party, contested the supremacy with the followers of 
St. Paul. DiflFerent individuals possessed, exercised, 
and even abused different gifts. The authority of Paul 
himself appears clearly, by his elaborate vindication of 
his apostolic office, by no means to have been generally 
recognized. No apostolic head, therefore, would as- 
sume an uncontested supremacy, nor would the parties 
coalesce in the choice of a superior. Corinth, prob- 
ably, was the last conmiunity which settled down imder 
the general episcopal constitution. 

The manner and the period of the separation of a 
distinct class, a hierarchy, from the general body of 
the commimity, and the progress of the great division 
between the clergy and the laity ,^ are equally obscure 
with the primitive constitution of the Church. Like 
the Judaism of the provinces, Christianity had no 
sacerdotal order. But as the more eminent members 
of the community were admitted to take the lead, on 
account of their acknowledged religious superiority, 
from their zeal, their talents, their gifts, their sanctity, 
the general reverence would, of itself, speedily set them 
apart as of a higher order ; they would form the purest 
aristocracy, and soon be divided by a distinct line of 
demarcation from the rest of the community. What- 

inth might induce the apostles to establish elsewhere a more firm and vigor- 
ous authority, before I remembered the passage of St Jerome quoted above, 
which coincides with this view. Corinth has been generally taken as the 
model of the early Christian constitution: I suspect that it was rather an 

1 Already the 2mkoi are a distinct class in the Epistle of Clemens to the 
Corinthians (c. xL p. 170, edit Coteler). This Epistle is confidently ap- 
pealed to by both parties in the controversy about church-government, and 
altogether satisfies neither. It is clear, however, from the tone of the whole 
Epistle, that the church at Corinth was any thing rather than a model of 
church-government: it had been rent with schisms ever since the da}^ of the 

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ever the ordination might be which designated them 
for their peculiar function, whatever power or author- 
ity might be commimicated by the "imposition of 
hands," it would add little to the reverence with which 
they were invested. It was at first the Christian who 
sanctified the function : afterwards the function sanc- 
tified the man. But the civil and religious concerns 
of the Church were so moulded up together, or, rather, 
the temporal were so absorbed by the spiritual, that 
not merely the teacher, but the governor, — not merely 
the bishop, properly so called, but the presbyter, in 
his character of ruler as well as of teacher, — shared 
in the same pecuUar veneration. The bishop would 
be necessarily mingled up in the few secular afiairs of 
the community, the governors bear their part in the 
religious ceremonial. In this respect, again, they 
difiered from their prototypes, or elders of the syna- 
gogue. Their oflSce was, of necessity, more religious. 
The admission of members into the Jewish synagogue, 
except in the case of proselytes of righteousness, was 
a matter of hereditary right: circumcision was a 
domestic, not a public, ceremony. But baptism, or 
the initiation into the Christian community, was a sol- 
emn ceremonial, requiring previous examination and 
probation. The governing power would possess and 
exercise the authority to admit into the community. 
They would perform, or at all events superintend, the 
initiatory rite of baptism. The other distinctive rite 
of Christianity, the celebration of the Lord's Supper, 
would require a more active interference and co-opera- 
tion on the part of those who presided over the com- 
munity. To this there was nothing analogous in the 
oflSce of the Jewish elder. Order would require that 
tliis ceremony should be administered by certain funo- 

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tionaries. If the bishop presided, after his appoint- 
ment, both at the Lord's Supper itself and in the 
agape or feast which followed it, the elders would 
assist, not merely in maintaining order, but would offi- 
ciate throughout the ceremony. In proportion to the 
reverence for the consecrated elements would be 
the respect towards those under whose especial prayers, 
and in whose hands, probably from the earliest period, 
they were sanctified for the use of the assembly. The 
presbyters would likewise possess the chief voice, a 
practical initiative, in the nomination of the bishop. 
Prom all these diflFerent fimctions, the presbyters, and 
at length the deacons, became, as well as the bishop, a 
sacred order. But, the exclusive or sacerdotal prin- 
ciple once admitted in a religious community, its own 
corporate spirit and the public reverence would cause 
it to recede further and further, and draw the line of 
demarcation with greater rigor and depth. They 
would more and more insulate themselves from the 
commonalty of the Cliristian republic; they would 
become a senate, a patrician, or a privileged order ; 
and this secession into their peculiar sphere would be 
greatly facilitated by the regular gradations of the 
faithful and the catechumen, the perfect and the im- 
perfect, the initiate and half-initiate. Christians. The 
greater the variety, the more strict the subordination 
of ranks. 

Thus the bishop gradually assumed the title of pon- 
tiflF: the presbyters became a sacerdotal order. Prom 
the Old Testament, and even from Paganism, the 
Christians, at jfirst as ennobling metaphors, adopted 
their sacred appellations. Insensibly the meaning of 
these significant titles worked into the Christian sys- 
tem. They assumed, as it were, a privilege of nearer 

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approach to the Deity ; and a priestly caste grew rap- 
idly up in a religion which, in its primary institution, 
acknowledged only one mediator between earth and 
heaven. I shall subsequently trace the growth of the 
sacerdotal principle, and the universal establishment 
of the hierarchy. 



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ChiiBtianity and OrientaliBm. 

Christianity had not only to contend with the Juda- 
Q^^t^ i&m of its native region and the Paganism 
leiigions. ^f ^^Q Western world, but likewise with the 
Asiatic religions, which, in the Eastern provinces of 
the Roman empire, maintained their ground, or min- 
gled themselves with the Grecian Polytheism, and had 
even penetrated into Palestine. In the silence of its 
authentic records, the direct progress of Christianity 
in the East can neither be accurately traced nor clearly 
estimated : its conflict with Orientalism is chiefly visi- 
ble in the influence of the latter upon the general sys- 
tem of Christianity, and in the tenets of the different 
sects which, from Simon Magus to Manes, attempted 
to reconcile the doctrines of the Gospel with the theo- 
gonical system of Asia. In the West, Christianity 
advanced with gradual but unobstructed and unrece- 
ding progress, till first the Roman empire, and success- 
ively the barbarous nations who occupied or subdued 
the rest of Europe, were brought within its pale. No 
new religion arose to dispute its supremacy ; and the 
feeble attempt of Julian to raise up a Platonic Pagan- 
ism in opposition to the religion of Christ must have 
failed, even if it had not been cut short in its first 
growth by the death of its imperial patron. In Asia, 
the progress of Christianity was suddenly arrested 
by the revival of Zoroastrianism, after the restoration 

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Chap.v. influence of obientalism. 35 

of the Persian kingdom upon the ruins of the Parthian 
monarchy ; and, at a later period, the vestiges of its 
former success were ahnost entirely obliterated by the 
desolating and all-absorbing conquests of Mohamm^ 
danism. The Armenian was the only national church 
which resisted alike the persecuting edicts of the Sas- 
sanian fire-worshippers, and, submitting to the yoke 
of the Mohammedan conqueror, rejected the worship of 
the Prophet. The other scattered communities of 
Christians, disseminated through various parts of Asia, 
on the coast of Malabar, perhaps in China, have no 
satisfactory evidence of apostolic or even of very early 
date : they are so deeply impregnated with the Nesto- 
rian system of Christianity, which, during the interval 
between the decline of the reformed Zoroastrianism 
and the first outburst of Islamism, spread to a great 
extent throughout every part of the Eastern Continent,^ 
that there is every reason to suppose them Nestorian 
in their origin.^ The contest, then, of Christianity 
with the Eastern religions must be traced in their 
re-action upon the new religion of the West. By 
their treacherous alliance, they probably operated more 
extensively to the detriment of the Evangelic religion 
than Paganism by its open opposition. Asiatic influ- 
ences have worked more completely into the body and 
essence of Christianity than any other foreign elements ; 
and it is by no means improbable, that tenets, which 
had their origin in India, have for many centuries pre- 
dominated in, or materially aflfected, tiie Christianity 
of the whole Western world. 
Palestine was admirably situated to become the 

1 There is on extremelj good view of the origin and histoiy of the Chxiii- 
tian commnnities in India, in Bohlen, Das alte Indien. 

^ Compare the new edition of Gibbon and the editor's note on the Nes- 
torian Christians with the fiunons inscription of Siganfti, viiL 847. 

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centre and point of emanation for an imiversal religion* 
atuatkm On the confines of Asia and Europe, yet 
fk^nbie suflSciently secluded from both to be out of 
KUgkm. the way of the constant flux and reflux of a 
foreign population, it commanded Egypt, and, through 
Egypt, associated Africa with the general moral 
kingdom. But it was not merely calculated for the 
birthplace of an universal faith by its local position. 
Judaism, as it were, in its character (putting 
out of sight, for an instant, its diyine origin) 
stood between the religions of the East and the West. 
It was the connecting link between the European and 
the Asiatic mind. In speculative sublimity, the doc- 
trine of the Divine Unity soared to an equal height 
with the vast and imaginative cosmogonies of the East ; 
while, in its practical tendencies, it approximated to 
the active and rational genius of the West. 

The religions of Asia appear, if not of regularly 
affiliated descent, yet to possess a common and generic 
character, modified, indeed, by the genius of the dififer* 
ent people, and perhaps by the prevailing tone of mind 
in the authors and founders of new doctrines. From 
the banks of the Gknges, probably from the shores 
of the Yellow Sea and the coasts of further India, to 
the Phoenician borders of the Mediterranean and the 
undefined limits of Phrygia in Asia Minor, there was 
that connection and similitude, that community of 
certain elementary principles, that tendency to certain 
combinations of physical and moral ideas, which may 
be expressed by the term Orientalism.^ The spectda- 

1 Compare Windiflchman, Phflosophie in Fortgang der Welt-Geschichte. 
Wmdlschmaa was a fiiand — I believe I may venture to say a disciple — of 
F. Schlegel, and belongs to the high Boman-Gathollc school in Gennany. 
His book, which is full of abstruse thought and learning, develops the 
theory of a primitive tradition diffused through the East 

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tive theology of the higher, the sacerdotal order, which 
in some countries left the superstitions of oenemi 
the vulgar undisturbed, or allowed their own orieoti 

more sublime conceptions to be lowered to their rude 
and limited material notions, aspired to the primal 
Source of Being. The Emanation system of India, 
according to which the whole worlds flowed from the 
Gtodhead, and were finally to be re-absorbed into it ; 
the Pantheism into which this degenerated, and which 
made the collective Universe itself the Deity; the 
Dualism of Persia, according to which the antagonist 
powers were created by, or proceeded jfrom, the One 
Supreme and Uncreated; the Chaldean doctrine of 
divine energies or intelligences, the prototypes of the 
Cabalistic Sephiroth, and of the later Onostic JBons, 
the same, no doubt, under difierent names, with the 
jEon and Protogenes, the Genos and Genea, with 
their regularly coupled descendants in the Phoenician 
cosmogony of Sanchoniathon ; and, finally, the primi- 
tive and simpler worship of Egypt, — all these are 
either branches of one common stock, or expressions 
of the same state of the human mind, working with 
kindred activity on the same visible phenomena of 
nature, and with the same object. 

The Asiatic mind impersonated, though it did not, 
with the Greek, humanize every thing. Light and 
Darkness, Good and Evil, the Creative and Destructive 
energy of nature, the active and passive Powers of 
generation, moral Perfection and Wisdom, Reason and 
Speech, even Agriculture and the Pastoral life, each 
was a distinct and intelligent being; they wedded 
each other according to their apparent correspond- 
ences ; they begat progeny according to the natural 
affiliation or consequence of ideas. 

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One great elementary principle pervaded the whole 
religious systems of the East, — the connection of moral 
Purity of with physical ideas ; the inherent purity j the 
MaiLroity divinity , of mind or spirit; the inalienable evil 
of Matter. Qf i^ antagonist, mMter. Whether Matter 
co-existed with the First Great Cause ; whether it was 
created by his power, but, from its innate malignity, 
became insubordinate to his will; whether it was 
extraneous to his existence, necessarily subsisting, 
though without form, till its inert and shapeless mass 
was worked upon by the Deity himself, or by his 
primal Power or Emanation, the Demiurge or Creator 
of the existing worlds, — on these points the different 
national creeds were endlessly diversified. But, in its 
various forms, the principle itself was the universal 
doctrine of the Eastern world ; it was developed in 
their loftiest philosophy (in fact, their higher philoso- 
phy and their speculative religion were the same 
thing) ; it gave a kind of coloring even to their vulgar 
superstition, and operated, in many cases almost to 
an incredible extent, on their social and political 

This great primal tenet is alike the elementary prin- 
The uniTcr- ciplc of the higher Brahminism and the more 
^nciiSto*'^ moral Buddhism of India and the remoter 
East. The theory of the division of castes supposes, 
that a larger portion of the pure mind of the Deity is 
infused into the sacerdotal and superior orders ; they 
are nearer the Deity, and with more immediate hope 
of being re-absorbed into the divine essence ; while 
the lower classes are inore inextricably immersed 
in the grosser matter of the world, their feeble por- 
tion of the essential spirit of the Divinity contracted 
and lost in the predominant mass of corruption and 

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malignity.^ The Buddhist, substiniting a moral for a 
hereditary approximation to the pure and elementary 
mind, rests, nevertheless, on the same primal theory, 
and carries the notion of the abstraction of the spirit- 
ual part from the foul and corporeal being to an equal, 
if not a greater, height of contemplative mysticism.^ 
Hence the sanctity of fire among the Persians ; ^ that 
element which is most subtle and defecated from all 
material corruption : it is therefore the representative 
of pure elementary mind, of Deity itself.* It exists 
independent of the material forms in which it abides, 
the sun and the heavenly bodies. To infect this holy 
element with any excretion or emanation from the 
material form of man, to contaminate it with the 
putrescent effluvia of the dead and soulless corpse, 
was the heiglit of guilt and impiety. 

This one simple principle is the parent of that ascefr 
icism which maintained its authority among sonm or 
all the older religions of the remoter East, ■**'*°**™- 
forced its way at a very early period into Cliristianity, 
where, for some centuries, it exercised a predominant 
influence, and subdued even the active and warlike 
genius of Mohammedanism to its dreamy and ecstatic 
influence. On the cold table-lands of Thibet, in the 
forests of India, among the busy population of China, 
on the burning shores of Siam, in Egypt and in Pales- 

1 The scl^xisting power declared the purest part of him to be the mouth. 
Since the Brahmen sprung from the most excellent part; since he was the 
first-bom, and since he possesses the Veda, — he is by right the chief of the 
whole creation. — Jones's Menu, i. 92, 98. 

2 See the tracts of Mahony, Joinville, Hodgson, and Wilson, in the 
Asiatic Researches; Schmidt, Qeschichte der Ost Mongolen; Bergman, 
Nomadische Streifereyen, &c 

« Hyde, De Relig. Penarum, p. 18, tt alibi. Kleuker, Anhang znm Zen- 
davesta, vol. i. p. 116, 117. De Goigniaut, Religions de TAnUquit^, 1. il. c. 
8, p. 838. 

4 Kleuker, Anhang zom Zendaresta, vol. i. pt 2, p. 147. De Guigniaut, 

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tine, in Christianized Europe, in iSfohammedanized 
Asia, the Worshipper of the Lama, the Faquir, the 
Bonze, the Talapoin, the Essene, the Therapeutist, 
the Monk, and the Dervish, have withdrawn from the 
society of man, in order to abstract the pure mind 
from the dominion of foul and corrupting matter. 
Under each system, the perfection of human nature 
was estrangement from the influence of the senses, — 
those senses which were enslaved to the material ele- 
ments of the world ; an approximation to the essence 
of the Deity, by a total secession from the afiairs, the 
interests, the passions, the thoughts, the common 
being and nature of man. The practical operation 
of this elementary principle of Eastern religion has 
deeply influenced the whole history of man. But it 
had made no progress in Europe till after the intro- 
duction of Christianity. The manner in which it 
allied itself with, or rather incorporated itself into, a 
system, to the original nature and design of which 
it appears altogether foreign, will form a most impor- 
tant and perhaps not uninteresting chapter in the 
History of Christianity. 

Celibacy was the ofibpring of asceticism, but it 

does not appear absolutely essential to it; 

whether insulted nature re-asserts its rights, 
and reconciles to the practice that which is in appar- 
ent opposition to the theory, or whether it revenges, 
as it were, this rebellion of nature on one point, by 
its more violent and successful invasions upon its 
unconquerable propensities on others. The Muni in 
India is accompanied by his wife, who shares his 
solitude, and seems to offer no impediment to his 
sanctity,^ though in some cases it may be that all 

^ Abandoning all food eaten in towns, and all his honsehold utensils, let 

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connubial intercourse is sternly renounced. In Pales- 
tine, the Essene, in his higher state of perfection, 
stood in direct opposition to the spirit of the books 
of Moses, on which he still looked with the profound- 
cst reverence, b; altogether refraining from marriage. 
It was perhaps in this form that Eastern asceticism 
first crept into Christianity. It assumed the elevating 
and attractive character of higher personal purity ; 
it drew the line of demarcation more rigidly against 
the loose morality of the Heathen ; it afforded the 
advantage of detaching the first itinerant preachers 
of Christianity more entirely firom worldly interests ; 
enabled them to devote their whole, undistracted atten- 
tion to the propagation of the faith ; and left them, 
as it were, more loose from the world, ready to break 
the few and slender ties which connected them with 
it at the first summons to a glorious martyrdom.^ 
But it was not, as we shall presently observe, till 
Gnosticism began to exercise its influence on Chris- 
tianity ,2 that emulous of its dangerous rival, or 

him repair to the lonelj wood, committing the care of his wife to his sons, or 
accompanied by her, if she choose to attend him. — Sir W. Joneses Menu, 
▼i. 8. I venture to refer to the pathetic tale of the hermit with his wife and 
son, from the MahA Bh&rata, in my translations from the Sanskrit Compare 
Vishnu Purana, p. 296. 

In the very curious account of the Buddhist monks (the 2af<avaioi, — the 
Schamans) in Porphyrins de Abstinentilk, lib. iv. 17, the Buddhist ascetic 
abandons his wife; and this, hi general, agrees with the Buddhist theory. 
Female contact is unlawfhl to the Buddha ascetic. See a carious instance in 
Mr. Wilson's Hindu Theatre, — The Toycart, Act viii., injine. 

1 Clement of Alexandria, however, asserts that St. Paul was really mar- 
ried, but left his wife behind him, lest she should interfere with his ministiy. 
This is his interpretation of 1 Cor. ix. 6. 

3 Tertullian adv. Marc. i. 29. ** Non tingitur apud ilium caro, nisi virgo, 
nisi vidua, nisi cselebs, nisi divortio baptismum mereatnr . . . nee pnescri- 
bimus sed suademus sanctitatem . . . tunc denique conjnginm exerts de- 
fendentes cum inimic^ accusatur spurdtiie nomine in destroctionem creatoris 
qui proinde conjugium pro rei honestate benedizit, incrementum generis 
humani." . . • 

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infected with its foreign opinions, the Church, in its 
general sentiment, espoused and magnified the pre- 
eminent virtue of celibacy.^ 

The European mind of the older world, as repre- 
unknownin scutcd bv the Grccks and Romans, repelled 
Rome. for a loug time, in the busy turmoil of politi- 

cal development and the absorbing career of war and 
conquest, this principle of inactivity and secession 
from the ordinary affairs of life. No sacerdotal caste 
established this principle of superiority over the active 
warrior, or even over the laborious husbandman. 
With the citizen of the stirring and factious republics 
of Greece, the highest virtue was of a purely political 
and practical character. The whole man was public : 
his individuality, the sense of which was continually 
suggested and fostered under the other system, was 
lost in the member of the commonwealth. That 
which contributed nothing to the service of the state 
was held in no respect. The mind, in its abstracted 
flights, obtained little honor : it was only as it worked 
upon the welfare, the amusement, or the glory of the 
republic, that its dignity was estimated. The philoso- 
pher might discuss the comparative superiority of 
the practical or the contemplative life ; but liis loftiest 
contemplations were occupied with realities, or what 
may be considered idealizing those realities to 8l higher 
degree of perfection : to make good citizens was the 
utmost ambition of his wisdom ; an Utopia was his 
heaven. The Cynic, who in the East, or in Europe 
after it became impregnated with Eastern doctrines, 

^ Compare the whole aigoment of the third book of the Stromata of 
Clement of Alexandria. In one passage he condemns cclibacj, as leading to 
misanthropy, ^vvopco ^ bnoq r^ 'Kpo^aau rov ydftov ol fitv aireaxih 
fdvoi TovTou^ foi Kort lijv dyiav yvuatv^ eif fuaavOpoiriav imej^fntriacaf^ 
Kxd rd 7% aYamK olx^<u Trap* o^rcxf. — Strom. liL 0. 


by Google 

Chap. V. PLATO. 43 

would have retired into the desert to his solitary her- 
mitage, in order to withdraw himself entirely from 
the common interests, sentiments, and connections of 
mankind; in Greece, took up his station in the 
crowded forum, or, pitching his tub in the midst of 
the concourse at the pubUc games, inveighed against 
the vices and follies of mankind. Plato, if he had 
followed the natural bent of his genius, 
might have introduced, and indeed did intro- 
duce, as much as the Grecian mind was capable of 
imbibing of this theory of the. opposition of mind and 
matter, with its ordinary consequences. The commu- 
nities of his older master Pythagoras, who had proba- 
bly visited the East, and drank deep of the Oriental 
mysticism, approached in some respects nearer to the 
contemplative character of monastic institutions. But 
the active mind of the Greek predominated ; and the 
followers of Pythagoras, instead of foimding coeno- 
bitic institutions, or secluding themselves in medita- 
tive solitude, settled some of the flourishing republics 
of Magna Graecia. The great master, in whose steps 
Plato professed to tread more closely, was so essen- 
tially practical and unimaginative as to bind his 
followers down to a less Oriental system of philoso- 
phy. While, therefore, in his Timaeus, Plato at- 
tempted to harmonize parts of the cosmogonical 
theories of Asia with the more humanized mythology 
of Greece, the work which was more accordant to the 
genius of his country was his Republic, in which all 
his idealism was, as it were, confined to the earth. 
Even his religion, though of much sublimer cast than 
the popular superstition, was yet considered chiefly 
in its practical operation on the welfare of the state. 
It was his design to elevate humanity to a higher 

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state of moral dignity ; to cultiyate the material body, 
as well as the immaterial soul, to the height of per- 
fection ; not to sever, as far as possible, the connection 
between these ill-assorted companions, or to withdraw 
the purer mind from its social and political sphere, 
into solitary and inactive communion with the Deity. 
In Rome, the general tendency of the national 
mind was still more essentially public and 
political. In the republic, — except in a 
few less distinguished men, the Laslii and the Attici, 
— even their philosophy was an intellectual recreation 
between the more pressing avocations of their higher 
duties: it was either to brace and mature the mind 
for future service to the state, or as a solace in hours 
of disappointed ambition or the haughty satiety of 
glory. Civil science was the end and aim of all their 
philosophic meditation. Like their ancient king, if 
they retired for communion with the Egeria of philoso- 
phy, it was in order to bring forth, on their return, 
more ample stores of political and legislative wisdom. 
Under the imperial government, they took refuge in 
the lofty reveries of the porch, as they did in inordi- 
nate luxury, from the degradation and enforced 
inactivity of servitude. They fled to the philosophic 
retirement, from the barrenness, in all high or stirring 
emotions, which had smitten the senate and the 
Comitia ; still looking back with a vain but lingering 
hope, that the state might summon ^them again from 
retirement without dignity, from a contemplative life, 
which by no means implied an approximation to the 
divine, but rather a debasement of the human nature. 
Some, indeed, degraded their high tone of philosophy 
by still mingling in the servile politics of the day: 
Seneca lived and died the votary and the victim of 

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court intrigue. The Thraseas stood aloof, not in ec- 
static meditation on the primal Author of Being, but 
on the departed liberties of Rome ; their soul aspired 
no higher than to unite itself with the ancient genius 
of the republic. 

Orientalism had made considerable progress towards 
the West before the appearance of Chris- orientaitan 
tianity. While the popular Pharisaism of aoa. 
the Jews had embodied some of the more practical 
tenets of Zoroastrianism, the doctrines of the remoter 
East had found a welcome reception with the Essene. 
Yet, even with him, regular and unintermitting labor, 
not inert and ii[ieditative abstraction, was the principle 
of the ascetic community. It might almost seem that 
there subsisted some secret and indelible congeniality, 
some latent consanguinity, whether from kindred, 
common descent, or from conquest, between the caste- 
divided population on the shores of the Ganges, and 
the same artificial state of society in the valley of the 
Nile, so as to assimilate in so remarkable a manner 
their religion .^ It is certain, that the genuine Indian 
mysticism first established a permanent Western set- 
tlement in the deserts of Egypt. Its first combina- 
tion seems to have been with the Egyptian Judaism 
of Alexandria, and to have arisen from the dreaming 
Platonism, which, in the schools of that city, had 
been engrafted on the Mosaic Institutes. The Egyp- 
tian Monks were the lineal descendants of the Jewish 
Therapeutae, described by Philo.^ Though the Thera- 

1 Bohlen'8 work, Das alte Indien, — of which the excelleDce in all other 
respects, as a condensed abstract of all that onr own conntrymen and the 
scholars of Germany and France have collected concerning India, will be 
universally acknowledged, — la written to maintain the ttieoiy of the early 
connection of India and Egypt 

3 Philonis Opera, Mangey, vol. ii. p. 471. 

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peutae, like the Essenes, were in some respects a 
productive community, yet they approached much 
nearer to the contemplative and indolent fraternities 
of the farther East. The arid and rocky desert 
around them was too stubborn to make much return 
to their less regular and less systematic cultivation : 
visionary indolence would grow upon them by degrees. 
The communities either broke up into the lairs of 
solitary hermits, or were constantly throwing oflF their 
more enthusiastic votaries deeper into the desert: 
the severer mortifications of the flesh required a 
more complete isolation from the occupations, as 
well as the amusements or enjoyments, of life. To 
change the wilderness into a garden by patient industry 
was to inthrall the spirit in some degree to the service 
of the body; and, in process of time, the principle 
was carried to its height. The more dreary the 
wilderness, the more unquestioned the sanctity of its 
inhabitant ; the more complete and painful the priva- 
tion, the more holy the worshipper; the more the 
man put off his own nature, and sank below the 
animal to vegetative existence, the more consummate 
his spiritual perfection. The Ml growth of this 
system was of a much later period : it did not come 
to maturity till after Christianity had passed through 
its conflict with Gnosticism; but its elements were, 
no doubt, floating about in the different Western 
regions of Asia, and either directly through Gnosti- 
cism, or from the emulation of the two sects, which 
outbid each other, as it were, in austerity, it worked, 
at length, into the very intimate being of the Gospel 

The singular felicity, the skill and dexterity, if I 
may so speak, with which Christianity at first wound its 

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way through these conflicting elements, combining 
what was pure and lofty in each, in some in- combination 
stances unavoidably speaking their language, £!,?!j?{h^" 
and simplifying, harmonizing, and modifying ^*»^***^*y- 
each to its own peculiar system, increases our admira- 
tion of its unrivalled wisdom, its deep insight into the 
universal nature of man, and its pre-acquaintance, as 
it were, with the countiess diversities of human charac- 
ter prevailing at the time of its propagation. But, 
unless the same profound wisdom had watched over 
its inviolable preservation, which presided over its 
origin; unless it had been constantly administered 
with the same superiority to the common passions and 
interests and speculative curiosity of man, — a re- 
action of the several systems over which it prevailed 
was inevitable. On a wide and comprehensive survey 
of the whole history of Christianity, and considering it 
as left altogether to its own native force and impulse, 
it is difficult to estimate how far the admission, even 
the predominance, of these foreign elements, by which 
it was enabled to maintain its hold on difierent ages 
and races, may not have contributed both to its origi- 
nal success and its final permanence. The Eastern 
asceticism outbid Christianity in that austerity, that 
imposing self-sacrifice, that intensity of devotion, which 
acts with the greatest rapidity, and secures the most 
lasting authority over rude and unenlightened minds. 
By coalescing to a certain point with its antagonist, it 
embraced within its expanding pale those who would 
otherwise, according to the spirit of their age, have 
been carried beyond its sphere by some enthusiasm 
more popular and better suited to the genius of the 
time, or the temperament of the individual. If it 
lost in purity, it gained in power, perhaps in perma- 

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48 SIMON MAGUS. Book H. 

nence. No doubt, in its first contest with Orientalism 
were sown those seeds which grew up at a later period 
into Monasticism ; it rejected the tenets, but admitted 
the more insidious prmciple of Gnosticism : yet there 
can be little doubt that in the dark ages, the monastic 
spirit was among the great conserrative and influential 
elements of Christianity. 

The form in which Christianity first encoimtered 
this wide-spread Orientalism was either Gnosticism,^ 
or, if that philosophy had not then become consoli- 
dated into a system, those opinions which subsequently 
grew up into that prevalent doctrine of Western Asia. 
The first Orientalist was Simon Magus. In the conflict 
with St. Peter, related in the Acts, nothing: 

Simon Magus. ° 

transpires as to the personal history of this 

^ In this view of Gnosticism, besides constant reference to the original 
aathorities, I must acknowledge my obligations to Brucker, Hist. Phil. vol. ii. 
p. 1, c. 8; to Mosheim, De Beb. Christ ante Const Mag. ; to Beausobre, Hist 
du Manich^isme; but, above all, to the excellent Histoire da Gnosticisme, by 
M. Matter of Strasburg, 2 vols. 8vo. Paris, 1828. Since the first publication 
of this work, new light has been thrown on Gnosticism and the Gnostic teach- 
ing by the discovery of the (imperfect) Phitosophumena, first erroneously 
attributed to Origen by the editor £. Miller, first and conclusively proved by 
the learning and sagacity of Bonsen to be the work of Hippolytus, Bishop of 
Porto near Rome, in the early part of the third century. On this point al- 
most all are agreed, — even Bunsen^s most learned antagonists on other 
questions raised by this book, Dr. Wordsworth and Dollinger. On this con- 
troversy I have expressed my judgment fully in a note to Latin Christianity, 
vol i. p. 86. I think Bunsen triumphant in most points. In the Epistles to 
Archdeacon Hare, and in the Analecta published by Bunsen, in his great 
work Christianity and Mankind, will be found selected and illustrated the 
chief texts of the Philosophumena which bear on the rise and development 
of Gnosticism. Perhaps, as usual, Bunsen's bold and imaginative divination 
sees much which eyes not less keen, but endowed with less magnify^ing pow- 
ers, will fail to discern. 

Besides this work, the Christliche Gnosis of Baur, and the mature opin- 
ions of Neander in the second edition of his History, will satisfy readers who 
care to plunge into that dim labyrinth of Gnosticism, and to investigate its 
mysteries at greater length than the extent and proportions of my work, and 
my judgment as to the unportance of such researches, permit me to expand 
into. (1868.) 

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Chap. V. SIMON MAGUS. 49 

remarkable man, excepting the extensive success with 
which he had practised his magical arts in Samaria, 
and the Oriental title which he assumed, — "the Power 
of God." His first overtures to the apostle appear as 
though he were desirous of conciliating the friendship 
and favor of the new teacher, and would not have been 
unwilling to have acted a subordinate part in the for- 
mation of his increasing sect. But, f^om his first 
rejection, Simon Magus was an opponent, if there be 
any truth in the wild legends, which are still extant, 
the rival, of Christianity.^ On the arrival of the 
Christian teachers in Samaria, — where, up to that 
period, his influence had predominated, — Simon paid 
homage to the reality of his miracles, by acknowledg- 
ing their superiority to his own. Still, it should seem 
that he only considered them as more adroit wonder- 
workers, or, as is more probable, possessed of some 
peculiar secrets beyond his own knowledge of the laws 
of nature, or possibly (for imposture and superstition 
are ever closely allied) he may have supposed that 
they had intercourse with more powerful spirits or 
intelligences than his own. Jesus was to him either 
some extraordinary proficient in magic, who had 
imparted his prevailing gifts to his followers, the apos- 
tles; or some superior genius, who lent himself to 
their bidding ; or, what Simon asserted himself to be, 
some power emanating more directly from the primal 
Deity. The "gift of the Holy Ghost" seemed to 
communicate a great portion, at least, of this magic 

1 It is among the most hopeless difficulties in early Christian histoiy to 
decide, to one's own satisfaction, what groundwork of tmth there may be in 
those works which bear the name of St. Clement, and relate the contests of 
St Peter and Simon Magus. That in their present form they are a kind 
of religious romance, few will doubt; but they are certainly of great anti- 
quity, and it is difficult to suppose tliem either pure invention or mere em^ 
bellishments of the simple history in the Acta. 

YOL. II. 4 

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50 SIMON MAGUS. fiooK H. 

influence, and to place the initiated in possession of 
some mighty secrets, or to endow him with the con- 
trol of some potent spirits. Simon's offer of pecuniary 
remuneration betrays at once either that his own 
object was sordid, as he suspected theirs to be ; or, at 
the highest, he sought to increase, by a combination 
with them, his own reputation and influence. Nor, on 
the indignant refusal of St. Peter, does his entreaty for 
tlieir prayers, lest he should incur the wrath of their 
offended Deity, by any means imply a more accurate 
and Christian conception of their religion : it is 
exactly the tone of a man, half impostor and half 
enthusiast, who trembles before tlie offended anger 
of some mightier superhuman being, whom his inef- 
fectual magic has no power to control or to appease. 
We collect no more than this from the narrative in the 

Yet, unless Simon was in fact a personage of con- 
siderable importance during the early history of Chris- 
tianity, it is difiicult to account for his becoming, as he 
is called by Beausobre, the hero of the Romance of 
Heresy. If Simon was the same with that magician, a 
Cypriot by birth, who was employed by Felix as agent 
in his intrigue to detach Drusilla from her husband,^ 
this part of his character accords with the charge of 
licentiousness advanced both against his life and his 
doctrines by his Christian opponents. This is by no 
means improbable ; and indeed, even if he was not a 
person thus politically prominent and influential, 
the early writers of Christianity would scarcely have 
concurred in representing him as a formidable and 
dangerous antagonist of the faith, as a kind of 

1 Acts yiii. 9, 24. 

s Joseph., Ant zx. 5, 2. Compare Knbs and Knlnoel, in loco Acta 

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Chap.V. his character AND TENETS. 61 

personal rival of St. Peter, without some other ground- 
work for the fiction besides the collision recorded 
in the Acts. The doctrines which are ascribed to 
him and to his followers, who continued to exist 
for two or three centuries,^ harmonize with the 
glimpse of his character and tenets in the writings of 
St. Luke. 

Simon probably was one of that class of adventurers 
which abounded at this period, or like Apollo- his nwi 
nius of Tyana and others at a later time, with «»d tenets, 
whom the opponents of Christianity attempted to con- 
found Jesus and his apostles. His doctrine was Ori- 
ental in its language and in- its pretensions.^ He was 
the first -^on or Emanation, or rather perhaps the first 
manifestation, of the primal Deity. He assumed, not 
merely the title of the Great Power or Virtue of God, 
but all the other appellations, — the Word, the Perfec- 
tion, the Paraclete, the Almighty, the whole combined 
attributes of the Deity .^ He had a companion, 
Helena, according to the statement of his 
enemies, a beautiful prostitute,* whom he found at 
Tyre, who became in like manner the first conception 
(the Ennoea) of the Deity ; but who, by her conjunc- 
tion with matter, had been enslaved to its malignant 
influence, and, having fallen under the power of evil 

^ Origen denies the existence of living Simonians in his day (Contra 
Cels. lib. i.) ; which implies that they had subsisted nearly up to that time. 

3 Irenaeos, lib. i. c. 20; the fullest of the early authorities on Simon. 
Compare Grabe's notes. The personal conflict with St. Peter in Rome, and 
the famous inscription, ** Semoni Sanco," must, I think, be abandoned to 
legend. That Simon was a heresiarch, and a heresiarch of great power 
and wide influence, not a mythical personage created out of the passage in 
the Acts of the Apostles, is further and still more conclusively shown in the 
Sixth Book of the Philosophumena. 

' " Ego sum Sermo Dei, ego sum Speciosus, ego Paracletus, ego Onmipo- 
tens, ego omnia Doi." — Hieronym. in Matth., Op. iv. 114. 

^ Iremeus, as above. 

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52 SmOlf'S HELENA. Book IL 

angels, had been in a constant state of transmigration, 
and, among other mortal bodies, had occupied that 
of the famous Helen of Troy. Beausobre,^ who ele- 
vates Simon into a Platonic philosopher, explains the 
Helena as a sublime allegory. She was the Psyche of 
his philosophic romance. The soul, by evil influences, 
had become imprisoned in matter. By her the Deity 
had created the angels: the angels, enamoured of 
her, had inextricably entangled her in that polluting 
bondage, in order to prevent her return to heaven. 
To fly from their embraces, she had passed from 
body to body. Connecting this fiction with the 
Grecian mythology, she was Minerva, or imperson- 
ated Wisdom;* perhaps, also, Helena, or embodied 

It is by no means inconsistent with the character of 
Orientalism, or with the spirit of the times, to recon- 
cile much of these different theories. According to 
the Eastern system of teaching by symbolic action, 
Simon may have carried ahout a living and real illus- 
tration of his allegory : his Helena may have been to 
his disciples the mystic image of an Emanation from 
the Divine Mind ; her native purity, indeed, originally 
defiled by the contagious malignity of matter, but 
under the guidance of the Hierophant, or rather by her 
sanctifying association with the "Power of God," 
either soaring again to her primal sanctity, or even, 

1 Beaiuobre, Hist, da Manich^me, i. 86. 

3 His disciples worshipped two stataes, — of Simon as Zens, of Helen aa 
Athene. Eixova re nv ^ifujyos Ixawiv ei( Aide fiop^, Koi t^C 'E^- 
VTfC iv f*op^ A9Tfvac, kcU nsvrof npoaicovovm, rdv fitv KoXovvrec Kvpiiov, r^ 
dt Kvpiav, — PhUosophumena, vi. p. 176. 

* Ij^rtf 6^1 KaTOYtvofihnj kv ywai^v krapaaoe rdf kv leSafUft dwofutc dtit 
rd &imrip^^TOV abrvc ko^Xoc, p. 174. The Trojan war seems to hare 
been held as a type of this strife among the world-ruling angels, caused by 

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while the grosser body was still abandoned to its 
inalienable corruption, emancipating the uninfected 
and unparticipant soul from all the depravation, almost 
from the consciousness, of corporeal indul- Piobabmcj 
gence. Be this as it may; whether the ofsimon.**"^ 
opinions of Simon were derived frt)m Platonism, or, as 
it is much more likely, immediately from Eastern 
sources, — his history is singularly characteristic of 
the state of the public mind at this period of the 
world. A man assuming the lofty appellation of 
the Power of God, and, with his female associate, 
personating the male and female Energies or Intel- 
ligences of the Deity, appears to our colder European 
reason a fiction too monstrous even for the proverbial 
credulity of human kind. But this Magianism of 
Simon must be considered in reference to the whole 
theory of theurgy or magic, and the prevalent theoso- 
phy or notions of the divine nature. In the East, 
superstition had in general repudiated the grossly 
material forms in which the Western anthropomor- 
phism had embodied its gods; it remained more 
spiritual, but it made up for this by the fantastic 
manner in which it multiplied^ the gradations of spiiv 
itual beings more or less remotely connected with the 
first great Supreme. The more subtile the spirits, in 
general they were the more beneficent; the more 
intimately associated with matter, the more malignant. 
The avowed object of Simon was to destroy the 
authority of the evil spirits,- and to emancipate man- 
kind from their control. This peopling of the universe 
with a regularly descending succession of beings was 
common to the whole East ; perhaps, in great part, to 
the West. The later Jewish doctrine of angels and 
devils approached nearly to it; it lurked in Platonism, 

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A \ 


and assumed a higher form in the Eastern cosmogo- 
nies. In these it not merely assigned guardian or 
hostile beings to individuals or to nations, but its 
peculiar creator to the material universe, from which 
it aspired altogether to keep aloof the origin and 
author of the spiritual world; though the latter supe- 
rior and benignant Being was ordinarily introduced as 
interfering in some manner to correct, to sanctify, and 
to spiritualize the world of man ; and it was in accord- 
ance with this part of the theory that Simon pro- 
claimed himself the representative of Deity. That 
such was the Simonian doctrine, I think there can 
be no doubt: a very small part, however, only its 
elementary notions, can with any probability be traced 
to Simon himself. He was but the remote parent 
of a numerous, wide-spread, and inventive line of 

1 According to the Philosophnmena, Simon of Gcttim in Samaria called 
himself a god, in imitation of a certain ApsethuSf who in Libya trained some 
parrots to say, " Apsethus is a god," and then let them loose. They flew 
abroad, all over Libya and as far as Greece. He obtained divine worship. 
But a clever Greek found out the trick, caught some of the parrots, and taught 
them to say, "Apsethus shut us up, and taught us to say, * Apeethus is a 
god.* " He let them fly to Libya. Upon which the Libyans burned Apse- 
thuB as an impostor. This is an old story told of Hanno the Carthaginian. 
— iBlian, Var. Hist, xiv. 80. Its introduction, and the stress laid upon it by 
Hippolytus, do not give a veiy high notion either of the learning or the fair- 
ness of the ** Refuter of Heresies." But what is really curious and valuable 
in the work is the citations firom the ian^aai^ fieyaXij (the Great Announce- 
ment, the Scriptures, it may be called, of the Simonian sect). Of the exist" 
ence of this book there can be no doubt That it was written by the Simon 
Magus of the Acts, it were utter absurdity to suppose. It may have been the 
work of Dositheus or Menander, op of both of them, the true founders and 
inventors of Simonianism. Yet there can be no doubt that it was accepted by 
Hippolytus as the authentic work of Simon. The chaos of opinions which 
it discloses is almost inconceivable. Simon must have been well read in 
Plato and Aristotle, if not in Pythagoras (Hippolytus everywhere discerns 
the influence, almost the exclusive influence, of Greek philosophy). He 
quotes the poet Empedodes. His Helena (he also allegorized the wooden 
horse) is derived from Homer and Stesichorus. He is equally familiar with 
the Old Testament (among other points he holds fire to be the Primal God- 

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Google . 

Chaf. y. SIMONIANISM. 55 

But Simon himself was at no time a Christian; 
neither was the heir and successor of his doctrines, 
Menander;^ and it was not till it had made some 

head: tiiis he borrowed, according to Hippolytiu, fix>m the saying of Moses, 
** Our God is a consuming fiie ") and with the New: his Helena is the " lost 
sheep " of the Gospels. And we read the following strange parody, to our ears 
profane, on the great truths of Christianity : ** As he had redeemed his Helena, 
so by his own wisdom (lirc/Mjffecjf, his Gnosis) he had brought salvation 
to the world. For the angels, through their ambition, having administered 
the world badly, he had come for the restoration of all tilings, metamorphosed 
and made equal to the Principalities and Powers, and to the Angels, so as to 
appear as a man, not being man, and to suffer seemingly in Judiea, though 
he did not suffer [with Bunsen, I erase the xai], and appeared to the Jews as 
the Son, in Samaria as the Father, among the Gentiles as the Holy Ghost. 
But he permitted hhnself to be called by any name by which men chose to 
call him. The prophets, he aven, altered their prophecies inspired by the 
angels who created the world [the evil Demiurge], whom therefore the be- 
lievers in Simon and Helena do not regard, but assert their own perfect free- 
dom. For they say that they are saved by his grace [the grace of Simon].*' 
j[Bunsen, by one of his arbitrary decisions, to my judgment in contradiction 
to the whole text, supposes all this to be the Simonian description of our Sa- 
vior, Jesus, not that of Simon.) 

Indeed, the most remarkable part of this doctrine is its strong opposition 
to that of the Clementine Homilies. Here throughout Simon is the Saviour; 
he is the Christ, He that hath stood, that stands, that will stand (Hippolytus 
would show that he is not the Saviour), on xptorbc oifK ^ liifiav, 6 kard^, 
ardc, OTTfOOfievoc, p. 162. 

In the Acts we read that Simon's followers said, *^ This man is the great 
Power of God" {dwofu^ tov Oeov if fieya?.7f) ; and, according to all this sys- 
tem, the great Power was the efflux of the Ineffable, Unapproachable, Un- 
known Godhead, the Redeemer of the materialized souls of men. In the 
Clementines he is the antagonist of St. Peter. Even in his end, there is a sin- 
gular peculiarity in the fable. Here, too, in Rome, he is opposed to St. Peter. 
But instead of attempting to fly, as in the vulgar tradition ( Apost. Const vi. 9), 
and falling and breaking his neck, Simon offered to be buried alive, and de- 
clared that he would rise again on the third day. His disciples buried him 
in a deep trench; ^ but to this day,'* says Hippolytus, " they await his resur- 

Neander dismisses Simon and the Simonians almost with contempt The 
Philosophumena, I think, show that I am right in attaching more importance 
to these doctrines, as an early source and manifestation of Gnostic opinions. 

1 Menander baptized in his own name, being sent by the Supreme Power 
of God. His baptism conferred a resurrection not only to eternal life, but to 
eternal youth. An opinion, as M. Matter justly observes, not easily recon- 
cilable to those who considered the body the unworthy prison of the soul. — 
Irenseus, i. 21. Matter, L 219. 

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progress in the Syrian and Asiatic cities, that Chris- 
tianity came into closer contact with those Gnostic or 
pre-Gnostic systems, which, instead of opposing it with 
direct hostility, received it with more insidious venera- 
tion, and warped it into an unnatural accordance with 
their own principles. As the Jew watched the appear- 
ance of Jesus, and listened to his announcement as 
the Messiah, in anxious suspense, expecting that even 
yet He would assume those attributes of temporal 
grandeur and visible majesty which, according to his 
conceptions, were inseparable from the true Messiah ; 
as, even after the death of Jesus, the Jewish Chris- 
tians still eagerly anticipated his immediate return to 
judgment, his millennial reign, and his universal 
anosticbm dominiou, — so many of the Oriental specu- 
iSSff^Hh latists, as soon as Christianity began to be 
chrtetianity. devcloped, hailed it as the completion of 
their own wild theories, and forced it into accordance 
with their universal tenet of distinct intelligences 
emanating from the primal Being. Thus Christ, who 
to the vulgar Jew was to be a temporal king, to the 
Cabalist or the Chaldean, or to men of kindred 
opinions, became a Sepliiroth, an ^on, an emanation 
from the one Supreme. While the author of the 
religion remained on earth, and while the religion 
itself was still in its infancy, Jesus was in danger of 
being degraded into a King of the Jews ; his Gospel, 
of becoming the code of a new religious republic.^ 

I The Ebionitefl of Neander. Neonder's chapter on the Ebionites and 
Nazarenea is excellent I acquiesce in his explanation of Ebion (from the 
Hebrew word li"^^K, the poor); but instead of taking the word, as Origen 
did, in his allegoric vein, as a contemptuous appellation from their poverty 
of doctrine, I would suppose that these refugees who fled during the war of 
Titus and the war of Hadrian, and stole back to Jerusalem, were poor as 
compared with the Gentile Christians, and the earlier Christians of Palestine 
addressed bj St. James in his Epistle, " Go to now, ye rich men." 

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Chap.V. EPHESUS— ST. JOHN. 67 

Directly it got beyond the borders of Palestine, and 
the name of Christ had acquired sanctity and venerar 
lion in the Eastern cities, he became a kind of meta- 
physical impersonation, while the religion lost its 
purely moral cast, and assumed the character of a 
speculative theogony. 

Ephesus is the scene of the iBirst collision between 
Christianity and Orientalism of which we can 
trace any authentic record. Ephesus I have 
before described as the great emporium of magic arts, 
and the place where the unwieldy allegory of the East 
lingered in the bosom of the more elegant Grecian 
humanism.^ Here the Greek, the Oriental, the Jew, 
the philosopher, the magician, the follower of John the 
Baptist, the teacher of Christianity, were no doubt 
encouraged to settle by the peaceful opulence of the 
inhabitants, and the constant influx of strangers, under 
the proudly indifferent protection of the municipal 
authorities and of the Roman Government. In Ephe- 
sus, according to universal tradition, survived the 
last of the apostles; and here the last of 

^ , St. John. 

the Gospels — some have supposed, I tliink 
rightly, the latest of the writings of the New Testament 
— appeared in the midst of this struggle with the for- 
eign elements of conflicting systems. This Gospel was 
written, I conceive, not against any peculiar 
sect or individual, but to arrest the spirit of 
Orientalism, which was working into the essence of 
Christianity, destroying its beautifiil simplicity, and 
threatening altogether to change both its design and 
its effects upon mankind. In some points, it nece&- 

^ The Temple of Diana was the trimnph of pore Grecian architecture ; bat 
her statue was not that of the divine Huntress, like that twin sister of the 
Belvidere Apollo in the galleiyat Paris: she was the Diana multimamma, 
the emblematic impersonation of All-prodnctiye, All-nBtritive Nature. 

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Barily spoke the language, which was common alike, 
though not precisely with the same meaning, to the 
Platonism of the West and the Theogonism of the 
East. But how different and peculiar its sense ! It 
kept the moral and religious, if not altogether distinct 
from the physical notions, yet clearly and invariably 
predominant. While it appropriated the well-known 
and almost universal term, the Logos, or Word of 
God, to the divine author of Christianity,^ and even 
adopted some of the imagery from the hypothesis of 
conflicting light and darkness; yet it altogether re- 
jected all the wild cosmogonical speculations on the 
formation of the world: it was silent on that ele- 
mentary distinction of the Eastern creed, the separation 
of matter from the ethereal mind. The union of the 
soul with the Deity, tliough in the writings of John it 
takes something of a mystic tone, is not the Pantheistic 
absorption into the parent Deity: it is an union by 
the aspiration of the pious heart, the conjunction by 
pure and holy love with the Deity, who, to the ecstatic 
moral affection of the adorer, is himself pure love. 
It insists not on abstraction from matter, but from sin, 
from hatred, from all fierce and corrupting passions : 
its new life is active as well as meditative ; a social 
principle, which incorporates together all pure and holy 
men, and conjoins them with their federal head, Christ, 
the image and representative of the God of love : it is 
no principle of isolation in solitary and rapturous medi- 
tation ; it is a moral, not an imaginative purity. 

Among the opponents to the holy and sublime 

Christianity of St. John, during his residence at Ephe- 

sus, the names of the Nicolaitans and of 


Cerinthus alone have survived.^ Of the 

1 Compare Burton (Bampton Lectures), who fully admits this. 

* Genual tradition derived the Nicolaitans from Nicolas, one of the seren 

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Chap. V. CERINTHUS. 69 

tenets of the former, and the author of the doc- 
trine, nothing precise is known; but the indignant 
language with which they are alluded to in the Sacred 
Writings implies, that they were not merely hostile 
to the abstract doctrines, but also to the moral effects 
of the Gospel. Nor does it appear quite clear that 
the Nicolaitans were a distuxct and organized sect. 

Cerinthus was the first, of whose tenets we have any 
distinct statement, who, admitting the truth 
of Christianity, attempted to incorporate with 
it foreign and Oriental tenets.^ Cerinthus was of 
Jewish descent, and educated in the Judaso-Platonic 
school of Alexandria.^ His system was a singular 
and apparently incongruous fusion of Jewish, Chris- 
tian, and Oriental notions. He did not, like Simon or 
Menander, invest himself in a sacred and mysterious 
character, though he pretended to angelic revelations.^ 
Like all the Orientals, his imagination was haunted 
with the notion of the malignity of matter ; and his 
object seems to have been to keep both the primal 
Being and the Christ uninfected with its contagion. 

deaconSf Acts vi. 6. Eiisebins (Eccl. Hist. 1. iii. c. 29) relates a story, that 
Nicolas, accused of being jealous of his beautiful wife, offered her in matri- 
mony to whoever chose to take her. His followers, on this example, founded 
the tenet of promiscuous concubinage. Wetstein, with whom Michaelis and 
Bosenmliller are inclined to agree, supposed that Nicolas was a translation of 
the Hebrew word Bileam, both signifying, in their respectire languages, the 
subduer or the destroyer of the people. Michaelis, Eichhom, and Storr sup- 
pose, therefore, that it was the name rather of a sect than an individual, and 
the same with those mentioned in 2 Pet. 11. 10, 18, 18; iii. 8; Jude 8, 16. See 
Rosenmiiller on Rev. ii. 6. The Philosophumena takes the popular view 
of the Nicolaitans from Nicolas the deacon : it is precisely the same view and 
in the same words with Irensus. 

1 See Mosheim, De Rebus ante C. M. p. 199. Matter, i. 221. 

^ Theodoret, ii. c. 3. This is expressed by the Philosophumena. It con- 
firms also Neander*s ingenious connection of the tenets with those of Philo. 

* Eusebius, £. H. iii. 28, from Caius the presbyter, TeparoXoyia^ rifdv 6f 
6C hyyOjunf aXrrt^ de^ic^^uvai ^evdo/ievof. 

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60 STSTEM OF GERnrrHUS. Book H. 

The Creator of the material world, therefore, was a 
secondary being, — an angel or angels; as Gerinthns 
seems to have adhered to the Jewish, and did not 
adopt the Oriental language.^ But his national and 
hereditary reverence for the Law withheld him from 
that bold and hostile step which was taken by most of 
the other Gnostic sects, to which, no doubt, the gen- 
eral animosity to the Jews in Syria and Egypt con- 
curred, — the identification of the Gk>d of the Jewish 
covenant with the inferior and malignant author of 
the material creation. He retained, according to one 
account, his reverence for the rites, the ceremonies, 
the Law, and the Prophets^ of Judaism, to which he 
was probably reconciled by the allegoric interpretations 
of Philo. The Christ, in his theory, was of a higher 
order than those secondary and subordinate beings 
who had presided over the older world. But, with 
the jealousy of all the Gnostic sects, lest the pure 
Emanation from the Father should be unnecessarily 
contaminated by too intimate a conjunction with a 
material and mortal form, he relieved him from the 
degradation of a human birth, by supposing that the 
Clirist above descended on the man Jesus at his 
baptism; and from the ignominy of a mortal death, 
by making him re-ascend before that crisis, having 
accomplished his mission of making known ^^the 
Unknown Father," the pure and primal Being, of 
whom the worshippers of the Creator of the material 
imiverse, and of the Jehovah of the Jews, were alike 
ignorant. But the most inconsequential part of the 
doctrine of Cerinthus was his retention of the Jew- 

^ Epiphanii H«r. viii. 28. According to Irennus, ^* a virtute quadam yaldd 
separat&j et distante ab ed piincipalitate qiue est anper nniTersa et ignonmte 
emn qui est snper omnia Deuin." — Iren., i. 26. 

2 Inferior angela to thoee of the Law inspired tlie prophets. 

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ish doctrine of the millennium. It must, indeed, have 
been purified from some of its grosser and more 
sensual images; for the Ghristos, the immaterial 
Emanation from the Father, was to preside during its 
long period of harmony and peace.^ 

The later Gnostics were bolder but more consistent 
innovators on the simple scheme of Chris- j^^ 
tianity. It was not till the second century o»**>«- 
that the combination of Orientalism with Christianity 
was matured into the more perfect Gnosticism. This 
was, perhaps, at its height from about the year 120 to 
140. In all the great cities of the East, in which 
Christianity had established its most flourishing com- 
munities, sprang up this rival, which aspired to a stiU 
higher degree of knowledge than was revealed in the 
Gospel, and boasted that it soared almost as much 
above the vulgar Christianity as above the vulgar 
Paganism. Antioch, where the first church of the 
Christians had been opened, beheld the followers of 
Saturninus withdrawing, in a proud assurance of their 
superiority, from the common brotherhood of believers, 
and insulating themselves as the gifted possessors of 
still higher spiritual secrets. Edessa, whose king 
very early Christian fable had exalted into a personal 
correspondent with the Saviour, rang with the mystic 
hymns of Bardesanes ; to the countless religious and 
philosophical factions of Alexandria were added those 
of Basilides and Valentinus ; until a still more un- 
scrupulous and ardent enthusiast, Marcion of Pontus, 
threw aside in disdain the whole existing religion of 
the Gospel, remodelled the sacred books, and estab- 

1 Cerinthna waa considered by some early writen the anthor of the Apoca^ 
lypse, because that work appeared to contain his grosser doctrine of the mil- 
lennial reign of Christ — Dionysiiis apod Enseb., iil. 282; yii. 25. 

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lished himself as the genuine hierophant of the real 
Christian mysteries. 

Gnosticism, though very diflFerent from Christianity, 
Th« primal was of a sublime and imposing character as 
onosticum. au imaginative creed, ahd not more unreason- 
able than the other attempts of human reason to solve 
the inexplicable secret, the origin of evil. Though 
variously modified, the systems of the different teach- 
ers were essentially the same. The primal Deity 
remained aloof in his unapproachable majesty; the 
Unspeakable, the Ineffable, the Nameless, the Self- 
existing.^ The Pleroma, the fulness of the 
"°** Godhead, expanded itself in still outspread- 
ing circles, and approached, till it comprehended, the 
universe. Prom the Pleroma emanated all spiritual 
being, and to the Pleroma all such being was to 
return and mingle again in indissoluble unity. By 
their entanglement in malign and hostile matter, — 
the source of moral as well as physical evil, — all 
outwardly existing beings had degenerated from their 
high origin : their redemption from this foreign bond- 
age, their restoration to purity and peace in the 
bosom of Divinity, the universal harmony of all 
immaterial existence, thus resolved again into the Pie- 
The^n roma, was the merciful design of the uEon 
Chris*. Christ, who had for this purpose invaded 
and subdued the foreign and hostile provinces of the 
presiding Energy, or Deity, of matter. 

In all the Oriental sects, this primary principle, the 
malignity of matter, haimted the imagination; and 

1 The aatfaor of the Apostolic Constitutions asserts, as the first principle of 
all the early heresies, rdv fttv iravroKparopa Qebv phurt^fielv, dyvotrrmf 
(fo^aCnv, Kol fjo^ dvcu Uaripa tov Xpiarov, iiqSk tov Koofwu dijfuovpyd^', 
dXX' uXeKTOv, af>/^Tov, iucaTovoftaoTov^ aitToyhed^ov. — Lib. vi. c 10. 

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to this principle every tenet must be accommodated. 
The sublimest doctrines of the Old Testa- ^tixigoityat 
ment — the creative omnipotence, the sever- "*''*'• 
eignty, the providence of God, as well as the grosser 
and anthropomorphic images, in which the acts and 
passions and even the form of man are assigned to 
the Deity — fell under the same remorseless proscrip- 
tion. It was pollution, it was degradation to the pure 
and elementary spirit, to mingle with, to approximate, 
to exercise even the remotest influence over, the 
material world. The creation of the visible universe 
was made over, according to all, to a secondary, with 
most to a hostile, Demiurge. The hereditary rever- 
ence which had modified the opinions of Cerinthus, 
with regard to the Jehovah of his fathers, had no hold 
on the Syrian and Egyptian speculatists. They fear- 
lessly pursued their system to its consequences, and 
the whole of the Old Testament was abandoned to the 
inspiration of an inferior and evil demon: the Jews 
were left in exclusive possession of their national 
Deity, whom the Gnostic Christians dis- Rejection of 
dained to acknowledge as bearing any resem- Testament 
blance to the abstract, remote, and impassive Spirit. 
To them the mission of Christ revealed a Deity 
altogether unknown in the dark ages of a world wliich 
was the creation and the domain of an inferior being. 
They would not, like the philosophizing Jews, take 
refuge in allegory to explain the too material images 
of the works of the Deity in the act of creation, and 
his subsequent rest ; the intercourse with man in the 
garden of Eden ; the trees of knowledge and of life ; 
the serpent, and the fall. They rejected the whole, 
as altogether extraneous to Christianity, belonging 
to another world, with which the God revealed by 

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Christ had no concern or relation. If they conde- 
scended to discuss the later Jewish history, it was 
merely to confirm their preconceived notions. The 
apparent investiture of the Jehovah with the state 
and attributes of a temporal sovereign, the imperfeo- 
tion of the Law, the barbarity of the people, the 
bloody wars in which they were engaged; in short, 
whatever in Judaism was irreconcilable with a purely 
intellectual and morally perfect system, — argued its 
origin from an imperfect and secondary author. 

But some tenets of primitive Christianity came no 
Of some less iuto dircct collision with the leading 
the New. principles of Orientalism. The human na- 
ture of Jesus was too deeply impressed upon all the 
Gospel history, and perplexed the whole school, as 
well the precursors of Gnosticism as the more perfect 
Gnostics. His birth and death bore equal evidence 
to the unspiritualized materialism of his mortal body. 
The Gnostics seized with avidity the distinction be- 
tween the divine and human nature ; but the Christ, 
the iEon, which emanated from the pure and primal 
Deity, as yet unknown in the world of the inferior 
creator, must be relieved as far as possible from the 
degrading and contaminating association with the 
mortal Jesus. The simpler hypothesis of the union 
of the two natures, mingled too closely, according to 
their views, the ill-assorted companions. The human 
birth of Jesus, though guarded by the virginity of 
his mother, was still ofifensive to their subtler and 
more fastidious purity. The Christ, therefore, the 
Emanation from the Pleroma, descended upon the 
man Jesus at his baptism. The death of Jesus was 
a still more serious cause of embarrassment. They 
seem never to have entertained the notion of an 

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Chap.V. satubninus. 65 

expiatory sacrifice ; and the connection of the ethereal 
mind with the pains and sufferings of a carnal body 
was altogether repulsive to their strongest prejudices. 
Before the death, therefore, of Jesus, the Christ had 
broken off his temporary association with the perish- 
able body of Jesus, and surrendered it to the impotent 
resentment of Pilate and of the Jews ; or, according 
to the theory of the Docetse, adopted by almost all the 
Gnostic sects, the whole union with the material 
human form was an illusion upon the senses of men ; 
it was but an apparent human being, an impassive 
phantom, which seemed to undergo all the insults and 
the agony of the cross. 

Such were the general tenets of the Gnostic sects, 
emanating from one simple principle. But the details 
of tlieir cosmogony, their philosophy, and their reli- 
gion, were infinitely modified by locd circumstances, 
by the more or less fanciful genius of their founders, 
and by the stronger infusion of the different elements 
of Platonism, Cabalism, or that which, in its stricter 
sense, may be called Orientalism. The number of 
circles or emanations or procreations which mteiv 
vened between the spiritual and the material world ; 
the nature and the rank of the Creator "of that mate- 
rial world ; his more or less close identification with 
the Jehovah of Judaism; the degree of malignity 
which they attributed to the latter ; the oflBce and the 
nature of the Christos, — these were open points, 
upon which they admitted, or, at least, assumed, the 
utmost latitude. 

The earliest of the more distinguished Gnostics is 
Saturninus, who is represented as a pupil of ^^ 
Menander, the successor of Simon Magus.^ 

^ On Satunmiifl, see Lreneas, i. 22; Etueb., iy. 7; Epiphtn., Haer. 28; 
TOL. II. 5 

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But this Samaritan sect was always in direct hostility 
with Christianity, while Saturninus departed less from 
the Christian system than most of the wilder and more 
imaginative teachers of Gnosticism. The strength of 
the Christian party in Antioch may in some degree 
have overawed and restrained the aberrations pf his 
fancy. Saturninus did not altogether exclude the 
primal spiritual Being from all concern or interest 
in the material world. For the Creator of the visible 
universe, he assumed the seven great angels (which 
the later Jews had probably borrowed, though with 
different powers, from the seven Amschaspands of 
Zoroastrianism). or rather the chief of these seven, 
who was the God of the Jews. Neither were these 
angels essentially evil, nor was the domain on which 
they exercised their creative power altogether surren- 
dered to the malignity of matter: it was a kind of 
debatable ground between the powers of evil and of 
good. The historian of Gnosticism has remarked the 
singular beauty of the fiction regarding the creation 
of man. ^^The angels tried their utmost efforts to 
form man ; but there arose under their creative influ- 
ence only * a worm creeping upon the earth.' God, 
condescending to interpose, sent down his Spirit, 
which breathed into the reptile the living soul of 
man." It is not quite easy to connect with this view 
of the origin of man the tenets of Saturninus, that 
human kind was divided into two distinct races, the 
good and the bad. Whether the latter became so 
from receiving a feebler and less influential portion 
of the Divine Spirit, or whether they were a subse- 

Theodoret, Haer. Fab. lib. iii. ; Tertullian, De Animft, 28; De Prsscrip. eont. 
Hsr. c. 46. Of the moderns, Moeheim, p. 886; Matter, i. 276. Bb Irred 
under Hadrian. 

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Chap.v. doctrine of saturjonus. 67 

quent creation of Satan, who assumes the station of 
the Ahriman of the Persian system, does not clearly 
appear.^ But the descent of Christ was to separate 
finally these two conflicting races. He was to rescue 
the good from the predominant power of the wicked ; 
to destroy the kingdom of the spirits of evil, who, 
emanating in countless numbers from Satan their 
chief, waged a fatal war against the good; and to 
elevate them far above the power of the chief of the 
angels, the Gk)d of the Jews, for whose imperfect laws 
were to be substituted the purifying principles of 
asceticism, by whieh the children of light were re- 
united to the source and origin of light. The Christ 
himself was the Supreme Power of God, immaterial, 
incorporeal, formless, but assuming the semblance of 
man; and his followers were, as far as possible, to 
detach themselves from their corporeal bondage, 
and assimilate themselves to his spiritual being. 
Marriage was the invention of Satan and his evil 
spirits, or, at best, of the great Angel, the God of 
the Jews, in order to continue the impure generation. 
The elect were to abstain from propagating a race of 
darkness and imperfection. Whether Satuminus, 
with the Essenes, maintained this total abstinence 
as the especial privilege of the higher class of his 
followers, and permitted to the less perfect the con- 
tinuation of their kind, or whether he abandoned 
altogether this perilous and degrading office to the 
wicked, his system appears incomplete, as it seems 
to yield up as desperate the greater part of the human 
race; to perpetuate the dominion of evil; and to 

^ The latter opinion is that of Moaheim. M. Matter, on the contrary^ sajs, 
*' Satan n'a pas pourtant cr^^ ces hommes, il les a trouy^ tout faits, il 8*en 
est empar^ ; c'est Ilk sa sphere d'activit^ et la limite de sa puissance." — t i. p. 

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want the general and final absorption of all existence 
into the purity and h^piness of the primal Being. 

Alexandria, the centre, as it were, of the specula- 
tive and intellectual activity of the Roman 
world, to which ancient Egypt, Asia, Pales- 
tine, and Greece furnished the mingled population 
of her streets and the conflicting opinions of her 
schools, gave birth to the two succeeding and most 
widely disseminated sects of Gnosticism, — those of 
Basilides and Yalentinus. 

Basilides was a Syrian by birth, and by some is sup- 
posed to have been a scholar of Mcnander, 
at the same time with Saturninus. He 
claimed, however, Glaucias, a disciple of St. Peter, 
as his original teacher; and his doctrines assumed 
the boastful title of the Secret Traditions of the great 
Apostle.^ He also had some ancient prophecies, those 
of Cham and Barkaph,^ peculiar to his sect. Accord- 
ing to another authority, he was a Persian ; but this 
may have originated from the Zoroastrian cast of his 
primary tenets.* From the Zendavesta, Basilides drew 
the eternal hostility of mind and matter, of light and 
darkness ; but the Zoroastrian doctrine seems to have 
accommodated itself to the kindred systems of Egypt. 
In fact, the Gnosticism of Basilides appears to have 
been a fusion of the ancient sacerdotal religion of 
Egypt with the angelic and demoniac theory of Zoro- 
aster.^ Basilides did not, it seems, maintain his one 

1 According to tbe Phflosophnmena, the Basilidians professed to derire 
their doctrines from the apostle Mat^u. 

3 Irenseus differs, in his view of the Basilidian theory, from the remains of 
the Basilidian books appealed to by Clement of Alexandria, Strom, vi. p. 
875, 796 ; Theodoret, UmtetL FabuL 1, 3 ; Enseb., £. H. iv. 7. Basilides pub- 
lished twenty-fonr volnmee of £xegetica, or interpretations of his doctrines. 

* Clemens Alex., Stramata, yi. 648. Easeb., H. E. iv. 7. 

^ The Philosophnmena enters at some length into the doctrines of Bas^ 

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Chap.Y. the JSONS of GNOSTICISM. 69 

abstract unapproachable Deity far above the rest of 
the universe, but connected him^ by a long and insen* 
gible gradation of intellectual developments or mani* 
festations, with the visiUe and material world. From 
the Father preceded seven beings, who together with 
him made up an ogdoad; constituted the first scale 
of intellectual beings; and inhabited the highest 
heaven, the purest intellectual sphere. According to 
their names, — Mind, Reason, Intelligence (^^^qw^aus)^ 
Wisdom, Power, Justice, and Peace, — they are merely, 
in our language, the attributes of the Deity, imperson- 
ated in this system. 

The number of these primary -^ns is the same as 
the Persian system of the Deity and the seven Am- 
Bchaspands, and the Sephiroth of the Cabala, and 
probably, as far as that abstruse subject is known, of 
the ancient Egyptian theology.^ 

The seven primary effluxes of the Deity went on 
producing and multiplying, each forming its own 
realm or sphere, till they reached the number of 365.* 

lides, and has, seemingly, many citations ih)m his writings. Hippolytus, as 
IS his wont, traces the origin of them to the Greek philosopher. According 
to the Philosophumena, the primal Deity was so absolutely secluded fh>m all 
beings as himself to cease to be a being. Basilides went on in his negation 
till he denied the existence of God. It ia a strange passage, which Bunsen 
seems to me to have eluded: 'E^reZ ob^ tjv, ohx 6^, oifK ohaia, oIk 6,voih- 
oiov, obx iff^^wv, oh (jwderov, oh voTfrdv, ohx dvaiadiiTov, oOk dvOpuKOi, ohn 
dyye^f, oh i^edf, ohSk bTjjq ti tuv dvofia^fievov ff 6C alad^ae<jg hifi^avo- 
fdvciv ^ voffTuv vpayfiarav, (W^* ohro ^^JtrofiepOTopof iravruv dir^ Tre- 
ptyeypoftfievuv, ovk Cm ^edf 

(ov 'Aparrorc^ koX^ voijoof vwfoeuCf ovroi Sk oOk Hvra) 
avoflToq, avaurefrroc, i/JoiiAwc, dirpocuptrcii, iuraecjg^ 6eveTn9vfi;^iJC Koofiov 
ifiiT^oe nooiaoL (p. 68, m Bun^n's Analecta). The first seems to have been 
a purely intellectnal or metaphysical evolution. But this Being, or no Being, 
contained within itself the seed of the whole universe, the Cosmos. 

^ See Matter, vol. ii. p. 5-87. 

« It is difficult to suppose, that this number, either as originally borrowed 
from the Egyptian theology or as invented by Basilides, had not some astro- 

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The total number formed the mystical Abraxas,^ the 
legend which is found on so many of the ancient 
gems, the greater part of which are of Gnostic origin ; 
though as much of this theory was from the doctrines 
of ancient Egypt, not only the mode of expressing 
their tenets by symbolic inscriptions, but even the 
inscription itself, may be originally Egyptian.^ The 

nomical reference. All thU, observes Bonsen, is merely the mythological 
form of psychologic speculation, based npon the simple words of the Pro- 
logue and coupled with the imaginary astronomy of the ancient world. Bun- 
sen goes on to describe exceedingly well the next process, according to the 
Philosophumena: ** It is stated in our extracts, that the words, ' Let there be 
light,* produced the germ or seed of the world, which, adds Basilides, is 
the light that came into the world (John i.)< The beauty of divine good- 
ness attracts the element of life in matter; this divine element Basilides 
calls the Sonship. There are three classes of Sonship. The most refined 
element flies by its own nature up to the Inefiable Father; the second Son- 
ship uses the Holy Spirit as a wing, but rises by its assistance to the paternal 
glory, from whence the Holy Spirit, being repulsed by the Ineflable (and 
attracted by matter), sinks into an intermediate state below the Inefikble 
(purely intellectual), but still above this earth (the mere psychical or animal). 
The essence of the life of this earth is concentrated in the Demiui^os, or 
Spirit of the material world, whose Son (conscious realization ?) is much more 
elevated than himself. This material world 'in its brute resistance, in its 
blind hostility to the divine formative and limiting power is the evil princi- 
ple." — Christianity and Mankind, vol. i. p. 18. In the original, of which 
this is the summanr, there is much grace and fancy of imagery; but how far 
are we from the simplicity of the Gospel, even frx>m that part of St John 
which borders most closely on the mystic? 

1 Iremeus, i. 28. See in M. Matter (ii. 49, 64) the countless interpretations 
of this mysterious word. We might add others to those collected by his m- 
dustiy. M. Matter adopts, though with some doubt, the opinion of M. Beller- 
man and M. Hunter. "Le premier de ces ^rivains explique le mot 
d* Abraxas par le kopte, qui est incontestablement ik Tancienne langue 
d'Egypte ce que la grec modeme est au langage de Tancienne Gr^ce. La 
syllable sadtch^ que les Grecs ont dii convertir en oro^, ou orof, ou oa^ 
n'ayant pu exprimer la demifere lettre de cette syllable, que par les lettres 
X, 2, ou Z, signifierait parole, et abrak &lm, satnt, adorable^ en sorte que le 
mot d' Abraxas tout entier ofirirait le sens de paroie 8acr^€. M. Munter ne 
B'^loigne de cette interpretation, que pour les syllables cdfrak qu*il prend pour 
le mot kopte * berra,' noweau, oe qui donne k Tensemble le sens de paroU 
nouveoii." — Matter, ii. 40. 

3 See, in the supplement to M. Matter's work, a very curious collection of 
these Egyptian and E^gypto-Grecian medals; and a work of Dr. Walsh 

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chap.v. the basiledian system. 71 

lowest of these worlds bordered on the realm of 
matter. On this confine the first confusion and inva- 
sion of the hostile elements took place. At length 
the chief angel of this sphere, on the verge of Intel- 
lectual being, was seized with a desire of reducing the 
confused mass to order. With his assistant angels, 
he became the Creator. Though the form was of a 
higher origin, it was according to the idea of Wisdom, 
who, with the Deity, was part of the first and highest 
Ogdoad. Basilides professed the most profound rever- 
ence for Divine Providence ; and, in Alexandria, the 
God of the Jews, softened ofiF, as it were, and harmo- 
nized to the philosophic sentiment by the. school of 
Philo, was looked upon in a less hostile light than by 
the Syrian and Asiatic school. The East lent its 
system of guardian angels, and the assistant angels 
of the Demiurge were the spiritual rulers of the na- 
tions, while the Creator himself was that of the Jews. 
Man was formed of a triple nature, — his corporeal 
form of brute and malignant matter ; his animal soul, 
the Psychic principle, which he received from the 
Demiurge; the higher and purer spirit, with which 
he was endowed from a loftier region. This pure and 
ethereal spirit was to be emancipated from its impure 
companionship ; and Egypt, or rather the whole East, 
lent the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, in 
order to carry this stranger upon earth through the 
gradations of successive purification, till it was re- 
admitted to its parent heaven. 

Basilides, in the Christian doctrine which he inter- 
wove with this imaginative theory, followed the usual 
Gnostic course.^ The Christ, the first -^n of the 

on these coins. Compaze, likewise, Beaven's Lettres k M. Letronne, par- 
ticularij p. 28. 

1 Irensns, i. 29, compared with the other authors cited aboye. 

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Deity, descended on the man Jesus at his baptism; 
but, by a peculiar tenet of their own, the Basilidiana 
rescued even the man Jesus from the degrading suflFer- 
ings of the cross. Simon the Cjrenian was changed 
into the form of Jesus ; on him the enemies of the 
Crucified wasted their wrath, while Jesus stood aloof 
in the form of Simon, and mocked their impotent 
malice. Their moral perceptions must have been 
singularlv blinded by their passion for their favorite 
tenet, nor to discern how much they lowered their 
Saviour by making Him thus render up an innocent 
victim as his own substitute. 

Yalentinus appears to have been considered the 
most formidable and dangerous of tliis school 
of Gnostics.^ He was twice excommuni- 
cated, and twice received again into the bosom of the 
Church. He did not confine his dangerous opiniona 
to the school of Alexandria : he introduced the wild 
Oriental speculations into the more peaceful West; 
taught at Rome; and, a third time being expelled 
from the Christian society, retired to Cyprus, — an 
island where the Jews were formerly numerous tUL 
the fatal insurrection in the time of Hadrian, and 
where probably the Oriental philosophy might not find 
an unwelcome reception, on the border, as it were, of 
Europe and Asia.^ 

V^entinus annihilated the complexity of pre-existing 
heavens, which perhaps connected the system of Basi- 
lides with that of ancient Egypt, and did not interpose 

1 Irenicns, Hjbt. v. Clemens. Alex., Strom. Origen, De Princip. oontrm 
Celsnm. The author of the Didascalia Orientalise at the end of the works of 
Clement of Alexandria. Tertulllan adversus Valentin. Theodoret, Fab. 
Hsr. i. 7. Epiphanius, Hsr. 81. Fhilosophomena, p. 177, et seqq. Bun- 
aen's Analecta, vol. i. p. 70-96. 

3 Tertull. adveis. Valentin., c. 4. Epiphan. Massnet. (Diiia. in lien. p. 
z. U) doubts this part of the Histoiy of Valentinus. 

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the same infinite niunber of gradations between the 
primal Deity and the material world. He descended 
much more rapidly into the sphere of Christian images 
and Christian language; or^ rather, he carried up 
many of the Christian notions and terms^ and enshrined 
ihem in the Pleroma, the region of spiritual and inac- 
cessible light. The fundamental tenet of Orientalism, 
the Incomprehensibility of the Great Supreme, was the 
essential principle of his system, and was represented 
in terms pregnant with mysterious sublimity. The 
first Father, the Monad, was called Bythos, the Abyss, 
the Depth, the Un&thomable, who dwelt alone in 
inscrutable and inefiable height, with his own first 
Conception, his Ennoia, who bore the emphatic and 
awful name of Silence.^ The first development took 
place after endless ages, in which the Unfathomable 
dwelt in his majestic solitude, but he found not delight 
in his solitude. Love was his motive. Love must 
have an object, — something to love.^ This develop- 
ment or self-manifestation was Mind (Nous), whose 
appropriate consort was Aletheia, or Trutli. These 
formed the first great quaternion, the highest scale 
of being. Prom Mind and Truth proceeded the Word 
and Life (Logos and Zoe) : their manifestations were 
Man and the Church, Anthropos and Ecclesia ; and so 
the first ogdoad was complete. From the Word and 
Life proceeded ten more iBons : but these seem, firom 
their names, rather qualities of the Supreme ; at least 

1 Accoiding to Hippolytos (yi. 29-80), the Btricj; Valentinians did not 
allow that Sig^ was to be reckoned as Sizygoe, but they maiDtained that 
BythoB alone produced the Mobb] and this appears to have been the doctrine 
of Valentinus. Bossers Pictore of the Valentinian System. Bunsen, L 

2 ^iXeprifioc y(ip oOk ifv- 'Aydjny ydp^ fqalv, ^ bhtg, tj 6k oydmy oOk 
toTtv &yami, iav fjo^i rd ieyanufievov, — Philosophnmena^ p. 184. Hippoly* 
tus traces all Valentinianism to Pythagoras and the Timieas of Plato. 


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the five masculine names, for the femmine appear to 
imply some departure from the pure elementary and 
unimpassioned nature of the primal Parent. The 
males are, — Buthios, profound, with his consort Mixis, 
conjunction ; Ageratos, that grows not old, with Heno- 
sis, or union ; Autophyes, self-subsistent, with Hedone, 
pleasure; Akinetos, motionless, with Syncrasis, com- 
mixture ; the Only -begotten and Blessedness. The 
offspring of Man and the Church were twelve, and in. 
the females we seem to trace the shadowy prototypes 
of the Christian graces, — the Paraclete and Faitli; 
the Paternal and Hope; the Maternal and Charity; the 
Ever-intelligent and Prudence ; Ecclesiasticos (a term 
apparently expressive of church union) and Eternal 
Happiness ; Will and Wisdom (Theletos and Sophia). 
These thirty uEons dwelt alone within the sacred 
and inviolable circle of the Pleroma : they were all, in 
one sense, manifestations of the Deity, all purely intel- 
lectual, an universe apart. But the peace of this 
metaphysical hierarchy was disturbed; and here we 
are presented with a noble allegory, which, as it were, 
brings these abstract conceptions within the reach of 
human sympathy. The last of the dodecarchy which 
sprang from Man and the Church was Sophia, or Wis- 
dom. Without intercourse with her consort Will, 
Wisdom was seized with an irresistible passion for 
that knowledge and intimate imion with the primal 
Father, the Unfathomable, which was the sole privilege 
of the first-born, Mind. She would comprehend the 
Incomprehensible : love was the pretext, but temerity 
the motive. Pressing onward under this strong im- 
pulse, she would have reached the remote sanctuary, 
and would finally have been absorbed into the primal 
Essence, had she not encountered Horus (the imper- 

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Bonated boundary between knowledge and the Deity). 
At the persuasion of this " limitary cherub '' (to borrow 
Milton's words), she acknowledged the incomprehen- 
sibility of the Father, returned in humble acquiescence 
to her lowlier sphere, and allayed the passion begot 
of Wonder. But the harmony of the intellectual world 
was destroyed ; a redemption, a restoration, was neces- 
sary ; and (for now Yalentinus must incorporate the 
Christian system into his own) from the first JEon, 
the divine Mind, proceeded Christ and the Holy Ghost. 
Christ communicated to the listening JBons the mys- 
tery of the imperishable nature of the Father, and 
their own procession from Him ; the delighted JBons 
commemorated the restoration of the holy peace, by 
each contributing his most splendid gift to form Jesus, 
encircled with his choir of angels.^ 

Yalentinus did not descend immediately from his 
domain of metaphysical abstraction : he interposed an 
intermediate sphere between that and the material 
world. The desire or passion of Sophia, impersonated, 
became an inferior Wisdom ; she was an outcast from 
the Pleroma, and lay floating in the dim and formless 
chaos without. The Christos in mercy gave her form 
and substance ; she preserved, as it were, some fra- 
grance of immortality. Her passion was still strong 
for higher things, for the light which she could not 
apprehend ; and she incessantly attempted to enter 
the forbidden circle of the Pleroma, but was again 

1 Each JEon took the best that he possessed, and* with these they fbnned 
a happy image to the praise of the Heavenly Father, who is also called Saviour 
(Soter), and Christos and Logos, and the Whole, because he bears within hun 
the flower of eveiy thing; and they surrounded him with ministering an- 
gels to be his companions. — Rossel in Bunsen, p. 149. According to Hip* 
polytns (Bunsen adds in a note), this ideal Christ Jesus is also called Logos, 
but distinct from the Logos of the inmost divine sphere, called the heavenly 

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arrested by Horns, who uttered the mystic name of 
Jao. Sadly she returned to the floating elements 
of inferior being; she was surrendered to Passion^ 
and with his assistance produced the material world* 
The tears which she shed, at the thought of her out- 
cast condition, formed the humid element ; her smiles^ 
when ^be thought of the region of glory, the light ; 
her fears and her sorrows, the grosser elements. 
Christ descended no more to her assistance, but sent 
Jesus, the Paraclete, the Saviour, with his angels ; 
and, with his aid, all substance was divided into mate- 
rial, animal, and spiritual. The spiritual, however^ 
altogetlier emanated from the light of her divine assist- 
ant ; the first formation of the animal (the Psychic) 
was the Demiurge, the Creator, the Saviour, the 
Father, the king of all that was consubstantial with 
himself, and, finally, the material of which he was only 
the Demiurge or Creator. Thus were formed the 
seven intermediate spheres, of which the Demiurge 
and his assistant angels (the seven agam of the Per* 
sian system), with herself, made up a second Ogdoad, 
— the image and feeble reflection of the former ; Wis- 
dom representing the primal Parent ; the Demiurge, 
the Divine Mind, though he was ignorant of his 
mother, more ignorant than Satan himself; the other 
sidereal angels, the rest of the JBons. By the Demi- 
urge the lower world was formed. 

Mankind consisted of three classes, — the spiritual, 
who are enlightened with the divine ray from Jesus ; 
the animal or psychic, the ofispring and kindred of 
the Demiurge ; the material, the slaves and associates 
of Satan, the prince of the material world. They 
were represented, as it were, by Seth, Abel, and Cain. 
This organization or distribution of mankind harmo- 

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Chap. V. BABDESANES. 77 

nized with tolerable facUity witii the Christian scheme^ 
But, by multiplying his spiritual beings, Vale^tinus 
embarrassed himself in the work of redemption or 
restoration of this lower and still degenerating worid. 
With him, it was the Christos, or rather a faint image 
and reflection (for all his intelligences multiplied 
themselves by this reflection of their being), who 
passed through the material form of the Virgin, like 
water through a tube. It was Jesus who descended 
upon the Saviour at his baptism, in the shape of a 
dove ; and Yalentinus admitted the common fantastic 
theory with regard to the death of Jesus. At the 
final consummation, the latent fire would burst out 
(here Valentinus admitted the theory common to 
Zoroastrianism and Christianity), and consume the 
very scoria of matter ; the material men, with their 
prince, would utterly perish in the conflagration. 
Those of the animal, the Psychic, purified by the 
divine ray imparted by the Redeemer, would, with 
their parent, the Demiurge, occupy the intermediate 
realm ; there were the just men made perfect ; while 
the great mother, Sophia, would at length be admitted 
into the Pleroma or intellectual sphere. 

Gnosticism was pure poetry, and Bardesanes was 
the poet of G-nosticism.^ For above two centuries, the 
hymns of this remarkable man, and those 
of his son Harmonius, enchanted the ears of 

1 Valentinus, according to Tertallian, wrote psalms (De Came Christ!, 
c 20) ; his disciple Marcus explained bis system in verse, and introduced the 
JEona as speaking. Compare Hahn, p. 26. Bardesanes wrote one htmdred 
•and fifty psalms, the number of those of David. 

The reader who is cnrions to follow out a more complete development 
of Valentiniani^m may well consult the disquisition of Rossel (a promising 
pupil of Neander, who died early) in Bunsen, i. p.l42. It is, of course, far 
more full, perhaps occasionally fancifully full, than my outlme, which, how- 
ever, I think shows almost the essential perils of the doctrine. 

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the Syrian Christians, till they were expelled by 
the more orthodox raptures of Ephraem the Syrian. 
Among the most remarkable circumstances relating to 
Bardesanes, who lived at the court of Abgar, King 
of Edessa, was his inquiry into the doctrines of the 
ancient Gymnosophists of India, which thus connected, 
as it were, the remotest East with the great family of 
religious speculatists ; yet the theory of Bardesanes 
was more nearly allied to the Persian or the Chal- 
dean ; and the language of his poetry was in that 
fervent and amatory strain which borrows the warm- 
est metaphors of human passion to kindle the soul to 
divine love.^ 

Bardesanes deserved the glory, though he did not 
suffer the pains, of martyrdom. Pressed by the plii- 
losopher ApoUonius, in the name of his master, the 
emperor Verus, to deny Christianity, he replied, " I 
fear not death, which I shall not escape by yielding to 
the wishes of the emperor." Bardesanes had opposed 
with vigorous hostility the system of Marcion ; * he 
afterwards appears to have seceded, or, outwardly con- 
forming, to have aspired in private to become the head 
of another Gnostic sect, which, in contradistinction to 
those of Saturninus and Valentinus, may be called 
the Mesopotamian or Babylonian. With him, the 
primal Deity dwelt alone with his consort, his primary 
thought or conception. Their first offsprings, JBons, 
or Emanations, were Christ and the Holy Ghost, who, 
in his system, was feminine, and nearly allied to the 
Sophia, or Wisdom, of other theories; the four ele- 
ments, — the dry earth and the water, the fire and 

1 Theodoret, H»ret. Fab. 209. 

> According to EusebioB (E. H. y. 88), Bardesanes approached much nearer 
to orthodoxy, though he still " bore some tokens of the sable streams." 

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Cbap.V. motives of THE THEORISTS. 79 

the air, — who make up the celestial Ogdoad. The 
Son and his partner, the Spirit or Wisdom, with the 
assistance of the elements, made the worlds, which 
they surrendered to the government of the seven 
planetary spirits and the sun and moon, the visible 
types of the primal union. Probably these, as in the 
other systems, made the second Ogdoad; and these, 
with other astral influences, borrowed from the Tsaba- 
ism of the region, the twelve signs of the zodiac, and 
the thirty-six Decani, as he called the rulers of the 
860 days, governed the world of man. And here 
Bardesanes became implicated with the eternal dis- 
pute about destiny and freewill, on which ho wrote a 
separate treatise, and which entered into and colored 
all his speculations.^ But the Wisdom which was the 
consort of the Son was of an inferior nature to that 
which dwelt with the Father. She was the Sophia 
Achamoth; and, faithless to her spiritual partner, 
she had taken delight in assisting the Demiurge in 
the creation of the visible world: but, in all her 
wanderings and estrangement, she felt a constant and 
impassioned desire for perfect re-union with her first 
consort. He assisted her in her course of purifica« 
tion ; revealed to her his more perfect light, on which 
she gazed with re-animating love; and the second 
wedding of these long-estranged powers, in the pres- 
ence of the parent Deity, and all the -^ons and angels, 
formed the subject of one of his most ardent and 
rapturous hymns. With her arose into the Pleroma 
those souls which partook of her celestial nature, and 
are rescued, by the descent of the Christ, according 

^ He seems to h&ye had an esoteric and an exoteric doctrine. — Hahn, 
p. 22, on the authority of St Ephrem. Compare Hahn, Bardesanes Gnosticns 
Syrorum primiu Hynmologns. Much of this bears dose analogy to Valen- 

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to the usual Gnostic theory, from their imprisomnent 
in the world of matter. 

Yet all these theorists preserved some decent dhow 
of respect for the Christian faith, and aimed at an ami- 
cable reconciliation between their own wild theories 
and the simpler Grospel. It is not improbable that 
most of their leaders were actuated by the ambition 
of unitmg the higher and more intellectual votaries 
of the older Paganism with the Christian community ; 
the one by an accommodation with the Egyptian, the 
others with the Syrian or Chaldean, as, in later times, 
the Alexandrian school with the Grecian or Platonic 
Paganism; and expected to conciliate all who would 
not scruple to engraft the few tenets of Clu'istianity 
which they preserved inviolate upon their former belief. 
They aspired to retain all that was dazzling, vast, and 
imaginative in the cosmogonical systems of the East, 
and rejected all that was humiliating or offensive to 
the common sentiment in Christianity. The Jewish 
character of the Messiah gave way to a purely immate- 
rial notion of a celestial Redeemer ; the painful realities 
of his life and death were softened off into fantastic 
appearances ; they yet adopted as much of the Chrish 
tian language as they could mould to their views, and 
even disguised or mitigated their contempt for, or ani- 
mosity to, Judaism. But Marcion of Pontus^ disclaimed 
all tliese conciliatory and temporizing meas- M«reion of 
ures, either with Pagan, Jew, or evangelic ^^*^ 
Christian.* With Marcion, all was hard, cold, impla- 
cable antagonism. At once a severe rationalist and a 
strong enthusiast, Marcion pressed the leading doctrine 

1 Marcion was son of the Bishop of Sinope. 

s On llarcion, see chiefly the five books of TertnUian adr. Marcion; the 
Historians of Heresiea, Ireneas, i. 27; EpipbanioSf 4St; Theodoret, i. 24$ 
Origen contra Gels. ; Clem. Alex., ill. 425; St. Ephrem, Orat 14, p. 468. 

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of the malignity of matter to its extreme speculative 
and practical consequences. His €reator, his provi- 
dential Governor, the God of the Jews, — weak, imper- 
fect, inthralled in matter, — was the opposite to the 
true God. The only virtue of men was the most rigid 
and painful abstinence. Marcion's doctrine interdicted 
all animal food but fish ; it surpassed the most austere 
of the other Christian communities in its proscription 
of the amusements and pleasures of life ; it rejected 
marriage, from hostility to the Demiurge, whose king- 
dom it would not increase by peopling it with new 
beings enslaved to matter, to glut death with food.^ 
The fundamental principle of Marcion's doctrine was 
unfolded in his Antitheses, the Contrasts, in which he 
arrayed against each other the Supreme God and the 
Demiurge the God of the Jews, the old and New 
Testament, the Law and the Gospel.^ The one was 
perfect, pure, beneficent, passionless ; the other, though 
not unjust by nature, infected by matter, — subject to 
all the passions of man, — cruel, changeable : the New 
Testament, especially, as remodelled by Marcion, was 
holy, wise, amiable ; the Old Testament, the Law, bar- 
barous, inhuman, contradictory, and detestable. On 
the plundering of the Egyptians, on the massacre of 
the Canaanites, on every metaphor which ascribed the 
actions and sentiments of men to the Deity, Marcion 

^ ^ 6rf ^ifi f^ ^ov^fievoi rdv KOOfidv rdv Imb roO AtifuoOpyov yevofie- 
vbv avfivXtjpovv^ &nixea9ai yaftov ^Xovtol — Clem. Alex., Strom, iii. 8. 
fUfA avTetodyeiv rt,} Koafi^ dvoTvxjioovTais tripovsj faj6i hrtxopriydv iy 
Savant rpo^ipf, — Ch. vi. 

9 " Opus ez contrarietatmn oppoeitionibiiB, Aniithesei, cognominatmn, et 
ad seporationem legis et evangelli coactam ; qua dnos Deos dividens, proinde 
direnoSi alteram alteriiu iiutrameiiti vel quod magia est usui dicere, te«to- 
menU nt exinde evangelio quoque aecuidmii Antitheses credendo patrocmara- 
tnr.** — TertuD. ady. Marc. It. 1. 

Marcion is accused by Rhodon, apud Euseb., H. £. ▼. 18, of introducing 
two principles, — the Zoroastrian theory. 
VOL. II. 6 

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enlarged with contemptuous superiority, and contrasted 
itwiththetoneof theGk)spel. It was to rescue mankind 
from the tyranny of this inferior and liostile deity, 
that the Supreme manifested himself in Jesus Christ. 
This manifestation took place by his sudden appearance 
in the synagogue in Capernaum; for Marcion swept 
away with remorseless hand all the earlier incidents 
in the Gospels. But the Messiah which was revealed in 
Christ was directly the opposite to that announced by the 
prophets of the Jews, and of their Qod. He made no 
conquests ; he was not the Immanuel ; he was not tlie 
son of David; he came not to restore the temporal 
kingdom of Israel. His doctrines were equally op- 
posed : he demanded not an eye for an eye, or a toodi 
for a tooth, but, where one smote the right cheek, to 
turn the other ; he demanded no sacrifices but that of 
the pure heart; he enjoined not the sensual and in- 
decent practice of multiplying the species; he pro- 
scribed marriage. The (Jod of the Jews, trembling 
for his authority, armed himself against the celestisd 
invader of his territory : he succeeded, in the seeming 
execution of Christ upon the cross, who, by his death, 
rescued the souls of the true believers from the bond- 
age of the Law; descended to the lower regions, 
where he rescued not the pious and holy patriarchs, 
Abel, Enoch, Noah, Jacob, Moses, David, or Solomon, 
— these were the adherents of the Demiurge or mate- 
rial creator, — but his implacable enemies, such as 
Cain and Esau. After the ascension of the Redeemer 
to heaven, the God of the Jews was to restore his 
subjects to their native land ; and his temporal reign 
was to conunence over his faithful but inferior sub- 

1 I adhero to this Bomewhat hanher and less charitable snmmaiy of Mar- 

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The Gospel of Marcion was that of St. Luke, adapt- 
ed, by many omissions and some alterations, to his 
theory. Every allusion to, every metaphor from, mar- 
riage was carefully erased, and every passage amended 
or rejected which could in any way implicate the pure 
Deity with the material world .^ 

These were the chief of the Gnostic sects ; but they 
spread out into almost infinitely diversified varietieaof 
subdivisions, distinguished by some peculiar ®«»<»"c*«°»- 
tenet or usage. The Carpocratians were avowed Eclec- 
tics : they worshipped, as benefactors of the human race, 
the images of Zoroaster, Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, 
and Jesus Christ, as well as that of their own founder. 
By this school were received, possibly were invented, 
many of the astrologic or theurgic books attributed to 

donism. The milder view of Keander, in which he had mitigated or softened 
oiF its harder tones, has b^en carried bj Bunsen almost to admiration. I 
cannot think that a mere exaggeration of the Anti-Jndaizing Pauline doo- 
trines coald have goaded even Tertullian to such a fury of orthodox hatred. 
I am well aware that contemporaiy statements, when the writers are full of 
the passions of their times, are the worst authorities. But Tertullian wrote 
with the Antitheses, probably with Marcion's Gospel, before him. The frag- 
ment of Hippolytus throws no light on the question. Of all the positive 
paradoxes of my dear friend, I confess that none seems to me so entirely 
baseless as his ascription of the Epistle to Diognetus — that model of pure, 
simple, reasonable Christianity, which stands alone in that barren and fantas- 
tic age — to the youth of Marcion. I cannot conceive the writer of that 
Epistle ever having become the author of the Antitheses. But one who has 
really made such discoveries as Bunsen has in early Chxistian literature, 
may be indulged in some fancies. 

1 This Gospel has been put together, according to the various authorities, 
especially Tertullian, by M. Hahn. It Is reprinted in the Codex Apociyphus 
Kovi Testamenti, by Thilo, of which one volume only has appeared. Among 
the remarkable alterations of the Gospels which most strongly characterize 
his system, was that of the text so beautiiully descriptive of the providence 
of God, — which '^maketh his sun to shine on the evil and the good, and 
sendeth rain on^e just and the unjust,^* Matt v. 46. The sun and the 
rain, those material elements, were the slaves only of the God of matter: 
the Supreme Deity might not defile himself with the administration of their 
blessings. — Tertull. adv. Marc, iv. 17. Th« exquisite Parable of the Prodi- 
gal Son was thrown out The feast at the end accounts for its proscription. 

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Zoroaster and other ancient sages. The Jewish Scrip- 
tures were the works of inferior angels ; of the Cliris- 
tian, they received only the Gospel of St. Matthew. 
The supreme, unknown, uncreated Deity was the 
Monad; the visible world was the creation, the do- 
main, of inferior beings. But the Garpocratian system 
was much simpler, and, in some respects, rejecting 
generally the system of JElons, or Emanations, ap- 
proached much nearer to Christianity than those of 
most of the other Gnostics. The contest of Jesus 
Christ, who was the son of Joseph, according to their 
system, was a purely moral one. Their scheme revived 
the Oriental notion of the pre-existence of the soul. 
The soul of Jesus had a clearer and more distinct re- 
miniscence of the original knowledge (the Gnosis) 
and wisdom of their celestial state ; and, by communi- 
cating these notions to mankind, elevated them to the 
same superiority over the mundane deities. This per- 
fection consisted in faith and charity, perhaps likewise 
in the ecstatic contemplation of the Monad. Every 
thing except faith and charity, — all good works, all 
observances of human laws, which were established 
by mundane authority, — were exterior, and more 
than indifferent. Hence they were accused of recom- 
mending a community of property and of women, — 
inferences which would be drawn from their avowed 
contempt for all human laws. They were accused, 
probably without justice, of following out these specu- 
lative opinions into practice. Of all heretics, none 
have borne a worse name than the followers of Car- 
pocrates and his son and successor, Epiphanes.^ 

1 I think that we may collect from Clement of Alexandria, that the com- 
mnnity of women, in the Garpocratian system, was that of Plato. Clement 
bisinnates that it was carried into practice. — Strom, iii. c. 2. According to 
Clement, the different sects, or sects of sects, justified their immoralities on 

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gbap.y. the ophites. 85 

The Ophites ^ are, perhaps, the most perplexing of 
all these sects. It is difficult to ascertain whether the 
Serpent from which they took or received their name 
was a good or an evil spirit, — the Agatho-demon of 
the Egyptian mythology, or the Serpent of the Jewish 
and other Oriental schemes. With them, a quaternion 
seems to have issued from the primal Being, the Abyss, 
who dwelt alone with his Ennoia, or Thought. These 
were Christ and Sophia Achamoth, the Spirit and 
Chaos. The former of each of these powers was per- 
fect, the latter imperfect. Sophia Achamoth, departing 
from the primal source of purity, formed laldabaoth, 
the Prince of Darkness, the Demiurge, an inferior, 
but not directly malignant, being, — the Satan, or 
Samael, or Michael. The tutelar angel of the Jews 
was Ophis, the Serpent, — a reflection of laldabaoth. 
With others, the Serpent was the symbol of Christ 
himself,^ and hence the profound abhorrence with 
which this obscure sect was beheld by the more or- 
thodox Christians. In other respects, their opinions 
appear to have approximated more nearly to the com- 
mon Gnostic form. At the intercession of Sophia, 
Christ descended on the man Jesus, to rescue the souls 
of men from the ftiry of the Demiurge, who had im- 

different pleas. Some, the Prodician Gnostics, considered public prostitution 
a mjstic communion; others, that all children of the primary or good Deity 
might exercise their regal privilege of acting as they pleamd ; some, the 
Antitacts, thought it right to break the seventh commandment, because it 
was uttered by the evil Demiurge. But these were obscure sects, and possibly 
their adversaries drew these conclusions for them from their doctrines. — 
Strom. 1. iiL 

1 Mosheim, p. 890, who wrote a particular dissertation on the Ophits, of 
which he distinguished two sects, a Jewish and a Christian. 

* M. Matter coi^jectured that they had derived the notion of the benefi- 
cent serpent, the emblem or symbol of Christ, from the brazen serpent in the 
wilderness. Perhaps it was the Egyptian Agath&4emon. M. Matter^s 
notion was right to a certain extent as to one sect of the Ophites, the Pera- 
t». See Philosophumena, p. 188. 

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prisoned them in matter : thej ascended through Hie 
realm of the seven planetary angels.^ 

Such, in its leading branches, was the Gnosticism 
of the East, which rivalled the more genuine GhriEh 

1 On the Ophites alone, the BeAitation of all Heresies promises to calnr]^ 
our knowledge ; to me that promise has ended, on ezaminationy in utter dis- 
appointment; it is darkness darkened, confusion worse confounded. Hip- 
polytus devotes a whole book, which we have nearly perfect, to the tenets ^ 
four sects of Ophites. None of them agrees with what has been gathered 
from other sources, as appears from the text, which I leave unaltered. Thes« 
sects are the Naasseoes, the Peratse, the Sethians, the Justinians. Through 
all these run some common notions, — the blending of intellectual, physical* 
moral conceptions; their perpetual impersonation; the evolution of the crea- 
tive mind ; the imprisonment of mind in matter, its emancipation from its 
bondage; the forcible blendlng-up of the Christian tenets concerning Christ 
and the Holy Ghost with these repugnant and discordant schemes. (The 
Serpent appears in all the four systems, but with a different character and 
office.) All delight in their triple form of thought, the intellectual (the 
ifotfitifv)^ the life (the yw;t'^dv), the brute matter (the ;t<N'^di/). 

The Naassenes are so called from the Hebrew word Nahasb, a sefpent; 
and from Nahash they strangely derived the Greek vooq^ a temple. Templea 
being universally raised throughout the world showed the universality of 
Serpent-worship. With them the Serpent is the principle of moisturo 
(i^ i7P^), as, with Thales the Milesian, the origin and source of all things. 
Their great characteristic is the constant labor to identify Christiani^ with 
the Secret of all the Pagan Mysteries, Phrygian, Samothracian, Eleusinian. 
There is a wild confusion of the orgiastic superstition which prevailed so 
widely through the Roman world, the worship oif Cybele, with that of Christ. 

The Peratffi were distinguished (they were Orientals) by a predominant 
inittsion of astrological notions. With them the Serpent was a sort of Inter- 
mediate Being, the Son, the Word, between the Father, the primal Monad, 
and Matter. Kadi^at oJv fsiaoc rfj^ tX/fc Ktd toO irarpd^ 6 vlb^, 6 Ao- 
yoCf 6 o^f &el KivovfievoQ irpdc imivtfwv rdi; iraripa Kot Ktuovfjhnfv tt^ 

With the Sethians, the Serpent was the violent wind, which came out of 
darkness, the first-born of the waters, and the generating principle of all 
things, especially of man (p. 142). 

With the Justinians (this sect, of course, has no relation with Justin Mar- 
tyr) the Serpent approaches more nearly to his ftmction in the beginning of 
the book of Gienesis. But the seduction of Eve is in a coarser and grosser 
form (p. 166). The Serpent is also the Tempter of our Lord in the wilder- 
ness (p. 167). 

I must say, that throughout this book there is too much of Hippolytus, of 
the writer of the third century, proud of his knowledge of the Greek religion 

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tianity, if not in the number of its convertB, in the 
activity with which it was disseminated. It arose 
simultaneously or successively in all the great centres 
of Christianity, — in Alexandria, in Antioch, in Edessa, 
in Ephesus. Many of its teachers — Yalentinus, Mar« 
don, and their followers — found their way to Home. 
Their progress was especially among the higher and 
more opulent; and, in their lofty pretensions, they 
claimed a superiority over the humbler Christianity of 
the vulgar. But, for this very reason, Gnos- onostidsm 
ticism, in itself, was diametrically opposite n<>*popoi«- 
to the true Christian spirit : instead of being popular 
and universal, it was select and exclusive. It was 
another, in one respect a higher, form of Judaism^ 
inasmuch as it did not rest its exclusiveness on the 
title of birth, but on especial knowledge (gnosis), 
vouchsafed only to the enlightened and inwardly 
designated few. It was the establishment of the 
Christians as a kind of religious privileged order, a 
theophilosophic aristocracy, whose esoteric doctrines 
soared far above the grasp and comprehension of the 

and the Greek philosophy. All these Ophites he would assume to be the earliest 
Gnostics (they first took the name)| and so almost readiing up to the apoa* 
tolic times. But it is utterly incredible that there should have existed at that 
time any set of men who were equally familiar with the Old and New Testa- 
ments and the Greek poets; who appealed to the Pentateuch and the Gospels, 
and to Homer, Pindar, Anacreon; who had anticipated the identification of 
Chriptianity with the Secret of the Pagan Mysteries, of which they might 
almost seem to be the Hierophants; who had their mystic hymns in which the 
new and the old, the Oriental and Grreek and Christian notions, were blended 
and confused. Hippolytus appeals to, cites, their writings; but, of the aga 
of those writings, I must presume to doubt his critical discernment 

Finally, I cannot think these smaller sects of any importance in Ohristiail 
history, further than as testifying to that general ftrmentation of thought, that 
appetency for truth, that distressing and exciting want of satisfiiction for the 
heart and soul and intellect of man, which Christianity found and stimulated 
to the utmost; firom which it suffered to a certain extent, but from which it 
emerged, if not in all its pdmal purity, with uAsabdued energy and force , by 
which it subjugated the world* 

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vulgar.^ It was a philosophy rather than a religion ; 
at least, the philosophic or speculative part would soon 
have predominated over the spiritual. Thej affected 
a profound and awful mystery; they admitted their 
disciples, in general, by slow and regular gradations. 
Onostic Christianity, therefore, might hare been a 
formidable antagonist to the prevailing philosophy 
of the times, but it would never have extirpated 
an ancient and deeply rooted religion; it miglit 
have drained the schools of their hearers, but it 
never would have changed the temples into solitudes. 
It would have affected only the surface of society ; it 
did not begin to work upward from its depths, nor did 
it penetrate to that strong under-current of popular 
feeling and opinion which alone operates a profound 
and lasting change in the moral sentiments of man- 

With regard to Paganism, the Gnostics are accused 
Conciliatory of a Compromising and conciliatory spirit, 
p»«»tam- totally alien to that of primitive Christianity. 
They affected the haughty indifference of the philoso- 
phers of their own day, or the Brahmins of India, to 
the vulgar idolatry ; scrupled not at a contemptuous 
conformity with the established worship ; attended the 
rites and the festivals of the Heathen; partook of 
meats offered in sacrifice; and, secure in their own 
intellectual or spiritual purity, conceived that no stain 
could cleave to their uninfected spirits from this, 
which, to most Christians, appeared a treasonable sur- 
render of the vital principles of the faith. 

This criminal compliance of the Gnostics, no doubt, 
countenanced and darkened those charges of unbridled 

1 Tertullian taunts the Yalentamans, — ** nihil mogis conuit quam occul* 
tare qmd pnedicant, si tamen pradicant qui occultant" — Tert adv. Va« 

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licentiousness of manners with which they are almost 
indiscriminately assailed by the early Fathers. Those 
dark and incredible accusations of midnight meetings, 
where all the restraints of shame and of nature were 
thrown off, which Pagan hostility brought against the 
general body of the Christians, were re-iterated by 
the Christians against these sects, whose principles 
were those of the sternest and most rigid austerity. 
They are accused of openly preaching the indifference 
of human action. The material nature of man was 
so essentially evil and malignant, that there was no 
necessity, as there could be no advantage, in attempt- 
ing to correct its inveterate propensities. While, 
therefore, that nature might pursue, uncontrolled, its 
own innate and inalienable propensities, the serene 
and uncontaminated spirit of those, at least, who 
were enlightened by the divine ray, might remain 
aloof, either unconscious of, or, at least, unparticipant 
in, the aberrations of its grovelling consort. Such 
general charges it is equally unjust to believe, and 
impossible to refute. The dreamy indolence of mys- 
ticism is not unlikely to degenerate into voluptuous 
excess. The excitement of mental has often a strong 
effect on bodily emotion. The party of the Gnostics 
may have contained many whose passions were too 
strong for their principles, or who may have made 
their principles the slaves of their passions ; but Chris- 
tian charity and sober historical criticism concur in 
rejecting these general accusations. The Gnostics 
were, mostly, imaginative rather than practical far 
natics : they indulged a mental rather than corporeal 
license. The Carpocratians have been exposed to the 
most obloquy. But, even in their case, the charitable 
doubts of dispassionate historical criticism are justified 

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bj those of an ancient writer, who declares his dis- 
belief of any irreligious, lawless, or forbidden practiced 
among these sectaries.^ 

It was the re-action, as it were, of Gnosticism, that 
produced the last important modification of Chris- 
tianity, during the second century, — the Montanism 
of Phrygia. But we hare, at present, proceeded in 
our relation of the contest between Orientalism and 
Christianity so far beyond the period to which we con- 
ducted the contest with Paganism, that we re-ascend 
at once to the commencement of the second century. 
Montanism, howerer thus remotely connected with 
Onosticism, stands alone and independent as a new 
aberration from the primitive Christianity, and will 
demand our attention in its influence upon one of the 
most distinguished and effective of the early Christian 

1 Kai el fikv irpaaaerai irap* abrcic rd, adea, Kot iK$e<rfia, koI uTretfnffji- 
va, ty^ oOk &v nurrevoatfu. — Irenieas, i. 24. The Fhilosophumena acciwes 
the Simonians of following the example of their muter, whose Helena was his 
mistress. Thej used a coarse phrase to excuse promiscuous concubinage* 
But all this must, I think, be accepted with much reservation, as well aa 
their orgies. 

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Ctur. XL SECOKD CKNTUttii OF CBBiamANtlT. 91 


Cbitftiaiiity dtmng Um Prosperotis Period of the Boman Empira. 

With the second century of Christianity commenced 
the reign of another race of emperors. Tra- Roman em- 
jan, Hadrian, and the Antonines, were men KSS»no2* 
of larger minds, more capable of embracing ^d^ 
the vast empire, and of taking a wide and *'^' 
comprebensire survey of the interests, the manners, 
and the opinions of the various orders and races of 
men which reposed under the shadow of the Boman 
sway. They were not, as the first Caesars, monarchs 
of Borne, governing the other parts of the world as 
dependent provinces ; but sovereigns of the Western 
World, which had gradually coalesced into one majes- 
tic and harmonious system. Under the military do- 
minion of Trajan, the empire appeared to re-assume 
the strength and enterprise of the conquering republic : 
he had invested the whole frontier with a defence 
more solid and durable than the strongest line of for- 
tresses, or the most impregnable wall, — the terror of 
the Boman arms, and the awe of Boman discipline. 
K the more prudent Hadrian withdrew the advanced 
boundaries of the empire, it seemed in the conscious- 
ness of strength, disdaining the occupation of wild 
and savage districts, which rather belonged to the yet- 
unreclaimed realm of barbarism, than were fit to be 
incorporated in the dominion of civilization. Even in 
the East, the Euphrates appeared to be a boundary 

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traced hj nature for the dominion of Rome. Hadrian 
was the first emperor who directed his attention to 
the general internal affairs of the whole population 
of the empire. The spirit of jurisprudence prevailed 
during the reign of the Antonines ; and the main object 
of the ruling powers seemed to be the uniting under 
one general system of law the various members of the 
great political confederacy. Thus, each contributed 
to the apparent union and durability of the social edi- 
fice. This period has been considered by many able 
writers a kind of golden age of human happiness.^ 
What, then, was the effect of Christianity on the gene- 
ral-character of the times; and how far were the 
Christian communities excluded from the general fe- 
licity ? 

It was impossible that the rapid and universal prog- 
ress of a new religion should escape the notice of 
minds so occupied with the internal as well as the ex- 
ternal affairs of the whole empire. But it so happened 
(the Christian will admire in this singular concurrence 
of circumstances the overruling power of a beneficent 
Deity), that the moderation and humanity of the em- 
perors stepped in, as it were, to allay at this particular 
crisis the dangers of a general and inevitable collision 

1 This theory is most My developed by Hegewisch. See the translation 
of his Essay, by M. Solvet. Paris, 1884. The silence of history, that too 
fiuthful record in general of the fblly and misexy, of the wars and devastating 
conquests of mankind, may seem a full testimony to the happiness of the 
era ; but this silence is perhaps mainly due to other causes. In fact, there is, 
properly speaking, no history of the times ; and, even if there were what is 
ordinarily received as history, it might throw but dun light on the condition 
of the masses of mankind throughout the vast empire. Peace was undoubtedly 
in itself a blessing; but how much oppression, tyranny of the government 
over all, of class over class, may be hid under the smooth surfiice of peace I 
The vast, comprehensive, and age-enduring fabric of Roman Jurisprudence, 
which began to rise at this time, bears nobler witness to the wisdom of the 
rulers, and to the distribution of equal justice, that best guard and guarantee 
of human happiness, over the whole empire. 


by Google 

Chip. VI. TKAJAN. 98 

with the temporal government. Christianity itself was 
just in that state of advancement in which, cha»etoMof 

finTonble to 

though it had begun to threaten, and even to *>•"??««» 

make most alarming encroachments on, the 2Ji,t*o7™*" 
established Polytheism, it had not so com- ciatettani^. 
pletely divided the whole race of mankind as to force 
the heads of the Polytheistic party, the official conser- 
vators of the existing order of things, to take violent 
and decisive measures for its suppression. The tem- 
ples, though perhaps becoming less crowded, were in 
few places deserted; the alarm, though perhaps in 
many towns it was deeply brooding in the minds of the 
priesthood, and of those connected by zeal or by inter- 
est with the maintenance of Paganism, was not so 
profound or so general as imperiously to require the 
interposition of the civil authorities. The milder or 
more indifferent character of the emperor had free 
scope to mitigate or to arrest the arm of persecution. 
The danger was not so pressing but that it might be 
averted: that which had arisen thus suddenly and 
unexpectedly (so little were the wisest probably aware 
of the real nature of the revolution working in the 
minds of men) might die away with as much rapidity. 
Under an emperor, indeed, who should have united 
the vigor of a Trajan and the political forethought of a 
Hadrian with the sanguinary relentlessness of a Nero, 
Christianity would have had to pass a tremendous 
ordeal. Now, however, the collision of the new reli- 
gion with the civil power was only occasional, and, aa 
it were, fortuitous ; and, in these occasional conflicts 
with the ruling powers, we constantly appear to trace 
the character of the reigning sovereign. 

Of these emperors, Trajan possessed the most pow- 
erful and vigorous mind, — a consummate general, a 

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humane bufc active ruler: Hadrian was the profound- 
Tr^nem- ^^* Statesman ; the Antonines, the best men. 
Kd'otJ? Th® conduct of Trajan was that of a mili- 
"^ tary sovereign, whose natural disposition was 

tempered with humanity, — prompt, decisive, never 
unnecessarily prodigal of blood, but careless of human 
life if it appeared to stand in the way of any important 
design, or to hazard that paramount object of the 

government, the public peace. Hadrian was 
urorfrom mchucd to a more temponzmg policy. The 

more the Koman empire was contemplated 
as a whole, the more the coexistence of multifarious 
religions might appear compatible with the general 
peace. Christianity might, in the end, be no more 
dangerous than the other foreign religions, which had 
flowed, and were still flowing, in from the East. Tlie 
temples of Isis had arisen throughout the empire, but 
those of Jupiter or Apollo had not lost their votaries : 
the Eastern mysteries, the Phrygian, at a later period 
the Mithriac, had mingled, very little to their preju- 
dice, with the general mass of the prevailing supersti- 
tions. The last characteristic of Christianity which 
would be distinctly understood, was its invasive and 
AntoDinns uucompromisiug spirit. The elder Anto- 
SSI^to* i^ii^s nia,y have pursued from mildness of 
^^- character the course adopted by Hadrian from 

policy. The change which took place during the reign 
of Marcus Aurelius may be attributed to the circum- 
stances of the time ; though the pride of philosophy, 
as well as the established religion, might begin to take 
the alarm. 

Christianity had probably spread with partial and 
very unequal success in difierent quarters: its con- 
verts bore in various cities or districts a very different 

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proportion to the rest of the populatioii. Nowhere, 
perhaps, had it advanced with greater rapidity than in 
the northern provinces of Asia Minor, where the in- 
habitants were of very mingled descent, neither purelj 
Greek nor essentially Asiatic, with a considerable pro- 
portion of Jewish colonists, chiefly of Babylonian or 
Syrian, not of Palestinian, origin. It is chrbttani^ 

in Bithynia 

here, in the province of Bithynia, that Poly- JJJ^^ 
theism first discovered the deadly enemy ^d^^ 
which was undermining her authority. It ©fiia- 
was here that the first cry of distress was uttered, 
and complaints of deserted temples and less frequent 
sacrifices were brought before the tribunal of the 
government. The memorable correspondence between 
Pliny and Trajan is the most valuable record of the 
early Christian history during this period.^ It repre- 
sents to us Paganism already claiming the alliance of 
power to maintain its decaying influence ; Christianity 
proceeding in its silent course, imperfectiy understood 
by a wise and polite Pagan, yet still with nothing to 
o£fend his moral judgment, except its contumacious 
repugnance to the common usages of society. This 
contumacy, nevertheless, according to the recognized 
principle of passive obedience to the laws of the em- 
pire, was deserving of the severest punishment The 
appeal of Pliny to the supreme authority for ^^tterar 
advice as to the course to be pursued with ^^^' 
these new, and, in most respects, harmless delinquents, 
unquestionably implies that no general practice had 

1 The chronology of Pagi (Critica in BAronium) appears to me the most 
tnistworthy as to the date of Pliny's letter; so too, m opposition to Mr. Fynes 
Clinton, who dates Pliny's letter hi 104, concur Mr. Greswell and Mr. Charles 
Merivale. He places it in the year 111 or 112. Pagi dates the mar^idom 
of Ignatius, or rather the period when he was sent to Rome, in 112, the time 
when Trajan was in the East, preparing for his Persian war; but Tnjui^B 
Journey to the East was not before 114 or 116. 

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jet been laid down to guide the proyincial govemors 
Answer of ^ ^^^^ emergencies.^ The answer of Trar 
^^'*^' jan is characterized by a spirit of moderar 
tion. It betrays humane anxiety to allow all such 
offenders as were not forced under the cognizance of 
the public tribunals, to elude persecution. Neverthe- 
less it distinctly intimates, that by some existing law, 
or by the ordinary power of the provincial governor, 
the Christians were amenable to the severest penalties, 
to torture, and even to capital punishment. Such 
punishment had already been inflicted by Plmy: as 
governor, he had been forced to interfere by accusa- 
tions lodged before his tribunal. An anonymous libel, 
or impeachment, had denounced numbers of persons ; 
some of whom altogether disclaimed, others declared 
that they had renounced, Christianity. With that 
unthinking barbarity with which in those times such 
punishments were inflicted on persons in inferior 
station, two servants, females, — it is possible they 
were deaconesses, — were put to the torture, to ascer- 
tain the truth of the vulgar accusations against the 
Christians. On their evidence, Pliny could detect 
nothing further than a ^^ culpable and extravagant 
superstition." 2 The only facts which he could dis- 
cover were, that they had a custom of meeting together 
before daylight, and singing a hymn to Christ as Grod. 
They were bound together by no unlawful sacrament, 
but only under mutual obligation not to commit theft, 
robbery, adultery, or fraud. They met a second time 
in the day, and partook together of food, but that of 
a perfectly innocent kind. The test of guilt to which 

1 Pliny professes his ignorance, because he had never happened to be 
pcesent at the trial of such canaes. TMs implies that such tziala were not 
unprecedented. ' 

* "Prava et immodica superrtitio." 

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he submitted the more obstmate delinquents, was 
adoration before the statues of the gods and of the 
emperor, and the malediction of Christ. Those who 
refused he ordered to be led out to execution.^ Such 
was the summary process of the Boman governor; 
and the approbation of the emperor clearly shows that 
he had not exceeded the recognized limits of his 
authority. Neither Trajan nor the senate had before 
this issued any edict on the subject. The rescript to 
Pliny invested him with no new powers: it merely 
advised him, as he had done, to use his actual powers 
with discretion,^ neither to encourage the denunciation 
of such criminals, nor to proceed without fair and 
unquestionable evidence. The system of anonymous 
delation, by which private malice might wreak itself, 
by false or by unnecessary charges, upon its enemies, 
Trajan reprobates in that generous spirit with which 
the wiser and more virtuous emperors constantly re- 
pressed that most disgraceful iniquity of the times.^ 
But it is manifest from the executions ordered by 
Plmy and sanctioned by the approbation of the empe- 
ror, that Christianity was already an offence amenable 
to capital punishment,* and this, either under some 
existing statute, under the common law of the Empire 
which invested the provincial governor with the arbi- 
trary power of life and death, or lastly, what in this 
instance cannot have been the case, the wwmmwm impe- 
Hum of the emperor.^ While, then, in the individual, 

1 ^ Dnd jtiBsi " cannot bear a milder interpretation. 

3 ** Actum quern debaiflti in excutiendis cansis eorunii qui Christiani ad te 
delati fherant, secatns es." — Tnij. ad Plin. 

* ^ Nam est peaaimi exempli, nee noetri snculi eat." 

4 Those who were Roman citizens were sent for trial to Rome. " Alii quia 
dves Romani erant, adnotavi in urbem remittendoe." 

* This rescript or answer of Trajan, approving of the manner in which 
Pliny carried his law into execution, and snggesting other regnlationa for 

VOL. u. 7 

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the profession of Christianity might thus, by the sum- 
mary sentence of the governor and the tacit appro- 
bation of the emperor, be treated as a capital offence, 
and the provincial governor might appoint the meas- 
ure and the extent of the pimishment, all public 
assemblies for the purpose of new and xmauthorized 
worship might likewise be suppressed by the magis- 
trate : for the police of the empire always looked with 
the utmost jealousy on all associations not recognized 
by the law ; and resistance to such a mandate would 
call down, or the secret holding of such meetings 
after their prohibition would incur, any penalty which 
the conservator of public order might tliink proper to 
inflict upon the delinquent. Such, then, was the gen- 
eral position of the Christians with the ruling authori- 
ties. They were guilty of a crime against the state, 
by introducing a new and unauthorized religion, or by 
holding assemblages contrary to the internal rcgula- 
tions of the empire. But the extent to which the law 
would be enforced against them ; how far Cliristianity 
would be distinguished from Judaism and other foreign 
religions, which were permitted the free establishment 
of their rights ; with how much greater jealousy their 
secret assemblies would be watched than tliose of other 
mysteries and esoteric religions, — all this would de- 
pend upon the milder or more rigid character of the 
governor, and the willingness or reluctance of their 
fellow-citizens to arraign them before the tribunal of 
the magistrates. This, in turn, would depend on the 

his conduct, is converted bj Mosheim into a new law, which from that time 
became one of the statutes of the empire. " Hiec Triy'ani lex inter publicas 
Imperii sanctiones relata" (p. 284). Trajan's words expressly declare that no 
certain rule of proceeding can be laid down, and leave almost the whole 
question to the discretion of the magistrate. "Neque enim in universum 
aliqnid, quod quasi certam formam habet, constitui potest" —Traj. ad Plin. 

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circumstances of the place and the time ; on the ca- 
price of their enemies; on their own discretion; on 
their success, and tlie apprehensions and jealousies 
of their opponents. In general, so long as they made 
no visible impression upon society ; so long as their 
absence from the religious rites of the city or district, 
or even from the games and theatrical exhibitions 
which were essential parts of the existing Polytheism, 
caused no sensible diminution in the concourse of the 
worshippers, — their unsocial and self-secluding dis- 
position would be treated with contempt and pity 
rather than with animosity. The internal decay of 
the spirit of Polytheism had little eflFect on its outward 
splendor. The philosophic pai'ty, who despised the 
popular faith, were secure in their rank or in their 
decent conformity to the public ceremonial. The 
theory of all the systems of philosophy was to avoid 
unnecessary collision with the popular religious senti- 
ment: their superiority to the vulgar was flattered, 
rather tlian offended, by the adherence of the latter to 
their native superstitions. In the public exhibitions, 
the followers of all other foreign religions met, as on 
a common ground. In the theatre or the The Jews 
hippodrome, the worshipper of Isis or of totS^i 
Mitlira mingled with the mass of those who '™'^™®°*"- 
still adhered to Bacchus or to Jupiter. Even the 
Jews in many parts, at least at a later period, in 
some instances at the present, betrayed no aversion to 
the popular games or amusements. Though, in Pales- 
tine, the elder Herod had met with a sullen and in- 
tractable resistance in the religious body of the people 
against his attempt to introduce Gentile and idolatrous 
games into the Holy Land, yet it is probable that the 
foreign Jews were more accommodating. A Jewish 

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player, named Aliturus, stood high in the favor of 
Nero ; nor does it appear that he had abandoned his 
religion. He was still connected with his own race ; 
and some of the priesthood did not disdain to owe 
their acquittal, on certain charges on which they had 
been sent prisoners to Rome, to the actor's interest 
with the emperor or with the ruling favorite Popp»a. 
After the Jewish war, multitudes of the prisoners 
were forced to exhibit themselves as gladiators ; and, 
at a later period, the confluence of the Alexandrian 
Christians Jcws to the thcatrcs, where they equaUed in 
tiwm- numbers the Pagan spectators, endangered 

the peace of the city. The Christians alone stood 
aloof from exhibitions which, in their higher and 
nobler forms, arose out of, and were closely connected 
with, the Heathen religion ; were performed on days 
sacred to the deities ; introduced the deities upon the 
stage ; and, in short, were among the' principal means 
of maintaining in the public mind its reverence for 
the old mythological fables. The sanguinary diver- 
sions of the arena, and the licentious voluptuousness 
of some of the other exhibitions, were no less oflFen- 
sive to their humanity and to their modesty than 
those more strictly religious to their piety. Still, so 
long as they were comparatively few in number, and 
did not sensibly diminish the concourse to these scenes 
of public enjoyment, they would be rather exposed to 
individual acts of vexatious interference, of ridicule, 
or contempt, than become the victims of a general 
hostile feeling: their absence would not be resented 
as an insult upon the public, nor as an act of pun- 
ishable disrespect against the local or more widely 
worshipped deity to whose honor the games were 
dedicated. The time at which they would be in the 

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greatest danger from what would be thought their 
suspicious or disloyal refusal to join in the public 
rejoicings, would be precisely that which has been 
conjectured with much ingenuity and probability to 
have been the occasion of their being thus committed 
with the popular sentiment and with the government, 
— the celebration of the birthday or the accession of 
the emperor.^ With the ceremonial of those Daog«r<m 
days, even if, as may have been the case, the Sf?5iS!»i 
actual adoration of the statue of the empe- '^*'*°»* 
ror was not an ordinary part of the ritual, much 
which was strictly idolatrous would be mingled up; 
and the ordinary excuse of the Christians to such 
charges of disaffection, that they prayed with the 
utmost fervor for the welfare of tlie emperor, would 
not be admitted, either by the sincere attachment of 
the people and of the government to a virtuous, or 
their abject and adulatory celebration of a cruel and 
tyrannical, emperor. 

This crisis in the fate of Christianity — this transi- 
tion from safe and despised obscurity to dangerous 
and obnoxious importance — would, of course, depend 
on the comparative rapidity of its progress in different 
quarters. In Biihynia, the province of Pliny, it had 
attained that height in little more than seventy years 
after the death of Christ. Though a humane and 
enlightened government might still endeavor to close 
its eyes upon its multiplying numbers and expanding 
influence, the keener sight of jealous interest, of ri- 
valry in the command of the popular mind, and of 

1 The conjectme of Pagi, that the attention of the government was di- 
rected to the Christians by their standing aloof from the festivals which cele- 
brated the qoindecennalia of Trajan (in the year 111 or 112), is extremely 
probable. Pagi quotes two passages of Pliny on the subject of these general 
rejoicings.— Critica in Baron, i. 100 

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mortified pride, already anticipated the time when this 
formidable antagonist might balance, might at length 
overweigh, the failing powers of Polytheism. Under 
a less candid governor than Pliny, and an emperor 
less humane and dispassionate than Trajan, the exter- 
minating sword of persecution would have been let 
loose, and a relentless and systematic edict for the 
suppression of. Christianity would have hunted down 
its followers in every quarter of the empire. 

Not only the wisdom and humanity of Trajan, but 
the military character of his reign, would tend to 
divert his attention from that which belonged rather 
Probable con- ^ ^^^ internal administration of the empire. 
SSSiSSuo^* It is far from impossible, though the conjec- 
Sftothe^te t^re is not countenanced by any allusion in 
of the East, ^j^^ dispatch of Pliny, that the measures 
adopted against the Christians were not entirely uncon- 
nected with the political state of the East. The 
Roman empire, in the Mesopotamian province, was 
held on a precarious tenure; the Parthian kingdom 
had acquired new vigor and energy ; and, during great 
part of his reign, the state of the East must have 
occupied the active mind of Trajan. The Jewish 
population of Babylonia and the adjacent provinces 
was of no inconsiderable importance in the impending 
contest. There is strong groimd for supposing, that 
the last insurrection of the Jews, under Hadrian, was 
connected with a rising of their brethren in Mesopo- 
tamia, no doubt secretly, if not openly, fomented by 
the intrigues, and depending on the support, of the 
King of Parthia. This was at a considerably later 
period ; yet, during the earlier part of the reign of 
Trajan, the insurrection had already commenced in 
Egypt and in Cyrene, and in the island of Cyprus; 

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and no sooner were the troops of Trajan engaged on 
the eastern frontier, towards the close of his reign, 
than the Jews rose up in all these provinces, and were 
not subdued till after they had perpetrated and en- 
dured the most terrific massacres.^ Throughout the 
Eastern wars of Trajan, this spirit was most likely- 
known to be fermenting in the minds of the whole 
Jewish population, not only in the msurgent districts, 
but in Palestine and other parts of the empire. The 
whole race, which occupied in such vast numbers the 
conterminous regions, would be watched, therefore, 
with hostile jealousy by the Eoman governors, already 
prejudiced against their unruly and ungovernable char- 
acter, and awakened to more than ordinary vigilance 
by the disturbed aspect of the times. The Christians 
stood in a singular and ambiguous position between 
the Jewish and Pagan population; many of them 
probably descended from, and connected with, the 
Jews. Their general peaceful habits and orderly 
conduct would deserve the protection of a parental 
government: still their intractable and persevering 
resistance to the religious institutions of the empire 
might throw some suspicion on the sincerity of their 
civil obedience. The unusual assertion of religious, 
might be too closely allied with that of political, inde- 
pendence. At all events, the dubious and menacing 
state of the East required more than ordinary watch- 
fulness, and a more rigid plan of government in the 
adjacent provinces; and thus the change in society, 
which was working unnoticed in the more peaceful 
and less Christianized West, in the East might be 
forced upon the attention of an active and inquiring 

1 Euseb. iv. 2. Dio Cass., or, rather, Xiphilin. Orosiua, 1. 7. Pagi 
places this Jewish rebellion, A.D. 116. 

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ruler. The apprehensions of the inhabitants them- 
selves would be more keenly alive to the formation of 
a separate and secluded party witliin their cities, and 
religious animosity would eagerly seize the opportunity 
of implicating its enemies in a charge of disalBfection 
to the existing government. Nor is there wanting 
evidence that the acts of persecution ascribed to 
Trajan were, in fact, connected witla the military move- 
ments of the emperor. The only authentic acts are 
tliose of Simeon, Bishop of Jerusalem : I caimot ad- 
mit those of Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch.^ In the pref- 
atory observations to the former, it is admitted tliat 
this mai'tyrdom was a local act of violence. The 
more celebrated trial of Ignatius is stated to have 
taken place before the emperor himself at Antioch, 
when he was preparing for his Eastern campaign. 
The emperor is represented as kindlmg to auger at 
the disparagement of those gods on whose protection 
he reckoned in the impending war. " What ! is our 
religion to be treated as senseless ? Are the gods, on 
whose alliance we rely against our enemies, to bo 
turned to scorn ? " ^ But the whole interview with 
Trajan is too legendary to command authority. Nev- 
ertheless, at tliat time there were circumstances wliich 
account with singular likelihood for that sudden out- 
burst of persecution in Antioch. Trajan knew that 
the whole Jewish world was in a state of actual or of 
threatened insurrection. It is probable, that the clear- 
est understanding, agitated by alarm and hatred, would 
lose, if it had yet attained, any distinct discernment 

1 See them in Ruinart, Selecta et sincera Martyrnm Acta. 

2 Hfidc ohf aoi ^KoOfjiev /card vovv fj^ hx^tv &eoi>g, olc Kctt xP^f^f^ 
^fifiaxoi/g irpdg Toi>g iro^^/uovc. The Jewish legends are full of acts of 
personal cruelty, ascribed to Trajan, mingled up, as usual, with historical 
errors and anachronisms. See Hist of Jews, ii. 418. 

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of the diflference between Jews and Christians. Hardly 
two years before, the Christians had been denounced 
by a provincial governor in the East as dangerous dis- 
turbers of the religion, therefore of the peace, of the 
empire. At this very time, an earthquake, more than 
usually terrible and destructive, shook the cities of the 
East. Antioch suflfered its most appalling ravages, — 
Antioch, crowded with the legionaries prepared for the 
emperor's invasion of the East, with ambassadors and 
tributary kings from all parts of the East. The city 
shook through all its streets: houses, palaces, thea- 
tres, temples, fell crasliing down. Many were killed : 
the Consul Pedo died of his hurts. The emperor 
himself hardly escaped through a window, and took 
refiige in the circus, where he passed some days in 
the open air. Whence this terrible blow but from the 
wrath of the gods, who must be appeased by unusual 
sacrifices ? This was towards the end of January : 
early in February, the Christian bishop, Ignatius, was 
arrested. We know how, during this century, at 
every period of public calamity, whatever that calam- 
ity might be, the cry of the panic-stricken Heathens 
was, " The Christians to the lions ! " It may be that, 
in Trajan^s humanity, in order to prevent a general 
massacre by the infuriated populace, or to give greater 
solemnity to the sacrifice, the execution was ordered 
to take place, not in Antioch, but in Bome. 

From the Epistles of Ignatius^ (I confine myself 
to the three short Syriac Epistles, for which we are 
indebted to Dr. Cureton) it is manifest that this was 

1 I owe this Buggestion to the sagacity of Bimsen (Christianity and Man* 
kindf p. 89). But the chronology is from Fynes Clinton, Fasti Hellenic!, who, 
though he quotes authorities for the close approximation of the two events, 
seems to have no thought of then: historical connection. The description of 
the earthquake is from Dion Cassius, Izviii. 24 et teqq* 


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no general persecution. Throughout his journey, the 
" Bishop of Antioch " is in firee communication and 
correspondence with the Christian communities, and 
the most eminent bishops of Asia Minor, who appear 
to be in perfect security : Ignatius alone is in danger. 
Of this solitary danger he is proud. There is through- 
out a wild eagerness for martyrdom (how different 
from the calm serenity of St. Paul!). As he would 
thus during his journey court, he may reasonably be 
supposed in Antioch to have provoked, martyrdonj; 
at least he would not have allayed by prudent conces- 
sion the indignation and anger of the Government. 
He, even deprecates the interference of his Christian 
friends in his behalf. He fears lest their ill-timed, 
and, as he thinks, cruelly officious love might by some 
influence (influence which implies their own complete 
exemption from danger) deprive him of that glorious 
crown. He is apprehensive lest their unwelcome ap- 
peal to the imperial clemency might meet with success. 
Trajan, indeed, is absolved, at least by the almost 
general voice of antiquity, from the crime of persecu- 
ting the Christians.^ The legend of his redemption 

1 The recent boasted discovery of a catacomb, near the seventh mflestone 
on the Via Nomentana, where Alexander, Bishop of Rome in the reign of 
Trajan, who is promoted into a martyr, was buried; with a chapel (contempo- 
rary, as it is boldly asserted) dedicated to his memoiy and worship, — is a pore 
religious romance. A catacomb there is, from which the remains of S. Alex- 
ander are said to have been removed by Pope Paschal, a Pope of almost 
the darkest period in the papal annals, A.D. 817-824. Of this there is not 
the shadow of a shade of historical evidence. As to the chapel (I have vis- 
ited the spot, and inspected the ruins, and am confident that it was never 
subterranean, — no part of the catacomb), it was, no doubt, of about the age 
of Jerome; when pilgrimage to, and worship in, such edifices, sacred to the 
memory of martyrs, who were multiplied according to the demand, had be- 
come a passion. Excepting of Ignatius, probably of Simeon of Jerusalem, 
there is no authentic martyrdom in the reign of Trajan. The letters of Igna- 
tius — the genuine letters — are conclusive against any persecution of the 
Christians in Rome. 

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from purgatory, at the prayer of Pope Gregory I. 
(Dante, Purgatoria, x. 47), and his appearance in 
heaven as one of the five Heathens to whom salvation 
was vouchsafed (Paradiso, xx. 43), would hardly have 
grown up, if there had been any tradition of him as 
another Nero, Decius, or Diocletian. 

The cosmopolite and indefatigable mind of Hadrian 
was more likely to discern with accuracy, Hadrian 
and estimate to its real extent, the growing ajd. ui 
influence of the new religion. Hadrian was, still 
more than his predecessor, the emperor of the West 
rather than the monarch of Rome. His active genius 
withdrew itself altogether from warlike enterprise and 
foreign conquest ; its whole care was centred on the 
consolidation of the empire within its narrower and 
uncontested boundaries, and on the internal regula- 
tion of the vast confederacy of nations which were 
gradually becoming more and more assimilated, as 
subjects or members of the great European empire. 
The remotest provinces for the first time beheld the 
presence of the emperor, not at the head of an army 
summoned to defend the insulted barriers of the 
Roman territory, or pushing forward the advancing 
line of conquest; but in more peaceful array, pro- 
viding for the future security of the flintier by im- 
pregnable fortresses; adorning the more flourishing 
cities with public buildings, bridges, and aqueducts ; 
inquiring into the customs, manners, and even the 
religion, of the more distant parts of the world ; en- 
couraging commerce ; promoting the arts ; in short, 
improving, by salutary regulations, for this long period 
of peace, the prosperity and civilization of the whole 
empire. Gaul, Britain, Greece, Syria, Egypt, AMca, 
were in turn honored by the presence, enriched by the 

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108 ms CHABACTEB. Book D. 

liberality, and benefited by tlie wise policy, of the em- 
peror.^ His personal character showed the same 
incessant activity and politic versatility. On the fron- 
Chancier ^^r, at the head of the army, he put on the 
of Hadiun. hardihood and simplicity of a soldier ; dis- 
dained any distinction, either of fare or of comfort, 
from the meanest legionary; and marched on foot, 
through the most inclement seasons. In the peaceful 
and voluptuous cities of the South, he became the 
careless and luxurious Epicurean. Hadrian treated 
the established religion with the utmost respect; he 
officiated with solemn dignity as supreme pontiff, and 
at Rome affected disdain or aversion for foreign reli- 
gions.2 But his mind was essentially imbued with the 
philosophic spirit : ^ he was tempted by every abstruse 
research, and every forbidden inquiry had irresistible 
attraction for his curious and busy temper.* At 
Athens, he was in turn the simple and rational philoso- 
pher, the restorer of the splendid temple of Jupiter 
Olympius, and the awe-struck worshipper in the Eleu- 

1 M. St Croix observes (in an essay in the M^m. de I'Acad^m. xlix. 409) 
that we have medals of twenty-five countries through which Hadrian trav* 
elled. (Compare Eckhel, vl. 486.) He looked into the crater of Etna; saw 
the sun rise from Mount Casfus; ascended to the cataracts of the Nile; heard 
the statue of Memnon. He imported exotics from the East. The jour- 
neys of Hadrian are traced, in a note to M. Solvet's translation of Hege- 
wisch, dted above. Tertullian calls him '* curiositatum omnium explorator." 
— Apol. i. V. Eusebius, H. E. v. 6, 'jravra rd. ireptepya nohmpayfiavGv. 

s " Sacra Romana diligentissim^ curavit, peregrina contempsit" — Spar- 
tian. in Hadrian. 

8 " Les autres sentiments de ce prince sont tr^s difficiles h connaitre. U 
n'embrassa aucun secte, et ne fiit ni Acad^icien ni Stoicien, encore moina 
Epicurien; il parut oonstamment livr^ k cette incertitude d* opinions, fruit de 
la bizarrerie de son caract^re, et d*un savoir superficiel ou mal dig^r^." — St 
Croix, ubi nqtrit. 

4 In the Ctesars of Julian, Hadrian is described in the pregnant 
phrase vohmpaYftovijv rli &ir6f>pijTa, — busied about all the secret reli- 

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sinian mysteries.^ In the East, he aspired to penetrate 
the recondite secrets of magic, and professed himself 
an adept in judicial astrology. In the midst of all 
this tampering with foreign religions, he at once paid 
respect to and outraged the prevailing creed by the 
deification of Antinous, in whose honor quinquennial 
games were established at Mantinea ; a city built, and 
a temple, with an endowment for a priesthood,^ founded 
and called by his name, in Egypt: his statues assumed 
the symbols of various deities. Acts like these, at 
this critical period, must have tended to alienate a 
large portion of the thinking class, already wavering 
in their cold and doubtful Polytheism, to any purer 
or more ennobling system of religion. 

Hadrian not merely surveyed the surface of society, 
but his sagacity seemed to penetrate deeper into the 
relations of the different classes to each other, and 
into the more secret workings of the social system. 
His regulations for the mitigation of slavery were 
recommended, not by humanity alone, but by a wise 
and prudent policy.^ It was impossible that the rapid 
growth of Christianity could escape the notice of a 
mind so inquiring as that of Hadrian, or that he could 
be altogether blind to its ultimate bearings Hadrian's 
on the social state of the empire. Yet the ^l^ 
generally humane and pacific character of ^^^^^'^^^i^y- 
his government would be a security against violent 
measures of persecution ; and the liberal study of the 

1 The Apology of Qnadntos was presented on Hadrian^s visit to Athens, 
when he was initiated in the MyBteries; that of Aristides, when he became 
Epoptes, A.D. 181. Warborton connects the hostility of the celebrators of 
the Mysteries towards Christianity with the Apology of Quadratns, and quotes 
a passage from Jerome to this effect Compare Bouth's Reliquite Sacie, 
i. 70. 

* Enseb. iv. 8. Hieronym. in GataL et Rafin. 

* Gibbon, vol. i. ch. ii. p. 71. 

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varieties of human opinion would induce, if not a wise 
and rational spirit of toleration, yet a kind of con- 
temptuous indifference towards the most inexplicable 
aberrations from the prevailing opinions. The apolo- 
gists for Christianity, Quadratus and Aristides, ad- 
dressed their works to the emperor, who does not 
appear to have repelled their respectfiil homage.^ The 
rescript which he addressed, in the early part of his 
reign, to the proconsul of Asia, afforded the. same pro- 
tection to the Christians against the more formidable 
danger of popular animosity, which Trajan had granted 
against anonymous delation. In some of the Asiatic 
cities, their sullen and unsocial absence from the 
public assemblies, from the games, and other public 
exhibitions, either provoked or gave an opportunity 
for the latent animosity to break out against them. 
A general acclamation would sometimes demand their 
punishment. " The Christians to the lions ! " was the 
fierce outcry ; and the names of tlie most prominent 
or obnoxious of the community would be denounced 
with the same sudden and uncontrollable hostility. 
A weak or superstitious magistrate trembled before 
the popular voice, or lent himself a willing instrument 
to the fury of the populace. The proconsul Serenus 
Granianus consulted the emperor as to the course to 
be pursued on such occasions. The answer of Iladrian 
is addressed to Minucius Pundanus, probably the suc- 
cessor of Granianus. It enacts, that, in the prosecu- 
tion of the Christians, the formalities of law should be 
strictly complied with ; that they should be regularly 
arraigned before the legal tribunal, not condemned on 
the mere demand of the populace, or in compUanco 
with a lawless outcry.* The edict does credit to the 

1 See the fragmenU in Routh, Reliquiie SacnSf i. 69-78. 

a Justin Martyr, Apol. i. 68, 69. Euseb., H. E. iy. 9. Moaheim, whoae 

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humanity and wisdom of Hadrian. But, notwithstand- 
ing his active and inquisitive mind, and the ability 
of his general policy, few persons were per- Hadrian in- 
haps less qualified to judge of the real nature undewtand- 
of the new religion, or to comprehend the ti«»ity- 
tenacious hold which it would obtain upon the mind 
of man. His character wanted depth and seriousness 
to penetrate or to understand the workings of a high, 
profound, and settled religious enthusiasm.^ The 
graceful verses which he addressed to his departing 
spirit 2 contrast with the solemn earnestness with 
which the Christians were teaching mankind to con- 
sider the mysteries of another life. But on the whole, 
tlie long and peaceful reign of Hadrian allowed free 

opinions on the state of the Christians are colored by too lenient a view of 
Roman toleration, considers this edict by no means more favorable to the 
Christians than that of Trajan. It evidently offered them protection under 
a new and peculiar exigency. 

1 The well-known letter of Hadrian gives a singular view of the state of 
the religious society in Egypt, as it existed, or rather, as it appeared to the 
inquisitive emperor. '* I am now, my dear Servianus, become fUlly acquainted 
with that Egypt whicli you praise so highly. I have found the people vain, 
fickle, and shifting with eveiy breath of popular rumor. Those who worship 
Serapis are Christians, and ^ose who call themselves Christian bishops are 
wordiippers of Serapis. There is no ruler of a Jewish s>iiagogue, no Samari- 
tan, no Christian bishop, who is not an astrologer, an interpreter of prodigies, 
and an anointer. The patriarch himself, when he comes to Egypt, is com- 
pelled by one party to worship Serapis ; by the other, Christ . . . They have 
but one God: him Christians, Jews, and Gentiles worship alike." This latter 
clause Casaubon understood seriously. It is evidently malicious satire. The 
common God is Gain. The key to the former curious statement is probably, 
that the tone of the higher, the fashionable society in Alexandria was to affect, 
either on some Gnostic or philosophic theory, that all these religions differed 
only in form, but were essentially the same ; that all adored one Deity, all one 
Logos or Demiurge, under different names; all employed the same arts to 
impose upon the vulgar, and all were equally despicable to the real philoso- 
pher. Dr. Burton, in his Histoiy of the Church, suggested, with much in- 
genuity, that the Samaritans may have been the Gnostic followers of Simon 


s Attimwi^ Tagnla, bUndnIa, 

Hospes oomesque corporis, 

Qun nunc ablbis in loea? 

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scope to the progress of Christianity ; the increasing 
wealth and prosperity of the empire probably raised 
in the social scale that class among which it was chiefly 
disseminated ; while the better part of the more opu- 
lent would be tempted, at least to make themselyes 
acquainted with a religion the moral influence of which 
was so manifestly favorable to the happiness of man- 
kind, and which offered so noble a solution of the 
great problem of human philosophy, — the inunortality 
of the soul. 
The gentle temper of the first Antoninus would main- 
tain that milder system which was adopted 
piu««^«)r, by Hadrian from policy or from indifference. 
The emperor, whose parental vigilance scru- 
tinized the minutest affairs of the most remote prov- 
ince, could not be ignorant, though his own residence 
was fixed m Rome and its immediate neighborhood, 
of the still-expanding progress of Christianity. The 
religion itself acquired every year a more public 
character. The Apology now assumed the tone of an 
arraignment of the folly and unholiness of the estab- 
lished Polytheism ; nor was this a low and concealed 
murmur within the walls of its own places of assem- 
blage, or propagated in the quiet intercourse of the 
brethren. It no longer affected disguise, or dissembled 
its hopes; it approached the foot of the throne; it 
stood in the attitude, indeed, of a suppliant, claiming 
the inalienable rights of conscience, but asserting in 
simple confidence its moral superiority, and, in the 
name of an Apology, publicly preaching its own doc- 
trines in the ears of Hie sovereign and of the world. 
The philosophers were joining its ranks ; it was rapidly 
growing up into a rival power, both of the religions 
and philosophies of the world. Yet, during a reign 

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Chap.VL edicts of ANTONINUS. 118 

in which human life assumed a value and a sanctity 
before unknown ; in which the hallowed person of a 
senator was not once violated, even by the stern hand 
of justice ; ^ under an emperor who professed and 
practised the maxim of Scipio, that he had rather save 
the life of a single citizen than cause the death of 
a thousand enemies ;2 who considered the subjects 
of the empire as one family, of which himself was the 
parent,® — even religious zeal would be rebuked and 
overawed ; and the provincial governments, which too 
often reflected the fierce passions and violent barbari- 
ties of the throne, would now, in turn, image back the 
calm and placid serenity of the imperial tribunal. 
Edicts are said to have been issued to some of the 
Grecian cities, — Larissa, Thessalonica, and Athens, 
— and to the Greeks in general, to refrain from any 
unprecedented severities against the Christians. An- 
other rescript,^ addressed to the cities of Asia Minor, 
speaks language too distinctly Christian even for the 
anticipated Christianity of disposition evinced by An- 
toninus. It calls upon the Pagans to avert the anger 
of Heaven, which was displayed in earthquakes and 
other public calamities, by imitating the piety, rather 
than denouncing the atheism, of the Christians. The 
pleasing vision must, it is to be feared, be abandoned, 

1 Jnl. Capit, Anton. Piiu, Aug. Script p. 188. 3 Xbid., p. 140. 

* The reign of Antoninus the First is almost a blank in history. The book 
of Dion CaasiuB which contained his reign was lost, except a small part, when 
Xiphilin wrote. Xiphilin asserts that Antoninus fiivored the Christians. 

* The rescript of Antoninus, in Ensebius, to which Xiphilin alludes (Euseb. 
hr. 18), in i^yor of the Christians, is now generallj givep up as spurious. 
The older writers disputed to which of the Antonini it belonged. Lardner 
aignes, ftom the Apologies of Justin Martyr, that the Christians were perse- 
cuted " even to death " during this reign. The inference is inconclusive : they 
were obnoxious to the law, and might endeavor to gain the law on their side 
though it may not have been carried into execution. The general voice of 
Christian antiquity is &yorable to the first Antoninus. 

VOL. II. 8 

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114 ms CHARACTER. Book U. 

which would represent the best of the Pagan emperors 
bearmg his public testimony in favor of the calum- 
niated Christians ; the man who, from whatever cause, 
deservedly bore the name of the Pious among the 
adherents of his own religion, the most wisely tolerant 
to the faith of the Gospel. 

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Ckat.TIL mabcus aubeuus. 115 


Chiutianity and Marcus Aurelins the Philosopher. 

The virtue of Marcus Aurelius the Philosopher was of 
a more lofty and vigorous character than that of his 
gentle predecessor. The second Antoninus might 
seem the last eflfort of Paganism, or rather of Gentile 
philosophy, to raise a worthy opponent to the trium- 
phant career of Christianity. A blameless disciple in 
the severest school of philosophic morality, the au- 
sterity of Marcus rivalled that of the Christians in its 
contempt of the follies and diversions of life ; yet his 
native kindliness of disposition was not hardened and 
embittered by the severity or the pride of his philo- 
sophy.^ With Aurelius, nevertheless, Christianity 
found not only a fair and high-minded competitor for 
tlie command of the human mind ; not only a rival 
in the exaltation of the soul of man to higher vieyrs 
and more dignified motives, — but a violent and intol- 
erant persecutor. During his reign, the martyrologies 
become more authentic and credible; the distinct 
voice of Christian history arraigns the Philosopher, 
not indeed as the author of a general and systematic 
plan for the extirpation of Christianity, but as with- 
drawing even the ambiguous protection of the former 
emperors, and giving free scope to the excited passions, 
the wounded pride, and the jealous interests of its 

1 " Yerecnndus sine ignavlA, sine tzistitift gravis." — Jul. Capit, Ang. Hist 
p. 160. 

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enemies; neither discountenancing the stem deter- 
mination of the haughty governor to break the contu- 
macious spirit of resistance to his authority, nor the 
outburst of popular fury, which sought to appease 
the offended gods by the sacrifice of these despisers of 
their deities. 

Three important causes concurred in bringing about 
Thne eatues this daugcrous crisis in the destiny of Chris- 
ftyofM. An"- tiauity at this particular period, — I. The 
htogoTem- change in the relative position of Chria- 
SSatiMiity. tianity to the religion of the empire ; IE. The 
circumstances of the times; HI. The character of 
the emperor. 

I. Sixty years of almost uninterrupted peace, since 
the beginning of the second century, had 
liwitionof opened a wide field for the free development 
inngardto of Christianity. It had spread into every 
quarter of the Roman dominions. The 
Western provinces, Gaul and Afi-ica, rivalled the East 
in the number, if not in the opulence, of their Chris- 
tian congregations. In almost every city had gradually 
arisen a separate community, seceding fi'om the ordi- 
nary habits and usages of life, at least fi:om the public 
religious ceremonial ; governed by its own laws ; act- 
ing upon a common principle ; and bound together in 
a kind of latent federal union throughout the empire. 
A close and intimate correspondence connected tliis 
new moral republic. An impulse, an opinion, a feel- 
ing, which originated in Egypt or Syria, was propa- 
gated with electric rapidity to the remotest fix)ntier of 
the West. Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lyons in Gaul, 
whose purer Greek had been in danger of corruption 
from his intercourse with the barbarous Celtic tribes, 
enters into a controversy with the speculative teachers 


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Chap.VIL spread of CHBISTLA.NITY. 117 

of Antioch, Edessa, or Alexandria ; whUe Tertullian, 
in his rude African Latin, denounces or advocates 
opinions which sprang up in Pontus or in Phrygia. A 
new kind of literature had arisen, propagated with the 
utmost zeal of proselytism, among a numerous class 
of readers, who began to close their ears against the 
profane fables and the unsatisfactory philosophical 
systems of Paganism. While the emperor himself 
condescended, in Greek of no despicable purity and 
elegance for the age, to explain the lofty tenets of the 
Porch, and to commend its noble morality to his sub- 
jects, the minds of a large portion of the world were 
pre-occupied by writers who, in language often impreg- 
nated with foreign and Syrian barbarisms, enforced 
still higher morals, resting upon religious tenets 
altogether new and incomprehensible excepting to the 
initiate. Their sacred books were of still higher au- 
thority, — commanded the homage, and required the 
diligent and respectful study, of all the disciples of 
the new faith. Nor was this empire within the 
empire, this universally disseminated sect, — which 
had its own religious rites ; its own laws to which it 
appealed rather than to the statutes of the empire ; its 
own judges (for the Christians, wherever they were 
able, submitted their disputes to their bishop and his 
associate presbyters) ; its own financial regulations, 
whether for the maintenance of public worship, or for 
charitable purposes ; its own religious superiors, who 
exercised a very diflFerent control from that of the pon- 
tiffs or sacerdotal colleges of Paganism; its own usages 
and conduct; in some respects, its own language, — 
confined to one class, or to one description of Roman 
subjects. Christians were to be found in the court, in 
the camp, in the commercial market; they discharged 

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all the duties, and did not decline any of the oflSces, 
of society. Tliey did not altogether shun the forum, 
or abandon all interest in the civil administration ; they 
had their mercantile transactions, in common with the 
rest of that class. One of their apologists indignantly 
repels the charge of their being useless to society : " We 
are no Indian Bralmiins, or devotees, living naked in 
the woods, self-banished from civilized life. We grate- 
fully accept, we repudiate no gift of God the Creator: 
we are only temperate in their use. We avoid not 
your forum, your markets, your baths, your shops, your 
forges, your inns, your fairs. We are one people with 
you in all worldly commerce. We serve with you as 
sailors, as soldiers; we are husbandmen and mer- 
chants like you. We practise the same arts; we 
contribute to all public works for your use."^ Among 
their most remarkable distinctions, no doubt, was their 
admission of slaves to an equality in religious privi- 
leges. Yet there was no attempt to disorganize or 
correct the existing relations of society. Though 
the treatment of slaves in Christian families could not 
but be softened and humanized, as well by the evan- 
gelic temper as by this acknowledged equality in 
the hopes of another life, yet Christianity left the 
emancipation of mankind from these deeply rooted 
distinctions between the free and servile races to 

1 I add Tertallian's Latin: ^* Infinctuosi in negotiis dicimnr. Quo pacto 
homines vobiscnm degentes, ejusdem victCU, habidb, instinctfls, ejnsdem ad 
vitam necessitatis? Neque enim Bradunanse, ant Indonim gymnosophistie 
smnos, sylvicols et exnles vitae. Meminimns gratiam nos debere Deo domino 
cieatori, nullum fructum operum ejus repudiamur, pland temperamus, ne ultra 
modum aut perperam utamur. Itaque non sine foro, non sine macello, non 
sine balneifi, tabemis, officinis, stabulis, nundinis vestris, csoterisque com- 
merciis, cohabitamus in hoc seculo: navigamus et nos vobiscum et mili' 
tomcM, et rusticamur, et mercamur; proinde miscemus artes, opera nostra 
pnblicamus usui yestro." — Apologet c 42. 

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times which might be ripe for so great and important 
a change. 

This secession of one part of society from its accus- 
tomed religious intercourse with the rest, if in nothing 
but religious intercourse, independent of the numbers 
whose feelings and interests were implicated in the 
support of the national religion in all its pomp and 
authority, would necessarily produce estrangement, 
jealousy, animosity. 

As Christianity became more powerful, a vague 
apprehension began to spread abroad among oonneodon or 
the Boman people, that the fall of their old with the aS 


religion might, to a certain degree, mvolve canpire. 
that of their civil dominion ; and this apprehension, it 
cannot be denied, was justified, deepened, and con- 
firmed by the tone of some of the Christian writings, 
no doubt by the language of some Christian teachers. 
Idolatry' was not merely an individual but a national 
sin, which would be visited by temporal as well as 
spiritual retribution. The anxiety of one at least, and 
that certainly not the most discreet, of the Christian 
apologists, to disclaim all hostility towards the tempo- 
ral dignity of the empire, implies that the Christians 
were obnoxious to this charge. The Christians are 
calumniated, writes Tertullian to Scapula,^ at a some- 
what later period (under Severus), as guilty of 
treasonable disloyalty to the emperor. As the occa- 
sion required, he exculpates them from any leaning 
to Niger, Albinus, or Cassius, the competitors of 

1 ** Sed et circa majestatem imperii infiunamnr, tamen nunqaam Albi- 
niani, nee Nlgriani, vel CaBsiani, inveniri potuerunt Christiani. 

*' Christianas nnlliiu est hostis, nediun Imperatoris; quern sciens a Deo 
SQO constitoi, necesse est at et ipsam diligat, et revereatar, et honoret, et sal* 
vnm velit, com toto Bomano imperio, quoosqae saecalom stabit: tamdia enim 
skabit" — TertoUlan ad Scapulam, 1. 

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Severus; and then proceeds to make this solemn 
protestation of loyalty: " The Christian is the enemy 
of no man, assuredly not of the emperor. The 
sovereign he knows to be ordained by God ; of neces- 
sity, therefore, he loves, reveres, and honors him, 
and prays for his safety, with that of the whole Roman 
empire, that it may endure — and endure it will — as 
ToBeofsanM ^^^8 ^ ^^ world itsclf."^ But othcT Chrift- 
SritiSS^oon- ^^^ documents, or at least documents eagerly 
tSJ^^^ disseminated by the Christians, speak a very 
'^*°^°- diflFerent language.* By many modem inter- 
preters, the Apocalypse itself is supposed to refer, not 
to the fall of a predicted spiritual Bome, but of the 
dominant Pagan Rome, the visible Babylon of idolatry 
and pride and cruelty. According to this view, it is a 
grand dramatic vaticination of the triumph of Chris- 
tianity over Heathenism in its secular as well as its 
spiritual power. Be this as it may, in later writings, 
the threatening and maledictory tone of the Apocalypse 
is manifestly borrowed, and directed against the total 
abolition of Paganism, in its civil as well as religious 
supremacy. Many of these forged prophetic writings 
belong to the reign of ihe Antonines, and could not 
emanate flpom any quarter but that of the more 
injudicious and fanatical Christians. The second 
(Apocryphal) book of Esdras is of this character, the 
work of a Judaizing Christian;^ it refers distinctly to 

1 " QaoQsqtie sscnlam stabit." 

3 I have been much indebted, in this passage, to the excellent work of 
Techirner, " Der Fall des Heidenthmns;" a work written with so much learn- 
ing, candor, and Christian temper, as to excite great regret that it was left 
incomplete at its author's death. 

8 The general character of the work, the nationality of the perpetual allu- 
sions to the histoxy and fortunes of the race of Israel, betray the Jew: the 
passages, chap. ii. 42, 48 ; y. 5 ; yii. 26, 29, are avowed Christianity. On this 
book read Ewald. 

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the reign of the twelve CsBsars,^ and obscurely inti- 
mates, in many parts, the approaching dissolution of 
the existing order of things. The doctrine of the 
Millennium, which was as yet far from exploded or 
fallen into disregard, mingled with all these prophetic 
anticipations of future change in the destinies of man- 
kind.2 The visible throne of Christ, according to these 
writings, was to be erected on the ruins of all earthly 
empires: the nature of his kingdom would, of course, 
be unintelligible to the Heathen ; and all that he would 
comprehend would be a vague notion that the empire of 
the world was to be transferred from Rome, and that 
this extinction of the m^esty of the empire was, in some 
incomprehensible manner, connected with the triumph 
of the new faith. His terror, his indignation, and his 
contempt, would lead to fierce and implacable animosity. 
Even in TertuUian's Apology, the ambiguous word 
"saeculum" might mean no more than a brief and 
limited period, which was yet to elapse before the final 

But the Sibylline verses, which clearly belong to 
this period, express, in the most remarkable Thesibyuine 
manner, this spirit of exulting menace at '^^ 
the expected simultaneous fall of Roman idolatry and 
of Roman empire. The origin of the whole of the 
Sibylline oracles now extant is not distinctly apparent, 
either from the style, the manner of composition, qr 
the subject of their predictions.* It is manifest that 
they were largely interpolated by the Christians, to a 

1 C. xii. 14. Compare Basnage, Hist, des Juifs, 1. vii. c. 3. 

s There are apparent allnsions to the Millennium in the Sibylline verses, 
particolarlj at the close of the eighth book. 

* The first book, to p. 176, maj be Jewish; it then becomes Christian, as 
well as the second. But in these books there is little prophecy : it is in gen- 
eral the Mosaic history, in Greek hexameters. If there are any fragments of 
Heathen verses, they are in the third book. 


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late period ; and some of the books can be assigned 
to no other time but the present.^ Much, no doubt, 
was of an older date. It is scarcely credible that the 
Fathers of this time would quote contemporary for- 
geries as ancient prophecies. The Jews of Alexandria, 
who had acquired some taste for Grecian poetry, and 
displayed some talent for the translation of their 
sacred books into the Homeric language and metre,^ 
had, no doubt, set the example of versifying their own 
prophecies, and of ascribing them to the Sibyls, whose 
names were universally venerated, as revealing to 
mankind the secrets of futurity. They may have be- 
gun by comparing their own prophets with these ancient 
seers, and spoken of the predictions of Isaiah or Ezekiel 
as their Sibylline verses, which may have been another 
word for prophetic or oracular. 

Almost every region of Heathenism boasts its Sibyl.^ 
Poetic predictions, ascribed to these inspired women, 
were either published or religiously preserved in the 

1 ** Ad homm imperatonim (Antonini Pii cum Uberis ems M. Anrelio et 
Lncio Vero) tempora videntur Sibjllarom vaticmia tantnm extendi; id quod 
etiam e lib. y. videre licet" — Note of the editor, Opsopieiis, p. 688. 

s Compare Yalckenaer^B learned treatise, De Aristobolo Judso. The frag- 
ments of £zekiel Tragaedus, and many passages, which are evident versions 
of the Jewish Scriptures, in the works of the Fathers, particularly of Euse- 
bius, may be traced to this school. It is by no means impossible that the 
Pollio of Virgil may owe many of its beauties to those Alexandrian versi- 
fiers of the Hebrew prophets. Virgil, who wrought up mdiscriminately into 
his refined gold all the ruder ore which he found in the older poets, may have 
seen and admired some of these verses. He may have condescended, as he 
thought, to borrow the images of these religious books of the barbarians, as a 
modem might the images of the Vedas or of the Koran. 

> See, on the different Sibyls and the origin of the different poems, the 
dissertation (Excursus i. and vi.) of the new editor of the Sibylline verses, 
M. Alexandre, t. ii. (Paris, 1856) ; on the Roman Sibylline books, Excursus iii. 
I do not pledge myself to all M. Alexandre's historical criticism; but I wish 
to bear my humble testimony to the superiority of this edition over all pre- 
vious ones. The editor has availed himself of the valuable suggestions of 

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sacred archives of cities. Nowhere were they held in 
such awftd reverence as in Rome. The opening of the 
SibyUine books was an event of rare occurrence, and 
only at seasons of fearful disaster or peril. Nothing 
would be more tempting to the sterner or more ardent 
Christian than to enlist, as it were, on his side, these 
authorized Pagan intepreters of futurity ; to extort, it 
might seem, from their own oracles, this confession of 
their approaching dissolution. Nothing, on the other 
hand, would more strongly excite the mingled feelings 
of apprehension and animosity in the minds of the 
Pagans, than this profanation, as it would appear, 
whether they disbelieved or credited them, of the sacred 
treasures of prophecy. It was Paganism made to utter, 
in its most hallowed language and by its own inspired 
prophets, its own condemnation ; to announce its own 
immediate downfall, and the triumph of its yet obscure 
enemy over both its religious and temporal dominion. 
The fifth and eighth books of the Sibylline oracles 
are those which most distinctly betray the sentiments 
and language of the Christians of this period.^ In 
the spirit of the Jewish prophets, they denoimce the 
folly of worshipping gods of wood and stone, of ivory, 
of gold, and silver ; of offering incense and sacrifice 
to dumb and deaf deities. The gods of Egypt, and 
those of Greece, — Hercules, Jove, and Mercury, — 
are cut off. The whole sentiment is in the contempt- 
uous and aggressive tone of the later, rather than the 
more temperate and defensive argument of the earlier, 
apologists for Christianity. But the Sibyls are made, 
not merely to denounce the fall of Heathenism, but 
the ruin of Heathen states and the desolation of 
Heathen cities. Many passages relate to Egypt, and 

^ Lib. T. p. 567. 


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seem to point out Alexandria, with Asia Minor, the 
cities of which, particularly Laodicea, are frequently 
noticed, as the chief staple of these poetico-prophetic 
forgeries.^ The following passage might almost seem 
to have been written after the destruction of the Sera- 
peimi by Theodosius : ^ " Isis, thrice-hapless goddess, 
thou shalt remain alone on the shores of the Nile, a 
solitary Maenad by the sands of Acheron. No longer 
shall thy memory endure upon the earth. And thou, 
Serapis, that restest upon thy stones, much must thou 
suflFer ; thou shalt be the mightiest ruin in thrice-hap- 
less Egypt, and those who worshipped thee for a god 
shall know thee to be nothing. And one of the linen- 
clothed priests shall say, Come, let us build the beauti- 
ful temple of the true God ; let us change the awful 
law of our ancestors, who, in their ignorance, made 
their pomps and festivals to gods of stone and clay ; 
let us turn our hearts, hymning the Everlasting Qod, 

1 Bftovtc Kctt SoOic ^Xipercu, koL n&trrrruu 
Bav^ *HpaxJieobc re Aioc re xdl 'Epfuuao.-^F. 668. 
The first of the«e lines is mutilated. 

* ^lal, ^ed, TpcToXauKi, /levdc & hrl x^fMOi NetXov, 
MovvT], ficuvuc &raKT0Cf hrl ^afio&oic 'Axepovro^, 
Koi^K&n am) fivda ye fisvd Kard ycuav Airaaav, 
Kal oi> Xipcan, Xi9oif hruceifieve, iroAXd fioytfaug, 
Keioy mufia fuyioTov, kv hlyvwn^ rpcuOucuvg, 

TvoaovToi ae rd fiffStv, 6ooi Oedv k^fjoniacaf, 
Kdt TiQ kpd Tw lepeuv ^aoaaioc ia^pr 
Aevre OfoC Hftevoe KoXoi) oryfiufuv dXif$iCt 
Aevre rdv he npoyovciv detvdv v6ftov d^Xa^oftev, 
Tov xoptv ^ XtStvotf KcU darpaiuvotai ^edat 
Jlofiiritc Kctt TeXtrtic notoufievot oOk hoij<ni», 
XTphfftjfjtev ^jfvxk, Oedv a^tTW ^p/amwrec* 
Airrbv rdv yever^pa, rbv aidurv ytyauTti, 
Tdv -Kpnyravlv ttovtuv, rbv ^Bia, rbv fiaoi^^ 
irvxorpo^ yever^pa, Gedv fttyav, altv tavra. 

Ub. T. p. 688, edit GaU. Amstdod. 1680. 

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the Eternal Father, the Lord of all, the True, the 
King, the Creator and Preserver of our souls, the 
Great, the Eternal God." 

A bolder prophet, without doubt writing precisely 
at this perilous crisis, dares, in the name of a Sibyl, 
to connect together the approaching fall of Rome and 
the gods of Rome. "0 haughty Rome! the just 
chastisement of Heaven shall come down upon thee 
from on high; thou shalt stoop thy neck, and be 
levelled with the earth ; and fire shall consume thee, 
razed to thy very foundations ; and thy wealth shall 
perish; wolves and foxes shall dwell among thy ruins, 
and thou shalt be desolate as if thou hadst never been. 
Where then will be thy Palladium? Which of thy 
gods of gold, or of stone, or of brass, shall save thee ? 
Where then the decrees of thy senate? Where the 
race of Rhea, of Saturn, or of Jove ; all the lifeless 
deities thou hast worshipped, or the shades of the dei- 
fied dead? When thrice five gorgeous Caesars [the 
twelve Caesars usually so called, with Nerva, Trajan, 
Hadrian], who have enslaved the world from east to 
west shall be, one will arise silver-helmed, with a name 
like the neighboring sea [Hadrian and the Hadriatic 
Sea]." ^ The poet describes the busy and lavish char- 

1 "H^ei (nil WOT* &ifti9ev lorj, inJMivx^f 'Pw^, 
OipoviOf irX^x^, Kol Kafttlfetc aixtva irpurtf, 
K^eda^^oi7, kcU irvp oe 6Xnv dairav^aei 
KeKXtiiivtfv iSa^aatv iotc, kcU irXovrog dXetToi, 
Ka2 aH ^ifieSXa ^/coc, Kot dX^au^ oUffoovau 
Kal T6f ia^ navipiffwt dXuc, &{ fi^ yeyowila. 
Uov Tdre IlaXXaduJV ; mioc ae i9edf diaa^cu, 
JLfWJOv^f 1^ Xidivoc, ^ xo^f^Kf ^ r&re noo aoi 
d^yiutra mryK^rw; irov, Trf^f, i^ Kpovoio, 
m Aide yeve^, Kot iriamw uv iaepaoBrK 
6ai/uvat d^;t<'vr> v^xpCnf ddoXa KOfjovruv; 

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acter of Hadrian, his curiosity in prying into all reli- 
gious mysteries, and his deification of Antinous.^ 

<^ After him shall reign three, whoBe times shall he 
the last?. . . Then firom the uttermost parts of the 
earth, whither he fled, shall the matricide [Nero] 
return.^ And now, king of Rome! shalt thou 

'AAA,' Sre ooi paaiXeic x^^<'<zi^ ^pk frevre yhfcvrtu, 
Koofiov dov^AMjavre^ Air* iamXlfK f*expi duafxuv, 
'Eoaef &va^ ircXiSxpapoc, hc<^ niAof obvofia vovrov. 

Lib. TJiL p. 679. 

The rnin of Rome, and the restoration of Europe to the East, are likewiae 
alluded to in the followmg pasBages: lib. iii. p. 404-408; v. 679-576; Tiii. 
694, 712, 718. 

There is another allusion to Hadrian, lib. v. p. 652, much more laudatory: 
"Etrroe kcH itcofaptaroi Mlp, kcH marra iH^oeu 

1 Koafujv hromevuv fuap^ irodl, dapa iropi^ 

Kai ftayucuv ddCrcjv fjcuarffpta frmrra fti66^u, 

Uatdd. i^edv deucviKjei, dsrcanrt aePaofiora TStatu — P. 688. 

(Compare the twelfth book, published by A. Mai, where the reading is IdU^ 
^rodi, line 167.) 

* Tdv fterd, Tpdc Ap^oooi^ iraviararov ifiap ixpvrt^ — 

One of these three is to be an old man, to heap up vast treasures, in order 
to surrender them to the Eastern destroyer, Nero — 

Iv brav Y AiraviXdy 
'Ek mpiTuv ydoK d ^ac fo^pOKTCvoc k^dv. 
Kdt Tore ^evdtfoets, fr2aTi) n6p<pvpov iryefiovffuv 
^ijC htdvaofjievjj, koL idvBLfwv dfta ^epcnaa. 

Ka2 ybp Aero^opuv 'hxytuvuv dofa 'Rtouroi, 
Hoi) T(yn ooi rb Kparoc; Troto 77 oififiaxpc iaraif 
LovhiBuaa realc juarato^poavvyfftv dOeofU)^; 
Tiaatfc y<ip yaitfc ^iftfruv rore aiyxoot/s iorai, 
A.iTb( iccnrroKparop Mv i^Jddv p^fiaai Kpiv^f 
Zuvruv Kol veicOciv ^x^t f^ Koafwv airmnu. 

'Ek Tori oot Bpvyftbt, xal OKOpKtOfibg, lud aXuatc, 
Utuoic irav f?dp iroXeuv, koL xooftara yairfc. 

Lib. viii. 688. 

* The strange notion of the flight of Nero beyond the Euphrates, firom 

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moiim, disrobed of the purple laticlave of tliy rulers, 
and clad in sackcloth. The glory of thy eagle-bearing 
legions shall perish. Where shall be thy might? 
What land, which thou hast enslaved by thy vain 
laurels, shall be thine ally ? For there shall be con- 
fusion on all mortals over the whole earth, when the 
Almighty Ruler comes, and, seated upon his throne, 
judges the souls of the quick and of the dead, and of 
the whole world. There shall be wailing, and scatter- 
ing abroad, and ruin, when the fall of the cities shall 
come, and the abyss of earth shall open." 

In another passage, the desolation of Italy, the re- 
turn of Nero, the general massacre of kings, are por- 
trayed in fearful terms. The licentiousness of Rome 
is detailed in the blackest colors : ^^ Sit silent in thy sor- 
row, guilty and luxurious city ! the vestal virgins 
shall no longer watch the sacred fire; thy house is 
desolate." ^ Christianity is then represented tmder the 

whence he was to return as Antichrist, is almost the burthen of the Sibylline 
verses. Compare lib. iv. p. 520-626, v. 578, where there is an allusion to his 
theatrical tastes, 61^714. The best commentary is that of St Augustine on 
the Thessalonians: ** Et tunc revolabitur ille iniquus. Ego prorsus quid dix- 
eiit me iateor ignorare. Suspiciones tamen hominmn, qnas vel audire vel 
legere de hftc re potui, non tacebo. Qoidam putant hoc de tn^perto dictum 
ftdsse Bomano; et propterea Paulum Apostolum non id apertd scribere voln- 
isse, ne calumniam videlicet incuireret quod Bomano imperio mal6 optaverit, 
cum speraretur eBtemum : ut hoc quod dixit, * Jam enim mysterium iniquita- 
tis operatur,* Neronem voluerit intelligi, cigus jam &cta velut Antidiristi 
' videbantur; unde nonnulli ipsum resurrecturum et futurum Antichristum 
•Dspicantur. Alii vero nee eum occisnm putant, sed subtractum potius, nt 
putaretur ocdsus; et vivum occultari in vigore ipeius setatis, in quA ftiit cum 
orederetur extinctns, donee suo tempore reveletur, et restituatur in regnum." 
According to the Sibyls, Nero was to make an alliance with the kings of the 
Medes and Persians, return at the head of a mighty army, accomplish his 
&vorite scheme of digging through the Isthmus of Corinth, and then conquer 
Bome. For the manner in which Neander traces the genn of this notion in 
the Apocalypse, see Pflanzung, Der Chr. Eirche, ii. 827. Nero is Anti- 
christ in the political verses of Commodianns, xli. Compare M. Alexandre, 

lUb.y.p, 621. 

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image of a pure and heayen-descending temple, em- 
bracing the whole human race. 

Whether or not these prophecies merely embodied, 
for the private edification, the sentiments of the 
Christians, they are manifest indications of these 
sentiments; and they would scarcely be concealed 
with so much prudence and discretion as not to 
transpire among adversaries, who now began to watch 
them with jealous vigilance : if they were boldly pub- 
lished, for the purpose of converting the Heathen, 
they would be still more obnoxious to the general 
indignation and hatred. However the more moderate 
and rational, probably the greater number, of the 
Christians might deprecate these dangerous and inju- 
dicious efiusions of zeal, the consequences would in- 
volve all alike in the indiscriminating animosity which 
they would provoke ; and, whether or not these pre- 
dictions were contained in the Sibylline poems, quoted 
by all the early writers, by Justin Martyr, by Clement, 
and by Origen, the attempt to array the authority of 
the Sibyls against that religion and that empire, of 
which they were before considered almost the tutelary 
guardians, would goad the rankling aversion into 
violent resentment. 

The general superiority assumed in any way by 
Christianity, directly it came into collision with the 
opposite party, would of itself be fatal to the peace 
which it had acquired in its earlier obscurity. Of all 
pretensions, man is most jealous of the claim to moral 

n. The darkening aspect of the times wrought up 
n. Change in ^^^^ growiug alieuatiou and hatred to open 
iSSiSST" and furious hostiliiy. In the reign of M. 
thetimeB. AuTclius, WO approach the verge of that 

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narrow oasis of peace which intervenes between the 
final conquests of Rome and the recoil of repressed 
and threatening barbarism upon the civilization of the 
world. The public mind began to be agitated with 
gloomy rumors from the frontier, while calamities, 
though local, yet spread over wide districts, shook the 
whole Roman people with apprehension. Foreign and 
civil wars, inimdations, earthquakes, pestilences, which 
I shall presently assign to their proper dates, awoke 
the afirighted empire from its slumber of tranquillity 
and peace.^ 

The emperor Marcus reposed not, like his prede- 
cessor, in his Lanuvian villa, amid the peaceful pur- 
suits of J^iculture, or with the great jurisconsults 
of the time, meditating on a general system of legisla- 
tion. The days of the second Numa were gone by, 
and the Philosopher must leave his speculative school 
and his Stoic Mends to place himself at the head of 
the legions. New levies invade the repose of peace- 
ful families; even the public amusements are en- 
croached upon; the gladiators are enrolled to serve 
in the army.^ It was at this \mexpected j^^, o, t^o 
crisis of calamity and terror, that Supersti- '^"^^ '""***• 
tion, which had slept in careless and Epicurean forget- 
fulness of its gods, suddenly awoke, and, when it fled 
for succor to the dtar of the tutelar deity, found the 
temple deserted and the shrine neglected. One por- 
tion of society stood aloof in sullen disregard or 
avowed contempt of rites so imperiously demanded by 
the avenging gods. If, in the time of public distress, 
true religion inspires serene resignation to the divine 

1 Tfllemont, Hist des Emp. iL 698. 

* ^ Fuit enim popolo hie sennOi cum tusiuluiei ad helium gkuSatoref qnod 
populnm sublatia voluptatibus velletoogere adpfailosophiam."— Jul. Cap. 
p. 304. 

▼OL. II. 9 

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will, and receives the awful admonition to more 
strenuous and rigid virtue, Superstition shudders at 
the manifest anger of the gods, jret looks not within 
to correct the offensive guilt, but abroad to discover 
some gift or sacrifice which may appease the divine 
wrath, and bribe back the alienated favor of Heaven, 
Barely does it discover any offering sufficiently costly, 
except human life.^ The Christians were the public 
and avowed enemies of the gods ; they were the self- 
designated victims, whose ungrateful atheism had 
provoked, whose blood might avert, their manifest 
indignation. The public religious ceremonies, the 
sacrifices, the games, the theatres, afforded constant 
opportunities of inflaming and giving vent to the par- 
oxysms of popular fury, with which it disburdened 
itself of its awful apprehensions. The cry of " The 
Christians to the lions!" was now no longer the 
wanton clamor of individual or party malice ; it was 
not murmured by the interested, and eagerly re-echoed 
by the blood-thirsty, who rejoiced in the exhibition of 
unusual victims ; it was the deep and general voice 
of fanatic terror, solemnly demanding the propitiation 
of the wrathful gods, by the sacrifice of these impious 
apostates from their worship.^ The Christians were 
the authors of all the calamities which were brooding 
over the world ; and in vain their earnest apologists 
appealed to the prosperity of the empire since the 

1 Compare on similar eyents, paroxysms of popular religious zeal arising 
out of public calamities, Hartung, Religion des Komer, i. 284. 

a The miracle of the thundering legion (see po8tea\ after having suffered 
deadly woimds from former assailants, was finally transfixed by the critical 
spear of Moyle (Works, vol. ii.). Is it improbable that it was invented or 
wrought up, fh>m a casual occurrence, into its present form, as a kind of 
counterpoise to the re-iterated charge which was advanced against the Chris- 
tians, of having caused, by their impiety, all the calamities inflicted by the 
barbarians on the empure? 

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appearance of Christ, in the reign of Augustus, and 
showed that the great enemies of Christianity, the 
emperors Nero and Domiti^m, were likewise the 
scourges of mankind.^ 

in. Was, then, the philosopher Aurelius superior 
ra. The ohaxw to the vulgar superstition ? In what manner 

Acter of fch0 ° ^ 

MDperor. did his pcrsoual character affect the condi- 
tion of the Christians? Did he authorize, by any 
new edict, a general and systematic persecution ? or 
did he only give free scope to the vengeance of the 
awe-struck people, and countenance the timid or 
fiinatic concessions of the provincial governors to the 
riotous demand of the populace for Christian blood ? 
Did he actually repeal or suspend, or only neglect to 
enforce, the milder edicts of his predecessors, which 
secured to the Christians a fair and public trial before 
the legal tribunal?^ The acts ascribed to Marcus 
Aurelius, in the meagre and unsatisfactory annals of 
his reign, are at issue with the sentiments expressed 
in his grave and lofty " Meditations." He assumes, 
in his philosophical lucubrations, which he dictated 
during his campaigns upon the Danube, the tone of 
profound religious sentiment, but proudly disclaims 
the influence of superstition upon his mind. Yet in 
Rome he either sliared, or condescended to appear to 
share, all the terrors of the people. The pestilence, 
said to have been introduced from the East by the 
soldiers on their return from the Parthian campaign, 

1 Melito apad Ronth^ Reliq. Sacr. i. 111. Compare Tertallian, Apologet v. 

3 There is an edict of the Emperor Aurelian in the genuine Acts of St. 
Symphorian, in which Pagi, Roinart, and Neander (i. 106) would read the 
name of M. Aurelius instead of Anrelianus. Their arguments are, in my 
opinion, inconclusive ; and the fact that Aurelian is named among the per- 
secuting emperors in the treatise ascribed to Lactantius (De Mort Persecutor.), 
in which his edicts {scripta) against the Christians are distinctly named, 
ootweighs their conjectural objections. 


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had not yet ceased its ravages, when the public mind 
was thrown into a state of the utmost depression by 
the news of the Marcomannic war. M. Aurelius, as 
we shall hereafter see, did not, in his proper person, 
countenance, to the utmost, the demands of the popu- 
lar superstition. For all the vulgar arts of magic, 
divination, and vaticination, the emperor declares his 
sovereign contempt ; yet on that occasion, besides the 
public religious ceremonies, to which I shall presently 
allude, he is said himself to have tampered with the 
dealers in the secrets of futurity, — to have lent a 
willing ear to the prognostications of the Chaldeans 
and to the calculations of astrology. K these facts 
priTateaenti- bc truc, and all this were not done in mere 
emperor, in compUauce with the general sentiment, the 

hlB " Meditft- ^ ° ' 

tions." serene composure of Marcus himself may at 
times have darkened into terror; his philosophic 
apathy may not always have been exempt from the 
influence of shuddering devotion. In issuing an edict 
against the Christians, Marcus may have supposed 
that he was consulting the public good, by conciliating 
the alienated favor of the gods. But the superiority 
of the Christians to all the terrors of death appears 
at once to have astonished and wounded the Stoic 
pride of the emperor. Philosophy, which was con- 
stantly dwelling on the solemn question of the immor- 
tality of the soul, could not comprehend the eager 
resolution with which the Christian departed from 
life; and, in the bitterness of jealousy, sought out 
unworthy motives for the intrepidity which it could 
not emulate. " How great is tliat soul which is ready, 
if it must depart from the body, to be extinguished, 
to be dispersed, or still to subsist ! And this readi- 
ness must proceed from the individual judgment, not 

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from mere obstinacy, like the Christians, but deliber- 
ately, solemnly, and without tragic display."^ The 
emperor did not choose to discern, that it was in the one 
case the doubt, in the other the assurance, of the eter- 
nal destiny of the soul, which constituted the differ- 
ence. Marcus, no doubt, could admire, not merely the 
dignity with which the philosopher might depart on 
his uncertain but necessary disembarkation from the 
voyage of life, and the bold and fearless valor with 
which his own legionaries or their barbarous antago- 
nists could confront death on the field of battle ; but, 
at the height of his wisdom, he could not comprehend 
the exalted enthusiasm with which the Christian 
trusted in the immortality and blessedness of the 
departed soul in the presence of God. 

There can be little doubt, that Marcus Antoninus 
issued an edict by which the Christians were again 
exposed to all the denimciations of common informers, 
whose zeal was now whetted by some share, if not by 
the whole, of the confiscated property of delinquents. 
The most distinguished Christians of the East were 
sacrificed to the base passions of the meanest of man- 
kind, by the emperor, who, with every moral qualifica- 
tion to appreciate the new religion, closed his ears, 
either in the stern apathy of Stoic philosophy, or the 
more engrossing terrors of Heathen bigotry. 

It is remarkable how closely the more probable 

^ The emperor's Greek Is by no means dear In this remarkable passage. 
iri^v napara^tv is usually translated as in the text, "mere obstinacy." 
A recent miter renders it " ostentation or parade." I suspect an antithesis 
with iiiK^c Kpioe(J(f and that it refers to the manner in which the Christians 
arrayed themselves as a body against the authority of the persecutors; and 
should render the words omitted in the text, uore kcH a)Jjov nelaai, " and 
without that tragic display which is intended to persuade others to follow 
our example." The Stoic pride would stand alone in the dignity of an 
intrepid death. 


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records of Christian martyrology harmonize with the 
course of events, during the whole reign of M. Aurelius, 
and illustrate and justify my view of the causes and 
motives of their persecution.^ 
It was on the 7th March, A.D. 161, that the elder 

Antoninus, in the charitable words of a 

Christian apologist, sank in death into the 
sweetest sleep,^ and M. Aurelius assumed the reins of 
empire. He immediately associated with himself the 
other adopted son of Antoninus, who took the name 
of L. Verus. One treacherous year of peace gave the 
hope of undisturbed repose, under the beneficent sway 
which caiTied the maxims of a severe and humane 
philosophy into tlie administration of public aflFairs. 
Mild to all lighter delinquencies, but always ready to 
mitigate the severity of the law, the emperor was only 
inexorable to those more heinous offences which en- 
danger the happiness of society. While the emperor 
himself superintended the course of justice, the senate 
resumed its ancient honors. In the second year of 

his reign, the horizon began to darken. 

During the reign of the first Antoninus, 
earthquakes which shook down some of the Asiatic 
cities, and fires which ravaged those of the West, had 
excited much alarm ; but these calamities assumed a 
more dire and destructive character during the reign 

1 A modem writer, M. Ripault (Hist. Fhilosophique de Marc Aurele) 
ascribes to this time the memorable passage of Tertullian's apology, — "Ex- 
istiment omnis publics clad is, omnis popularis incommodi, Christiaiios esse 
causam. Si Tiberis ascendit in meema, si Nilus non ascendit in arva, si coe- 
lum stetit, n terra mcycit, si fames, si lues, statim Christianos ad leones." An 
older, more learned historian writes Uiat " tout ce qui suit les cultes de Tem- 
pire s^^l^ve de toutes parts contre les Chretiens. On attribue & ce qu^on 
appelle leur impi^t^, le d^chalnement des fl^aux, sous lesquelles g^missent tous 
les hommes sans privilege ni exemption, sans distinction de religion." — 
Tillemont, Hist, des £mp., Marc Aur^l. 

> Quadratus apud Xiphilin. Antouin. 8. 

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of Aurelius. Borne itself was first visited with a 
terrible inundation.^ The Tiber swept away all the 
cattle in the neighborhood, threw down a great num- 
ber of buildings ; among the rest, the granaries and 
mj^azines of com, which were chiefly situated on the 
banks of the river. This appalling event was followed 
by a famine, which pressed heavily on the poorer 
population of the capital. At the same time, dis- 
turbances took place in Britain. The Catti, a Gtorman 
tribe, ravaged Belgium ; and the Parthian war, which 
commenced under most disastrous circumstances, the 
invasion of Syria, and the loss of three legions, de- 
manded the presence of his colleague in the empire. 
Though the event was announced to be prosperous, 
yet intelligence of doubtful and hard-won victories 
seemed to intimate that the spell of Soman conquest 
was beginning to lose its power .^ 

After four years, Verus returned, bearing the tro- 
phies of victory, but, at the same time, the a.d. iw. 
seeds of a calamity which outweighed all thoempii«!* 
the barren honors which he had won on the shores of 
the Euphrates. His army was infected with a pesti- 
lence, which superstition ascribed to the plunder of a 
temple in Seleucia or Babylonia. The rapacious 
soldiers had opened a mystic cofler, inscribed witli 
magical signs, from which issued a pestilential air, 
which laid waste the whole world. This fable is a 
vivid indication of the state of the public mind.' 

1 Capitol. M. AntoDin. p. 168. 

' " Sed in diebua Parthici belli, persecutiones Christianorum, quartA jam 
post Neronem vice, in Asift et GalliA graves pneoepto ejus extiterant, mul- 
tiqne sanctorom martyrio coronati sunt" This loose language of Orosiua 
(for the perBecution in Gaul, if not in Asia, was much later than the Parthian 
war) appears to connect the calamities of Rome with the persecutions. 

s This was called the ** annus calamitosns." There is a strange story in 
Capitolinus of an impostor who harangued the popukce from the wild fig-tree 

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More rational observation traced the fatal malady 
from Ethiopia and Egypt to the Eastern army, which 
it followed from province to province, mouldering 
away its strength as it proceeded, even to the remote 
frontiers of Gaul and the northern shores of the 
Ehine. Italy felt its most dreadful ravages, and in 
Rome itself the dead bodies were transported out of 
the city, not on the decent bier, but heaped up in 
wagons. Famine aggravated the miseries, and per- 
haps increased the virulence, of the plague.^ Still 
the hopes of peace began to revive the drooping mind ; 
and flattering medals were struck, which promised the 
return of golden days. On a sudden, the empire was 
appalled with the intelligence of new wars in all 
quarters. The Moors laid waste the fertile provinces 
of Spain ; a rebellion of shepherds withheld the har- 
vests of Egypt from the capital. Their defeat only 
added to the dangerous glory of Avidius Cassius, who, 
before long, stood forth as a competitor for the empire. 
A vast confederacy of nations, from the frontiers of 
Gaul to the borders of Ulyricum, comprehending some 
of the best known and most formidable of the German 
tribes, with others whose dissonant names were new to 
the Roman ears, had arisen with a simultaneous move- 
ment.^ The armies were wasted with the Parthian 
campaigns, and the still more destructive plague. 

The Marcomannic has been compared with the 
Second Punic War, though, at the time, even in 
the paroxysm of terror, the pride of Rome would 

in the Campus Martins, and asserted that if, in throwing himself from the 
tree, he should be turned into a stork, fire would fall from heaven, and the 
tnd of the tporld toas at hand: "ignem de coelo lapsurum finemque mundi 
affore diceret." As he fell, he loosed a stork from his bosom. Aurelius, on 
his confession of the imposture, released him. — Cap. Anton. 18. 
1 Julius Cap., Ant. Phil. 21. a See the list in Capitol, p. 200. 

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probably not have ennobled an irruption of barbarians, 
however formidable, by such a comparison. The 
presence of both the emperors was imperiously de- 
manded. Marcus, indeed, lingered in Rome, probably 
to enroll the army (for which purpose he swept together 
recruits from all quarters, and even robbed the arena 
of its bravest gladiators), certauily to perform the 
most solemn and costly religious ceremonies. Every 
rite was celebrated which could propitiate the divine 
favor, or allay the popular fears. Priests were sum- 
moned from all quarters; foreign rites performed;^ 
lustrations and funereal banquets for seven days puri- 
fied the infected city. It was, no doubt, on this 
occasion that the unusual number of victims provoked 
the sarcastic wit which insinuated, that, if the empe- 
ror returned victorious, there would be a dearth of 
oxen.2 Precisely at this time, the Christian ohrtatiaii 
martyrologies date the commencement of the a.d. lee. 
persecution under Aurelius. In Rome itself, Justin, 
the apologist of Christianity, either in the same or in 
the following year, ratified with his blood the sincerity 
of his belief in the doctrines for which he had aban- 
doned the Gentile philosophy. His death is attributed 
to the jealousy of Crescens, a Cynic, whose audience 
had been drawn off by the more attractive tenets of 
the Christian Platonist. Justin was summoned before 
Rusticus, one of the philosophic teachers of AureHus, 

1 *'PeregrinoB ritus ingjUverU,*^ Such seems the uncontested reading in 
the Augustan histoiy; yet the singular fact, that at such a period the em- 
peror should introduce foreign rites, as well as the unusual expression, may 
raise a suspicion that some word with an opposite meaning is the genuine ex- 
pression of the author. 

^ This early pasquinade was couched in the form of an address from the 
white oxen to the emperor: ** If you conquer, we are undone: " 01 36ec ol 
^evKcH MapKu tu Kcuaapi [xaipetv] 'Av 6e ov vtx^o^, fffug imoXofxeda, — 
Amm. Marc. xxv. 4. 

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the prefect of the city, and commanded to perform 
sacrifice. On his refusal, and open avowal of his 
Christianity, he was scourged, and put to death. It 
is by no means improbable, that, during this crisis of 
religious terror, mandates should have been issued to 
the provinces to imitate the devotion of the capital, 
and everywhere to appease the offended gods by sacri- 
fice. Such an edict, though not designating them by 
name, would in its effects, and perhaps in intention, 
expose the Christians to the malice of their enemies. 
Even if the provincial governors were left of their own 
accord to imitate the example of the emperor, their 
own zeal or loyalty would induce them to fall in with 
the popular current. The lofty humanity which 
would be superior at once to superstition, to interest, 
and to the desire of popularity, and which would 
neglect the opportunity of courting the favor of the 
emperor and the populace, would be a rare and singu- 
lar virtue upon the tribunal of a provincial ruler. 

The persecution raged with the greatest violence in 
pwMcnuon Asia Miuor. It was here that the new 

In Aslft 

Minor. edicts wcrc promulgated, so far departing 
from the humane regulations of the former emperors, 
that the prudent apologists venture to doubt their 
emanating from the imperial authority.^ By these 
rescripts, the delators were again let loose, and were 
stimulated by the gratification of their rapacity out 
of the forfeited goods of the Christian victims of per- 
secution, as well as of their revenge. 

The fame of the aged Polycarp, whose death the 
sorrowing church of Smyrna related in an epistle to 
the Christian community at Philomelium or Philadel- 
phia, which is still extant, and bears every mark of 

1 Melito apud Euseb., H. £. iv. 20. 

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authenticity,^ has obscured that of the other victims 
of Heathen malice or superstition. Of these 
victims, the names of two only have sur- 
vived; one who manfully endured, the other who 
timidly apostatized, in the hour of trial. Germanicus 
appeared ; was forced to descend into the arena ; he 
fought gallantly, until the merciful proconsul en- 
treated him to consider his time of life. He then 
provoked the tardy beast, and in an instant obtained 
his immortality. The impression on the wondering 
people was that of indignation rather than of pity. 
The cry was redoubled, "Away with the godless! 
Let Polycarp be apprehended ! " The second, Quintus, 
a Phrygian, had boastfully excited the rest to throw 
themselves in the way of the persecution. He de- 
scended, in his haste, into the arena : the first sight 
of the wild beasts so overcame his hollow courage, 
that he consented to sacrifice. 

Polycarp was the most distinguished Christian of 
the East ; he had heard the apostle St. John ; he had 
long presided, with the most saintly dignity, over the 
see of Smyrna. Polycarp neither ostentatiously ex- 
posed himself, nor declined such measures for security 
as might be consistent with his character. He con- 
sented to retire into a neighboring village, from which, 
on the intelligence of the approach of the officers, he 
retreated to another. His place of concealment being 
betrayed by two slaves, whose confession had been 
extorted by torture, he exclaimed, " The will of God 
be done ! " ordered food to be prepared for the officers 
of justice ; and requested time for prayer, in which 
he spent two hours. He was placed upon an ass, 
and, on a day of great public concourse, conducted 

i In Ck>telerii Patres Apostolic!, ii. 196. 

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140 HIS TRIAL. Book H. 

towards the town. He was met by Herod the Ire- 
narch and his father Nicetas, who took tlie bishop, with 
considerate respect, into their own carriage, and vainly 
endeavored to persuade him to submit to the two tests 
by which the Christians were tried, — the salutation 
of the emperor by the title of Lord, and sacrifice. 
On his determined refusal, their compassion gave 
place to contumely: he was hastily thrust out of 
the chariot, and conducted to the crowded stadium. 
On the entrance of the old man upon the public 
scene, the excited devotion of the Christian spectators 
imagined that they heard a voice from heaven, " Poly- 
carp, be firm!" The Heathen, in their vindictive 
fury, shouted aloud, that Polycarp had been appre- 
hended. The merciful proconsul entreated him, in 
respect to his old age, to disguise his name. He 
proclaimed aloud that he was Polycarp: the trial 
proceeded. " Swear," they said, " by the Grenius of 
Caesar ; retract, and say, * Away with the godless ! ' " 
The old man gazed in sorrow at the frantic and raging 
benches of the spectators, rising above each other, 
and, with his eyes uplifted to heaven, said, " Away 
with the godless!" The proconsul urged him fur- 
ther : " Swear, and I release thee ; blaspheme Christ." 
— "Eighty and six years have I served Christ, and 
He has never done me wrong : how can I blaspheme 
my King and my Saviour ? " The proconsul again 
commanded him to swear by the Genius of Caesar. 
Polycarp replied by avowing himself a Christian, and 
by requesting a day to be appointed on which he 
might explain before the proconsul the blameless 
tenets of Christianity. " Persuade the people to con- 
sent," replied the compassionate but overawed ruler. 
" We owe respect to authority ; to thee I will explain 

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the reasons of my conduct; to the popnlace I will 
make no explanation." The old man knew too well 
the ferocious passions raging in their minds, which it 
had been vain to attempt to allay by the rational argu- 
ments of Christianity. The proconsul threatened to 
expose him to the wild beasts. "'Tis well for me 
to be speedily released from this life of misery." He 
threatened to burn him alive. "I fear not the fire 
that bums for a moment: thou knowest not that 
which bums for ever and ever." The Christian's 
countenance was full of peace and joy, even when the 
herald advanced into the midst of the assemblage, and 
thrice proclaimed, " Polycarp has professed himself 
a Christian!" The Jews and Heathens (for the 
former were in great numbers, and especially infuri- 
ated against the Christians) replied with an over- 
whelming shout, " This is the teacher of all Asia, the 
overthrower of our gods, who has perverted so many 
from sacrifice and the adoration of the gods ! " They 
demanded of the Asiarch, the president of the games, 
instantly to let loose a lion upon Polycarp. The 
Asiarch excused himself by alleging that the games 
were over. A general cry arose that Polycarp should 
be burned alive. The Jews were again as vindictively 
active as the Heathens in collecting the fuel of the 
baths, and other combustibles, to raise up a hasty yet 
capacious funeral pile. He was speedily unrobed ; he 
requested not to be nailed to the stake ; he was only 
bound to it. 

The calm and unostentatious prayer of Polycarp 
may be considered as embodying the sentiments of the 
Christians of that period. " Lord God Almighty, 
the Father of thy well-beloved and ever-blessed Son 
Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowl- 

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edge of Thee ; the Grod of angels, powers, and of every 
creature and of the whole race of the righteous who 
live before Thee ! I thank Thee that Thou hast gra- 
ciously thought me worthy of this day and tliis hour, 
that I may receive a portion in the number of thy 
martyrs, and drink of Christ's cup, for the resurrec- 
tion to eternal life, both of body and soiil, in the 
incorruptibleness of the Holy Spirit; among whom 
may I be admitted tliis day, as a rich and acceptable 
sacrifice, as Thou, true and faithful God ! hast pre- 
pared and foreshown and accomplished. Wlierefore 
I praise Thee for all Thy mercies; I bless Thee; I 
glorify Thee, with the eternal and heavenly Jesus 
Christ, thy beloved Son, to whom, with Thee and the 
Holy Spirit, be glory now and for ever," 

The fire was kindled in vain. It arose curving like 
an arch around the serene victim, or, like a sail swell- 
ing with the wind, left the body unharmed. To the 
sight of the Christians, he resembled a treasure of 
gold or silver (an allusion to the gold tried in the 
furnace); and delicious odors, as of myrrh or fi-ankin- 
cense, breathed from his body. An executioner was 
sent in to despatch the victim ; his side was pierced, 
and blood enough flowed &om the aged body to ex- 
tinguish the flames immediately around him.^ 

The whole of this narrative has the genuine energy 
of truth: the prudent yet resolute conduct of the 
aged bishop, the calm and dignified expostulation of 
the governor, the wild fury of the populace, the Jews 
eagerly seizing the opportunity of renewing their un- 
slaked hatred to the Christian name, are described 

1 The Greek accoont adds a doye, which soarod from his bodj, as it were 
his innocent departing souL For wepttrrepa, however, has been very ingeni- 
ioualy substituted eit' apiarepd. See Jortin's Remarks on Ecclesiastical His- 
tory, i. 816. Perhaps mfi arepvh, " around the chest" — Ruhiart 

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with the simplicity of nature. The supernatural part 
of the transaction is no more than may be ascribed to 
the high-wrought imagination of the Christian specta- 
tors, deepening every casual incident into a wonder, 
— the voice from heaven, heard only by Christian ears ; 
the flame from the hastily piled wood, arching over the 
unharmed body; the grateful odors, not impossibly 
from aromatic woods, which were used to warm the 
baths of the more luxurious, and which were collected 
for the sudden execution ; the eflusion of blood, which 
might excite wonder from the decrepit frame of a man 
at least a hundred years old.^ Even the vision of 
Polycarp himself,^ by which he was forewarned of his 
approaching fate, was not unlikely to arise before 
his mind at that perilouef crisis. Polycarp closed the 
nameless train of Asiatic martyrs.® 

Some few years after, the city of Smyrna was visited 
with a terrible earthquake ; a generous sympathy was 
displayed by the inhabitants of the neighboring cities ; 
provisions were poured in from all quarters ; homes 
were offered to the houseless, carriages furnished to 
convey the infirm and the children from the scene of 
ruin. They received the fugitives as if they had been 
their parents or children. The rich and the poor vied 
in the offices of charity ; and, in the words of the 
Grecian sophist, thought that they were receiving 
rather than conferring a favor.* A Christian historian 

1 According to the great master of nature, Lady Macbeth's diseased 
memory is haunted with a similar circumstance at the murder of Duncan. 
'* Who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him ? '* 
— Macbeth., act t. b. 1. 

3 The difficulty of accurately reconciling the vision with its fVilfilment haa 
greatly perplexed the vrriters who insist on its pretemataral origin. —Jortin, 
p. 807. 

• Kanirccwje rbv diuyfjbv, 

4 Tillemont, Hist des Emp. t ii. p. 687. The philosopher Aristides wrote 
an oration on this event. 

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may be excused if he discerns in this humane conduct 
the manifest progress of Christian benevolence ; and 
that benevolence, if not unfairly ascribed to the influ- 
ence of Christianity, is heightened by the recollection 
that the sufferers were those whose amphitheatre had 
so recently been stained with the blood of the aged 
martyr. K, instead of beholding the retributive hand 
of divine vengeance in the smouldering ruins of the 
city, the Christians hastened to alleviate the common 
miseries of Christian and of Pagan with equal zeal 
and Uberality, it is impossible not to trace at once the 
extraordinary revolution in the sentiments of man- 
kind, and the purity of the Christianity which was 
thus superior to those passions which have so often 
been fatal to its perfection. 

At this period of enthusiastic excitement, — of 
Superstition on the one hand, returning in unreason- 
ing terror to its forsaken gods, and working itself up 
by every means to a consolatory feeling of the divine 
protection ; of Religion, on the other, relying in hum- 
ble confidence on the protection of an all-ruling 
Providence ; when the religious parties were, it might 
seem, aggrandizing their rival deities, and tracing 
their conflicting powers throughout the whole course 
of human affairs, — to every mind each extraordinary 
event would be deeply colored with supernatural influ- 
ence ; and, whenever any circumstance really bore a 
providential or miraculous appearance, it would be 
ascribed by each party to the favoring interposition of 
its own god. 

Such was the celebrated event which was long cur- 
rent in Christian history as the miracle of the thunder- 
ing legion.^ Heathen historians, medals still extant, 

1 See Moyle*8 Woiks, voL u. Compare Routh, Reliq. Sacne, L 168, with 
aathon quoted. 

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and the column which bears the name of Antoninus 
at Rome, concur with Christian tradition inHiraeieorthe 
commemorating the extraordinary dehver- legion. 
ance of the Roman army, during the war with the 
Grerman nations, from a situation of the utmost peril 
and difficulty. K the Christians at any time served in 
the imperial armies ;^ if military service was a ques- ' 
tion, as seems extremely probable, which divided the 
early Christians,^ — some considering it too closely 
connected with the idolatrous practices of an oath to the 
. fortunes of Ca&sar and with the worship of the stand- 
ards, which were to the rest of the army, as it were, 
the household gods of battle ; while others were 
less rigid in their practice, and forgot their piety in 
their allegiance to their sovereign and their patriotism 
to their country, — at no time were the Christians 
more likely to overcome their scruples than at this 
critical period. The armies were recruited by unpre- 
cedented means; and many Christians, who would 
before have hesitated to enroll themselves, might less 
reluctantly submit to the conscription, or even think 
themselves justified in engaging in what appeared ne- 
cessary and defensive warfare. There might then have 
been many Christians in the armies of M. Aurelius ; but 
that they formed a whole separate legion is manifestly 
the fiction of a later age. In the campaign of the 
year of our Lord 174, the army advanced incautiously 
into a country entirely without water; and, in this 
faint and enfeebled state, was exposed to a formidable 
attack of the whole barbarian force. Suddenly, at 
their hour of most extreme distress, a copious and re- 

1 TertnIliAii, in a passage already quoted, states distincUj, ** mUUamus 

s Neander has dereloped fhis notion with his usual ability, in this part of 
his Histoiy of the Chmch. 

VOL. II. 10 


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freshing rain came down, which supplied their wants ; 
and, while their half-recruited strength was still ill able 
to oppose the onset of the enemy, a tremendous storm, 
witli lightning, and hailstones of an enormous size, 
drove full upon the adversary, and rendered his army 
an easy conquest to the reviving Romans.^ Of this 
awful yet seasonable interposition, the whole army ac- 
knowledged the preternatural, the divine origin. By 
those of darker superstition, it was attributed to the 
incantations of the magician Arnuphis, who controlled 
the elements to the service of the emperor. The 
medals struck on the occasion, and the votive column 
erected by Marcus himself, render homage to the estab- 
lished deities, to Mercury and to Jupiter.^ The more 
rational Pagans, with a flattery which received the 
suffrage of admiring posterity, gave the honor to 
the virtues of Marcus, which demanded this signal 
favor from approving Heaven.^ The Christian, of 
course, looked alone to that one Almighty God whose 
providence ruled the whole course of nature, and 
saw the secret operation of his own prayers meeting 
with tlie favorable acceptance of the Most High.* 
" While the Pagans ascribed the honor of this deliver- 

1 In the year after this yictory (A.D. 176), the formidable rebellion of 
Avidius Cassias disturbed the East, and added to the perils and embarrass- 
ments of the empire. 

^ Mercuiy, according to Pagi, appears on one of the coins relating to this 
event Compare Reading's note in Roath, he. dL 

B Lampridius (in Vit.) attributes the victor^' to the Chaldeans. Marcos, 
De Seipso (lib. L c 6), allows that he had the magician Arnuphis in his 

Ghaldna mago eea eannina ritu 
AnaaTere Deoa, sen, qaod reor, omne TOnaatis 
Obsequiom Hard moxes potaere merBri. 

Claud., ▼!. Coxts. Hon. 

4 ** In JoYis nomine Deo nostro testimonium reddidit" — Tertulllan, Ad 
Scapulam, p. 20. Euseb., Hist EccL y. 6. 

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ance to their own Jove," writes Tertullian, " they un- 
knowingly bore testimony to the Christians' God." 

The latter end of the reign of Marcus Aurelius^ was 
signalized by another scene of martyrdom, in a part of 
the empire far distant from that where persecution 
had before raged with the greatest violence, though 
not altogether disconnected from it by the original 
descent of the sufferers.^ 

The Christians of Lyons and Vienne appear to have 
been a religious colony from Asia Minor or Mvtjn of 
Phrygia, and to have maintained a close cor- a.d. 177. 
respondence with those distant commvmities. There 
is something remarkable in the coimection between 
these regions and the East. To this district the two 
Herods, Archelaus and Herod Antipas, were succes- 
sively banished; and it is singular enough, that 
Pontius Pilate, after his recall from Syria, was exiled 
to tlie same neighborhood. 

There now appears a Christian community, corres- 
ponding in Greek with the mother Church.^ It is by no 
means improbable, that a kind of Jewish settlement of 
the attendants on the banished sovereigns of Judaea 
•might have been formed in the neighborhood of Vienne 
and Lyons, and maintained a friendly, no doubt a 
mercantile connection with their opulent brethren of 
Asia Minor, perhaps through the port of Marseilles. 
Though Cliristianity does not appear to have pene- 

1 If I had determined to force the events of this period into an accordance 
irith my ovra. view of the persecutions of M. Aurelius, I might have adopted 
the chronology of Dodwell, who assigns the martyrs of Lyons to the year 
167 ; but the evidence seems in favor of the later date, 177. See Mosheim. 
Lardner, who commands authority, if not by his critical sagacity, by his scru- 
pulous honesty, sa>*B, '* Nor do I expect that any learned man, who has a 
concern for his reputation as a writer, should attempt a direct confutation of 
this opinion." — W^orks, 4to edit i. 860. 

s Euseb., Hist. £cc. v. 1. 

s Epistola Viennensium et Lugdunensium, in Bonth, i. 266. 

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trated into Gaul till rather a late period,^ it may have 
travelled by the same course, and have been propa- 
gated in the Jewish settlement by converts from 
Phrygia or Asia Minor. Its Jewish origin is perhaps 
confirmed by its adherence to the Judaeo-Christian 
tenet of abstinence from blood.^ 

The commencement of this dreadful, though local 
persecution was an ebullition of popular fury. It was 
about the period when the German war, which had 
slumbered during some years of precarious peace, 
again threatened to disturb the repose of the empire. 
Southern Gaul, though secure beyond the Rhine, was 
yet at no great distance from the incursions of the 
German tribes ; and it is possible that personal appre- 
hensions might mingle with the general fanatic terror, 
which exasperated the Heathens against their Christian 
fellow-citizens. The Christians were on a sudden ex- 
posed to a general attack of the populace. Clamors soon 
grew to personal violence : they were struck, dragged 
about the streets, plundered, stoned, shut up in their 
houses, until the more merciful hostility of the ruling 
authorities gave orders for their arrest and imprison- 
ment until the arrival of the governor. One man of 
birth and rank, Vcttius Epagathus, boldly undertook 
their defence against the vague charges of atheism and 
impiety : he was charged with being himself a Chris- 
tian, and fearlessly admitted the honorable accusation. 
The greater part of the Christian community adhered 
resolutely to their belief ; the few whose courage failed 
in the hour of trial, and who purchased their security 

1 " Serius Alpes transgressa " is the ezpressioii of a Christian writer, Sol- 
picius Severus. 

3 " How can those eat infants to whom it is not lawful to eat die blood of 
brntes ? " Compare, however, TertuUian's Apology, ch. 9, and Origen contra 
Celsum, ^nii. ; from whence it appears that this abstinence was more general 
among the early Christians. 

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by shameful submission, nevertheless did not abandon 
their more courageous and suffering bretliren, but, at 
considerable personal danger, continued to alleviate 
their sufferings by kindly offices. Some Heathen slaves 
were at length compelled, by the dread of torture, to 
confirm the odious charges which were so generally 
advanced against the Christians, — banquets on human 
flesh, promiscuous and incestuous concubinage, Thyes- 
tean feasts, and (Edipodean weddings. The extorted 
confessions of these miserable men exasperated even 
the more moderate of the Heathens, while the fero- 
cious populace had now free scope for their sanguinary 
cruelty. The more distinguished victims were Sanc- 
tus, a deacon of Vienne ; a new convert named Mar 
turns, and Attains, of Phrygian descent, from the city 
of Pergamus. They were first tortured by means too 
horrible to describe, — if, without such description, 
flie barbarity of the persecutors, and the heroic endur- 
ance of the Christian martyrs, could be justly repre- 
sented. Many perished in the suffocating air of the 
noisome dungeons; many had their feet strained to 
dislocation in the stocks ; the more detested victims, 
after all other means of torture were exhausted, had 
hot plates of iron placed upon the most sensitive parts 
of their bodies. 

Among these victims was the aged Bishop of Lyons, 
Pothinus, now in his ninetieth year, who died in prison 
after two days from the ill usage which he had received 
from the populace. His feeble body had failed, but 
his mind remained intrepid : when the frantic rabble 
environed him with their insults, and demanded, with 
contumelious cries, "Who is the God of the Chris- 
tians ? " he calmly replied, " Wert thou worthy, thou 
shouldst know.'* 

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But the amphitheatre was the great public scene of 
popular barbarity and of Christian endurance. The 
martyrs were exposed to wild beasts (which, however, 
do not seem to have been permitted to despatch their 
miserable victims), and made to sit in a heated iron 
chair till their flesh reekjed upwards with an ofiensive 

A rescript of the emperor, instead of allaying the 
popular frenzy, gave ample license to its uncontrolled 
violence. Those who denied the faith were to be re- 
leased ; those who persisted in it, condemned to death. 

But the most remarkable incident in this fearful and 
^sartyrdtm afflicting sccuc, and the most characteristic 
of Biandizia. ^f ^^^ social changc which Christianity had 
begun to work, was this, — that the chief honors of this 
memorable martyrdom were assigned to a female, a 
slave. Even the Christians themselves scarcely ap- 
pear aware of the deep and universal influence of their 
own sublime doctrines. The mistress of Blandina, 
herself a martyr, trembled lest the weak body, and 
still more the debased condition, of the lowly associate 
in her trial, might betray her to criminal concession. 
Blandina shared in all the most excruciatuig sufferings 
of the most distinguished victims ; she equalled them 
in the calm and unpretending superiority to every pain 
which malice, irritated and licensed, as it were, to ex- 
ceed, if it were possible, its own barbarities on the 
person of a slave, could invent. She was selected by 
the peculiar vengeance of the persecutors, whose as- 
tonishment probably increased their malignity, for new 
and unprecedented tortures, which she bore with the 
same equable magnanimity. 

Blandina was first led forth with Sanctus, Maturus, 
and Attains; and, no doubt, the ignominy of their 

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public exposure was intended to be heightened by 
their association with a slave. The wearied execution- 
ers wondered that her life could endure under the 
horrid succession of torments which they inflicted. 
Blandina's only reply was, " I am a Christian, and no 
wickedness is practised among us." 

In the amphitheatre, she was suspended to a stake, 
while the combatants, Maturus and Sanctus, derived 
vigor and activity from the tranquil prayers which she 
uttered in her agony ; and the less savage wild beasts 
kept aloof from their prey. A third time she was 
brought forth, for a public exhibition of suffering, with 
a youth of fifteen, named Ponticus. During every 
kind of torment, her language and her example ani- 
mated the courage and confirmed the endurance of the 
boy, who at length expired under the torture. Blan- 
dina rejoiced at the approach of death, as if she had 
been invited to a wedding banquet, and not thrown to 
the wild beasts. She was at length released. After 
she had been scourged, placed in the iron chair, en- 
closed in a net, and, now in a state of insensibility, 
tossed by a bull, some more merciful barbarian trans- 
pierced her with a sword. The remains of all these 
martyrs, after lying long unburied, were cast into the 
Rhone, in order to mock, and render still more im- 
probable, their hopes of a resTirrection. 

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Fourth Period. Christianity under the Successors of M. Aurelius. 

Such was the state of Christianity at the commencement 
Fourth ^^ ^^® fourth period between its first promul- 
^^^ gation and its establishment under Constan- 
tino. The golden days of the Roman empire had 
already begmi to darken, and closed for ever with the 
reign of Marcus the Philosopher. The empire of 
the world became the prize of bold adventure, or the 
Rapid sue- precarious gift of a lawless soldiery. During 
empS^i. little more than a century, from the accession 

A.D 180 

to 284. of Commodus to that of Diocletian, more 
than twenty emperors (not to mention the pageants 
of a day, and the competitors for the throne who 
retained a temporary authority over some single prov- 
ince) flitted like shadows along the tragic scene of tlie 
imperial palace. A long line of military adventurers, 
often strangers to the name, to the race, to the lan- 
guage, of Rome, — Africans and Syrians, Arabs and 
Goths, — seized the quickly shifting sceptre of the 
world. The change of sovereign was almost always 
a change of dynasty; or, by some strange fatality, 
every attempt to re-establish an hereditary succession 
was thwarted by the vices or imbecility of the second 
generation. M. Aurelius is succeeded by the brutal 
Commodus ; the vigorous and able Severus, by the 
fratricide Caracalla. One of the imperial historians 
has made the melancholy observation, that, of the 

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great men of Rome, scarcely one left a son the heir 
of his virtues : they had either died without ofiFspring, 
or had left such heirs, that it had been better for man- 
kind if they had died leaving no posterity.^ 

In the weakness and insecurity of the throne lay 
the strength and safety of Christianity, insecurity 
During such a period, no systematic policy Jj^^efc- 
was pursued in any of the leading internal IJ e£to- 
interests of the empire. It was a govern- *^**^*^' 
ment of temporary expedients, of individual passions. 
The first and commanding object of each succeeding 
head of a dynasty was to secure his contested throne, 
and to centre upon himself the wavering or divided 
allegiance of the provinces. Many of the emperors 
were deeply and inextricably involved in foreign wars, 
and had no time to devote to the social changes within 
the pale of the empire. The tumults or the terrors 
of the German or Gothic or Persian inroad efiFected 
a perpetual diversion from the slow and silent internal 
aggressions of Christianity. The frontiers constantly 
and imperiously demanded the presence of the empe- 
ror, and left him no leisure to attend to the feeble 
remonstrances of the neglected priesthood. The dan- 
gers of the civil absorbed those of the religious consti- 
tution. Thus Christianity had another century of 
regular and progressive advancement to arm itself for 
the inevitable collision with the temporal authority, 
till, in the reign of Diocletian, it had grown far beyond 
the power of the most unlimited and arbitrary des- 
potism to arrest its invincible progress ; and Constan- 
tine, whatever the motives of his conversion, no doubt 

1 " Neminem prope magnonim Tirorum optimum et utilem filium reli- 
qoisee satis claret Deniqne aut sine liberifl viri interierunt, aut tales habu- 
enmt plerique, nt melitu fuerit de rebus bumanis sine posteritate discedere." 
— Spartiani Scyems, Aug. Hist p. 860. 

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adopted a wise and judicious policy in securing the 
alliance of, rather tlian continuing the strife with, an 
adversary which divided the wealth, the intellect, if 
not the property and the population, of the empire. 
The persecutions which took place during this in- 
terval were the hasty consequences of the 
penecu- pcrsoual hostility of the emperors, not the 
during Ok mature and deliberate policy of a regular 
and permanent government. In general, 
the vices and the detestable characters of the perse- 
cutors would tend to vindicate the innocence of Chris- 
tianity, and to enlist the sympathies of mankind in its 
favor, rather than to deepen the general animosity. 
Christianity, which had received the respectful homage 
of Alexander Severus, could not lose in public estima- 
tion by being exposed to the gladiatorial fury of Maxi- 
min. Some of the emperors were almost as much 
strangers to the gods as to the people and to the senate 
of Rome. They seemed to take a reckless delight in 
violating the ancient majesty of the Roman religion. 
Foreign superstitions, almost equally new, and scarcely 
less oflFensive to the general sentiment, received the 
public, the pre-eminent homage of the emperor. Com- 
modus, though the Grecian Hercules was at once his 
model, his type, and his deity, was an ardent votary 
of the Isiac mysteries ; and at the Syrian worship of 
the Sun, in all its foreign and Oriental pomp, Ela- 
gabalus commanded the attendance of the trembling 

If Marcus Aurelius was, as it were, the last effort 
oommodui. of expiring Polytheism, or rather of ancient 
188.' philosophy, to produce a perfect man accord- 

ing to the highest ideal conception of human reason, 
the brutal Commodus might appear to retrograde to the 

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Chap.vih. reign and charaoter of commodus. 165 

savage periods of society. Commodus was a gladiator 
on the throne ; and if the mind, humanized either by 
the milder spirit of the times or by the incipient influ- 
ence of Christianity, had begun to turn in distaste 
from the horrible spectacles which flooded the arena 
with human carnage, the disgust would be immeasu- 
rably deepened by the appearance of the emperor as 
the chief actor in these sanguinary scenes. Even 
Nero's theatrical exhibitions had something of the ele- 
gance of a polished age : the actor in one of the noble 
tragedies of ancient Greece, or even the accomplished 
musician, might derogate from the dignity of an em- 
peror, yet might, in some degree, excuse the unseem- 
liness of his pursuits by their intellectual character. 
But the amusements and public occupations of Com- 
modus had long been consigned by the general con- 
tempt and abhorrence to the meanest of mankind, to 
barbarians and slaves, and were as debasing to the 
civilized man as unbecoming in the head of the empire.^ 
The courage which Commodus displayed in confront- 
ing the hundred lions which were let loose in the 
arena, and fell by his shafts Cthough in fact the impe- 
rial person was carefully guarded against real danger), 
and the skill with which he clave with an arrow the 
slender neck of the giraffe, might have commanded 
the admiration of a flattering court. But when he 
appeared as a gladiator, gloried in the acts, and con- 
descended to receive the disgraceful pay, of a profession 
so infamous as to degrade for ever the man of rank 
or character who had been forced upon the stage by 
the tyranny of former emperors, the courtiers, who 
had been bred in the severe and dignified school of 
the Philosopher, must have recoiled with shame, and 

^ ^lii Lompridii, Commodiu, in August. Hist 

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approved, if not envied, the more rigid principles of 
the Ohristians, which kept them aloof from such de- 
grading spectacles. Commodus was an avowed prose- 
lyte of the Egyptian religion ; hut his favorite god was 
the Grecian Hercules. He usurped the attributes, 
and placed his own head on the statues, of this deity, 
which was the impersonation, as it were, of brute force 
and corporeal strength. But a deity which might 
command adoration in a period of primeval barbarism, 
when man lives in a state of perilous warfare with the 
beasts of the forest, in a more intellectual age sinks 
to his proper level. He might be tlie appropriate god 
of a gladiator, but not of a Roman emperor.^ 

Every thing which tended to desecrate the popular 
religion to the feelings of the more enlightened and 
intellectual must have strengthened the cause of Chris- 
tianity ; the more the weaker parts of Paganism, and 
those most alien to the prevailing sentiment of the 
times, were obtruded on the public view, the more they 
must have contributed to the advancement of that faith 
which was rapidly attaining to the full growth of a 
rival to the established religion. The subsequent 
deification of Commodus, under the reign of Severus, 
in wanton resentment against the senate,^ prevented 
his odious memory from sinking into oblivion. His 
insults upon the more rational part of the existing 
religion could no longer be forgotten, as merely ema- 

1 In the new fragments of Dion Cassias, recovered by M. Mai, there is an 
epigram jMinted against the assumption of the attributes of Hercules by 
Commodus. The emperor had placed his own head on the colossal statue 
of Hercules, with the inscription, *' Lucius Commodus Hercules." 
Aidf TTCKf KaXUviKog 'HpoicX^f, 
OIk elfd AeifKUKt oAA' dvayKaCovci fxe. 
The point is not very clear, but it seems to be a protest of the god againat 
being confounded with the emperor. — Mai, Fragm. Vatic ii. 225. 
3 Spartiani Severus, Hist Aug. p. 845. 

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nating from his personal character. Gommodus ad- 
vanced into a god, after his death, brought disrepute 
upon the whole Polytheism of the empire. Chris- 
tianity was perpetually, as it were, at hand, and ready 
to profit by every favorable juncture. By a singular 
accident, the ruflBan Conmiodus was personally less 
inimically disposed to the Christians than his wise and 
amiable father. His favorite concubine, Marcia, in 
some manner connected with the Christians, mitigated 
the barbarity of his temper, and restored to the perse- 
cuted Christians a long and unbroken peace, which 
had been perpetually interrupted by the hostility of 
the populace, and the edicts of the Government in the 
former reign. Christianity had no doubt been rigidly 
repelled from the precincts of the court during the 
life of Marcus, by the predominance of the philosophic 
faction. Prom this period, a Christian party occar 
sionally appears in Rome. Many families of dis- 
tinction and opulence professed Christian tenets, and 
the religion is sometimes found in connection with the 
imperial family. Still Rome, to the last, seems to 
have been the centre of the Pagan interest, though 
other causes will hereafter appear for this curious fact 
in the conflict of the two religions. 

Severus wielded the sceptre of the world with the 
vigor of the older empire. But his earlier Reignof 
years were occupied in the establishment of JlS^iSi 
his power over the hostile factions of his com- *** ^^' 
petitors, and by his Eastern wars ; his latter, by the 
settlement of the remote province of Britain.^ Severus 
was at one time the protector, at another the perse- 
cutor, of Christianity. Local circumstances appear 
to have influenced his conduct, on both occasions, to 

1 Compare Tillemont, HiBt. des Empereiirs, iii. part 1, p. 146. 

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the Christian party. A Christian named Proculus, a 
dependent, probably, upon his favorite freed slave 
Evodus, had been so fortunate as to restore Severus 
to health by anointing him with oil, and was received 
into the imperial family, in which he retained his 
honorable situation till his death. Not improbably 
through the same connection, a Christian nurse and 
infencyof ^ Christian preceptor formed the- disposition 
<^»™^- of the young Caracalla ; and, till the natural 
ferocity of his character ripened under the fatal in- 
fluence of jealous ambition, fraternal hatred, and 
unbounded power, the gentleness of his manners and 
the sweetness of his temper enchanted and attached 
his family, his friends, the senate, and the people of 
Rome. The people beheld with satisfaction the infant 
pupil of Christianity turning aside his head, and weep- 
ing at the barbarity of the ordinary public spectacles, 
in which criminals were exposed to wild beasts.^ The 
Christian interest at the court repressed the occasional 
outbursts of popular animosity : many Christians of 
rank and distinction enjoyed the avowed favor of the 
emperor. Their security may partly be attributed to 
their calm determination not to mingle themselves up 
with the contending factions for the empire. 

Pe«M5«ftil con- _ . - ^. « . 1 , f 

gnct afthe Durmg the conflict of parties, they had re- 
fused to espouse the cause of either Niger or 
Albinus. Retired within themselves, they rendered 
their prompt and cheerful obedience to the ruling em- 
peror. The implacable vengeance which Severus 
wreaked on the senate for their real or suspected 
inclination to the party of Albinus, his remorseless 
execution of so many of the noblest of the aristocracy, 
may have placed in a stronger light the happier fortune, 

1 Spartian., Anton. Caracalla, p. 404. 

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and commended the unimpeachable loyalty, of the 
Christians. The provincial governors, as usual, re- 
flected the example of the court : some adopted merci- 
ful expedients to avoid the necessity of carrying the 
laws into eflFect against those Christians who were 
denounced before their tribunals; while the more 
venal humanity of others extorted a considerable profit 
from the Christians for their security. The unlawful 
religion, in many places, purchased its peace at the 
price of a regular tax, which was paid by other illegal, 
and mostly infamous, professions. This trafiic with 
the authorities was sternly denounced by some of the 
more ardent believers, as degrading to the religion, 
and as an ignominious barter of the hopes and glories 
of martyrdom.^ 

Such was the flourishing and peaceful state of Chris- 
tianity during the early part of the reign of ^^^^^^^^^ 
Severus. In the East, at a later period, he *** ^® *'"*• 
embraced a sterner policy. During the conflict with 
Niger, the Samaritans had espoused the los- 
ing, the Jews the successful, party. The 
edicts of Severus were, on the whole, favorable to the 
Jews; but the prohibition to circumcise proselytes 
was re-enacted during his residence in Syria, in the 
tenth year of his reign. The same prohibition against 
the admission of new proselytes was extended to the 
Christians. But this edict may have been chriatianity 
intended to allay the violence of the hostile JuLd toti» 
factions in Syria. Of the persecution under ^"''' 
Severus, there are few, if any, traces in the West.* 

1 **Sed quid non timiditas persuadebit, quasi et fhgere scriptura per- 
mittat, et redimere pnecipiat . . . Nescio dolendnm an erubescendum sit 
cum in matricibos beneficiariorum et curioeorum, inter tabemarios et lanios 
et fures balnearum et aleones et lenones, Cliristiani quoque vecUgales con- 
tinentur." — Tertull., De Fug&, c. 18. 

2 *' Nous ne trouvons rien de considerable touchant les martyrs que la per- 

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It is confined to Syria, perhaps to Cappadocia, to 
Egypt, and to Africa; and, in the latter provinces, 
appears as the act of hostile governors, proceeding 
upon the existing laws, rather than the consequence 
of any recent edict of the emperor. The Syrian Euse- 
bius may have exaggerated local acts of oppression, 
of which the sad traces were recorded in his native 
country, into a general persecution: he admits that 
proubie -Alexandria was the chief scene of Christian 

suffering. The date and the scene of the 
persecution may lend a clue to its origin. Prom Syria, 
the emperor, exactly at this time, proceeded 
to Egypt. He surveyed, with wondering 
interest, the monuments of Egyptian glory and of 
Egyptian superstition,^ the temples of Memphis, the 
Pyramids, the Labyrinth, the Memnonium. The 
plague alone prevented him from continuing his ex- 
cursions into Ethiopia. The dai*k and relentless mind 
of Severus appears to have been strongly impressed 
with the religion of Serapis. In either character, as 
the great Pantheistic deity, which absorbed the attri- 
butes and functions of all the more ancient gods of 
Egypt, or with his more limited attributes, as the Pluto 
of their mythology, the lord of the realm of departed 
spirits, Serapis 2 was likely to captivate the imagination 
of Severus, and to suit those gloomier moods in which 
he delighted in brooding over the secrets of futurity ; 
and, having realized the proud prognostics of great- 
ness, which his youth had watched with hope, now 
began to dwell on the darker omens of decline and 

s^cution de Severe a pu fliire k Rome et en Italie.'* — TUlemont St. Ande- 
ole, and the other martyn in Gaul (TUlemont, p. 160), are of more than 
BuspiciouB authenticity. 

1 Spartian., Hist Aug. p. 658. 

S Compare De Guigniant, S^rapU et son Origine. 

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dissolution.^ The hour of imperial favor was likely 
to be seized by the Egyptian priesthood to obtain the 
mastery and to wreak their revenge on this new for- 
eign religion, which was making such rapid progress 
throughout the provinces and the whole of Africa. 
Whether or not the emperor actually authorized the 
persecution, his coimtenance would strengthen the Pa- 
gan interest, and encourage the obsequious prefect ^ 
in adopting violent measures. Laetus would be vindi- 
cating the religion of the emperor in asserting the 
superiority of Serapis, and the superiority of Serapis 
could be by no means so efiFectually asserted as by the 
oppression of his most powerful adversaries. Alexan- 
dria was the ripe and pregnant soil of religious feud 
and deadly animosity. Three hostile parties divided 
the city, — the Jews, the Pagans, and the Christians. 
They were perpetually blending and modifying each 
other's doctrines, and forming schools in which Juda- 
ism allegorized itself into Platonism, and Platonism, 
having assimilated itself to the higher Egyptian my- 
thology, soared into Christianity; and thus Platonic 
Christianity, from a religion, became a mystic philos- 
ophy. They all awaited, nevertheless, the signal for 
persecution, and for license to draw off in sanguinary 
factions, and to settle the controversies of the schools 
by bloody tumults in the streets.^ The perpetual syn- 

1 Spartian had the advantage of consulting the autobiographj of the 
emperor Severas. Had time hat spared ns the original, and taken the whole 
Augustan history in exchange ! 

3 Uis name was Lsetus. — Eusehius, Hist Eccl. tI. 2. 

< Leonidas, the father of Origen, perished in this persecntibn. Origen was 
kept awaj fh>m joining him in his imprisonment, and, if possible, in his mar- 
tjnrdom, only by the prudent stratagem of his mother, who concealed all his 
dothes. The boy of seventeen sent a letter to his father, entreating him not 
to allow his parental afiection for himself and his six brothers to stand in his 
way of obtaining the martyr's crown. — Euseb. vi. 2. The property of Le- 
onidas was confiscated to the imperial treasury. — Ibid. 

VOL. II. 11 

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cretism of opinions, instead of leading to peace and 
charity, seemed to inflame the deadly animosity; 
and the philosophical spirit, which attempted to blend 
all the higher doctrines into a lofty Eclectic system, 
had no efiect in harmonizing the minds of the different 
sects to mutual toleration and amity. It was now the 
triumph of Paganism. The controversy with Chris- 
tianity was carried on by burning the priests and tor- 
turing the virgins, until the catechetical or elementary 
schools of learning, by which the Alexandrian Chris- 
tians trained up their pupils for the reception of their 
more mysterious doctrines, were deserted. The young 
Origen alone labored, with indefatigable and successful 
activity, to supply the void caused by the general 
desertion of the persecuted teachers.^ 
The African prefect followed the example of Laetus 
in Egypt. In no part of the Roman empire 
had Christianity taken more deep and perma- 
nent root than in the province of Africa, then crowded 
with rich and populous cities, and forming, with Egypt, 
the granary of the Western world ; but which many 
centuries of Christian feud. Vandal invasion, and Mo- 
hammedan barbarism, have blasted to a thinly peopled 
desert. Up to this period, this secluded region had 
gone on advancing in its uninterrupted course of 
civilization. Since the battle of Thapsus, the African 
province had stood aloof from the tumults and desola- 
tion which attended the changes in the imperial 
dynasty. As yet, it had raised no competitor for the 
empire, though Severus, the ruling monarch, was of 
African descent. The single legion, which was con- 
sidered adequate to protect the remote tranquillity of 
the province from the occasional incursions of the 

1 Euseb., Hist Eccl. vi. a. 

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Moorish tribes, had been found sufficient for its 
purpose. The Paganism of the African cities was 
probably weaker than in other parts of the empire. 
It had no ancient and sacred associations with national 
pride. The new cities had raised new temples to gods 
foreign to the region. The religion of Carthage,^ if it 
had not entirely perished with the final destruction 
of the city, maintained but a feeble hold upon the 
Italianized inhabitants. The Carthage of the empire 
was a Roman city. If Christianity tended to mitigate 
the fierce spirit of the inhabitants of these burning 
regions, it acquired itself a depth and impassioned 
vehemence which perpetually broke through all re- 
straints of moderation, charity, and peace. From 
Tertullian to Augustine, the climate seems to be work- 
ing into the language, into the essence of Cliristianity. 
Here disputes maddened into feuds ; and feuds, which 
in other countries were allayed by time, or died away 
of themselves, grew into obstinate, implacable, and 
irreconcilable factions. 

African Christianity had no communion with the 
dreamy and speculative genius of the East. ^^,^ 
It sternly rejected the wild and poetic imper- chrtetiamtj. 
sonations, the daring cosmogonies, of the Gnostic 
sects: it was severe, simple, practical, in its creed; 
it governed by its strong and imperious hold upon the 
feelings, by profound and agitating emotion. It eagerly 
received the rigid asceticism of the anti-materialist 
system, while it disdained the fantastic theories by 
which that system accounted for the origin of evil. 

1 Compaie Mnnter, Relig. der Carthager. The worship of the Dea coe- 
lestU, the Queen of Heaven, should perhaps be excepted. See, forward, the 
reign of Elagabalns. Even in the fifth centurj, the Queen of Heaven, ac- 
cording to Salvian (De Gubematione Dei, lib. viii.)} shared with Christ the 
worship of Carthage. 

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164 MONTANISM. Book H. 

Tlie imagination had another office than that of 
following out its own fantastic creations: it spoke 
directly to the fears and to the passions ; it delighted 
in realizing the terrors of the final Judgment; in 
arraying, in the most appalling language, the gloomy 
mysteries of future retribution. This character appears 
in the dark splendor of TertuUian's writings ; engages 
him in contemptuous and relentless warfare against 
the Gnostic opinions, and their latest and most dan- 
gerous champion, Marcion ; till, at length, it hardens 
into the severe yet simpler enthusiasm of Montanism. 
It appears, allied with the stem assertion of ecclesi- 
astical order and sacerdotal domination, in the earnest 
and zealous Cyprian; it is still manifestly working, 
though in a chastened and loftier form, in the deep 
and impassioned, but comprehensive mind of Augus- 

TertuUian alone belongs to the present period ; and 
TertuUian is, perhaps, the representative and the 
perfect type of this Africanism. It is among the most 
remarkable illustrations of the secret unity which 
connected the whole Christian world, that opinions 
first propagated on the shores of the Euxine found 
their most vigorous antagonist on the coast of Africa, 
while a new and fervid enthusiasm, which arose in 
Phrygia, captivated the kindred spirit of Tertullian. 
Montanism harmonized with African Chris- 


tianity in the simplicity of its creed, which did 
not depart from the predominant form of Christianity ; 
and in the extreme rigor of its fasts. While Gnosti- 
cism outbid the religion of Jesus and his apostles, 
Montanism outbid the Gnostics in its austerities ; ^ it 

1 The Western churches were, as yet, generally averse to the excessive 
fasting subsequently introduced to so great an extent by the monastic spirit 
See the curious vision of Attains, the martyr of Lyons, in which a feUow^ 

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Chap. VHI. MONTANISM. 165 

admitted marriage as a necessary evil, but it denounced 
second nuptials as* an inexpiable sin;^ above all, 
Montanism concurred with the belief of the South in 
resolving religion into inward emotion. There is a 
singular correspondence between Phrygian Heathen- 
ism and the Phrygian Christianity of Montanus and 
his followers. The Orgiasm, the inward rapture, the 
working of a divine influence upon the soul till it was 
wrought up to a state of holy frenzy, had continually 
sent forth the priests of Cybele, and females of a 
highly excitable temperament, into tlie Western prov- 
inces ; ^ whom the vulgar beheld with awe, as mani- 
festly possessed by the divinity ; whom the philosophic 
party, equally mistaken, treated with contempt, as 
impostors. So, with the followers of Montanus (and 
women were his most ardent votaries), with Prisca and 
Maximilla, the apostles of his sect, the pure and meek 
and peaceful spirit of Christianity became a wild, a 
visionary, a frantic enthusiasm : it worked paroxysms 
of intense devotion ; it made the soul partake of all 
the fever of physical excitement. As in all ages 
where the mild and rational faith of Christ has been 

prisoner, Alcibiades, who had long lived on bread and water alone, was re- 
proved for not making free use of God*8 creatures, and thus giving offence to 
the Church. The churches of Lyons and Vienne, having been founded from 
Phrygia, were anxious to avoid the least imputation of Montanism. — Euseb., 
Hist. Eccl. V. 8. 

1 The prophetesses abandoned their husbandSi according to ApoUonins 
apud Euseb. v. 18. 

3 The effect of national character and temperament on the opinions and 
form of religion did not escape the observation of the Christian writers. 
There is a curious passage on the Phiygian national character in Socrates, 
H. E. iv. 28 : ** The Phr^-gians are a chaste and temperate people ; they 
seldom swear: the Scythians and Thracians are choleric; the Eastern nations 
more disposed to Immorality; the Paphlagonians and Phrygians, to neither: 
they do not care for the theatre or the games; prostitution is unusual.*' 
Their suppressed passions seem to have broken out at all periods in religious 

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too calm and serene for persons brooding to madness 
over their own internal emotions, it proclaimed itself 
a religious advancement, a more sublime and spiritual 
Christianity. Judaism was the infancy, Christianity 
the youth, the revelation of the Spirit the manhood, 
of the human soul. It was this Spirit, this Paraclete, 
which resided in all its fulness in the bosom of 
Montanus ; his adversaries asserted that he gave him- 
self out as the Paraclete ; but it is more probable that 
his vague and mystic language was misunderstood, or 
possibly misrepresented by the malice of his adver- 
saries. In Montanism, the sectarian, the exclusive 
spirit was at its height: and this claim to higher 
perfection, tliis seclusion from the vulgar race of 
Christians, whose weakness had been too often shown 
in the hour of trial; who had neither attained the 
height of his austerity, nor courted martyrdom, nor 
refused all ignominious compromises with the perse- 
cuting authorities with the unbending rigor which he 
demanded, — would still further commend the claims 
of Montanism to the homage of Tertullian. 

During the persecution under Severus, Tertullian 
Apology of stood forth as the apologist of Christianity ; 
Tferraiiian. qj^^ ^\^q ^qj^q q{ j^jg Apology is charactcristio 
not only of the man, but of his native country, while 
it is no less illustrative of the altered position of 
Christianity. The address of Tertullian to Scapula, 
the Prefect of Africa, is no longer in the tone of 
tranquil expostulation against the barbarity of perse- 
cuting blameless and unoflfending men, still less that 
of humble supplication. Every sentence breathes 
scorn, defiance, menace. It heaps contempt upon the 
gods of Paganism; it avows the determination of 
the Christians to expel the demouB from the respect 

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and adoration of mankind. It condescends not to 
exculpate the Christians from being the cause of the 
calamities which had recently laid waste the province, 
— the torrent rains which had swept away the harvests ; 
the fires wliich had heaped with ruin the streets of 
Carthage ; the sun which had been preternaturally 
eclipsed, when at its meridian, durmg an assembly of 
the province at Utica. All* these portentous signs are 
unequivocally ascribed to the vengeance of the Chris- 
tians' God, visiting the guilt of obstinate idolatry. 
The persecutors of the Christians are warned by the 
awful examples of Roman dignitaries who had been 
stricken blind, and eaten with worms, as the chastise- 
ment of Heaven for their injustice and cruelty to the 
worshippers of Christ; Scapula himself is sternly 
admonished to take warning by their fate ; while the 
orator, by no means deficient, at the same time, in 
dexterous address, reminds him of the humane policy 
of others : " Your cruelty will be our glory. Thou- 
sands of both sexes, and of every rank, will eagerly 
crowd to martyrdom, exhaust your fires, and weary 
your swords. Carthage must be decimated; the 
principal persons in the city, even perhaps your own 
most intimate friends and kindred, must be sacrificed. 
Vainly will you war against God. Magfstrates are 
but men, and will suflFer the common lot of mortality ; 
but Christianity will endure as long as the Roman 
empire, and the duration of the empire will be co-eval 
with that of the world." ^ 

History, even Christian history, is confined to more 
general views of public affairs, and dwells too exclu- 
sively on what may be called the high places of human 

1 I woald recommend to my readers the fair and just contrast between 
Terttdlian and Origen in Mons. Albert de Broglie's L'Eglise et TEmpirei 
pp. 121-126. 


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life; but, whenever a glimpse is afforded of lowlier 
and of more common life, it is perhaps best fulfilling 
its office of presenting a lively picture of the times, if 
it allows itself occasionally some more minute detail, 
and illustrates the manner in which the leading events 
of particular periods affected individuals not in the 
highest station. 

Of aU the histories of martyrdom, none is so unex- 

aggerated in its tone and language, so entirely 

ofPen)etSk unencumbered with miracle; none aboimds 

and FeticiUs. . 

in such exquisite touches of nature, or, on the 
whole, from its minuteness and circumstantiality, 
breathes such an air of truth and reality, — as that of 
Perpetua and Felicitas, two African females. Their 
death is ascribed, in the Acts, to the year of the acces- 
sion of Greta,^ the son of Severus. Though there was 
no general persecution at that period, yet, as 
the Faithful held their lives, at all times, 
liable to the outburst of popular resentment, or the 
caprice of an arbitrary proconsul, there is much proba- 
bility that a time of general rejoicing might be that in 
which the Christians, who were always accused of a 
disloyal reluctance to mingle in the popular festivities, 

1 The external evidence to the authenticity of these Acts is not quite equal 
to the internal. They were first published by Lucas Holstenius, from a MS. 
in the Convent of Monte Casino; re-edited by Valesius at Paris, and by 
Ruinart) in his Acta Sincera Martynim, p. 90, who collated two other MSS. 
There appear, however, strong indications that the Acts of these African )lar- 
tyrs are translated from the Greek ; at least it is difficult otherwise to account 
for the frequent untranslated Greek words and idioms in the text. The fol- 
lowing are examples : c. iii., turbarum beneficio, x<H>^v' c. iv., bene venisti, 
tegnon, reicvdv' c. viii., in oramate, a vision, dpufiare diadema, or diastema, 
an interval, duurr^fM' c x., afe, (i^- xii., agios, agios, agios. 

There are indeed some suspicious marks of Montanism which perhaps pre- 
vented these Acts from being more generally known. 

It is not quite clear where these martyrs suffered. Valesius supposed 
Carthago; others, in one of the two towns called Tubnrbium, which wero 
situated in Proconsular Africa. 

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and who kept aloof from the public sacrifices on such 
anniversaries, would be most exposed to persecution. 
The youthful catechumens, Revocatus and Felicitas, 
Saturninus and Secundulus, were apprehended, and 
with them Vivia Perpetua, a woman of good family, 
liberal education, and honorably married. Perpetua 
was about twenty-two years old ; her father and mother 
were living; she had two brothers, — one of them, 
like herself, a catechumen, — and an infant at her 
breast. The history of the persecution is related by 
Perpetua herself, and is said to have been written 
by her own hand: "When we were in the hands of 
the persecutors, my father, in his tender aflfection, 
persevered in his endeavors to pervert me from the 
faith.^ ' My father, this vessel, be it a pitcher or any 
thing else, can we call it by any other name ? ' * Cer- 
tainly not,' he replied. * Nor can I call myself by any 
other name but that of Christian.' My father looked 
as if he could have plucked my eyes out; but he only 
harassed me, and departed, persuaded by the argu- 
ments of the Devil. Then, after being a few days 
without seeing my father, I was enabled to give thanks 
to God, and his absence was tempered to my spirit. 
After a few days, we were baptized ; and the waters of 
baptism seemed to give power of endurance to my 
body. Again a few days, and we were cast into 
prison. I was terrified ; for I had never before seen 
such total darkness. Oh, miserable day! — from the 
dreadful heat of the prisoners crowded together, and 
the insults of the soldiers. But I was wrung with 
solicitude for my infant. Two of otir deacons, how- 
ever, by the payment of money, obtained our removal 

1 Dejicere, ^ to cast me down/' is the expressive phrase, not uncommon 
among the early Christians. 

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for some hours in the day to a more open pai-t of the 
prison. Each of the captives then pursued his usual 
occupation ; but I sat and suckled my infant, who was 
wasting away with hunger. In my anxiety, I addressed 
and consoled my mother, and commended my child to 
my brother; and I began to pine away at seeing them 
pining away on my account. And for many days I 
suflFered this anxiety, and accustomed my child to 
remain in the prison with me; and I immediately 
recovered my strength, and was relieved from my toil 
and trouble for my infant, and the prison became to me 
like a palace ; and I was happier there than I should 
have been anywhere else. 

" My brother then said to me, * Perpetua, you are 
exalted to such dignity, that you may pray for a vision, 
and it shall be shown you whether our doom is martyr- 
dom or release.' " This is the language of Montanism; 
but the vision is exactly that which might haunt the 
slumbers of the Christian in a high state of religious 
enthusiasm: it showed merely the familiar images of 
the faith, arranging themselves into form. She saw a 
lofty ladder of gold, ascending to heaven; around it 
were swords, lances, hooks ; and a great dragon lay at 
its foot, to seize those who would ascend. Saturus, a 
distinguished Christian, went up first, beckoned her to 
follow, and controlled the dragon by the name of Jesus 
Christ. She ascended, and found herself in a spacious 
garden, in which sat a man with white hair, in the 
garb of a shepherd, milking his sheep,^ with many 
myriads around him. He welcomed her, and gave 
her a morsel of cheese; and "I received it with 

1 Bishop Miinter, in his Sinnbilder der alten Christen, refers to this 
passage, to illustrate one of the oldest bass-reliefs of Christian art — H. i. 
p. 62. 

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folded hands, and ate it; and all the saints around 
exclaimed, *Amen.' I awoke at the sound, with 
the sweet taste in my mouth, and I related it to 
my brother; and we knew that our martyrdom 
was at hand, and we began to have no hope in this 

" After a few days, there was a rumor that we were 
to be heard. And my father came from the city, 
wasted away with anxiety, to pervert me ; and he said, 
*Have compassion, my daughter! on my gray hairs; 
have compassion on thy father, if he is worthy of the 
name of father. If I have thus brought thee up to 
the flower of thine age ; if I have preferred thee to all 
thy brothers, — do not expose me to this disgrace. 
Look on thy brother; look on thy mother and thy 
aunt; look on thy child, who cannot live without 
thee. Do not destroy us all.' Thus spake my father, 
kissing my hands in his fondness, and throwing him- 
self at my feet ; and in his tears he called me not his 
daughter, but his mistress (domino). And I was 
grieved for the gray hairs of my father, because he 
alone, of all our family, did not rejoice in my martyr- 
dom; and I consoled him, saying, 'In this trial, what 
God wills, will take place. Know that we are not in 
our own power, but in tiiat of God.' And he went 
away sorrowing. 

"Another day, while we were at dinner, we were 
suddenly seized, and carried oflF to trial ; and we came 
to the town. The report spread rapidly, and an im- 
mense multitude was assembled. We were placed at 
the bar; the rest were interrogated, and made their 
confession. And it came to my turn; and my father 
instantly appeared with my child, and he drew me down 
the step, and said in a beseeching tone, 'Have corn- 

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passion on your infant ; ' and Hilarianus the procurator, 
who exercised the power of life and death for the pro- 
consul Timinianus, who had died, said, ^ Spare the 
gray hairs of your parent; spare your infant; offer 
sacrifice for the welfare of the emperor.' And I 
answered, 'I will not sacrifice.' *Art thou a Chris- 
tian ? ' said Hilarianus. I answered , ' I am a Christian.' 
And, while my father stood there to persuade me, 
Hilarianus ordered him to be thrust down, and beaten 
with rods. And the misfortune of my fatlier grieved 
me; and I was as much grieved for his old age as 
if I had been scourged myself. He then passed 
sentence on us all, and condemned us to the wild 
beasts; and we went back in cheerfulness to the 
prison. And because I was accustomed to suckle 
my infant, and to keep it with me in the prison, I 
sent Pomponius the deacon to seek it from my 
father. But my father would not send it; but, by the 
will of God, the child no longer desired the breast, and 
I suffered no uneasiness lest at such a time I should 
be afflicted by the sufferings of my child, or by pains 
in my breasts." 

Her visions now grow more frequented vivid. Tlie 
name of lier brother Dinocrates suddenly occurred to 
her in her prayers. He had died, at seven years old, of 
a loathsome disease, no doubt without Christian bap- 
tism. She had a vision in which Dinocrates appeared in 
a place of profound darkness, where there was a pool 
of water, which he could not reach on account of his 
small stature. In a second vision, Dinocrates appeared 
again ; the pool rose up and touched him, and he drank 
a full goblet of the water. ^^ And when he was satisfied, 
he went away to play, as infants are wont, and I awoke ; 

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Chap.vui. vision of saturus. 173 

and I knew that he was translated from the place of 
punishment." ^ 

Again a few days, and the keeper of the prison pro- 
foundly impressed by their conduct, and beginning to 
discern "the power of God within them," admitted 
many of the brethren to visit them, for mutual consola- 
tion. " And, as the day of the games approached, my 
father entered, worn out with affliction, and began to 
pluck his beard, and to throw himself down with his 
face upon the groimd, and to wish that he could hasten 
his death, and to speak words which might have moved 
any living creature. And I was grieved for the sorrows 
of his old age." The night before they were to be 
exposed in the arena, she dreamed that she was changed 
to a man ; fought and triumphed over a huge and ter^ 
rible Egyptian gladiator; and she put her foot upon his 
head, and she received the crown, and passed out of the 
Vivarian Gate, and knew that she had triumphed, 
not over man, but over the DevH. Tlie vision of 
Saturus, which he related for their consolation, was 
more splendid. He ascended into the realms of light, 
into a beautiful garden, and to a palace, the walls of 
which were light; and there he was welcomed, not 
only by the angels, but by all the friends who had 
preceded him in the glorious career. It is singular, 
that, among the rest, he saw a bishop and a priest, 
between whom there had been some dissensions ; 
and, while Perpetua was conversing with them, the 
angels interfered, and insisted on their perfect recon- 
ciliation. Some kind of blame seems to be attached 
to the bishop Optatus, because some of his flock 
appeared as if they came from the factions of 
the circus, with the spirit of mortal strife not yet 

1 ThU is eyidentlj a kind of puigatoiy. 

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The narrative then proceeds to another instance of 
the triumph of faith over the strongest of human 
feelings, — the love of a young mother for her off- 
spring. Felieitas was in tbe eighth month of her 
pregnancy. She feared, and her friends shared in her 
apprehension, that, on that account, her martyrdom 
might be delayed. They prayed together, and her 
travail came on. In her agony at that most painful 
period of delivery, she gave way to her sufferings. 
" How then," said one of the servants of the prison, 
" if you cannot endure these pains, will you endure 
exposure to the wild beasts ? " She replied, " I bear 
now my own sufferings : then, there will be One within 
me who will bear my sufferings for me, because I shall 
suffer for his sake." She brought forth a girl, of 
whom a Christian sister took the charge. 

Perpetua maintained her calmness to the end. 
While they were treated with severity by a tribune, 
who feared lest they should be delivered from the 
prison by enchantment, Perpetua remonstrated with a 
kind of mournful pleasantry, and said that, if ill used, 
they would do no credit to the birthday of Caesar : the 
victims ought to be fattened for the sacrifice. But 
tlieir language and demeanor were not always so calm 
and gentle ; the words of some became tliose of defi- 
ance, — almost of insult; and this is related with as 
much admiration as tlie more tranquil sublimity of the 
former incidents. To the people who gazed on them, 
in their importunate curiosity, at their agapd, they 
said, ^' Is not to-morrow's spectacle enough to satiate 
your hate? To-day you look on us with friendly 
faces: to-morrow you will be our deadly enemies. 
Mark well our countenances, that you may know them 
again on the day of judgment." And to Hilarianus, 

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on his tribunal, they said, " Thou judgest us, but God 
will judge thee.'' At this language, the exasperated 
people demanded that they should be scourged. When 
taken out to the execution, they declined, and were 
permitted to decline, the profane dress in which they 
were to be clad, — the men, that of the priests of 
Saturn ; the women, that of the priestesses of Ceres.^ 
They came forward in their simple attire, Perpetua 
singing psalms. The men were exposed to leopards 
and bears; and the women were hung up naked in 
nets, to be gored by a furious cow. But even the 
excited populace shrank with horror at the spectacle 
of two young and delicate women, one recently re- 
covered from childbirth, in this state. They were 
recalled by acclamation, and in mercy brought for- 
ward again, clad in loose robes.^ Perpetua was 
tossed, her garment was rent ; but, more conscious of 
her wounded modesty than of pain, she drew the robe 
over the part of her person which was exposed. She 
then calmly clasped up her hair, because it did not 
become a martyr to suflfer with dishevelled locks, the 
sign of sorrow. She then raised up the fainting and 
mortally wounded Felicitas; and, the cruelty of the 
populace being for a time appeased, they were per- 
mitted to retire. Perpetua seemed rapt in ecstasy, 
and, as if awaking from sleep, inquired when she 
was to be exposed to the beast. She could scarcely 
be made to believe what had taken place; her last 
words tenderly admonished her brother to be steadfast 
in the faith. I may close the scene by intimating that 
aU were speedily released from their sufferings, and 

1 This was an nnusual circumstance, and ascribed to the Devil. 

^ I am not sure that I am correct in this part of the version: it appears to 
me to be the sense. " Ita revocats discinguntur " is paraphrased by Lucas 
Holstenius, '* revocatie et discinctis indutn." 

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entered into their glory. Perpetua guided with her 
own hand the merciful sword of the gladiator which 
relieved her from her agony. 

This African persecution, which laid the seeds of 
future schisms and fatal feuds, lasted till at least the 
second year of Caracalla. From its close, except 

during the short reign of Maximin, Chris- 
Geu. tianity enjoyed uninterrupted peace till the 

reign of Decius.^ But during this period 
occurred a remarkable event in the religious history 
of Rome. The pontifiF of one of the wild forms of 
the Nature -worship of the East appeared in the city 
of Rome as emperor. The ancient rites of Baalpeor, 
hut little changed in the course of ages, intruded 
themselves into the sanctuary of the Capitoline Jove, 
and offended at once the religious majesty and the 
graver decency of Roman manners.^ Elagabalus de- 
magabaiufl rivcd his name from the Syrian appellative 
aTSs. of the Sun; he had been educated in the 
precincts of the temple; and the Emperor of Rome 
was lost and absorbed in the priest of an effeminate 
superstition. The new religion did not steal in under 
the modest demeanor of a stranger, claiming the 
common rights of hospitality as the national faith of 
a subject people: it entered with a public pomp, as 
though to supersede and eclipse the ancestral deities 
of Rome. The god Elagabalus was conveyed in 
solemn procession through the wondering provinces ; 
his symbols were received with all the honor of the 
Supreme Deity. The conical black stone, which was 
adored at Emesa, was, no doubt, in its origin, one of 

1 From 212 to 240, — Caracalla, 211; Macrinas, 217; Elagabalus, 218; 
Alexander Severus, 222; Maximin and the Gordiana, 286-244 ; Philip, 244; 
Decius, 249. 

s Lampridii Heliogabalna. Dion CasaiiUi lib. Ixxix.; Heiodian, v. 

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those obscene symbols which appear in almost every 
form of the Oriental Nature-worship. The rudeness 
of ancient art had allowed it to remain in less offen- 
sive shapelessness ; and, not improbably, the original 
symbolic meaning had become obsolete. The Sun 
had become the visible type of Deity, and the object 
of adoration. The mysterious principle of generation, 
of which, in the primitive religion of nature, he was 
the type and image, gave place to the noblest object 
of human idolatry, — the least debasing representar 
tive of the Great Supreme. The idol of Emesa 
entered Rome in solemn procession ; a magnificent 
temple was built upon the Palatine Hill; a number 
of altars stood round, on which every day the most 
sumptuous offerings — hecatombs of oxen, countless 
sheep, the most costly aromatics, the choicest wines — 
were offered. Streams of blood and wine were con- 
stantly flowing down; while the highest dignitaries 
of the empire — commanders of legions, rulers of 
provinces, the gravest senators, — appeared as humble 
ministers, clad in the loose and flowing robes and 
linen sandals of the East, among the lascivious dances 
and the wanton music of Oriental drums and cymbals. 
These degrading practices were the only way to civil 
and military preferment. The whole senate and 
equestrian order stood around ; and those who played 
ill the part of adoration, or whose secret murmurs 
incautiously betrayed their devout indignation (for 
this insult to the ancient religion of Rome awakened 
some sense of shame in the degenerate and servile 
aristocracy), were put to death. The most sacred 
and patriotic sentiments cherished, above all the hal- 
lowed treasures of the city, the Palladium, the image 
of Minerva. Popular veneration worshipped, in dis- 

YOL. II. 12 

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tant awe, the unseen deity; for profane eye might 
never behold the virgin image. The inviolability of 
the Roman dominion was inseparably connected with 
the uncontaminated sanctity of the Palladium. The 
Syrian declared his intention of wedding the ancient 
tutelary goddess to his foreign deity. The image was 
publicly brought forth ; exposed to the sullying gaze 
of the multitude; solemnly wedded, and insolently 
repudiated by tlie unworthy stranger. A more appro- 
wonhip of priate bride was found in the kindred Syrian 

the Sun in ^ . , . ^ ^ , « . 

Rome. deity, worshipped under the name of Astarte 
in the East, in Carthage as the Queen of Heaven, — 
Yenus Urania, as translated into the mythological 
language of the West. She was brought from Car- 
thage. Tlie whole city — the whole of Italy — was 
commanded to celebrate the bridal festival ; and the 
nuptials of the two foreign deities might appear to 
complete the triumph over the insulted divinities of 

Nothing was sacred to the voluptuous Syrian. He 
introduced the manners as well as the religion of the 
East ; his rapid succession of wives imitated the po- 
lygamy of an Oriental despot ; and his vices not merely 
corrupted the morals, but insulted the most sacred 
feelings of the people. He tore a vestal virgin from 
her sanctuary, to suflFer his polluting embraces; he 
violated the sanctuary itself; attempted to make him- 
self master of the mystic coflFer in which the sacred 
deposit was enshrined: it was said that the pious 
fraud of the priesthood deceived him with a counter- 
feit, which he dashed to pieces in his anger. It was 
openly asserted, that the worship of the Sun, under 
his name of Elagabalus, was to supersede all other 
worship. If we may believe the biographies in the 

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Augustan history, a more ambitious scheme of a uni- 
versal religion had dawned upon the mind of 
the emperor. The Jewish, the Samaritan, innovJtSng 
even the Christian, were to be fused and byEiagab- 
recast into one great system, of which the 
Sun was to be the central object of adoration.^ At all 
events, the deities of Rome were actually degraded 
before the public gaze into humble ministers of Ela- 
gabalus. Every year of the emperor's brief reign, the 
god was conveyed from his Palatine temple to a sub- 
urban edifice of still more sumptuous magnificence. 
The statue passed in a car drawn by six horses. 
The emperor of the world, his eyes stained with paint, 
ran and danced before it with antic gestures of adora- 
tion. The earth was strewn with gold dust ; flowers 
and chaplets were scattered by the people ; while the 
images of all the other gods, the splendid ornaments 
and vessels of all their temples, were carried, like the 
spoils of subject nations, in the annual ovation of the 
Phoenician deity. Even human sacrifices, and, if we 
may credit the monstrous fact, the most beautiful 
sons of the noblest families, were offered on the altar 
of this Moloch of the East.^ 

It is impossible to suppose that the weak and 
crumbling edifice of Paganism was not shaken to its 
base by this extraordinary revolution. An ancient 
religion cannot thus be insulted without losing much 
of its majesty : its hold upon the popular veneration 
is violently torn asunder. With its more sincere 

1 " Id agens ne qois Romas Deus nisi Heliogabalos coleretar. Dioebat 
pneterea, JacUeomm et Samaritanorum religiones, et Christianam devotionem, 
illuc transferendam, ut omniuin colturarum secretum Heliogabali sacerdo- 
tium tenerut." — p. 461. 

* " Csedit et hamunas hostias, lectis ad hoc pueris nobilibas et decoris per 
omnem Italiam patrimis et matrimiSi credo ut major esset utrique parenti 
dolor." — Lamprid. Heliogabalus. 

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votaries, the general animosity to foreign, particularly 
to Eastern, religions, might be inflamed or deepened ; 
and Cliristianity might share m some part of the 
detestation excited by the excesses of a superstition 
so opposite in its nature. But others whose faith had 
been shaken, and whose moral feelings revolted, by 
a religion whose essential charg^ter was sensuality, 
and whose licentious tendency had been so disgust- 
ingly illustrated by the unspeakable pollutions of its 
imperial patron, would hasten to embrace that purer 
faith which was most remote from the religion of 

Prom the policy of the court, as well as the pure 
Alexander ^^^ amiable character of the successor of 
Sr^p. Elagabalus, the more oflFensive parts of this 
A.D.222. foreign superstition disappeared with their 
imperial patron. But the old Roman religion was not 
re-instated in its jealous and unmingled dignity. 
Alexander Severus had been bred in another school ; 
and the influence which swayed him, during the ear- 
lier part at least of his reign, was of a difierent 
character from that which had formed the mind of 
Elagabalus. It was the mother of Elagabalus who, 
however she might blush with shame at the impurities 
of her efieminate son, had consecrated him to the 
service of the deity in Emcsa. The mother of Alex- 
ander Severus, the able, perhaps crafty and rapacious, 
Mammaea, had at least held intercourse 
with the Christians of Syria. She had con- 
versed with the celebrated Origen, and listened to his 
exhortations, if without conversion, still not without 
respect. Alexander, though he had neitlier the reli- 
gious education, the pontifical character, nor the 
dissolute manners of his predecessor, was a Syrian, 

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with no hereditary attachment to the Eoman form of 
Paganism. He seems to have affected a kind of uni- 
versalism: he paid decent respect to the gods of 
the Capitol ; he held in honor the Egyptian worship, 
and enlarged the temples of Isis and Serapis. In his 
own palace, with respectful indifference, he enshrined, 
as it were, as his household deities, the representa- 
tives of the differenj; religious or theophilosophic 
systems which were prevalent in the Roman empire, 
— Orpheus, Abraham, Christ, and Apollonius of Tyana. 
The first of these represented the wisdom of the 
Mysteries, the purified Nature-worship, which had 
labored to elevate the popular mythology into a noble 
and coherent allegorism. It is singular, that Abra- 
ham, rather than Moses, was placed at the head of 
Judaism : it is possible that the traditionary sanctity 
which attached to the first parent of the Jewish peo- 
ple, and of many of the Arab tribes, and which was 
afterwards embodied in the Mohammedan Koran, was 
floating, in the East, and would comprehend, as it 
were, the opinions not only of the Jews, but of a 
much wider circle of the Syrian natives.^ In Apollo- 
nius was centred the more modern Theurgy, — the 
magic which commanded the intermediate spirits 
between the higher world and the world of man ; the 
more spiritual polytheism which had released the sub- 
ordinate deities from their human form, and main- 
tained them in constant intercourse with the soul of 
man. Christianity, in the person of its Pounder, even 
where it did not command authority as a religion, had 
nevertheless lost the character, imder which it had so 

1 This might seem to confinn the theoiy of Sprenger as to the wide- 
spread Abrahamic religion, Monotheism, called Hanyferey, prevalent in Ara- 
bia at the time of the coming of Mohammed. — Leben des Mohammed, 
B. i. c. i. 

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long and so unjustly labored, of animosity to man- 
kind. Though He was considered but as one of the 
sages who shared in the homage paid to their benefi- 
cent wisdom, the followers of Jesus had now lived 
down all the bitter hostility which had so generally 
prevailed against them. The homage of Alexander 
Severus may be a fair test of the general sentiment 
of the more intelligent Heathen of his time.^ It is 
clear that the exclusive spirit of Oreek and Roman 
civilization is broken down; it is not now Socrates 
or Plato, Epicurus or Zeno, who are considered the 
sole guiding intellects of human wisdom. These 
Eastern barbarians are considered rivals, if not supe- 
rior, to the philosophers of Greece. The world is 
betraying its irresistible yearning towards a religion; 
and these are the first overtures, as it were, to more 
general submission. 
In the reign of Alexander Severus, at least, com- 
menced the great change in the outward ap- 
the reution pearancc of Christianity. Christian bishops 

of Chrte- ^ J f 

tianityto wcrc admitted, even at the court, in a rec- 


ognized ofiicial character; and Christian 
churches began to rise in difierent parts of the empire, 
and to possess endowments in land.^ To the aston- 
ishment of the Heathen, the religion .of Christ had 
as yet appeared without temple or altar ; the religious 
assemblies had been held in privacy : it was yet a 

1 Jablonski wrote a very ingenious essay to show that Alexander Sevenu 
was converted to Gnotdc Christianity. — Opuscula, vol. iv. Compare Heyne, 
Opuscola, vi. p. 169, et seqq. 

3 Tillemont, as Gibbon observes, assigns the date of the earliest Christian 
churches to the reign of Alexander Severus ; Mr. Moyle, to that of Gallie- 
nus. The difference is very slight; and, after all, the change from a private 
building, set apart for a particular use, and a public one of no architectural 
pretensions, may have been almost imperceptible. The passage of Lampri- 
dius appears conclusive in favor of TUlemont. 

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domestic worship. Even the Jew had his public syna- 
gogue or his more secluded proseucha ; but where the 
Christians met was indicated by no separate and dis- 
tinguished dwelling : the cemetery of their dead, the 
sequestered grove, the private chamber, contained 
tlieir peaceful assemblies. Their privacy was at once 
their security and their danger. On the one hand, 
there was no well-known edifice in which the furious 
and excited rabble could surprise the general n»t 
body of the Christians, and wreak its ven- chur«h«. 
geance by indiscriminate massacre ; on the other, the 
jealousy of the Government against all private associ* 
ations would be constantly kept on the alert; and 
a religion without a temple was so inexplicable a 
problem to Pagan feeling, that it would strengthen 
and confirm all the vague imputations of atheism, or 
of criminal license in these mysterious meetings 
which seemed to shun the light of day. Their reli- 
gious usages must now have become much better 
known, as Alexander borrowed their mode of publish- 
ing the names of those who were proposed for ordinsr 
tion, and established a similar proceeding with regard 
to all candidates for civil ofiice ; and a piece of ground 
in Rome, which was litigated by a company of victual- 
lers, was awarded by the emperor himself to the 
Christians, upon the principle that it was better that 
it should be devoted to the worship of God in any 
form, than applied to a profane and unworthy use.^ 

These buildings were no doubt, as yet, of modest 
height and mipretending form; but the religion was 
thus publicly recognized as one of the various forms 
of worship which the Government did not prohibit 
from opening the gates of its temples to mankind. 

1 JEiu Lampridii Alexander Sererna. 

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The progress of Christianity during all this period, 
though silent, was uninterrupted. The miseries which 
were gradually involving the whole Roman empire, 
from the conflicts and the tyranny of a rapid succes- 
sion of masters, from taxation becoming more grind- 
ing and burdensome, and from the still-multiplying 
inroads and expanding devastations of the barbarians, 
assisted its progress. Many took refuge in a religion 
which promised beatitude in a future state of being, 
from the inevitable evils of this life. 

But in no respect is the progress of Christianity 
more evident and remarkable than in its influence on 
Heathenism itself. Though philosophy, which had 
Influence of ^^^8 ^®®^ *^® autagouist and most dangerous 
on H^tS^ enemy of the popular religion, now made ap- 
^^' parently common cause with it against the 

common enemy, Christianity, yet there had been an 
unperceived and amicable approximation between the 
two religions. Heathenism, as interpreted by philoso- 
phy, ahnost foimd favor with some of the more moder- 
ate Christian apologists ; while, as we have seen, in the 
altered tone of the controversy, the Christians have 
rarely occasion to defend themselves against those 
horrible charges of licentiousness, incest, and canni- 
balism, which, till recently, their advocates had been 
constrained to notice. The Christians endeavored to 
enlist the earlier philosophers in their cause; they 
were scarcely content with asserting that the nobler 
Grecian philosophy might be designed to prepare the 
human mind for the reception of Christianity ; they 
were almost inclined to endow these sages with a kind 
of proplietic foreknowledge of its more mysterious 
doctrines. "I have explained," says the Christian 
in Minucius Felix, "the opinions of almost all the 

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Chap.VIII. change IN HEATHENISM. 185 

philosophers, whose most illustrious glory it is that 
they have worshipped one God, though under various 
names ; so that one might suppose, either that the 
Christians of the present day are philosophers, or that 
the philosophers of old were already Christians." ^ 

But these advances on the part of Christianity were 
more than met by Paganism. The Heathen religion, 
which prevailed at least among the more enlightened 
Pagans during this period, and which, differently modi- 
fied, more fully developed, and, as we shall hereafter 
find, exalted still more from a philosophy into a reli- 
gion, Julian endeavored to re-instate as the ^.^^.^^ ^ 
established faith, was almost as different Heatheniam. 
from that of the older Greeks and Romans, or even 
that which prevailed at the commencement of the 
empire, as it was from Christianity. It worshipped 
in the same temples ; it performed, to a certain extent, 
the same rites ; it actually abrogated the local worship 
of no one of the multitudinous deities of Paganism. 
But over all this, which was the real religion, both in 
theory and practice, in the older times, had risen a 
kind of speculative Theism, to which the popular wor- 
ship acknowledged its humble subordination. On the 
great elementary principle of Christianity, the Unity 
of the Supreme God, this approximation had long 
been silently made. Celsus, in his celebrated contro- 
versy with Origen, asserts that this philosophical notion 
of the Deity is perfectly reconcilable with Paganism. 
" We also can place a Supreme Being above the world 
and above all human things, and approve and sym- 

1 According to Justin Martyr (Apolog. 6), Socrates was instructed through 
the Word, the Word which afterwards took the form of man, and was called 
Jesus Christ. (Compare Clem. Alex., Isagoge ad Hypotup., apud Bunsen, 
Analecta, i. 169.) I am here again considerably indebted to Tschirner, FaU 
des Heidenthums, pp. 884-401. 


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pathize in whateyer may be taught of a spiritual 
rather than material adoration of the gods ; for with 
the belief in the gods worshipped in every land and by 
every people harmonizes the belief in a Primal Being, 
a Supreme God, who has given to every land its guar- 
dian, to every people its presiding deity. The unity 
of the Supreme Being, and the consequent unity of 
the design of the universe, remains, even if it be ad- 
mitted that each people has its gods, whom it must 
worship in a peculiar manner, according to their pecu- 
liar character ; and the worship of all these diflFerent 
deities is reflected back to the Supreme God, who has 
appointed them, as it were, his delegates and repre- 
sentatives. Those who argue that men ought not to 
serve many masters impute human weakness to God. 
God is not jealous of the adoration paid to subordi- 
nate deities : He is superior in his nature to degrada- 
tion and insult. Reason itself might justify the belief 
in the inferior deities, which are the objects of the 
established worship. For, since the Supreme Grod 
can only produce that which is immortal and im- 
perishable, the existence of mortal beings cannot be 
explained, unless we distinguish from Him those 
inferior deities, and assert them to be the creatures 
of mortal beings and of perishable things." ^ 

Prom this time. Paganism has changed not merely 
Paganiam somc of its fundamental tenets, but its gen- 
■erioua. cral character : it has become serious, solemn, 
devout. In Lucian, unbelief seemed to have reached 
its height, and as rapidly declined. The witty satirist 
of Polytheism had, no doubt, many admirers : he had 
no imitators. A re-action has taken place ; none of the 
distinguished statesmen of the third century boldly and 

1 Origen contra Celsmn, lib. vii. 

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ostentatiously, as in the times of the later republic, 
display their contempt for religion. Epicureanism 
has lost, if not its partisans, its open advocates. The 
most eminent writers treat religion with decency, if 
not with devout respect : no one is ambitious of pass- 
ing for a despiser of the gods. And with faith and 
piety broke forth all the aberrations of religious belief 
and devout feeling, wonder-working mysticism, and 
dreamy enthusiasm, in their various forms.^ 

This was the commencement of that new Platonism 
which, from this time, exercised a supreme authority, 
to the extinction of the older forms of Grecian philos- 
ophy, and grew up into a dangerous antagonist of 
Christianity. It aspired to be a religion as well as a 
philosophy, and gradually incorporated more and more 
of such religious elements from the creeds of the Ori- 
ental philosophers as would harmonize with its system. 
It was extravagant, but it was earnest ; wild, but seri- 
ous. It created a kind of literature of its Apoiionius 
own. The Life of Apoiionius of Tyana was '^^''^^^ 
a grave romance, in which it embodied much of its 
Theurgy, its power of connecting the invisible with 
the visible world; its wonder-working, through the 
intermediate demons at its command, which bears 
possibly, but not clearly, an intentional, certainly a 
close, resemblance to the Gospels. It seized and 
moulded to its purpose the poetry and philosophy of 
older Greece. Such of the mythic legends as it could 
allegorize, it retained with every demonstration of rev- 
erence ; the rest it either allowed quietly to fall into 
oblivion, or repudiated as lawless fictions of the poets. 
The manner in which poetry was trans- 


muted into moral and religious allegory is 

1 Tachimer, p. 401. 

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shown in the treatise of Porphyrins on the Cave of the 
Nymphs in the Odyssey. The skill, as well as the 
dreamy mysticism, with which this school of writers 
combined the dim traditions of the older philosophy 
and the esoteric doctrines of the Mysteries, to give the 
ufe of Py- sanction of antiquity to their own vague but 
***■*""■• attractive and fanciful theories, appears in 
the Life of Pythagoras, and in the work on the Mys- 
teries by a somewhat later writer, lamblichus. 

After all, however, this philosophic Paganism could 
phfloeophic exercise no very extensive influence. Its 

Paganism '' 

not popular, votarics wcrc probably far inferior in number 
to those of any one of the foreign religions introduced 
into the Greek and Roman part of the empire; and its 
strength perhaps consisted in the facility with which 
it coalesced with any one of those religions, or blended 
them up together in one somewhat discordant syncre- 
tism. The same man was philosopher, hierophant at 
Samothrace or Eleusis, and initiate in the rites of 
Cybele, of Serapis, or of Mithra. Of itself this scheme 
was far too abstract and metaphysical to extend beyond 
the schools of Alexandria or of Athens. Though it 
prevailed afterwards in influencing the Heathen fanat- 
icism of Julian, it eventually retarded but little the 
extinction of Heathenism. It was merely a sort of 
refuge for the intellectual few, — a self-complacent ex- 
cuse, wliich enabled them to assert, as they supposed, 
their own mental superiority, while they were endeav- 
oring to maintain or to revive the vulgar superstition, 
which they themselves could not but in secret contemn. 
The more refined it became, the less was it suited for 
common use, and the less it harmonized with the 
ordinary Paganism. Thus that which, in one respect, 
elevated it into a dangerous rival of Christianity, at 

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the same time deprived it of its power. It had bor- 
rowed much from Christianity, or, at least, had been 
tacitly modified by its influence ; but it was the 
speculative rather than the practical part, that which 
constituted its sublimity rather than its popularity, in 
which it approximated to the Gospel. "We shall en- 
counter this new Paganism again before long, in its 
more perfect and developed form. 

The peace which Christianity enjoyed imder the 
virtuous Severus was disturbed by the vio- Maximin. 
lent accession of a Thracian savage.^ It was ^•^" ^' 
enough to have shared in the favor of Alexander to 
incur the brutal resentment of Maximin. The Chris- 
tian bishops, like all the other polite and virtuous 
courtiers of his peaceful predecessor, were exposed to 
the suspicions and the hatred of the rude and warlike 
Maximin. Christianity, however, suffered, though in 
a severer degree, the common lot of mankind. 

The short reign of Gordian was uneventful in Chrisr- 
tian history. The emperors, it has been oordiaa. 
justly observed, who were born in the Asiatic ^-^^as-zw. 
provinces were, in general, the least imfriendly to 
Christianity. Their religion, whatever it might be, 
was less uncongenial to some of the forms of tlie new 
faith ; it was a kind of eclecticism of different Ea^ern 
religions, which, in general, was least inclined to in- 
tolerance : at any rate, it was uninfluenced by national 
pride, which was now become the main support of 
Roman Paganism. Philip, the Arabian,^ is pj^mp 
claimed by some of the earliest Christian ^•^•244. 
writers as a convert to the Gospel. But the extraor- 
dinary splendor with which he celebrated the great 
religious rites of Rome refutes at once this statement. 

1 Euseb., HiBt £cc vi. 28. a Eoseb. vi. 84. 

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Yet it might be fortunate, that a sovereign of liis mild 
Secular sontimouts towBxds tlie new faith filled the 
A.D. 247. throne at a period when the secular games, 
which commemorated the thousandth year of Rome, 
were celebrated with unexampled magnificence. Tlie 
majesty, the eternity, of the empire were intimately 
connected with the due performance of these solemni- 
ties. To their intermission, after the reign of Diocle- 
tian, the Pagan historian ascribes the decline of Roman 
greatness.^ The second millennium of Rome com- 
menced with no flattering signs ; the times were 
gloomy and menacing; and the general and rigid 
absence of the Christians from these sacred national 
ceremonies, under a sterner or more bigoted emperor, 
would scarcely have escaped the severest animadver- 
sions of the Government. Even under the present 
circumstances, the danger of popular tumult would be 
with difficulty avoided or restrained. Did patriotism 
and national pride incline the Roman Christians to 
make some sacrifice of their severer principles, — to 
compromise for a time their rigid aversion to idolatry, 
which was thus connected with the peace and pros- 
perity of the state ? 

The persecution imder Decius, both in extent and 
Dedas. violcncc, is the most uncontested of those 
A.D. 249-251. ^j^ich the ccclesiastical historians took pains 
to raise to tlie mystic number of the ten plagues of 
Egypt. It was almost the first measure of a reign 
which commenced in successful rebellion, and ended, 
after two years, in fatal defeat. The Goths delivered 
the Christians from their most formidable oppressor ; 
yet the Goths may have been the innocent authors of 
their calamities. The passions and the policy of the 

1 ZosimuSi ii. 7. 


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emperor were coiicurrent motives for his hostility. 
The Christians were now a recognized body in the 
state: however carefully they might avoid mingling 
in the political factions of the empire, they were neces- 
sarily of the party of the emperor whose favor they 
had enjoyed. His enemies became their enemies. 
Maximin persecuted those who had appeared at the 
court of Alexander Severus ; Decius hated the adhe- 
rents, as he supposed the partisans, of the murdered 
Philip.^ The Gothic war shook to the centre the 
edifice of Roman greatness. Roman Paganism dis- 
covered in the relaxed morals of the people one of 
the causes of the decline of the empire ; it demanded 
the revival of the censorship. This indiscriminating 
feeling would mistake, in the blindness of caoMsofthe 
aversion and jealousy, the great silent cor- cution. 
rective of the popular morality for one of the prmcipal 
causes of depravation. The partial protection of a 
foreign religion by a foreign emperor (now that Chris- 
tianity had begun to erect temple against temple, altar 
against altar, and the Christian bishop met the pontiff 
on equal terms around the imperial throne) would be 
considered among the most flagrant departures from 
the sound wisdom of ancient Rome. Tlie descendant 
of the Decii, however his obscure Pannonian birth 
might cast a doubt on his hereditary dignity, was 
called upon to resltore the religion as well as the man- 
ners of Rome to their ancient austere purity ; to vin- 
dicate their insulted supremacy from the rivalship 
of an Asiatic and modern superstition. The persecu- 
tion of Decius endeavored to purify Rome itself from 
the presence of these degenerate enemies to FabianuB^ 
her prosperity. The bishop Fabianus was Rome. 

1 Eiiseb. ri. 89. 

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one of the first victims of his resentment ; ^ and the 
Christiaais did not venture to raise a successor to 
the obnoxious office during the brief reign of Decius. 

The example of the capital was followed in many 
of the great cities of the empire. In the turbulent 
and sanguinary Alexandria, the zeal of the populace 
outran that of the emperor, and had already com- 
menced a violent local persecution.^ Antioch lamented 
the loss of her bishop, Babylas, whose relics were 
afterwards worshipped in what was still the voluptuous 
grove of Daphne.^ Origen was exposed to cruel tor- 
ments, but escaped with his life. But Christian 
enthusiam, by being disseminated over a 
■am of ' wider sphere, had naturally lost some of its 
tiiinity lew first vigor. With many, it was now a heredi- 
tary faith, not embraced by the ardent con- 
viction of the individual, but instilled into the mind, 
with more or less depth, by Christian education. The 
Christian writers now begin to deplore the failure of 
genuhie Christian principles, and to trace the divine 
wrath in the affliction of the churches. Instead of 
presenting, as it were, a narrow but firm and unbroken 
front to the enemy, a much more numerous but less 
united and less uniformly resolute force now marched 
under the banner of Christianity. Instead of the 
serene fortitude with which they formerly appeared 
before the tribunal of the magistrate, many now stood 
pale, trembling, and reluctant ; neither ready to sub- 
mit to the idolatrous ceremony of sacrifice, nor pre- 

1 The Cav. de Rossi has found the name of Fabianus (I have read it my- 
self), the first authentic martyr Pope in the real cemetery of Callistus, which 
his sagacity discovered, and his labors have explored. More on the Cata- 
combs hereafter. 

« Euseb. vi. 40, 41. 

s Read the Sermons of Chiysostom on S. Bal^Ias. 

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pared to resist even unto death. The fiery zeal of the 
African churches appears to have been most subject to 
these paroxysms of weakness ; ^ it was there that the 
fallen (the Lapsi) formed a distinct and too numerous 
class, whose re-admission, into the privileges of the 
Faithful became a subject of fierce controversy ; ^ and 
the Libellatici, who had purchased a billet of immunity 
from the rapacious Government, formed another party, 
and were held in no less disrepute by those who, in 
the older spirit of the faith, had been ready or eager 
to obtain the crown of martyrdom. 

Carthage was disgraced by the criminal weakness 
even of some among her clergy. A council was held 
to decide this difficult point ; and the decisions of the 
council were tempered by moderation and humanity. 
None were irrevocably and for ever excluded from the 
pale of salvation ; but they were absolved, according 
to the degree of criminality which might attach to 
their apostasy. Those who had sacrificed — the most 
awful and scarcely expiable offence ! — required long 
years of penitence and humility ; those who had only 
weakly compromised their faith, by obtaining or pur- 
chasing billets of exemption from persecution, were 
admitted to shorter and easier terms of reconcilia- 

^ DionysiuB apad Eosebiam, v'u 14. 

« The severer opinion was called the heresy of Novatian; charity and or- 
thodoxy, on this occasion, concurred. — Euseb. vi. sub fin., vii. 4, 6. An- 
other controversy arose on the rebaptizing heretics, in which Cyprian toolc 
the lead of the severer party. — Euseb. vii. 8. 

* The horror with which those who had sacrificed were beheld by the more 
rigorous of their brethren may be conceived from the energetic language 
of Cyprian : *' Nonne quando ad Capitolium sponte ventum est, quando ultro 
ad obsequium diri facinoris accessum est, labavit gressus, caligavit aspectua, 
tremuerunt viscera, brachia conciderunt? Nonne sensus obstupuit, lingua 
hcsit, sermo defeclt? . . . Nonne ara iUa, quo moriturus accessit, rogns iUi 
fnit? Nonne diaboli altare quod foetore tsetro fumare et redolere conspex- 

TOL. II. 18 

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194 VALERIAN. Book IL 

Valerian, who ascended the throne three years after 
the death of Deciiis, had been chosen by Decius to 
revive, in his person, the ancient and honorable office 
of Censor ; and the general admiration of his virtues 

Valerian, ^ad ratified the appointment of the emperor. 

A.D. 264. j|. ^^ ^^ discredit to Christianity, that the 
commencement of the censor's reign, who may be 
supposed to have examined with more than ordinary 
care its influence on the public morals, was favorable 
to their cause. Their security was restored, and, for 
a short time, persecution ceased. The change which 
took place in the sentiments and conduct of Valerian 
is attributed to the influence of a man deeply versed 
in magical arts.^ The censor was enslaved by a super- 
stition which the older Romans would have beheld 
with little less abhorrence than Christianity itself. It 
must be admitted, that Christian superstition was 
too much inclined to encroach upon the province of 
Oriental magic; and the more the older Polytheism 
decayed, the more closely it allied itself with this 
powerful agent in commanding the fears of man. 
With all classes, from the emperor who employed 

erat, velut funus et bustam vitie suie hoirere, ac Aigere debebat. . . . Ipse ad 
aram bostia, Wctima Ipse venisti. ImmolAsti illic salutem tuam, spem tuam, 
fidem tuam funestis illls ignibuB concrem&sti." — Cyprian, De Lapsis. Some 
died of remoree; with some the gailty food acted as poison. But the follow* 
ing was the most extraordinaiy occurrence, of which Cyprian declares him- 
self to have been an eye-witness. An infant had been abandoned by its 
parents in their flight The nurse carried it to the magistrate. Being too 
young to eat meat, bread, steeped in wine offered in sacrifice, was forced into its 
mouth. Immediately that it returned to the Christians, the child, which could 
not speak, communicated the sense of its guilt by cries and convulsive agita- 
tions. It refused the sacrament (then administered to infants), closed its lips, 
and averted its face. The deacon forced it into its mouth. The consecrated 
wine would not remain in the contaminated body, but was cast up again. — 
In what a high-wrought state of enthusiasm must men have been who would 
relate and believe such statements as miraculous? 
1 Euseb. vil. 10. 

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their mystic arts to inquire into the secrets of futurity, 
to the peasant who shuddered at their power, the 
adepts in those dark and forbidden sciences were 
probably more influential opponents of Christianity 
than the ancient and established priesthood. 

Macrianus is reported to have obtained such com- 
plete mastery over the mind of Valerian as to induce 
him to engage in the most guilty mysteries of magic 
to trace the fate of the empire in the entrails of 
human victims. The edict against the Chris- 
tians, suggested by the animosity of Macri- 
anus, allowed the community to remain in undisturbed 
impunity ; but it subjected to the penalty of death all 
the bishops who refused to conform, and confiscated 
all the endowments of their churches into the public 

The dignity of one of its victims conferred a melan- 
choly celebrity on the persecution of Valerian, g^**"'- 
The most distinguished prelate at this time CMrthage. 
in Western Christendom was Cyprian, Bishop of Car- 
thage. If not of honorable birth or descent, — for 
this appears doubtful, — his abilities had raised him 
to eminence and wealth. He taught rhetoric at Car- 
thage, and, either by this honorable occupation or by 
some other means, had acquired an ample fortune. 
Cyprian was advanced in life when he embraced the 
doctrines of Christianity ; but he entered on his new 
career, if with the mature reason of age, with the 
ardor and freshness of youth. His wealth was de- 
voted to pious and charitable uses; his rhetorical 
studies, if they gave clearness and order to his lan- 
guage, by no means chilled its fervor or constrained 
its vehemence. He had the African temperament of 
character, and, if it may be so said, of style; the 

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warmth, the power of communicating its impassioned 
sentiments to the reader; perhaps not all the preg- 
nant conciseness, nor all the energy, of Tertullian, 
but, at the same time, little of his rudeness and 
obscurity. Cyprian passed rapidly through the steps 
of Christian initiation, almost as rapidly through the 
first gradations of the clerical order. On the vacancy 
of the bishopric of Carthage, his reluctant diflSdence 
was overpowered by the acclamations of the whole 
city, who environed his house, and compelled him by 
their friendly violence to assume the distinguished, 
and, it might be, dangerous oflSce. He yielded, to 
preserve the peace of Carthage.^ 

Cyprian entertained the loftiest notions of the epis- 
copal autliority. The severe and inviolable unity of 
the outward and visible Church appeared to him an 
integral part of Christianity ; and the rigid discipline 
enforced by the episcopal order, the only means of 
maintaining that unity. The pale which enclosed the 
Church from the rest of mankind was drawn with the 
most relentless precision. The Church was the ark, 
and all without it were left to perish in the unsparing 
deluge.^ The growth of heretical discord or disobe- 
dience was inexpiable, even by the blood of the trans- 
gressor. He might bear the flames with equanimity, — 
he might submit to be torn to pieces by wild beasts : 
there could be no martyr without the Church. Tor- 
tures and death bestowed not the crown of immor- 
tality : they were but the just retribution of treason 
to the faith.^ 

1 Epist xiv. 

^ " Si potuit evadere quisquam, qui extra arcam Noe fiiit, et qui extra 
ecdesiam foris fnerit, evadit." — Cyprian, De Unitate Eccleaus. 
• " Esse martyr non potest, qui in ecclesia non eat 
'* Ardeant licet flaramis et ignibus traditi, vel object! bestiis animas soas 

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The fearfiil times which arose during his episcopate 
tried these stern and lofty principles, as the questions 
which arose out of the Decian persecutions did his 
judgment and moderation. Cyprian, who embraced 
without hesitation the severer opinion with regard to 
the rebaptizing heretics, notwithstanding his awful 
horror of the guilt of apostasy, acquiesced in, if he 
did not dictate, the more temperate decisions of the 
Carthaginian synod concerning those whose weakness 
had betrayed them either into the public denial, or a 
timid dissimulation, of the faith. 

The first rumor of persecution designated the Bishop 
of Carthage for its victim. " Cyprian to the lions ! " 
was the loud and unanimous outcry of infuriated 
Paganism. Cyprian withdrew from the storm, not, as 
his subsequent courageous behavior showed, from 
timidity; but neither approving that useless and 
sometimes ostentatious prodigality of life, which be- 
trayed more pride than humble acquiescence in the 
divine will; possibly from the truly charitable re- 
luctance to tempt his enemies to an irretrievable crime. 
He withdrew to some quiet and secure retreat, from 
which he wrote animating and consolatory letters to 
those who had not been so prudent or so fortunate as 
to escape the persecution. His letters describe the 
relentless barbarity with which the Christians were 
treated; they are an authentic and contemporary 
statement of the sufferings which the Christians 
endured in defence of their faith. If highly colored 

ponant, non erit iUa fidei corona, sed poena perfidiiBf nee religioste virtutis ex- 
itus gloriosas, sed desperationis interitus." — De Unit Eccles. 

"£t tamen neque hoc baptisma (sanguinis) heretico prodest, quamvis 
Christum confessus, et extra ecclesiam fuerit occisus." — Epist. Ixxiii. 

" Though I give my body to be burned, and have not charit}', it profiteth 
me nothing." — 1 Cor. xiii. 8. Is there no difference between the spirit of 
St Paul and of Cyprian ? • 

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by the generous and tender sympathies or by the 
ardent eloquence of Cyprian, they have nothing of 
legendary extravagance. The utmost art was exercised 
to render bodily suffering more acute and intense: 
it was a continued strife between the obstinacy and 
inventive cruelty of the tormentor, and the patience 
of the victim.^ During the reign of Decius, which 
appears to have been one continued persecution, 
Cyprian stood aloof in his undisturbed retreat. He 
returned to Carthage probably at the commencement 
of Valerian's reign, and had a splendid opportunity of 
Christian revenge upon the city which had thirsted for 
Plague in ^^^ blood. A plaguc ravaged the whole 
carumge. Roman world, and its most destructive vio- 
lence thinned the streets of Carthage. It went spread- 
ing on from house to house, especially those of the 
lower orders, with awful regularity. The streets were 
strewn with the bodies of the dead and the dying who 
vainly appealed to the laws of nature and humanity 
for that assistance of which those who passed them by 
might soon stand in need. General distrust spread 
through society. Men avoided or exposed their nearest 
relatives; as if, by excluding the dying, they could 
exclude dfeath.^ No one, says the deacon Pontius, 
writing of the population of Cartilage in general, did 
as he would be done by. Cyprian addressed the Chris- 

1 " Tolerostis usque ad consnmmationem gloria) durissimam questionem, 
uec cessistis suppliciis, sed vobis potius supplicia cesAeraat 

" Steterunt tuti torquentibus fortiores, et pulsantes et laniautes ung^Ias 
pulsata ac laniata membra vicerunt. luexpugnabilem fidem superare non 
potult sffiviens diu plaga repedta quamvis rupt& compage visoerum; tor- 
quentur in servis Dei jam non membra, sed vulnera." — Cyprian, Epist 
viii. ad Martyres. Compare Epist. Izii. 

2 Fontiudf in Vit& Cvpriani. " Horrere omnes, fugere, vitare contagium; 
ezponere suos impie; quasi cum illo peste morituroi etiam mortem ipaam 
aliquifl posset excludere." 

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tians in the most earnest and effective language. 
He exhorted them to show the sincerity 
of their belief in the doctrines of their c^Sot 
Master, not by confining their acts of kindli- thU^chSi'!"* 
ness to their own brotherhood, but by extend- 
ing them indiscriminately to their enemies. The city 
was divided into districts ; offices were assigned to all 
the Christians; the rich lavished their wealth, the 
poor their personal exertions ; and men, perhaps just 
emerged from the mine or the prison, with the scars 
or mutilations of their recent tortures upon their 
bodies, were seen exposing their lives, if possible, to a 
more honorable martyrdom: as before the voluntary 
victims of Christian faith, so now of Christian charity. 
Yet the Heathen party, instead of being subdued, 
persisted in attributing this terrible scourge to the 
impiety of the Christians, which provoked the angry 
gods ; nor can we wonder if the zeal of Cyprian re- 
torted the argument, and traced rather the retributive 
justice of the Almighty to the wanton persecutions 
inflicted on the unoffending Christians. 

Cyprian did not again withdraw on the commence- 
ment of the Valerian persecution. He was cyprian's 
summoned before the proconsul, who com- "*"*^ 
municated his instructions from the emperor, to compel 
all those who professed foreign religions to offer sacri- 
fice. Cyprian refused, with tranquil determination. 
Ho was banished from Cartilage. He remained in 
his pleasant retreat rather than place of exile, in the 
small town of Ceribis, near the sea-shoi'e, in a spot 
shaded with verdant groves, and with a clear and 
healthful stream of water. It was provided with 
every comfort, and even luxury, in which the aus- 
tere nature of Cyprian would permit itself to in- 

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200 HIS RETURN. Book H. 

dulge.^ But, when his hour came, the tranquil and 
collected dignity of Cyprian in no respect fell below 
his lofty principles. 

On the accession of a new proconsul, Galerius 
iteturnto Maximus, Cyprian was either recalled or 
Carthage. permitted to return from his exile. He 
resided in his own gardens, from whence he received 
a summons to appear before the proconsul. He would 
not listen to the earnest solicitations of his friends, 
who entreated him again to consult his safety by with- 
drawing to some place of concealment. His trial was 
postponed for a day ; he was treated, while in custody, 
with respect and even delicacy. But the intelligence 
of the apprehension of Cyprian drew together the 
whole city, — the Heathen, eager to behold the spec- 
tacle of his martyrdom ; the Christians, to watch in 
their affectionate zeal at the doors of his prison. In 
the morning, he had to walk some distance, and was 
violently heated by the exertion. A Christian soldier 
offered to procure him dry linen, apparently from mere 
courtesy, but, in reality, to obtain such precious relics, 
steeped in the " bloody sweat" of the martyr. Cyprian 
intimated that it was useless to seek remedy for incon- 
.veniences which perhaps would that day pass away 
for ever. After a short delay, the proconsul appeared. 
The examination was brief: "Art thou Thascius 
Cyprian, the bishop of so many impious men ? The 
most sacred emperor commands thee to sacrifice." 
Cyprian answered, " I will not sacrifice." " Consider 
well," rejoined the proconsul. " Execute your orders," 

^ " If," says Pontiiis, who visited his master in his retirement, ** instead of 
this sunny and agreeable spot, it had been a waste and rocky solitade, the 
angels which fed Elijah and Daniel would have ministered to the holy 

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answered Cyprian : " the case admits of no considera- 

Galerius consulted with his council, and then re- 
luctantly^ delivered his sentence. " Tliascius Cyprian, 
thou hast lived long in thy impiety, and assembled 
around thee many men involved in the same wicked 
conspiracy. Thou hast shown thyself an enemy alike 
to the gods and the laws of the empire; the pious 
and sacred emperors have in vain endeavored to recall 
thee to the worship of thy ancestors. Since, then, thou 
hast been the chief author and leader of these most 
guilty practices, thou shalt be an example to those 
whom thou hast deluded to thy unlawful assemblies. 
Thou must expiate thy crime with thy blood." Cyprian 
said, " God be thanked! " 2 The Bishop of Carthage 
was carried into a neighboring field, and beheaded. 
He maintained his serene composure to the last. It 
was remarkable, that, but a few days afterwards, the 
proconsul died. Though he had been in bad health, 
this circumstance was not likely to be lost upon tlie 

Everywhere, indeed, the public mind was no doubt 
strongly impressed with the remarkable fact, which 
the Christians would lose no opportunity of ^,^,^^,,1^ 
enforcing on the awe-struck attention, that <**^jj^^j 
their enemies appeared to be the enemies of c»^««J<^y- 
Heaven. An early and a fearfiil fate appeared to be 
the inevitable lot of the persecutors of Christianity. 

1 In the Acta, vix <Bgrk is the expression : it may, however, mean that he 
spoke with difficulty, on account of his bod health. 

^ I have translated this sentence, as the Acts of Cyprian are remarkable 
for their simplicity, and total absence of later legendary ornament; and par- 
ticularly for the circumstantial air of truth with which they do justice to the 
regularity of the whole proceeding. Compare the Life of Cyprian by 
the Deacon Pontius; the Acts, in Ruinart, p. 216; Cavers Lives of the 
Apostles, &c., art " Cyprian." 

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Their profound and earnest conviction that the hand 
of Divine Providence was perpetually and visibly inter- 
posing in the affairs of men would not be so deeply 
imbued with the spirit of their Divine Master as to 
suppress the language of triumph, or even of vengeance, 
when the enemies of their God and of themselves either 
suffered defeat and death, or, worse than an honorable 
death, a cruel and insulting captivity. The death of 
Decius, according to the Pagan account, had been 
worthy of the old republic. He was environed by the 
Goths ; his son was killed by an arrow ; he cried aloud 
that the loss of a single soldier was nothing to tlie glory 
of the empire ; he renewed the battle, and fell valiantly. 
The Christian writers strip away all the more ennobling 
incidents. According to their account, having been 
decoyed by the enemy, or misled by a treacherous 
friend, into a marsh where he could neither fight nor 
fly, he perished tamely, and his unburied body was left 
to the beasts and carrion fowls.^ The captivity of Va- 
lerian, the mystery which hung over his death, allowed 
ample scope to the imagination of those whose national 
hatred of the barbarians would attribute the most un- 
manly ferocity to the Persian conqueror, and of those 
who would consider their God exalted by the most cruel 
and debasing sufferings inflicted on the oppressor of the 
Church. Valerian, it was said, was forced to bend his 
back that'the proud conqueror might mount his horse, 
as from a footstool ; his skin was flayed off (according to 
one more modern account, while he was alive), stuffed, 
and exposed to the mockery of the Persian rabble. 

The luxurious and versatile Gallienus restored peace 
oaiiienns to thc Church. Thc edict of Valerian waia 
AD. '280. rescinded ; the bishops resumed their public 

1 Orat. Constant apud Easeb. c. xziv. Lactant, De Mort Penec 

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functions; the buildings were restored; and their 
property, which had been confiscated by the state, re- 
stored to the rightful owners.^ 

The last transient collision of Christianity with the 
Government before its final conflict under Dio- Anwii«n. 
cletian, took place, or was at least threatened, '^•^•^^-^^• 
during the administration of the great Aurelian. The 
reign of Aurelian, occupied by warlike campaigns in 
every part of the world, left little time for attention to 
the internal police or the religious interests of the em- 
pire. The mother of Aurelian was priestess of the 
Sun at Sirmium ; and the emperor built a temple to 
that deity, his tutelary god, at Rome. But the dan- 
gerous wars of Aurelian required the concurrent aid 
of all the deities who took an interest in the fate of 
Rome. The sacred ceremony of consulting the Sibyl- 
line books, in whose secret and mysterious leaves were 
written the destinies of Rome, took place at his com- 
mand. The severe emperor reproaches the senate for 
their want of faith in these mystic volumes, or of zeal 
in the public service, as though they had been infected 
by the principles of Christianity .^ 

But there were no hostile measures taken against 
Christianity in the early part of his reign ; and he was 
summoned to take upon himself the extraordinary 
office of arbiter in a Christian controversy. A new 
empire seemed rising in the East, under the warlike 
Queen of Palmyra. Zenobia extended her protection, 
with politic indifference, to Jew, to Pagan, and to 
Christian. It might also appear that a kindred 
spiritual ambition animated her favorite Paul ^^^^ 
of Samosata, the Bishop of Antioch; and s*""®"**- 

1 Euseb. vii. 13; x. 28. 

> Read the Lil% of Aurelian by Vopiscus, one of the best, at least most 
9arefUl, in that unequal collection. 

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204 POMP OF PAUL. Book U. 

that he aspired to found a new religion, adapted to 
the kingdom of Palmyra, by blending together the 
elements of Paganism, of Judaism, and of Christianity. 
Ambitious, dissolute, and rapacious, according to the 
representation of his adversaries, Paul of Samosata 
had been advanced to the important see of Antioch ; 
but the zealous vigilance of the neighboring bishops 
soon discovered, that Paul held opinions, as to the 
mere human nature of the Saviour, more nearly allied 
to Judaism than to the Christian creed. The pride, 
the wealth, the state, of Paul, no less offended the 
feelings, and put to shame the more modest demeanor 
and the humbler pretensions of former prelates. He 
had obtained, either from the Roman authorities or 
from Zenobia, a civil magistracy, and prided himself 
more on his title of ducenary than of Christian bishop. 
He passed through the streets environed by guards, 
and preceded and followed by multitudes of attendants 
and supplicants, whose petitions he received and read 
with the stately bearing of a public officer rather than 
the affability of a prelate. His conduct in the ecclesi- 
astical assemblies was equally overbearing : he sat on 
a tlirone, and, while he indulged himself in every 
kind of theatric gesture, resented the silence of those 
who did not receive him with applause, or pay homage 
to his dignity. His magnificence disturbed the modest 
solemnity of the ordinary worship. Instead of the 
simpler music of the church, the hymns, in which 
the voices of the worshippers mingled in fervent, if 
less harmonious, unison, Paul organized a regular 
choir, in which the soft tones of female voices, in 
their more melting and artificial cadences, sometimes 
called to mind the voluptuous rites of Paganism, and 
could not be heard without shuddering by those 

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Chap.VIIL degradation of PAUL. 205 

accustomed to the more unadorned ritual.^ The 
Hosannas, somethues introduced as a kind of saluta- 
tion to the bishop, became, it was said, the chief part 
of the service, which was rather to the glory of Paul 
than of the Lord. This introduction of a new and 
effeminate ceremonial would of itself, with its rigid 
adversaries, have formed a ground for the charge of 
dissolute morals, against which may be fairly urged 
the avowed patronage of the severe Zenobia.^ But 
the pomp of Paul's expenditure did not interfere 
with the accumulation of considerable wealth, which 
he extorted from the timid zeal of his partisans, and, 
it was said, by the venal administration of the judicial 
authority of his episcopate, perhaps of his civil magis- 
tracy. But Paul by no means stood alone : he had a 
powerful party among the ecclesiastical body, the 
chorepiscopi of the country districts, and the pres- 
byters of the city. He set at defiance the synod of 
bishops, who pronounced a solemn sentence of excom- 
munication;* and, secure under the protection of the 
Queen of Palmyra, if her ambition should succeed in 
wresting Syria, with its noble capital, from the power 
of Rome, and in maintaining her strong and influential 
position between the conflicting powers of Persia and 
the empire, Paul might hope to share in her triumph, 
and establish his degenerate but splendid form of Chris- 
tianity in the very seat of its primitive apostolic 
foundation. Paul had staked his success upon that 
of his warlike patroness ; and, on the fall of Zenobia, 
the bishops appealed to Aurelian to expel the rebel 

1 'Qv Koi oMvoac av rtf ^pi^etev. Such is the expreasion in the decree 
of excommunication issued hy the bishops. Euseb. vii. 80. 
s Compare Routh, Keliq. Sacr. il. 606. 
* See the sentence in Eusebius, yii. 80, and in Routh, Reliquiie Sacne, 

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against their authority, and the partisan of the Pabny- 
renes, who had taken arms against tlie majesty of the 
empire, from his episcopal dignity at Antioch. Aure- 
lian did not altogether refuse to interfere in this 
unprecedented cause, but, with laudable impartiality, 
declined any actual cognizance of the affair, and 
transferred the sentence from the personal enemies of 
Paul, the Bishops of Syria, to those of Rome and 
Italy. By their sentence, Paul was degraded from his 

The sentiments of Aurelian changed towards Chris- 
tianity near the close of his reign. The severity of 
his character, reckless of human blood, would not, if 
committed in the strife, have hesitated at any meas- 
ures to subdue the rebellious spirit of his subjects. 
Sanguinary edicts were issued, though his death pre- 
vented their general promulgation ; and in the fate of 
Aurelian the Christians discovered another instance 
of the divine vengeance, which appeared to mark 
their enemies with the sign of inevitable and appalling 

Till the reign of Diocletian, the churches reposed in 
undisturbed but enervating security. 

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The Persecution onder Diocletian. 

The final contest between Paganism and Glirlstianitj 
drew near. Almost three hundred years had elapsed 
since the divine Author of the new religion had entered 
upon his mortal life in a small village in ^ d 284. 
Palestine ; ^ and now, having gained so 
powerful an ascendency over the civilized world, the 
Gospel was to undergo its last and most trying ordeal, 
before it should assume the reins of empire, and 
become the established religion of the Roman world. 
It was to sustain the deliberate and systematic attack 
of the temporal authority, arming, in almost every 
part of the empire, in defence of the ancient p^^of the 
Polytheism. At this crisis, it is important chriBtians. 
to survey the state of Christianity, as well as the char- 
acter of the sovereign and of the government, which 
made this ultimate and most vigorous attempt to 
suppress the triumphant progress of the new faith. 

Tlie last fifty years, with a short interval of menaced, 
probably of actual, persecution, during the reign of 
Aurelian, had passed in peace and security. The 
Christians had become, not merely a public, but an 
imposing and influential, body; their separate exist- 
ence had been recognized by the law of Oallienus; 
their churches had arisen in most of the cities of the 

^ Diocletian began his reign A.D. 284. The commencement of the per- 
secution is dated A.D. 808. 

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empire, — as yet, probably, with no great pretensions 
to arcliitectural grandeur, though no doubt ornamented 
by the liberality of the worshippers, and furnished 
with vestments, and with chalices, lamps, and chande- 
liers of silver. The number of these buildings was 
constantly on the increase, or the crowding multitudes 
of proselytes demanded the extension of the narrow 
and humble walls. The Christians no longer declined, 
or refused to aspire to, the honors of the state. They 
filled offices of distinction, and even of supreme au- 
thority, in the provinces and in the army ; they were 
exempted, either by tacit connivance or direct in- 
PTogi«fl6of dulgence, from the accustomed sacrifices, 
chriatiwuty. ^^^^^g ^^q moTG immediate attendants on 

the emperor, two or three openly professed the Chris- 
tian faith. Prisca the wife, and Valeria, tlie daughter 
of Diocletian and wife of Galerius, were suspected, if 
not avowed, partakers of the Christian mysteries.^ 
If it be impossible to form the most remote approxi- 
mation to their relative numbers with that of the 
Pagan population, it is equally erroneous to estimate 
their strength and influence by numerical calculation. 
All political changes are wrought by a compact, or- 
ganized, and disciplined minority. The mass of man- 
kind are shown by experience, and appear fated by 
the constitution of our nature, to follow any vigorous 
impulse from a determined and incessantly aggressive 
The long period of prosperity had produced in 
the Christian community its usual consa^ 

Relaxation of i . « 

chmtiaa Quenccs, — somo relaxation of morals: but 

morals. — 

ofchnstian Cliristiau charity had probably suffered more 
than Christian purity. The more flourisliing 

1 Euseb., Ecc. Hist viii. 1. 

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and extensive the community, the more the pride, 
perhaps the temporal advantages, of superiority, pre- 
dominated over the Christian motives which led men 
to aspire to the supreme functions in the Church. 
Sacerdotal domination began to exercise its awful 
powers, and the bishop to assume the language and 
the authority of the vicegerent of God. Feuds dis- 
tracted the bosom of the peaceful communities, and 
disputes sometimes proceeded to open violence. Such 
is the melancholy confession of the Christians them- 
selves, who, according to the spirit of the times, con- 
sidered the dangers and the afflictions to which they 
were exposed in the light of divine judgments ; and 
deplored, perhaps with something of the exaggeration 
of religious humiliation, the visible decay of holiness 
and peace.^ But it is the strongest proof of the firm 
hold of a party, whether religious or political, upon 
the public mind, when it may oflFend with impunity 
against its own primary principles. That which at 
one time is a sign of incurable weakness or approach- 
ing dissolution, at another seems but the excess of 
healthful energy and the evidence of imbroken vigor. 

The acts of Diocletian are the only trustworthy 
history of his character. The son of a slave, or, at all. 
events, born of obscure and doubtful parent- 
age, who could force his way to sovereign 
power, conceive and accomplish the design of recon- 
structing the whole empire, must have been a man, at 
least, of strong politick courage ; of profound, if not 
always wise and statesmanlike, views. In the person 
of Diocletian, the Emperor of Rome became an Orien- 
tal monarch. The old republican forms were disdain- 
fully cast aside ; consuls and tribunes gave way to new. 

1 EBueb., Ecc. Hist yiU. 1. 
VOL. II. 14 

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officers, with adulatory and un-Roman appellations. 
Diocletian himself assumed the new title of Dominus 
or Lord, which gave offence even to the servile and 
flexible religion of his Pagan subjects, who reluctantly, 
at first, paid the homage of adoration to the master of 
the world. 

Nor was the ambition of Diocletian of a narrow or 
Diocietun. pcrsonal character. With the pomp, he did 
Slteff toe*"* ^0* fl'fifect the solitude, of an Eastern despot. 
empiitt. rpjj^ uccessity of the state appeared to demand 
the active and perpetual presence of more than one 
person invested with sovereign i^uthority, who might 
organize the decaying forces of the different divisions 
of the empire against the menacing hosts of barbarians 
on every frontier. Two Augusti and two Csesars 
shared the dignity and the cares of the public admini&- 
tration,^ — a measure, if expedient for the security, 
fatal to the prosperity, of the exhausted provinces, 
which found themselves burdened with the mainte- 
nance of four imperial establishments. A new system 
of taxation was imperatively demanded and relentlessly 
introduced; 2 while the emperor seemed to mock the 
bitter and ill-suppressed murmurs of the provinces, by 
his lavish expenditure in magnificent and ornamental 
buildings. That was attributed to the avarice of 
Diocletian which arose out of the change in the form 
of government, and in some degree out of his sump- 
tuous taste in that particular department, the embel- 
lishment, not of Rome only, but of the chief cities of 
the empire, — Milan, Carthage, and Nicomedia. At 

1 In the Leben ConstantiDS des Grossen, by Manso, there is a good discus- 
bIod on the authority and relative position of the Augusti and the Ciesan. 

* The extension of the rights of citizenship to the whole empire by Cara- 
calla made it impossible to maintain the exemptions and immunities which 
tliat prinlege had thud lavishly conferred. 

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one time, the all-pervading Government aspired, after 
a season of scarcity, to regulate the prices of all com- 
modities, and of all interchange, whether of labor 
or of bargain and sale, between man and man. This 
singular and gigantic effort of well-meaning but mis- 
taken despotism has come to light in the present 

Among the innovations introduced by Diocletian, 
none, perhaps, was more closely connected Neglect of 
with the interests of Christianity than the *'**™' 
virtual degradation of Rome from the capital of the 
empire, by the constant residence of the emperor in 
other cities. Though the old metropolis was not 
altogether neglected in the lavish expenditure of the 
public wealth upon new edifices, either for the con- 
venience of the people or the splendor of public 
solemnities, yet a larger share fell to the lot of other 
towns, particularly of Nicomedia.^ la this city, the 
emperor more frequently displayed the new state of 
his imperial court, while Rome was rarely honored by 
his presence. Nor was his retreat, when wearied with 
political strife, on the Campanian coast, in the Bay of 
Baiae, which the older Romans had girt with their 
splendid seats of retirement and luxury: it was on the 
Dlyrian and barbarous side of the Adriatic that the pal- 
ace of Diocletian arose, and his agricultural establish- 
ment spread its narrow belt of fertility. The removal 
of the seat of government more clearly discovered the 
magnitude of the danger to the existing institutions 
from the progress of Christianity. The East was, no 
doubt, more fully peopled with Christians than any 

1 Edict of Diocletian, published and illustrated by Col. Leake. It is 
alluded to in the treatise, De Mortibus Persecut C. vii. 

^ "Ita semper dementabat, Nicodemiaxn studens urbi Rom» coaequare.'* 
— De Mort Peraecut. C vii. 

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part of the Western world, unless perhaps the province 
of Africa; at all events, their relative rank, wealth, 
and importance, much more nearly balanced that of 
the adherents of the old Polytheism.^ In Rome, the 
ancient majesty of the national religion must still have 
kept down in comparative obscurity the aspiring 
rivalry of Christianity. The praetor still made way for 
the pontifical order, and submitted his fasces to the 
vestal virgin, while the Christian bishop pursued his 
humble and unmarked way. The modest church or 
churches of the Christians lay hid, no doubt, in some 
sequestered street or in the obscure Transteverine 
region, and did not venture to contrast themselves 
with the stately temples on which the ruling people of 
the world and the sovereigns of mankind had for ages 
lavished their treasures. However the church of the 
metropolis of the world might maintain a high rank in 
Christian estimation, might boast its antiquity, its 
apostolic origin, or at least of being the scene of apos- 
tolic martyrdom, and might number many distinguished 
proselytes in all ranks, even in the imperial court; 
still Paganism, in this stronghold of its most gorgeous 
pomp, its hereditary sanctity, its intimate connection 
with all the institutions, and its incorporation with the 

1 Tertullian, Apolog. c. 87. Mr. Coneybeare (Bampton Lectures, p. 846) 
has drawn a curious inference from a passage in this chapter of Tertullian, 
that the majority of those who had a right of citizenship in those cities had 
embraced the Christian faith, while the mobs were its most furious opponents. 
It appears unquestionable, that the strength of Christianity lay in the middle, 
perhaps the mercantile, classes. The last two books of the Paidagogos of 
Clement of Alexandria, the most copious authority for Christian maimers at 
that time, inveigh against the vices of an opulent and luxurious community, 
— splendid dresses, jewels, gold and silver vessels, rich banquets, gilded lit- 
ters and chariots, and private baths. The ladies kept Indian birds, Median 
peacocks, monkeys, and Maltese dogs, instead of maintaining widows and 
orphans; the men had multitudes of slaves. The sixth chapter of the third 
book — ** That the Christian alone is rich " — would have been unmeaning if 
addressed to a poor community. 

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whole ceremonial of public affairs, — in Rome must 
have maintained at least its outward supremacy.^ But, 
in comparison with the less imposing dignity of the 
municipal government or the local priesthood, the 
Bishop of Antioch or Nicomedia was a far greater 
person than the predecessor of the popes among 
the consulars and the senate, the hereditary aris- 
tocracy of the old Roman families or the ministers 
of the ruling emperor. In Nicomedia, the Chris- 
tian church, an edifice at least of considerable strength 
and solidity, stood on an eminence commanding 
the town, and conspicuous above the palace of the 

Diocletian might seem born to accomplish that revo- 
lution which took place so soon after, under the reign 
of Constantine. The new constitution of the empire 
might appear to require a reconstruction of the reli- 
gious system. The emperor, who had not scrupled to 
accommodate the form of the government, without 
respect to the ancient majesty of Rome, to the present 
position of affairs ; to degrade the capital itself into the 
rank of a provincial city ; and to prepare the way, at 
least, for the removal of the seat of government to the 
East, — would have been withheld by no scru- Reugion or 
pies of veneration for ancient rites or ancestral ^~^«"*°' 
ceremonies, if the establishment of a new religion had 

1 In a letter of Cornelius, Bishop of Rome, written during or soon after the 
reign of Decius, the ministerial establishment of the charch in Rome is thus 
stated: One bishop; forty-six presbyters; seven deacons; seven subdea- 
oons; forty-two acolyths or attendants; fifty-two exorcists, readers, and door- 
keepers; fifteen hundred widows and poor. — Euseb. vi. 43. 

Optatus (lib. ii.) states that there were more than forty churches in Rome 
at the time of tho persecution of Diocletian. It has been usual to calculate 
one church for each presb^'ter; which would suppose a falling-off, at least no 
inciease, during the interval. But some of the presbyters reckoned by Cor- 
nelius may have been superannuated or in prison, and their place supplied by 

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214 NEW PAGANISM. Book H. 

appeared to harmouize with his general policy. But 
his mind was not yet ripe for such a change, nor per- 
haps his knowledge of Cliinstianity and its profound 
and unseen influence sufficiently extensive. In his 
assumption of the title Jovius, while his colleague took 
that of HcrcuHus, Diocletian gave a public pledge of 
his attachment to the old Polytheism. Among the 
cares of his administration, he by no means neglected 
New Pttgan. *^^® purification of the ancient religions.^ In 
^^' Paganism itself, that silent but manifest 

change, of which we have already noticed the comr 
mencement, had been creeping on. The new philoso- 
phic Polytheism which Julian attempted to establish 
on the ruins of Christianity was still endeavoring 
to supersede the older poetic faith of the Heathen 
nations. It had not even yet come to sufficient 
maturity to offer itself as a formidable antagonist to 
the religion of Christ. This new Paganism, as has 
been observed, arose out of the alliance of the phi- 
losophy and the religion of the old world. These 
once implacable adversaries had reconciled their differ- 
ences, and coalesced against the common enemy. 
Christianity itself had no slight influence upon the 
formation of the new system; and now an Eastern 
element, more and more strongly dominant, mingled 
with the whole, and lent it, as it were, a visible object 
of worship. From Christianity, the new Paganism had 
adopted the Unity of the Deity, and scrupled not to 
degrade all the gods of the older world into subordinate 
Worship of demons or ministers. Tlie Cliristians had 
**"^"°- incautiously held the same language: both 
concurred in the name of demons; but the Pagans 
used the phrase in the Platonic sense, as good but sub- 

1 " Yeteirimn religiones castissim^ curatae." — Aurel. Vict, De Cffisar. 

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Chap. IX. WORSfflP OF THE SUN. 215 

ordinate spirits, while the same term spoke to the 
Christian ear as expressive of malignant and diabolic 
agency. But the Jupiter Optimus Maximus was not 
the great Supreme of the new system. The universal 
deity of the East, the Sun, to the philosophic was the 
emblem or representative; to the vjalgar, the Deity. 
Diocletian himself, though he paid so much deference 
to the older faith as to assume the title of Jovius, 
as belonging to the Lord of the world, yet, on his 
accession, when he would exculpate himself from 
all concern in the murder of his predecessor Numerian, 
appealed in the face of the army to the all-seeing 
deity of the Sun. It is the oracle of Apollo of 
Miletus, consulted by the hesitating emperor, which 
is to decide the fate of Christianity. The metaphor- 
ical language of Christianity had unconsciously lent 
strength to this new adversary ; and, in adoring the 
visible orb, some, no doubt, supposed that they were 
not departing far from the worship of the " Sun of 

But, though it might enter into the imagination of 
an imperious and powerful sovereign to fuse together 
all these conflicting faiths, the new Paganism was 
beginning to advance itself as the open and most 
dangerous adversary of the religion of Christ. Hiero- 
cles, the great hierophant of the Platonic Paganism, 
is distinctly named as the author of the persecution 
under Diocletian.^ 

Thus, then, an irresistible combination of circum- 
stances tended to precipitate the fatal crisis. The 

1 Hermogenes, one of the older heresiarchs, applied the text, "He has 
placed his tabernacle in the sun," to Christ; and asserted that Christ had 
pat off his body in the sun. — Panttenus ap. Routh, Reliquiie Sacne, i. 889. 

* Another philosophic writer published a work against the Christians. 
See Fleuiy, p. 462, from Tertullian. 

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whole political scheme of Diocletian was incomplete, 
unless some distinct and decided course was taken 
with these self-governed corporations, who rendered, 
according to the notions of the time, such imperfect 
allegiance to the sovereign power. But the cautious 
disposition of Diocletian ; his deeper insight, perhaps, 
into the real nature of the struggle which would take 
place ; his advancing age ; and, possibly, the latent 
and depressing influence of the malady which may then 
have been hanging over him, and which, a short time 
after, brought him to the brink of the grave,^ — these 
concurrent motives would induce him to shrink from 
violent measures ; to recommend a more temporizing 
policy ; and to consent, with diflBcult reluctance, to the 
final committal of the imperial authority in a contest in 
which the complete submission of the opposite party 
could only be expected by those who wore altogether 
ignorant of its strength.. The imperial power had much 
to lose in an unsuccessful contest : it was likely to gain, 
if successful, only a temporary and external conquest. 
On the one hand, it was urged by the danger of per- 
mitting a vast and self-governed body to co-exist with 
the general institutions of the empire : on the other, if 
not a civil war, a contest which would array one part of 
almost every city of the empire against the other in 
domestic hostility, might appear even of more perilous 
consequence to the public welfare. 

The party of the old religion, now strengthened by 
the accession of the philosophic faction, risked nothing, 

1 The charge of derangement, which rests on the authority of Constantine, 
as related by Easebius, is sufficiently confuted by the dignity of his abdica- 
tion, the placid content with which he appeared to ei^oy his peaceful retreat, 
the respect paid to him by his turbulent and ambitious colleagues, and the 
involuntary influence which he still appeared to exercise over the affiun of 
the empire. 

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and might expect much, from the vigorous, systematic, 
and universal intervention of the civil au- 
thority. It was clear that nothing less would thSphiS- 
restore its superiority to the decaying cause 
of Polytheism. Nearly three centuries of tame and 
passive connivance, or of open toleration, had only in- 
creased the growing power of Christianity, while it 
had not in the least allayed that spirit of moral con- 
quest which avowed that its ultimate end was the 
total extinction of idolatry. 

But in the army the parties were placed in more 
inevitable opposition ; and in the army commenced 
the first overt acts of hostility, which were the prog- 
nostics of the general persecution.^ Nowhere did the 
old Roman religion retain so much hold upon the mind 
as among the sacred eagles. Without sacrifice to the 
givers of victory, the superstitious soldiery would ad- 
vance, divested of their usual confidence, against the 
enemy ; and defeat was ascribed to some impious omis- 
sion in the ceremonial of propitiating the gods. The 
Christians now formed no unimportant part in the 
army : though permitted by the ruling authorities to 
abstain from idolatrous conformity, their contempt of 
the auspices which promised, and of the rites which 
insured, the divine favor, would be looked upon with 
equal awe and animosity. The unsuccessful general 
and the routed army would equally seize every excuse 
to cover the misconduct of the one, or the cowardice 
of the other. In the pride of victory, the present 
deities of Rome would share the honor with Roman 
valor ; the assistance of the Christians would be for- 
gotten in defeat ; the resentment of the gods, to whom 

1 *E« tCjv h arpareUu/Q ddeXpciv Korapxofiivov tov diuyfiov, — Eiueb. 
Tiii. 1. Compare ch. iv. 

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that defeat would be attributed, would be ascribed by 
the Pagaus to the impiety of their godless comrades. 
An incident of this kind took place, during one of his 
campaigns, in the presence of Diocletian. The army 
was assembled around the altar ; the sacrificing priest 
in vain sought for the accustomed signs in the entrails 
of the victim; the sacrifice was again and again re- 
peated, but always with the same result. The baffled 
soothsayer, trembling with awe or with indignation, 
denounced the presence of profane strangers. The 
Christians had been seen to make, perhaps boasted that 
they had made, the sign of the cross, and put to flight 
the impotent demons of idolatrous worship. They were 
apprehended, and commanded to sacrifice ; and a gen- 
eral edict was issued, that all who refused to pay honor 
to the martial deities of Rome should be expelled from 
the army. It is far from improbable that frequent 
incidents of this nature may have occurred ; if, in the 
unsuccessful campaign of Galerius in the East, nothing 
was more likely to embitter the mind of that violent 
emperor against the whole commmiity. Nor would 
this animosity be allayed by the success with which 
Galerius retrieved his former failure. While the im- 
piety of the Christians would be charged with all the 
odium of defeat, they would never be permitted to 
participate in the glories of victory. 

During the winter of the year of Christ 302-3, the 
great question of the policy to be adopted to- 
coocerning*" wards the Christians was debated, first in a 
^' private conference between Diocletian and 
Galerius. Diocletian, though urged by his more vehe- 
ment partner in the empire, was averse from sanguin- 
ary proceedings, from bloodshed and confusion; he 
was inclined to more temperate measures, which would 

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Chap. IX. COUNCIL. 219 

degrade the Christians from every post of rauk or 
authority, and expel them from tlie palace and the 
army. The palace itself was divided by conflictmg 
factions. Some of the chief oflScers of Diocletian's 
household openly professed Christianity ; his wife and 
his daughter were at least favorably disposed to the 
same cause ; while the mother of Galerius, a fanatical 
worshipper, probably of Cybele, was seized with a 
spirit of proselytism, and celebrated almost every day 
a splendid sacrifice, followed by a banquet, at which 
she required the presence of the whole court. The 
pertinacious resistance of the Christians provoked her 
implacable resentment, and her influence over her son 
was incessantly employed to inflame his mind to more 
active animosity. 

Diocletian at length consented to summon a council, 
formed of some persons versed in the adminis- 

* Council. 

tration of the law, and some military men. 
Of these, one party were already notoriously hostile 
to Christianity ; ^ the rest were courtiers, who bent to 
every intimation of the imperial favor. Diocletian 
still prolonged his resistance,^ till, either to give greater 
solemnity to the decree, or to identify their measures 
more completely with the cause of Polytheism, it was 
determined to consult the oracle of Apollo at Miletus. 
The answer of tlie oracle might be anticipated ; and 
Diocletian submitted to the irresistible united authority 
of his friends, of Galerius, and of the god, and con- 
tented himself with moderating the severity of the edict. 

^ Hierodes, the philosopher, was probablj a member of this coimciL — 
Mosheim, p. 922. 

* According to the unffiendly representation of the author of the treatise, 
De Mort. Pers., whose view of Diocletian's character is confirmed by Eutro- 
pius, it was the crafty practice of Diocletian to assume all the merit of popu- 
lar measures as emanating from himself alone, while, in those which were 
unpopular, he pretended to act altogether by the advice of others. 

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Galerius proposed that all who refused to sacrifice 
should be burned alive: Diocletian stipulated that 
there should be no loss of life. 

A fortunate day was chosen for the execution of the 
Edict of pei^ imperial decree. The Feast of Terminalia was 
Kecution. inseparably connected with the stability of the 
Roman power, — that power which was so manifestly 
endangered by the progress of Christianity. At the 
Its pubuca. dfl'Wn of day, the prefect of the city appeared 
^^^' at the door of the church in Nicomedia, 

attended by the officers of the city and of the court. 
The doors were instantly thrown down; the Pagans 
beheld with astonishment the vacant space, and sought 
in vain for the statue of the deity. The sacred books 
were instantly burned, and the rest of the furniture of 
the building plundered by the tumultuous soldiery. 
The emperors commanded from the palace a full view 
Its execution ot the tumult and spoliation, for the church 
in Nicomedia. g^Q^^j ^j^ ^ height at uo great distance ; and 
Galerius wished to enjoy the spectacle of a conflagrar 
tion of the building. The more prudent Diocletian, 
fearing that the fiure might spread to the splendid 
edifices which adjoined it, suggested a more tardy 
and less imposing plan of demolition. The pioneers 
of the praetorian guard advanced with their tools, 
and in a few hours the whole building was razed to 
the ground. 

The Christians made no resistance, but awaited in 
silent consternation the promulgation of the fatal edict. 
On the next morning it appeared. It was filmed in 
terms of the sternest and most rigorous proscription, 
short of the punishment of death. It comprehended all 
ranks and orders under its sweeping and inevitable 
provisions. Throughout the empire, the churches 

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of the Christians were to be levelled with tlie ground : 
the public existence of the religion was thus to be 
annihilated. The sacred books were to be delivered, 
under pain of death, by their legitimate guardians, 
the bishops and presbyters, to the imperial officers, 
and publicly burnt. The philosophic party thus 
hoped to extirpate those pernicious writings with 
which they in vain contested the supremacy of the 
public mind. 

The property of the churches, whether endowments 
in land or furniture, was confiscated; all public assem- 
blies, for the purposes of worship, prohibited; the 
Christians of rank and distinction were degraded from 
all their offices, and declared incapable of filling 
any situation of trust or authority; those of the 
plebeian order were deprived of the right of Roman 
citizenship, which secured the sanctity of their persons 
from corporal chastisement or torture; slaves were 
declared incapable of claiming or obtaining liberty ; the 
whole race were placed without the pale of the law, 
disqualified from appealing to its protection in case 
of wrong, as of personal injury, of robbery, or adul- 
tery; while they were liable to civil actions, bound to 
bear all the burdens of the state, and amenable to all 
its penalties. In many places, an altar was placed 
before the tribunal of justice, on which the plaintiflf 
was obliged to sacrifice, before his cause could obtain 
a hearing.^ 

No sooner had this edict been affixed in the cus- 
tomary place, than it was torn down by the jdict tom 
hand of a rash and indignant Christian, who ^^' 
added insult to his offence by a contemptuous inscrip- 
tion : " Such are the victories of the emperors over 

1 Eoaeb. viii. 2. De Mort Penecnt apad Lactantiuza. 

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the Goths and Sarmatians." ^ This outrage on the 
imperial majesty was expiated by the death of the 
delinquent, who avowed his glorious crime. Although 
less discreet Christians might secretly dignify the 
suflFerings of the victim with the honors of martyr- 
dom, they could only venture to approve the patience 
with which he bore the agony of being roasted alive 
by a slow fire.^ 

The prudence or the moderation of Diocletian had 
rejected the more violent and sanguinary counsels of 
the Caesar, who had proposed that all who refused to 
sacrifice should be burned alive. But his personal 
terrors triumphed over the lingering influence of com- 
Firo in the passiou or justicc. On a sudden, a fire burst 
Nic^edia. out iu the palacc of Nicomedia, which spread 
almost to the chamber of the emperor. The real 
origin of this fatal conflagration is unknown ; and 
notwithstanding the various causes to which it was 
ascribed by the fears, the malice, and the superstition 
of the different classes, we may probably refer the 
whole to accident. It may have arisen from the hasty 
or injudicious construction of a palace built but re- 
cently. One account ascribes it to lightning. If this 
opinion obtained general belief among the Christian 
party, it would, no doubt, be considered by many a 
visible sign of the divine vengeance, on account of 
the promulgation of the imperial edict. The Chris- 
tians were accused by the indignant voice of the 
Heathen ; they retorted, by throwing the guilt upon 
the emperor Galerius, who had practised (so the 
ecclesiastical historian suggests) the part of a secret 
incendiary, in order to criminate the Christians, and 
alai*m Diocletian into his more violent measures.^ 

1 Mosheim, De Reb. Christ > Eoseb. riu. 6. * Euseb. viii. 6. 

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The obvious impolicy of such a measure, as the 
chance of actually destroying both their imperial ene- 
mies in the fire must have been very remote, and as it 
could only darken the subtle mind of Diocletian with 
the blackest suspicions and madden Oalerius to more 
unmeasured hostility, must acquit the Christians of 
any such design, even if their high principles, their 
sacred doctrines of peaceful submission under the 
direst persecution, did not place them above all suspi- 
cion. The only Christian who would have incurred 
the guilt, or provoked upon his innocent brethren the 
danger, inseparable from such an act, would have 
been some desperate fanatic, like the man who tore 
down the edict. And such a man would have avowed 
and gloried in the act ; he woidd have courted the ill- 
deserved honors of martyrdom. The silence of Con- 
stantine may clear Galerius of the darker charge of 
contriving, by these base and indirect means, the 
destruction of a party against which he proceeded 
with undisguised hostility. Galerius, however, as if 
aware of the full effect with which such an event would 
work on the mind of Diocletian, immediately left 
Nicomedia, declaring that he could not consider his 
person safe within that city. 

The consequences of this fatal conflagration were 
disastrous, to the utmost extent which their worst 
enemies could desire, to the whole Christian commu- 
nity. The officers of the household, the inmates of 
the palace, were exposed to the most cruel tortures, 
by the order, it is said in the presence, of Diocletian. 
Even the females of the imperial family were not 
exempt, if from tlie persecution, from that suspicion 
which demanded the clearest evidence of their Pagan- 
ism. Prisca and Valeria were constrained to pollute 

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themselves with sacrifice; the powerful eunuchs, 
Dorotheus and Gorgonius and Andreas, suffered 
death; Anthimus, the Bishop of Nicomedia, was 
beheaded. Many were executed, many burnt alive, 
many laid bound, with stones round their necks, in 
boats, rowed into the midst of the lake, and thrown 
into the water. 

Prom Nicomedia, the centre of the persecution, the 

imperial edicts were promulgated, though 
tionbl^i^ with less than the usual rapidity, through 

the East. Letters were despatched requiring 
the co-operation of the Western emperors, Maximian, 

the associate of Diocletian, and the Caesar 

Constantius, in the restoration of the dignity 
of the ancient religion, and the suppression of the 
hostile faith. Constantius made a show of concur- 
rence in the measures of his colleagues; he com- 
manded the demolition of the churches, but abstained 
from all violence against the persons of the Chris- 
tians.^ Gaul alone, his favored province, was not 
defiled by Christian blood. The fiercer temper of 
Maximian only awaited the signal, and readily ac- 
ceded, to carry into effect the barbarous edicts of liis 

In almost every part of the world, Christianity 
found itself at once assailed by the full force of the 
civil power, constantly goaded on by the united influ- 
ence of the Pagan priesthood and the philosophic 
party. Nor was Diocletian, now committed in the 
desperate strife, content with the less tyrannical and 

^ Ensebius, whose panegyric on Constantine throws back some of its 
adulation upon his father, makes Onstantios a Christian, with the Christian 
service regularly performed in his palace. — Vit. Constant c. 88. The exag- 
geration of this statement is exposed by t^agi, ad ann. 308, n. yiii. Mo»* 
helm, De Rebus ante Const Mag. p. 929-986. 

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sanguinary edict of Nicomedia. Vague rumors of 
insurrection, some tumultuary risings in regions which 
were densely peopled with Christians, and even the 
enforced assumption of the purple by two adventurers, 
one in Armenia, another in Antioch, seemed to coun- 
tenance the charges of political ambition, and the 
design of armed and vigorous resistance. 

It is the worst evil of religious contests, that the 
civil power cannot retract without the humiliating 
confession of weakness, and must go on increasing in 
the severity of its measures. It soon finds that there 
is no success short of the extermination of the adver- 
sary ; and it has but the alternative of acknowledged 
failure or this internecine warfare. The demolition of 
the churches might remove objects oflFensive to the 
wounded pride of the dominant Polytheism ; the de- 
struction of the sacred books might gratify the jealous 
hostility of the philosophic party ; but not a single com- 
munity was dissolved. The precarious submission of 
the weaker Christians only confirmed the more resolute 
opposition of the stronger and more heroic adherents 
of Christianity. 

Edict followed edict, rising in regular gradations of 
angry barbarity. The whole clergy were declared 
enemies of the state; they were seized wherever a 
hostile prefect chose to put forth his boundless au- 
thority; and bishops, presbyters, and deacons were 
crowded into the prisons intended for the basest male- 
factors. A new rescript prohibited the liberation of 
any of these prisoners, unless they should consent to 
offer sacrifice. 

During the promulgation of these rescripts, Diocle- 
tian celebrated his triumph in Rome; he held a 
conference with the C»sar of Africa, who entered into 

TOL. II. 16 

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his rigorous measures. On his return to Nicomedia, 

he was seized with that long and depressing 

malady, which, whether or not it afifected 

him with temporary derangement, secluded him within 

the impenetrable precincts of the palace, whose sacred 

secrets were forbidden to be betrayed to the popular 

ear. This rigid concealment gave currency to every 

kind of gloomy rumor. The whole Roman world 

awaited with mingled anxiety, hope, and apprehension, 

Andabdi- *ihe news of his dissolution. Diocletian, to 

SSdSttan. tibe universal astonishment, appeared again 

A.D. 804. jj^ ^YiQ robes of empire ; to the still greater 

general astonishment, he appeared only to lay them 

aside, to abdicate the throne, and to retire to the 

peaceful occupation of his palace and agricultural villa 

on the Illyrian shore of the Adriatic. His colleague 

Maximian, with ill-dissembled reluctance, followed 

the example of his associate, patron, and co-adjutor 

in the empire. 

The great scheme of Diocletian, the joint administror 
tion of the empire by the associate Augusti, with their 
subordinate Caesars, if it had averted for a time the 
dismemberment of the empire, and had infused some 
vigor into the provincial governments, had introduced 
other evils of appalling magnitude ; but its fatal conse- 
quences were more manifest directly the master hand 
was withdrawn which had organized the new machine 
of government. Pierce jealousy succeeded at once 
among the rival emperors to decent concord; aU 
subordination was lost ; and a succession of civil wars 
oeoerai betwceu thc Contending sovereigns distracted 
"^^'y the whole world. The earth groaned under 
the separate tyranny of its many masters ; and, accord- 
ing to the strong expression of a rhetorical writer, 

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Chap. DC MAXENTIUS. 227 

the grinding taxation had so exhausted the proprietors 
and the cultivators of the soil, the merchants, and the 
artisans, that none remained to tax hut beggars.^ The 
sufferings of the Christians, however, still inflicted 
with unremitting barbarity, were lost in the common 
sufferings of mankind. The rights of Roman citizen- 
ship, which had been violated in their persons, were 
now universally neglected ; and, to extort money, the 
chief persons of the towns, the unhappy decurions, 
who were responsible for the payment of the contri- 
butions, were put to the torture. Even the punish- 
ment, the roasting by a slow fire, — invented to force 
the conscience of the devout Christians, — was bor- 
rowed, in order to wring the reluctant impost from 
the unhappy provincial. 

The abdication of Diocletian left the most implacable 
enemy of Christianity, Galerius, master of oaieriua 
the East; and in the East the persecution or the But. 
of the Christians, as well as the general oppression of 
the subjects, of the empire, continued in un- m^^j^jj^ 
mitigated severity. The nephew of Galerius ^^"*^ 
the Caesar, Maximin Daias, was the legitimate heir to 
his relentless violence of temper, and to his stem 
hostility to the Christian name. In the West, the 
assumption of the purple by Maxentius, the son of 
the abdicated Maximian (Herculius), had no unfavor- 
able effect on the situation of the Christians. They 
suffered only with the rest of their fellow- 


subjects from the vices of Maxentius. K 
their matrons and virgins were not secure from his 
lust, it was the common lot of all who, although of 
the highest rank and dignity, might attract his insa- 
tiable passions. If a Christian matron, the wife of a 

1 De Mort Peiaecut c xziii. 

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228 CONSTANTINE. Book n. 

senator, submitted to a voluntary death ^ rather than to 

the loss of her honor, it was her beauty, not her 

Christianity, which marked her out as the 


victim of the tyrant. It was not imtil Con- 
stantino began to develop his ambitious views of re- 
imiting the dismembered monarchy, that Maxentius 
threw himself, as it were, upon the ancient gods of 
Rome, and identified his own cause with that of Poly- 

At this juncture, all eyes were turned towards the 
elder son of Constantius. If not already recognized 
by the prophetic glance of devout hope as the first 
Christian sovereign of Rome, he seemed placed by 
providential wisdom as the protector, as the head, of 
the Cliristian interest. The enemies of Christianity 
were his; and if he was not, as yet, bound by the 
hereditary attachment of a son to the religion of his 
mother Helena, his father Constantius had bequeathed 
him the wise example of humanity and toleration. 
Placed as a hostage in the hands of Galerius, Constan- 
tino had only escaped from the honorable captivity of 
the Eastern court, where he had been exposed to con- 
stant peril of his life, by the promptitude and rapidity 
of his movements. He had fled, and during the first 
stages maimed the post-horses which might have been 
employed in his pursuit. During the persecution of 
Diocletian, Constantius alone, of all the emperors, by 
a dexterous appearance of submission, had screened 
the Christians of Gaul from the common lot of their 
brethren. Nor was it probable, that Constantino 
would render, on this point, more willing allegiance 
to the sanguinary mandates of Galerius. At present, 
however, Constantino stood rather aloof from the 

^ Enseb. yiU. 14. 

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affairs of Italy and the East ; and, till the resumption 
of the purple by the elder Maximian, his active mind 
was chiefly employed in the consolidation of his own 
power in Gaul, and the repulse of the German bar- 
barians who threatened the frontier of the Rhine. 

Notwithstanding that the persecution had now lasted 
for six or seven years, in no part of the world did 
Christianity betray any signs of vital decay. It was far 
too deeply rooted in the minds of men, far too .j.^^ 
extensively promulgated, far too vigorously 
organized, not to endure this violent but unavailing 
shock. If its public worship was suspended, the be- 
lievers met in secret, or cherished in the unassailable 
privacy of the heart the inalienable rights of con- 
science. If it suffered numerical loss, the body was 
not weakened by the severance of its more feeble and 
worthless members. The inert resistance of the gen- 
eral mass wearied out the vexatious and suireringB 

of thtt 

harassing measures of the Government. christiaM. 
Their numbers secured them against general exter- 
mination ; but, of course, the persecution fell most 
heavily upon the most eminent of the body, — upon 
men who were deeply pledged by the sense of shame 
and honor, even if, in any case, the nobler motives of 
conscientious faith and courageous confidence in the 
truth of the religion were wanting, to bear with un- 
yielding heroism the utmost barbarities of the perse- 
cutor. Those who submitted performed the hated 
ceremony with visible reluctance, with trembling hand, 
averted countenance, and deep remorse of heart ; 
those who resisted to death were animated by the 
presence of multitudes, who, if they dared not applaud, 
could scarcely conceal their admiration. Women 
crowded to kiss the hems of their garments, and 

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230 6ALEEIUS. Book IL 

their scattered ashes. or unburied bones were stolen 
away by tlie devout zeal of their adherents, and already 
began to be treasured as incentives to faith and piety. 
It cannot be supposed, that the great functionaries of 
the state, the civil or military governors, could be so 
universally seared to humanity, or so incapable of ad- 
miring these frequent examples of patient heroism, as 
not either to mitigate in some degree the sufferings 
which they were bound to inflict, or even to feel some 
secret sympathy with the blameless victims whom they 
condemned. That sympathy might ripen, at a more 
fortunate period, into sentiments still more favorable 
to the Gliristian cause. 

The most signal and unexpected triumph of Chris- 
tianity was over the author of the persecution. Wliile 
victory and success appeared to follow that party in 
the state which, if they had not as yet openly es- 
poused the cause of Christianity, had unquestionably 
its most ardent prayers in their favor, the enemies of the 
Christians were smitten with the direst calamities, and 
the Almighty appeared visibly to exact the most awful 
vengeance for their sufferings. Galerius himself was 
forced, as it were, to implore mercy — not indeed in 
the attitude of penitence, but of profound humiliation 
— at the foot of the Christian altar. In the eighteenth 
year of his reign, the great persecutor lay expiring of 
a most loathsome malady. A deep and fetid ulcer 
preyed on the lower regions of his body, and ate them 
away into a mass of living corruption. It is certainly 
singular that the disease, vulgarly called being " eaten 
of worms," should have been the destiny of Herod the 
Great, of Galerius, and of Philip II. of Spain. Phy- 
sicians were sought from all quarters ; every oracle 
was consulted in vain; that of Apollo suggested a 

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cure which aggravated the virulence of the disease. 
Not merely the chamber, the whole palace, of Galerius 
is described as infected by the insupportable stench 
which issued from his wound ; while the agonies which 
he suffered might have satiated the worst vengeance 
of the most unchristian enemy. 

Prom the dying bed of Galerius issued an edict, 
which, while it condescended to apologize for Edict of G«r 
the past seventies agamst the Christians, an, April so. 
under the specious plea of regard for the public wel- 
fare and the unity of the state, — while it expressed 
compassion for his deluded subjects, whom the Gov- 
ernment was ufi willing to leave in the forlorn condition 
of being absolutely without a religion, — admitted to 
the fullest extent the total failure of the severe meas- 
ures for the suppression of Christianity.^ It per- 
mitted the free and public exercise of the Christian 
religion. Its close was still more remarkable : it con- 
tained an earnest request to the Christians to intercede 
for the suffering emperor in their supplications to their 
God. Whether tliis edict was dictated by wisdom, by 
remorse, or by superstitious terror ; whether it was the 
act of a statesman, convinced by experience of the im- 
policy, or even the injustice, of his sanguinary acts ; 
whether, in the agonies of his excruciating disease, his 
conscience was harassed by tlie thought of his tortured 
victims ; or, having vainly solicited the assistance of 
his own deities, he would desperately endeavor to pro- 
pitiate the favor, or, at least, allay the wrath, of the 
Christians' God, — the whole Roman world was wit- 
ness of the public and humiliating acknowledgment of 
defeat extorted from the dying emperor, A few days 
after the promulgation of the edict, Galerius expired. 

1 Euseb., H. E. viii. 17. 

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232 MAXIMIN n. Book H. 

The edict was issued from Sardica, in the name of 
A.D.811 Galerius, of Licinius, and of Constantine. 
^^' It accorded with the sentiments of the two 

latter: Maximin H. alone, the Caesar of the East, 
whose peculiar jurisdiction extended over Syria and 
Egypt, rendered but an imperfect and reluctant obe- 
dience to the decree of toleration. His jealousy was, 
no doubt, excited by the omission of his name in the 
preamble to the edict ; and he seized tliis excuse to 
discountenance its promulgation in his provinces. Yet 
Conduct of for a time he suppressed his profound and in- 

Maximin In ff XT 

theEaflt. veterate hostility to the Christian name. He 
permitted unwritten orders to be issued to the mu- 
nicipal governors of the towns, and to the magistrates 
of the villages, to put an end to all violent proceedings. 
The zeal of Sabinus, the prsetorian prefect of the 
East, supposing the milder sentiments of Galerius to 
be shared by Maximin, seems to have outrun the in- 
tentions of the CaBsar. A circular rescript appeared 
in the name of Sabinus, echoing the tone, though it 
did not go quite to the length, of the imperial edict. 
It proclaimed that " it had been the anxious wish of 
the divinity of the most mighty emperors, to reduce the 
whole empire to pay a harmonious and united worship 
to tlie immortal gods. But their clemency had at 
length taken compassion on the obstinate perversity of 
the Christians, and determined on desisting from their 
inefifectual attempts to force them to abandon their he- 
reditary faith." The magistrates were instructed to 
communicate the contents of this letter to each other. 
The governors of the provinces, supposing at once that 
the letter of the prefect contained the real sentiments 
of the emperor, with merciful haste despatched orders 
to all persons in subordinate civil or military com- 

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mand, the magistrates both of the towns and the vil- 
lages, who acted upon them with unhesitating obe- 

The cessation of the persecution showed at once its 
extent. The prison doors were thrown open; the 
mines rendered up their condemned laborers. Every- 
where long trains of Christians were seen hastening 
to the ruins of their churches, and visiting the places 
sanctified by their former devotion. The public roads, 
the streets, and market-places of the towns were 
crowded with long processions, singing psalms of 
thanksgiving for their deliverance. Those who had 
maintained their faith under these severe trials passed 
triumphant in conscious, even if lowly pride, amid the 
flattering congratulations of their brethren ; those who 
had failed in the hour of affliction hastened to re-unite 
themselves with their God, and to obtain re-admission 
into the flourishing and ro-united fold. The Heathens 
themselves were astonished, it is said, at this signal 
mark of the power of the Christians' God, who had 
thus unexpectedly wrought so sudden a revolution in 
favor of his worshippers.^ 

But the cause of the Christians might appear not 
yet sufficiently avenged. The East, the great scene of 
persecution, was not restored to prosperity or peace. 
It had neither completed nor expiated the eight years 
of relentless persecution. The six months of 

apparent reconciliation were occupied by the ^JJ^JS^^^ 
Cassar Maximin in preparing measures of 
more subtile and profound hostility. The situation of 
Maximin himself was critical and precarious. On the 
death of Galerius, he had seized on the gov- 

A.D. 811. 

ernment of the whole of Asia ; and the forces 

1 Eoseb. ix. 1. > Enseb., H. E. ix. 1. 

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of the two emperors, Licinius and Maximin, watched 
each other on either side of the Bosphorus, with jeal- 
ous and ill-dissembled hostility. Throughout the West, 
the emperors were favorable, or at least not inimical, 
to Clu-istianity. The political difficulties, even the 
vices, of Maximin enforced the policy of securing 
the support of a large and influential body : he placed 
himself at the head of the Pagan interest in the East. 
A deliberate scheme was laid for the advancement of 
one party in the popular favor for the depression of the 
other. Measures were systematically taken to enfee- 
ble the influence of Christianity, not by the authority 
of Government, but by poisoning the public mind, and 
infusing into it a settled and conscientious animosity. 
False Acts of Pilate were forged, intended to cast dis- 
credit on the Divine Founder of Christianity; they 
were disseminated with the utmost activity. The 
streets of Antioch and other Eastern cities were pla- 
carded with the most calumnious statements of the 
origin of the Christian faith. The instructors of 
youth were directed to introduce them as lessons into 
the schools, to make their pupils commit them to 
memory; and boys were heard repeating, or grown 
persons chanting, the most scandalous blasphemies 
against the object of Christian adoration.^ In Damas- 
cus, the old arts of compelling or persuading women to 
confess that they had been present at the rites of the 
Cliristians, which had ended in lawless and promiscu- 
ous license, were renewed. The confession of some 
miserable prostitutes was submitted to the emperor, 
published by his command, and disseminated through- 

^ In the speech attributed to S. Lucianus, previous to his martyrdom at 
Nicomedia, there is an allusion to these Acts of Pilate, \i'hich shows that they 
had made considerable impression on the public mind. — Routh, Reliquia 
Sacne, iii. 286. 

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out the Eastern cities, although the Christian rites had 
been long celebrated in those cities with the utmost 

The second measure of Maximin was the re-organi- 
zation of the Pagan religion in all its original R«M»rgani- 
pomp, and more than its ancient power. A Paga^. 
coxnplete hierarchy was established on the model of 
the Christian episcopacy. Provincial pontiffs, men 
of the highest rank, were nominated ; they were inau- 
gurated with a solemn and splendid ceremonial, and 
were distinguished by a tunic of white. The emperor 
himself assumed the appointment to the pontifical 
offices in the different towns, which had in general 
rested with the local authorities. Persons of rank 
and opulence were prevailed on to accept these sacred 
functions, and were thus committed, by personal in- 
terest and corporate attachment, in the decisive 
struggle. Sacrifices were performed with the utmost 
splendor and regularity, and the pontiffs were invested 
with power to compel the attendance of all the citizens. 
The Christians were liable to every punishment or tor- 
ture, short of death. The Pagan interest having thus 
become predominant in the greater cities, addresses 
were artfully suggested, and voted by the acclaiming 
multitude, imploring the interference of the emperor 
to expel these enemies of the established religion fi*om 
their walls. The rescripts of the emperor were en- 
graved on brass, and suspended in the public parts of 
the city. The example was set by Antioch, once the 
headquarters, and still, no doubt, a stronghold of 
Christianity. Theotecnus, the logistes or chamberlain 
of tlie city, took the lead. A splendid image was 
erected to Jupiter Philius, and dedicated with all the 

1 Euseb. yiii. 14. 


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imposing pomp of mystery, perhaps of Eastern magic.^ 
As though they would enlist that strong spirit of 
mutual attachment which bound the Christians to- 
gether, the ancient Jupiter was invested in the most 
engaging and divine attribute of the (Jod of Chris- 
tianity: he was the God of Love. Nicomedia, the 
capital of the East, on the entrance of the emperor, 
presented an address to the same effect as those which 
had been already offered by Antioch, Tyre, and other 
cities ; and the emperor aflFected to yield to this sim- 
ultaneous expression of the general sentiment. 

The first overt act of hostility was a prohibition to 
PenweutioDfl t^® Clirfstians to meet in their cemeteries, 
toMof^SSSl where probably their enthusiasm was wrought 
"*°* to the utmost height by the sacred thoughts 

associated with the graves of their martyrs. But the 
policy of Maximin, in general, confined itself to vexa- 
tious and harassing oppression, and to other punish- 
ments, which inflicted the pain and wretchedness 
without the dignity of dying for the faith: the per- 
secuted had the sufferings, but not the glory, of 
martyrdom. Such, most likely, were the general orders 
of Maximin, though, in some places, the zeal of his 
ofiicers may have transgressed the prescribed limits, 
it must not be said, of humanity. The bishop and 
two inhabitants of Emesa, and Peter, the Patriarch of 
Alexandria, obtained the honors of death. Lucianus, 
the Bishop of Antioch, was sent to undergo a public 
examination at Nicomedia: he died in prison. The 
greater number of victims suffered the less merciful 
pimishment of mutilation or blinding. Tlie remon- 
strances of Constantino were unavailing ; the emperor 
persisted in his cruel course, and is said to have con- 

1 Euseb. iz. 2, 8. 

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descended to an ingenious artifice to afflict the sensi- 
tive consciences of some persons of the higher orders 
who escaped less painful penalties. His banquets 
were served with victims previously slain in sacrifice, 
and his Christian guests were thus unconsciously 
betrayed into a crime which the authority of St. Paul 
had not yet convinced the more scrupulous believers 
to be a matter of perfect indiflFerence.^ 

The emperor, in his public rescript in answer to the 
address from the city of Tyre, had, as it were, placed 
the issue of the contest on an appeal to 

Hie Pagaai 

Heaven. The gods of Paganism were as- >pp «}Jto^th « 
serted to be the benefactors of the human •jateofthe 


race; through their influence, the soil had 
yielded its annual increase; the genial air had not 
been parched by fatal droughts ; the sea had neither 
been agitated with tempests nor swept by hurricanes ; 
the earth, instead of being rocked by volcanic con- 
vulsions, had been the peaceful and fertile mother of 
its abundant fruits. Their own neighborhood spoke 
the manifest favor of these benignant deities, in its 
rich fields waving with harvests, its flowery and lux- 
uriant meadows, and in the mild and genial tempera- 
ture of the air. A city so blest by its tutelary gods, 
in prudence as well as in justice, would expel those 
traitorous citizens whose impiety endangered these 
blessings, and would wisely purify its walls from the 
infection of their heaven-despising presence. 

But peace and prosperity by no means ensued upon 
the depression of the Christians. Notwith- B«T«»e. 
standing the embellishment of the Heathen '^•^•^^• 
temples, the restoration of the Polytheistic ceremonial 
in more than ordinary pomp, and the nomination of 

1 Euseb. ix. 7. 

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the noblest citizens to the pontifical oflSces, every kind 
of calamity — tyranny, war, pestilence, and famine — 
depopulated the Asiatic provinces. Not the least 
scourge of the Pagan East was the Pagan emperor 
himself. Christian writers may have exaggerated, 
they can scarcely have invented, the vices of Maximin. 
His lusts violated alike the honor of noble and plebeian 
Tyranny of families. Thc cunuchs, the purveyors for 
his passions, traversed the provinces, marked 
out those who were distinguished by fatal beauty, and 
conducted these extraordinary perquisitions with the 
most insolent indignity : where milder measures would 
not prevail, force was used. Nor was tyranny content 
with the gratification of its own license : noble virgins, 
after having been dishonored by the emperor, were 
granted in marriage to his slaves ; even those of the 
highest rank were consigned to the embraces of a 
barbarian husband. Valeria, the widow of Galerius 
and the daughter of Diocletian, was first insulted by 
proposals of marriage from Maximin, whose wife was 
still living, and then forced to wander through the 
Eastern provinces in the humblest disguise, till, at 
length, she perished at Thessalonica by the still more 
unjustifiable sentence of Licinius. 

The war of Maximin with Armenia was wantonly 
War with undertaken in a spirit of persecution. This 
'^™*°*** earliest Christian kingdom was attached, in 
all the zeal of recent proselytism, to the new religion. 
That part which acknowledged the Roman sway was 
commanded to abandon Christianity, and the legions 
of Rome were employed in forcing the reluctant 
kingdom to obedience.^ 

But these were foreign calamities. Throughout the 

1 Euseb. ix. 8. 

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dominions of Maximin, the summer rains did not 
fall ; a sudden famine desolated the whole jamina. 
East ; corn rose to an unprecedented price.^ 
Some large villages were entirely depopulated ; many 
opulent families were reduced to beggary, and persons 
in a decent station sold their children as slaves. The 
rapacity of the emperor aggravated the general misery. 
The granaries of individuals were seized, and their 
stores closed up by the imperial seal. The flocks and 
herds were driven away, to be oflFered in unavailing 
sacrifices to the gods. The court of the emperor, in 
the mean time, insulted the general suffering by its 
excessive luxury; his foreign and barbarian troops 
lived in a kind of free quarters, in wasteful plenty, 
and plundered on all sides with perfect im- p^^y,,^ 
puiiity. The scanty and unwholesome food 
produced its usual effect, a pestilential malady. Car- 
buncles broke out all over the bodies of those who 
were seized with the disorder, but particularly attacked 
the eyes, so that multitudes became helplessly and 
incurably blind. The houses of the wealthy, which 
were secure against the famine, seemed particularly 
marked out by the pestilence. The hearts of all classes 
were hardened by the extent of the calamity. The 
most opulent, in despair of diminishing the vast mass 
of misery, or of relieving the swarms of beggars who 
filled every town and city, gave up the fruitless 
endeavor. The Christians alone took a nobler and 
evangelic revenge upon their suflFering enemies. They 
were active in allaying those miseries of which 
they were the common victims. The ecclesiastical 
historian claims no exemption for the Christians from 

^ The Btatement in the text of Eusebius, as it stands, is utterly incredible, 
— a measure of wheat at 2,500 attics (drachms), from j£70 to j£80. 

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the general calamity, but honorably boasts that they 
alone displayed the offices of humanity and brother- 
hood. They were everywhere, tending the living, and 
burying the dead. They distributed bread; they 
visited the infected houses; they scared away the 
dogs which preyed, in open day, on the bodies in 
the streets, and rendered to those bodies the decent 
honors of burial. The myriads who perished, and 
were perishing, in a state of absolute desertion, could 
not but acknowledge that Christianity was stronger 
than love of kindred. The fears and the gratitude of 
mankind were equally awakened in their favor, — the 
fears which could not but conclude these calamities to 
be the vengeance of Heaven for the persecutions of its 
favored people ; the gratitude to those who thus repaid 
good for evil in the midst of a hostile and exasperated 

Before we turn our attention to the West, and follow 
the victorious career of Constantino to the reconsolida- 
tion of the empire in his person, and the triumph of 
Christianity through his favor, it may be more con- 
sistent with the distinct view of these proceedings to 
violate in some degree the order of time, and follow 
to its close the history of the Christian persecutions 
in the East. 

Maximin took the alarm, and endeavored, too late, 
Hazimin to Tctracc his stcps. He issued an edict, in 
jSS^uiSl which he avowed the plain principles of 
*^** toleration, and ascribed his departure from 

that salutary policy to the importunate zeal of his 
capital and of other cities, which he could not treat 
with disrespect, but which had demanded the expul- 
sion of the Christians from their respective territories. 

1 EnBeb. iz. 9. 

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He commanded the suspension of all violent measures, 
and recommended only mild and persuasive means to 
win back these apostates to the religion of their fore- 
fathers. The Christians, who had once been deluded 
by a show of mercy, feared to reconstruct their fallen 
edifices, or to renew their public assemblies, and 
awaited, in trembling expectation, the issue of the 
approaching contest with Licinius.^ 

The victory of Constantine over Maxentius had left 
him master of Rome. Constantine and Licinius reigned 
over all the European provinces ; and the public edict 
for the toleration of Christianity, issued in the name 
of these two emperors, announced the policy of the 
Western Empire. 

After the defeat of Maximin by Licinius, his obscure 
death gave ample scope for the credulous if not in- 
ventive malice of his enemies to ascribe to his last 
moments every excess of weakness and cruelty, as 
well as of suflFering. He is said to have revenged his 
baffled hopes of victory on the Pagan priest- 
hood, who had incited him to the war, by a Death of' 

promiscuous massacre of all within his power. 
His last imperial act was the promulgation of another 
edict,2 still more explicitly favorable to the Christians, 
in which he not merely proclaimed an unrestricted 
liberty of conscience, but restored the confiscated 
property of their churches. His bodily suflFerings 
completed the dark catalogue of persecuting emperors 
who had perished under the most excruciating tor- 
ments ; his body was slowly consumed by an internal 

1 Eiuieb. viii. 14. 

S Edict of toleration iMned from Nicomedia, A.D. 818, 18th June. 
* Eiueb. iz. 9. 
VOL. II. 16 

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With Haximin expired the last hope of Paganism 
The new ^ maintain itself by the authority of the 
^SS^ Government. Though Licinius was only 
*****°**°' accidentally connected with the Christiaa 
party, and afterwards allied himself for a short time 
to the Pagan interest, at this junction his enemies 
were those of Christianity; and his cruel triumph 
annihilated at once the adherents of Maximin, and 
those of the old religion. The new hierarchy feU at 
once: the chief magistrates of almost all the cities 
were executed ; for, even where they were not invested 
in the pontifical offices, it was under their authority 
that Paganism had renewed its more imposing form, 
and sank with them into the conunon ruin. The arts 
by which Theotecnus of Antioch, the chief adviser of 
Maximin, had imposed upon the populace of that city 
by mysterious wonders, were detected and exposed to 
public contempt, and the author put to death. Tyre, 
which had recommended itself to Maximin by the most 
violent hostility to the Christian name, was constrained 
to witness the reconstruction of the fallen 
the chui% church in far more than its original grandeur. 
**' Eusebius, afterwards the Bishop of Caesarea 
and the historian of the Church, pronounced an inau- 
gural discourse on its reconstruction. His description 
of tlie building is curious in itself, as the model of an 
Eastern church, and illustrates the power and opu- 
lence of the Christian party in a city which had taken 
the lead on the side of Paganism. Nor would the 
Christian orator venture greatly to exaggerate the 
splendor of a building which stood in the midst of, 
and provoked, as it were, a comparison with, temples 
of high antiquity and unquestioned magnificence. 

The Christian church was built on the old site ; for. 

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though a more convenient and imposing space might 
have been found, the piety of the Christians clung 
with reverence to a spot consecrated by the most holy 
associations; and their pride, perhaps, was gratified 
in restoring to more than its former grandeur the 
edifice which had been destroyed by Pagan malice. 
The whole site was environed with a wall ; a lofty 
propylaeon, which faced the rising sun, commanded 
the attention of the passing Pagan, who could not but 
contrast the present splendor with the recent solitude 
of the place; and aflForded an imposing glimpse of 
the magnificence within. The intermediate space 
between the propylason and the church was laid out 
in a cloister with four colonnades, enclosed with a 
palisade of wood. The centre square was open to the 
sun and air ; and two fountains sparkled in the midst, 
and reminded the worshipper, with their emblematic 
purity, of the necessity of sanctification. The unini- 
tiate proceeded no farther than the cloister, but might 
behold at this modest distance the mysteries of the 
sanctuary. Several other vestibules, or propylaea, in- 
tervened between the cloister and the main building. 
The three gates of the church fronted the East, of 
which the central was the loftiest and most costly, 
"like a queen between her attendants." It was 
adorned with plates of brass and richly sculptured 
reliefs. Two colonnades, or aisles, ran along the main 
building, above which were windows, which lighted 
the edifice ; other buildings for the use of the ministers 
adjoined. • Unfortunately, the pompous eloquence of 
Eusebius would not condescend to the vulgar details 
of measurements, and dwells only in vague terms of 
wonder at the spaciousness, the heaven-soaring lofti- 
ness, the splendor of the interior. The roof was of 

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beams from the cedars of Lebanon, the floor inlaid 
with marble. In the centre rose the altar, which had 
already obtained the name of the place of sacrifice; 
it was guarded from the approach of the profane by a 
trellis of the most slender and graceful workmanship. 
Lofky seats were prepared for the higher orders, and 
benches for those of lower rank were arranged with 
regularity throughout the building. Tyre, no doubt, 
did not stand alone in this splendid restoration of 
her Christian worship; and Christianity, even before 
her final triumph under Constantine, before the resti- 
tution of her endowments and the munificent imperial 
gifts, possessed sufficient wealth at least to commence 
these costly undertakings. 

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BOOK m. 



The reign of Constantine the Great forms one of the 
epochs in the history of the world. It is the ^^^^^ ^^^^ 
era of the dissolution of the Roman empire ; »*^**~- 
the commencement, or rather consolidation, of a kind 
of Eastern despotism, with a new capital, a new 
patriciate, a new constitution, a new financial system, 
a new, though as yet imperfect, jurisprudence, and, 
finally, a new religion. Already, in the time change in the 
of Diocletian, Italy had sunk into a proyince ; •"p*"- 
Rome, into one of the great cities of the empire. The 
declension of her importance had been gradual, but 
inevitable ; her supremacy had been shaken by that 
slow succession of changes which had imperceptibly 
raised the relative weight and dignity of other parts 
of the empire, and of the empire itself, as a whole, 
until she ceased to be the central point of the adminis- 
tration of public afl&irs. Rome was no longer 
the heart of the social system, from which ^* 
emanated all the life and power which animated and 
regulated the vast and unwieldy body, and to which 
flowed in the wealth and the homage of the obedi- 
ent world. The admission of the whole empire to 
the rights of Roman citizenship by Caracalla had 
dissolved the commanding spell which centuries of 





glory and conquest had attached to the majesty of the 
Roman name. To be a Roman was no longer a 
privilege ; it gave no distinctive rights ; its exemptions 
were either taken away, or vulgarized by being made 
common to all except the servile order. The secret 
once betrayed that the imperial dignity might be 
conferred elsewhere than in the imperial city, lowered 
still more the pre-eminence of Rome. From that 
time, the seat of government was at the head of the 
army. If the emperor, proclaimed in Syria, in Illyria, 
or in Britain, condescended, without much delay, to 
visit the ancient capital, the trembling senate had but 
to ratify the decree of the army, and the Roman peo- 
ple to welcome, with submissive acclamations, their 
new master. 

Diocletian had consummated the degradation of 
Rome, by transferring the residence of the court to 
Nicomedia. He had commenced the work of recon- 
structing the empire upon a new basis. Some of his 
measures were vigorous, comprehensive, and tending 
to the strength and consolidation of the social edifice ; 
but he had introduced a principle of disunion, more 
than powerful enough to counteract all the energy 
which he had infused into the executive government. 
His fatal policy of appointing co-ordinate sovereigns, 
two Augusti, with powers avowedly, equal, and two 
Csesars, with authority nominally subordinate, but 
which in able hands would not long have brooked 
inferiority, had nearly dismembered the solid unity of 
the empire. As yet, the influence of the 
empin/suu^ Romau uamc was commanding and awful; 
'*"*"^ ■ the provinces were accustomed to consider 
themselves as parts of one political confederacy ; the 
armies marched still under the same banners, were 

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united by discipline, and as yet by the nnforgotten 
inheritance of victory from their all-subduing ancestors. 
In all parts of the world, every vestige of civil 
independence had long been effaced; centuries of 
servitude had destroyed every dangerous memorial 
of ancient dynasties or republican constitutions. 
Hence, therefore, the more moderate ambition of 
erecting an independent kingdom never occurred to 
any of the rival emperors ; or, if the separation had 
been attempted, if a man of ability had endeavored to 
partition off one great province, dependent upon its 
own resources, defended by its own legions, or by a 
well-organized force of auxiliary barbarians, the age 
was not yet ripe for such a daring innovation. The 
whole empire would have resented the secession of 
any member from the ancient confederacy, and turned 
its concentrated force against the recreant apostate 
from the majestic unity of imperial Rome. Yet, if 
this system had long prevailed, the disorganizing must 
have finally triumphed over the associating principle : 
separate interests would have arisen; a gradual 
departure from the uniform order of administration 
must have taken place; a national character might 
have developed itself in different quarters; and the 
vast and harmonious edifice would have split asunder 
into distinct and insulated, and at length hostile, 

Nothing less than a sovereign whose comprehensive 
mind could discern the exigencies of this critical period, 
nothing less than a conqueror who rested on the strength 
of successive victories over his competitors for the 
supremacy, could have re-united, and in time, under 
one vigorous administration, the dissolving elements 
of the empire. 


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Such a conqueror was Constantino ; but, re-united, 
the empire imperiously demanded a complete civil 
re-organization. It was not the foundation of the jiew 
capital wliich wrought the change in the state of the 
empire : it was the state of the empire which required 
a new capital. The ancient system of government, 
emanating entirely from Rome, and preserving with 
sacred reverence the old republican forms, had lost its 
awe ; the world acknowledged the master wherever it 
felt the power. The possession of Rome added no 
great weight to the candidate for empire, while its 
pretensions embarrassed the ruling sovereign.^ The 
powerless senate, which still expected to ratify the 
imperial decrees; the patrician order, which had 
ceased to occupy the posts of honor and danger and 
distinction ; the turbulent populace, and the praetorian 
soldiery, who still presumed to assert their superiority 
over the legions who were bravely contesting the 
German or the Persian frontier; the forms, the in- 
trigues, the interests, the factions, of such a city, — 
would not be permitted by an emperor accustomed to 
rule with absolute dominion in Treves, in Milan, or in 
Nicomedia, to clog the free movements of his 
administration. The dissolution of the prae- 
torian bands by Constantino, on his victory over 
Maxentius, though necessary to the peace, was fatal 
to the power, of Rome. It cut oflF one of her great 
though dearly purchased distinctions. Around the 
Asiatic or the Ulyrian or the Gaulish court had 
gradually arisen a new nobility, if not hitherto dis- 

1 Galerius (if we &re to trust the hostile author of the De Mort Persecut.) 
hod never seen Kome before his invasion of Italy, and was unacquainted 
with its immense magnitude. Galerius, according to the same doubtful au- 
thority, threatened, after his flight from Italy, to change the name of the em- 
pire fix)m Roman to Dadan. — c. xxvii. 

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tinguished by title, yet, by service or by favor, possess- 
ing the marked and acknowledged confidence of the 
emperor, and filling all offices of power and of dignity, 
— a nobility independent of patrician descent, or the 
tenure of property in Italy. Ability in the field or in 
the council, or even court intrigue, would triumph 
over the claims of hereditary descent; and all that 
remained was to decorate with title, and organize into 
a new aristocracy, those who already possessed the 
influence and the authority of rank. With emperors 
of provincial or barbarous descent naturally arose a 
race of military or civil servants, strangers to Roman 
blood and to the Roman name. The wUl of the 
sovereign became the fountain of honor. New regula- 
tions of finance, and a jurisprudence, though adhering 
closely to the forms and the practice of the old institu- 
tions, new in its spirit and in the scope of many of 
its provisions, embraced the whole empire in its 
comprehensive sphere. It was no longer Rome which 
legislated for the world, but the legislation which 
comprehended Rome among the cities subject to its 
authority. The laws were neither issued nor ratified, 
they were only submitted to, by Rome. 

The Roman religion sank with the Roman suprem- 
acy. The new empire welcomed the new state of the 
religion as its ally and associate in the gov- Bome.° 
ernment of the human mind. The empire lent its 
countenance, its sanction, at length its power, to 
Christianity. Christianity infused throughout the em- 
pire a secret principle of association, which, long after 
it had dissolved into separate and conflicting masses, 
held together, nevertheless, the loose and crumbling 
confederacy, and, at length, itself assuming the lost 
or abdicated sovereignty, compressed the whole into 

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one system under a spiritual dominion. The papal, 
after some interval of confusion and disorganization, 
succeeded the imperial autocracy over the European 

Of all historical problems, none has been discussed 
MotiTeafor '^^^ ^ Stronger bias of opinion, of passion, 
rton'rf'SS- ^^^ 0^ prejudice, according to the age, the 
•tentine. natiou, thc creed, of the writer, than the con- 
version of Constantino, and the establishment of 
Christianity as the religion of the empire. Hypocrisy, 
policy, superstition, divine inspiration, have been in 
turn assigned as the sole or the predominant influence 
which, operating on the mind of the emperor, decided 
at once the religious destiny of the empire. But there 
is nothing improbable in supposing, that Constantino 
was actuated by concurrent, or even conflicting, mo- 
tives ; all of which united in enforcing the triumph 
of Christianity. There is nothing contradictory in Ihe 
combination of the motives themselves, particularly 
if we consider them as operating with greater strength, 
or with successive paroxysms, as it were, of influence, 
during the difierent periods in the life of Constantino, 
on the soldier, the statesman, and the man. The 
soldier, at a perilous crisis, might appeal, without just 
notions of his nature, to the tutelary power of a deity 
to whom a considerable part of his subjects, and per- 
haps of his army, looked up with faith or with awe. 
The statesman may have seen the absolute necessity 
of basing his new constitution on religion ; he may 
have chosen Christianity as obviously possessing the 
strongest, and a still strengthening, hold upon the 
minds of his people. He might appreciate, with pro- 
found political sagacity, the moral influence of Chris- 
tianity, as well as its tendency to enforce peaceful, if 

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not passive, obedience to civil government. At a later 
period, particularly if the circumstances of his life 
threw him more into connection with the Christian 
priesthood, he might gradually adopt as a religion that 
which had commanded his admiration as a political 
influence. He might embrace, with ardent attach- 
ment, yet, after all,- by no means with distinct appre- 
hension, or implicit obedience to all its ordinances, 
that faith which alone seemed to survive amid the 
wreck of all other religious systems. 

A rapid but comprehensive survey of the state of 
Christianity at this momentous period will explain the 
position in which it stood in relation to the civil gov- 
ernment, to the general population of the empire, and 
to the ancient religion ; and throw a clear and steady 
light upon the manner in which it obtained its political 
as well as its spiritual dominion over the Roman 

The third century of Christianity had been prolific 
in reliirious revolutions. In the East, the lUTiraior 
silent progress of the Gospel had been sud- um. 
denly arrested; Christianity had been thrown back 
with irresistible violence on the Roman territory. An 
ancient religion, connected with the great political 
changes in the sovereignty of the Persian kingdom, 
revived in all the vigor and enthusiasm of a new creed: 
it was received as the associate and main support of 
the state. A hierarchy, numerous, powerful, and 
opulent, with all the union and stability of a hereditary 
caste, strengthened by large landed possessions, was 
re-invested with an authority almost co-ordinate with 
that of the sovereign. The restoration of Zoroastri- 
anism, as the established and influential religion of 
Persia, is perhaps the only instance of the vigorous 

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revival of a Pagan religion.^ Of the native religion 
of the Parthians, little, if any thing, is known. They 
were a Scythian race, who overran and formed a ruling 
aristocracy over the remains of the older Persian and 
the more modern Grecian civilization. The Scythian 
or Tartar or Turcoman tribes, who have perpetually, 
from China westward, invaded and subdued flie more 
polished nations, have never attempted to force their 
rude and shapeless deities, their more vulgar Shaman- 
ism, or even the Buddhism which in its simpler form 
has prevailed among them to a great extent, on the 
nations over which they have ruled. The ancient 
Magian priesthood remained, if with diminished power, 
in great numbers, and not without extensive posses- 
sions in the eastern provinces of the Parthian empire. 
The temples raised by the Greek successors of Alex- 
ander, whether to Grecian deities, or blended with the 
Tsabaism or the Nature-worship of Babylonia or Syria, 
continued to possess their undiminished honors, with 
their ample endowments and their sacerdotal colleges. 
Some vestiges of the deification of the kings of the line 
of Arsaces seem to be discerned, but with doubtful cer- 

The earliest legendary history of Christianity assigns 
Parthia as the scene of apostolic labors: it was the 
province of St. Tliomas. But in the intermediate 
region, the great Babylonian province, tliere is the 
strongest evidence that Christianity had made an 

1 The materials for this view of the restoration of the Persian religion are 
chiefly derived from the following sources: Hjde, Do Religione Persanun; 
Anqnetil du Perron; Zendavesta, 8 vols.; the German translation of Du Per- 
ron, by Kleuker, with very valuable volumes of appendbc (Anhang); De 
Guigniaut's Translation of Creozer's Symbolik; Malcolm's History of Per- 
sia; Heeren, Ideen. 

Some of these sources were not open to Gibbon when he composed hii 
brilliant chapter on this subject. 

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early, a rapid, and a successful progress. It was the 
residence, at least for a certain period, of the aposile 
St. Peter.^ With what success it conducted its contest 
with Judaism, it is impossible to conjecture ; for Juda- 
ism, which, after the second rebellion in the reign of 
Hadrian, maintained but a permissive and precarious 
existence in Palestine, flourished in the Babylonian 
province with something of a national and independent 
character. The Resch-Glutha, or Prince of the Cap- 
tivity, far surpassed in the splendor of his court the 
Patriarch of Tiberias ; and the activity of their schools 
of learning in Nahardea, in Sura, and in Pumbeditha, 
is attested by the vast compilation of the Babylonian 
Talmud.^ Nor does the Christianity of this region 
appear to have sufiered from the persecuting spirit 
of the Magian hierarchy during the earlier conflicts 
for the Mesopotamian provinces between the arms of 
Rome and Persia. Though one bishop ruled the 
united communities of Seleucia and Ctesiphon, the 
numbers of Christians in the rest of the province were 
probably far from inconsiderable. 

It was in the ancient dominions of Darius and of 
Xerxes that the old religion of Zoroaster re- 

, ^y. Restoration 

assumed its power and authority. No sooner of Pendan 
had Ardeschir Babhegan (the Artaxerxes of ^^1^^^ 
the Greeks) destroyed the last remains of the or thewu- 
foreign Parthian dynasty, and re-organized SjJJt^.^ 
the dominion of the native Persian kings, 
from the borders of Charismia to the Tigris (the Per- 
sian writers assert to the Euphrates),® than he hastened 
to environ his throne with the Magian hierarchy, and to 
re-establish the sacerdotal order in all its former dig- 

^ Compare note to vol. i. p. 72. ^ gee Hist, of the Jews, ii. 485, &c 
s MaIcolm*B Histoxy of Persia, 1. 72. 

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nity. But an ancient religion, which has sunk into 
obscurity, will not regain its full influence over the 
popular mind, unless re-invested with divine authority: 
intercourse with heaven must be renewed; the sanc- 
tion and ratification of the deity must be public and 
acknowledged. Wonder and miracle are as necessary 
to the revival of an old, as to the establishment of a 
new religion. In the records of the Zoroastrian faith, 
which are preserved in the ancient language of the 
Zend, may be traced many singular provisions which 
bear the mark of great antiquity, and show the transit 
tion from a pastoral to an agricultiu'al life.^ The 
cultivation of the soil ; the propagation of fruit-trees, 
nowhere so luxuriant and various as in the districts 
which probably gave birth to the great religious legis- 
lator of the East, Balk, and the country of the modern 
Afghans; and the destruction of noxious animals, — 
are among the primary obligations enforced on the 
followers of Zoroaster. A grateful people might look 
back with the deepest veneration on the author of a 
religious code so wisely beneficent ; the tenth of the 
produce would be no disproportionate ofiering to the 
priesthood of a religion which had thus turned civili- 
zation into a duty, and given a divine sanction to the 
first principles of human wealth and happiness. But 
a new impulse was necessary to a people which had 
long passed this state of transition, and were only 
re-assuming the possessions of their ancestors, and 
reconstructing their famous monarchy. Zoroastrian- 
ism, like all other religions, had split into numerous 
sects; and an authoritative exposition of the Living 
Word of Zoroaster could alone restore its power and 

^ Compare Heeren, Ideen, and Rhode, Die Heilige Sage dea ZoidyoUu. 
But see thionghout the work of Dr. Hang, cited in Chap. I. 

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its harmony to the re-established Magianism of the 
realm of Ardeschir. Erdiviraph was the yja^nof 
Magian, designated, by his blameless inno- ^ku^J^pJ*- 
cence from his mother*s womb, to renew the intercourse 
with the Divinity, and to unfold, on the authority of 
inspiration, the secrets of heaven and hell. Forty 
(according to one account, eighty thousand) of the 
Magian priesthood, the Archimage, who resided in 
Bactria, the Desters and the Mobeds, had assembled 
to witness and sanction the important ceremony. 
They were successively reduced to 40,000, to 4,000, 
to 400, to 40, to 7 : the acknowledged merit of Erdivi- 
raph gave him the pre-eminence among the seven.^ 
Having passed through the strictest ablutions, and 
drunk a powerful opiate, he was covered with a white 
linen, and laid to sleep. Watched by seven of the 
noble*, including the king, he slept for seven days and 
nights; and, on his re-awakening, the whole nation 
listened with believing wonder to his exposition of the 
faith of Oromazd, which was carefully written down 
by an attendant scribe, for the benefit of posterity.* 

A hierarchy which suddenly regains its power after 
centuries of obscurity, perhaps of oppression, 
will not be scrupulous as to the means of ©f the Magian 

, , hierarohy. 

giving strength and permanence to its do- 
minion. With Ardeschir, the restoration of the Per- 
sian people to their rank among the nations of the 
earth, by the re-infusion of a national spirit, was 
the noble object of ambition ; the re-establishment of 

1 All these numbers, it shoold be observed, are multiples of 40, the indefi- 
nite number throughout the East (See Bredow's Dissertation, annexed to 
the new edition of Sjncellus; Byzant, Hist. Bonn.) The recusants of Zo- 
roastrianism {vid. infrh) are in like manner reduced to seven, the sacred 
number with the Zoroastrian, as with the religion of the Old Testament 

* Hyde (from Persian authorities), De Belig. Pers. p. 278, et uqq. 

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a national religion, as the strongest and most enduring 
bond of union, was an essential part of his great 
scheme : but a national religion, thus associated with 
the civil polity, is necessarily exclusive, and impatient 
of the rivalry of other creeds. Intolerance lies in the 
very nature of a religion which, dividing the whole 
world into tiie realm of two conflicting principles, 
raises one part of mankind into a privileged order, as 
followers of the Good principle, and condemns the 
other half as the irreclaimable slaves of the Evil One. 
The national worship is identified with that of 
Oromazd; and the kingdom of Oromazd must be 
purified from the intrusion of the followers of Ahriman. 
The foreign relations, so to speak, of the Persian 
monarchy, according to their old poetical history, are 
strongly colored by their deep-rooted religious opin- 
ions. Their implacable enemies, the pastoral Tartar 
or Turcoman tribes, inhabit the realm of darkness, and 
at times invade and desolate the kingdom of light, till 
some mighty monarch, Kaiomers, or some redoubtable 
hero, Bustan, re-asserts his msgesty, and revenges the 
losses, of the kingdom of Oromazd. Iran and Turan 
are the representatives of the two conflicting worlds 
of light and darkness. In the same spirit, to expel, to 
persecute, the followers of other religions, was to expel, 
to trample on, the followers of Ahriman. This edict of 
Ardeschir closed all the temples but those of the fire- 
worshippers: only eighty thousand followers of Ahri- 
man, including the worshippers of foreign religions and 
the less orthodox believers in Zoroastrianism, remained 
to infect the purified region of Oromazd.^ Of the loss 

1 Gibbon, in his chapter on the restoration of the Persian monarchy and 
religion, has said that in this conflict " the sword of Aristotle (such was th» 
name given by the Orientals to the Polytheism and philosophy of the Greeks) 
was easily broken." I suspect this expression to be an anachronism; it b 

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sustained by Christianity during this conflict, in the 
proper dominions of Persia, and the number Destruction 

'^ ^ of ChxlBtiaxi- 

of churches which shared the fate of the Par- ity in Penis. 
thian and Grecian temples, there is no record. The 
persecutions by the followers of Zoroaster are to be 
traced, at a later period, only in Armenia and in the 
Babylonian province; but Persia, jfrom this time until 
the fiercer persecutions of their own brethren forced the 
Nestorian Christians to overleap every obstacle, pre- 
sented a stern and insuperable barrier to the progress 
of Christianity.^ It cut oflF all connection with the 
Christian communities (if communities there were) in 
the remoter East.^ 

Ardeschir bequeathed to his royal descendants the 
solemn charge of maintaining the indissoluble connectioti 
union of the Magian religion with the state: ^^^^ 
"Never forget that, as a king, you are at once *»*«~«*»y- 
the protector of religion and of your country. Consider 
the altar and the throne as inseparable: they must 
always sustain each other. A sovereign without 
religion is a tyrant ; and a people who have none, may 
be deemed the most monstrous of societies. Religion 
may exist without a state, but a state cannot exist 
without religion: it is by holy laws tliat a political 
association can alone be bound. You should be to 

clearly post-Mohammedan and from a Mohammedan author. Gibbon has 
likewise quoted authorities for the persecution of Artaxeixes which relate to 
those of his descendants. 

1 Sozomen, indeed, asserts that Christianity was first introduced into the 
Persian dominions at a later period, from their intercourse with Osroene and 
Armenia. But it is yezy improbable that the active zeal of the Christians iu 
the first ages of the religion should not have taken advantage of the mild and 
tolerant government of the Parthian kings. " Parthians and Elamites/* ».e. 
Jews inhabiting those countries, are mentioned as among the converts on the 
day of Pentecost. — Sozomen, ii. 8. 

^ The date of the earliest Christian communities in India is judiciously 
discussed in Bohlen, Das alte Indien, i. 869 to the end. 
YOIt. zi. 17 

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your people an example of piety and virtue, but with- 
out pride or ostentation."^ The kings of the race of 
Sassan accepted and fulfilled the sacred trust; the 
Magian hierarchy encii'cled and supported the kingly 
power of Persia. They formed the great council of 
the state. Foreign religions, if tolerated, were watched 
with jealous severity. Magianism was established at 
the point of the sword in those parts of Armenia which 
were subjugated by the Persian kings. When Mesopo- 
tamia was included within the pale of the Persiaa 
dominions, tlie Jews were at times exposed to the 
severest oppressions ; the burial of the dead was pecu- 
liarly oflFensive to the usages of the fire-worshippers. 
Mani was alike rejected and persecuted by the Christian 
and the Magian priesthood ; and the barbarous execu- 
tion of the Christian bishops, who ruled over the 
Babylonian sees, demanded at a later period the inter- 
ference of Constantine.2 

But, while Persia thus fiercely repelled Christianity 
Armenia the from its frontier, upon that frontier arose a 
kingdom. Chnstiau state.^ Armenia was the first coun- 
try which embraced Christianity as the religion of the 
king, the nobles, and the people. During the early 
ages of the empire, Armenia had been an object of 
open contention or of political intrigue between the 
conflicting powers of Parthia and Rome. The adoption 
of Cliristianity as the religion of the state, while it 
united the interests of the kingdom, by a closer bond, 
with the Christian empire of Rome (for it anticipated 

1 Malcolm's Hist of Pereia, i. 74, from Ferdusi. 

9 Sozomen, ii. 9, 10. Compare, on these penecntiona of the Christiaiu, 
Kleuker, Anhang zum Zendavesta, p. 292 et teq., with Aasemannii Act. 
Martyr. Or. et Occid. Romte, 1748. 

B St Martin, M^moires sor rAnn^nie, L 406, 406, &c Notes to Le Bean, 
Hist, des Empereors, i. 76. 

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the honor of being the first Christian state by only a 
few years), added, to its perilous situation on the 
borders of the two empires, a new cause for the impla- 
cable hostility of Persia. Every successful invasion, 
and every subtle negotiation to establish the Persian 
predominance in Armenia, was marked by the most 
relentless and sanguinary persecutioi;is, which were 
endured with the combined dignity of Christian and 
patriotic heroism by the afflicted people. The Vartobed, 
or Patriarch, was always the first victim of Persian 
conquest, the first leader to raise the fallen standard 
of independence. 

The Armenian histories, written, almost without 
exception, by the priesthood, in order to do honor 
to their native country by its early reception of 
Christianity, have included the Syrian kingdom of 
Edessa within its borders, and assigned a place to 
the celebrated Abgar in the line of their kings. 
The personal correspondence of Abgar with the Divine 
Author of Christianity is, of course, incorporated in 
this early legend. But though, no doubt, Christianity 
had made considerable progress, at the commence- 
ment of the third century, the government of Armenia 
was still sternly and irreconcilably Pagan. Khos- 
rov I. imitated the cruel and impious Pha- 
raoh. He compelled the Cliristians, for a 
scanty stipend, to labor on the public works. Many 
obtained the glorious crown of martyrdom.^ 

Gregory the Illuminator was the Apostle of Armenia. 
The birth of Gregory was darkly connected oregoiythe 
with the murder of the reigning king, the iii°°>i°**o^- 
almost total extirpation of the royal race, and the 
subjugation of his country to a foreign yoke. He was 

1 Father Chamicb, HiBtoiy of Armenia, i. 158, translated by Avdall. 

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the son of Anah, the assassin of his sovereign. The 
murder of Khosrov, the Valiant and powerful King 
of Armenia, is attributed to the jealous ambition of 
Ardeschir, the first King of Persia.^ Anah, of a noble 
Armenian race, was bribed, by the promise of yast 
wealth and the second place in tlie empire, to conspire 
against the life of Khosrov. Pretending to take refuge 
in the Armenian domiiiions from the persecution of 
King Ardeschir, he was hospitably received in the city 
of Yalarshapat. He struck the king to the heart, and 
Murtepof fled' The Armenian soldiery, in their fury, 
KhorooT. pursued the assassin, who was drowned, dur- 
ing his flight, in the river Araxes. The vengeance 
of the soldiers wreaked itself upon his innocent 
family:^ the infant Gregory alone was saved by a 
Christian nurse, who took refuge in C»sarea, There 
the future apostle was baptized, and (thus runs the 
legend) by divine revelation received the name of 
Gregory. Ardeschir reaped all the advantage of 
the treachery of Anali, and Armenia sank into a 
Persian province. The conqueror consummated the 
crime of his base instrument; the whole family of 
Khosrov was put to death, except Tiridates, who 
fled to the Roman dominions, and one sister, Kliosrov- 
edught, who was afterwards instnmiental in the intro- 
duction of Christianity into the kingdom. Tiridates 
served with distinction in the Roman armies of 
Diocletian, and seized the favorable opportunity of recon- 
quering his hereditary throne. The ro-establishment 
of Armenia as a friendly power was an important event 
in the Eastern policy of Rome; the simultaneous 

1 Moses Choren. 64, 71 ; Ghamicli, Hist Arm^n. i. 164, and other authori* 
ties. St. Martin, Mc^moires sur TArm^nie, i. 303, &c. 

^ According to St Martin, two children of Anah were saved. 

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conversion of the empire and its Eaatern ally to the 
new religion strengthened the bonds of union by a 
common religious interest. 

Gregory re-entered his native country in the train 
of the victorious Tiridates. But Tiridates ntMatet, 
was a bigoted adherent to the ancient reli- * ■ 

gion of his country. This religion appears to have 
been a mingled form of corrupt Zoroastrianism and 
Grecian, or rather Oriental, Nature-worship, with some 
rites of Scythian origin. Their chief deity was Ara- 
mazd, the Ormuzd of the Magian system ; but their 
temples were crowded with statues, and their altars 
reeked with animal sacrifices, — usages revolting to 
the purer Magianism of Persia.^ The Babylonian 
impersonation of the female principle of generation, 
Anaitis or Anahid, was one of their most celebrated 
divinities; and at the funeral of their great King 
Artaces many persons had immolated themselves, after 
the Scythian or Getic custom, upon his body. 

It was in the temple of Anaitis, in the province of 
Ekelias, that Tiridates oflFered the sacrifice of thanks- 
giving for his restoration to his hereditary throne. 
He commanded Gregory to assist in the idolatrous 
worship. The Christian resolutely refused, petBecutioii 
and endured, according to the Armenian ofo«««y. 
history, twelve different kinds of torture. It was dis- 
closed to the exasperated monarch, that the apostate 
from the national religion was son to the assassin of 
his fether. Gregory was plunged into a deep dun- 
geon, where he languished for fourteen years, sup 
ported by the faithful charity of a Christian female. 
At the close of the fourteen years, a pestilence, attrib- 
uted by the Christian party to the divine vengeance, 

1 Chamich, L 146 

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wasted the kingdom of Armenia. The virgin sister 
of Tiridates, Khosrovedught (the daughter of Khos- 
rov), had embraced the faith of the Gospel. By 
divuie revelation (thus speaks the piety of the priestly 
historians), she advised the inmiediate release of Greg- 
ory. What Heaven had commanded, Heaven had 
approved by wonders. The king himself, afflicted by 
the malady, was healed by the Christian missionary. 
conTenrfon The pcstilencc ceased. The king, the nobles, 
of the king. ^]jQ people, almost simultaneously submitted 
to baptism. Armenia became at once a Christian 
kingdom. Gregory took the highest rank, as arch- 
bishop of the kingdom. Priests were invited from 
Greece and Syria ; four hundred bishops were conse- 
crated ; churches and religious houses arose in every 
quarter ; the Christian festivals and days of religious 
observance were established by law. 

But the severe truth of history must make the mel- 
ancholy acknowledgment that the Gospel did not finally 
triumph without a fierce and sanguinary strife. The 
province of Dara, the sacred region of the Armenians, 
crowded with their national temples, made a stem and 
Petsecution determined resistance. The priests fought 
chrisuans. for thcir altars with desperate courage, and 
it was only with the sword that churches could be 
planted in that irreclaimable district.^ In the war 
waged by Maximin against Tiridates, in which the 
ultimate aim of the Roman emperor, according to 

1 In the very curious extract from the contemporary Armenian historian 
Zenob, there is an account of this civil war. The following inscription com- 
memorated the decisive battle : — 

Th« first battle in which men brarely fought. 

The leader of the annles whs Argan, the ohief of the Priesthood, 
Who Ues hero in his grare, and with him 1038 men. 
And this battle we fought for the Godhead of Kisine and for Ghrist 

See Zeitschrift fur die Kunde des Morgenlandes, vol. i. 268, 878, et ae^. 

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Chap. I. ICANIGHEISM. 263 

Eusebius, was the suppression of Cliristianity, he may 
have been invited and encouraged by the rebellious 
Paganism of the subjects of Tiridates. 

Towards the close of the third century, while the 
religion of the East was undergoing these 
signal revolutions, and the antagonistic creeds 
of Magianism and Christianity were growing up into 
powerful and hostile systems, and assuming an impor- 
tant influence on the political affairs of Asia ; while 
the East and the West thus began that strife of cen- 
turies which subsequently continued in a more fierce 
and implacable form in the conflict between Christian- 
ity and Mohammedanism, — a bold and ambi- 
tious adventurer in the career of religious 
change ^ attempted to unite the conflicting elements ; to 
reconcile the hostile genius of the East and of the West ; 
to fuse together, in one comprehensive scheme, Chris- 
tianity, Zoroastrianism, and apparently the Buddh- 
ism of India. It is singular to trace the doctrines 
of the most opposite systems and of remote regions 
assembled together and harmonized in the vast eclec- 
ticism of Mani.2 Prom his native Persia he ^ ^ 


derived his Dualism, his antagonistic worlds JJI^J^"* 
of light and darkness ; and from Magianism, 

1 Besides the original authorities, I have consulted, for Mam and his doo- 
tzines, Beausobre, Hist, du Manich^isme; D'Herbelot, art. **Maui;" Lard- 
ner, Credibility of Gospel History; Mosheim, De Reb. Christ, ante Const. 
Magnum; Matter, Hist du Gnostidme, ii. 851. I had only seen Baur's 
able Manichaische Religious system after this chapter was written. I had 
anticipated, though not followed out so closely, the Relationship to Buddhism, 
much of which, however, is evidently the common groundwork of all Ori- 

3 Augustine, in various passages, but most ftilly in what is given as an 
extract from the book of the Foundation, De Nat. Boni, p. 616. Compare 
Beausobre, vol. ii. 886, who seems to consider it an abstract from some forged 
or spurious work. Probably much of Manias system was allegorical ; but how 
mudi, his disciples probably did not, and his adversaries would not, know. 


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likewise, his contempt of outward temple and splen- 
did ceremonial. Prom Gnosticism, or rather from 
universal Orientalism, he drew the inseparable admix- 
ture of physical and moral notions, the eternal hostil- 
ity between Mind and Matter, the rejection of Judaism, 
and the identification of the God of the Old Testament 
with the Evil Spirit, the distinction between Jesus and 
the Clirist, with the Docetism, or the unreal death 
of the incorporeal Christ. Prom Cabalism, through 
Gnosticism, came the primal man, the Adam Gsedmon 
of that system, and (if it be a genuine part of this 
system) the assumption of beautiful human forms, 
those of graceful boys and attractive virgins, by the 
powers of light, and their miion with the male and 
female spirits of darkness. Prom India he took the 
Emanation theory (all light was a part of the Deity, 
and in one sense the soul of the world), the metemp- 
sychosis, the triple division of human souls (the one 
the pure, which re-ascended at once, and was re-united 
to the primal light ; the second the semi-pure, which, 
having passed through a purgatorial process, returned 
to earth, to pass through a second ordeal of life ; the 
third, of obstinate and irreclaimable evil) : from India, 
perhaps, came his Homophorus, as the Greeks called 
it, his Atlas, who supported the earth upon his shoul- 
ders, and his Splenditenens, the circumambient air. 
From Chaldea he borrowed the power of astral influ- 
ences ; and he approximated to the solar worship of 
expiring Paganism: Christ, the Mediator, like the 

See also the most curioas passage aboat the Manichean metempsychosia, in 
the statement of Tyrbo, in the Disputatio Archelai et Manetis, apud Bouth, 
Beliquiffi Sacne, vol. iv. 

The most singular fiEU^ is that these obstinate idolaters were of Indian de- 
scent, and were distinguished bj long hair. 

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Chaf.i. thetr relation to christunity. 265 

Mithra of his countryman, had his dwelling in the 

From his native country Mani derived the simple 
diet of fruits and herbs ; from the Buddhism of India, 
his respect for animal life, which was to be slain 
neither for food nor for sacrifice ;2 from all the anti- 
materialist sects or religions, the abhorrence of every 
sensual indulgence, even the bath als well as the ban- 
quet ; the proscription, or, at least, the disparagement 
of marriage. And the whole of these foreign and 
extraneous tenets, his creative imagination blended 
with his own form of Christianity ; for so completely 
are they mingled, that it is difficult to decide whether 
Christianity or Magianism formed the groundwork of 
Mani's system. Prom Christianity he derived not, 
perhaps, a strictly Nicene, but more than an Arian, 
Trinity. His own system was the completion of the 
imperfect revelation of the Gospel. He was a man 
invested with a divine mission, — the Paraclete (for 
Mani appears to have distinguished between the Para- 
clete and the Holy Spirit), who was to consummate the 
great work auspiciously commenced, yet imfulfilled, 
by the mission of Jesus.^ Mani had twelve apostles. 

1 D'Herbelot, voc. »* Mani." 

3 Ibid. Augustine says that thej wept when they plucked vegetables for 
food; for in them also there was a certain portion of life, which, according to 
Mani, was a part of the Deity. *' Dlcitis enim dolorcm sentire fructum, cum do 
arbore carpitur, sentire dum conciditur, cum teritur, cum coquitur, cum man- 
ditur. Cujus, porro dementi» est, pios se videri velle, quod ab animalium 
interfectione se temperent, cum omnes suas escas easdem anlmas habere di- 
cunt, quibuB ut putant, viventibus, tanta vulnera et manibus et dentibua 
ingerant" — Augustin. contra Faust, lib. vi. p. 205, 206. This is pure 

* Lardner, following Beausobre, considers the account of Mani's predeces- 
sors, Scythianus and Terebinthus, or Buddha, idle fictions. The virgin birth 
assigned to Buddha, which appears to harmonize with the great Indian My- 
thos of the origin of Buddhism, might warrant a conjecture that this is an 
Oriental tradition of the Indian origin of some of Maui's doctrines, dictated 

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His Ertang, or Gospel, was intended to supersede the 
four Christian Evangelists, whose works, though val- 
uable, he averred had been interpolated with many 
Jewish fables. The Acts, Mani altogether rejected, 
as announcing the descent of the Paraclete on the 
apostles.^ On the writings of St. Paul he pro- 
nounced a mCre favorable sentence. But his Ertang, 
it is said, was not merely the work of a prophet, but 
of a painter ; for, among his various accomplishments, 
His paint- Mani excelled in that art. It was richly 
*°*"- illustrated by pictures, which commanded 
the wonder of the age ; while his followers, in devout 
admiration, studied the tenets of their master in the 
splendid images, as well as in the subhme language, 
of the Marvellous Book. If this be true ; since the 
speculative character of Maui's chief tenets, their 
theogonical, if it may be so said, extramundane char- 
acter, lay beyond the proper province of the painter 
(the imitation of existing beings, and that idealism 
which, though elevating its objects to an unreal dig- 
nity or beauty, is nevertheless faithful to the truth of 
nature), — this imagery, with which his book was 
illuminated, was probably a rich system of Oriental 
symbolism, which may have been transmuted by the 
blind zeal of his followers or the misapprehension of 
his adversaries, into some of his more fanciful tenets. 
The religion of Persia was fertile in these emblematic 
figures, if not their native source; and in the gor- 
geous illuminated manuscripts of the East, often full 
of allegorical devices, we may discover, perhaps, the 
antitypes of the Ertang of Mani.^ 

by Greek ignorance. I now find this conjecture followed out and illustrated 
with copious learning by Baur. 

1 Lardner (v. 11, 188) suggests other reasons for the rejection of the 

3 It appears, I think, from Augustine, that all the splendid images of the 

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Chap. I. LIFE OF MANX. 267 

Mani (I blond together and harmonize as far as 
possible the conflicting accounts of the Greeks and 
Asiatics) was of Persian birth,^ of the sacred race of 
the Magi. He wore the dress of a Persian 
of distinction, the lofly Babylonian sandals, 
the mantle of azure blue, the parti-colored trousers ; 
and he bore the ebony staff in his hand.^ He was 
a proficient in the learning of his age and country, a 
mathematician, and had made a globe ; he was deeply 
skilled, as appears from his system, in the theogonical 
mysteries of the East, and so well versed in the 
Christian Scriptures that he was said to have been, 
and indeed he may at one time have been, a Christian 
priest, in the province of Ahoriaz that bordered on 
Babylonia.^ He began to propagate his doctrines 
during the reign of Shah-poor ; but the son of Ardes- 
chir would endure no invasion upon the established 
Magianism.* Mani fled from the wrath of his sover- 
eign into Turkesthan; from thence he is said to 
have visited India, and even China.*^ In Turkesthan 
he withdrew himself from the society of men, like 

sceptred king crowned with flowers, the Splenditenens and the Homophoros, 
were allegoricallv interpreted. " Si non sunt lenigmata rationis, phantasmata 
aunt cogitationis, aut vecordia fiiroris. Si vero aenigmata esse dicuntor.** — 
Contra Faust xv. p. 277. The extract fVom the " amatoiy song " (Contra 
Faust, xv. 6), with the twelve ages (the great cycle of twelve thousand years) 
singing and casting flowers upon the everlasting sceptred king, the twelve 
gods (the signs of the zodiac), and the hosts of angeb, is evidently the poetry, 
not the theology, of the system. 

1 His birth is assigned by the Chronicle of Edessa to the year 289. — Beau- 
sobre, i. 

^ Beausobre, who is inclined to admit the genuineness of this description, 
in the Acts of Archelaus, has taken pains to show that there was nothing 
differing from the ordinary Persian dress. — Vol. 1. p. 97, &c. 

* In the Acts of Archelaus, he is called a barbarous Persian, who under- 
stood no Greek, but disputed in Syriac. — c. 86. 

* Malcolm, i. 79. 

^ Abulpharag, Dynast p. 82. See Lardner, p. 167. 

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Mohammed in the cave of Hira,^ into a grotto, 
through which flowed a fomitain of water, and in 
which provision for a year had been secretly stored. 
His followers believed that he had ascended into 
heaven, to commune with the Deity. At the end of 
the year, he re-appeared, and displayed his Ertang, 
embellished with its paintings, as the divine revela- 

In the theory of Mani, the one Supreme, who 
hovered in inaccessible and uninfluential distance over 
the whole of the Gnostic systems, the Brahm of the 
Indians, and the more vague and abstract Zeruane 
Akerene of Zoroastrianism, holds no place. The 
groundwork of his system is an original and irrecon- 
cilable Dualism.^ The two antagonistic worlds of 
light and darkness, of spirit and matter, existed from 
eternity, separate, unmingled, unapproaching, ignorant 
of each other's existence.* The kingdom of light was 

1 Lardoer considers this stoiy of the cave a later invention borrowed from 
Mohammed. The relation of this circumstance by Mohammedan authors 
leads me to the opposite conclusion. They would rather have avoided than 
invented points of similitude between their prophet and " the impious Sad- 
ducee,*' as be is called in the Koran. But see Baur's very ingenious and 
probable theory, which resolves it into a myth, and connects it with the 
Mithraic and still earlier astronomical or religious legends. 

^ Beausobre (i. 191, 192) would find the Cascar at which, according to the 
extant but much-contested report, the memorable conference between Arche- 
laus and Mani was held, at Cashgar in Turkesthan. But, independent of the 
improbability of a Christian bishop settled in Turkesthan, the whole history 
is full of difficulties, and nothing is less likely than that the report of such a 
conference should reach the Greek or Syrian Christians through the hostile 
territory of Persia. 

s Epiphanius gives these words as the commencement of Manias work (in 
twenty-two books) on the Mysteries: 'Hv Gcdf ko2 ihj, ^ Kot okotoc, 
6yaddv kqI KOKdv, rxxf iraatv uKpag havria, ug Kara fi^dht kiruanvovv 
^drtpov T^arep^. — Epiphan., Hierat Ixvi 14. 

^ ** Hie quidem in exordio ftienmt dus substantiie a sese divers®. £t lu- 
minis quidem imperium tenebat Deus Pater, in suft sanct& stirpe perpetuus, 
in virtute magnificus, natnr& ips& verus, tstemitate propria semper exsultana, 

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held by God the Father, who "rejoiced in his own 
proper eternity, and comprehended in himself wisdom 
and vitality : *' his most glorious kingdom was founded 
in a light and blessed region, which could not be 
moved nor shaken. On one side of his most illustri- 
ous and holy territory was the land of darkness, of 
vast depth and extent, inhabited by fiery bodies, and 
pestiferous races of beings.^ Civil dissensions agi- 
tated the worid of darkness ; the defeated faction fled 
to the heights or to the extreme verge of their world.^ 
They beheld with amazement and with envy the beau- 
tifiil and peaceful regions of light.^ They determined 
to invade the delightful realm ; and the primal man, 
the archetypal Adam, was formed to defend the bor- 
ders against this irruption of the hostile powers. He 
was armed with his five elements, opposed to those 
which formed the realm of darkness. The primal 
man was in danger of discomfiture in the long and 
fearful strife, had not Oromazd, the great power of 
the world of light, sent the living spirit to his assist- 

oontinenfl apad se sapientiam et sensos vitales. . . . Ita aatem fundata sunt 
ejiudem splendidisBima regna saper luddam et beatam tenam, at a niillo 
onqiiam aut moveii aut concuti poesint." — Apud August, contra £p. Ma- 
nich. c 13, n. 16. 

1 The realm of darkness was divided into five distinct circles, which may 
remind us of Dante's hell: 1. Of infinite darkness, perpetually emanating, 
and of inconceivable stench. 2. Beyond these, that of muddy and turbid 
waters, with their inhabitants; and, 8. within, that of fierce and boisterous 
winds, with their prince and theur parents. 4. A fiery but corruptible region 
(the region of destroying fire), with its leaden and nations. 5. In like man- 
ner, further within, a place full of smoke aud thick gloom, in which dwelt 
the dreadful sovereign of the whole, with innumerable princes around him, 
of whom he was the soul and the source. — £p. Fundament, ap. Augustin. 
cont. Manich. c. 14, n. 19. 

^ The world of darkness, according to one statement, cleft the world of 
light like a wedge (Augustin. contr. Faust, iv. 2; according to another (Titus 
Bostrensis, i. 7), it occupied the southern quarter of the universe. This, as 
Baur observes, is Zoroastrianism. — Bundehesch, part iii. p. 62. 

* Theodoret, Heret Fab. i. 26. 

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ance.^ The powers of darkness retreated ; but they 
bore away some particles of the divine light, and the 
extrication of these particles (portions of the Deity, 
according to the subtile materialism of the system) 
is the object of the long and almost interminable strife 
of the two principles. Thus, part of the Divinity was 
interfused through the whole of matter ; light was, 
throughout all visible existence, commingled with 
darkness.^ Mankind was the creation or the ofispring 
of the great principle of darkness, after this stolen 
and ethereal light had become incorporated with his 
dark and material being. Man was formed in the 
image of the primal Adam ; his nature was threefold, 
or perhaps dualistic; the body, the concupiscent or 
sensual soul (which may have been the influence of 
the body on the soul), and the pure, celestial, and 
intellectual spirit. Eve was of inferior, of darker, 
and more material origin ; for the creating Archon, or 
spirit of evil, had expended all the light, or soul, upon 
man. Her beauty was the fatal tree of Paradise, for 
which Adam was content to fall. It was by this union 
that the sensual or concupiscent soul triumphed over 
tlie pure and divine spirit ; ^ and it was by marriage, 
by sexual union, that the darkening race was propa- 

1 Kpiphan.f Heeret Izvi. 76. Titos BoBtrensis, Angnstin. de Hsret c. 46. 

3 The celestial powers, during the long process of commixtnie, aasmned 
alternately the most beautiful forms of the masculine and feminine sex, and 
mingled with the powers of darkness, who likewise became boys and virgins; 
and from their conjunction proceeded the stiU-commingling world. This is 
probably an allegory, perhaps a painting. There is another fanciful poetic 
image of considerable beauty, and, possibly, of the same allegoric character. 
The pure elementary spirits soared upwards in " their ships of light,'* in 
which they originally sailed through the stainless element; those which were 
of a hotter nature were dragged down to earth; those of a colder and more 
humid temperament were exhaled upwards to the elemental waters. The 
ships of light are, in another view, the celestial bodies. 

* De Mor. Manichaeor. c. 19. Acta Aichelai, c 10. 

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gated. The intermediate, the visible world, which 
became the habitation of man, was the creation of the 
principle of good, by his spirit. This primal principle 
subsisted in trinal unity (whether from eternity might 
periiaps have been as fiercely agitated in the Mani- 
chean as in the Christian schools) ; the Christ, the 
first efflux of the God of Light, would have been de- 
fined by the Manichean as in the Nicene Creed, as 
Light of Light ; he was self-subsistent, endowed with 
all tlie perfect attributes of the Deity, and his dwelling 
was in the sun.^ He was the Mithra of the Persian 
system ; and the Manichean doctrine was Zoroastrian- 
ism under Christian appellations.^ There is an evi- 
dent difierence between the Jesus and the Christos 
throughout the system ; the Jesus Patibilis seems to 
be the imprisoned and suffering light. 

The spirit, which made up tlie triple being of the 
primal principle of good, was an all-pervading ether, 
the source of life and being ; which, continually stimu- 
lating the disseminated particles of light, was the 
animating principle of the worlds. He was the creator 
of the intermediate world, the scene of strife, in which 
the powers of light and darkness contested the domin- 
ion over man ; the one assisting the triumph of the 

1 According to the creed of Faustus, his virtue dwelt in the sun, his wiadom 
in the moon. — Apud August lib. xxx. p. 883. 

3 The Monicheam were Trinitarians^ or at least used Trinitarian language. 
— Augustin. contra Faust, c. xx. " Nos Patris quidem Dei omnipotentis, et 
Christ! filii ejus, et Spiritus Sancti unum idemque sub triplici appellatione 
colimus numen ; sed Patrem quidem ipsum lucem incolere summam ac prin- 
cipalem, quam Paulus alias inaccessibilem vocat; Filium vero in hac secunda 
ac visibili luce consistere, qui quoniam sit et ipse geminus, ut eum Apostolus 
novit, Christum dicens esse Dei virtutem et Dei sapientiam, virtutem quidem 
ejus in sole habitare credimus, sapientiam vero in luna: necnon et Spiritus 
Sancti, qui est majestas tertia, aeris hunc omnem ambitum sedem fatemur ac 
divenorium, cujus ex yiribus ac spiritali profusione terram qnoque concipi- 
entem, gignere patibilem Jesum, qui est vita et.8alus hominum, qui suspensna 
ex ligno.'' 

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particle of light which formed the intellectual spirit, 
the other embruting and darkening the imprisoned 
light with the corruption and sensual pollutions of 
matter. But the powers of darkness obtained the 
mastery, and man was rapidly degenerating into the 
baser destiny ; the Homophorus, the Atlas on whose 
shoulders the earth rests, began to tremble and totter 
under his increasing burden.^ Then the Christ d^ 
scended from his dwelling in the sim ; assumed a form 
apparently human; the Jews, incited by the Prince 
of Darkness, crucified his phantom form ; but He left 
behind his Gospel, which dimly and imperfectly taught 
what was now revealed in all its full eflftilgence by 
Maui the Persian. 

The celestial bodies, which had been formed by the 
living spirit of the purer element, were the witnesses 
and co-operators in the great strife.' To the sun, the 
dwelling of the Christ, were drawn up the purified 
souls, in which the principle of light had prevailed, 
and passed onward for ablution in the pure water, 

1 Homophorus and his ally, the Splenditenens, who assists him in main- 
taining the earth in its equilibrium, is one of the most incongruous and least 
necessary parts of the Manichean system. 

Is the origin of these images the notion of supporters of the earth which 
are so common in the East ? Are any of these fables older than the introduce 
tion of Manicheism? Is it the old Indian fable under another form? or is it 
the Greek Atlas ? I am inclined to look to India for the origin. 

Beausobre's objection, that such a fiction is inconsistent with Manl's mathe- 
matical knowledge, and his formation of a globe, is of no inconsiderable 
weight, if it is not mere poetiy. 

2 Lardner has well expressed the Manichean notion of the formation of the 
celestial bodies, which were made, the sun of the good fire, the moon of 
the good water. " In a word, not to be too minute, the Creator formed the 
sun and moon out of those parts of the light which had preserved their origi- 
nal purity. The visible or inferior heavens (for now we do not speak of the 
supreme heaven) and the rest of the planets were formed of those parts of 
light which were but little corrupted with matter. The rest he left in our 
world, which are no other than those parts of light which had sufilezed most 
by the contagion of matter.'* — Lardner's Works, 4to ed., ii. 198. 


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which forms the moon ; and then, after fifteen days, 
returned to the source of light in the sun. The spirits 
of evil, on the creation of the visible world, lest they 
should fly away, and bear off into irrecoverable dark- 
ness the light which was still floating about, had been 
seized by the living spirit, and bound to the stars. 
Hence the malignant influences of the constellations ; 
hence all the terrific and destructive fury of the ele- 
ments. While the soft and refreshing and fertilizing 
showers are the distillation of the celestial spirit, the 
thunders are the roarings, the lightning the flashing 
wrath, the hurricane the furious breath, the torrent 
and destructive rains the sweat, of the Demon of dark- 
ness. This wrath is peculiarly excited by the extri- 
cation of the passive Jesus, who was said to have 
been begotten upon the all-conceiving Earth, from his 
power, by the pure Spirit. The passive Jesus is an 
emblem, in one sense, it would seem, or type of man- 
kind; more properly, in another, of the imprisoned 
deity or light. For gradually the souls of men were 
drawn upwards to the purifying sun; they passed 
through the twelve signs of the zodiac to the moon, 
whose waxing and waning was the reception and trans- 
mission of light to the sun, and from the sun to the 
Fountain of Light. Those which were less pure passed 
again through difierent bodies, gradually became defe- 
cated, during this long metempsychosis; and there 
only remained a few obstinately and inveterately em- 
brued in darkness, whom the final consummation of 
the visible world would leave in the irreclaimable 
society of the evil powers. At that consummation, 
the Homophorus would shake off his load ; the world 
would be dissolved in fire ; ^ the powers of darkness 

1 Acta Disput. c. ii. Epiphim. c. 68. 
VOL. U. is 

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cast back for all eternity to their primeval state ; the 
condemned souls would be kneaded up for ever in 
impenetrable matter ; while the purified souls, in mar- 
tial hosts, would surround the frontier of the region 
of light, and for ever prohibit any new irruption from 
the antagonistic world of darkness. 

The worship of the Manicheans was simple: they 
built no altar, they raised no temple, they had no 
images, they had no imposing ceremonial. Pure and 
simple prayer was their only form of adoration ; ^ they 
did not celebrate the birth of Christ, for of his birth 
they denied the reality ; tlieir Paschal feast, as they 
equally disbelieved the reality of Christ's passion, 
though kept holy, had little of the Christian form. 
Prayers addressed to the sun, or at least with their 
faces directed to that tabernacle in which Christ dwelt ; 
hymns to the great principle of light ; exhortations to 
subdue the dark and sensual clement within ; and the 
study of the marvellous Book of Mani, — constituted 
their devotion. They observed the Lord's Day : they 
administered baptism, probably witli oil ; for they seem 
(though this point is obscure) to have rejected water- 
baptism : they celebrated the Eucharist ; but, as they 
abstained altogether from wine, they probably used 
pure water, or water mingled with raisins.^ Their 
manners were austere and ascetic ; they tolerated, but 

1 FaustuB expresses this sentiment very finely: " Item Pagani aris, dela- 
bris, simulacris, atque incenso Deum colendom putant Ego ab his in hoc 
quoque multum diversus incedo, qui ipsom me, si modo sim dignns, ration»- 
bile Dei templum puto. Vivum vivte mi^estatis simulacrum Christum filium 
ejus accipio; aram, mentem puris artibus et disciplinis imbutam. Honorea 
qnoque divinos ac sacrificia in solis orationibus, et ipsis puris et simplicibus 
pono." — Faust apud August, xx. 8. 

They bitterly taunted the Catholics with their Paganbm, their sacrifices, 
their agaps, their idols, their martyrs, their Gentile holidays and rites. — n>. 

3 August, contra Faust Disput i. 2, 8. 


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hardly tolerated, marriage, and that only among the 
inferior orders:^ the theatre, the banquet, even the 
bath, were severely proscribed. Their diet was of fruits 
and herbs ; they shrank with abhorrence from animal 
food ; and, with Buddhist nicety, would tremble at the 
guilt of having extinguished the principle of life, the 
spark, as it were, of celestial light, in the meanest 
creature. This involved them in the strangest absurd- 
ities and contradictions, which are pressed against them 
by their antagonists with unrelenting logic.^ They 

^ St Augastine accuses them of breaking the Fifth Commandment. " Tu 
antem doctrin& demoniac^ didicisti inimicos deputare parentes tuos, quod te 
per concubitum in came ligaverint, et hoc modo utiqne deo tuo immundaa 
compedes imposnerint.^' — Adv. Faust lib. xv. p. 278. *^ Opinantur et prse- 
dicant diabolum fecisse atque junxisse masculam et feminam.*' — Idem, lib. 
zix. p. 831. ^ Displicet ^ crescite et multiplicamini/ ne Dei vestri multipll- 
centur ergastula," &c. — Adv. Secundum, c. 21. 

'AirixeoOcu yofiuv Kcd iu^podujicjv not TeKvormdaCt 2va f^ hrm^ov ^ 
dOvofug kvouoioy ry i)\g Korii lifv too yevovg diaSoxfiv. — Alexand. 
Lycop. c. 4. 

They asserted, indeed, that their doctrines went no farther in this respect 
than those of the Catholic Christians. — Faustus, 80, c. 4. Their opposition 
to marriage is assigned as among the causes of the enmity of the Persian 
king. " Rex vero Persarum, cum vidisset tam Catholicos et Episcopos, quam 
Manichieos Manetis sectarios, a nuptiis abstinere, in Manichseos quidem 
sententiam mortis tulit Ad Christianos vero idem edictum manavit. 
Quitoi igitur Christiani ad regem confugissent, jussit ille discrimen quale 
inter ntrosqne esset, sibi exponi." — Apud Asseman. Biblioth. Orient, vii. 

There were, however, veiy different rules of diet and of manners for the 
elect and the auditors, much resembling those of the monks and other Chris- 
tians among the Catholics. See quotations in Lardner, ii. 166. 

3 St Augustine*s treatise De Mor. Manicheeor. is full of these extraor- 
dinary charges. In the Confessions (iii. 10), he says that the fig wept when 
it was plucked, and the parent tree poured forth tears'of milk; " that particles 
of the true and Supreme God were imprisoned in an apple, and could not be 
set free but by the touch of one of the elect. If eaten, therefore, by one not a 
Manichean, it was a deadly sin; and hence they are charged with making it 
a sin to give any thing which had life to a poor man not a Manichean. . . . 
They showed mora compassion to the fruits of the earth than to human be- 
ings." They abhorred husbandry, it is said, as continually wounding life, 
even in clearmg a field of thorns ; " so much more were they friends of gourds 
than of men." 

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276 DEATH OF MANI. Book HI. 

admitted penitence for sin, and laid the fault of their do- 
linquencies on the overpowering influence of matter.^ 

Mani suffered the fate of all who attempt to recon- 
cile conflicting parties, without power to enforce har- 
mony between them. He was disclaimed and rejected 
with every mark of indignation and abhorrence by 
both. On his return from exile,^ indeed, he was re- 
ceived with respect and favor by the reigning sover- 
eign, Hormouz, the son of Shahpoor, who bestowed 
upon him a castle named Arabion. In this point alone 
the Greek and Oriental accounts coincide. It was 
from his own castle that Mani attempted to propagate 
his doctrines among the Cliristians in the province of 
Babylonia. The fame of Marcellus, a noble Christian 
soldier, for his charitable acts in the redemption of 
hundreds of captives, designated him as a convert who 
might be of invaluable service to the cause of Mani- 
cheism. According to the Christian account, Mani 
experienced a signal discomfiture in his conference 
with Archelaus, Bishop of Cascar.^ But his dispute 
Death of ^^^^ ^^^® Magian hierarchy had a more fear- 
*'*°*- ful termination. It was an artifice of the 

^ An acknoirledgment of the blameleflsness of their manners is extorted 
from St Augustine; at least, he admits, that, as far as his knowledge as a 
hearer, he can charge them with no immoralitj. — Contr. Fortunat. m iniL 
In other parts of his writings, especially in the tract De Morib. Manichceor., 
he is more unfavorable. But see the remarkable passage, Contra Faust, y. i., 
in which the Manichean contrasts his tporks with the faith of the orthodox 

3 According to Malcolm, he did not return till the reign of Baharam. 

s Some of the objections of Beausobre to this conference appear insupera- 
ble. Allow a city named Cascar ; can we credit the choice of Greek, even 
Heathen, rhetoricians and grammarians as assessors in such a city and in such 
a contest? Archelaus, it must indeed be confessed, plays the sophist; and, if 
Mani had been no more powerful as a reasoner or as a speaker, he would 
hardly have distracted the East and West with his doctrines. It is not im- 
probably an imaginary dialogue in the form, though certainly not in the style, 
of Plato. See the best edition of it in Routh's Beliquin Sacne. 

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new king Baharam to tempt the dangerous teacher 
from his castle. He was seized, flayed alive, and his 
skin, stuffed with straw, placed over the gate of the 
city of Shahpoor. 

But, wild as may appear the doctrines of Mani, they 
expired not with their author. The anniversary of 
his death was hallowed by his mourning disciples.^ 
The sect was organized upon the Christian model : he 
left his twelve apostles, his seventy-two bishops,^ his 
priesthood. His distinction between the elect,^ or the 
perfect, and the hearers, or catechumens, oflered an 
exact image of the orthodox Christian communities ; 
and the latter were permitted to marry, to eat animal 
food, and to cultivate the earth.* In the 
East and in the West, the doctrines spread ofhiareu- 
with the utmost rapidity ; and the deep im- 
pression which they made upon the mind of man may 
be estimated by Mauicheism having become, almost 
throTighout Asia and Europe, a by-word of religious 
animosity. In the Mohammedan world, the tenets of 
the Sadducean, the impious Mani, are branded as the 
worst and most awful impiety. In the West, the pro- 
gress of the believers in tiiis most dangerous of heresi- 
archs was so successful, that the followers of Mani 

1 Augofltin. contr. Epist. ManichflBi, c 9. The day of Mani's death was 
kept holy by his followers, because he really died ; the crucifixion neglected, 
because Christ had but 9eemingly expired on the cross. 

* Augustin. de Hieres, c. 46. 

* The strangest notion was, that yegetables used for food were purified, 
that is, the divine principle of life and light separated from the material and 
impure, by passing through the bodies of the elect "Pnebent alimenta 
electis suis, nt divina ilia substantia in eorum ventre purgata, impetret eis 
veniam, quorum traditur oblatione purganda." — Augustin. de Hieres, c. 46. 
It was a merit in the hearers to make these offerings. Compare Confess. 
iv. 1. 

4 *^ Auditores, qui appellantur apud eos, et camibus vescuntur, et agros 
colunt, et si Toluerint, uxores habent, quorum nihil &ciunt qui vocantur 
Electi." — Augustin., Epist. ccxxxvii. 


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were condemned to the flames or to the mines, and 
the property of those who introduced the " execrable 
usages and foolish laws of the Persians" into the 
peaceful empire of Rome, confiscated to the imperial 
treasury. One of the edicts of Diocletian was aimed 
at their suppression.^ St. Augustine himself* with 
difficulty escaped the trammels of their creed, to 
become their most able antagonist ; and, in every cen- 
tury of Christianity, Manicheism, when its real nature 
was as much unknown as the Gopernican system, was 
a proverb of reproach against all sectaries who de- 
parted from the unity of the Church. 

The extent of its success may be calculated by the 
implacable hostility of all other religions to the doc- 
trines of Mani : the causes of that success are more 
difficult to conjecture. Manicheism would rally under 
its banner the scattered followers of the Gnostic sects : 
but Gnosticism was never, it would seem, popular; 
while Manicheism seems to have had the power of 
exciting a fanatic attachment to its tenets in the lower 

} See the edict in Routh, iv. p. 285. Some doubt has been thrown on its 
authenticity^. It is questioned by S. Basnage and hy Lardner, though admit- 
ted by Beausobre. I cannot think the ignorance which it betrays of the 
" true principles of the Manichees," the argument adduced by Lardneri of 
the least weight. Diocletian's predecessors were as little acquainted with the 
** true principles of Christianity," yet condemned them in their public pro- 

3 There is something veiy beautiful in the language of St Augustine, and 
at the same time nothing can show more clearly the strong hold which Mani- 
cheism had obtained on the Christian world. " nii in vos snyiant, qui ne- 
sciunt cum quo labore verum inveniatur, et quam difficile caveantur enores. 
nii in vos snviant qui nesciunt quam rarum et arduum sit camalia phantas- 
mata pie mentis serenitate superare. . . . Dli in vos sseviant^ qui nesciunt 
quibus suspiriis et geraitibus fiat, ut ex quantulacunque parte possit inteUigi 
Dens. Prostremo illi in vos sieviaot, qui nunquam tali enx>re decepti sint, 
quali vos deceptos vident." — Contr. Epist. Manicheei, c. 2. But the spirit of 
controversy was too strong for the charity and justice of Augustine. The 
tract which appears to me to give the fairest view of the real controversy m 
the Disputatio contra Fortunatum. 

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orders. The severe asceticism of their manners may 
have produced some effect: but in this respect they 
could not greatly have outdone monastic Christianity ; 
and the distinct and definite impersonations of their 
creed, always acceptable to a rude and imaginative 
class, were encountered by formidable rivals in the 
demonology and the more complicated form of worship 
which was rapidly growing up among the Catholics.^ 

In the Eastern division of the Roman empire, Chris- 
tianity had obtained a signal victory. It had Triumph of 
subdued by patient endurance the violent Christianity, 
hostility of Galerius ; it had equally defied the insidi- 
ous policy of Maximin ; it had twice engaged in a con- 
test with the civil government, and twice come forth in 
triumph. The edict of toleration had been extorted 
from the dying Galerius; and the Pagan hierarchy, 
and more splendid Pagan ceremonial, with which 
Maximin attempted to raise up a rival power, fell to 
the ground on his defeat by Licinius, which closely 
followed tliat of Maxentius by Constantino. The 
Christian communities had publicly re-assembled ; the 
churches were rising in statelier form in all the cities ; 
tlie bishops had re-assumed their authority over their 
scattered but undiminished flocks. Though, in the 
one case, indignant animosity and the desire of vindi- 
cating the severity of their measures against a sect 
dangerous for its numbers as well as its principles, in 

1 The Manicheans were legally condemned under Yalentmian and Valens. 
The houses in which they held their meetings were confiscated to the state 
(Cod. Theodos. xvi. 8). By Theodosius they were declared infamous, and 
incapable of inheriting by law (xvi. 17). The condemnation of the Mani- 
cheans in Rome, by Pope Leo I., the Great (the Manicheans in Sicily — Greg. 
M. Epist. It. 6); their revival in the Middle Ages, and their extensive dis-> 
semination, at least as to their leading principles; the undying obstinacy of 
their -tenets, — is one of the most curious chapters in Christian history. See 
Latin Christianit}', i. 171; iv. 91, &c. 

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the other the glowing zeal of the martyr, may be 
suspected of some exaggeration ; yet when a public 
imperial edict, and the declarations of the Christians 
themselves, assert the numerical predominance of the 
Nnmbenof Christian party, it is impossible to doubt that 
ti^B. their numbers, as well as their activity, were 

imposing and formidable. In a rescript of Maximin, 
the emperor states tliat it had been forced on the 
observation of his august fathers, Diocletian and Max- 
imian, that almost all mankind had abandoned the 
worship of their ancestors, and united themselves to 
the Christian sect;^ and Lucianus, a presbyter of 
Antioch, who suffered martyrdom under Maximin, 
asserts in his last speech that the greater part of the 
world had rendered its allegiance to Christianity, — 
entire cities, and even the rude inhabitants of country 
districts.^ These statements refer more particularly 
to the East; and, in the East, various reasons would 

1 2;t^^ oTravTO^ &v$puinvc, KordXeifBeujrfg t$c tuv ^eCw "^ptfauiac, 
Tu idvu Turv XpioTtauuv avfifUfuxdrac, — Apud Eoseb., Hist £c ix. 9. 

> "Pan poene mundi jam major huicveritati adstipulatur; urbes integng; 
ant si in his aliquid suspectum videatar, contcstatnr de his etiam a^jfrestis 
manus, ignara figmenti." This speech, it is trae, is only contained in the 
Latin translation of Ensebius by Rufinus. But there is a calm character in 
its tone, which avouches its authenticity. The high authority of Porson and 
Dr. Routh requires the addition of the following note: "Pnestitisse aliis 
multitudine his quoque temporibus Christianos, scriptum extat apud Porphy- 
rium, qui eos alicubi nominavit rove irXuovac, ut me olim fecit certiorem 
eruditissimus Porsonus." — Routh, Reliquiae Sacne, iii. 298. Gibbon has 
attempted to form a calculation of the relative numbers of the Christians (see 
ch. XV. vol. ii. p. 868, with my note): he is perhaps inclined to underrate the 
proportion which they bore to the Heathens. Yet, notwithstanding the quo- 
tations above and the high authority of Porson and of Routh, I should ven- 
ture to doubt their being the majority, except possibly in a few Eastern cities. 
In fact, in a population so fluctuating as that of the empire at this time, any 
accurate calculation would have been nearly impossible. M. Beugnot agrees 
very much with Gibbon; and, I should conceive, with regard to the West, is 
clearly right, though I shall allege presently some reasons for the more rapid 
progress of Christianity in the West of Europe. 

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Chap. I. IN THE EAST. 281 

lead to the supposition that the Christians bore a larger 
proportion to the rest of the population than 
in the other parts of . the empire, except stutoSthe 
perhaps in Africa. The East was the native regwd to the 
country of the new religion ; the substratum Sft^hSI- **° 
of Judaism, on which it rested, was broader ; 
and Judaism had extended its own conquests much 
farther by proselytism, and had thus prepared the way 
for Christianity. In Egypt and in the Asiatic prov- 
inces, all the early modifications of Christian opinions, 
the Gnostic sects of all descriptions, had arisen ; show- 
ing, as it were, by their fertility the exuberance of 
religious life and the congeniality of the soil to their 
prolific vegetation. The constitution of society was, 
in some respects, more favorable than in Italy to the 
development of the new religion. But it may be ques- 
tioned whether the Western provinces did not at last 
ofier the most open field for its free and undisputed 
course. In the East, the civilization was Greek, or, 
in the remoter regions, Asiatic. The Romans assumed 
the sovereignty, and the highest offices of the govern- 
ment were long held by men of Italian birth. Some 
of the richer patricians possessed extensive estates in 
the difierent provinces; but, below this, the native 
population retained its own habits and usages. Un- 
less in the mercantile towns, which were crowded 
with foreign settlers from all quarters, who brought 
their manners, their customs, and their deities, the 
whole society was Greek, Syrian, or Egyptian. Above 
all, there was a native religion ; and however this loose 
confederacy of religious republics, of independent col- 
leges or fraternities of the local or the national priest- 
hoods, might only be held together by the bond of 
common hostility to the new faith, yet everywhere this 

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religion was ancient, established, conformed to the 
habits of the people, endeared by local vanity, strength- 
ened by its connection with municipal privileges, rec- 
ognized by the homage and sanctioned by the worship 
of the civil authorities. The Roman prefect, or pro- 
consul, considered every form of Paganism as suffi- 
ciently identified with that of Rome to demand his 
respect and support: everywhere he found deities 
with the same names or attributes as those of the 
imperial city; and everywhere, therefore, there was 
an alliance, seemingly close and intimate, between the 
local religion and the civil government. 

In the Western provinces, Gktul, Spain, and Britain, 
but more particularly in Graul, the constitu- 
tion of society was very diflferent. It was 
Roman formed by the influx of colonists from differ- 
ent quarters, and the gradual adoption of Roman 
manners by the natives. It had grown up on the 
wane of Paganism. There was no old or established 
or national religion. The ancient Druidism had been 
proscribed as a dark and inhuman superstition, or had 
gradually worn away before the progress of Roman 
civilization. Out of Italy, the gods of Italy were, to a 
certain degree, strangers ; the Romans, as a nation, 
built no temples in their conquered provinces: the mu- 
nificence of an individual, sometimes, perhaps, of the 
reigning C»sar, after having laid down the military 
road, built the aqueduct, or encircled the vast arena of 
the amphitheatre, might raise a fane to his own tutelary 
divinity.^ Of the foreign settlers, each brought his 
worship ; each set up his gods : vestiges of every kind 

1 Eumenius, in his panegyric on ConstantinCf mentions two temples of 
Apollo: of one, "the most beautiful in the world/' the site is unknown; it ia 
supposed to have been at Lyons or Yienne: the other was at Autun.— 
Eoxnen. Paneg. xxi., with the note of Cellarius. 

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Chap. I. IN THE WEST. 288 

of religion, Greek, Asiatic, Miihraic, have been dis- 
covered in Gaul, but none was dominant or exclusive. 
This state of society would require or welcome, or 
at all events offer less resistance to the propagation 
of a new faith. After it had once passed the Alps,^ 
Christianity made rapid progress ; and the father 
of Constantine may have been guided no less by 
policy than humanity, in his reluctant and merciful 
execution of the persecuting edicts of Diocletian and 

Such was the position of Christianity when Con- 
stantine commenced his struggle for universal empire. 
In the East, though rejected by the ancient rival of 
Borne, the kingdom of Persia, it was acknowledged as 
the religion of the state by a neighboring nation. In 
the Roman provinces, it was emerging victorious from 
a period of the darkest trial ; and, though still threatr 
ened by the hostility of Maximin, that hostility was 
constrained to wear an artful disguise, and, when it 
ventured to assume a more open form, was obliged to 
listen, at least with feigned respect, to the remon- 
strances of the victorious Constantine. In the North, 
at least in that part from which Constantine derived 
his main strength, it was respected and openly favored 
by the (Jovernment. Another striking circumstance 
might influence the least superstitious mind, and is 
stated by the ecclesiastical historian not to have been 
without effect on Constantine himself. Of all the em- 
perors who had been invested with the purple, either 
as Augusti or Caesars, during the persecution of the 
Christians, his father alone, the protector of Christi- 
anity, had gone down to an honored and peaceful 

1 "Senna trans alpes religione Dei suaoeptll?*' — Sulpic. Sever., H. £. 
Ub. ii. 

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grave.^ Diocletian, indeed, still lived, but in what, no 
doubt, appeared to most of his former subjects an in- 
xndofthe glorious retirement. However the philoso- 
JJ'SSJj;*" phy of the abdicated emperor might teach 
**^^- hun to show the vegetables of his garden as 
worthy of as much interest to a mind of real dignity 
as the distinctions of worldly honor ; however he may 
have been solicited by a falling and desperate faction 
to resume the purple, — his abdication was no doubt, 
in general, attributed to causes less dignified than the 
contempt of earthly grandeur. Conscious derange- 
ment of mind (a malady inseparably connected, ac- 
cording to the religious notions of Jew, Pagan, probably 
of Christian during that age, with the divine dis- 
pleasure), or remorse of conscience, was reported to 
embitter the calm decline of Diocletian's life. Instead 
of an object of envy, no doubt, in the general sen- 
timent of mankind, he was thought to merit only 
aversion or contempt.^ Maximian (Herculius), the 
colleague of Diocletian, after resuming the purple, 
engaging in base intrigues, or open warfare, against 
his son Maxentius, and afterwards against his pro- 
tector Constantine, had anticipated the sentence of the 
executioner. Severus had been made prisoner, and 
forced to open his own veins. Galerius, the chief 

1 Eiueb., Vit Const i. 21 ; Socrat, Eccles. Hist i. 11. The language of the 
ecclesiastical historian Socrates is remarkable. Constantine, he says, was medi- 
tating the liberation of the empire from its tyrants: koj 6c fpf kv TTjXucavr^ 
^povTidif hrevoei riva ^edv eniicovpov irpdc ri^ fMXVv KoXeoeUy kgtxI vcvv 
6i kXoft^avev, uc o06tv Cwavro ol irefii LwKhinav^, nepi toOc iX^^vw 
i^eoi>c duuceifiei'oif IjvpiOKev re ug 6 alrov irar^p, Kovaraan-iog, dnoarpa^lc 
rdf 'EAA^vwv i^pijafuiag, eMcufiovearepov rdv ^ibv diijyccyev. It was in 
this mood of mind that he saw the vision of the cross. — Socr., Eccl. Hist i. 2. 

s It is curious how undying are such prejudices. I remember that M. 
Cr^tineau Joly somewhere asserts that Clement XIV. (Ganganelh) was the 
only Pope who ever died in a state of derangement (Boniface TIH.?). I 
doubt both liis historical facts; but the assertion is remarkable. 

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author of the persecution, had experienced the most 
miserable fate ; he had wasted away with a. slow and 
agonizing and loathsome disease. Maximin alone re- 
mained, hereafter to perish in miserable obscurity. 
Nor should it be forgotten that the great persecutor of 
the Christians had been the jealous tyrant of Con- 
stantine's youth. Constantino had preserved his lib- 
erty, perhaps his life, only by the boldness and rapidity 
of his flight from the court of Galerius.^ 

Under all these circumstances, Constantino was ad- 
vancing against Rome. The battle of Verona ^^^ 
had decided the fate of the empire ; the vast SSST**^ 
forces of Maxentius had melted away before ^^'^^^ 
the sovereign of Gaul: but Rome, the capital, was 
still held with the obstinacy of despair by the voluptu- 
ous tyrant Maxentius. Constantino appeared on the 
banks of the Tiber, though invested with the Roman 
purple, yet a foreign conqueror. Many of 
his troops were Barbarians, Kelts, (Jermans, 
Britons; yet, in all probability, there were many of 
the Gaulish Christians in his army. Maxentius threw 
himself upon the gods, as well as upon the people, of 
Rome: he attempted with desperate earnestness to 
rally the energy of Roman valor under the awfulness 
of the Roman religion. 

During the early part of his reign, Maxentius, in- 
tent upon his pleasures, had treated the reli- R^ugjon or 
gious divisions of Rome with careless indif- Maxentiui. 
ference, or had endeavored to conciliate the Christian 

1 In his letter to Sapor, King of Persia, Constantine himself acknowledges 
the influence of these motives on his mind: bv noXXol rCnf ^6e QaaiXEvaav- 
Tuv, fioviudeai irTjovatc inrax9hrreCt hrexeipv<fov 6pvff(j<ujB<u,, <WA' kKeivov^ 
diravraf rocovrov TifMpdv rtkog KoravaKonnv, wf rcav rd /urr* kKtivov^ 
Mpcmuv yevog, tuc iKeivuv avfi^opdc ion' a^Xm irapadeiyfiaro^, hrapO' 
rove rocf rd 6fiota ^?jovai nffeo^.— Apad Theodoret, £cc Hist i. c. 26. 

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party by conniving at their security. His deification 
of Galerius had been, as it were, an advance to the 
side of Paganism. The rebellion of Africa, which he 
revenged by the devastation of Carthage, was likely to 
bring him into hostile contact with the numerous 
Christians of that province. In Rome itself an event 
had occurred, which, however darkly described, was 
connected with the antagonistic religious parties ia 
the capital. A fire had broken out in the temple of the 
Fortune of Rome. The tutelary deity of the Roman 
greatness — an awful omen in this dark period of de- 
cline and dissolution ! — was in danger. A soldier — 
it is difficult to ascribe such temerity to any but a 
Christian fanatic — uttered some words of insult 
against the revered, and it might be alienated, god- 
dess. The indignant populace rushed upon the traitor 
to the majesty of Rome, and summoned the pretorian 
cohorts to wreak their vengeance on all who could be 
supposed to share in the sentiments of the apostate 
soldier. Maxentius is accused by one Christian and 
one Pagan historian of having instigated the tumult ; 
by one Pagan he is said to have used his utmost exer- 
tions to allay its fury. Both statements may be true : 
though at first he may have given free scope to the 
massacre, at a later period he may have taken alarm, 
and attempted to restore the peace of the city.^ Of 
the direct hostility of Maxentius to Christianity, the 

1 The sOence of Eosebius as to the Christianity of the soldier may be 
thought an insuperable objection to this view. But, in the first place, the 
Eastern bishop was but imperfectly informed on the affairs of Rome, and 
might hesitate, if aware of the fact, to implicate the Christian name with that 
which was so long one of the most serious and effective charges against the 
fiftith, — its treacherous hostility to the greatness of Rome. The words of the 
Pagan Zosimus are veiy strong: BAoj^/ax jnifiara Korh, tov ^dov arparu^ 
ruv Ttc (h^Iq, Kot TOV ir^Bovc dui ri^ npdc rd Mov eboipciav iireXfidv* 
Toc dvatpedelc, — Zo8.y Hist iL 18. 

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Chap.L mS PAGANISH 287 

evidence is dubious and obscure. A Roman matron 
preferred the glory or the crime of suicide, rather than 
submit to his lustful embraces. But it was the 
beauty, no doubt, not the religion, of Sophronia, which 
excited the passions of Maxentius, whose licentious- 
ness comprehended almost all the noble families of 
Rome ill its insulting range.^ The papal history, not 
improbably resting on more ancient authority, repre- 
sents Maxentius as degrading the pope Marcellus to the 
humble function of a groom. The predecessor of the 
Gregories and Innocents swept the imperial stable.^ 

The darkening and more earnest Paganism of 
Maxentius is more clearly disclosed by the HiaPigan- 
circumstances of his later history. He had *^- 
ever listened with trembling deference to the ex- 
pounders of signs and omens. He had suspended his 
expedition against Carthage, because the signs were 
not propitious.^ Before the battle of Verona, he 
commanded the Sibylline books to be consulted. 
" The enemy of the Romans will perish," answered the 
prudent and ambiguous oracle ; but who could be the 
enemy of Rome but the foreign Constantino, descend- 
ing from his imperial residence at Treves, with troops 
levied in the barbarous provinces, and of whom the 
gods of Rome, though not yet declaredly hostile to 
their cause, might entertain a jealous suspicion ? 

On the advance of Constantino, Maxentius redoubled 
his religious activity. He paid his adoration at the 
altars of all the gods ; he consulted all the diviners of 
future events.* He had shut himself in his palace; 

1 Enseb., Vit. Const i. 88, 84. 

s* Anastasius, Vit MarcelL ; Platina, Vit Pontificnm in Marcello. 
8 ZoBimofl, iL 14. 

« Eusebius (Vit. Const. L 21) speaks of his KOKortxyov^ koI yo^ucdc 

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the adverse signs made him take refuge in a private 
house.^ Darker rumors were propagated in the East : 
he is reported to have attempted to read the secrets 
of futurity in the entrails of pregnant women;* to 
have sought an alliance with the infernal deities^ and 
endeavored by magical formularies to avert the 
impending danger. However the more enlightened 
Pagans might disclaim the weak, licentious, and 
sanguinary Maxentius as the representative either of 
the Roman majesty or the Roman religion, in the 
popular mind probably an intimate connection united 
the cause of the Italian sovereign with the fortunes 
and the gods of Rome. It is possible that Gonstantine 
might attempt to array against this imposing barrier 
of ancient superstition the power of the new and 
triumphant faith : he might appeal, as it were, to the 
God of the Christians against the gods of the capital. 
His small though victorious army might derive 
courage in their attack on the fate-hallowed city, 
from whose neighborhood Galerius had so recently re- 
turned in discomfiture, from a vague notion that they 
were under the ppotection of a tutelar deity, of whose 
nature they were but imperfectly informed, and whose 
worshippers constituted no insignificant part of their 
barbarian army. 

Up to this period, all that we know of Gonstantine's 
B«iigion of religion would imply that he was outwardly, 
Gonstantine. qj^^ gy^,^ zcalously, Pagan. In a public orar 
tion, his panegyrist extols the magnificence of his offer- 
ings to the gods. His victorious presence was not 
merely expected to restore more than their former 
splendor to the Gaulish cities, ruined by barbaric 
incursions; but sumptuous temples were to arise at 

i Zoaimiis, ii. 14. » Euseb.! Vit Conat i. 86. 

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his bidding, to propitiate the deities, particularly 
Apollo, his tutelary god.^ The.^ medals struck for 
these victories are covered with the symbols of Pagan- 
ism. EusebiuB himself admits that Constantino was 
at this time in doubt which religion he should embrace, 
and, after his vision, required to be instructed in the 
doctrines of Christianity.* 

The scene in which the memorable vision of Con- 
stantine is laid varies widely in the different accoimts. 
Several places in Gaul lay claim to the honor of this 
momentous event in Christian history. If we assume 
the most probable period for such an occurrence, what- 
ever explanation we adopt of the vision itself, it would 
be at this awful crisis in the destiny of Constantino and 
of the world, before the walls of Eome ; an instant 
when, if we could persuade ourselves that the Almighty 
Euler, in such a mannery interposed to proclaim the 
fall of Paganism and the establishment of Christianity, 
it would have been a public and a solenm occasion, 
worthy of the divine interference. Nowhere, on the 
other hand, was the high-wrought imagination of 
Constantino so likely to be seized with religious awe, 
and to transform some extraordinary appearance in the 
heavens into the sign of the prevailing Deity of 
Christ ; nowhere, lastly, would policy more imperiously 
require some strong religious impulse to coimterbal- 
ance the hostile terrors of Paganism, embattled against 

^ " Merito igitnr aiigiistissiiiiA Ola delubra tantis donariis honorftsti, ut jam 
Tetera non queraiit. Jam omnia yocare ad se templa videntnr, pnecipueque 
ApoUo noster, cojiu ferventibiis aqnis peijnria pnniimtar, quae te maxime 
oportet odiaae. Nee magis Jovi Jimonique recubautibas terra submisit, 
qnam circa tiia, Constantine, vestigia urbes et templa consurgunt." — £a- 
menii Panegyr. cxzL 

9 '£viH>ee ^a Airdov dioi i^edv kinypa\lfcuy$(U PoijSdv.-yEvaeh,^ Vit 
Constant, c 27-82. 

TOL. iz. 19 

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Eusebius,^ the Bishop of CaBsarea, asserts that Con- 
stantine himself made, and confirmed by an oath, the 
extraordinary statement, which was received with im- 
plicit veneration during many ages of Christianity, but 
y^^^ ^f which the severer judgment of modem histor- 
OoDBtantioe. j^gj inquiry has called in question, has inves- 
tigated with the most searching accuracy, and almost 
universally destroyed its authority with rational men ; 
yet, it must be admitted, found no satisfactory expla- 
nation of its origin.* While Constantino was meditat- 

1 Vit. Const i. 28. The recent editor of EosebiuB has well called the lifb 
of Constantine a ChriBtian Cyropndia. 

3 The silence, not only of all contemporary histoiy (the Ie^,nd of Arte> 
mlus, abandoned even by Tillemont, does not deserve the name), but of 
£usebius himself, in his Ecclesiastical History, gives a most dangerous 
advantage to those who altogether reject the story. But on whom is the 
invention of the story to be fathered? On Eusebins? who, although his 
conscience might not be delicately scrupulous on the subject of pious fraud, 
is charged with no more than the suppression of truth, not with the direct 
invention of fiilsehood. Or on Constantine himself? Could it be yrith him 
a deliberate fiction to command the higher veneration of the Christian party? 
Or was his imagination at the time, or was his memory in his later days, de^ 
ceived by some inexplicable illusion ? 

The first excursus of Heinichen, in his edition of Eusebius, contains the 
fullest, and, on the whole, the most temperate and judicious discussion of 
this subject, so inexhaustibly interesting, yet so inexplicable, to the histori- 
cal inquirer. There are three leading theories, variously modified by their 
difierent partisans: 1. A real miracle. 2. A natural phenomenon, presented 
to the imagination of the emperor. 8. A deliberate invention on the part of 
the emperor, or of Eusebius. The first has few partisans in the present day. 
*'Ut enim miraculo Constantinum a superstitione gentili avocatnm esse, 
nemo facile hac state adhuc credet" — Heinichen, p. 622. Independent of 
all other objections, the moral difficult^' in the text is to me conclusive. The 
third has its partisans, but appears to me to be absolutely incredible. But the 
general consent of the more learned and dispassionate writers seems in favor 
of the second, which was first, I believe, suggested by F. Albert Fabridus. 
In this concur Schroeck, the German Church historian, Neander, Manso, 
Heinichen, and, in short, all modem writers who have any claim to historical 

The great difficulty which encumbers the theory which resolves it into a 
solar halo or some natural phenomenon is the legend kv Tovrtii vuc^ which 
no optical illusion can well explain, if it be taken literally. The only 
rational theory is to suppose that this was the inference drawn by the mind 

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Cbaf.l vision of constantine. 291 

ing in grave earnestness the claims of the rival re- 
ligions, — on one hand the awful fate of those who 
had persecuted Christianity, on the other the necessity 
of some divine assistance to counteract the magical 
incantations of his enemy, — he addressed his prayers 
to the One Great Supreme. On a sudden, a short 
time after noon, appeared a bright cross in the heavens, 
just above the sun, with this inscription, " By tliis, 
conquer." Awe seized himself and the whole army, 
who were witnesses of the wonderful phenomenon. 
But of the signification of the vision Constantine was 
altogether ignorant. Sleep fell upon his harassed 
mind ; and, during his sleep, Christ himself appeared, 
and enjoined him to make a banner in the shape of 
that celestial sign, under which his arms would be for 
ever crowned with victory. 

Constantine immediately commanded the famous 
Labarum to be made, — the Labarum which for a long 
time was borne at the head of the imperial armies, 
and venerated as a sacred relic at Constantinople. 
The shaft of this celebrated standard was cased with 
gold; above the transverse beam, which formed the 

of Constantine, and embodied in these words; which, from being inscribed 
on the Labarum, or on the arms or any other public monument, as commemo- 
latiye of the eyent, gradually grew into an integral part of the original 

The later and more poetic writers adorn the shields and the helmets of the 
whole army with the sign of the cross. 

Tntis Chiistlooln duels adreatantiB ad nrbem 

Malrias, exceptum Tiberina In stagna tyrannum 

Pnecipitans, quanam Tictrlda riderit anna 

IbOatate rogi, quod rignum deztwa rindex 

Pnetolwlt, quail ndlaiint >teauiiate plla. 

Ghiistos porpuraum, gemmantt teztus In anxo, 

Blgnabal labarum, diffpeonmn insignia Ckrisius 

Bcripteiat : ardebat suhudIs cmz addita eristla. 

Prudent, in Symmaehum, t. 482. 
Eoseb., Vit. Const L 28; H. £. ix. 9. Zosimus, ii. 16. Manso, Lebeo 
Constantins, p. 41, seqq. 

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cross, was wrought in a golden crown the monogram, 
or rather the device of two letters, which signified the 
name of Christ. And so, for the first time, the meek 
and peaceful Jesus became a (xod of battle ; and tho 
cross, the holy sign of Christian redemption, a banner 
of bloody strife. 

This irreconcilable incongruity between the symbol 
of universal peace and the horrors of war, in my judg- 
ment, is conclusive against the miraculous or super- 
natural character of the transaction.^ Yet the ad- 
mission of Christianity, not merely as a controlling 
power, and the most effective auxiliary of civil govern- 
ment (an oflSce not unbecoming its divine origin), but 
as the animating principle of barbarous warfare, argues 
at once the commanding influence which it had 
obtained over the human mind, as well as its degener- 
acy from its pure and spiritual origin. The unim- 
peached and unquestioned authority of this miracle 
during so many centuries shows how completely, in 
the association which took place between Barbarism 
and Christianity, the former maintained its predomi- 
nance. This was the first advance to the military 
Christianity of the Middle Ages, — a modification of 
the pure religion of the Gospel, if directly opposed to 
its genuine principles, still apparently indispensable 

1 I was agreeably surprised to find that Mosheim ooncnned in these sen- 
timents, for which I will readily encounter the charge of Quakerism. 

" Hnccine oratio servatori generis human!, qui peccata hominum morte 
suft ezpiavit; hsccine oratio illo digna est, qui pacis auctor mortalibus est, et 
suos hostibus ignoscere vult . . . Caveamus ne veterum Christianorum nanar 
tionibus de setatis suie miraculis acrius defendendis in ipsam majestatem Dei, 
et sanctissimam religionem, qus non hostes, sed non ipsos debeUare docet, 
injurii simus."— De Beb. ante Const. 985. When the empress Helena, 
among the otlier treasures of the tomb of Christ, found the nails which fast- 
ened him to the cross, Constantine turned them into a helmet and bits for 
his war-horse. — Socrates, i. 17. True or &bulous, the story is characteristic 
of the Christian sentiment then prevalent. 

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to the social progress of men; through which the 
Roman empire and the barbarous nations, which were 
blended together in the vast European and Chris- 
tian system, must necessarily have passed, before they 
could arrive at a higher civilization and a purer Chris- 

The fate of Rome and of Paganism was decided in 
the battle of the Milvian Bridge ; the eventual result 
was the establishment of the Christian empire. But 
to Constantine himself, if at this time Christianity had 
obtained any hold upon his mind, it was now the 
Christianity of the warrior, as subsequently it was 
that of the statesman. It was the military commander 
who availed himself of the assistance of any tutelar 
divinity who might insure success to his daring enter- 

Christianity, in its higher sense, appeared neither 
in the acts nor in the decrees of the victori- 
ous Constantine after the defeat of Maxentius. conctentiiie 
Though his general conduct was tempered toiyovw 
with a wise clemency, yet the execution of 
his enemies and the barbarous death of the infant son 
of Maxentius still showed the same relentless disposi- 
tion which had exposed the barbarian chieftains, whom 
he had taken in his successful campaign beyond the 
Rhine, in the arena at Treves.^ The emperor still 
maintained the same proud superiority over the con- 
flicting religions of the empire, which afterwards ap- 
peared at the foundation of the new metropolis. Even 
in the Labarum, if the initiated eyes of the Christian 
soldiery could discern the sacred symbol of Christ in- 

1 One of these barbarous acts was selected by the panegyrical orator as a 
topic of the highest praise. ** Puberes, qni in manus venemnt et quorum nee 
pc^dia erat apta milltin nee ferocia severitati, ad pcenas spectaculo dati, sn- 
▼ientes bestiaa multitadine 8u& fadgamnt." ~ Eumenli Panegr. c. zii. 

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294 EDICT FBOM HILAK. Book m. 

distinctly glittering above the cross, there appeared, 
either embossed on the beam below, or embroidered 
on the square purple banner which depended from it, 
the bust of the emperor and those of his family, to 
whom the Heathen part of his army might pay their 
homage of veneration. Constantine, though he does 
not appear to have ascended to the Capitol, to pay his 
homage and to offer sacrifice ^ to Jupiter the best and 
greatest, and the other tutelary deities of Rome (in 
general the first act of a victorious emperor), yet did 
not decline to attend the sacred games.^ Among the 
acts of the conqueror in Rome was the restoration of 
the Pagan temples ; among his imperial titles he did 
not decline that of the Pontifex Maximus.* The prov- 
ince of Africa, in return for the bloody head of their 
oppressor Maxentius, was permitted to found a college 
of priests in honor of the Flavian family. 
The first public edict of Constantine in favor of 
Christianity is lost : that issued at Milan, in 
coDsumtiiia the joint names of Constantine and Licinius, 

ftom Milan. 

is the great charter of the liberties of Chris- 
tianity.^ But it is an edict of full and unlimited tol- 
eration, and no more. It recognizes Christianity as 
one of the legal forms by which the Divinity may be 
worshipped.* It performs an act of justice in restor- 

1 £tueb.| Yit Const, i. 61. Le Beau, Histoire da Bas Empire, L iL 

c XTi. 

3 ** Nee qurdquam aliud homines, dieboa manerum sacrommqiie Indonmi, 
quam te ipsum spectare potuerunU*' — Incert Paneg. c. xix. 

' Zosimas, iv. 36. 

^ The edict, or rather the copj, sent by Licinins to the Prefect of Bithynia 
in Lactantius, De Mort. Pers. xlviii. 

* Decree of Milan, A.D. 818. **Hiec ordinanda esse credidimns, nt dai«- 
muB et Christianis et omnibas liberam potestatem seqaendi religionem quam 
quisque voluiseet, quod quidem cUviniUu in sede coelesti nobis atque omniboa 
qui sub potestate nostr& sunt constituti, placata ac propitia possit existere." 
[This divinitaSf I conceive, was that equivocal term for the Supreme Deity, 

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ing all the public buildings and the property which 
had been confiscated by die persecuting edicts of 
former emperors. Where the churches or their sites 
remained in the possession of the imperial treasury, 
they were restored without any compensation ; where 
they had been alienated, the grants were resumed; 
where they had been purchased, the possessors were 
offered an indemnity for their enforced and immediate 
surrender, from the state. The prefects were to see 
the restitution carried into execution without delay and 
without chicanery. But the same absolute freedom of 
worship was secured to all other religions ; and this 
proud and equitable indifference is to secure the favor 
of the Divinity to the reigning emperors. The whole 
tone of this edict is that of imperial clemency, which 
condescends to take under its protection an oppressed 
and injured class of subjects, rather than that of an 
awe-struck proselyte, esteeming Christianity the one 
true religion, and already determined to enthrone it as 
the dominant and established faith of the empire. 

The earlier laws of Constantine, though in their 
effects favorable to Christianity, claimed some Earlier lawt 

- of CoDstaD- 

deference, as it were, to the ancient religion tine. 

admitted by the Pagan as well as the Christian. What Zosimns called 
Td ^eiJbv] "etiam aliis religionis soAvel observantiee potestatem similiter 
apeitam, et liberam, pro qniete temporis nostri esse concessam, at in colendo 
quod quisque delegerit, habeat liberam facoltatem, quia (nolumus detrahi) 
honori neque cuiquam religion! aliqoid a nobis.** 

I will transcribe, howerer, the observations of Kestner on this point: 
^*Multi merito observ&nmt, animum illud ostendere (sc decretum Mediolense) 
ab antiqua religione minime alienum. Observandmn vero, parum hoc decre- 
tum valere, at veram Constantini mentem inde intelligamos. Non solus 
qnippe illius auctor fiiit, sed Licinlos quoque — Huic autem — etsi iis (Chris- 
tianis) non sinceros erat amicus, parcere debuit Constantinus ; neque cseteiis 
displicere voluit subditis, qui antiquam religionem profiterentur. Quamvis 
igitur etiam religionis indole plenius jam fuisset imbutus, ob rerum tamen, 
qjud id temporis erant, oonditionem, manifestare mentem non potuissef* — 
Kestner, Disp. de commut. quam, Constant. M. auct. societas snbiit Chris- 
tiana. Compare Heinichen, Ezcors. in Vit Const, p. 618. 

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in the ambiguity of their language, and the cautious 
terms in which they interfered with the liberty of Pa- 
ganism. The rescript commanding the celebration of 
the Christian Sabbath bears no allusion to its peculiar 
sanctity as a Christian institution. It is the day of 
the Sun, which is to be observed by the general venera- 
tion. The courts were to be closed, and the noise and 
tumult of public business and legal litigation were no 
longer to violate the repose of the sacred day. But 
the believer in the new Paganism, of which the solar 
worship was the characteristic, might acquiesce with- 
out scruple in the sanctity of the first day of the week. 
The genius of Christianity appears more manifestly in 
sanotity of ^^^ siuglc civil act, which was exempted from 
the Sunday, ^j^^ general restriction on public business. 
The courts were to be open for the manumission 
of slaves on the hallowed day.^ In the first aggres- 
sion on the freedom of Paganism, though the earliest 
law speaks in a severe and vindictive tone, a second 
tempers the stern language of the former statute, and 
actually authorizes the superstition against which it is 
directed, as far as it might be supposed beneficial to 
mankind. The itinerant soothsayers and diviners, 
who exercised their arts in private houses, formed no 
recognized part of the old religion. Their rites were 
Against supposed to bc connected with all kinds of 
divinauon. crucl and licentious practices, — with magic 
and unlawful sacrifices. They performed their cere- 
monies at midnight among tombs, where tliey evoked 
the dead ; or in dark chambers, where they made liba- 
tions of the blood of the living. They were darkly 
rumored not to abstain, on occasions, from human 
blood, to offer children on the altar, and to read the 

1 Cod. Theodos. ii., viii. 1. Yit Constant iv. 18. Zosimus, i. 8. 

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secrets of futurity in the palpitating entrails of human 
victims. These unholy practices were proscribed by 
the old Roman law and the old Roman religion. This 
kind of magic was a capital offence by the laws of the 
Twelve Tables. Secret divinations had been inter- 
dicted by former emperors, — by Tiberius and by Dio- 
cletian.^ The suppression of these rites by Constantino 
might appear no more than a strong regulation of po- 
lice for the preservation of the public morals.^ The 
soothsayer, who should presume to enter a private 
house to practise his unlawful art, was to be burned 
alive; those who received him were condemned to 
the forfeiture of their property and to exile. But 
in the public temple, according to the established rites, 
the priests and seers might still unfold the secrets of 
futurity; the people were recommended to apply to 
them rather than to the unauthorized diviners, and 
this permission was more explicitly guaranteed by a 
subsequent rescript.* Those arts which professed to 
avert the thunder from the house, the hurricane and 
the desolating shower from the fruitful field, were ex- 
pressly sanctioned as beneficial to the husbandman. 
Even in case of the royal palace being struck by light- 
ning, the ancient ceremony of propitiating the Deity 
was to be practised, and the haruspices were to declare 
the meaning of the awful portent.* 

Yet some acts of Constantine, even at this early 
period, might encourage the expanding hopes of the 

1 *'Haraspice8 secreto ac sine testibiu consnli vetoit** — Suetonios, Tib. 
c 68. " An mathemadca danmabilis est et interdicta omnino." Compare 
Bengnot, i. 79. 

^ It was addressed to Maximus, prefect of the dtj. — Cod. Theod. xi. 8, 2. 

s " Adite aras publicas atque delabra, et consaetudinis vestrsB celebrate 
eolemnia: nee enim prohibemus prseteiits osarpationis officia Iiber& lape 
tractari." — Cod. Theodos. xi. 16. 

^ Cod. Theodos. ix. 16, xvi. 10. 

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Christians, that they were destined before long to 
ooiutantiiie's roceive more than impartial justice fix)m the 
JJJJt"3«J^ emperor. His acts of liberality were beyond 
^'^^' those of a sovereign disposed to redress the 
wrongs of an oppressed class of his subjects : he not 
merely enforced by his edict the restoration of their 
churches and estates, he enabled them, by his own 
mimificence, — his gift of a large sum of money to 
the Christians of Africa, — to rebuild their mined edi- 
fices, and restore their sacred rites with decent solem- 
GhnrdMin ^^^7'^ Many of the churches in Kome claim 
**"°* the first Christian emperor for their founder. 

The most distinguished of these, and, at the same 
time, those which are best supported in their preten- 
sions to antiquity, stood on the sites now occupied by 
the Lateran and by St. Peter's. If it could be as- 
certained at what period in the life of Constantino 
tiiese churches were built, some light might be thrown 
on the history of his personal religion. For, the 
Lateran being an imperial palace, the grant of a basil- 
ica Within its walls for the Christian worship (for such 
we may conjecture to have been the first church) was 
a kind of direct recognition, if not of his own regular 
personal attendance, at least of his admission of Chris- 
tianity within his domestic circle.^ The palace was 
afterwards granted to the Christians, the first patri- 
mony of the popes. The Vatican suburb seems to 
have been the favorite place for the settlement of foreign 
religions. It was thickly peopled with Jews firom an 
early period ;^ and remarkable vestiges of the worship 

1 See the original grant of three thousand foUes to CiBcilian, Bishop of 
Carthage, in Kusebius, Ecd. Hist x. 6. 

< The Lateran was the residence of the princess Fausta: it is called the 
Domns Faiistie in the account of the first synod held to decide on the Donatist 
schism. — Optat i. 28. Fausta may have been a Christian. 

* Basnage, ^'ii. 210, Hist of Jews. 

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of Cybele, which appear to have flourished side hy 
side, as it were, with that of Christianity, remained to 
the fourth or the fifth century.^ The site of St. 
Peter's Church was believed to occupy the spot hal- 
lowed by his martyrdom ; and the Christians must have 
felt no unworthy pride in employing the materials of 
Nero's Circus, the scene of the sanguinary pleasures 
of the first persecutor, on a church dedicated to the 
memory of his now honored, if not absolutely wor- 
shipped, victim. 

With the protection, the emperor assumed the con- 
trol over the afiairs of the Christian communities: 
to the cares of the public administration was added 
a recognized supremacy over the Christian Church. 
The^ extent to which Christianity now prevailed is 
shown by the importance at once assumed by the 
Christian bishops, who brought not only their losses 
and their suiSerings during the persecution of Diocle- 
tian, but, unhappily, likewise their quarrels, before the 
imperial tribuncd. From his palace at Treves, Con- 
stantine had not only to assemble military councils to 
debate on the necessary measures for the protection 
of the German firontier and the maintenance of the 
imperial armies, and councils of finance to remodel 
and enforce the taxation of the different provinces, 
but likewise synods of Christian bishops to decide on 
the contests which had grown up in the remote and 
unruly province of Africa. The emperor himself is 
said frequentiy to have appeared without his imperial 
state, and, with neither guards nor officers around 
him, to have mingled in the debate, and expressed his 
satisfaction at their unanimity, whenever that rare 
virtue adorned their counsels.* 

!• BanBen nnd Platner, RomB' Beschreibimg, L p. 28. 

3 £iueb., Vit Const I. zliv. : xaLgmnn 6€usvi>c iavrilv ry KOtvf iravruv 




For Constentine, though he could give protection, 
could not give peace, to Christianity. It is the nature 
of man, that whatever powerfully moves, agitates to 
excess the public mind. With new views of those 
subjects which make a deep and lasting impression, 
new passions awaken. The profound stagnation of 
the human mind during the government of the earlier 
Ca&sars had been stirred in its inmost depths by the 
silent underworking of the new faith. Momentous 
questions, which up to that time had been entirely left 
to a small intellectual aristocracy, had been calmly 
debated in the villa of the Roman senator or the 
grove sacred to philosophy, or discussed by sophists 
whose frigid dialectics wearied without exciting the 
mind, had been gradually brought down to the com- 
mon apprehension. The nature of the Deity; the 
state of the soul after death ; the equality of mankind 
in the sight of the Deity, — even questions which are 
beyond the verge of hximan intellect; the origin of 
evil ; the connection of the physical and moral world, 
— had become general topics: they were, for the first 
time, the primary truths of a popular religion, and 
naturally could not withdraw themselves from the 
alliance with popular passions. These passions, as 
Christianity increased in power and influence, came 
into more active operation ; as they seized on persons 
of different temperament, instead of being themselves 
subdued to Christian gentleness, they inflamed Chris- 
tianity, as it appeared to the world, into a new and 
more indomitable principle of strife and animosity. 
Mankind, even within the sphere of Christianity, retro- 
graded to the sterner Jewish character; and in its 

bfjuovoi^. — Eusebiua says, too, that he conducted himself as the bishop of the 

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spirit, as well as in its language, the Old Testament 
began to dominate over the Gospel of Christ. 

The first civil wars which divided Christianity were 
those of Donatism and the Trinitarian controversy. 
The Gnostic sects, in their diflFercnt varieties, and the 
Manichean, were rather rival religions than Dfaaensioni 

^ of Christlaa- 

Christian factions. Though the adherents of i*y- 
these sects professed to be disciples of Christianity yet 
they had their own separate constitutions, their own 
priesthood, their own ceremonial. Donatism 
was a fierce and implacable schism in an 
established community. It was embraced with all the 
wild ardor, and maintained with the blind obstinacy, 
of the African temperament. It originated in a dis- 
puted appointment to the episcopal dignity at Car- 
thage. The Bishop of Carthage, if in name inferior 
(for every thing connected with the ancient capital 
still maintained its superior dignity in. the general 
estimation), stood higher, probably, in proportion to 
the extent of his influence and the relative numbers 
of his adherents, as compared with the Pagan popula- 
tion, than any Christian dignitary in the West. The 
Afi:ican churches had suffered more than usual oppres- 
sion during the persecution of Diocletian, not improb- 
ably during the invasion of Maxentius. External 
force, which in other quarters compressed the body 
into closer and more compact unity, in Africa lefb 
behind it a fatal principle of disorganization. These 
rival claims to the see of Carthage brought the oppo- 
nent parties into inevitable collision. 

The pontifical offices of Paganism, ministering in 
a ceremonial to which the people were either indif- 
ferent or bound only by habitual attachment, calmly 
descended in their hereditary course, were nominated 

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by the municipal magistracy, or attached to the higher 

civil oflSces, They awoke no ambition, they 

hierarchy causcd no coutention ; they did not mterest 

different from 

PagnpriMt- society enough to disturb it. But the 
growth of the sacerdotal power was a necea- 
sary consequence of the development of Christianity. 
The hierarchy asserted (they were believed to possess) 
the power of sealing the eternal destiny of man. 
From a post of danger, which modest piety was com- 
pelled to assume by the unsought and unsolicited 
suf&ages of the whole community, a bishopric had 
become an office of dignity, influence, and, at times, 
of wealth. The prelate ruled not now so much by his 
admitted superiority in Christian virtue, as by the 
inalienable authority of his office. He opened or 
closed the door of the church, which was tantamount 
to an admission or an exclusion from everlasting bliss ; 
he uttered the sentence of excommunication, which 
cast back the trembling delinquent among the lost 
and perishing Heathen. He had his throne in the 
most distinguished part of the Christian temple ; and 
though yet acting in the presence and in the name of 
his college of presbyters, yet he was the acknowledged 
head of a large conununity, over whose eternal destiny 
he held a vague, but not therefore less imposing and 
awful, dominion. Among the African Christians, 
perhaps by the commanding character of Cyprian, in 
his writings at least, the episcopal power is elevated to 
its utmost height. No wonder that, with the elements 
of strife fermenting in the society, and hostile parties 
already arrayed against each other, the contest for this 
commanding post should often be commenced with blind 
violence, and carried on with irreconcilable hostility.^ 

^ The principal Bource of infonnation concerning the Donatist contzoTeny 

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Chap. I. THE TRADITOBS. 803 

In every community, no doubt, had grown up a 
severer party, who were anxious to contract the pale 
of salvation to the narrowest compass; and a more 
liberal class, who were more lenient to the infirmities 
of their brethren, and would extend to the utmost 
limits the beneficial efiects of the Redemption. The 
fiery ordeal of the persecution tried the Christians 
of Africa by the most searching test, and drew more 
strongly the line of demarcation. Among the sum- 
mary proceedings of the persecution, which were car- 
ried into effect with unrelenting severity by Anulinus, 
the Prefect of Africa (the same who, by a singular 
vicissitude in political affairs, became the instrument 
of Constantine's munificent grants to the churches of 
his province),^ none was more painful to the feelings 
of the Christians than the demand of the imcondi- 
tional surrender of the furniture of their sacred 
edifices, their chalices, their ornaments, above all, the 
sacred writings.* The bishop and his priests were 
made responsible for the full and unreserved delivery 
of these sacred possessions. Some from timidity, 
others considering that by such concessions it might 
be prudent to avert more dangerous trials, and that 
such treasures, sacred as they were, might be replaced 
in a more flourishing state of the Church, complied 
with the demands of the magistrate; but, by their 
severer brethren, who, with more uncompromising 

IB the works of OpUtos, with the valuable collection of documents subjoined 
to them ; and, for their later history, varioos passages m the works of St. Ao- 

1 See the grant of Constantine referred to above. 

> There is a very curious and graphic account of the rigorous perquisition 
far the sacred books in the Gesta apud Zenophilom in Routh, vol. iv. p. 108. 
The codices appear to have been under the care of the readers, who were of 
various ranks, mostly, however, in trade. There were a great number 
of codices, each probably oontaming one book of the Scnptores. 

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804 THE SEE OF CABTHA6E. Book m. 

courage, had reftised the least departure from the 
TheTndi- ^^^^ ^^ Unqualified resistance, these men 
***"• were branded with the ignominious name of 
Traditors.^ This became the strong, the impassable, 
line of demarcation between the contending factions. 
To the latest period of the conflict, the Donatists 
described the Catholic party by that odious appellar 

The primacy of the African Church was the object 
of ambition to these two parties ; an unfortunate 
vacancy at this time kindled the smouldering embers 
conteBtfor of strifc. Mcusurius had filled the see of 
Carthage. Carthage with prudence and moderation dup- 
ing these days of emergency. He was accused by the 
sterner zeal of Donatus, a Numidian bishop, of coun- 
tenancing at least the criminal concessions of the 
Traditors. It was said that he had deluded the Got- 
ernment by a subtle stratagem; he had substituted 
certain heretical writings for the genuine Scriptures ; 
had connived at their seizure, and calmly seen them 
delivered to the flames. The Donatists either disbe- 
lieved, or despised as a paltry artifice, this attempt to 
elude the glorious danger of resistance. But, during 
the life of Mensurius, his character and station had 
overawed the hostile party. Mensurius was summoned 
to Rome, to answer on a charge of the concealment of 
the deacon Felix, accused of a political oflFence, — the 
publication of a libel against the emperor. On his 
departure, Mensurius intrusted to the deacons of the 
community the valuable vessels of gold and silver 
belonging to the church, of which he left an accurate 
inventory in the hands of a pious and aged woman. 

1 The Donatists invariablj called the Catholic party the Traditors. See 
Senno Donatista and the Acts of Donatist Martyr. 

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Mensurius died on his ceturn to Carthage. Gsscilian, 
a deacon of the church, was raised by the unanimous 
6uffi:ages of the clergy and people to the see of Car- 
thage. He was consecrated by Felix, Bishop of 
Apthunga. His first step was to demand the vessels 
of the church. By the advice of Botrus and Celeusius, 
two of the deacons, competitors, it is said, with Csecilian 
for the see, they were refused to a bishop irregularly 
elected, and consecrated by a notorious Traditor. A 
Spanish female, of noble birth and of opulence, accused 
of personal hostility to Caecilian, animated the Car- 
thaginian faction: but the whole province assumed 
the right of interference with the appointment to the 
primacy ; and Donatus, Bishop of Casae Nigrae, placed 
himself at the head of the opponent party. 

The commanding mind of Donatus swayed the 
countless hierarchy which crowded the different prov- 
inces of Africa. The Numidian bishops took the lead ; 
Secundus, the primate of Numidia, at the summons of 
Donatus, appeared in Carthage at the head of seventy 
of his bishops. This self-installed Council of App«a to 

^ th« civil 

Carthage proceeded to cite Caecilian, who re- power. 
fused to recognize its authority. The council declared 
his election void. The consecration by a bishop guilty 
of tradition was the principal groTind on which his elec- 
tion was annulled. But darker charges were openly 
advanced or secretly murmured against Ceecilian, — 
charges which, if not entirely ungrounded, show that 
the question of tradition had, during the persecution, 
divided the Christians into fierce and hostile factions. 
He was said to have embittered the last hours of those 
whose more dauntless resistance put to shame the 
timorous compliance of Mensurius and his party. He 
had taken his station, with a body of armed men, and 
VOL. II. 20 

Digitized by 


306 COUNCIL OF ROME. Book m. 

precluded the pious zeal of their adherents from obtain- 
ing access to the prison of those who had been seized 
by the Government;^ he had prevented, not merely 
the consolatory and inspiriting visits of kinsmen and 
friends, but even the introduction of food and other 
comforts, in their state of starving destitution. The 
Cartliaginian faction proceeded to elect Majorinus to 
the vacant see. Both parties appealed to the civil 
power ; and Anulinus, the Prefect of Africa, who dur- 
ing the reign of Diocletian had 86en the Christians 
dragged before his tribunal, and whose authority they 
then disclaimed with uncompromising unanimity, now 
saw them crowding in hostile factions to demand his 
interference in their domestic discords. 

The cause was referred to the imperial decision of 
Constantino. At a later period, the Donatists, bemg 
worsted in the strife, bitterly reproached their adver- 
saries with this appeal to the civil tribunal, "What 
have Christians to do with kings, or bishops with 
palaces ? " * Their adversaries justly recriminated, 
that they had been as ready as themselves to request 
the intervention of the Government. Constantino 
delegated the judgment in their cause to the bishops 
of Gaul:* but the first council was composed of a 
councuof great majority of Italian bishops ; and Rome, 
^™®- for the first time, witnessed a public trial of 

1 Optatus, i. 22. » Optatns, i. 22. 

* Augustine, writing when the episcopal authority stood on a level nearer 
to or even higher than the throne, asserts that Constantine did not dare to 
assume a cognizance over the election of a bishop. " Constantinus non aosna 
est de causH, episcopi judicare." — Epist cv. n. 8. Natural equity, as well aa 
other reasons, would induce Constantine to delegate the affair to a Christian 
commission. The account of Optatus ascribes to Constantine speeches which 
it is difficult to reconcile with his public conduct as regards Christianity at thia 
period of his life. The Council of Rome was held A.D. 813, 2d October. 

The decrees of the Council of Rome and of Aries, with other documents on 
the subject, may be found in the fourth volume of Routh. 

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a Christian cause before an assembly of bishops, pro- 
sided over hj her prelate. The council was formed of 
the three Gallic bishops of Cologne, of Autun, and 
of Aries. The Italian bishops (we may conjecture 
that these were considered the more important sees, 
or were filled by the most influential prelates) were 
those of Milan, Cesena, Quintiano, Rimini, Florence, 
Pisa, Paenza, Capua, Benevento, Terracina, Praeneste, 
Tres Tabernae, Ostia, Ursinum (tJrbinum), Forum 

Csecilian and Donatus appeared each at the head 
of ten bishops of his party. Both denounced their 
adversaries as guilty of the crime of tradition. The 
partisans of Donatus rested their appeal on the inva- 
lidity of an ordination by a bishop, Felix of Apthunga, 
who had been guilty of that delinquency. The party 
of CsBcilian accused almost the whole of the Numidian 
bishops, and Donatus himself, as involved in the same 
guilt. It was a wise and temperate policy in the 
Catholic party to attempt to cancel all embittering 
recollections of the days of trial and infirmity; to 
abolish all distinctions, which on one part led to pride, 
on the other to degradation; to reconcile, in those 
halcyon days of prosperity, the whole Christian world 
in one harmonious confederacy. This policy was that 
of the Government. At this early period of his Chris- 
tianity, if he might yet be called a Christian, Constan- 
tino was little likely to enter into the narrow and 
exclusive principles of the Donatists. As emperor, 
Christianity was reconmiended to his favor by the 
harmonizing and tranquillizing influence which it exer- 
cised over a large body of the people. If it broke up 
into hostile feuds, it lost its value as an ally or an 
instrument of civil government. But it was exactly 

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808 COUNCIL AT ARLES. Book m. 

this leyelling of all religious distinctions, this liberal 
and comprehensive spirit, that would annihilate the 
less important differences, which struck at the vital 
principle of Donatism. They had confronted all the 
malice of the persecutor, they had disdained to com- 
promise any principle, to concede the minutest point ; 
and were they to abandon a superiority so hardly 
earned, and to acquiesce in the re-admission of all those 
who had forfeited their Christian privileges to the same 
rank? Were they not to exercise the high function of 
re-admission into the fold with proper severity ? The 
decision of the coimcil was favorable to the cause 
of Caecilian. Donatus appealed to the emperor, who 
retained the heads of both parties in Italy, to allow 
time for the province to regain its quiet. In defiance 
of the emperor, both the leaders fled back to Africa, to 
set themselves at the head of their respective factions. 
A.D. 814. '^^^ patient Constantine summoned a new, a 
1st Aug. more remote council at Aries. Caecilian and 
the African bishops were cited to appear in that distant 
province ; public vehicles were furnished for their con- 
veyance at the emperor's charge; each bishop was 
attended by two of his inferior clergy, with three do- 
mestics. The Bishop of Aries presided in this council, 
which confirmed the judgment of that in Rome. 

A second Donatus now appeared upon the scene, of 
more vigorous and more persevering character, greater 
ability, and with all the energy and self-confidence 
which enabled him to hold together the faction. The 
party now assumed the name of Donatists. On the 
death of Majorinus, Donatus succeeded to the dignity 
of Anti-Bishop of Carthage : the whole African prov- 
ince continued to espouse the quarrel; the authority 
of the Government, which had been invoked by both 

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parties, was scornfully rejected by that against which 
the award was made. Three times was the decision 
repeated in favor of the Catholic party, at 
Rome, at Aries, and at Milan; each time was 
more strongly established the self-evident truth, which 
has been so late recognized by the Christian world, — 
the incompetency of any council to reconcile religious 
differences. The sufirages of the many cannot bind 
the consciences, or enlighten the minds, or even over- 
come the obstinacy, of the few. Neither party can 
yield without abandoning the very principles by which 
they have been constituted a party. 

A commission issued to JBlius, prefect of the 
district, to examine the charge against Felix, Bishop 
of Apthunga, gave a favorable verdict.^ An imperial 
commission of two delegates to Carthago ratified the 
decision of the former councils. At every turn, the 
Donatists protested against the equity of the decrees ; 
they loudly complained of the unjust and partial 
influence exercised by Osius, Bishop of Cordova, over 
the mind of the emperor. At length the tardy indig- 
nation of the Government had recourse to violent 
measures. The Donatist bishops were driven DonattotB 
into exile, their churches destroyed or sold, p****^**^ 
and the property seized for the imperial revenue. 
The Donatists defied the armed interference, as they 
had disclaimed the authority, of the Government. 
This first development of the principles of Christian 
sectarianism was as stem, as inflexible, and as perse- 
vering, as in later times. The Donatists drew their 
narrow pale around their persecuted sect, and asserted 
themselves to be the only elect people of Christ ; the 
only people whose clergy could claim an unbroken 

1 See the Acta Pnrgatioiiis Felicia, in Ronth, iv. 71. 

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apostolical succession, vitiated in all other communities 
of Christians by the inexpiable crime of tradition. 
Wherever they obtained possession of a church, they 
burned the altar, or, where wood was scarce, scraped 
off the infection of heretical communion ; they melted 
the cups, and sold, it was said, the sanctified metal for 
profane, perhaps for Pagan, uses ; they rebaptized aU 
who joined their sect ; they made the virgins renew 
their vows ; they would not even permit the bodies of 
the Catholics to repose in peace, lest they should pol- 
lute the common cemeteries. The implacable faction 
' darkened into a sanguinary feud. For the first time, 
human blood was shed in conflicts between followers 
of the Prince of Peace. Each party recriminated on 
the other ; but neither denies the barbarous scenes of 
massacre and license which devastated the African 
cities. The Donatists boasted of their martyrs, and 
the cruelties of the Catholic party rest on their own 
admission: they deny not, they proudly vindicate 
their barbarities, — "Is the vengeance of (Jod to be 
defrauded of its victims ? " ^ and they appeal to the 
Old Testament to justify, by tlie examples of Moses, 
of Phineas, and of Elijah, the Christian duty of slaying 
by thousands the renegades or the unbelievers. 
In vain Constantino at length published an edict of 
peace: the afflicted province was rent asunder 
till the close of his reign, and during that of 
his son, by this religious warfare. For, on the other 
Theciroum- ^^^^^ ^^^ barbarous fanaticism of the Cir- 
Miuons. cumcellions involved the Donatist party in 

1 This damning passage is found in the work of the Catholic Optatns: 
" Quasi omnino in vindictam Dei nnllus mereatur occidi.'* Compare the 
whole chapter, iii. 6. An able writer (Mr. Bright, History of the Church) has 
objected to his statement. I adhere to it. There is a very strong description 
of the persecutions which they endured from the Catholics in the letter put in 

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the guilt of insurrection, and connected them with 
revolting atrocities, which they were accused' of 
countenancing, of exciting, if not actually sanctioning 
by their presence. That which in the opulent cities, 
or the well-ordered communities, led to fierce and 
irreconcilable contention, grew up among the wild 
borderers on civilization into fanatical frenzy. Where 
Christianity has outstripped civilization, and has not 
had time to effect its beneficent and humanizing 
change, whether in the bosom of an old society or 
within the limits of savage life, it becomes, in times 
of violent excitement, instead of a pacific principle to 
assuage, a new element of ungovernable strife. The 
long peace which had been enjoyed by the province 
of Africa, and tlie flourishing corn-trade which it 
conducted as the granary of Rome and of the Italian 
provinces, had no doubt extended the pursuits of agri- 
culture into the Numidian, Gsetulian, and Mauritanian 
villages. The wild tribes had gradually become 
industrious peasants; and among them Christianity 
had found an open field for its exertions, and the 
increasing agricultural settlements had become Chris- 
tian bishoprics. But the savage was yet only half- 
tamed ; and no sooner had the flames of the Donatist 
conflict spread into these peacefiil districts, than the 
genuine Christian was lost in the fiery marauding 
child of the desert. Maddened by oppression, wounded 
in his religious feelings by the expulsion and persecu- 
tion of the bishops, from his old nature he resumed 
the fierce spirit of independence, the contempt for the 
laws of property, and the burning desire of revenge. 
Of his new religion he retained only the perverted 

by the Donatist bishop Habet Deum in the conference held during the reign 
of Honorios. — Apud Dnpio. No. 268, injine. 

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language, or rather that of the Old Testament, with 
an implacable hatred of all hostile sects; a stem 
ascetic continence, which perpetually broke out into 
paroxysms of unbridled licentiousness ; and a fanatic 
passion for martyrdom, which assumed the acts of a 
kind of methodical insanity. 

The Gircumcellions commenced their ravages dur- 
ing the reign of Gonstantine, and continued in arms 
.during that of his successor Gonstans. No sooner 
had the provincial authorities received instructions to 
reduce the province by force to religious unity, than 
the Gircumcellions, who had at first confined their 
ravages to disorderly and hasty incursions, broke out 
into open revolt.^ They defeated one body of the 
imperial troops, and killed Ursacius, the Roman 
general. They abandoned, by a simultaneous impulse, 
their agricultural pursuits; they proclaimed them- 
selves the instruments of divine justice, and the 
protectors of the oppressed; they first asserted the 
wild theory of the civil equality of mankind, which 
has so often, in later periods of the world, become the 
animating principle of Ghristian fanaticism; they 
proclaimed the abolition of slavery ; they thrust the 
proud and opulent master from his chariot, and made 
him walk by the side of his slave, who, in his turn, 
was placed in the stately vehicle ; they cancelled all 
debts, and released the debtors ; their most sanguinary 
acts were perpetrated in the name of religion, and 
Ghristian language was profaned by its association 
with their atrocities. Their leaders were the Gaptains 
of the Saints ; ^ the battle-hymn, " Praise to God ! " 

1 The Gircumcellions were unacquainted with the Latin language, and are 
said to have spoken only the Punic of the countiy. 

^ Augustine asserts that they were led by their deigy. — y. xL p. 676. 

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Their weapons were not swords, — for Christ had 
forbidden the use of the sword to Peter, — but huge 
and massy clubs, with which they beat their miserable 
victims to death.^ They were bound by vows of the 
severest continence ; but the African temperament, in 
its state of feverish excitement, was too strong for 
the bonds of fanatical restraint: the companies of the 
Saints not merely abused the privileges of war by the 
most licentious outrages on the females, but were at- 
tended by troops of drunken prostitutes whom they 
called their sacred virgins. But the most extraordi- 
nary development of their fanaticism was p,^^nibr 
their rage for martyrdom. When they could n>«ty«><w»- 
not obtain it from the sword of the enemy, they 
•inflicted it upon themselves. The ambitious martyr 
declared himself a candidate for the crown of glory : 
he then gave himself up to every kind of revelry, 
pampering, as it were, and fattening the victim for 
sacrifice. When he had wrought himself to the pitch 
of frenzy, he rushed out ; and, with a sword in one 
hand and money in the other, he threatened death 
and oflered reward to the first comer who would satisfy 
his eager longings for the glorious crown. Itey 
leaped from precipices ; they went into the Pagan tem- 
ples to provoke the vengeance of the worshippers. 

Such are the excesses to which Christianity is 
constantly liable, as the religion of a savage and 
uncivilized people ; but, on the other hand, it must be 
laid down as a political axiom equally universal, that 
this fanaticism rarely bursts out into disorders dan- 

1 The Donatists anticipated our Puritans in thoee strange religious names 
which they aasmned. Habet Deam appears among the Donatist bishops in 
a conference held with the Catholics at Carthage, A.D. 411. See the report 
of the conference in the Donatistan Monumenta collected bj Dupin, at the 
end of his edition of Optatus. 

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gerous to societj, unless goaded aud maddened bjr 

Donatism was the fatal schism of one province of 
Christendom: the few communities formed on theso 
rigid principles in Spain and in Bome died away in 
neglect ; but, however diminished its influence, it dis- 
tracted the African province for three centuries, and 
was only finally extirpated with Christianity itself, 
by the all-absorbing progress of Mohammedanism. At 
one time, Constantine resorted to milder measures, and 
issued an edict of toleration. But, in the reign of 
Constans, tlie persecution was renewed with more 
unrelenting severity. Two imperial oflScers, Paul and 
Macurius, were sent to reduce the province to religious 
unity. The Circumcellions encountered them with 
obstinate valor, but were totally defeated in the 
sanguinary battle of Bagnia. In the later reigns, 
when the laws against heresy became more frequent 
and severe, the Donatists were named with marked 
reprobation in the condemnatory edicts. Yet, in the 
time of Honorius, they boasted, in a conference with 
the Catholics, that they equally divided at least the 
province of Numidia, and that the Catholics only 
obtained a majority of bishops by the unfair means of 
subdividing the sees. This conference was held in 
the vain, though then it might not appear ungrounded, 
hope of re-uniting the great body of the Donatists with 
the Catholic conmiunion. The Donatists, says Gibbon, 
with his usual sarcasm and more than his usual truth, 
had received a practical lesson on the consequences 
of their own principles. A small sect, the Maximin- 
ians, had been formed within their body, who asserted 

1 Compare the persecation at the end of Dnpin's edition of Optatos. Tille- 
mont, yi. 147. 

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Chap. I. THE D0NATIST3. 815 

themselves to be the only genuine Church of God, 
denied the efficacy of the sacraments, disclaimed the 
apostolic power of the clergy, and rigidly appropriated 
to their own narrow sect the merits of Christ and the 
hopes of salvation. But neither this fatal warning, 
nor the eloquence of St. Augustine, wrought much 
eflFect on the Puritans of Africa : they still obstinately 
denied the legality of Caecilian's ordination; still 
treated their adversaries as the dastardly traditors of 
the Sacred Writings ; still dwelt apart in the unques- 
tioning conviction that they were the sole subjects of 
the kingdom of Heaven ; that to them alone belonged 
the privilege of immortality through Christ, while the 
rest of the world, the unworthy followers of Christ, 
not less than the blind and unconverted Heathen, 
were perishing in their outcast and desperate state of 

1 Donatists aie mentioned at the end of the sixth century (see Gregoiy the 
Great, Epist L 72-76, ii. 88), and are still powerful enough to eject the Catho- 
lics from their churchcfl. ^ Greg. Epist. ilL 82-85, v. 68. 

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The But 
BtiU Pagan. 


Constantlne becomes sole Emperor. 

By the victory over Maxentius, Cohstantine had 
become master of half the Roman world. 
Ghristiamty, if it had not contributed to the 
success, shared the advantage, of the triumph. By 
the edict of Milan, the Christians had resumed all 
their former rights as citizens, their churches were 
re-opened, their public services reconunenced, and 
their silent work of aggression on the hostile Paganism 
began again under the most promising auspices. The 
equal favor with which they were beheld by the sover- 
eign appeared both to their enemies and to themselves 
an open declaration on their side. The public acts, 
the laws and the medals of Constantine,^ show how the 
lofty eclectic indiflFerentism of the emperor, which ex- 
tended impartial protection over all the conflicting 
faiths, or attempted to mingle together their least 
inharmonious elements, gradually but slowly gave 
place to the progressive influence of Christianity. 
Christian bishops appeared as regular attendants upon 
the court ; the internal dissensions of Christianity be- 

1 Eckhel supposes that the Heathen symbols disappeared fix>m the coins 
of Constantlne after his victory over Licinios. — Doctr. Num. in Constant. 

I may add here another observation of this great authority on such sub- 
jects: "Excute unlversam Constantini monetam, nunquam in eft aut Christi 
imaginem aut Constantini effigiem cruce insignem reperies. ... In nonnullis 
jam monogramma Christi jP f inseritur labaro aut vexiUo, jam in areft 
nummi solitari^ excubat, jam aliis, ut patebit, comparet modis." 

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came affairs of state. The Pagan party saw, with 
increasing apprehension for their own authority and 
the fate of Rome, the period of the secular games, 
on the due celebration of which depended the duration 
of the Roman sovereignty, pass away unhonored.^ 
It was an extraordinary change in the consti* 
tution of the Western world, when the laws 
of the empire issued from the court of Treves, and 
Italy and Africa awaited the changes in their civil and 
religious constitution, from the seat of government 
on the barbarous German frontier. The munificent 
grant of Constantine for the restoration of the African 
churches had appeared to commit him in fevor of the 
Christian party, and had perhaps indirectly contributed 
to inflame the dissensions in that province. 

A new law recognized the clerical order as a distinct 
and privileged class. It exempted them from cierioaiordar 
the onerous municipal offices, which had be- th^iaw. ^ 
gun to press heavily upon the more opulent inhabit- 
ants of the towns. It is the surest sign of misgovern- 
ment, when the higher classes shrink from the posts 
of honor and of trust. During the more flourishing 
days of the empire, the decurionate, the chief municipal 
dignity, had been the great object of provincial ambi- 
tion. The decurions formed the senates of the 
towns ; they supplied the magistrates from their body, 
and had the right of electing them.^ 

Under the new financial system introduced by Dio- 
cletian, the decurions were made responsible for the 
full amount of tctxation imposed by the cataster, or 
assessment on the town and district. As the payment 

1 ZoeimoB, 1. ii. c. 1. 

s Savigny, Bomische Becht, i. 18. Compare the whole book of the Theo- 
doeian Code, De DecurionibuB. Penons concealed their property to escape 
lenring the public offices. — Cod. Theod. iii. 1-8. 

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became more burdensome or difficult, the tenants, or 
even the proprietors, either became insolvent or fled 
their country. But the inexorable revenue still ex- 
acted from the decurions the whole sum assessed on 
their town or district. The office itself grew into dis- 
repute, and the law was obliged to force that upon the 
reluctant citizen of wealth or character which had 
before been an object of eager emulation and competi- 
tion.^ The Christians obtained the exemption of tfieir 
ecclesiastical order from these civil offices. The ex- 
emption was grounded on the just plea of its incom- 
patibiUty with their religious duties.^ The emperor 
declared, in a letter to Csdcilian, Bishop of Carthage, 
that the Christian priesthood ought not to be with- 
drawn from the worship of God, which is the principal 
source of the prosperity of the empire. The effect 
of this immunity shows the oppressed and disorganized 
state of society.^ Numbers of persons, in order to 
secure this exemption, rushed at once into the clerical 
order of the Christians ; and this manifest abuse de- 
manded an immediate modification of the law. None 
were to be admitted into the sacred order except on 
A.D 820. ^^® vacancy of a religious charge, and then 
froS^thlT'^ those only whose poverty exempted them 
Decurionato. j^^j^ j^q muuicipal fuuctious.* Thosc whose 
property imposed upon them the duty of the decu- 

1 See two dissertadonB of Savignj on the taxation of the empire, in the 
Transactions of the Berlin Academy, and translated in the Cambridge Clas- 
sical Researches. 

3 The officers of the royal household, and their descendants, had the same 
exemption, which was likewise extended to the Jewish archisynagogi, or 
elders. —Le Bean, 165. Cod. Theodos. xvi. 8, 2. 

The priests and the Flamines, with the Decurions, were exempt from cer- 
tain inferior offices. — Cod. Theodos. xii. y. 2. 

* See the various laws on this subject, Codex Theodos. xvi. 2, 8, 6-11. 

* Cod. Theodos. xvi. 2, 17, 19. 

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rionate were ordered to abandon their religious 
profession. Such was the despotic power of the sov- 
ereign, to which the Christian Church still submitted, 
either on the principle of passive obedience, or in 
gratitude for the protection of the civil authority. 
The legislator interfered without scruple in the domes- 
tic administration of the Christian community, and 
the Christians received the imperial edicts in silent 
submission. The appointment of a Christian, the 
celebrated Lactantius, to superintend the education 
of Crispin, the eldest son of the emperor, was at once 
a most decisive and most influential step towards the 
public declaration of Christianity as the religion of 
the imperial family. Another important law, the 
groundwork of the vast property obtained by the 
Church, gave it the fullest power to receive the be- 
quests of the pious. Their right of holding property 
had been admitted apparently by Alexander Severus, 
annulled by Diocletian, and was now conceded in the 
most explicit terms by Constantino.^ 

But half the world remained still disunited from 
the dominion of Constantino and of Christianity. The 
first war with Licinius had been closed by ^^^j^ 
the battles of Cibal» and Mardia, and a new "«*°i«*- 
partition of the empire. It was succeeded by a hollow 
and treacherous peace of nine years.^ The favor 
shown by Constantino to his Christian subjects seems 
to have thrown Licinius upon the opposite interest. 

1 '*Habeat nnoBquisque licentiam, sanctissimo Catholicte venerabiliqiie 
concilio, decedens bonorum, quod placet, relinquere. Non sint cassa jadicia. 
Nihil est, quod magia hominibus debetur, quam ut Bupremee voluntatis, post* 
quam aliud jam velie non possint, liber sit status, et licens, quod iterum non 
redit, imperium.** — C. Th. xvi. 2, 4, De Episcopis. This law is assigned to 
the year 821. 

s 814 to 828. 

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The edict of Milan had been issued iu the joint names 
of the two emperors. In his conflict with Maximin, 
Licinius had avenged the oppressions of Christianity 
on their most relentless adversary. But when the 
crisis approached which was to decide the fate of 
the whole empire, as Constantino had adopted every 
means of securing their cordial support, so Liciniifs 
repelled the allegiance of his Christian subjects by 
disfavor, by mistrust, by expulsion from offices of 
honor, by open persecution, till, in the language of the 
ecclesiastical historian, the world was divided into two 
regions, those of day and of night.^ The vices as well 
liehiiiub*. ^ ^^® policy of Licinius might disincline 
SSdluy" ^^^ ^ endure the importunate presence of 
Pagan. ^^ Christian bishops in his court; but he 
might disguise his hostile disposition to the churclimen 
under his declared disUke of eunuchs and of courtiers,* 
— the vermin, as he called them, of the palace. The 
stern avarice of Licinius would be contrasted to his 
disadvantage with the profiise liberality of Constan- 
tino ; his looser debaucheries, with the severer morals 
of the Western emperor. Licinius proceeded to purge 
his household troops of those whose inclination to his 
rival he might, not without reason, mistrust: none 
were permitted to retain their rank who refused to 
sacrifice. He prohibited the synods of the clergy, 
which he naturally apprehended might degenerate into 
conspiracies in favor of his rival. He confined the 
bishops to the care of their own dioceses.* He aflFected, 
in his care for the public morals, to prohibit the pro- 

1 Euseb., Vita Constant i. 49. 

* ** Spadonum et Aulicomm omnium vehemens domitor, tineas soriceaque 
palatii eos appellans." — Aur. Vict. £pit 
S Vit Constant, i. 41. 

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miscuous worship of men and women in the churches ;^ 
and insulted the sanctity of the Christian worship, by 
commanding that it should be celebrated in the open 
air. The edict prohibiting all access to the prisons, 
though a strong and unwilling testimony to the chari- 
table exertions of the Christians, and by their writers 
represented as an act of wanton and unexampled in- 
humanity, was caused probably by a jealous policy, 
rather than by wanton cruelty of temper. It is quite 
clear, that the prayers of the Christians, perhaps more 
worldly weapons, were armed in favor of Constantine. 
The Eastern churches would be jealous of their happier 
Western brethren, and naturally would be eager to 
bask in the equal sunshine of imperial favor. At 
length, either fearing the eflFect of their prayers with 
the Deity whom they addressed,^ or their influence in 
alienating the miiids of their votaries from his own 
cause to that of him who, in the East, was considered 
the champion of the Christian cause, Licinius com- 
manded the Christian churches in Pontus to be closed ; 
he destroyed some of them, perhaps for defiance of his 
edicts. Some acts of persecution took place: the 
Christians fled again into the country, and began to 
conceal themselves in the woods and caves. Many 
instances of violence, some of martyrdom, occurred,^ 

1 Yit Constant. Women were to be inBtructed by the deaconesses alone. 
— Vit Const i. 68. 

• 2vvre^i<7$(U yiip oix ifyeiro imkp atrrov riic ebx^y (nwcttJdn 0avA^ 
TWTo 'XjoyiJ^nevo^j u^ imkp rov ^eo^iXov^ Paai^oc iravra irparretv ^ftag 
Kcu rdv i^e^ iXeovaOai neweioro. — Enseb. x. 8. 

* Sozomen (H. E. i. 7) asserts that many of the clergy, as well as bishops, 
were martyred. Dodwell, however, observes (De Pandtate Martyrum, 91), 
'^Caveant fabidatores ne quoe alios sub Licinio martyres faciant pneter- 
qoam episcopos." Compare Ruinart There is great difficulty about Basl- 
leus, Bishop of Amasa. He is generally reckoned by the Greek writers as a 
martyr (see Pagi ad an. 816, n. x.); but he is expressly stated by Phlloetor- 

VOL. II. 21 

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particularly in Pontus. There was a wide-spread ap- 
prehension that a nev and general persecution was 
about to break out, when the emperor of the West 
moved, in the language of the Christian historian, 
to rescue the whole of mankind from the tyranny of 

Whether or not, in fact, Licinius avowed the inmii- 
nent war to be a strife for mastery between the two 
religions, the decisive struggle between the ancient 
gods of Rome and the new divinity of the Christians ; * 
whether he actually led the chief officers and his most 
eminent political partisans into a beautiful consecrated 
grove, crowded with the images of the gods ; and ap- 
pealed, by the light of blazing torches, and amid the 
smoke of sacrifice, to the gods of their ancestors 
against his atheistic adversaries, the followers of a for- 
eign and unknown deity, whose ignominious sign was 
displayed in the van of their armies, — nevertheless, 
the propagation of such stories shows how completely, 
according to their own sentiments, the interests of 
Christianity were identified with the cause of Constan- 
tine.^ On both sides were again marshalled all the 
supernatural terrors which religious hope or supersti- 
tious awe could summon. Diviners, soothsayers, and 
Egyptian magicians, animated the troops of Licinius.* 
The Christians in the army of Constantino attributed 
all his success to the prayers of the pious bishops who 
accompanied his army, and especially to the holy 

gins (lib. i.)) confirmed by Athanasios (Orat. 1, contra Arianos), to have been 
present at the Council of Nicna some years afterwards. 

1 Vit Const, ii. 6. 

2 'TiraxOeic rtolv i}irioxvovfjivoug Amv Kpar^etv, elc i'^Xffvtafiov trp6nif, 
— Sozomen, i. 7. 

Sacrifices and divinations were resorted to, and promised to Licinius iini- 
▼ersa] empire. 

s Vit Constant ii. 4. « Euseb., Vit Constant i. 49. 

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Labarum, whose bearer passed unhurt among showers 
of fatal javelins.^ 

The battle of Hadrianople, and the- naval victory of 
Crispus, decided the fate of the world, and Battle of 

*" HadriaQopIe. 

the establishment of Christianity as the reli- aj). 828. 
gion of the empire. The death of Licinius re-united 
the whole Roman world under the sceptre of Constan- 

Eusebius ascribes to Constantino, during this battle, 
an act of Christian mercy, at least as unusual as the 
appearance of the banner of the cross at the head of 
the Roman army. He issued orders to spare the lives 
of his enemies, and offered rewards for all captives 
brought in alive. Even if this be not strictly true, its 
exaggeration or invention, or even its relation as a 
praiseworthy act, shows the new spirit which was work- 
ing in the mind of man.^ 

Among the first acts of the sole emperor of the 
world were the repeal of all the edicts of Licinius 
against the Cliristians; the release of all prisoners 
from the dungeon or the mine, or the servile and 
humiliating occupations to which some had been 
contemptuously condemned in the manufactories con- 
ducted by women ; the recall of all the exiles ; the 
restoration of all who had been deprived of their rank 
in the army, or in the civil service ; the restitution of 
all property of which they had been despoiled, — that 
of the martyrs to the legal heirs, where there were no 
heirs, to the Church. The property of the churches 
was not only restored, but the power to receive dona- 
tions in land, already granted to the Western churches, 

1 Eosebioa declares that he heard this from the lips of Constantine him- 
•elf. One man, who in his panic gave up the cross to another, was imme- 
diately transfixed in his flight. No one actnallj around the cross was 

ft Yit Const ii. 13. 

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was extended to the Eastern. The emperor himself 
set the example of giving back all that had been cod.- 
fiscated to the state. 

Gonstantine issued two edicts, recoimting all these 
exemptions, restitutions, and privileges ; one addressed 
to the churches, the other to the cities of the East : 
the latter alone is extant. Its tone might certainly 
indicate that Constantine considered the contest with 
Licinius as, in some degree, a war of religion. His 
own triumph and the fate of his enemies are adduced 
as unanswerable evidences to the superioriiy of that 
God whose followers had been so cruelly persecuted. 
The restoration of the Christians to all their property 
and immunities was an act, not merely of justice and 
humanity, but of gratitude to the Deity. 

But Constantine now appeared more openly to the 
whole world as the head of the Christian conamunity. 
He sat, not in the Roman senate deliberating on the 
aflFairs of the empire, but presiding in a council of 
Christian bishops, sununoned from all parts 
of the world, to decide, as of infinite impor- 
tance to the Roman empire, a contested point of the 
Christian faith. The council was held at Nicaea, one 
of the most ancient of the Eastern cities. The trans- 
actions of the council, the questions which were 
agitated before it, and the decrees which it issued, will 
be postponed for the present, in order that this impor- 
tant controversy, which so long divided Christianity, 
may best be related in a continuous narrative: we 
pass to the following year. 

Up to this period, Christianity had seen much to 
oonduotof admire, and little that it would venture to 
2*hS^**" disapprove, in the public acts or in the 
domestic character of Constantine. His of- 

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fences against the humanity of the Gospel would find 
palliation, or rather vindication and approval, in a 
warrior and a sovereign. The age was not yet so 
fully leavened with Christianity as to condemn the 
barbarity of that Roman pride which exposed without 
scruple the brave captive chieftains of the German 
tribes in the amphitheatre. Again, after the triumph 
of Constantino over Maxentius, this bloody spectacle 
had been renewed at Treves, on a new victory of Con- 
stantino over the Barbarians. The extirpation of the 
family of a competitor for the empire would pass as 
the usual, perhaps the necessary, policy of the times. 
The public hatred would applaud the death of the 
voluptuous Maxentius, and that of his family would 
be the inevitable consequences of his guilt. Licinius 
had provoked his own fate by resistance to the will of 
God and his persecution of the religion of Christ. 
Nor was the fall of Licinius followed by any general 
proscription : his son lived for a few years to be the 
undistinguished victim of a sentence which involved 
others in whom the public mind took far deeper inter- 
est. Licinius himself was permitted to live a short 
time at Thessalonica.^ It is said by some that his life 
was guaranteed by a solemn oath, and that he was 
permitted to partake of the hospitality of the con- 
queror.^ Yet his death, though the brother-in-law of 
Constantine, was but an expected event.* The tragedy 

1 Le Bean (Hist da Bas Empire, i. 220) recites with great fairness the 
varying accounts of the death of Licinius, and the motives which are said to 
have prompted it But he proceeds to infer that Licinius muxi have been 
guilty of some new crime, to induce Constantine to violate his solenm oath. 

3 '* Contra rellgionem sacramenti Thessalonicn privatus occisus est" — 
Eutrop. lib. x. 

* Eusebius says that he was put to death by the laws of war, and openly 
approves of his execution and that of the other enemies of God. 'Sdfu^ 
mDIfiov duvifiva/g rg irpeirway irapediSov Tifiupi^ , , , koI diru^XuvTO, 

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which took place in Uie family of Constantine betrayed 
to the surprised and anxious world, that, if his out- 
ward demeanor showed respect or veneration for 
Christianity, its milder doctrines had made little im- 
pression on the unsoftened Paganism of his heart. 

Crispus, the son of Constantine by Minervina, his 
A. D. 826. first "^^^j w^ ^ youth of high and brilliant 
Sr'tSMtS? promise. In his early years liis educatioa 
**°'' had been intrusted to the celebrated Lactan- 

tius, and there is reason to suppose that he was im- 
bued by his eloquent preceptor with the Christian doo- 
trines ; but the gentler sentiments instilled by the new 
faith had by no means unnerved the vigor or tamed 
the martial activity of youth. Had he been content 
with the calmer and more retiring virtues of the Chris- 
tian, without displaying the dangerous qualifications 
of a warrior and a statesman, he might have escaped 
the fatal jealousy of his father, and the arts which 
were no doubt employed for his ruin. In his cam- 
paign against the Barbarians, Crispus had shown 
himself a worthy son of Constantine ; and his naval 
victory over the fleet of Licinius had completed the 
conquest of the empire. The conqueror of Maxentius 
and of Licinius, the undisputed master of the Roman 
world, might have been expected to stand superior to 
that common failing of weak monarchs, — a jealous 
dread of the heir to their throne. The unworthy fears 
of Constantine were betrayed by an edict inconsistent 
with the early promise of his reign. He had endeav- 
ored, soon after his accession, to repress the odious 
crime of delation : a rescript now appeared, inviting, 

rijv npoarfKOvoav imixovr^^ SUc/fv^ 61 r^ ^eofMxiois avfi^h)t. How sin- 
golarly does this contrast with the passage above ! — See p. 823 ( Vit. Const, 
ii. 18), — bigotiy and mercy advancing hand in hand; the sterner creed 
overpowering the Grospel. 

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by large reward and liberal promise of favor, those 
informations which he had befbre nobly disdained; 
and this edict seemed to betray the apprehensions of 
the Government, that some widely ramified and darkly 
organized conspiracy was afoot. But, if such con- 
spiracy existed, the Government refused, by the secrecy 
of its own proceedings, to enlighten the public mind. 

Rome itself, and the whole Roman world, heard 
with horror and amazement, that in the midst of the 
solemn festival, which was celebrating with j^^^^ 
the utmost splendor the twentieth year of the ^!^^' 
emperor's reign, his eldest son had been sud- ^'^' *^ 
denly seized, and, either without trial or after a hur- 
ried examination, had been transported to the shore 
of Istria, and had perished by an obscure death.^ Nor 
did Crispus fall alone ; tlie young Licinius, the nephew 
of Constantino, who had been spared after his father's 
death and vainly honored with the titie of Caesar, 
shared his fate. The sword of justice or of cruelty, 
once let loose, raged against those who were suspected 
as partisans of the dangerous Crispus, or as implicated 
in the wide-spread conspiracy, till the bold satire of 
an eminent officer of state did not scruple, in some 
lines privately circulated, to compare the splendid but 
bloody times with those of Nero.* 

But tiiis was only the 'first act of .the domestic trage- 

1 Vict Epit in CoDstantino. Eutrop. lib. x. Zosimus, ii. c 29. Sido- 
nius, V. Epist 8. Of the ecclesiiutical historians, Philostorgius (lib. ii. 4) 
attributed the death of Crispus to the arts of his stepmother. He adds a 
strange story, that Constantine was poisoned by his brothers in revenge for 
the death of Crispus. Sozomen, while he refutes ib» notion of the connec- 
tion of the death of Crispus with the conversion of Constantine, admits the 
fiict, I. i. c. 5. 

> The Consul Albinus,— 

Satnrai auroa iflecla quis requlret? 
Sunt haeo genunea sed Neroniana. 


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dy : the death of the emperor's wife Fausta, the part- 
P^j^ ^ ner of twenty years of wedlock, the mother of 
^"■*** his three surviving sons, increased the gen- 
eral horror. She was suflFocated in a bath, which had 
been heated to an insupportable degree of tempera- 
ture. Many rumors were propagated throughout the 
empire concerning this dark transaction, of which 
the real secret was no doubt concealed, if not in the 
bosom, within the palace, of Constantine. The awful . 
crimes which had thrilled the scene of ancient tragedy 
were said to have polluted the imperial chamber. 
The guilty stepmother had either, like Phaedra, re- 
venged the insensibility of the youthful Crispus by an 
accusation of incestuous violence, or the crime, actu- 
ally perpetrated, had involved them both in the com- 
mon guilt and ruin. In accordance with the former 
story, the miserable Constantine had discovered too 
late the machinations which had stained his hand 
with the blood of a guiltless son : in the agony of his 
remorse he had fasted forty days; ho had abstained 
from the use of the bath ; he had proclaimed his own 
guilty precipitancy, and the innocence of his son, by 
raising a golden statue of the murdered Crispus, with 
the simple but emphatic inscription, " To my unfor- 
tunate son." Tiie Christian mother of Constantine, 
Helena, had been the principal agent in the detection 
of the wicked Fausta : it was added, that, besides her 
unnatural passion for her step-son, she was found to 
have demeaned herself to the embraces of a slave. 

It is dangerous to attempt to reconcile with proba- 
bility these extraordinary events, which so often sur- 
pass, in the strange reality of their circumstances, the 
wildest fictions. But, according to the ordinary course 
of things, Crispus would appear the victim of political 

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rather than of domestic jealousy. The innocent Li- 
cinins might be an object of suspicion, as implicated 
in a conspiracy against the power, but not against the 
honor, of Constantine. The removal of Crispus opened 
the succession of the throne to the sons of Pausta. 
The. passion of maternal ambition is much more con- 
sistent with human nature than the incestuous love 
of a stepmother, advanced in life and with many chil- 
dren, towards heB husband's son. The guilt of com- 
passing the death of Crispus, whether by the atrocious 
accusations of a Phaedra or by the more vulgar arts 
of common court intrigue, might come to light at a 
later period ; and the indignation of the emperor at 
having been deluded into the execution of a gallant 
and blameless son, the desire of palliating to the 
world and to his own conscience his own criminal and 
precipitate weakness by the most unrelenting revenge 
on the subtlety with which he had been circumvented, 
might madden him to a second act of relentless bar- 

But, at all events, the unanimous consent of the 
Pagan and most of the Christian authorities. Pagan ao- 
as well as the expressive silence of Eusebius, thiaeTent. 
indicates the xmfavorable impression made on the pub- 
lic mind by these household barbarities. But the most 
remarkable circumstance is the advantage which was 
taken of this event by the Pagan party to throw a 
dark shade over the conversion of Constantine to the 
Christian religion. Zosimus has preserved this re- 
port ; but there is good reason for supposing that it 
was a rumor, eagerly propagated at the time by tlie 
more desponding votaries of Paganism.^ In the deep 

1 Gibbon has thrown doubts on the actual death of Fansta.— Vol. iii. 
p. 110. 

> See Hejme^s note on this passage of Zosimus. 

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agony of remorse, Constantine eagerly inquired of the 
ministers of the ancient religions whether their lus- 
trations could purify the soul from the blood of a son. 
The unaccommodating priesthood acknowledged the 
inefficacy of their rites in a case of such inexpiable 
atrocity,^ and Constantine remained to struggle with 
the unappeased and unatoned horrors of conscience. 
An Egyptian, on his journey from Spain, passed 
through Rome, and, being admitted tp the intimacy of 
some of the females about the court, explained to the 
emperor that the religion of Christ possessed the 
power of cleansing the soul from all sin. From that 
time, Constantine placed himself entirely in the hands 
of the Christians, and abandoned altogether the sacred 
rites of his ancestors. 

If Constantine at this time had been long an avowed 
and sincere Christian, this story falls to the ground ; 
but if, according to my view, tliere was still something 
of ambiguity in the favor shown by Constantine to 
Christianity, if it still had something rather of the 
sagacious statesman than of the serious proselyte, 
there may be some slight groundwork of truth in this 
fiction. Constantine may have relieved a large por- 

1 According to Sozomen, whose narrative, as Heyne observes (note on 
Zosimus, p. 662), proves that this stoiy was not the invention of ZoeimusY 
but rather the version of the event current in the Pagan world, it was not a 
Pagan priest, but a Platonic philosopher, named Sopater, who thus denied 
the efficacy of any rite or ceremony to wash the soul clean fh>m filial blood. 
It is true that neither the legal ceremonial of Paganism nor the principles 
of the later Platonism could afford any hope or pardon to the murderer. 
Julian, speaking of Constantine (in Caesar), insinuates the facility with 
which Christianity admitted the fitai^ovoc, as well as other atrocious delin- 
quents, to the divine foi^veness. 

The bitterness with which the Pagan party judged of the measures of 
Constantine is shown in the turn which Zosimus gives to his edict discour- 
aging divination : " Having availed himself of the advantages of divination, 
which had predicted his own splendid successes, he was jealous lest the pxo* 
phetic art should be equally prodigal of its glorious promises to others." 

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Hon of his subjects from grievous oppression, and re- 
stored their plundered property ; he may have made 
munificent donations for the maintenance of their 
ceremonial ; he may have permitted the famous Laba- 
rum to exalt the courage of his Christian soldiery; 
he may have admitted their representatives to his 
court, endeavored to aUay their fierce feuds in Africa, 
and sanctioned by his presence the meeting of the 
Council of Nicsda to decide on the new controversy 
which began to distract the Christian world ; he may 
have proclaimed himself, in short, the worshipper of 
the Christians' God, whose favorites seemed likewise 
to be those of fortune, and whose enemies were de- 
voted to ignominy and disaster (such is his constant 
language) : ^ but of tlie real character and the pro- 
foimder truths of the religion he may still have been 
entirely, or perhaps in some degree disdainfully, igno* 
rant. The lofty indiflFerentism of the emperor pre- 
dominated over the obedience of the convert towards 
the new faith. 

But it was now the 9nan, abased by remorse, by the 
terrors of conscience, it may be by superstitious hor- 
rors, who sought refuge against the divine Nemesis, 
the avenging Furies, which haunted his troubled spirit. 
It would be the duty as well as the interest of an in- 
fluential Christian to seize on the mind of the royal 
proselyte, and, while it was thus prostrate in its weak- 
ness, to enforce more strongly the personal sense of 
religion upon the afficted soul. And if the emperor was 
understood to have derived the slightest consolation 

1 It is lemarkable in all the proclamations and docmnents which Euse- 
bins assigns to Constantine, some even written hy his own hand, how almost 
exclusively he dweUs on this worldly superiority of the God adored by the 
Christians over those of the Heathen, and the visible temporal advantages 
which attend on the worship of Christianity. His own victory and the 
disasters of his enemies are his conclusive evidences of Christianity. 


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under this heavy burden of conscious guilt from the 
doctrines of Christianity ; if his remorse and despair 
were allayed or assuaged, nothing was more likely than 
that Paganism, which constantly charged Christianity 
with receiving the lowest and most depraved of man- 
kind among its proselytes, should aflFect to assume the 
tone of superior moral dignity, to compare its more 
uncompromising moral austerity with the easier terms 
on which Christianity appeared to receive the repentant 
sinner. In the bitterness of wounded pride and in- 
terest at the loss of an imperial worshipper, it would 
revenge itself by ascribing his change exclusively to 
the worst hour of his life, and to the least exalted mo- 
tive. It is a greater diflSculty, that, subsequent to this 
period, the mind of Constantino appears to have re- 
lapsed in some degree to its imperfectly unpaganized 
Christianity. His conduct became ambiguous as before, 
floating between a decided bias in favor of Christianity, 
and an apparent design to harmonize with it some of 
the less oflFensive parts of Heathenism. Yet it is by 
no means beyond the common inconsistency of human 
nature, that, with the garb and attitude, Constantine 
should throw oflF the submission, of a penitent. Bis 
mind, released from its burden, might resume its an- 
cient vigor, and assert its haughty superiority over the 
religious as well as over the civil allegiance of his 
subjects. A new object of ambition was dawning on 
his mind ; a new and absorbing impulse was given to 
all his thoughts, — the foundation of the second Rome, 
the new imperial city on the Bosphorus. 

Nor was this sole and engrossing object altogether 
unconnected with the sentiments which arose out of 
this dark transaction. Rome had become hateful to 
Constantine; for, whether on this point identifying 

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herself with the Pagan feelmg, and tauntmg the crime 
of the Christian with partial acrimony, or presnrmis- 
ing the design of Constantino to reduce her to the 
second city of the empire, Rome assumed the unwonted 
liberty of insulting the emperor. The pasquinade 
which compared his days to those of Nero was affixed 
to the gates of the palace ; and so galling was the in- 
solence of the populace, that the emperor is reported to 
have consulted his brothers on the expediency of call- 
ing out his guards for a general massacre. Milder 
counsels prevailed; and Constantino took the more 
tardy, but more deep-felt, 'revenge of transferring the 
seat of empire from the banks of the Tiber to the 
shores of the Bosphorus. 

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FonndAtioii of Constantinople. 

The foundation of Constantinople marks one of the 
Foundation great pcriods of change in the annals of 
nopie the world. Both its immediate ^ and its re- 

moter connection with the history of Christianity are 
among those results which contributed to its influence 
on the destinies of mankind. The removal of the seat 
of empire from Rome might, indeed, at first appear to 
strengthen the decaying cause of Paganism. The 
senate became the sanctuary — the aristocracy of 
Rome, in general, the unshaken adherents — of the 
ancient religion. But its more remote and eventual 
consequences were favorable to the consolidation and 
energy of the Christian power in the West. The 
absence of a secular competitor allowed the papal 
authority to grow up and to develop its secret 
strength. By the side of the imperial power, per- 
petually contrasted with the pomp and majesty of 
the throne, constantly repressed in his slow but steady 
advancement to supremacy or obliged to contest every 
point with a domestic antagonist, the pope would 
hardly have gained more political importance than 
the Patriarch of Constantinople. The extinction of 
the Western empire, which indeed had long held its 

1 Constantine seized the property of some of the temples, for the expense 
of building Constantinople, but did not change the established worship; so 
says Libanias. 

Tiyf Kara vofwvg <fe ^epairdac kidvriosv oiidk h, — Vol. ii. p. 162. 

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court in Milan or Ravenna rather than in the ancient 
capital, its revival only beyond the Alps, left all the 
awe which attached to the old Roman name, or which 
followed the possession of the imperial city, to gather 
round the tiara of the pontiflF. In any other city, the 
pope would in vain have asserted his descent from 
St. Peter : the long habit of connecting together the 
name of Rome with supreme dominion, silently co- 
operated in establishing the spiritual despotism of the 
Papal See. 

Even in its more immediate influence, the rise of 
Constantinople was favorable to the progress &Torabie to 
of Christianity. It removed the seat of gov- <^**^'**^^- 
ernment from the presence of those awful temples to 
which ages of glory had attached an inalienable 
sanctity, 'and with which the piety of all the greater 
days of the republic had associated the supreme 
dominion and the majesty of Rome. It broke the last 
link which combined the pontifical and the imperial 
character. The emperor of Constantinople, even if 
he had remained a Pagan, would have lost that power 
which was obtained over men's minds by his appear- 
ing in the chief place in all the religious pomps and 
processions, some of which were as old as Rome itself. 
The senate, and even the people, might be transferred 
to the new city : the deities of Rome clung to their 
native home, and would ' have refused to abandon 
their ancient seats of honor and worship. 

Constantinople arose, if not a Christian, certainly 
not a Pagan city. The new capital of the constantf- 
world had no ancient deities, whose worship ?hri2tum 
was inseparably connected with her more "^^• 
majestic buildings and solemn customs. The temples 
of old Byzantium had fallen with the rest of the 

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public edifices, when Severus, in hia vengeance, razed 
the rebellious city to the ground. Byzantium had 
resumed sufficient strength and importance to resist a 
siege by Gonstantine himself in the earlier part of liis 
reign ; and some temples had re-appeared during the 
reconstruction of the city.^ The fanes of the Sun, of 
the Moon, and of Aphrodite, were permitted to stand 
in the Acropolis, though deprived of their revenues.^ 
That of Castor and Pollux formed part of the Hippo- 
drome, and the statues of those deities who presided 
over the games stood undisturbed till the reign of 
Theodosius the Younger.*- 

Once determined to found a rival Rome on the 
Bonding of shores of the Bosphorus, the ambition of Con- 
tt»«**y- Stan tine was absorbed by this great object. 
No expense was spared to raise a city worthy of the 
seat of empire ; no art or influence, to collect inhabi- 
tants worthy of such a city. Policy forbade any 
measure which would alienate the minds of any class 
or order who might add to the splendor or swell the 
population of Byzantium, and policy was the ruling 
principle of Constantine in the conduct of the whole 
transaction. It was the emperor whose pride was now 
pledged to the accomplishqoient of his scheme with 
that magnificence which became the second founder 
of the empire, rather than the exclusive patron of one 
religious division of his subjects. Constantinople was 
not only to bear the name, it was to wear an exact 
resemblance, of the elder Rome. The habitations of 

1 There is a long list of these temples in V. Hammer^s Onstandnopel 
nnd die Bosporos, i. p. 189, &c Many of them are named in Gyllius; but 
it does not seem clear at what period they ceased to exist. The Paschal 
Chronicle, referred to by V. Hammer, says nothing of their conversion into 
churches by Constantine. 

> MalaUi, Constantinus, z. * Zosimus, ii. 81. 

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Chap.UI. building OF THE CITY. 837 

men, and the public buildings for business, for con- 
Tenience, for amusement, or for splendor, demanded 
the first care of the founder. The imperial palace 
arose, in its dimensions and magnificence equal to 
that in the older city. The skill of the architect was 
lavished on the patrician mansions, which were so 
faithfully to represent to the nobles, who obeyed the 
imperial invitation, the dwellings of their ancestors in 
the ancient Capitol, that their wondering eyes could 
Bcarcely believe their removal : their Penates might 
seem to have followed them.^ The senate-house, the 
Augusteum, was prepared for their counsels. For the 
mass of the people, markets and foimtains and aque- 
ducts, theatres and hippodromes, porticos, basilicas, 
and forums, rose with the rapidity of enchantment. 
One class of buildings alone was wanting. K some 
temples were allowed to stand, it is clear that no new 
sacred edifices were erected to excite and gratify the 
religious feelings of the Pagan party ; and the build- 
ing of the few churches which are ascribed to the 
pious munificence of Constantino, seems slowly to 
have followed the extraordinary celerity with which 
the city was crowded with civil edifices.^ A century 

1 Sozomen, ii. 8. In the next reign, however, Themistins admits the 
reluctance of the eenaton to remove: nporov ftkv im' dvayicrfc tnfjtaro ^ 
yepovaia, Koi n fifjo^ TtfMjpiag kdoKu fiff^oTiavv dta^petv. — Orat Protrep. 
p. 67. 

s Of the churches built by Constantine, one was dedicated to S. Sophia 
(the supreme Wisdom); the other to Eirene, Peace: a philosophic Pagan 
might have admitted the propriety of dedicating temples to each of these 
abstract names. The consecrating to individual saints was of a later period. 
— Soz. ii. 8. The ancient Temple of Peace, which afterwards formed part 
of the Santa Sophia, was appropriately transformed into a Christian church. 
The Church of the Twelve Apostles appears, from Eusebius ( Vit. Const iv. 
58), to have been built in the last year of Constantine's reign and of his life, 
as a burial place for himself and his family. Sozomen, indeed, says that 
Constantino embellished the city no^Xoiq ndl fityiarotc eiKTijplotc oLkxh/q, 
VOL. II. 22 

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after, — a century during which Christianity had been 
recognized as the religion of the empire, — the me- 
tropolis contained only fourteen churches, one for 
each of its wards or divisions. Yet Constantino by 
no means neglected those measures which might con- 
nect the new city with the religious feelings of man- 
kind. Heaven inspired, commanded, sanctified, the 
foundation of the second Rome. The ancient ritual 
of Roman Paganism contained a solemn ceremony, 
which dedicated a new city to the protection of the 

An imperial edict announced to the world, that 
Ceremonial Constautinc, by the command of God, had 
dation. founded the eternal city.^ When the empe- 
ror walked, with a spear in his hand, in the front of 
the stately procession which was to trace the bounda- 
ries of Constantinople, the attendants followed in 
wonder his still-advancing footsteps, which seemed as 
if they never would reach the appointed limit. One 
of them, at length, humbly inquired how much farther 
he proposed to advance. " When he that goes before 
me," replied the emperor, "shall stop." But, how- 
ever the Deity might have intimated his injunctions to 
commence the work, or whatever the nature of the 
invisible guide which, as he declared, thus directed 
his steps, this vague appeal to the Deity would impress 
with the same respect all his subjects, and by its im- 
partial ambiguity offend none. In earlier times the 
Pagans would have bowed down in homage before 
this manifestation of the nameless tutelar deity of 
the new city ; at the present period, they had become 
familiarized, as it were, with the concentration of 

1 On the old ceremony of founding a city, see Hartnng, Religion der 
Romer, i. 114. 

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Chap. in. SPLENDOR OF THE CITY. 339 

Olympus into one Supreme Being.^ Tlie Christians 
would, of course, assert the exclusive right of the one 
true God to this appellation, and attribute to his in- 
spiration and guidance every important act of the 
Christian emperor.^ 

But, if splendid temples were not erected to the^ 
decaying deities of Paganism, their images were set 
up, mingled indeed with other noble works of art, in 
all the public places of Constantinople. If the in- 
habitants were not encouraged, at least they were not 
forbidden, to pay divine honors to the immortal sculp- 
tures of Phidias and Praxiteles, which were brought 
from all quarters to adorn the squares and baths of 
Byzantium. The whole Roman world contributed to 
the splendor of Constantinople. The tutelar deities 
of all the cities of Greece (their influence, of course, 
much enfeebled by their removal from their local 
sanctuaries) were assembled, — the Minerva of Lyn- 
dus, the Cybele of Mount Dindymus (which was said 
to have been placed there by the Argonauts), the 
Muses of Helicon, the Amphitrite of Rhodes, the Pan 
consecrated by united Greece after the defeat of the 
Persians, the Delphic Tripod. The Dioscuri over- 
looked the Hippodrome. At each end of the principal 
forum were two shrines, one of which held the statue 
of Cybele, but deprived of her lions and her hands, 
from the attitude of command distorted into that of a 
suppliant for the welfare of the city ; in the other was 

1 The expression of the Pagan Zosimus shows how completely this lan- 
guage had been adopted by the Heathen : irac ytip TCP^vo^ ty ^eUf) (ipaxi>€, 
aei re ^in-c, kcU iaofxeWf). He is speaking of an omcle, in which tlie Pagan 
party discovered a prediction of the future glory of Byzantium. One letter 
less would make it the sentence of a Christian appealing to prophecy. 

* At a later period, the Virgin Maty obtained the honor of having 
inspu^d the foundation of Constantinople, of which she became the tutelary 
guardian, I had almost written. Deity. 

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the Fortune of Byzantium.^ To some part of the 
Christian community this might appear to be leading, 
as it were, the gods of Paganism in triumph: the 
Pagans were shocked on their part by their violent 
removal from their native fanes, and their wanton 
mutilation. Yet the Christianity of that age, in full 
possession of the mind of Constantino, would sternly 
have interdicted the decoration of a Christian city 
with these idols; the workmanship of Phidias or of 
Lysippus would have found no favor, when lavished 
on images of the Demons of Paganism. 

The ceremonial of the dedication of the city^ was 
attended by still more dubious circumstances. After 
a most splendid exhibition of chariot games in the 
Hippodrome, the emperor moved in a magnificent car 
through the most public part of the city, encircled by 
all his guards in the attire of a religious ceremonial 
and bearing torches in their hands. The emperor 
himself held a golden statue of the Fortune of the city 
in his hands. An imperial edict enacted the annual 
celebration of this rite. On the birthday of the city, 
the gilded statue of himself, thus bearing the same 
golden image of Fortune, was annually to be led 
through the Hippodrome to the foot of the imperial 
throne, and to receive the adoration of the reigning 
emperor. The lingering attachment of Constantino to 

1 Euseb., Vit Const iii. 54. Sozomen, il. 6. Oodinus, De Grig. C. P. 
80^2. Le Beau, i. 80. 

Eusebius would persuade his readers that these statues were set up in the 
public places to excite the general contempt Zosimus admits with bitter- 
ness that they were mutilated from want of respect to the ancient religion. — * 
ii. 81. Compare Socr., Ec. Hist. 1-16. 

Read, too (some lines are worth reading), the description by Christodonu 
of the statues in the public gymnasium of Zeuxippus. Deiphobus is fine. 
There are also, in strange assemblage, Venus (Cypris), Julius Cttsar, Plato, 
Hercules, and Homer. — Antholog. Palat 1. 87. 

3 Paschal Chronicle, p. 689, edit Bonn. 

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the favorite superstition of his earlier days may bo 
traced on still better authority. The Grecian worship 
of Apollo had been exalted into the Oriental venera- 
tion of the Sun, as the visible representative of the 
Deity ; and of all the statues which were introduced 
from different quarters, none were received with 
greater honor than those of Apollo. In one part of 
the city stood the Pythian, in the other the Sminthian 
deity .^ The Delphic Tripod, which, according to Zosi- 
mus, contained an image of the god, stood upon the 
column of the three* twisted serpents, supposed to rep- 
resent the mythic Python. But on a still loftier, the 
famous pillar of porphyry, stood an image in statu* of 
wliich (if we are to credit modern authority ; ^"«*"*^«' 
and the more modern our authority, the less likely is 
it to have invented so singular a statement) Constan- 
tine dared to mingle together the attributes of the 
Sun, of Christ, and of himself.^ According to one tra- 
dition, this pillar was based, as it were, on another 
superstition. The venerable Palladium itself, surrep- 
titiously conveyed from Rome, was buried beneath it, • 
and thus transferred the eternal destiny of the old to 
the new capital. The piUar, formed of marble and of 
porphyry, rose to the height of a hundred and twenty 
feet. The colossal image on the top was that of Apollo, 
either from Phrygia or from Athens. But the head of 
Constantine had been substituted for that of the god. 
The sceptre proclaimed the dominion of the world ; 
and it held in its hand the globe, emblematic of uni- 
versal empire. Around the head, instead of rays, were 
fixed the nails of the true cross. Is this Paganism 

1 Euseb., Vit Conat. iii. 64. 

3 The author of the Antiq. Constantinop. apud Bandari. See Von Ham- 
mer, Constantinopel und die Bosporus, L 162. Philostorgius says that the 
Christians worshipped this image. — iL 17. 

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approximating to Christianity, or Christianity degen- 
erating into Paganism ? Thus Constantine, as founder 
of the new capital, might appear to some still to main- 
tain the impartial dignity of emperor of the world, 
presiding with serene indifference over the various nsr 
tions, orders, and religious divisions which peopled his 
dominions ; admitting to the privileges and advantages 
of citizens in the new Rome all who were tempted to 
make their dwelling around her seat of empire. 

Yet, even during the reign of Constantine, no doubt, 
Pngng^^f the triumphant progress of Christianity tend- 
chibtianity. ^^ ^^ cffacc OF to obscure these lingering 
vestiges of the ancient religion. If here and there 
remained a shrine or temple belonging to Polytheism, 
built in proportion to the narrow circuit and moderate 
population of old Byzantium, the Christian churches, 
though far from numerous, were gradually rising, in 
their dimensions more suited to the magnificence and 
populousness of the new city, and in form proclaiming 
the dominant faith of Constantinople. The Christians 
were most likely to crowd into a new city ; probably 
their main strength still lay in the mbrcantile part of 
the community : interest and religion would combine 
in urging them to settle in this promising emporium 
of trade, where their religion, if it did not reign alone 
and exclusive, yet maintained an evident superiority 
over its decaying rival. Those of the old aristocracy 
who were inclined to Christianity would be much more 
loosely attached to their Roman residences, and would 
be most inclined to obey the invitation of the emperor, 
while the large class of the indifferent would follow at 
the same time the religious and political bias of the 
sovereign. Where the attachment to the old religion 
was so slight and feeble, it was a trifling sacrifice to 

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ambition or interest to embrace the new ; particularly 
where there was no splendid ceremonial, no connec- 
tion of the priestly oflBce with the higher dignity of the 
state ; nothing, in short, which could enlist either old 
reverential feelings or the imagination in the cause of 
Polytheism. The sacred treasures, transferred from 
the Pagan temples to the Christian city, sank more 
and more into national monuments, or curious remains 
of antiquity ; their religious significance was gradually 
forgotten; they became, in the natural process of 
things, a mere collection of works of art. 

In other respects, Constantinople was not a Roman 
city. An amphitheatre, built on the restora- The amphi- 
tion of the city after the siege of Severus, was 
permitted to remain ; but it was restricted to exhibi- 
tions of wild beasts : the first Christian city was never 
disgraced by the bloody spectacle of gladiators.^ 
There were theatres indeed; but it may be doubted 
whether the noble religious drama of Greece ever ob- 
tained popularity in Constantinople. The chariot race 
was the amusement which absorbed all others ; and to 
this, at first, as it was not necessarily connected with 
the Pagan worship, Christianity might be more indul- 
gent. How this taste grew into a passion, and this 
passion into a frenzy, the later annals of Constantino- 
ple bear melancholy witness. Beset with powerfiil 
enemies without, oppressed by a tyrannous government 
within, the people of Constantinople thought of noth- 
ing but the color of their faction in the Hippodrome ; 

1 An edict of Constantme (Cod. Theod. xv. 12), if it did not altogether 
abolish these sanguinary shows, restricted them to particular occasions. 
" Cruenta spectacula in otio civili, et domestic^ quiete non placent.'* Crimi- 
nals were to be sent to the mines. But it would seem tliat captives taken in 
war might still be exposed in the amphitheatre. In fact, these bloody exhi- 
bitions resisted some time longer the progress of Christian humanity. 

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and these more engrosaing and maddening contentions 
even silenced the animosity of religious dispute. 

During the foundation of Constantinople, the empe- 
ror might appear to the Christians to have relapsed 
from the head of the Christian division of his subjects, 
into the common sovereign of the Roman world. In 
this respect, his conduct did not ratify the promise of 
liis earlier acts in the East. He had not only restored 
Christianity, depressed first by the cruelties of Maxi- 
min, and afterwards by the violence of Licinius, but in 
many cases he had lent his countenance or his more 
active assistance, to the rebuilding their churches on a 
more imposing plan. Yet, to all outward appearance, 
the world was still Pagan : every city seemed still to 
repose under the tutelary gods of the ancient religion : 

Ancient evcrywhcrc the temples rose above the build- 

*«°p^- ings of men. If here and there a Christian 
church, in its magnitude, or in the splendor of its 
architecture, might compete with the solid and elegant 
fanes of antiquity, the Christians had neither ventured 
to expel them from their place of honor, nor to appro- 
priate to their own use those which were falling into 
neglect or decay. As yet, there had been no invasion 
but on the opinions and moral influence of Poly- 

The temples, indeed, of Pagan worship, though sub- 
sequently, in some instances, converted to Christian 
uses, were not altogether suited to the ceremonial of 
Christianity.^ The Christians might look on their 
stateliest buildings with jealousy, — hardly with envy. 
Whether raised on the huge substructures, and in the 

1 Compare an excellent memoir by M. Quatremere de Quincy on the 
' means of lighting the ancient temples (M^ni. de Tlnstitat, iii. 171), and 
Hope on Architecture. 

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Chap. in. ANCIENT TEMPLES. 845 

immense masses of the older Asiatic style, as at Baal- 
bec, or the original Temple at Jerusalem; whether 
built on tlie principles of Grecian art, when the secret 
of vaulting over a vast building seems to have been 
unknown ; or after the general introduction of the arch 
by the Romans had allowed the roof to spread out to 
ampler extent, — still the actual enclosed temple was 
rarely of great dimensions.^ The largest among the 
Greeks were hypaethral, open to the sky.^ If we judge 
from the temples crowded together about the Forum, 
those in Rome contributed to the splendor of the city 
rather by their number than by their size. The rites 
of Polytheism, in fact, collected together their vast 
assemblages rather as spectators than as worshippers.^ 
The altar itself, in general, stood in the open air, in 
the court before the temple, where the smoke might 
find free vent, and rise in its grateful odor to the heav- 
enly dwelling of the gods. The body of the worship- 
pers, therefore, stood in the courts or the surrounding 
porticos. They might approach individually, and 
make their separate libation or offering, and then re- 
tire to a convenient distance, where they might watch 
the movements of the ministering priest, receive his 
announcement of the favorable or sinister signs discov- 
ered in the victim, or listen to the hymn, which was 
the only usual form of adoration or prayer. However 

1 M. Qnatrem^re de Quincj gives the size of some of the ancient temples: 
Juno at Agrigentom, 116 (Paris) feet; Concord, 120; Piestam, 110; Theseus, 
100; Jupiter at Ol^-mpia, or Minerva at Athens, 220-280; Jupiter at Agri- 
gentum, 822; Sellnus, 820; Ephesus, 850; Apollo Dindymus at Miletus, 860. 
— p. 196. 

^ The real hjrpiethral temples were to particular divinities, — Jupiter Ful- 
gurator, Ccalum, Sol, Luna. 

8 £leusi8, the scene of the mjsteries, of aU the ancient temples had the 
largest nave : it was " turbie theatralis capadssimum." — Vitruv. vii. 'Ox^M* 
^earpov 6e^ae9ai dwofuvov, — Strabo. 

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346 BASILICAS. Book m. 

Christianity might admit gradations in its several 
classes of worshippers, and assign its separate station 
according to the sex, or tlie degree of advancement in 
the religions initiation ; however the penitents might 
be forbidden, nntil reconciled with the Church, or the 
catechumens before they were initiated into the com- 
munity, to penetrate beyond the outer portico, or the 
first inner division in the church, — yet the great mass 
of a Christian congregation must be received within 
the walls of the building ; and the service consisting 
not merely in ceremonies performed by the priesthood, 
but in prayers, to which all present were expected to 
respond, and in oral instruction, the actual edifice 
therefore required more ample dimensions. 

In many towns there was another public building, 
the Basilica, or Hall of Justice,^ singularly 
adapted for the Christian worship. This 
was a large chamber, of an oblong form, with a plain 
flat exterior wall. The pillars, which in the temples 
were without, stood within the basilica ; and tlie porch, 
or that which in the temple was an outward portico, 
was contained within the basilica. This hall was thus 
divided by two rows of columns into a central avenue, 
with two side aisles. The outward wall was easily 
pierced for windows, without damaging the symmetry 
or order of the architecture. In the one the male, in 
the other the female, appellants to justice waited their 
turn.2 The three longitudinal avenues were crossed 

1 *' Le Basilique fbt I'ddifice des anciens, qui convint k la calibration de 
ses myst^res. La vaste capacite de son intdrieor, lea dixisioos de son plan, 
les grandes oavertures, qui introduisaient de toutes parts la lumi^re dans 
son enceinte, le tribunal qui devint la place des c^l^brans, et du chocur, tout 
se trouva en rapport avec les pratiques du nouveau culte." — Q. de Quincy, 
p. 178. See Hope on Architecture, p. 87. 

^ According to Bingham (Iviii. c. 8), the women occupied gaUeries in 

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Chap. HI. BASILICAS. 847 

by one in a transverse direction, elevated a few steps, 
and occupied by the advocates, notaries, and others 
employed in the public business. At the farther end, 
opposite to the central avenue, the building swelled 
out into a semicircular recess, .with a ceiling rounded 
off: it was called absis in the Greek, and in Latin 
tribunal. Here sat the magistrate with his assessors, 
and hence courts of justice were called tribunals. 

The arrangement of this building coincided with 
remarkable propriety with the distribution of a Chris- 
tian congregation.^ Tlie sexes retained their separate 
places in the aisles; the central avenue became the 
nave, so called from the fanciful analogy of the church 
to the ship of St. Peter. The transept, the Br^fm, or 
chores, was occupied by the inferior clergy and the sing- 
ers.2 The bishop took the throne of the magistrate, 
and the superior clergy ranged on each side on the 
seats of the assessors. 

Before the throne of the bishop, either within or on 
the verge of the recess, stood the altar. This was 
divided from the nave by the cancelli, or rails ; from 
whence hung curtains, which, during the celebration 
of the communion, separated the participants from 
the rest of the congregation. 

As these buildings were numerous, and attached to 
every imperial residence, they might be bestowed at 
once on the Christians, without either interfering with 
the course of justice, or bringing the religious feelings 
of the hostile parties into collision.® Two, the Sesso- 

each aisle above the men. This sort of separation may have been borrowed 
from the synagogue: probably the practice was not uniform. 

1 Some few churches were of an octagonal form; some in that of a cross. 
See Bingham, 1. viii. c. 8. 

s Apost. Const 1. il. c. 67. 

< There were eighteen at Some : many of these basilicsB had become ex* 

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riau and the Lateran, were granted to the Roman 
Christians by Constantino. And the basilica appears 
to have been the usual form of building in the West, 
though — besides the porch, connected with, or rather 
included within, the building, which became the Nar- 
thex, and was occupied by the catechumens and the 
penitents, and in which stood the piscina, or font of 
baptism — there was in general an outer open court, 
surrounded with colonnades. This, as we have seen 
in the description of the church at Tyre, was gene- 
ral in the East, where the churches retained probably 
more of the templar form; while in Constantinople, 
where they were buildings raised from the ground, 
Constantine appears to have followed the form of the 

By the consecration of these basilicas to the pur- 
poses of Christian worship, and the gradual erection 
Relative of large churches in many of the Eastern 
?SsSai5ty cities, Christianity began to assume an out- 
toa. "**"' ward form and dignity commensurate with 
its secret moral influence. In imposing magnitude, 
if not in the grace and magnificence of its architec- 
ture, it rivalled the temples of antiquity. But as yet 
it had neither the power, nor probably the inclination, 
to array itself in the spoils of Paganism. Its aggres- 
sion was still rather that of fair competition than of 
hostile destruction. It was content to behold the 
silent courts of the Pagan fanes untrodden but by a 
few casual worshippers ; altars without victims ; thin 
wreaths of smoke rising where the air used to be 

changes, or places for general business. Among the Roman basilics P. Vio- 
tor reckons the Basilics Argentariorom. — Ciampini, tom. i. p. 8. 

Some basilicae were of a ver>- large.size. One is described by the younger 
Pliny, in which one hundred and eighty judges were seated, with a vast mul- 
titude of advocates and auditors. — Plin., Epist vi. 88. 

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clouded with the reek of hecatombs ; the priesthood 
murmuring in bitter envy at the throngs which passed 
by the porticos of their temples towards the Christian 
church. The direct interference with the freedom of 
Pagan worship seems to have been confined to the 
suppression of those Eastern rites which were offen- 
sive to public morals. Some of the Syrian temples 
retained the obscene ceremonial of the older Nature- 
worship. Religious prostitution, and other monstrous 
enormities, appeared under the form of divine adora- 
tion. Tlie same rites which had endangered the 
fidelity of the ancient Israelites shocked the severe 
purity of the Christians. A temple in Syria Temples 
of the female principle of generation, which ~pp"*^- 
the later Greeks identified with their Aphrodite, was 
defiled by these unspeakable pollutions : it was levelled 
to the ground by the emperor's command ; the recesses 
of the sacred grove laid open to the day, and the rites 
interdicted.^ A temple of jEsculapius at -^gae, in 
Cilicia, fell under the same proscription. The mirac- 
ulous cures pretended to be wrought in this temple, 
where the suppliants passed the night, appear to have 
excited the jealousy of the Christians ; and this was, 
perhaps, the first over* act of hostility against the 
established Paganism.^ In many other places, the 
frauds of the priesthood were detected by the zealous 
incredulity of the Christians ; and Polytheism, feebly 
defended by its own party, at least left to its fate by 
the Government, assailed on all quarters by an active 
and persevering enemy, endured affront, exposure, 
neglect, if not with the dignified patience of martyr- 
dom, with the sullen equanimity of indifference. 
Palestine itself, and its capital, Jerusalem, waa an 

1 EoMb., Vit ConBt. iil. 66. * Ibid. iii. 66. 

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open province, of which Christianity took entire and 
almost undisputed possession. Paganism, in the adja- 
cent regions, had built some of its most splendid 
temples ; the later Roman architecture at Gcrasa, at 
Petra, and at Baalbec, appears built on the massive 
and enormous foundations of the older native struc- 
tures. But in Palestine Proper it had made no strong 
settlement. Temples had been raised by Hadrian, in 
his new city, on the site of Jerusalem. One dedicated 
to Aphrodite occupied the spot which Christian tradi- 
tion or later invention asserted to be the sepulchre of 
Christianity Christ.^ The prohibition issued by Hadrian 
fttJeroMiem. agaiust thc admissiou of the Jews into the 
Holy City, doubtless was no longer enforced ; but, 
though not forcibly depressed by public authority, 
Judaism itself waned, in its own native territory, 
before the ascendency of Christianity. 

It was in Palestine that the change which had been 
slowly workmg into Christianity itself, began to assume 
a more definite and apparent form. The religion re- 
issued as it were from its cradle, in a character, if 
foreign to its original simplicity, singularly adapted to 
achieve and maintain its triumph over the human 
mind. It no longer confined itself to its purer moral 
influence ; it was no more a simple spiritual faith, 
despising all those accessories which captivate the 
senses, and feed the imagination with new excitement. 
It no longer disdained the local sanctuary, nor stood 
independent of those associations with place, which 
beseemed an universal and spiritual religion. It 
began to have its hero-worship, its mythology ; it began 
to crowd the mind with images of a secondary degree 

1 This temple was improbably said to have been built on this spot by 
Hadrian to insult the Christians; but Hadrian's hostility was against the re- 
bellious Jews, not against the Christians. 

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of sanctity, but which enthralled and kept in captivity 
those who were not ripe for the pure moral conception 
of the Deity, and the impersonation of the Godhead 
in Jesus Christ. It was, as might not unreasonably 
be anticipated, a female, the empress Helena, the 
mother of Constantine, who gave, as it were, this new 
coloring to Christian devotion. In Palestine, indeed, 
where her pious activity was chiefly employed, it was 
the memory of the Redeemer himself which hallowed 
the scenes of his life and death to the imagination 
of the believer. Splendid churches arose over the 
place of his birth at Bethlehem; that of his burial, 
near the supposed Calvary ; that of his ascension, on 
the Mount of Olives. So far the most spiritual piety 
could not hesitate to proceed; to such natural and 
irresistible claims upon ita veneration no Christian 
heart could refuse to yield. The cemeteries of their 
brethren had, from the commencement of Christianity, 
exercised a strong influence over the imagination. 
They had frequently, in times of trial, been the only 
places of religious assemblage. When hallowed to 
the feelings by the remains of friends, of bishops, of 
martyrs, it was impossible to approach them without 
the profoundest reverence ; and the transition from 
reverence to veneration — to adoration — was too easy 
and imperceptible to awaken the jealousy of that 
exclusive devotion due to God and the Redeemer. 
The sanctity of the place where the Redeemer was 
supposed to have been laid in the sepulchre, was still 
more naturally and intimately associated with the 
purest sentiments of devotion. 

But the next step, the discovery of the true cross, 
was more important. It materialized, at once, the 
spiritual worship of Christianity. It was reported 

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throughout wondering Christendom, that tradition, or 
a vision, having revealed the place of the Holy Sepul- 
chre, the fane of Venus had been thrown down by the 
imperial command, excavations had b^en made, the 
Holy Sepulchre had come to light, and with the Sepul- 
chre three crosses, with the inscription originally writ- 
ten by Pilate in three languages over that of Jesus. 
As it was doubtful to which of the crosses the tablet 
with the inscription belonged, a miracle decided to the 
perplexed believers the claims of the genuine cross.* 
The precious treasure was divided: part, enshrmed 
in a silver case, remained at Jerusalem, from whence 
pilgrims constantly bore fragments of the still vege- 
tating wood to the West, till enough was accumulated 
in the different churches to build a ship of war. Part 
was sent to Constantinople: the nails of the passion 
of Christ were turned into a bit for the war-horse of 
the emperor, or, according to another account, repre- 
sented the rays of the sun around the head of his 

A magnificent church, called at. first the Church 
churchei of the Rcsurrectiou CAnastasis), afterwards 

built in , - , XT 1 <-. 1 1 

Palestine, that of the Holy Sepulchre, rose on the 
sacred spot hallowed by this discovery, in which from 
that time a large part of the Christian world has ad- 
dressed its unquestioning orisons. It stood in a large 
open court, with porticos on each side, with the usual 
porch, nave, and choir. The nave was inlaid with 

1 The excited state of the ChriBtian mind, and the tendency to this mate- 
lialization of Christianitj*, may be estimated by tiie nndoubting credality 
with which they entertained the improbable notion that the crosses were 
buried with oiur Saviour, not only that on which He suffered, but those of the 
two thieves also. From the simple account of the burial in the Gospels, how 
singular a change to that of the discovezy of the cross in the ecclesiastical hla- 
toriaos I — Socrates, 1 17. Sozomen, ii. 1. Theodoret, L 18. 

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precious marbles; and the roof, overlaid with gold, 
showered down a flood of light over the whole build- 
ing ; the roofs of the aisles were likewise overlaid with 
gold. At the farther end arose a dome supported by 
twelve pillars, in commemoration of the Twelve Apos- 
tles ; the capitals of these were silver vases. Within 
the church was another court, at the extremity of 
which stood the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre, lavishly 
adorned with gold and precious stones, as it were to 
perpetuate the angelic glory which streamed forth on 
the day of the resurrection.^ 

Another sacred place was purified by the command 
of Constantino, and dedicated to Christian worship* 
Near Hebron* there was the celebrated oak or tere- 
binth tree of Mamre, which tradition pointed out as 
the spot where the angels appeared to Abraham. It is 
singular that the Heathen are said to have celebrated 
religious rites at this place, and to have worshipped 
the celestial visitants of Abraham. It was likewise, 
as usual in the East, a celebrated emporium of com- 
merce. The worship may have been like that at the 
Caaba of Mecca before the appearance of Mohammed ; 
for the fame of Abraham seems to have been preserved 
among the Syrian and Arabian tribes, as well as 
the Jews. It is remarkable, that, at a later period, the 
Jews and Christians are said to have met in amicable 
devotion, and offered their common incense and sus- 
pended their lights in the church erected over this 
spot by the Christian emperor.* 

1 Eusebins, Yit Constant, iii. 29, ei aq. Thia seems to be the sense of the 

* On Hebron, read Dr. Stanley's most interesting account of his Tisit to 
the tomb of Abraham with H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. 

* Antoninos in Itinerario. See Heinichen, Note on Euseb. Vit. Const 
Iii. (8. 

VOL. II. 28 

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Trinitarian Controyer^. 

But it was as arbiter of religious differences, as pr^ 
Trinitarian Sluing ill their solemn councils, that Constan- 
oonttoTeny. ^[j^^ appeared to the Christians the avowed 
and ostensible head of their community. Immediately 
after his victory over Licinius, Constantino had foimd 
the East, no less than the West, agitated by the dis- 
sensions of his Christian subjects. He had hoped to 
allay the flames of the Donatist schism, by the consen- 
tient and impartial authority of the Western churches. 
A more extensive, if as yet less fiercely agitated, con- 
test disturbed the Eastern provinces. Outward peace 
seemed to be restored only to give place to intestine 
dissension. I must re-ascend the course of Christian 
history for several years, in order to trace in one con- 
tinuous narrative the rise and progress of the Truiita- 
rian controversy. This dissension had broken out 
soon after Constantino's subjugation of the East: 
already, before the building of Constantinople, it had 
obtained full possession of the public mind, and the 
great Council of Nic»a, the first real senate of Chris- 
tendom, had passed its solemn decree. The Donatist 
schism was but a local dissension : it raged, indeed, 
with fatal and implacable fury; but it was almost 
entirely confined to the limits of a single province. 
The Trinitarian controversy was the first dissension 
which rent asunder the whole body of the Christians, 


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arrayed in almost every part of the world two hostile 
parties in implacable opposition, and, at a later period, 
exercised a powerful political influence on the affairs 
of the world. How singular an illustration of the 
change ah'eady wrought in the mind of man by the in- 
troduction of Christianity ! Questions which, if they 
had arisen in the earlier period of the world, would 
have been limited to a priestly caste, — if in Greece, 
would have been confined to the less frequented schools 
of Athens or Alexandria, and might have produced 
some intellectual excitement among the few who were 
conversant with the higher philosophy, — now agitated 
the populace of great cities, occupied the councils of 
princes, and, at a later period, determined the fate 
of kingdoms and the sovereignty of great part of 
Europe.^ It appears still more extraordinary, since 
this controversy related to a purely speculative tenet. 
The disputants of either party might possibly have 
asserted the superior tendency of each system to en- 
force the severity of Christian morals, or to excite the 
ardor of Christian piety ; but they appear to have dwelt 
little, if at all, on the practical effects of the conflicting 
opinions. In morals, in manners, in habits, in usages, 
in church government, in religious ceremonial, there 
was no distinction between the parties which divided 
Christendom. The Onostic sects inculcated a severer 
asceticism, and differed, in many of their usages, from 
the general body of the Christians. The Donatist 
factions commenced at least with a question of church 
discipline, and almost grew into a strife for political 
ascendency. The Arians and Athanasians first divided 
the world on a pure question of faith. Prom this 

1 For instance, when the savage orthodoxy of the Franks made the more 
refined Arianism of the Visigoths a pretext for hostile invasion. 

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period we may date the introduction of rigorous artidea 
of belief, which required tlie submissive assent of the 
mind to every word and letter of an established creed, 
and which raised the slightest heresy of opinion into 
a more fatal offence against God, and a more odious 
crime in the estimation of man, than the worst moral 
delinquency or the most flagrant deviation from the 
spirit of Christianity. 

The Trinitarian controversy was the natural though 
Oliginoftha ^^7 growth of the Gnostic opinions: it 
oontiarer^. (jQ^jd scarcely bc avoided when the exquisite 
distinctness and subtlety of the Greek language were 
applied to religious opinions of an Oriental origin. 
Even the Greek of the New Testament retained some- 
thing of the significant and reverential vagueness of 
Eastern expression. This vagueness, even philosopM- 
cally speaking, may better convey to the mind those 
mysterious conceptions of the Deity which are beyond 
the province of reason than the anatomical precision of 
philosophic Greek. The first Christians were content 
to worship, with undefined fervor, the Deity as revealed 
in the Gospel. They assented to, and repeated with 
devout adoration, the woi'ds of the Sacred Writings, or 
those which had been made use of &om the apostolic 
age ; but they did not decompose them, or, with nice 
and scrupulous accuracy, appropriate peculiar terms 
to each manifestation of the Godhead. It was the 
great characteristic of the Oriental theologies, as de- 
scribed in a former chapter, to preserve the primal 
and parental Deity at the greatest possible distance 
from the material creation. This originated in the 
elementary tenet of the irreclaimable evil of matter. 
In the present day, the more rational believer labors 
under the constant dread, if not of materializing, of 

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Chap. IV. THE DEITY. 857 

humanizing too much, the Great Supreme. A certain 
degree of indistinctness appears inseparable from that 
vastness of conception wliich arises out of the more 
extended knowledge of the works of the Creator. A 
more expanding and comprehensive philosophy in- 
creases the distance between the Omnific First Cause 
and the race of man. All that defines seems to limit 
and circumscribe the Deity. Yet in thus rev- constant 
erentially repelling the Deity into an unap- tweenthein- 

u ui u J • \' u- ^. t«U«!tu3laad 

proacnable sphere, and mvestmg nim, as it dewuonai 
were, in a nature absolutely unimaginable th«iwty. 
by the mind ; in thus secluding him from the degra- 
dation of being vulgarized, if the expression may be 
ventured, by profane familiarity, or circumscribed by 
the narrowness of the human intellect, — God is grad- 
ually subtilized and sublimated into a being beyond 
the reach of devotional feelings, almost superior to 
adoration. There is in mankind, and in the individual 
man, on the one hand, an intellectual tendency to 
refine the Deity into a mental conception ; and, on the 
other, an instinctive counter-tendency to impersonate 
him into a material, and, when the mind is ruder and 
less intellectual, a mere human being. Among the 
causes which have contributed to the successful pro- 
mulgation of Christianity, and the maintenance of its 
influence over the mind of man, was the singular 
beauty and felicity with which its theory of the con- 
junction of the divine and human nature, each preserv- 
ing itB separate attributes, on the one hand, enabled 
the mind to preserve inviolate the pure conception of 
the Deity ; on the other, to approximate it, as it were, 
to human interests and sympathies. But this is done 
rather by a process of instinctive feeling than by strict 
logical reasoning. Even here, there is a perpetual 

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strife between the intellect, which guards with jealousy 
the divine conception of the Redeemer's nature ; and 
the sentiment, or even the passion, which so draws 
down the general notion to its own capacities, so ap- 
proximates and assimilates it to its own ordinary sym- 
pathies, as to absorb the Godhead in the human nature. 
The Gnostic systems had universally admitted the 
seclusion of the primal Deity from all intercourse with 
matter: that intercourse had taken place, through 
a derivative and intermediate being, more or less re- 
motely proceeding from the sole fountain of Godhead. 
This, however, was not the part of Gnosticism which 
was cliiefly obnoxious to the general sentiments of the 
Christian body. Their theories about the malignant 
nature of the Creator ; the identification of the God of 
the Jews with this hostile being ; the Docetism which 
asserted the unreality of the Redeemer, — these points, 
with their whole system of the origin of the worlds 
and of mankind, excited the most vigorous and active 
resistance. But when the wilder theories of Gnosti- 
cism began to die away, or to rank themselves under 
the hostile standard of Manicheism; when their curious 
cosmogonical notions were dismissed, and the greater 
part of the Christian world began to agree in the plain 
doctrines of the eternal supremacy of God ; the birth, 
the death, the resurrection, of Christ as the Son of 
God; the efiusion of the Holy Spirit, — questions bor 
gan to arise as to the peculiar nature and relation 
between the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. In all the 
systems, a binary, in most a triple, modification of the 
Deity was admitted. The Logos, the Divine Word or 
Reason, might differ, in the various schemes, in his 
relation to the parental Divinity and to the universe ; 
but there was this distinctive and ineffaceable char- 

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acter, that He was the Mediator, the connecting link 
between the unseen and unapproachable world and 
that of man. This Platonism, if it may be so called, 
was universal. It differed, indeed, widely in most 
systems from the original philosophy of the Athenian 
sage : it had acquired a more Oriental and imaginative 
cast. Plato's poetry of words had been expanded into 
the poetry of conceptions. It may be doubted whether 
Plato himself impersonated the Logos, the Word or 
Keason of the Deity : with him it was rather an attri- 
bute of the Godhead. In one sense, it was the chief 
of these archetypal ideas, according to which the Crea- 
tor framed the universe ; in another, the principle of 
life, motion, and harmony which pervaded all things. 
This Platonism had gradually absorbed all the more 
intellectual class: it hovered over, as it were, and 
gathered under its wings all the religions of the world. 
It had already modified Judaism ; it had allied itself 
with the Syrian and Mithriac worship of the Sun, the 
visible Mediator, the emblem of the Word; it was 
part of the general Nature-worship ; it was attempting 
to renew Paganism, and was the recognized and lead- 
ing tenet in the higher Mysteries. Disputes on the 
nature of Christ were indeed co-eval with the promul- 
gation of Christianity. Some of the Jewish converts 
had never attained to the sublimer notion of his 
mediatorial character ; but this disparaging notion, 
adverse to the ardent zeal of the rest of the Christian 
world, had isolated this sect. The imperfect Chris- 
tianity of the Ebionites had long ago expired in an 
obscure corner of Palestine. In all the other divisions 
of Christianity, the Christ had more or less approxi- 
mated to the office and character of this Being wliich 
connected mankind with the Eternal Father. 

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860 SABELUANISM. Book m. 

Alexandria, the fatal and prolific soil of speculative 
controvawy controvcFsy, wherc speculative controversy 
j;^gJ2^ was most likely to madden into furious and 
^^' lasting hostility, gave birtli to this new ele- 

ment of disunion in the Christian worid. The Trini- 
tarian question, indeed, had already been agitated 
within a less extensive sphere. Noetus, an 
Asiatic, either of Smyrna or Ephesus, had 
dwelt with such exclusive zeal on the unity of the 
Godhead, as to absorb, as it were, the whole Trinity 
into one undivided and undistinguished Being. The 
one supreme and impassible Father united to himself 
the man Jesus, whom He had created, by so intimate 
a conjunction, that the divine unity was not destroyed. 
His adversaries drew the conclusion, that, according 
to this blaspheming theory, the Father must have 
suflFered on the cross ; and the ignominious name of 
Patripassians adhered to the few followers of this 
unprosperous sect.^ 

Sabellianism had excited more attention. Sabellius 
^^^ was an African of the Cyrenaic province. 
According to his system, it was the same 
Deity, under diflFerent forms, who existed in the 
Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. A more 
modest and unoffending Sabellianism might perhaps 
be imagined in accordance with modern philosophy. 
The manifestations of the same Deity, or rather of 
his attributes, through which alone the Godhead 
becomes comprehensible to the human mind, may 
have been thus successively made in condescension to 
our weakness of intellect. It would be the same 

^ I have not thought it necessaiy to enter into the yarious shades of Mo- 
narchianism, especially in the Church at Rome, on which the Philosophumena 
has shed new light. 


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Deity, assuming, as it were, an objective form, so as 
to come within the scope of the human mind ; a real 
difference, as regards the conception of man, perfect 
unity in its subjective existence. This, however, 
though some of. its terms may appear the same with 
the Sabellianism of antiquity, would be the Trinita- 
rianism of a plulosophy unknown at this period. The 
language of the Sabellians implied, to the jealous ears 
of their opponents, that the distinction between the 
persons of the Trinity was altogether unreal. While 
the Sabellian party charged their adversaries with a 
Heathen Tritheistic worship, they retorted by accusing 
Sabellianism of annihilating the separate existence of 
the Son and the Holy Ghost. But Sabellianism had 
not divided Christianity into two irreconcilable parties. 
Even now, but for the commanding characters of the 
champions who espoused each party, the Trinitarian 
controversy might have been limited to a few provinces, 
and become extinct in some years. But it arose, not 
merely under the banners of men endowed with those 
abilities which command the multitude ; it not merely 
called into action the energies of successive disputants, 
the masters of the intellectual attainments of the age, 
— it appeared at a critical period, when the rewards 
of success were more splendid, the penalty upon 
failure proportionately more severe. The contest was 
now not merely for a superiority over a few scattered 
and obscure communities : it was agitated on a vaster 
theatre, — that of the Roman world; the proselytes 
whom it disputed were sovereigns; it contested the 
supremacy of the human mind, which was now bending 
to the yoke of Christianity. It is but judging on the 
common principles of human nature to conclude, that 
the grandeur of the prize supported the ambition and 

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inflamed the passions of the contending parties ; that 
human motives of political power and aggrandizement 
mingled with the more spiritual influences of the love 
of truth, and zeal for the purity of religion. 

The doctrine of the Trinity — that is, the divine 
Trinituiaa- ii^-^ure of the Father, the Son, and the Holy 
^^' Ghost — was acknowledged by all. To each 

of these distinct and separate beings, both parties 
ascribed the attributes of the Godhead, with tlie 
exception of self-existence, which was restricted by 
the Arians to the Father. Both admitted the anti- 
mundane Being of the Son and the Holy Spirit. But, 
according to the Arian, there was a time, before the 
commencement of the ages, when the Parent Deity 
dwelt alone in undeveloped, undivided unity. At this 
time, immeasurably, incalculably, inconceivably remote, 
the majestic solitude ceased,^ the divine unity was 
broken by an act of the sovereign Will ; and the only- 
begotten Son, the image of the Father, the Vicegerent 
of all the divine power, the intermediate Agent in all 
the long subsequent work of creation, began to be? 

Such was the question which led to all tlie evils of 
human strife, — hatred, persecution, bloodshed. But, 
however profoundly humiliating this fact in the history 
of mankind, and in the history of Christianity an 
epoch of complete revolution from its genuine spirit, 
it may fairly be inquired, whether this was not an 
object more generous, more unselfish, and at least as 
wise, as many of those motives of personal and national 
advantage and aggrandizement, or many of those 
magic words, which, embraced by two parties with 
blind and unintelligent fury, have led to the most 

1 Compare Cyril. Alex., Epist. i. 7; Labbe, p. 26. 

3 Compare the letter of Anus, in Theodoret, lib. i. c t. 

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disastrous and sanguinary events in the annals of man. 
It might, indeed, have been supposed that a pro- 
found metaphysical question of this kind would have 
been far removed from the passions of the multitude ; 
but with the multitude, and that multitude often 
comprehends nearly the whole of society, it is the 
passion which seeks the object, — not the object which, 
of its own exciting influence, inflames the passion. In 
fact, religion was become the one dominant passion of 
the whole Christian world ; and every thing allied to 
it, or rather, in this case, which seemed to concern its 
very essence, could no longer be agitated with 
tranquillity, or debated with indiSerence. The Pagan 
party, miscalculating the inherent strength of the 
Christian system, saw, no doubt, in these disputes, the 
seeds of the destruction of Christianity. The contest 
was brought on the stage at Alexandria ; ^ but there 
was no Aristophanes, or rather the serious and un- 
poetic time could not have produced an Aristophanes, 
who might at once show that he understood, while he 
broadly ridiculed, the follies of his adversaries. Tlie 
days even of a Lucian were past.^ Discord, which at 
times is fatal to a nation or to a sect, seems at others, 
by the animating excitement of rivalry, the stirring 
collision of hostile energy, to favor the development of 
moral strength. The Christian republic, like Rome 
when rent asunder by domestic factions, calmly pro- 
ceeded in her conquest of the world. 

The plain and intelligible principle which imited 
the opponents of Arius was, no doubt, a vague, and, 
however perhaps overstrained, neither ungenerous nor 
unnatural jealousy, lest the dignity of the Redeemer, 

1 Eufieb., Vit Constant ii. 61 ; Socrates, i. 6. 

3 The Philopatris, of whatever age it may be, is clearly not Lucian^s; and, 
at most, only slightly touches these questions. 

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864 ALEXANDER— ABIUS. Book m. 

the object of their grateful adoration, might in some 
way be lowered by the new hypothesis. The divinity 
of the Saviour seemed inseparably connected with his 
co-equality with the Father : it was endangered by the 
slightest concession on this point. It was their argu- 
ment, that, if the Son was not co-eval in existence with 
the Father, he must have been created, and created out 
of that which was not pre-existent. But a created 
being must be liable to mutability; and it was as- 
serted in the public address of the Patriarch of Alex- 
andria, that this fatal consequence had been extorted 
from an unguarded Arian, if not from Arius himself, 
— that it was possible that the Son might have fallen, 
like the great rebellious angel.^ 

The patriarch of this important see, the metropolis 
Aieziuder, of Egypt, was uamcd Alexander. It was 
AkxandriA. said that Anus, a presbyter of acute powers 
of reasoning, popular address, and blameless character, 
had declined that episcopal dignity .^ The 
person of Arius ^ was tall and graceful ; his 
countenance calm, pale, and subdued; his manners 
engaging; his conversation fluent and persuasive. 
He was well acquainted with human sciences ; as a 
disputant, subtle, ingenious, and fertile in resources. 
His enemies add to this character, which themselves 
have preserved, that this humble and mortified exterior 
concealed unmeasured ambition; that his simplicity, 

A Epiphan., Haer. 69, torn. i. p. 728-727. 

s See Philostorgius (the Arian writer). Theodoret, on the other hand, 
saTs that he brought fbrward his opinions from envy at the promotion of 
Alexander — i. 2. See the Epistle of Alexander, in Socrat Hist. Keel. 1. 6. 

* Arius is said, in his early life, to have been implicated in the sect of the 
Meletians, which seems to have been rather a party than a sect They were 
the followers of Meletius, Bishop of Lycopolis, who had been deposed for 
having sacrificed during the persecution. Yet this sect or party lasted for 
more than a century. 


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frankness, and honesty only veiled his craft and love 
of intrigue ; that he appeared to stand aloof from all 
party, merely that he might guide his cabal with more 
perfect command, and agitate and govern the hearts 
of men. Alexander was accustomed, whether for the 
instruction of the people, or the display of his own 
powers, to debate in public these solemn questions on 
the nature of the Deity, and the relation of the Son 
and the Holy Spirit to the Father. According to the 
judgment of Arius, Alexander fell inadvertently into 
the heresy of Sabellianism, and was guilty of con- 
foimding in the simple unity of the Gk)dhead the exist- 
ence of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.^ 

The intemperate indignation of Alexander at the 
objections of Arius betrayed more of the baflBed dis- 
putant, or the wounded pride of the dignitary, than 
the serenity of the philosopher, or the meekness of 
the Christian. He armed himself ere long in all the 
terrors of his office, and promulgated his anathema in 
terms full of exaggeration and violence. " The im- 
pious Arius, the forerunner of Antichrist, had dared to 
utter his blasphemies against the Divine Redeemer." 
Arius, expelled from Alexandria, not indeed before 
his opinions had spread through the whole of Egypt 
and Libya,^ retired to the more congenial atmosphere 
of Syria.^ There, his vague theory caught the less 

^ Socrates, i. 6, 6. 

3 The account of Sozomen says, that Alexander at first vacillated, bat 
that he afterwards commanded Arius to adopt his opinions: rihf *\petov 
dfiotu^ (^povelv kxeXtvae, Sozomen acknowledges the high character of manj 
of the Arian bishops: ffXeforowf ayaOov picv irpooxfifiaTi aefwoi^j kcU 'kiJ^cl- 
voTTfTi Xoyov decvodf , av^^xtfi^avofiivovg role ^^l rbv 'Apetov, 

* It was daring his retreat that he wrote his famous Thalia; the gay and 
convivial title of which is singularly out of keeping with the grave and 
serious questions then in agitation. His adversaries represent this as a poem 
full of pro&ne wit, and even of indecency. It was written in the same mea»- 

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severely reasoning and more imaginative minds of the 
Syrian bishops:^ the lingering Orientalism prepared 
them for this kindred hypothesis. The most learned, 
the most pious, the most influential, united them- 
selves to his party. The chief of these were the two 
prelates named Eusebius, — one the ecclesiastical his- 
torian; the other, bishop of the important city of 
Nicomedia. Throughout the East, the controversy 
was propagated with earnest rapidity. It was not re- 
pressed by the attempts of Licinius to interrupt the 
free intercourse between the Christian commimities, 
and his prohibition of the ecclesiastical synods. The 
ill-smothered flame burst into tenfold fury on the re- 
union of the East to the empire of Constantine. The 
interference of the emperor was loudly demanded to 
allay the strife which distracted the Christendom of 

ure, and to the same air, with the Sotadic verses, which were proverbial for 
their grossness even among the Greeks. It is difficult to reconcile this ac- 
count of the Thalia with the subtle and politic character which his enemies 
attribute to Arius, still less to the protection of such men as Eusebius of Nico- 
media, and the other S>Tian prelates. Arius, likewise, composed hjmns, in 
accordance with his opinions, to t>e chanted by sailors, those who worked at 
the mill, or travellers. Songs of this kind abounded in the Greek poetiy: 
each art and trade had its song;* and Arius may have intended no more 
than to turn this popular practice in favor of Christianity, by substituting 
sacred for profane songs, which, of course, would be imbued with his own 
opinions. Might not the Thalia have been written in the same vein, and 
something in the same spirit, with which a celebrated modem humorist 
and preacher adapted hymns to some of the most popular airs, and declared 
that the devil ought not to have all the best tunes? The general style of 
Arius is said to have been soft, effeminate, and popular. The specimen 
from the Thalia (in Athanas. Or. i. Cont Ar. c 5) is very loose and feeble 
Greek. Yet it is admitted that Arius was an expert dialectician; and no 
weak orator would have maintained such a contest so long. 

^ The bishops of Ptolemais, in the Pentapolis, and Theonas of Marma- 
rica, joined his party. The females were inclined to his side. Seven hun- 
dred virgins of Alexandria, and of the Mareotic nome, owned him for their 
spiritual teacher. Compare the letter of Alexander in Theodoret, ch. iv. 

* Egen, De Sooliorum PoMi, p. xiU. 

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the East. The behavior of Constantine was regulated 
by the most perfect equanimity, or, more probably, 
guided by some counsellor of mild and more humane 
Christianity: his letter of peace was, in its better of 
spirit, a model of temper and conciliation.^ coMtanUne. 
With profound sorrow he had heard that his designs 
for the unity of the empire, achieved by his victory 
over Licinius, as well as for the unity of the faith, had 
been disturbed by this unexpected contest. His im- 
partial rebuke condemned Alexander for unnecessarily 
agitating such frivolous and imimportant questions, 
and Arius for not suppressing, in prudent and re- 
spectful silence, his objections to the doctrine of the 
patriarch. It recommended the judicious reserve of 
the philosophers, who had never debated such subjects 
before an ignorant and uneducated audience, and who 
diflFered without acrimony on such profound questions. 
He entreated them, by the unanimous suppression of 
all feelings of unhallowed animosity, to restore his 
cheerful days and undisturbed nights. Of the same 
faiili, the same form of worship, they ought to meet 
in amicable synod, to adore their common God in 
peaceful harmony, and not fall into discord as to 
accuracy of expression on these most minute of ques- 
tions ; to enjoy and allow freedom in the sanctuary of 
their own minds, but to remain united in the common 
bonds of Christian love.^ 

It is probable, that the hand of Hosius, Bishop of 
Cordova in Spain, is to be traced in that royal and 
Christian letter. The influence of Hosius was uni- 

1 See the letter in Eiueb., Vit. Constant ii. 64-72. 

■ 'A (T VTtip Tuv ihixicrruv tovtuv ^TTfae<jv h d^Aotf 6KfH(3oXoyeia$e, 
kAv ij^ ffpdf /«dv yv6ftriv ovfi^priaBef fiheiv elou Xoytafiov npoarfKei, ry T^f 
Stavoiat &i:of>(nfT(it rrjpovfievoi. — Euseb., Vit Constant, ii. 71. 

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868 COUNCIL OF NICfflA. Book m. 

formly exercised in this manner. Wherever the 
edicts of the government were mild, conciliating, and 
humane, we find the Bishop of Cordova. It is by no 
means an improbable conjecture of Tillemont, that he 
was the Spaniard who afterwards, in the hour of 
mental agony and remorse, administered to the empe- 
ror the balm of Christian penitence. 

Hosius was sent to Egypt, as the imperial commis- 
sioner, to assuage the animosity of the distracted 
Church. But religious strife, in Egypt more particu- 
larly, its natural and prolific soil, refused to listen to 
the admonitions of Christian wisdom or imperial 
authority. Eusebius compares the fierce conflict of 
parties — bishops with bishops, people with people — to 
the collision of the Symplegades.^ Prom the mouths 
of the Nile to the Cataracts, the divided population 
tumultuously disputed the nature of the divine tmity.^ 

A general coimcil of the heads of the various 
councuof Christian conmiunities throughout the Bo- 
^^' man empire was sunmioned by the imperial 

mandate, to establish, on the consentient authority of 
assembled Christendom, the true doctrine on these 
contested points, and to allay for ever tliis propensity 
contioreny to hostilc disputatiou. The same paramount 
bicEM^r tribunal was to settle definitely another sub- 
ordinate question relating to the time of keeping the 
Easter festival. Many of the Eastern communities 
shocked their more scrupulous brethren by following 
the calculations, and observing the same sacred days 
with the impious and abhorred Jews ; for the further 
we advance in the Christian history, the estrangement 

1 Vit Const, iii. 4. 
iyiyvcvro. — Theodoret, L 6. 

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of the Christians from the Jews darkens more and 
more into absolute antipathy. 

In the month of May or June (the 20th ^), in the year 
325, met the great council of Nic»a. Not 
half a century before, the Christian bishops 
even in that city had been only marked as the objects 
of the most cruel insult and persecution. They had 
been chosen, on account of their eminence in their 
own communities, as the peculiar victims of the stern 
policy of the Government. They had been driven into 
exile, set to work in the mines, exposed to every kind 
of humiliation and suffering, from which some had in 
mercy been released by death. They now assembled, 
under the imperial sanction, a religious senate firom 
all parts at least of the Eastern world : for Italy was 
represented only by two presbyters of Rome ; Hosius 
appeared for Spain, Gaul, and Britain. The spectacle 
was altogether new to the world. No wide-ruling 
sovereign would ever have thought of summoning a 
conclave of the sacerdotal orders of the different re- 
ligions : a synod of pliilosophers to debate some grave 
metaphysical or even political question was equally 
inconsistent with the ordinary usages and sentiments 
of Grecian or Roman society. 

The pubUc establishment of post-horses was com- 
manded to afford every facility, and that gratuitously, 
for the journey of the assembling bishops.^ Vehicles 
or mules were to be provided, as though the assembly 
were an affair of state, at the public charge. At a 
later period, when councils became more frequent, the 
Heathen historian complains, that the public service was 

^ One of these dates rests on the aathority of Socrates, ziii. 26 ; tho other, 
on the Paschal Chronicle, p. 282. Compare Pagi, p. 404. 
« Euseb., Vit. Const iii. 6; Theodoret, L 7. 
VOL. II. 24 

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impeded, and the post-horses harassed and exhausted, 
by the incessant journeying to and fro of the Christian 
delegates to their councils.^ They were sumptuously 
maintained during the sitting at the public charge.^ 

Above three hundred bishops were present, pres- 
Numbcr of by tcrs, deacons, acoly ths without number,* a 
preneut. considerable body of laity; but it was the 
presence of the emperor himself which gave its chief 
weight and dignity to the assembly. Nothing could 
so much confirm the Christians in the opinion of their 
altered position, or declare to the world at large the 
growing power of Christianity, as this avowed interest 
taken in their domestic concerns ; or so tend to raise 
the importance attached even to the more remote and 
speculative doctrines of the new faith, as this un- 
precedented condescension, so it would seem to the 
Fimtmeet- Hcatheu, ou the part of the emperor. The 
eouncii. council mct, probably, in a spacious basilica.* 
Eusebius describes the scene as himself deeply im- 
pressed with its solemnity. The assembly sat in 
profound silence ; while the great officers of state and 
other dignified persons (there was no armed guard) 
entered the hall, and awaited in proud and trembling 
expectation the appearance of the emperor of the 
world in a Christian council. Constantine at length 

^ Amm. Marcelliniu, xvi. 16. Bead in Stanley's Eastern Church the 
gathering and the names and characters of the assembled bishops, p. 109, 
et seqq. 

s Euseb. ill. 9. 

* There was one bishop from Persia, one from Scythia. Eusebius states 
the number at two hundred and fifty : that in the text is on the authority of 
Theodoret, and of the numbers said to have signed the creed. 

4 There is a long note in Ueinichen^s Eusebius to prove that they did not 
meet in the palace, but in a church ; as though the authority of their pro- 
ceedings depended upon their place of assembly. It was probably a basilica, 
or hall of justice; tlie kind of building usually made over by the Government 
for the purposes of Christian worship; and, in general, the model of the ear- 
liest Christian edifices. 

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entered ; he was splendidly attired ; the eyes of the 
bishops were dazzled by the gold and precious stones 
upon his raiment. The majesty of his person and the 
modest dignity of his demeanor heightened the effect : 
the whole assembly rose to do him honor ; he advanced 
to a low golden seat prepared for him, and did not 
take his seat (it is difficult not to suspect Eusebius of 
highly coloring the deference of the emperor) till a 
sign of permission had been given by the bishops.^ 
One of the leading prelates (probably Eusebius the 
liistorian) commenced the proceedings with a short 
address, and a hymn to Almighty God. Constantino 
then delivered an exhortation to unity in the Latin 
language, which was interpreted to the Greek bishops. 
His admonition seems at first to have produced no 
great effect. Mutual accusation, defence, and recrimi- 
nation prolonged the debate.* Constantino Behavior of 
seems to have been present during the greater ^**'"**°**™- 
part of the sittings, listening with patience, softening 
asperities, countenancing those whose language tended 
to peace and union, and conversing familiarly, in the 
best Greek he could command, with the different 
prelates. The courtly flattery of the council might 
attribute to Constantine himself what was secretly 
suggested by the Bishop of Cordova. For, powerful 
and comprehensive as his mind may have been, it is 
incredible that a man so educated, and engaged dur- 
ing the early period of his life with military and civil 
affairs, could have entered, particularly being imper- 

1 O^ nporepov ^ rodf hnvuKoncvg hrtvevaai. See also Socrates, i. 8. In 
Theodoret (i. 7), this has grown into his humbly asking permission to sit 

3 Constantine bnmed the libels which the bishops had presented against 
each other. Many of these (the ecclesiastical historian intimates) arose out 
of private animosities. — Socrates, i. 6. 

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872 NICENE CREED. Book m. 

fectly acquainted with the Greek language, into these 
discussions on religious metaphysics. 

The council sat for rather more than two months.^ 
Towards the close, Constantine, on the occasion of the 
commencement of the twentieth year of his reign,^ 
condescended to invite the bishops to a simiptuous 
banquet. All attended ; and, as they passed through 
the imperial guard, treated with every mark of respect, 
they could not but call to mind the total revolution in 
their circumstances. Eusebius betrays his transport 
by the acknowledgment that they could scarcely be- 
lieve that it was a reality, not a vision : to the grosser 
conception of those who had not purified their minds 
from the millennial notions, the banquet seemed the 
actual commencement of the kingdom of Christ. 

The Nicene Creed was the result of tlie solenm de- 
liberation of the assembly. It was conceived 

Nioene Creed. 

with some degree of Oriental indefiniteness, 
harmonized with Grecian subtlety of expression. The 
vague and somewhat imaginative fulness of its origi- 
nal Eastern terms was not too severely limited by the 
fine precision of its definitions. One fatal word broke 
the harmony of assent with wliich it was received by 
the whole council. Christ was declared Homoousios, 
of the same substance with the Father;^ and the unde- 
niable, if perhaps inevitable, ambiguity of this single 

1 According to some, two months and eleven days; to others, two montha 
and six days. 

3 This seems to reconcile the difficulty started by Heinichen. The 20th 
year of Constantine's reign began the 8th Cal. Aug. A.D. 825. Eusebius 
uses the inaccurate word kn}.TjpovTO. — Vit Const iii. 14. 

8 Atbanasius himself allowed that the bishops who deposed Paul of Samo- 
sata were justified in rejecting the word dfioovaiov, because they understood 
it in a material or corporeal sense. But the priTilege allowed to those who 
had died iu orthodox reputation was denied to the Arians and Semi-Arians. 
-De Synodis, Athanas. Oper. i. p. 769. It is impossible to read some 

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term involved Christianity in centuries of hostility. 
To one party it implied absolute identity, and was 
therefore only iU-disguised Sabellianism ; to the other 
it was essential to the co-equal and co-eval dignity of 
the three persons in the Godhead. To some of the 
Syrian bishops it implied or countenanced the material 
notion of the Deity .^ It was, it is said by one ecclesi- 
astical historian, a battle in the night, in which neither 
party could see the meaning of the other .^ 

Three hundred and eighteen bishops confirmed this 
creed by their signatures: five alone still n^ewcu- 
contested the single expression, the Ho- ■"**• 
moousion, — Eusebius of Nicomedia, Theognis of 
Nieaea, Theonas of Marmaiica, Maris of Chalcedon, 
and Eusebius of Csesarea. Eusebius of Nicomedia 
and Theognis were banished. Eusebius of Ca&sarea, 

pages of this treatise without the unpleasant conviction, that Athanasiiis waa 
determined to make out the Arians to be in the wrong. 

1 M^e yap dirvaodai r^v a^Xov Ka2 voipav Koi aaufionv ^ctv, aufia- 
TiKov n irodof ^OT€ur9ai, This is the language of Eusebius. 

^aal 6i 6fiuc 'f^f^ tovtov, cjg apa MTuuv 6 Qedc r^ ytwriHrv Kxiaat 
^atv, inii;^ kCtpa foi dwofiivTiv ctiii^ fteraaxelv r^c tov narpdc 
uKpitTov, Kci r^f nap* uirrov drffuovpyias, imtBi koI Kri^ei npCiTiJC fiovo^ 
fwvov iva, Koi KoXtl tovtov v/dv koI Xoyov, Iva tovtov fdaov yevofd' 
voVf cXrniQ T^autbv xal rd nuvra 61 airrov yeviaOcu dwjfB^. ravra oO 
fiovov clpffKootv, &^}^ Kot yp(nlHU Tero^^Koaiv Evoif3id^ re, Koi 'Apeiog 
Kol 6 -Qvaa/s "karipvo^. — Athan., Orat. ii. c. 24. Compare Mohler (a learned 
and strongly orthodox Roman Catholic writer), Athanasius der Grosse, b. i. 
p. 105. Mohler but dimly sees the Gnostic or Oriental origin of this notion, 
which lies at the bottom of Arianism. 

> This remarkable sentence does credit to the judgment and impartiality 
of Socrates : ^VKTOfiaxiac 6e ovdev aneixe T«i ytyvofiiva, oini yap oAA^^ouf 
k^vavTo voovvTCi, d^' uv dtA/^Aovf ^"hur^jielv imtTjoft^avav ol ftkv yap 
TOV bfioavaiov r^v Ae^tv iKKTdvovreq t^ ^ajiMiov Koi iiovrapov do^av 
eioTiyEladai airffv roOg irpoadexofdvovg tvofuljay' koI 6td toOto fiXaat^fiovc 
ixoAoW; Ltg dvaipovvrec r^ virap^tv tov vlov tov Oeov' oi dk nahv r^ 
dfjoouaiift irpooKeiftevoi irohtdetav eladyeiv Toi>c hipovq vofu^ovreCf uf *EX- 
^ajviofjbv doayovTO/Q k^erpamnno. — c 28. Add to these, above all, the deci- 
sive words of Arius himself, quoted in Latin Christianity. — i. 181. 

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after much hesitation, consented to subscribe, but sent 
the creed into his diocese with a comment, explanatory 
of the sense in which he understood tlie contested 
word. His chief care was to guard against giving the 
slightest countenance to the material conception of 
the Deity. Two only withstood with uncompromising 
resistance . the decree of the council. The solenm 
anathema of this Christian senate was pro- Banbiiment 
nounced against Arius and his adherents; '»^^"*- 
they were banished by the civil power j and they were 
especially interdicted from disturbing the peace of 
Alexandria by their presence.^ 

Peace might seem to be restored, — the important 
question set at rest by the united authority of the 
emperor, and a representative body which might faHy 
presume to deliver the sentiments of the whole Chris- 
tian world. But the Arians were condemned, not 
convinced; discomfited, not subdued.^ Rather more 
than two years elapsed, eventful in the private life of 
Constantine, but tranquil in the history of the Chris- 
tian Church. The imperial assessor in the Christian 
council had appeared in the West under a diflFerent 
character, as the murderer of his son and of liis wife. 
He returned to the Bast, determined no more to visit 
the imperial city of the West ; where, instead of the 
humble deference with which all parties courted his 
approbation, he had been unable to close his ears 

1 In one passage in the De S3modis, Athanasius accused not only the 
Arian but the Semi-Arian party, Eusebius as well as Arius, of something like 

'Of ioTtv vtdf 6fiou)C irarpi, aX^ diit r^ avfu^tjviav ddyfJiOTuv Kot r^c 
StSaaKaXiac. — ?• 766, Atfaan. Oper. 1. 

2 The writings of Arius and his followers were condemned to be burned. 
If we are to believe Sozomen (which I confess that I am disinclined to do), 
the concealment of such heretical works was made a capital offence. — £. H. 
lib. i. c. 21. 

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against the audacious and bitter pasquinade which ar- 
raigned his cruelty to his own family. Bis retUrn to 
the East, instead of overawing the contending factipns 
into that unity which he declared to be the dearest 
wish of his heart, by his own sudden change of con- 
duct, was the signal for the revival of the fiercest 
contentious. The Christian community was change in the 
now to pay a heavy penalty for the pride and coneSStine. 
triumph with which they had hailed the interference 
of the emperor in their religious questions. The im- 
perial decisions had been admitted by the dominant 
party when on their own side, to add weight to the 
decree of the council. At least, they had applauded 
the sentence of banishment pronounced by the civil 
power against their antagonists: that authority now 
assumed a dififerent tone, and was almost warranted, 
by their own admission, in expecting the same prompt 
obedience. The power which had exiled, might restore, 
the heretic to his place and station. Court influence, 
however obtained through court intrigue or from the 
caprice of the ruling sovereign, by this fatal, perhaps 
inevitable step, became the arbiter of the most vital 
questions of Christian faith and discipline ; and thus 
the first precedent of a temporal punishment 

AD iWM M8 

for an ecclesiastical offence was a dark prog- 
nostic, and an example, of the difliculties which would 
arise during the whole history of Christianity, when 
the communities, so distinctly two when they were sep- 
erate and adverse, became one by the identification of 
the Church and the state. The restoration of a ban- 
ished man to the privileges of a citizen by the civil 
power seemed to command his restoration to religious 
privileges by the ecclesiastical authority.^ 

1 Socr.L26, 26; Soz. iL 27. 


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The Arian pariy gradually grew into favor. A 
presbyter of Arian sentiments had obtained complete 
coijounand over the mind of Constantia, the sister of 
Constantine. On her dying bed, she entreated the 
emperor to reconsider the justice of the sentence 
against that innocent, as she declared, and misrepre- 
sented man. Arius could not believe the sudden re- 
verse of fortune ; and not till he received a pressing 
letter from Constantine himself did he venture to leave 
his place of exile. A person of still greater importance 
was at the same time re-instated in the imperial favor. 
Among tlie adherents of the Arian form, Eu»eWujof 
perhaps the most important was Eusebius, Nicomedia. 
Bishop of Nicomedia. A dangerous suspicion that ho 
had been too closely connected with the interests of 
Licinius, during the recent struggle for empire, had 
alienated the mind of Constantine, and deprived Euse- 
bius of that respectful attention which he might have 
commanded by his station, ability, and expe- 
rience. With Theognis, Bishop of Nicaea, his ' 
faithful adherent in opinion and in fortune, he had 
been sent into exile : it is remarkable that the prelates 
of these two sees, the most important in tliat part of 
Asia, should have concurred in these views. The 
exiled prelates, in their petition for re-instatement in 
their dioceses, declared, and (notwithstanding the 
charge of falsehood which their opponents to the pres- 
ent day do not scruple to make, would they have ven- 
tured in a public document addressed to Constantine 
to misstate a fact so notorious?) they solemnly pro- 
tested, that they had not refused their signatures to the 
Nicene Creed, but only to the anathema pronounced 
against Arius and his followers. " Their obstinancy 
arose, not from want of faith, but from excess of 

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charity." They returned in triumph to their dioceses, 
and ejected the bishops who had been appointed in 
their place. No resistance appears to have been 

But the Arians were not content with their peace- 
able re-establishment in their former station. How- 
ever tliey might attempt to harmonize their doctrines 
with the belief of their adversaries, by their vin- 
dictive aggression on the opposite party they belied 
their pretensions to moderation and the love of 
peace. Eusebius, whom Constantine had before pub- 
licly denoimced in no measured terms, grew rapidly 
into favor. The complete dominion, which from this 
time he appears to have exercised over the mind of 
Constantine, confirms the natural suspicion that the 
opinions of the emperor were by no means formed by 
his own independent judgment, but entirely governed 
by the Christian teacher who might obtain his favor. 
Eusebius seems to have succeeded to the influence ex- 
ercised with so much wisdom and temper by Hosius 
of Cordova. He became Bishop of Constantinople, 
and was the companion of Constantine in his visits to 
Jerusalem ; ^ and the high estimation in which the em- 
peror held also Eusebius of Ca&sarea, according to the 
statements made, and the documents ostentatiously 
preserved by that writer in his ecclesiastical history, 
could not but contribute to the growing ascendency of 
Arianism. They were in possession of some of the 
most important dioceses in Asia ; they were ambitious 
of establishing their supremacy in Antioch. 

The suspicious brevity with which Eusebius glides 
over the early part of this transaction, which his per- 
sonal vanity could not allow him to omit, confirms the 

1 Theodoret, i. 2. 

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statement of their adversaries, as to the unjustifiable 
A.D. 828. means employed by the Arians to attain this 
thrArtan object. Eusebius of Nicomedia, and The- 
Anuoch. ognis, passod through Antioch on their way 
to Jerusalem. On their return, ihey sunamoned Eusta- 
thius, the Bishop of Antioch, whose character had 
hitherto been blameless, to answer before a hastily 
assembled council of bishops, on two distinct charges 
of immorality and heresy. The unseemly practice of 
brmging forward women of disreputable character to 
charge men of high station in the Church with incon- 
tinency, formerly employed by the Heathens to calum- 
niate the Christians, was now adopted by the reckless 
hostility of Christian faction. The accusation of a 
prostitute against Eustathius, of having been the father 
of her child, is said afterwards to have been completely 
disproved. The heresy with wliich Eustathius was 
charged was that of Sabellianism, the usual imputation 
of the Arians against the Trinitarians of the opposite 
creed. Two Arian bishops having occupied the see 
of Antioch but for a very short time, an attempt was 
made to remove Eusebius of Csesarea to that diocese, 
no doubt to overawe by the high reputation of his 
talents, or to conciliate tlie Eustathian party. Euse- 
bius, with the flattering approbation of the emperor, 
declined the dangerous post. Eustathius was deposed, 
and banished, by the imperial edict, to Thrace; but 
the attachment, at least of a large part, of the Chris- 
tian population of Antioch refused to acknowledge the 
autliority of the tribunal, or the justice of the sentence. 
The city was divided into two fierce and hostile fac- 
tions: they were on the verge of civil war; and 
Antioch, where the Christians had first formed them- 
selves into a separate community, but for the vigorous 

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Chap. FV. ATHANASIUS. 379 

interference of the civil power and the timely appear- 
ance of an imperial commissioner, might have witnessed 
the first blood shed, at least in the East, in a Christian 

It is impossible to calculate how far the authority 
and influence of the Syrian bishops, with the avowed 
countenance of the emperor (for Constantius, the son 
of Gonstautine, was an adherent of the Arian opin- 
ions), might have subdued the zeal of the orthodox 
party. It is possible, that, but for the rise of one in- 
flexible and indomitable antagonist, the question might 
either have sunk to rest, or the Christian world acqui- 
esced, at least the East, in a vague and mitigated Ari- 

Athanasius had been raised by the discernment of 
Alexander to a station of confidence and ^^^ _. 


dignity. He had filled the oflice of secretary 
to the Alexandrian prelate. In the Council of Nicsea 
he had borne a distinguished part, and his zeal and 
talents dcsignatud him at once as the head of the 
Trinitarian party. On the death of Alexander, the uni- 
versal voice of the predominant anti-Arians demanded 
the elevation of Athanasius. In vain he attempted 
to conceal himself, and to escape the dangerous honor. 
At thirty years of age, Athanasius was placed 
on the episcopal throne of the see, which 
ranked with Antioch, and afterwards with Constanti- 
nople, as the most important spiritual charge in the 

The imperial mandate was issued to receive Arius 
and his followers within the pale of the Christian com- 
munion.^ But Constantine found, to his astonishment, 

1 The ArianB asserted this election to have been carried by the irregular 
Tiolence of a few bishops, contrary to the declared suffi-ages of the majority. 
8 Athanas., Apol. contra Ar. Soz. ii. 22. 

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that an imperial edict, which would have been obeyed 
in trembling submission from one end of the Roman 
empire to the other, even if it had enacted a complete 
political revolution, or endangered the property and 
privileges of thousands, was received with deliberate 
and steady disregard by a single Christian bishop, 
During two reigns, Athanasius contested the authority 
of the emperor. He endured persecution, calumny, 
exile ; his life was frequently endangered in defence 
of one single tenet ; and that, it may be permitted to 
say, the most purely intellectual, and apparently the 
GhargM most rcmotc from the ordinary passions of 
Athuuiaiiu. man : he confronted martyrdom, not for the 
broad and palpable distinction between Christianity 
and Heathenism, but for fine and subtle expressions 
of the Christian creed.^ He began and continued the 
contest, not for the toleration, but for the supremacy, 
of his own opinions. 

Neither party, in truth, could now yield without the 
humiliating acknowledgment that all their contest had 
been on imimportant and unessential points. The 
passions and the interests, as well as the conscience, 
were committed in the strife. Tlie severe and uncom- 
promising temper of Athanasius, no doubt, gave some 
advantage to his jealous and watchful antagonists. 
Criminal charges began to multiply against a prelate 
who was thus fallen in the imperial favor.^ They 

1 I am not persuaded, either hy the powerful eloquence of Athanasius 
himself, or by his able modem apologist, Mohler, that the opinions, at least, 
of the Syrian Semi-Arians were so utterly irreconcilable with the orthodoxj- 
of Athanasius, or likely to produce such fatal consequences to the general 
system of Christianity as are extorted from them by the keen theological 
precision of Athanasius. 

> Theodoret mentions one of these customary chaiges of licentiousness, in 
which a woman of bad character accused Athanasius of violating her chas- 
tity. Athanasius was silent; while one of his firiends, with assumed indig- 

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were assiduously instilled into the ears of Constantino ; 
yet the extreme frivolousness of some of these accusa- 
tions, and the triumphant refutation of the more 
material charges, before a tribunal of his enemies, es- 
tablish, undeniably, the unblemished virtue of Athana- 
sius.^ He was charged with taxing the city to provide 
linen vestments for the clergy, and with treasonable 
correspondence witli an enemy of the emperor. Upon 
this accusation, he was summoned to Nicomedia, and 
acquitted by the emperor himself. He was charged as 
having authorized the profanation of the holy vessels, 
and the sacred books, in a church in the Mareotis, a 
part of his diocese. A certain Ischyras had assumed 
the office of presbyter, without ordination. Macarius, 
who was sent by Athanasius to prohibit his officiating 
in his usurped dignity, was accused by Ischyras of over- 
throwing the altar, breaking the cup, and burning the 
Scriptures. It is not impossible that the indiscreet 
zeal of an inferior may have thought it right to destroy 
sacred vessels thus profaned by unhallowed hands. 
But from Athanasius himself the charge recoiled with- 
out the least injury. But a darker charge remained 
behind, — comprehending two crimes, probably in 
those days looked upon with equal abhorrence, — magic 

nation^ demanded, " Do you accuse me of this crime? " — " Yes," replied the 
woman, supposing him to be Athanasius, of whose person she was ignorant, 
"yw were the violator of my chastity." — 1. i. c. 80. 

^ It is remarkable how little stress is laid on the persecutions which Atha^ 
nasius is accused of having carried on through the civil authority. " Accu- 
satus pneterea est de injuriis, violenti&, csede, atque ip6& episcoporum inter- 
necione. Quique etiam diebus sacratissimis paschas ^rannico more ssevicns. 
Ducibus atque Comitibus junctus : quique propter ipsam aliquos in custodia 
recludebant, aliquos vero verberibus flagellisque vexabant, caeteros diversis 
tormentis ad communionem ejus sacrilegam adigebant." These charges nei- 
ther seem to have been pressed nor refuted, as half so important as the act of 
sacrilege. See the protest of the Arian bishops at Sardica, in Hilarii Oper. 
Hist Fragm. iii. c. 6. See also the accusations of violence on his return to 
Alexandria. Ibid. 8. 

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and murder. The enemies of Athanasius produced a 
human hand said to be that of Arsenius, a bishop 
attached to the Meletian heresy, who had disappeared 
from Egypt in a suspicious manner. The hand of the 
murdered bishop had been kept by Athanasius for un- 
hallowed purposes of witchcraft. In vain the emissar 
ries of Athanasius sought for Arsenius in Egypt, 
though he was known to be concealed in that country ; 
but the superior and one of the monks of a monastery 
were seized, and compelled to confess that he was still 
living, and had lain hid in their sanctuary. Yet the 
charge was not abandoned : it impended for more than 
two years over the head of Athanasius. 

A council, chiefly formed of the enemies of Athana- 
sius, was summoned at Tyre. It was intimated to the 
Alexandrian prelate, that, if he refused to appear 
before the tribunal, ho would be brought by force. 
Synod of Athanasius stood before the tribunal. He 
ajd! 885. was arraigned on this charge : the hand waa 
produced. To the astonishment of the court, Athanar 
sius calmly demanded whether those present were ac- 
quainted with the person of Arsenius. He had been 
well known to many. A man was suddenly brought 
into the court with his whole person folded in his man- 
tle. Athanasius uncovered the head of the witness. 
He was at once recognized as the murdered Arsenius. 
Still the severed hand lay before them, and the adver- 
saries of Athanasius expected to convict him of having 
mutilated the victim of his jealousy. Athanasius lifted 
up the mantle on one side, and showed the right hand : 
he lifted up the other, and showed the left. In a calm 
tone of sarcasm he observed, that the Creator had be- 
stowed two hands on man : it was for his enemies to 
explain how Arsenius had possessed a third.^ A for- 

1 Theodoret, i. 80. 


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tunate accident had brought Arsenius to Tyre : he had 
been discovered by the friends of Athanasius. Though 
he denied his name, he was known by the Bishop of 
Tyre ; and this dramatic scene had been arranged as 
the most effective means of exposing the malice of the 
prelate's enemies. His discomfited accusers fled in 
the confusion. 

The implacable enemies of Athanasius were con- 
strained to fall back upon the other exploded charge, — 
the profanation of the sacred vessels by Macarius. A 
conunission of inquiry had been issued, who conducted 
themselves, according to the statement of the friends 
of Athanasius, with the utmost violence and partiality. 
On their report, the bishop of the important city of 
Alexandria was deposed from his dignity. But Atha- 
nasius bowed not beneath the storm. He appears to 
have been a master in what may be called, without 
disrespect, theatrical effect. As the emperor Athanaeiua 

io Constan- 

rode through the city of Constantinople, he tinopie. 
was arrested by the sudden appearance of a train of 
ecclesiastics, in the midst of which was Athanasius. 
The offended emperor, with a look of silent contempt, 
urged his horse onward. " God," said the prelate, 
with a loud voice, " shall judge between thee and me, 
since thou thus espouscst the cause of my calumniators. 
I demand only that my enemies be summoned, and 
my cause heard in the imperial presence." The em- 
peror admitted the justice of his petition : the accusers 
of Athanasius were commanded to appear in Constan- 
tinople. Six of them, including the two Eusebii, 
obeyed the mandate. 

But a new charge, on a subject skilfully chosen to 
awaken the jealousy of the emperor, counteracted the 
influence which might have been obtained by the elo- 

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queuce or the guiltlessness of Athauasius. It is re- 
New aeeu- markablo that au accusation of a very similar 
"*^°"' nature should have caused the capital punish- 
ment of the most distinguished among the Heathen 
philosophic party, and the exile of the most eminent 
Christian prelate. Constantinople entirely depended 
for the supply of corn upon foreign importation. One- 
half of Africa, including Egypt, was assigned to the 
maintenance of the new capital, while the Western di- 
Doathof vision alone remained for Bome. At some 
phSoaopher. perfod duriug thc later years of Constantine, 
the adverse winds detained the Alexandrian fleet, and 
&mine began to afflict the inhabitants of the city. 
The populace was in tumult ; the government looked 
anxiously for means to allay the dangerous ferment. 
The Christian party had seen with jealousy and alarm 
the influence which a Heathen philosopher, named 
Sopater, had obtained over the mind of Constan- 
tine.^ Sopater was a native of Apamea, the scholar of 
lamblichus. The emperor took great delight in his so- 
ciety, and was thus in danger of being perverted, if not 
to Heathenism, to that high Platonic indifferentism 
which would leave the two religions on terms of per- 
fect equality. Sopater was seen seated on public occa- 
sions by the emperor's side ; and boasted, it was said, 
that the dissolution of Heathenism would be arrested 
by his authority. During the famine, the emperor 
entered the theatre : instead of the usual acclamatiouSy 

1 Zosimus, ii. 40; Sozom. 1-6; Eunap. in iEdes. p. 21-25 ; edit- Boisso- 
nade. Suidas, voc. Xuirarpog, If we are to believe Eunapiua, the Christiaxu 
might reasonably take alann at the intimacy of Constantine with Sopftter: 
6 fjtev 0aaiXei>c ^o^icei re in^ avT^ koL driftoai^ awedpov elx^Vf etc rdy de^idp 
KoOi^dJv Tonbv. o koX okovocu kcll Idelv amaTOv ol de irapaiwaaTsvoiTE^ {(he 
Chrittians, a remarkable admission of their influence !) /^yvvfjievot ry ^$6v^ 
irpdc PcujiXetav apri ^ikooo^v juerct^v9di>ov0a}/. — p. 21. 

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he was received with a dull and melancholy silence. 
The enemies of Sopater seized the opportunity of ac- 
cusing the philosopher of magic: his unlawful arts 
had bound the winds in the adverse quarter. If the 
emperor did not, the populace would readily, believe 
him to be the cause of all their calamities. He was 
sacrificed to the popularity of the emperor : the order 
for his decapitation was hastily issued, and promptly 

In the same spirit which caused the death of the 
Heathen philosopher, Athanasius was accused of 
threatening to force the emperor to his own measures, 
by stopping the supplies of corn from the port of Alex- 
andria. Constantine listened with jealous credulity to 
the charge. The danger of leaving the power of starv- 
ing the capital in the hands of one who might become 
hostile to the Government, touched the pride a. d. sse, 
of the emperor in the tenderest point. Atlia- uaniriuneiit 

of Athanasiai 

nasius was banished to the remote city of toXnTw. 

But neither the exile of Athanasius, nor the un- 
•qualified — his enemies, of course, asserted insincere 
or hypocritical — acceptance of the Nicene Creed by 
Arius himself, allayed the differences. The presence 
of Arius in Alexandria had been the cause of new dis- 
sensions. He was recalled to Constantinople, ^^^ j^^ ^^ 
where a council had been held, in which the •*"**»>opi«- 
Arian party maintained and abused their predomi- 
nance. But Alexander, the Bishop of Constantinople, 
still firmly resisted the reception of Arius into the 
orthodox communion. Affairs were hastening to a 
crisis. The Arians, with the authority of the emperor 
on their side, threatened to force their way into the 
church, and to compel the admission of their champion* 

TOL. II. 26 

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886 DEATH OF ASinS. Book m. 

The Catholics, the weaker party, had recourse to 
prayer : the Arians abeady raised the voice of triumph. 
While Alexander was prostrate at the altar, Arius was 
borne through the wondering city in a kind of ovation, 
surrounded by his friends, and welcomed with loud 
acclamations by his own party. As he passed the por- 
phyry column, he was forced to retire into a house to 
relieve his natural wants. His return was anxiously 
Death of expected, but in vain: he was found dead, 
^^ as his antagonists declared ; his bowels had 
burst out, and relieved the Church from tlie presence 
of the obstinate heretic. We cannot wonder, that, at 
such a period of excitement, the Catholics, in that 
well-timed incident, recognized a direct providential 
interference in their favor. It was ascribed to the 
prevailing prayers of Alexander and his clergy. Un- 
der the specious pretext of a thanksgiving for the 
deliverance of the Church from the imminent peril of 
external violence, the bishop prepared a solemn ser- 
vice. Athanasius, in a public epistle, alludes to the 
fate of Judas, which had befallen the traitor to the co- 
equal dignity of the Son. His hollow charity ill di&- 
guises his secret triumph.^ 

Whatever eflFect the death of Arius might produce 
upon the mind of Constantino, it caused no mitigation 
in his unfavorable opinion of Athanasius. He con- 
temptuously rejected the petitions which were sent 
from Alexandria to solicit his ro-instatement ; he re- 
fused to recall that " proud, turbulent, obstinate, and 
intractable " prelate. It was not till he was on his 

1 It was a standing argoment of Athanasius, that the death of Arioa waa 
A sufficient refutation of his heresy. 

E/c yop reXeiav Karayvootv r^ alpiaeuQ tuv ^Apeutvuv, aOrapKiK ff mpl 
Tov ^avarov ^Apitov yevofihni fropd rm) KOpUw «rpi<7(C«— Ded. Epist ad Mona- 
chos, 8. Op. v. i. 844. 

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death-bed that his consent was hardly extorted for this 
act of mercy, or rather of justice. 

The baptism of Constantino on his death-bed is one 
of those questions which has involved eccle- Baptbm of 
fliastical historians in inextricable embarrass- ^"**»""°«- 
ment. The fact is indisputable : it rests on the united 
authority of the Greek and Latin writers. Though he 
had so openly espoused the cause of Christianity ; 
though he had involved himself so deeply in the inter- 
ests of the Christian community, attended on their 
worship, presided,^ or at least sanctioned their coun- 
cils with his presence, and had been constantly sur- 
rounded by the Christian clergy, — the emperor had 
still deferred till the very close of his life his formal 
reception into the Christian Church, the ablution of 
his sins, the admission to the privileges and hopes 
of the Christian, by that indispensable rite of baptism.^ 
There seems but one plain solution of this difficulty. 
The emperor constantly maintained a kind of superi- 
ority over the Christian part of his subjects. It wag 
still rather the lofty and impartial condescension of a 
protector, than the spiritual equality of the proselyte. 

1 If we aie to believe Etuebins, he was a preacher of Christianity, — a 
preacher on some of its most profbnnd and mysterious doctrines. I cannot 
help suspecting that the bishop has transferred some of his own sermons to 
the emperor. — V. C. iv. 29. Compare Stanley, p. 238. 

3 Mosheim^s observations on the Christianity of Constantine are charac- 
terized by his nsoal good sense and judgment — De Rebus Christ anti 
Const Hagnum, p. 965. I extract only a few sentences: " Erat primis post 
lictum Maxentium annis in animo ejus cum omnia religionis, turn Ghristianss 
imprimis, parum sana et propius k Grsecorum et Komanorum opinione remota 
notio. Nesdus enim salntb et beneficiorum k Christo humano generi parto- 
rum, Christum Deum esse putabat, qui cultorum snorum fidem et diligentiam 
felicitate hujus vit«B, rebusque secundis comparare, hostes vero et con- 
temptores mox pcenie, malisqne omnis generis afficere potuit . . . Ita sensim 
de vera religionis Christianie indole . . . edoctus stultitiam et deformitatem 
antiquamm superstitionom darius perspiciebat, et Christo uni sincere nomen 
dabat." — pp.977, 978. 

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He still asserted, and in many cases exercised, the 
privilege of that high indiflFerentism which ruled his 
conduct by his own will or judgment, rather than by 
the precepts of a severe and definite religion. He was 
reluctant — though generally convinced of the truth, 
and disposed to recognize the superiority, of the Chris- 
tian religion — to commit himself by the irrevocable act 
of initiation. He may have been still more unwilling to 
sever himself entirely from the Heathen majority of 
his subjects, lest by such a step, in some sudden yet 
always possible crisis, he might shake their allegiance. 
In short, he would not surrender any part of his dig- 
nity as emperor of the world, especially as he might 
suppose that, even if necessary to his salvation as a 
Christian, he could command at any time the advan- 
tages of baptism. On the other hand, the 
Christians, then far more pliant than when 
their undisputed authority ruled the minds of mon- 
archs with absolute sway, hardly emerged from perse- 
cution, struggling for a still-contested supremacy, 
divided among themselves, and each section courting 
the favor of the emperor, were glad to obtain an impe- 
rial convert on his own terms. In constant hope that 
the emperor himself would take this decisive step, they 
were too prudent or too cautious to urge it with impe- 
rious or unnecessary vehemence. He was not so en- 
tirely their own, but that he might still be estranged 
by indiscretion 6r intemperance ; he would gradually 
become more enlightened ; and they were content to 
wait in humble patience, till Providence, who had 
raised up tliis powerful protector, should render him 
folly and exclusively and openly their own. 

If it be difficult to determine the extent to which 
Constantino proceeded in the establishment of Chris- 

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tdanity, it is even more perplexing to estimate how 
far he exerted the imperial authority in the ^^^^^ ^ 
abolition of Paganism. Conflicting evidence J^^jJ^* 
encounters us at every point. Eusebius, in p"*««^- 
three distinct passages in his '' Life of Constantine/' 
asserts that he prohibited sacrifice;^ that he issued 
two laws to prohibit, both in the city and in the 
country, the pollutions of the old idolatry, the setting- 
up of statues, divinations, and other unlawM practices, 
— and to command the total abolition of sacrifice;* 
that throughout the Roman empire tlie "doors of 
idolatry " were closed to the people and to the army, 
and every kind of sacrifice was prohibited.^ Theodoret 
asserts^ that Gonstantine prohibited sacrifice, and, 
though he did not destroy, shut up all the temples. 
In a passage of his Panegyric,^ Eusebius asserts that 
the emperor sent two officers into every part of the 
empire, who forced the priests to surrender up the 
statues of their gods, which, having been despoiled of 
their ornaments, were melted or destroyed. These 
strong assertions of Eusebius are, to a certain extent, 
confirmed by expressions in the laws of Constantino's 
successors, especially one of Constans, which appeals 
to an edict of his father Constantino, which prohibited 

1 Qifeiv dneipJiTo, — li. 44. 

^ Avo Kara rd airb hrifiirovro voftoi' 6 fiiv elpyov rd fwaapH r^c xardL 
iroAftf Kol xCipais rb vaXcubv owreXovfiivijc dduh)^aTpiac, ^ ^re kyepaeic 
^oavijv mndaBat rokfigv^ fi^ fiovreiatc koI raii SX^aic irepiepyiaic hrixet^ 
peiv, iaiT€ (opf &vuv koBoXov laiStva, — ii. 46. 

* Ko^oXmi, de rote imb rij Tufidtuv &pX9 ^foic re xai OTparujnKolc, 
irvXcu dnekXeiovTO eldo^joXarplaCf Striae re rponoc irniyopevero irof, — 
iv. 28. diauj^ero fikv ^veiv e/dc^^^cMC.—ibid. 25. djjfjtotc may mean the 
magistracy^ the public ceremonial. 

* Theodoret, vi. 21. Compare Sosomen, iii. 17; OronnB, vii. 28. 
« De Landib. Constant, i. 8. 

ft ** Cesset snperstitio, Bacriflcioram aboleator insania. Nam qoiconque 

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890 EXTENT TO WHICH Book m. 

On the other hand, Eusebius himself inserts, and 
ascribes to a date posterior to some of these laws, 
documents, which he professes to have seen in Con- 
stantino's own hand, proclaiming the most impartial 
toleration to the Pagans, and deprecating compulsion 
in religious matters. ^^ Let all enjoy the same peace ; 
let no one disturb another in his religious worship; 
let each act as he thinks fit ; let those who withhold 
their obedience from Thee (it is an address to the 
Deity), have their temples of falsehood if they think 
right." ^ He exhorts to mutual charity, and declares, 
"It is a very different thing willingly to submit to 
trials for the sake of immortal life, and to force others 
by penalties to embrace one faith." ^ These generous 
sentiments, if Constantino were issuing edicts to dose 
the temples, and prohibiting the sacred rites of his 
Pagan subjects, had been the grossest hypocrisy. 
The laws against the soothsayers spoke, as was before 
shown, the same tolerant language with regard to the 
public ceremony of the religion.* Can the victory 
over Licinius so entirely have changed the policy of 
Constantino, as to have induced him to prohibit alto- 
gether rites which but a few years before he had 
sanctioned by his authority ? 

contra legem divi Principis, parentis nostri, et hanc nostne mansaetndinis jos- 
sionem ausus fuerit sacrificia celebrare, competens in eum yindicta, et pnesena 
eententia exBeiatur." — Cod. Theodos. xyL 10. 2. See likewise the note of 

1 'Ofwiav nic ntarevownv oi ir^av6fuvot x<upovTef Xif£0avhucav etp^ 
V7K Tt Kot ijovxiac diroXavatv. . . . M^de^f rdv tnpov mfitTiii'' vcx^u 
Ucurmg brrep if ilmx^ fiovAtrai tovto koH vparriru. . . . 0< d' iavni*^ 
d^Xmnn-es', kxovruv povXofuvoi rd ttc ^jfevdokoyiac refdvji, — Yit Conat. 
ii. 26. 

s 'AAAo ydp iari, rdv irnkp 6Bauaaiac idXov kKewfiuc iicavcuoeicSai, 
i^Xo Tb fUTtL TifMpiac krravayKo^tv. — c. 60. 

8 » Qui vero id vobis existimatis conducere, adite aras publicas atqne de- 
lubra et consuetudinis vestne celebrate solenmia; nee enim prohibemus pne- 
teriUe usurpatioois officia libera luce tractan.** — Cod. Theodoe. xyi. 10. 

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Chap.IY. paganism WAS SUPPBESSED. 891 

The Pagan writers, who are not scrupulous in tlieir 
charges against the memory of Constantine, and dwell 
with bitter resentment on all his overt acts of hostility 
to the ancient religion, do not accuse him of these 
direct encroachments on Paganism. Neither Julian 
nor Zosimus lay this to his charge. Libanius distinctly 
asserts that the temples were left open and undis- 
turbed during his reign, and that Paganism remained 

All historical records strongly confirm the opinion 
that Paganism was openly professed ; its temples re- 
stored ; 2 its rites celebrated ; neither was its priest- 
hood degraded from their immunities, nor the estates 
belonging to the temples generally alienated ; in short, 
that it was the public religion of a great part of the 
empire, and still confronted Christianity, if not on 
equal terms, still with pertinacious resistance, down 
to the reign of Theodosius, and even that of his sons. 
Gonstantine himself, though he neither offered sacri* 
fices, nor consulted the Sibylline books, nor would go 
up to the temple of the Gapitoline Jupiter with the 
senate and the people, performed, nevertheless, some 
of the functions, at least did not disdain the appellation, 
of Supreme PontiflF.^ 

Perhaps we may safely adopt the following conclu- 

^ T^ KOT^ vbftov Si ^epOTTuac bcivffffev oMi h, — Pro TempUs, vol. IL 
p. 162. 

Libanius adds that Constantiiu, on a certain change of ciicam8tance8,^rs< 
prohibited sacrifice. Compare also Orat. 26; Jnlian Orat yii. p. 424. 

^ See, in Grater, p. 100, n. 6, the inscription on the restoration of the 
Temple of Concord, daring the consolship of Paulinas (A.C. 831, 882), by 
the aathority of the prefect of the dty, and S. P. Q. B. Altars were erected 
to other Pagan gods. Compare Beugnot, i. 106. 

M. Beugnot, in his Destruction du Paganisme en Occident, has collected 
with great industry the prooft of this fact, from inscriptions, medals, and 
other of the more minute contemporary memorials. 

' There is a medal extant of Gonstantine aa Supreme Pontiff. 

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sions. There were two kinds of sacrifices abolished 
by Constantine, — I. The private sacrifices, connected 
with unlawful acts of theiirgy and of magic ; those 
midnight offerings to the powers of darkness, which, 
in themselves, were illegal, and led to scenes of un- 
hallowed license.^ II. Those wliich might be con- 
sidered the state sacrifices offered by the emperor 
himself, or by his representatives in his name, either 
in the cities or in the army. Though Constantino 
advanced many Christians to offices of trust, and no 
doubt many who were ambitious of such offices con- 
formed to the religion of the emperor, probably most 
of the high dignities of the state were held by Pagans. 
An edict might be required to induce them to depart 
from the customary usage of sacrifice, which with the 
Christian officers would quietly fall into desuetude.* 
But still, the sacrifices made by the priesthood, at the 
expense of the sacerdotal establishments, and out of 
their own estates, — though in some instances these 
estates were seized by Constantine, and the sacerdotal 
colleges reduced to poverty, — and the public sacri- 
fices, offered by the piety of distinguished individuals, 
would be made as usual. In the capital there can be 
little doubt that sacrifices were offered, in the name 

1 See the laws relating to diviziation, above, p. 296. 

M. la Bastie and M. Beugnot would consider the terms rd fwaapd. t^ 
giSuXo^rpiag, in the rescript of Constantine, and the *' insana superstitio " 
of the law of Constans, to refer exclusively to these nocturnal and forbidden 
sacrifices. M. Beugnot has observed, that Constantine always uses respect- 
fid and courteous language concerning Paganism. '* Vetus observantia, ve- 
tns consuetndo; templorum solemnia; consuetudinis gentilitiae solemnitas.'* 
The laws of the later emperors employ veiy different terms. " Error ; demen- 
tia; error veterum ; profanos ritus; sacrilegns ritus ; nefarius ritus; supersti- 
tio Pagana, damnabilis, damnata, deterrima, impia; iunestao superstitionia 
errores; stolidus Paganorum error.*' — Cod. Theodos. t. v. p. 256. Beugnot, 
torn. i. p. 80. 

s The prohibition to the d^fiot and orpartuTuiol (see quotation above firom 
Eusebius) refers, I conceive, to these. 

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of the senate and people of Borne, till a much later 

Christianity may now be said to have ascended the 

imperial throne: with the single exception of Leg»i« 
Julian, from this period the monarchs of the chitaaanity. 
Boman empire professed the religion of the Gospel. 
This important crisis in the history of Christianity 
almost forcibly arrests the attention to contemplate 
the change wrought in Christianity by its advance 
ment into a dominant power in the state; and the 
change in the condition of mankind up to this period, 
attributable to the direct authority or indirect weetaat 

this on the 

influence of the new religion. By ceasing to wiigion. 
exist as a separate community, and by advancing its 
pretensions to influence the general government of 
mankind, Christianity, to a certain extent, forfeited 
its independence. It could not but submit to these 
laws, framed, as it might seem, with its own concur- 
rent voice. It was no longer a republic, governed 
exclusively, as far at least as its religious concerns, by 
its own internal polity. The interference of the civil 
power in some of its most private afiairs, the promul- 
gation of its canons, and even in some cases the elec- 
tion of its bishops, by the state, was the price which it 
must inevitably pay for its association with the ruling 
power. The natural satisfaction, the more than par- 
donable triumph, in seeing the emperor of tlie world 
a suppliant with themselves at the foot of the cross, 
would blind the Christian world, in general, to these 
consequences of their more exalted position. The 
more ardent and unworldly would fondly suppose, that 
a Christian emperor would always be actuated by 
Christian motives; and that the imperial authority, 
instead of making aggressions on Christian inde- 

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pendence, would rather bow in humble submission to 
its acknowledged dominion. His main object would 
be to develop the energies of the new religion in 
the amplest freedom, and allow them Aill scope in the 
subjugation of the world. 

The emperor as little anticipated, that he was 
onthedTU introducing, as an antagonistic power, an 
^^"' inextinguishable principle of liberty into the 
administration of human afiFairs. This liberty was 
based on deeper foundations than the hereditary 
freedom of the ancient republics. It appealed to a 
tribunal higher than any which could exist upon 
earth. This antagonistic principle of independence, 
however at times apparently crushed, and submitting 
to voluntary slavery, or even lending itself to be the 
instrument of arbitrary despotism, was inherent in 
the new religion, and would not cease till it had 
asserted, and for a considerable period exercised, an 
authority superior to that of the civil government. 
Already in Athanasius might be seen the one subject 
of Gonstantine who dared to resist his will. From 
Athanasius, who owned himself a subject, but with 
inflexible adherence to his own opinions, to Ambrose, 
who rebuked the great Theodosius, and from Ambrose 
up to the pope who set his foot on the neck of the 
prostrate emperor, the progress was slow, but natural 
and certain. In this profound prostration of the 
human mind and the total extinction of the old senti- 
ments of Roman liberty, in the adumbration of the 
world by what assumed the pomp and the language 
of an Asiatic despotism, it is impossible to calculate 
the latent as well as open effect of this moral re- 
sistance. In Constantinople, indeed, and in the East, 
the clergy never obtained sufficient power to be for- 

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midable to the civil authority ; their feuds too often 
brought them in a sort of moral servitude to the foot 
of the throne : still the Christian, and the Christian 
alone, throughout this long period of human degrada- 
tion breathed an atmosphere of moral freedom which 
raised him above the general level of servile debase- 

During the reign of Constantine, Christianity had 
made a rapid advance, no doubt in the num- how to the 
ber of its proselytes, as well as in its external theanpin. 
position. It was not yet the established religion of 
the empire. It did not as yet stand forward as the 
new religion adapted to the new order of things, as 
a part of the great simultaneous change, which gave 
to the Roman world a new capital, a new system of 
government, and, in some important instances, a new 
jurisprudence. Yet having sprung up at once, under 
the royal favor, to a perfect equality with the prevail- 
ing Heathenism, the mere manifestation of that favor, 
where the antagonistic religion hung so loose upon 
the minds of men, gave it much of the power and 
authority of a dominant faith. The religion of the 
emperor would soon become that of the court; and, 
by somewhat slower degrees, that of the empire. At 
present, however, as we have seen, little open aggres- 
sion took place upon Paganism. The few temples 
which were closed were insulated cases, and con- 
demned as offensive to public morality. In general, 
the edifices stood in all their former majesty; for as 
yet the ordinary process of dissolution, from neglect 
or decay, could have produced little effect. The dif- 
ference was, that the Christian churches began to 
assume a more stately and imposing form. In the 
new capital, they surpassed in grandeur, and probably 

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896 lAWS RELATma to SUimATS. Book in. 

in decoration, the Pagan temples which belonged to old 
Bjzantium. The immunities granted to the Christian 
dergy only placed them on the same level with the 
Pagan priesthood. The pontifical offices were still 
held by the distinguished men of the state : the empe- 
ror himself was long the chief pontiff; but the religious 
office had become a kind of appendage to the temporal 
dignity. The Christian prelates were constantly ad- 
mitted, in virtue of their office, to the imperial pres- 

On the state of society at large, on its different 
Kflwt of forms and gradations, little impression had as 
cteteSii"' y®* ^^^ made by Christianity. The Chris- 
oa society, tiaus wcrc still a separate people ; Christian 
literature was exclusively religious, and addressed, 
excepting in its apologies or its published exhortations 
against Paganism, to the initiate alone. Its language 
would be unintelligible to those uninstructed in Chris- 
tian theology. Yet the general legislation of Gon- 
Btantine, independent of those edicts which concerned 
the Christian commui^ity, bears some evidence of the 
lAwfniatiiig silent underworking of Christian opinion. 
toBoodays. rj^^^Q rcscript, indeed, for the religious ob- 
servance of the Sunday, which enjoined the suspension 
of all public business and private labor, except that 
of agriculture, was enacted, according to the apparent 
terms of the decree, for the whole Roman empire. 
Yet, unless we had direct proof that the decree set 
forth the Christian reason for the sanctity of the day, 
it may be doubted whether the act would not be re- 
ceived by the greater part of the empire, as merely 
adding one more festival to the Fasti of the empire, 
as proceeding entirely from the will of the emperor, 
or even grounded on his authority as Supreme Pontiff, 

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by which he had the plenary power of appointing holy- 
days.^ In fact, as we have before observed, the day 
of the Sun would be willingly hallowed by almost all 
the Pagan world, especially that part which had ad- 
mitted any tendency towards the Oriental theology. 

Where the legislation of Constantino was of a hu- 
maner cast, it would be imjust not to admit i^^ tending 
the influence of Christian opinions, spread- *<>*^"™*^*y- 
ing even beyond the immediate circle of the Christian 
community, as at least a concurrent cause of the im- 
provement. In one remarkable instance, there is 
direct authority that a certain measure was adopted 
by the advice of an influential Christian. During the 
period of anarchy and confusion which preceded the 
universal empire of Constantino, the misery had been 
so great; particularly in Africa and Italy, that the sale 
of infants for slaves, their exposure, and even infan- 
ticide, had become fearfully common. Constantino 
issued an edict, in which he declared that the emperor 
should be considered the father of all such children. 
It was a cruelty, irreconcilable with the spirit of the 
times, to permit any subjects of the empire to perish 
of starvation, or to be reduced to any unworthy action 
by actual hunger. Funds were assigned for the food 
and clothing of such children as the parents should 
declare themselves unable to support, partly on the 
imperial revenues, partly on the revenues of the neigh- 
boring cities. As this measure did not prevent the 
sale of children, parents were declared incapable of 
reclaiming children thus sold, unless they paid a 
reasonable price for their enfranchisement.^ Children 

1 Cod. Theod. I. 2, tit. 8; L 8, tit 8; L 6, tit. 8. Cod. Just iii. 12. Eo- 
seb., Vit Const 18, 19, 20. Sozom. i 8. 

s Codex. Theodos. v. vii. 1. On the exposure of children at this time, 
compare Lactantius, D. I. ii 20. 

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which had been exposed could not be reclaimed firom 
those who had received them into their families, 
whether by adoption or as slaves. Whatever may 
have been the wisdom, the humanity of these ordi- 
nances is unquestionable. They are said to have 
been issued by the advice of Lactantius, to whom had 
been intrusted the education of Crispus, the son of 

Child-stealing, for the purpose of selling the children 
caneerning for slavcs, was visitcd with a penalty which 
"^^^^ both in its nature and barbarity retained the 
stamp of the old Boman manners. The criminal was 
condemned to the amphitheatre, either to be devoured 
by wild beasts or exhibited as a gladiator. Chris- 
tianity had not as yet allayed the- passion for these 
savage amusements of the Boman people; yet, in 
conjunction with the somewhat milder manners of the 
East, it excluded gladiatorial exhibitions from the new 
capital. The Grecian amusements of the theatre and 
of the chariot-race satisfied the populace of Constanti- 
nople. Whatever might be the improved condition 
of the slaves within the Christian community, the 
tone of legislation preserves the same broad and dis- 
tinct line of demarcation between the two classes of 
society. The master, indeed, was deprived of the 
arbitrary power of life and death. The death of a 
slave under torture, or any excessive severity of pun- 
ishment, was punishable as homicide ; but, if he died 
under a moderate chastisement, the master was not 
responsible. In the distribution of the royal domains, 
care was to be taken not to divide the families of the 
praedial slaves. It is a cruelty, says the law, to 
separate parents and children, brothers and sisters, 

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husbands and wives.^ Bat marriages of free women 
with slaves were punishable with death : the children 
of such unions were indeed free, but could not inherit 
their mothers' property. The person of dignity and 
station, who had children by a marriage contracted 
with a woman of base condition, could not make a 
testament in their favor; even purchases made in 
their names or for their benefit might be claimed by 
the legitimate heirs. The base condition compre- 
hended not only slaves, but freed women, actresses, 
tavern-keepers, and their daughters, as well as those 
of courtesans or gladiators. Slaves who were con- 
cerned in the seduction of their masters' children 
were to be burned alive without distinction of sex. 
The barbarity of this punishment rather proves the 
savage manners of the time than the inferior condition 
of the slave ; for the receivers of the royal domains 
who were convicted of depredation of fraud were con- 
demned to the same penalty.^ 

It can scarcely be doubted, that the stricter moral 
tone of Gonstan tine's legislation more or iawi 

less remotely emanated from Christianity. SS^i^ooo. 
The laws against rape and seduction were framed with 
so much rigor, as probably to make their general exe- 
cution difficult, if not impracticable.^ The ravisher 

1 Cod. Theod. I. y. t 26. On the whole qneetion of the effect of Chris- 
tianity on slaveiy, read the third yolume of the excellent work of Wallon, 
Sor TEedavage dans TAntiquite. 

^ Manumission, which was performed nnder the sanction of a religions 
ceremonial in the Heathen temples, might now be performed in the church: 
the clergy might manumit their slaves, in the presence of the church. — Cod. 
Theod. iv. 7, 1. 

This law must have connected Christianity in the general sentiment with 
the emancipation of slaves. Compare Sozomen, i. 9, who says that Constan- 
tine issued three laws on the subject The manumission took place publicly 
at Easter. — Greg. Nyss. 

• Cod. Theod. L iv. 1 24. 

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had before escaped with impunity : if the injured parly 
did not prosecute him for his crime, she had the right 
of demanding reparation by marriage. By the law of 
Constantine, the consent of the female made her an 
accomplice in the crime: she was amenable to the 
same penalty. What that penalty was is not quite 
clear; but it seems that the ravisher was exposed to 
the wild beasts in the amphitheatre. Even where the 
female had sujQfered forcible abduction, she had to 
acquit herself of all suspicion of consent, either 
from levity of manner, or want of proper vigilance. 
Those pests of society, the panders, who abused the 
confidence of parents, and made a traffic of the virtue 
of their daughters, were in the same spirit condemned 
to a punishment so horrible, as, no doubt, more fre- 
quently to insure their impunity : melted lead was to 
be poured down their throats. Parents who did not 
prosecute such offences were banished, and their 
property confiscated. It is not, however, so much the 
severity of the punishments, indicating a stronger 
abhorrence of the crime, as the social and moral evils 
of which it took cognizance, which shows the remoter 
workings of a sterner moral principle. A religion 
which requires of its followers a strict, as regards the 
Christianity of this period, it may be said an ascetic 
rigor, desires to enforce on the mass of mankind by 
the power of the law that which it cannot effect by 
the more legitimate and permanent means of moral 
influence. In a small community where the law is 
the echo of the public sentiment, or where it rests on 
an acknowledged divine authority, it may advance 
further into the province of morality, and extend its 
lAwagaiDit provisions into every relation of society, 
adultery. ijij^^ Mosaic law, wMch, simultaneously with 

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the Christian spirit, began to enter into the legislation 
of the Christian emperors, in its fearful penalties 
imposed upon the illicit conunerce of the sexes, 
concurred with the rigorous jealousy of the Asiatic 
tribes of that region concerning the honor of their 
women. But when the laws of Constantino suddenly 
classed the crime of adultery with those of poison and 
assassination, and declared it a capital offence, it may 
be doubted whether any improvement ensued, or was 
likely to ensue, in the public morals. Unless Chris- 
tianity liad already greatly corrected the general licen- 
tiousness of the Roman world, not merely within but 
without its pale, it may safely be affirmed that the 
general and impartial execution of such a statute was 
impossible.^ The severity of the law against oonoemiiig 
the breach of coigugal fidelity was accompa- ^^^^o^*- 
nied with strong restrictions upon the facility of 
divorce. Three crimes alone, in the husband, justi- 
fied the wife in demanding a legal separation, — 
homicide, poisoning, or the violation of sepulchres. 
This latter crime was, apparently, very fi-equent, and 
looked upon with great abhoiTence.^ In these cases, 
the wife recovered her dowry; if she separated for 
auy other cause, she forfeited all to a single needle, 
and was liable to perpetual banishment.^. The hus- 
band, in order to obtain a divorce, must convict his 

1 It may be admitted, as some evidence of the inefficiency of this law, that 
in the next reign the penalties were actually aggravated. The criminals 
were condemned either to be burned alive, or sewed ap in a sack and cast 
into the sea. 

s Codex. Theodos. iii. 16, 1. 

s The law of Constantine and Gonstans, which made intermarriage with 
a niece a capital crime, is supposed by Godefroy to have been a local act, 
directed against the laxity of Syrian morab in this respect — Cod. Theod. 
iii. 12, 1. The law issued at Rome, prohibiting intermarriage with the sister 
of a deceased wife, annulled the maiiiage, and bastardized the children. — 

VOL. u. 26 


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wife of poisoning, adultery, or keeping notoriously 
infamous company. In all other cases, he restored 
the whole of the dowry. If he married again, the 
former wife, thus illegally cast off, might claim his 
whole property, and even the dowry of the second 
wife. These impediments to the dissolution of the 
marriage tie, the facility of which experience and 
reason concur in denouncing as destructive of social 
virtue and of domestic happiness, with penalties affect- 
ing the property rather than the person, were more 
likely to have a favorable and extensive operation than 
the sanguinary proscription of adultery. Marriage 
being a civil contract in the Roman world, the state 
had full right to regulate the stability and tlie terms 
of the compact. In other respects, in which the juris- 
prudence assumed a higher tone, Christianity, I should 
conceive, was far more influential through its religious 
persuasiveness, than by the rigor which it thus im- 
Against pressed upon the laws of the empire. That 
'*"''^*~*''' nameless crime, the universal disgrace of 
Greek and Roman society, was far more effectively 
repressed by the abhorrence infused into the public 
sentiment by the pure religion of the Gospel, than by 
the penalty of death, enacted by statute against the 
offence. Another law of unquestionable humanity, 
Making of 8-^^ probably of more extensive operation, 
•unuchB. prohibited the making of eunuchs. The 
slave who had suflered this mutilation might at once 
claim his freedom.^ 

Perhaps the greatest evidence of the secret aggres- 
Lawg fifcTor- siou of Christianity, or rather, in my opinion, 
oeubwy. of the forcigu Asiatic principle which was 

1 All these laws will be found in the Theodosian Code, under the 
of Constantine, at the commencement of each book. 

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now completely interwoven with Christianity, was the 
gradual relaxation of the laws unfavorable to celibacy. 
The Roman jurisprudence had always proceeded on 
the principle of encouraging the multiplication of 
citizens, particularly in the higher orders, which, from 
various causes, especially the general licentiousness 
under the later republic and the early empire, were 
in danger of becoming extinct. . The parent of many 
children was a public benefactor, the unmarried man 
a useless burden, if not a traitor, to the well-being of 
the state. The small establishment of the vestal 
virgins was evidently the remains of an older religion, 
inconsistent with the general sentiment and manners 
of Some. 

On this point the encroachment of Christianity was 
slow and diflBcult. The only public indication of its 
influence was the relaxation of the Papia Poppaean 
law. This statute enforced certain disabilities on 
those who were unmarried, or without children by 
their marriage, at the age of twenty-five. The former 
could only inherit from their nearest relations; the 
latter obtained only the tenth of any inheritance which 
might devolve on tlieir wives, the moiety of property 
devised to them by will. The forfeiture went to the 
public treasury, and was a considerable source of 
profit. Constantine attempted to harmonize the two 
conflicting principles. He removed the disqualifica- 
tions on celibacy, but he left the statute in force 
against married persons who were without children. 
In more manifest deference to Christianity, he ex- 
tended the privilege hitherto confined to the vestal 
virgins of making their will, and that before the usual 
age appointed by the law, to all who had made a reli- 
gious vow of celibacy. 

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Eren after his death, both religions vied, as it were. 
Burial of for Constantine. He received with impartial 
conBt»ntim, jj^^^j. ^j^^ honors of both. The first Chris- 
tian emperor. was deified by the Pagans, in a later 
period he was worshipped as a saint by part of the 
Gliristian Church. On the same medal appears his 
title of " God," with the monogram, the sacred sym- 
bol of Christianity; in another he is seated in the 
chariot of the Sun, in a car drawn by four horses, 
with a hand stretched forth from the clouds to raise 
him to heaven.^ But to show respect at once to the 
emperor and to the Chrisfian apostle, contrary to 
the rigid usage, which forbade any burial to take place 
within the city, Constantine was interred in the porch 
of the church dedicated to the apostles. Constantius 
did great honor (in Chrysostom's opinion) to his 
imperial father, by burying him in tlie Fisherman's 

During the reign of Constantine, Christianity con- 
conTenton tinucd to advaucc beyond the borders of the 
of Ethiopia, ^nian empire, and, in some degree, to in- 
demnify herself for the losses which she sustained in 
the kingdom of Persia. Tlie Ethiopians appear to 
have attained some degree of civilization ; a consider- 
able part of the Arabian commerce was kept up with 
the other side of the Red Sea, through the port of 
Adulis ; and Greek letters appear, from inscriptions 
recently discovered,* to have made considerable prog- 

1 Inter Divos meruit referri; Eutrop. x. 8; EckheL doct numm. yiii 9S, 
98; Bolland, 21st Maij. Compare Le Beau, Hist du Bas Empire, L p. 888. 
Beugnot, 1. 109. 

There exists a calendar in which the iesttvals of the new God are indi- 
cated. — Acad, des Inscrip. xv. 106. 

3 Chiysost, Horn. 60, in 2 Got. 

8 That published by Mr. Salt, from the ruins of Axum, had already ap- 
peared in the work of Cosmaa Indiooplenstes, edited by Montfaucon; Nm* 

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Chaf.IV. conversion OF ETHIOPIA. 406 

ress among this barbarous people. The Romans 
called this country, with that of the Homerites on 
the other side of the Arabian Gulf, by the vague name 
of the nearer India. Travellers were by no means 
uncommon in these times, whether for purposes of 
trade, or, following the traditional history of the 
ancient sages, from the more disinterested desire of 
knowledge. Metrodorus, a philosopher, had extended 
his travels throughout this region,^ and, on his return, 
the account of his adventures induced another person 
of the same class, Meropius of Tyre, to visit the same 
regions. Meropius was- accompanied by two youths, 
— Edesius and Frumentius. Meropius, with most of 
his followers, fell in a massacre, arising out of some 
sudden interruption of the peace between the Ethiopi- 
ans and the Romans. Edesius and Frumentius were 

bohr published anotheri discovered by Gau, in Nubia, relating to Silco, king 
of that countiy. 

1 The same Metrodorus afterwards made a journey into ftirther India: his 
object was to visit the Brahmins, to examine their religious tenets and prac- 
tices. Metrodorus instructed the Indians in the construction of water-mills 
and baths. In their gratitude, they opened to him the inmost sanctuar}' of 
their temples. 'But the virtue of the philosopher Metrodorus was not proof 
against the gorgeous treasures which dazzled his eyes : he stole a great quan- 
tity of pearls, and other jewels; others, he said that he had received as a 
present to Constantine from the King of India. He appeared in Constanti- 
nople. The emperor received, with the highest satisfaction, those magnificent 
gills which Metrodorus presented in his own name. But Metrodorus com- 
plained that his offerings would have been far more sumptuous if he had not 
been attacked on his way through Persia, contrary to the spirit of the exist- 
ing peace between the empires, and plundered of great part of his treasures. 
Constantine, it is said, wrote an indignant remonstrance to ihQ King of Per- 
sia. This stor^' is curious, as it shows the connection kept up by traders 
and travellers with the further East, which accounts fbr the allusions to In- 
dian tenets and usages in the Christian^ as well as the Pagan, writers of the 
time. It rests on the late authority of Cedrenus (t 1. p. 295), but is confirmed 
by a passage of Ammianus MarcelGnus, who, however, places it in the reign 
of Constantins. " Sed Constantium ardores Parthicos succendisse, cum Me- 
trodori mendaciis avidlus acquiescit." — Ixxv. c 4. Compare St. Maitin'a 
additions to Le Beau, i. 848. 

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spared on account of their youth. They were taken 
into the service of the king, and gradually rose, till 
one became the royal cup-bearer; the other, the ad- 
ministrator of the royal finances. The king died soon 
after they had been elevated to these high distinctions, 
and bequeathed their liberty to the strangers. The 
queen entreated them to continue their valuable ser- 
vices till her son should attain to full age. The 
Romans complied with her request, and the supreme 
government of the kingdom of Ethiopia was adminis- 
tered by these two Romans ; but the chief post was 
occupied by Frumentius. Of the causes which dis- 
posed the mind of Frumentius towards Christianity 
we know nothing: he is represented as seized with 
an eager desire of becoming acquainted with its 
tenets, and anxiously inquiring whether any Chris- 
tians existed in the country, or could be found among 
the Roman travellers who visited it.^ It is more 
probable, since there were so many Jews, both on the 
Arabian and the African side of the gulf, that some 
earlier knowledge of Christianity had spread into 
these regions. But it was embraced with ardor by 
Frumentius ; he built a church, and converted many 
of the people. When the young king came of age, 
notwithstanding the remonstrances of the prince and 
his mother, Frumentius and his companion returned 
to their native country. Frumentius passed through 
Alexandria ; and, having communicated to Athanasius 
the happy beginnings of the Gospel in that wild 
region, the influence of that commanding prelate 
induced him to accept the mission of the Apostle of 

1 Sozomen, in his ignorance, has recourse to visions, or direct divine 
inspiration. Qekuc 2a«f Trporpairelc ^t^amoif, ^ kcU airrofiaTus tov Oeod 


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India. He was consecrated Bishop of Axum by the 
Alexandrian prelate, and that see was always consid- 
ered to owe allegiance to the patriarchate of Alexan- 
dria. The preaching of Frumentius was said to have 
been eminently successful, not merely among the 
Ethiopians, but also among the neighboring tribes of 
Nubians and Blemmyes. His name is still reverenced 
as the first of the Ethiopian pontiffs. But probably 
in no country did Christianity so soon degenerate into 
a mere form of doctrine; the wild inhabitants of 
these regions sank downward rather than ascended in 
the scale of civilization ; and the fruits of Christianity, 
humanity, and knowledge were stifled amid the con- 
flicts of savage tribes, by ferocious manners, and less 
frequent intercourse with more cultivated nations.^ 

The conversion of the Iberians ^ was the work of a 
holy virgin. Nino was among the Armenian of the 
maidens who fled from the persecutions of ^**'**°'- 
the Persians, and foimd refuge among the warlike 
nation of Iberia, the modern Georgia. Her seclusion, 
her fasting, and constant prayers excited the wonder 
of these fierce warriors. Two cures which she is said 
to have wrought, one on the wife of the king, still 
further directed the attention of the people to the 
marvellous stranger. The grateful queen became a 
convert to Christianity. Mihran, the king, still wa- 
vered between the awe of his ancient deities, the fear 
of his subjects, and his inclination to the new and 
wonder-working faith. One day, when he was hiint- 
ing in a thick and intricate wood, he was enveloped in 
a sudden and impenetrable mist. Alone, separated 

1 Compare Stanley, Eastern Ghnrch, 12, 14, and in other passages, 
s Socrates,!. 20; Sozomen, ii. c. 7; Rufin. x. 10; Theodoret, i. 24; Moses 
Choren, Lib. ii. c. 88 ; Klaproth, Travels iu Georgia. 

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from his companions, his awe-struck mind thought of 
the Christians' Grod: he determined to embrace the 
Christian faith. On a sudden, the mist cleared off, 
the light shone gloriously down, and in this natural 
image the king beheld the confirmation of the light 
of truth spread abroad within his soul. After much 
opposition, the temple of the great god Aramazd (the 
Ormuzd of the Persian system) was levelled with 
the earth. A cross was erected upon its ruins by the 
triumphant Nino, which was long worshipped as the 
palladium of the kingdom.^ Wonders attended on 
the construction of the first Christian church. An 
obstinate pillar refused to rise, and defied the utmost 
mechanical skill of the people to force it from its 
oblique and pendant position. The holy virgin passed 
the night in prayer. On the morning, the pillar rose 
majestically of its own accord, and stood upright upon 
its pedestal. The wondering people burst into acclar- 
mations of praise to the Christians' God, and gener- 
ally embraced the faith. The King of Iberia entered 
into an alliance with Constantine, who sent him 
valuable presents, and a Christian bishop, Eustar- 
thius: it is said, the deposed patriarch of Antioch 
undertook this mission by the command of the empe- 
ror; and Iberia was thus secured to the Christian 

1 In 1801, this cross, or that which perpetual tradition accounted as the 
identical cross, was removed to Petersburg bj Prince Bagration. It was ra- 
stored, to the great joj of the nation, by order of the emperor Alexander. 

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Chrutianity under the Sons of Constantine. 

If Christianity was making such rapid progress in the 
conquest of the world, the world was making Acoeesiaaor 
fearful reprisals on Christianity. By enlist- coMtantine. 
ing new passions and interests in its cause, religion 
surrendered itself to an inseparable fellowship with 
those passions and interests. The more it mingles 
with the tide of human aflFairs, the more turbid be- 
comes the stream of Christian history. In the intoxi- 
cation of power, the Christian, like ordinary men, 
forgot his original character ; and the religion of Jesus, 
instead of difiusing peace and happiness through soci- 
ety, might, to the superficial observer of human aflFairs, 
seem introduced only as a new element of discord and 
misery into the society of man. 

The Christian emperor dies ; he is succeeded by his 
sons, educated in the fttith of the (Jospel. The first 
act of the new reign is the murder of one of the 
brothers, and of the nephews of the deceased sover- 
eign, who were guilty of being named in the will of 
Constantine as joint heirs to the empire. This act, 
indeed, was that of a ferocious soldiery, though the 
memory of Constantius is not free from the suspicion, 
at least of connivance in these bloody deeds. Chris- 
tianity appears only in a favorable light as interposing 
between the assassins and their victim. Marcus, 
Bishop of Arethusa, saved Julian from his enemies : 

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the future apostate was concealed under the altar of 
the church. Yet, on the accession of the sons of Con- 
stantine, to the causes of fraternal animosity usual ou 
the division of a kingdom between several brothers 
Reiigioofl was added that of religious hostility. The 
of thTI^ two emperors (for they were speedily reduced 
SOD*. to two) placed themselves at the head of the 
two contending parties in Christianity. Tlie weak and 
voluptuous Constans adhered with inflexible firmness 
to the cause of Athanasius; the no less weak and 
tyrannical Gonstantius, to that of Arianism. The East 
was arrayed against the West. At Rome, at Alexan- 
dria, at Sardica, and, afterwards, at Aries and Milan, 
Athanasius was triumphantly acquitted: at Antioch, 
at Philippopolis, and finally at Rimini, he was con- 
demned with almost equal Tinanimity. Even within 
the Church itself, the distribution of the superior 
dignities became an object of fatal ambition and strife. 
The streets of Alexandria and of Constantinople were 
deluged with blood by the partisans of rival bishops. 
In the latter, an officer of high distinction, sent by the 
emperor to quell the tumult, was slain, and his body 
treated with the utmost indignity by the infuriated 

To dissemble or to disguise these melancholy facts 
is alike inconsistent with Christian truth and wisdom. 
In some degree, they are accounted for by the pro- 
verbial reproach against history, that it is the record 
of human folly and crime; and history, when the 
world became impregnated with Christianity, did not 
at once assume a higher office. In fact, it extends its 
view only over the surface of society, below which, in 
general, lie human virtue and happiness. This would 
be especially the case with regard to Christianity, 

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whether it withdrew from the sight of man, according 
to the monastic interpretation of its precepts, into 
solitary communion with the Deity ; or, in its more 
genuine spirit, was content with exercising its human- 
izing influence in the more remote and obscure quar- 
ters of the general social system. 

Even the annals of the Church take little notice 
of those cities where the Christian episcopate passed 
calmly down through a succession of pious and benefi- 
cent prelates, who lived and died in the undisturbed 
attachment and veneration of their Christian disciples, 
and respected by the hostile Pagans; men whose 
noiseless course of beneficence was constantly dimin- 
ishing the mass of human misery, and improving the 
social, the moral, as well as the religious, condition of 
mankind. But an election contested with violence, or a 
feud which divided a city into hostile parties, arrested 
the general attention, and was perpetuated in the rec- 
ords, at first of the Church, afterwards of the empire. 

But, in fact, the theological opinions of Christianity 
naturally made more rapid progress than its mowi mon 
moral influence. The former had only to nu^^ 
overpower the resistance of a religion wliich '^***"****°- 
had already lost its hold upon the mind, or a philoso- 
phy too speculative for ordinary understandings and 
too unsatisfactory for the more curious and inquiring ; 
they had only to enter, as it were, into a vacant place 
in the mind of man. But the moral influence had to 
contest, not only with the natural dispositions of man, 
but with the barbarism and depraved manners of ages. 
While, then, the religion of the world underwent a 
total change ; while the Church rose on the ruins of 
the temple, and the pontifical establishment of Pagan- 
ism became gradually extinct, or suffered violent 

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BuppreBsion, — the moral revolution was far more 
slow and far less complete. With a large portion of 
mankind, it must be admitted that the religion itself 
was Paganism under another form and with different 
appellations ; with another part, it was the religion 
passively received without any change in the moral 
sentiments or habits ; with a third, and, perhaps, the 
more considerable part, there was a transfer of the 
passions and the intellectual activity to a new cause.^ 
They were completely identified with Christianity, and 
to a certain degree actuated by its principles, but 
they did not apprehend the beautiful harmony which 
subsists between its doctrines and its moral perfection. 
Its dogmatic purity was the sole engrossing subject ; 
the unity of doctrine superseded and obscured all 
other considerations, even of that sublimer unity of 
principles and effects, of the loftiest views of the 
divine nature with the purest conceptions of human 
virtue. Faith not only overpowered, but discarded 
from her fellowship. Love and Peace. Everywhere 
there was exaggeration of one of the constituent ele- 
ments of Christianity, — that exaggeration which is 
the inevitable consequence of a strong impulse upon 
the human mind. Wherever men feel strongly, they 
act violently. The more speculative Christians, there- 
fore, who were more inclined, in the deep and some- 
what selfish solicitude for their own salvation, to 
isolate themselves from the infected mass of mankind, 
pressed into the extreme of asceticism: the more 
practical, who were earnest in the desire of dissemi- 

1 " If," said the dying Bishop of Constantinople, " you would have for my 
successor a man who would edify you by the example of his life, and improve 
you by the purity of bis precepts, choose Paul; if a man versed in the affain 
of the world, and able to maintain the interests of the religion, your sufiragea 
must be given to Macedonius." — Socr. £. C. ii. 6. 

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natiug the blessings of religion throughout society, 
scrupled little to press into their service whatever 
might advance their cause. With both extremes, tho 
dogmatical part of the religion predominated. The 
monkish believer imposed the same severity upon 
the aberrations of the mind as upon the appetites 
of the body ; and, in general, those who are severe to 
themselves, are both disposed, and think themselves 
entitled, to enforce the same severity on others. The 
other, as his sphere became more extensive, was satis- 
fied with an adhesion to the Christian creed, instead 
of that total change of life demanded of the eai*ly 
Christian, and watched over with such jealous vigilance 
by the mutual superintendence of a small society. 
The creed, thus become the sole test, was enforced 
with all the passion of intense zeal, and guarded with 
the most subtle and scrupulous jealousy. In propor- 
tion to the admitted importance of the creed, men 
became more sternly and exclusively wedded to their 
opinions. Thus an antagonistic principle of exclu- 
siveness co-existed with the most comprehensive am- 
bition. While they swept in converts indiscriminately 
from the palace and the public street, while the empe- 
ror and the lowest of the populace were alike admitted 
on little more than the open profession of allegiance, 
they were satisfied if the allegiance in this respect 
was blind and complete. Hence a far larger admix- 
ture of human passions and of the common vulgar 
incentives of action was infused into the expanding 
Christian body. Men became Christians, orthodox 
Christians, with little sacrifice of that which Chris- 
tianity aimed chiefly to extirpate. Yet, after all, this 
imperfect view ' of Christianity had probably some 
effect in concentrating the Christian coumiunity, and 

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holding it together by a new and more indissoluble 
bond. The world divided into two parties. Though 
tlie shades of Arianism — perhaps, if strictly de- 
composed, of Trinitarianism — were countless as the 
varying powers of conception or expression in man, 
yet they were soon consolidated into two compact 
masses. The Semi-Arians, who approximated so 
closely to tlie Nicene creed, were forced back into the 
main body. Their fine distinctions were not seized 
by their adversaries, or by the general understanding 
of the Christians. The bold and decisive definitive- 
ness of the Athanasian doctrine admitted less discre- 
tion: and no doubt, though political vicissitudes had 
some influence on the final establishment of their 
doctrines, the more illiterate and less imaginative 
West was predisposed to the Athanasian opinions by 
its natural repugnance to tlie more vague and dubious 
theory. All, however, were enrolled under one or 
the other standard ; and the party which triumphed, 
eventually would rule the whole Christian world. 

Even the feuds of Christianity at this period, though 
with the few more dispassionate and reasoning of the 
Pagans they might retard its progress, in some re- 
spects contributed to its advancement: they assisted 
in breaking up that torpid stagnation which brooded 
over the general mind. It gave a new object of ex- 
citement to the popular feeling. The ferocious and 
ignorant populace of the large cities, which found a 
new aliment in Christian faction for their mutinous 
and sanguinary outbursts of turbulence, had almost 
been better left to sleep on in the passive and unde- 
structive quiet of Pagan indiflFerence. They were 
dangerous allies ; more than dangerous, — fatal to the 
purity of the Gospel. 

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Chap. V. ATHANASIUS. 415 

Athanasius stands out as the prominent character 
of the period in the history, not merely of 
"' Christianity, but of the world. That history 
is one long controversy ; the life of Athanasius, one 
unwearied and incessant strife.^ It is neither the 
serene course of a being elevated by his religion above 
the cares and tumults of ordinary life, nor the restless 
activity of one perpetually employed in a conflict with 
the ignorance, vice, and misery of an unconverted 
people. Yet even now (so completely has this polemic 
spirit become incorporated with Christianity) the 
memory of Athanasius is regarded by many wise and 
good men with reverence, which, in Catholic countries, 
is actual adoration ; in Protestant, approaches towards 
it.^ It is impossible, indeed, not to admire the force 
of intellect which he centred on this minute point of 
theology, his intrepidity, his constancy ; but had he 
not the power to aUay the feud which his inexorable 
spirit tonded to keep alive ? Was the term " consub- 
stantialism " absolutely essential to Christianity ? If a 
somewhat wider creed had been accepted, would not 
the truth at least as soon and as generally have pre- 
vailed? Could not the commanding or persuasive 
voice of Christianity have awed or charmed the 
troubled waters to peace ? 

But Athanasius, in exile, would consent to no peace 
which did not prostrate his antagonists before his 
feet. He had obtained complete command over the 

1 Life of Athanasius prefixed to his Works. Tillemont, Vie d'Athanase. 

^ Compare Mohler, Athanasius der Grosse und seine zeit (Maintz, 1827), and 
Newman's Arians. The former is the work of a very powerful Roman Catho- 
lic writer, laboring to show that all the vital principles of Christianity were 
involved in this controversy; and stating one nde of the question with con- 
summate ability. It is the panegyric of a dutiful son on him whom he calls 
the father of church theology. — p. 804. 

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416 COUNCIL AT ANTIOCH. Boos ffl. 

minds of the Western emperors. The demand for his 
restoration to his see was not an appeal to the justice 
or to the fraternal affection of Constantius : it was a 
question of peace or war. Oonstantius submitted ; he 
received the prelate, on his return, with courtesy, or 
rather with favor and distinction. Athanasius now 
_ entered Alexandria at the head of a tri- 

A.D. 888. 

^At£^iu ^™P^^ procession ; the bishops of his party 
*j»^i^ndri». resumed their sees; all Egypt returned to 
its obedience ; but the more inflexible Syria 
still waged the war with unallayed activity. A council 
was held at Tyre, in which new charges were framed 
against the Alexandrian prelate: the usurpation of 
his see in defiance of his condemnation by a council 
(the imperial power seems to have been treated with 
no great respect, — for a prelate, it was asserted, de- 
posed by a council, could only be restored by the 
same authority) ; violence and bloodshed during his 
re-occupation of the see; and malversation of sums 
of money intended for the poor, but appropriated to 
his own use. A rival coimcil at Alexandria at once 
acquitted Athanasius on all these points ; asserted his 
right to the see ; appealed to and avouched the uni- 
versal rejoicings at his restoration, and his rigid 
administration of the funds intrusted to his care.^ 

A more august assembly of Christian prelates met 
A.D. 841. in the presence of the emperor at Antioch. 
Anuoch. Ninety bishops celebrated the consecration of 
a splendid edifice, called the Church of Gk)ld. The 
council then entered on the affairs of the Church. A 
creed was framed satisfactory to all, except that it 
seemed carefully to exclude the term "consubstan- 

1 Compare throughout the eoclesiastical historians, Theodoret, Socrates, 
and Sozomen. 

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tial/' or Homoonsian. The council ratified the de- 
crees of that of Tyre, with regard to Athanasius. It 
is asserted, on his part, that the majority had with- 
drawn to their dioceses before the introduction of 
this question, and that a factious minority of forty 
prelates assumed and abused the authority of the 
council. They proceeded to nominate a new Bishop 
of Alexandria. Pistus, who had before been appointed 
to the see, was passed over in silence, probably as too 
inactive or unambitious for their purpose. Gregory, a 
native of the wilder region of Cappadocia, but edu- 
cated under Athanasius himself in tlie more polished 
schools of Alexandria, was invested with this important 
dignity. Alexandria, peacefully reposing, it is sadd^ 
under the parental episcopate of Athanasius, was sud* 
denly startled by the appearance of an edict, signed 
by the imperial prefect, announcing the degradation of 
Athanasius, and the appointment of Gregory. Scenes 
of savage conflict ensued; the churches were taken 
as it wera by storm; the priests of the Athanasian 
party were treated with the utmost indignity ; virgins 
scourged; every atrocity perpetrated by unbridled 
multitudes, embittered by every shade of religious fac- 
tion. The Alexandrian populace were always ripe for 
tumult and bloodshed. The Pagans and the Jews 
mingled in the fray, and seized the opportunity, no 
doubt, of showing their impartial animosity to both 
parties ; though the Arians (and as the original causes 
of the tumult, not without justice) were loaded with 
the unpopularity of this odioua alliance. They ar- 
rayed themselves on the side of the soldiery appointed 
to execute the decree of the prefect ; and the Ariaa 
iHshOp is charged, not with much probability^ with 
abandoning the churches to their pillage. 

VOL. II. 27 

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Athanasius fled ; a secpiid time an exile, he took 
reAige in the West. He appeared again at Some, in 
Athanaiiiis ^^ dominions and under the protection of 
jUflttoBooM. im orthodox emperor; for Constans, who, 
after the death of Gonstantine, the first protector of 
Athanasius, had obtained the larger part of the empire 
belonging to his murdered brother, was no less de- 
cided in his support of the Nicene opinions. The two 
great Western prelates, Hosius of Cordova, eminent 
from his age and character, and Julius, Bishop of 
Home, from the dignity of his see, openly espoused his 
cause. Wherever Athanasius resided, — at Alexan- 
dria, in Gaul, in Rome, — in general the devoted 
clergy, and even the people, adhered with unshaken 
fidelity to his tenets. Such was the commanding dig- 
nity of his character, such his power of profoundly 
stamping his opinions on the public mind. 

The Arian party, independent of their speculative 
opinions, cannot be absolved from the uncliristian 
heresy of cruelty and revenge. However darkly col- 
ored, we cimnot reject the general testimony to their 
acts of violence, wherever they attempted to regain 
urarpation ^^^^^ authorfty. Gregory is said to have at- 
of Gregory, tcmptcd to compcl bishops, priests, monks, 
and holy virgins, to Christian communion with a pre- 
late thus forced upon them, by every kind of insult 
and outrage; by scourging and beating with clubs: 
those were fortunate who escaped with exile.^ But, if 
Alexandria was disturbed by the hostile excesses of 
the Arians, in Constantinople itself the conflicting 
reh'gious parties gave rise to the first of those popular 
tumults which so frequently, in later times, distracted 

^ Aihanas. Oper. p. 112, 149, 860, 862, and tiie eocleaiAstical historitaB, 

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and disgraced the city. Eusebius, formerly Bishop of 
Nicomedia, the main support of the Arian 

, , . , . /. ii . A.D. 888. 

party had nsen* to the episcopacy of the im- 
perial city. His enemies reproached the worldly am- 
bition which deserted an humbler for a more eminent 
see; but they were not less inclined to contest this 
important post with the utmost activity. At his death, 
the Athanasian party reyived the claims of Paul, whom 
they asserted to have been canonically elected and un- 
justly deposed from the see ; the Arians sup- Bioody 
ported Macedonius. The dispute spread from gj|^- 
the church into the streets, from the clergy ad. m. 
to the populace ; blood was shed ; the whole city was 
in arms on one part or the other. 

The emperor was at Antioch ; he commanded Her- 
mogenes, who was appointed to the command of the 
cavalry in Thrace, to pass through Constantinople, and 
expel the intruder Paul. Hermogenes, at the head of 
his soldiery, advanced to force Paul from the church. 
The populace rose; the soldiers were repelled; the 
general took refuge in a house, which was instantly 
set on fire; the mangled body of Hermogenes was 
dragged through the streets, and at length cast into 
the sea. Gonstantius heard this extraordinary intelli- 
gence at Antioch. The contempt of the imperial 
mandate, the murder of an imperial officer in the con- 
tested nomination of a bishop, were as yet so new in 
the annals of the world, as to fill him with equal as- 
tonishment and indignation. He mounted his horse, 
though it was winter and the mountain-passes were 
dangerous and difficult with snow ; he hastened with 
the utmost speed to Constantinople. But the deep 
humiliation of the senate and the heads of the people, 
who prostrated themselves at his feet, averted his re- 


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sentment : the people were punished by a dinunutioii 
of the usual largess of com. Paul was expelled ; bat, 
as though some blame adhered to both the cooflicting 
parties, the election of Macedonius was not confirmed, 
although he was allowed to exercise the episcopal func- 
tions. Paul retired, first to Thessalonica, subsequently 
to the court of Constans. 

The remoter consequences of the Athanasiaa coor 
Kifectaof fhe troYcrsy began to develop themselves at this 
'^^j early period. The Christianity of the East 
in the we»t. ^^^ ^^ Wcst gradually assumed a divei^nt 
and independent character. Though, during a short 
time, the Arianism of the Ostrogothic conquerors gave 
a temporary predominance in Italy to that creed, the 
West in general submitted^ in umnquiring acquie»- 
cence, to the Trinitarianism of Athanasius. In tiie 
East, on the other hand, though the doctrines of 
Athanasius eventually obtained the superiority, the 
controversy gave birth to a long and imexhausted 
line of subordinate disputes. The East retained 
its mingled character of Oriental speculativeness and 
Greek subtlety. It could not abstain from inve»- 
tigating and analyzing the divine nature, and the 
relations of Christ and the Holy Qhost to the Supreme 
Being. Macedonianism, Nestorianism, Eutychianiam, 
with the fatal disputes relating to the procession of 
the Holy Ghost during almost the last hours of the 
Byzantine empire, may be considered the lineal de- 
scendants of this prolific controversy. The opposition 
between the East and West of itself tended to increase 
the authority of that prelate, who assumed his ac- 
knowledged station as the head and representative of 
the Western churches. The commanding and popular 
part taken by the Bishop of Romej in favor of Atha- 

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chaf. t. general cocnsrciL at sabdica. 421 

nasius and his doctrines, enabled him to stand forth in 
undisputed superiority, as at once the chief of the 
Western episcopate and the champion of orthodoxy. 
The age of Hosius, and his residence in a re- ^^,^.^1^ 
mote province, withdrew the only competitor •**'»»^ 
for this superiority. Athanasius took up his residence 
at Rome, and, under the protection of the Roman prel* 
ate, defied his adversaries to a new contest. Julius 
summoned the accusers of Athanasius to juhos, 
plead the cause before a council in Rome.^ '^ ^^ 

The Eastern prelates altogether disclaimed his juris- 
diction, and rejected his pretensions to rejudge the 
cause of a bishop already condenmed by the council 
of Tyre. The answer of Julius is directed rather to 
the justification of Athanasius than to the assertion 
of his own autiiority. The synod of Rome solemnly 
acquitted Athanasius, Paul, and all their ad- gy^odat 
herents. The Western emperor joined in ***°*^ 
the sentiments of his clergy. A second council at 
Milan, in the presence of Constans, con- ^^ 343. 
firmed the decree of Rome. Constans pro- '^*>«"^ 
posed to his brother to convoke a general council of 
both empires. A neutral or border ground was chosen 
for this decisive conflict. At Sardica met coawdior 
one hundred prelates from the West, from the a.d. M&4. 
East only seventy-five.' Notwithstanding his age and 

1 Julius 18 fiir from aasertiog any individaal authority, or pontifical 
Bupfemacy. ''Why do you alone write?" — ** Because I represent the 
cpmkm of the Uahops of Italy."— Epist Julian., Athanas. Op. 1. IM. 

The ecclesiastical historians, hoirever, in the next centiuy, assert that 
Borne claimed a right of abjudication. Tvupi^ovctv oiv Ty knuJK6in,» 
Tufofc I0VAX9 'ff^ i^**^ iavro6f • 6 di an npopofita r^ h Tw/w? iicKhtaUv 
^ov0^.— Socr., £. H. iL 16, Oia 6i tuv frtarruv Ktidefuviac iarr^ vpomj- 
MoOtTK ^ Ti^ ^toof Tov dpovcv. — S02., £. H. iii. 8. 

s By some acoonnta there were one hmidred Western hishops, seventy- 
three Eastern. 

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infirmities, Hosius travelled from the extremity of the 
empire : he at once took the lead in the assembly ; and 
it is remarkable, that the Bishop of Borne, so zealous 
in the cause of Athanasius, alleged an excuse for his 
absence, which may warrant the suspicion that he was 
unwilling to be obscured in this important scene by 
the superior authority of Hosius. Five of the Western 
prelates, among whom were Ursacius of Singidunum 
and Yalens of Mursa, embraced the Arian cause : the 
Arians complained of the defection of two bishops 
from their body, who betrayed their secret counsels to 
tlieir adversaries.^ In all these councils, it appears 
not to have occurred, that, reUgion being a matter of 
faith, the suffrages of the majority could not possibly 
impose a creed upon a conscientious minority. The 
question had been too often agitated to expect that it 
could be placed in a new light. 

On matters of fact, the sufirages of the more nume- 
rous party might have weight, in the personal condem- 
nation, for instance, or the acquittal of Athanasius; 
but, as these suffrages could not convince the undeiv 
standing of those who voted on the other side, the 
theological decisions must of necessity be rejected, 
unless the minority would submit likewise to the hu- 
miliating confession of insincerity, ignorance, or pre- 
cipitancy in judgment.^ The Arian minority did not 
await this issue ; having vainly attempted to impede 
the progress of the council, by refusing to sanction the 
presence of persons excommunicated, they seceded to 
RiTBiooandi PhilippopoUs iu Thracc. In these two cities 
popoui. sat the rival councils, each asserting itself 

1 Concilia Labbe, vol. iii. Athanas. contr. Arian, &c. 

s The Oriental bishops protested against the assomption of sapnaiMey bj 
the Western. *'Novam legem introducere patavenmt, at Orientales Epia- 
oopi ab OocidentalibuB jadicarentnr."— Apud Hilar. Fngm. iiL 

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the genuine representative of Christendom, issuing 
decrees, and anathematizing their adversaries. The 
Arians are accused of maintaining their influence, even 
in the East, by acts of great cruelly. In Adrianople, 
in Alexandria, they enforced submission to their tenets 
by the scourge, and by heavy penalties.^ 

The Western council at Milan accepted and ratified 
the decrees of the council of Sardica, absolving Atha- 
nasius of all criminality, and receiving his doctrines as 
the genuine and exclusive truths of the Cos- luooneuia- 

- _ _ _ _ , _ tlon of Con- 

pel. On a sudden, aflFairs took a new turn : ■tontiu» with 

Constantius threw himself, as it were, at the ^^^ sia. 
feet of Athanasius, and in three successive letters en- 
treated him to resume his episcopal throne. The em- 
peror and the prelate (who had delayed at first to 
obey, either from fear or from pride, the flattering 
invitation) met at Antioch with mutual expressions of 
respect and cordiality.^ Constantius ordered all the 
accusations against Athanasius to be erased from the 
registers of the city. He commended the prelate to 
the people of Alexandria in terms of courtly flattery, 
which harshly contrast with his former, as well as with 
his subsequent, conduct to Athanasius. The Arian 
bishop, Oregory, was dead ; and Athanasius, amid the 
universal joy, re-entered the city. The bishops crowd- 
ed from all parts to salute and congratulate the prelate 
who had thus triumphed over the malice of even impe- 
rial enemies. Incense curled up in aU the streets ; 
the city was brilliantly illuminated. It was an ovation 

^ The came of Maroellus of Ancyn, whom the Eosebian partj accuaed 
of Sabellianism, iraa throughout connected 'with that of Athanaaina. 

3 The emperor proposed to Athanaaiua to leare one church to the Ariana 
at Alexandria; Athanaaiua dexterouelj eluded the request, by very fiiirly de- 
manding that one church in Antioch, irhere the Aiiana predominated, ahould 
be set apart for tfaoee of hia communion. 

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424 PERSIAN WAS. Book m, 

by the admirers of Athanasius ; it is said to have been 
a Ohristiaii ovation ; alms were lavished on the poor ; 
every house resounded with prayer and thanksgiving 
as if it were a church; the triumph of Athanasius 
was completed by the recantation of Ursacius and Ya- 
lens, two of his most powerful antagonists.^ 

This sudden change in the policy of Constantius is 
AJ) 840. scarcely explicable upon the alleged motives. 

It is ascribed to the detection of an infamous 
conspiracy against one of the Western bishops, de« 
puted on a mission to Constantius. The aged prelate 
was charged with incontinence, but the accusation re« 
coiled on its inventors. A man of infamous character, 
Onager the wild ass, the chief conductor of the plot, 
on being detected, avowed himself the agent of Stephen, 
the Arian Bishop of Antioch, Stephen was ignomini-< 
ously deposed from his see. Yet this single fact 
would scarcely have at once estranged the mind of 
Constantius from the interests of the Arian party; 
his subsequent conduct when, as emperor of the whole 
world, he could again dare to display his deep-rooted 
hostility to Athanasius, induces the suspicion of politi- 
cal reasons. Constantius was about to be embarrassed 

with the Persian war ; at this dangerous cri« 
^^' sis, the admonitions of his brother, not un- 
mingled with warlike menace, might enforce the 
expediency at least of a temporary reconciliation with 
Athanasius. After that reconciliation and the tri- 
umph of Atlianasius, the political troubles of three 
years suspended the religious strife. The war of Per- 
sia brought some fame to the arms of Constantius; 
j^g^Okot ^^^ ^ ^^^ more honorable character, not of 

the antagonist, but the avenger of bis 

1 Greg. Nazian. Enc Athanas. Atbanaa., Hist Aiiaa. 

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Crap. V. BATTLE OF HUBSA. 425 

murdered brother, the Burviying son of Gonstantine 
again united the East and West under his sole domin- 
ion. Magnentius, who had usurped the Western em« 
pire and mounted the throne over the bloody corpse 
of the murdered Gonstans, fell before the avenging 
arm of Gonstantius. 

The battle of Mursa, if we are to credit a writer 
somewhat more recent, was no less fatal to the inter- 
ests of Athanasius than to the arms of Mag- war with 
nentius.^ Ursacius and Valens, after their aSSIssi."*' 
recantation, had relapsed to Arianism. Yalens was 
the Bishop of Mursa, and in the immediate neighbor- 
hood of that town was fought the decisive battle. 
Gonstantius retired with Valens into the principal 
church, to assist with his prayers, rather than with his 
directions or personal prowess, the success of his 
army. The J^ony of his mind may be con- Battle of 
ceived, during the long suspense of a conflict **"~* 
on which the sovereignty of the world depended, and 
in which the conquerors lost more men than the van- 
quished.^ Yalens stood or knelt by his side: on a 
sudden, when the emperor was wrought to the highest 
state of agitation, Yalens proclaimed the tidings of his 
complete victory; intelligence conmiunicated to the 
prelate by an angel from heaven. Whether Yalens 
had anticipated the event by a bold fiction, or arranged 
some plan for obtaining rapid information, he appeared 
from that time to the emperor as a man especially 
favored by Heaven, a prophet, and one of good omen. 
With Yalens, Arianism re-assumed its authority over 
the vacillating mind of Gonstantius. 

But either the fears of the emperor or the caution 

1 Solpiciiu S«yenu, ii. c 64. 

s Magnentius is said by Zonoras to hare sacrificed a girl to propitiato the 
gods on this momentous occasion. — lib. ziiL t ii. p. Id, 17. 

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of the Arian party delayed yet for three or four years 
to execute their revenge on AthanasiuB. They began 
A.D.861 '''^th a less illustrious victim. Philip, the 
^^' prefect of the East, received instructions to 
expel Paul, and to replace Macedonius on the episcopal 
throne of Constantinople. Philip remembered the fate 
of Hermogenes ; he secured himself in the thermae of 
Zeuxippus, and summoned the prelate to his presence. 
He then communicated his instructions, and frightened 
or persuaded the aged Paul to consent to be secretly 
Paul deposed transported in a boat over the Bosphorus. 
bishopric of In the morning, Philip appeared in his car, 
pie^ MaM- Yriih Macedonius by his side in the pontifi- 
n-iiwtated. cal attire ; he drove directly to the church, 
but the soldiers were obliged to hew their way through 
the dense and resisting crowd to the altar. Macedo- 
nius passed over the murdered bodies (three thousand 
are said to have fallen) to the throne of the Christian 
prelate. Paul was carried in chains first to Emesa, 
afterwards to a wild town in the deserts about Mount 
Taurus. He had disappeared from the sight of his 
followers, and it is certain that he died in those re- 
mote regions. The Arians gave out that he died a 
natural death. It was the general belief of the Athar 
nasians that his death was hastened, and even that he 
had been strangled by the hands of the prefect 

But, before the decisive blow was struck against 
Athanasius, Constantius endeavored to subdue the 
West to the Arian opinions. The emperor, released 
from the dangers of war, occupied his triumphant lei- 
sure in Christian controversy. He seemed determined 
to establish his sole dominion over the religion as well 

1 Athanaa. Oper. i. 822, 848. Socrat, K H. ii 26. 

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as the civfl obedience of his subjects. The Western 
bishops firmly opposed the conqueror of Mag- oonncusor 
nentius. At the councils, first of Aries and ^uJi."^ 
afterwards of Milan, they refUsed to sub- ^-^ ^^^ 
scribe the condemnation of Athanasius, or to commu- 
nicate with the Arians. Liberius, the new pmeonuoa 
Bishop of Rome, refused the timid and disin- Biaho^^' 
genuous compromise to which his representar ^™*' 
tive at Aries, Vincent, Deacon of Rome, had agreed, — 
assent to the condemnation of Athanasius, if, at the 
same time, a decisive anathema should be issued 
against the tenets of Arius. At Milan, the bishops 
boldly asserted the independence of the church upon 
the empire. The Athanasian party forgot, or chose 
not to remember, that they had unanimously applauded 
the interference of Constantine, when, after the Nicene 
council, he drove the Arian bishops into exile. Thus 
it has always been : the sect or party which has the 
civil power in its favor is embarrassed with no doubts 
as to the legality of its interference ; when hostile, it 
resists, as an unwarrantable aggression on its own 
freedom, that which it has not scrupled to employ 
against its adversaries. 

The new charges against Athanasius were of very 
different degrees of magnitude and probabil- NewohugM 
ity. He was accused of exciting the hos- AtbalLciiis. 
tility of Gonstans against his brother. The fact that 
Constans had threatened to re-instate the exiled prel- 
ate by force of arms might give weight to this charge ; 
but the subsequent reconciliation, the gracious recep- 
tion of Athanasius by the emperor, the public edicts 
in his favor, had, in all justice, cancelled the guilt, if 
there were really guilt, in this undue influence over 
the mind of Gonstans. He was accused of treasona- 

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428 C017I3CIL OF mLAS. Book m. 

ble correspondence with the nsurper Magnentiufl. 
Atbaaasius repelled this charge with natural indigna- 
tion. He must have been a monster of ingratitude, 
worthy a thousand deaths, if he had leagued with the 
murderer of his benefactor, Gonstans. He defied his 
enemies to the production of any letters ; he demanded 
the severest investigation, the strictest examination, 
of his own secretaries or those of Magnentius. The 
descent is rapid from these serious charges to that of 
having officiated in a new and splendid church, the 
Cesarean, without the permission of the emperor ; and 
the exercising a paramount and almost mcmarchical 
authority over the churches along the whole course of 
the Nile, even beyond his legitimate jurisdiction. The 
first was strangely construed into an intentional disre- 
spect to the emperor : the latter might fairly be attrib- 
uted to the zeal of Athanasius for the extension of 
Christianity. Some of these points might appear be- 
yond the jurisdiction of an ecclesiastical tribunal ; and 
in the council of Milan there seems to have been an 
inclination to separate the cause of Athanasius from 
that of his doctrine. As at Aries, some proposed to 
abandon the person of Athanasius to the will of the 
emperor, if a general condemnation should be passed 
against the tenets of Arius. 

Three hundred ecclesiastics formed the council of 
Council of Milan. Pew of these were from the East 
*"^- The Bishop of Some did not appear in per- 
son to lead the orthodox party. His chief representa- 
tive was Lucifer of Cs^liari, a man of ability, but of 
violent temper and unguarded language. The Arian 
faction was headed by Ursacius and Yalens, the old 
adversaries of Athanasius, and by the emperor hinci- 
self. Oonstantius, that the proceedings might take 

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place moro immediately under his own Baperintend<* 
ence, adjourned the assembly from the church to the 
palace. This unseemly intrusion of a layman in 
the deliberations of the clergy^ unfortunately, was not 
without precedent. Those who had proudly hailed 
the entrance of Constantino into the synod of Nicsa 
could not, consistently, deprecate the presence of hia 
son at Milan. 

The controversy became a personal question between 
the emperor and his refractory subject. The 
emperor descended mto the arena, and mm- 
gled in all the fury of the conflict. Gonstantius was 
not content with assuming the supreme place as em- 
peror, or interfering in the especial province of the 
bishops, — the theological question: he laid claim to 
direct inspiration. He was commissioned by a vision 
from Heaven to restore peace to the afflicted Church. 
The scheme of doctrine wliich he proposed was asserted 
by the Western bishops to be strongly tainted with 
Arianism. The prudence of the Athanasian party 
was not equal to their firmness and courage. The 
obsequious and almost adoring court of tlie emperor 
must have stood aghast at the audacity of the ecclesi- 
astical synod. Their language was that of vehement 
invective, rather than dignified dissent or calm remon« 
strance. Gonstantius, concealed behind a curtain, 
listened to the debate ; he heard his own name coupled 
with that of heretic, of Antichrist. His indignation 
now knew no boimds. He proclaimed himself the 
champion of the Arian doctrines, and the accuser 
of Athanasius. Yet flatteries, persuasions, bribes^ 
menaces, penalties, exiles, were necessary to extort 
the assent of the resolute assembly. Then they 
became conscious of the impropriety of a lay em- 

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peror's intrusion into the debates of an ecclesiastical 
synod. They demanded a free council, in which the 
emperor should neither preside in person nor by his 
commissary. They lifted up their hands, and en- 
treated the angry Oonstantius not to mingle up the 
affairs of the state and the Church.^ Three prelates, 
Lucifer of Cagliari, Eusebius of Vercell», Dionysius 
of Milan, were sent into banishment, to places remote 
from each other, and the most inhospitable regions of 
the empire. Liberius, the Roman pontiff, rejected 
with disdain the presents of the emperor ; he resisted 
with equal firmness his persuasions and his acts of 

Though his palace in Rome was carefully closed and 
j^^ garrisoned by some of his faithful flock, 
liiwriiia. Liberius was seized at length, and carried 
to Milan. He withstood, somewhat contemptuously, 
the personal entreaties and arguments of the emperor.^ 
He rejected with disdain the imperial offers of money 
for his journey, and told the emperor to keep it to pay 
his army. The same offer was made by Eusebius the 
eunuch : ^^ Does a sacrilegious robber like thee think 
to give alms to me, as to a mendicant ? " The Bishop 
of Rome was exiled to Berbea, a city of Thrace. An 
Arian prelate, Felix, was forced upon the unwilling city. 

But two years of exile broke the spirit of Liberius. 
He began to listen to the advice of the Arian Bishop 
of Berbea ; the solitude, the cold climate, and the dis- 
comforts of this uncongenial region, had more effect 
than the presents or the menaces of the emperor. 
Pope Liberius signed the Arian formulary of Sirmium ; 

ftd Mon. c. 84, 86. Compare c. 62. 
a Thcodoret, iv. 16. 

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ho assented to the condemnation of Athanasins. The 
fall of the aged Hosius increased the triumph i^i at 
of the Arians. Some of the Catholic writers ^^"^ 
reproach with undue bitterness the weakness of an old 
man, whose nearer approach to the grave, they assert, 
ought to have conlGirmed him in his inalienable fidelity 
to Christ. But even Christianity has no power over 
that mental imbecility which accompanies the decay of 
physical strength; and this act of feebleness ought 
not, for an instant, to be set against the unblemished 
virtue of a whole life. 

Constantius, on his visit to Rome, was astonished 
by an address, presented by some of the oSSSSSSm 
principal females of the city in their most »*^™«- 
splendid attire, to entreat the restoration of Liberius. 
The emperor offered to re-admit Liberius to a co- 
ordinate authority with the Arian bishop, Felix. The 
females rejected with indignant disdain this dishonor- 
able compromise ; and, when Constantius commanded 
a similar proposition to be publicly read in the circus 
at the time of games, he was answered by a general 
shout, " One God, one Christ, one bishop." 

Had, then, the Christians, if this story be true, 
already overcome their aversion to the public games ? 
or are we to suppose that the whole populace of Rome 
took an interest in the appointment of the Christian 

AthanasiuB awaited in tranquil dignity the bursting 
storm. He had eluded the imperial summons onien to 
to appear at Milan, upon the plea tlmt it was aSSumIiu. 
ambiguous and obscure. Constantius, either from 
some lingering remorse, from reluctance to have his 
new condemnatory ordinances confronted with his 
favorable and almost adulatory testimonies to the 

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innocence of Aihanasius, or &om fear lest a religions 
insurrection in Alexandria and Egypt should embar- 
rass the GoYernment^ and cut off the supplies of com 
from the Eastern capital, refused to issue any written 
order for the deposal and expulsion of Athanasius. 
He chose, apparently, to retain the power, if conve- 
nient, of disowning his emissaries. Two secretaries 
were despatched with a verbal message, commanding 
the prelate's abdication. Athanasius treated the impe- 
rial ofEicers with the utmost courtesy, but respectfully 
demanded their written instructions. A kind of sus- 
pension of hostilities seems to have been agreed upon, 
tiU further instructions could be obtained firom the 
emperor. But, in the mean time, Syrianus, the duke 
of the province, was drawing the troops from all parts 
of Libya and Egypt to invest and occupy the city. A 
force of five thousand men was thought necessary 
to depose a peaceable Christian bishop. The great 
events in the life of Athanasius, as we have already 
seen on two occasions, seem, either designedly or of 
themselves, to take a highly dramatic form. It waa 
midnight; and the archbishop, surrounded by the 
more devout of his flock, was performing the solemn 
ceremony, previous to the sacramental service oi the 
next day, in the church of St. Theonas. Suddenly 
the soimd of trumpets, the trampling of steeds, the 
Tmnaitin clash of arms, the bursting the bolts of 

the church of 7 o 

▲lezBodria. thc dooTs, interrupted the silent devotions 
of the assembly. The archbishop on his throne, in 
the depth of the choir, on which fell the dim light 
of the lamps, beheld the gleaming arms of the sol- 
diery, as they burst into the nave of the church. Th^ 
archbishop, as the ominous sounds grew louder, com- 
manded the chanting of the 135th (186th> Psalm. 

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The choristers' Yoices swelled into the solemn strain, 
— " Oh ! give thanks unto the Lord, for he is gra- 
cious:" the people took up the burden, — "for his 
mercy endureth for ever." The clear, full voices of 
the congregation rose over the wild tumult, now with- 
out, and now within, the church. 

A discharge of arrows commenced the conflict ; and 
Athanasius calmlj exhorted his people to continue 
their only defensive measures, their prayers to their 
Almighty Protector. Syrianus at the same time or- 
dered the soldiers to advance. The cries of the 
wounded, the groans of those who were trampled down 
in attempting to force their way out through the sol- 
diery, the shouts of the assailants, mingled in wild 
and melancholy uproar. But, before the soldiers had 
reached the end of the sanctuary, the pious disobedi- 
ence of liis clergy and of a body of monks hurried the 
archbishop by some secret passage out of the tumult. 
His escape appeared little less than miraculous to his 
faithful followers. The riches of the altar, the sacred 
ornaments of the church, and even the consecrated 
virgins, were abandoned to the license of an exasper- 
ated soldiery. The Catholics in vain drew up an ad- 
dress to the emperor, appealing to his justice against 
this sacrilegious outrage ; they suspended the arms of 
the soldiery, which had been left on the floor of the 
church, as a reproachful memorial of the violence. 
Goustantius confirmed the acts of his officers.^ 

The Arians were prepared to replace the deposed 
prelate ; their choice fell on another Cappa- ^^^^^ ^ 
docian more savage and unprincipled than <^pp~><»*^ 
the former one. Constantius commended Qeoi^e of 

1 Athanas., Apol. de Fug&, vol. L p. 884; ad Monachos, 878, 878, 898, 895; 
ad Const 807, 810. Tillemont, Vie d'Athaoase. 
VOL. II. 28 

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Cappadocia to the people of Alexandria, as a prelate 
above praise, the wisest of teachers, the fittest guide to 
the kingdom of heaven. His adversaries paint him in 
the blackest colors : the son of a fuller, he had been 
in turns a parasite, a receiver of taxes, a bankrupt. 
Ignorant of letters, savage in manners, he was taken 
up, while leading a vagabond life, by the Arian prelate 
of Antioch, and made a priest before he was a Cliris- 
tain. He employed the collections gathered for the 
poor in bribing the eunuchs of the palace. But he 
possessed, no doubt, great worldly ability; he was 
without fear and without remorse. He entered Alex- 
andria environed by the troops of Syrianus. His 
presence let loose the rabid violence of party ; the 
Arians exacted ample vengeance for their long period 
of depression ; houses were plundered ; monasteries 
burned; tombs broken open, to search for concealed 
Athanasians, or for the prelate himself, who still eluded 
their pursuit ; bishops were insulted ; virgins scourged ; 
the soldiery encouraged to break up every meeting of 
the Catholics by violence, and even by hihuman tor- 
tures. The duke Sebastian, at the head of three 
thousand troops, charged a meeting of the Athanasian 
Christians. No barbarity was too revolting ; they are 
said to have employed instruments of torture to com- 
pel them to Christian unity with the Arians ; females 
were scourged with the prickly branches of the palm- 
tree. The Pagans readily transferred their allegiance, 
so far as allegiance was demanded ; while the savage 
and ignorant among them rejoiced in the occasion for 
plunder and cruelty. Others hailed these feuds, and 
almost anticipated the triumphant restoration of their 
own religion. Men, they thought, must grow weary 
and disgusted with a religion productive of so much 

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crime, bloodshed, and misery. Echoing back the lan- 
guage of the Athanasians, they shouted out, " Long 
life to the emperor Constantius, and the Arians who 
have abjured Christianity." And Christianity they 
seem to have abjured, though not in the sense intended 
by their adversaries. They had abjured all Christian 
humanity, holiness, and peace. 

The avarice of George was equal to his cruelty. 
Exactions were necessary to maintain his interest with 
the eunuchs, to whom he owed his promotion. The 
prelate of Alexandria forced himself into the secular 
aflfairs of the city. He endeavored to secure a monop- 
oly of the nitron produced in the lake Mareotis, of 
the salt-works, and of the papyrus. He became a 
manufacturer of those painted coffins which were still 
in use among the Egyptians. Once he was expelled 
by a sudden insurrection of the people, who sur- 
rounded the church, in which he was officiating, and 
threatened to tear him in pieces. He took refuge in 
the court, which was then at Sirmium, and a few 
months beheld him re-instated by the command of his 
faithful patron, the emperor.^ A re-instated tyrant 
is, in general, the most cruel oppressor ; and, unless 
party violence has blackened the character of George 
of Cappadocia beyond even its ordinary injustice, the 
addition of revenge, and the haughty sense of impu- 
nity derived from the imperial protection, to the e\il 
passions already developed in his soul, rendered him a 
still more intolerable scourge to the devoted city. 

Everywhere the Athanasian bishops were expelled 
from their sees; they were driven into banishment. 
The desert was constantly sounding with the hymns of 
these pious and venerable exiles, as they passed along, 

1 He was at Sinniam, May, 869; restored in October. 

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loaded with chains, to the remote and savage place of 
their destination ; many of them bearing the scars 
and wounds and mutilations which had been inflicted 
upon them by their barbarous persecutors, to enforce 
their compliance with the Arian doctrines. 

Athanasius, after many strange adventures, — hav- 
ing been concealed in a dry cistern, and in the cham^ 
iswapeand bcr of a bcautiful woman, who attended him 
Athaoaaiiu. with thc most oJ£cious devotion (his awful 
character was not even tinged with the breath of sus- 
picion), — found refuge at length among the monks of 
the desert. Egypt is bordered on aU sides 
by wastes of sand, or by barren rocks, bro- 
ken into caves and intricate passes; and all these 
solitudes were now peopled by the fanatic followers of 
the hermit Antony. They were all devoted to the 
opinions and attached to the person of Athanasius. 
The austerities of the prelate extorted their admiration : 
as he had been the great example of a dignified, active, 
and zealous bishop, so was he now of an ascetic and 
mortified solitary. The most inured to self-inflicted 
tortures of mind and body found themselves equalled, 
if not outdone, in their fasts and austerities by the 
lofty Patriarch of Alexandria. Among these devoted 
adherents, his security was complete ; their passionate 
reverence admitted not the fear of treachery. The 
more active and inquisitive the search of his enemies, 
he had only to plunge deeper into the inaccessible and 
inscrutable desert. From this solitude Athanasius 
himself is supposed sometimes to have issued forth, 
and, passing the seas, to have traversed even parts of 
the West, animating liis followers, and confirming the 
faith of his whole widely disseminated party. His own 

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language implies his personal though secret presence 
at the councils of Seleucia and Rimini.^ 

Prom the desert, unquestionably, came forth many 
of those writings which must have astonished the 
Heathen worid by their unprecedented boldness. For 
the first time since the foundation of tlie empire, the 
Government was more or less publicly assailed in 
addresses, which arraigned its measures as unjust and 
as transgressing its legitimate authority, and which 
did not spare tlie person of the reigning emperor. In 
the West, as well as in the East, Oonstantius was 
assailed with equal freedom of invective. Hilary of 
The book of Hilary of Poictiers against Con- p«>*«**««- 
stantius is said not to have been made public till after 
the death of the emperor ; but it was most likely , 
circulated among the Catholics of the West ; and the 
author exposed himself to the actiiity of hostile 
informers, and the indiscretion of fanatical friends. 
The emperor, in that book, is declared to be Antichrist, 
a tyrant, not only in secular, but likewise in religious 
affairs : the sole object of liis reign was to make a free 
gift to the Devil of the whole world, for which Christ 
had suffered.2 Lucifer of Cagliari, whose violent 

^ Athanas. Oper. vol. L p. 869. Compare Tillemont, Vie d'Athanase. 

3 " Nihil prorsus aliad egit, quam ut orbem terramm, pro quo Chnstus pas- 
8118 est, diabolo condonaret*' — Adv. Constant, c. 15. Hilary'n highest indig- 
nation 18 excited by the gentle and insidious manner with which he confesses 
that Constantios endeavored to compass his unholy end. He would not honor 
them with the dignity of martyrs; but he used the prevailing persuasion of 
bribes, flatteries, and honors: "Non dorsa csedit, sed ventrem palpat; non 
trudit carcere ad libertatem, sed intra palatium honorat ad servitutem; 
non latera vexat, sed cor occupat . . . non contendit ne vincatur, sed adulatnr 
ut dominetur.** There are several other remarkable passages in this tract 
Oonstantius wished to confine the creed to the language of Scripture. This 
was rejected, as infringing on the authority of the bishops, and the forms of 
apostolic preaching. " Nolo, inquit, verba qute non scripta sunt dici. Hoc 
tandem rogo, quis episcopis jubeat et quls apostoliue pnedicationis vetet for- 
mam?" — c. 16. Among the sentences ascribed to the Arians, which bo 

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438 LUaFER OF CAGLIARI. Book m. 

temper afterwards distracted the Western Church 
Lucifer of ^*^ * schism, is now therefore repudiated 
c««iuri. jjy j^]^Q common consent of all parties. But 
Athanasius speaks in ardent admiration of the intem- 
perate writings of this passionate man, and once de- 
scribes him as inflamed by the spirit of God. Lucifer, 
in his banishment, sent five books full of the most 
virulent invective to the emperor. Constantius — it 
was the brighter side of his religious character — re- 
ceived these addresses with almost contemptuous 
equanimity. He sent a message to Lucifer, to demand 
if he was the author of these works. Lucifer replied, 
not merely by an intrepid acknowledgment of his 
former writings, but by a sixth, in still more unre- 
strained and exaggerated language. Constantius was 
* satisfied with banishing him to the Thebaid. Athana- 
sius himself, who in his public vindication addressed 
to Constantius, maintained the highest respect for the 
imperial dignity, in his Epistle to the Solitaries gives 
free vent and expression to his vehement and contempt- 

mach shocked the Western bishops^ there is one which is evidently the argu- 
ment of a strong anti-materialist asserting the sole existence of the Father, 
and that the terms of son and generation, &c., are not to be received in a 
literal sense. " Erat Deus quod est. Pater non erat, qaia neque ei filias; 
nam si filius, necesse est ut et foemina sit,** &c. One phrase has a singa- 
larly Oriental, T would say Indian, cast " How much soever the Son ex- 
pands himself towards the knowledge of the Father, so much the Father 
saper-cxpands himself, lest he should be known by the Son." *' Quantum 
enim Filius se extendit cognoscere Patrem, tantum Pater superextendit se, 
ne cognitus Filio sit" — c. 18. The parties, at least in the West, were 
speaking two totally distinct languages. It would be unjust to Hilaiy not to 
acknowledge the beautiful and Christian sentiments scattered through his 
two fonner addresses to Constantius, which are firm but respectful ; and if 
rigidly, yet sincerely, dogmatic His plea for toleration, if not very con- 
sistently maintained, is expressed with great force and simplicity. " Deos 
cognitionem sni docuit potius quam exegit . . . Deus universitatis est Domi- 
nus; non requirit coactam confessionem. Nostra potius non 8u& caus& 
venerandus est . . . simplicitate quterendus est, confessione dlscendus est, 
charitate amandus est, timore venerandus est, voluntatis probitate retlnendoa 
est"— lib. i. c. 6. 

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Chap.V. church and STATE. 439 

U0U8 sentiments. His recluse friends are cautioned, 
indeed, not to disclose the dangerous document, in 
which the tyrants of the Old Testament, Pharaoh, Ahab, 
Belshazzar, are contrasted, to his disadvantage, with 
the base, the cruel, the hypocritical Constantius. It is 
curious to observe this new element of freedom, however 
at present working in a concealed, irregular, and, per- 
haps, still guarded manner, mingling itself with, and 
partially up-heaving, the general prostration of the 
human mind. The Christian, or, in some respects, it 
might be more justly said, the hierarchical principle, 
was entering into the constitution of human society, 
as an antagonistic power to that of the civil sovereign. 
The Christian community was no longer a separate 
republic, governed within by its own laws, yet submit- 
ting, in all but its religious observances, to the 
general ordinances. By the establishment of Chris- 
tianity under Constantine, and the gradual re-union 
of two sections of mankind into one civil society, those 
two powers, that of the Church and the state, became 
co-ordinate authorities, which, if any difference should 
arise between the heads of the respective supremacies, 
— if the emperor and the dominant party in Christen- 
dom should take opposite sides, led to inevitable 
collision. This crisis had already arrived. An Arian 
emperor was virtually excluded from a community in 
which the Athanasian doctrines prevailed. The son 
of Constantine belonged to an excommunicated class, 
to whom the dominant party refused the name of 
Christians. Thus these two despotisms, both founded 
on opinion (for obedience to the imperial authority 
was rooted in the universal sentiment), instead of 
gently counteracting and mitigating each other, came 
at once into direct and angry conflict. The emperor 

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might with justice begin to suspect, that, instead of 
securing a peaceful and submissive ally, he had raised 
up a rival or a master ; for the son of Constantine was 
thus, in his turn, disdainfully ejected from the society 
which his father had incorporated with the empire. 
It may be doubted how far the violences and bar- 
barities ascribed by the Catholics to their Arian foes 
may be attributed to the indignation of the civil power 
at this new and determined resistance. Though Con- 
stantius might himself feel or affect a compassionate 
disdain at these unusual attacks on his person and 
dignity, the general feeling of the Heathen population, 
and of many among the local governors, might resist 
this contumacious contempt of the supreme authority. 
It is difficult otherwise to account for the general 
tumults excited by these disputes in Alexandria, in 
Constantinople, and in Rome, where at least a very 
considerable part of the population had no concern in 
the religious quarrel. The old animosity against 
Christianity would array itself under the banners of 
one of the conflicting parties, or take up the cause 
of the insulted sovereignty of the emperor. The 
Athanasians constantly assert, that the Arians courted, 
or at least did not decline, the invidious alliance of 
the Pagans. 

But in truth, in the horrible cruelties perpetrated 
Mutual during these unhappy divisions, it was the 
of cruelty, samc savagc ferocity of manners, which, half 
a century before, had raged against the Christian 
Church, which now apparently raged in its cause .^ 

1 See the depositions of the bishops assembled at Sardica, of the violence 
which they had themselves endured at the hands of the Arians. ^ Alii aa- 
tem gladiorum signa, plagas et cicatrices estendebant. Alii se fame ab ipsis 
excruciatos querebantur. £t heec non ignobiles testificabantur viri, sed de 
ecclesiis onmibus elect! propter quas hue conveneront, res gestas edocebant. 

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The abstruse tenets of the Christian theology became 
the ill-understood, perhaps unintelligible, watchwords 
of violent and disorderly men. The rabble of Alex- 
andria and other cities availed themselves of the 
commotion to give loose to their suppressed passion 
for the excitement of plunder and bloodshed. How 
far the doctrines of Christianity had worked down 
into the populace of the great cities cannot be ascer- 
tained, or even conjectured ; its spirit had not in the 
least mitigated their ferocity and inhumanity. If 
Christianity is accused as the immediate exciting 
cause of these disastrous scenes, the predisposing 
principle was in that uncivilized nature of man, which 
not merely was unallayed by the gentle and human- 
izing tenets of the Gospel, but, as it has perpetually 
done, pressed the Gospel itself, as it were, into its 
own unhallowed service. 

The severe exclusiveness of dogmatic theology at- 
tained its height in this controversy. Hitherto, the 
Catholic and heretical doctrines had receded from each 
other at the first outset, and drawn off to opposite and 

milites armatoo, populos cam fiutibas, jadicom minas, falsarum literarum 
suppositiones. . . . Ad hoec virginum nudationes, incendia ecclesiarom, car- 
ceres adversos ministros Dei." — Hilar., Fragm. Op. Hist ii. c. 4. 

The Arians retort the same accusations of violence, cruelty, and persecu- 
tion, against Athanasius. They say, '"Per vim, per csdem, per bellom, 
Alexandrinorum ecclesias deprsdatus ; " and this, " per pugnas et ccedes gen- 
UUum,*' — Decretum Synodi Orientalium Episcoporum apud Sardicam, apud 
8. Hilarium. 

"Immensa autem confluxerat ad Sardicam multitudo sceleratorum om- 
nium et perditorum, adventantium de Constantinopoli, de Alexandria, qui rei 
homicidiorum, rei sanguinis, rei canlis, rei latrociniorum, rei pnsdarum, rei 
spoliorum, nefandorumque omnium sacrilegiorum et criminum rei; qui alta- 
ria confregerunt, ecclesias incenderunt, domosque privatorum compilaverunt; 
profanatores m3'steriorum, proditoresque sacramentonim Christi ; que impiam 
sceleratamque haereticorum doctrinam contra ecclesias fidem asserentes, sapi- 
entisfiimos presbyteros Dei, diaconos, sacerdotes, atrociter demactaverunt" — 
Ibid. 19. And this protest, full of these tremendous charges, was signed by 
the eighty seceding Eastern bishops. 

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irreconcilable extremes. The heretics had wandered 
away into the boundless regions of speculation ; they 
had differed on some of the most important elementary 
principles of belief; they had rarely admitted any 
common basis for argument. Here the contending 
parties set out from nearly the same principles, ad- 
mitted the same authority, and seemed, whatever their 
secret bias or inclination, to differ only on the import 
of one word. Their opinions appeared to be constantly 
approximating, yet found it impossible to unite. The 
Athanasians taunted the Arians with the infinite varia- 
tions in their belief: Athanasius recounts no less than 
eleven creeds. But the Arians might have pleaded 
their anxiety to reconcile themselves to the Church, 
their earnest solicitude to make every advance towards 
a re-union, provided they might be excused the adop- 
tion of the one obnoxious word, the Homoousion, or 
Gonsubstantialism. But the inflexible orthodoxy of 
Athanasius will admit no compromise; nothing less 
than complete unity, not merely of ejcpression, but of 
mental conception, will satisfy the rigor of the ecclesi- 
astical dictator, who will permit no single letter, and, 
as far as he can detect it, no shadow of thought, to 
depart from his peremptory creed. He denounces his 
adversaries, for the least deviation, as enemies of 
Christ; he presses them with consequences drawn 
from their opinions ; and, instead of spreading wide 
the gates of Christianity, he seems to unbar them with 
jealous reluctance, and to admit no one without the 
most cool and inquisitorial scrutiny into the most 
secret arcana of his belief. 

In the writings of Athanasius is embodied the per- 
Aihuuuiiaa fectiou of polcmic diVinity. His style, in- 
aaaifritor. d^ed, has uo splcudor, no softness, nothing 

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to kindle the imagination or melt the heart. Acute, 
even to subtlety, he is too earnest to degenerate into 
scholastic trifling. It is stern logic, addressed to the 
reason of those who admitted the authority of Chris- 
tianity. There is no dispassionate examination, no 
candid philosophic inquiry, no calm statement of his 
adversaries' case, no liberal acknowledgment of the 
infinite diflBculties of the subject, scarcely any con- 
sciousness of the total msufiiciency of human language 
to trace the question to its depths ; all is peremptory, 
dictatorial, imperious ; the severe conviction of the 
truth of his own opinions, and the inference that none 
but culpable motives, either of pride or strife or igno- 
rance, can blind his adversaries to their cogent and 
irrefragable certainty. Athauasius walks on the nar- 
row and perilous edge of othodoxy with a firmness 
and confidence which it is impossible not to admire. 
It cannot be doubted that he was deeply, intimately, 
persuaded that the vital power and energy, the truth, 
the consolatory force, of Christianity, entirely depended 
on the unquestionable elevation of the Saviour to the 
most absolute equality with the Parent Godhead. 
The ingenuity with which he follows out his own views 
of the consequences of their errors is wonderfully 
acute ; but the thought constantly occurs, whether a 
milder and more conciliating tone would not have 
healed the wounds of aflBlicted Christianity ; whether 
his lofty spirit is not conscious that his native element 
is that of strife rather than of peace.^ 

Though nothing can contrast more strongly with 
the expansive and liberal spirit of primitive Christian- 
ity than the repellent tone of this exclusive theology, 

1 At a later period, Athanasios seems to have been less rigidly exclnsire 
against the Semi-Aiians. Compare Mohler, ii. p. 280. 

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yet this remarkable phasis of Christianity seems to 
have been necessary, and doubtless not without advan- 
tage to the permanence of the religion. With the 
civilization of mankind, Christianity was about to pass 
through the ordeal of those dark ages which followed 
the irruption of the barbarians. During this period, 
Christianity was to subsist as the conservative princi- 
ple of social order and the sacred charities of life, tlie 
sole, if not always faithful, guardian of ancient knowl- 
edge, of letters, and of arts. But, in order to preserve 
its own existence, it assumed, of necessity, another 
form. It must have a splendid and imposing ritual 
to command the barbarous minds of its new proselytes, 
and one which might be performed by an illiterate 
priesthood ; for the mass of the priesthood could not 
but be involved in the general darkness of the times. 
It must likewise have brief and definite formularies 
of doctrine. As the original languages, and even the 
Latin, fell into disuse, and before the modern lan- 
guages of Europe were suflBciently formed to admit 
of translations, the sacred writings receded from gen- 
eral use; they became the depositaries of Christian 
NeceMity doctriuc, totally inaccessible to the laity, 
during the and almost as much so to the lower clergy, 
conturiet. Creeds therefore became of essential impor- 
tance to compress the leading points of Christian doc- 
trine into a small compass. And, as the barbarous 
and ignorant mind cannot endure the vague and the 
indefinite, so it was essential that the main points of 
doctrine should be fixed and cast into plain and em- 
phatic propositions. The theological language was 
firmly established before the violent breaking-up of 
society ; and no more was required of the barbarian 
convert than to accept with uninquiring submission 

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the established formulary of the faith, and gaze in 
awe-struck veneration at the solemn ceremonial. 

The Athanasian controversy powerfully contributed 
to establish the supremacy of the Roman ^^^^^^^ 
pontiflf. It became almost a contest between ^^"J^ 
Eastern and Western Christendom; at least ^*^Sj ^r «» 
the West was neither divided like the East, p^p^p"**'- 
nor submitted with the same comparatively willing 
obedience to the domination of Arianism under the 
imperial authority. It was necessary that some one 
great prelate should take the lead in tliis internecine 
strife. The only Western bishop whom his character 
would designate as this leader was Hosius, the Bishop 
of Cordova. But age had now disqualified this good 
man, whose moderation, abilities, and probably impor- 
tant services to Christianity in the conversion of 
Constantino, had recommended him to the common 
acceptance of the Christian world, as president of the 
council of Nicaea. Where this acknowledged superi- 
ority of character and talent was wanting, the dignity 
of the see would command the general respect ; and 
what see could compete, at least in the West, with 
Rome ? Antioch, Alexandria, or Constantinople could 
alone rival, in pretensions to Christian supremacy, the 
old metropolis of the empire: and those sees were 
either fiercely contested, or occupied by Arian prelates. 
Athanasius himself, by his residence, at two separate 
periods, at Rome, submitted, as it were, his cause to 
the Roman pontiff. Rome became the centre of the 
ecclesiastical affairs of the West : and, since the Trin- 
itarian opinions eventually triumphed through the 
whole of Christendom, the firmness and resolution 
with which the Roman pontiffs, notwithstanding the 
temporary fall of Liberius, adhered to the orthodox 

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faith; their uncompromising attachment to Athana- 
sius, who, by degrees, was sanctified and canonized 
in the memory of Christendom, — might be one 
groundwork for that belief in their infallibility, which, 
however it would have been repudiated by Cyprian, 
and never completely prevailed in the East, became 
throughout the West the inalienable spiritual heirloom 
of the Roman pontiffs. Christian history will here- 
after show how powerfully this monarchical principle, 
if not established, yet greatly strengthened, by these 
consequences of the Athanasian controversy, tended 
to consolidate and so to maintain, in still expanding 
influence, the Christianity of Europe.^ 

This conflict continued with unabated vigor till the 
PuperioTity ^l<^se of the reign of Constantius. Arianism 
ofArUnifm. gradually assumed the ascendant, through 
the violence and the arts of the emperor ; all the more 
distinguished of the orthodox bishops were in exUe, 
or, at least, in disgrace. Tliough the personal influ- 
ence of Athanasius was still felt throughout Christen- 
dom, his obscure place of concealment was probably 
unknown to the greater part of his own adherents. 
Tlie aged Hosius had died in his apostasy. Hilary of 
Poictiers, the Bishop of Milan, and the violent Lucifer 

1 The orthodox Synod of Sardica admits the superior dignity of the suc- 
cessors of St Peter. '^ Hoc enim optimum et valde cong^entissimum esse 
videbitur, si ad caput, id est, ad Petri Apostoli sedem, de singulis quibns- 
que provinciis Domini referant sacerdotes." — Epist. Syn. Sard, apud Hila- 
rium, Fragm. Oper. Hist. ii. c. 9. It was disclaimed with equal distinctness 
by the seceding Arians. " Novam legem introducere putaverunt, ut Orien- 
tales Episcopi ab Occidental ibus judicarentur." — Fragm. iii. c 12. In a 
subsequent clause, they condemn Julius, Bishop of Rome, by name. It is 
difficult to calculate the effect which would commonly be produced on men*8 
minds by their involving in one common cause the two tenets, which, in ftct, 
bore no relation to each other, — the orthodox belief in the Trinity, and tha 
supremacy of the Bishop of Rome.*' — Sozomen, iv. 11, 18 ; Theodoret, iL 17; 
Philostorgius, iv. 8. 

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Chap.v. heresy of aetius. 447 

of Cagliari, wore in exile; and, though Constantius 
had consented to the return of Liberius to his see, 
he had returned with the disgrace of having consented 
to sign the new formulary framed at Sirmium, where 
the term " consubstantial," if not rejected, was, at 
least, suppressed. Yet the popularity of Liberius was 
undiminished, and the* whole city indignantly rejected 
the insidious proposition of Constantius, that Liberius 
and his rival Felix should rule the see with conjoint 
authority. The parties had already come to blows, 
and even to bloodshed, when Felix, who, it was admit- 
ted, had never swerved from the creed of Nicaea, and 
whose solo offence was entering into communion with 
the Arians, either from moderation, or conscious of the 
inferiority of his party, withdrew to a neighboring 
city, where he soon closed his days, and relieved the 
Christians of Rome from the apprehension of a rival 
pontiflF. The unbending resistance of the Athanasians 
was no doubt confirmed, not merely by the variations 
in the Arian creed, but by the new opinions which 
they considered its legitimate offspring, and which ap- 
peared to justify their worst apprehensions of its inevi- 
table consequences. 

Aetius formed a new sect, which not merely denied 
the consubstantiality, but the similitude of H«t«yof 
the Son to the Father. He was not only not ^^**^- 
of the same, but of a totally different, nature. Aetius, 
according to the account of his adversaries, was a bold 
and unprincipled adventurer;^ and the career of a 

1 Socrates, ii. 86. Sozomen, iii. 15, iv. 12. Pbilostorg. iii. 15, 17. Sui- 
das, roc. Aeriof. Epiphan. Haeres. 76. Gregor. Nyss. contra Eunom. 

The most curious part in the histoiy of Aetius is his attachment to the 
Aristotelian philosophy. With him appears to have begun the long strife 
between Aristotelianism and Platonism in the Church. Aetius, to prove his 
unimaginative doctrines, employed the severe and prosaic categories of Aria- 

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person of this class is exemplified in his life. The 
son of a soldier, at one time condemned to death and 
to the confiscation of his property, Aetius became a 
humble artisan, first as a worker in copper, afterwards 
in gold. His dishonest practices obliged him to give 
up trade, but not before he had acquired some prop- 
erty. He attached himself to Paulinus, Bishop of 
Antioch ; was expelled from the city by his successor; 
studied grammar at Anazarba; was encouraged by 
the Arian bishop of that see, named Athanasius ; re- 
turned to Antioch; was ordained deacon; and again 
expelled the city. Discomfited in a public disputation 
with a Gnostic, he retired to Alexandria, where, being 
exercised in the art of rhetoric, he revenged himself 
on a Manichean, who died of shame. He then became 
a public itinerant teacher, practising, at the same time, 
his lucrative art of a goldsmith. The Arians rejected 
Aetius with no less earnest indignation than the ortho- 
dox, but they could not escape being implicated, as it 
were, in his unpopularity ; and the odious Anomoans, 
those who denied the simiUtude of the Son to the 
Father, brought new discredit even on the more tem- 
perate partisans of the Arian creed. Another heresi- 
arch, of a higher rank, still further brought disrepute 
Of Biacedo- ^^ ^^^ Ariau party. Macedonius, the Bishop 
°*'"* of Constantinople, to the Arian tenet of the 
inequality of the Son to the Father, added the total 
denial of the divinity of the Holy Ghost. 

Council still followed council. Though we may not 
concur with the Arian bishops in ascribing to their 
adversaries the whole blame of this perpetual tumult 
and confusion in the Christian world, caused by these 

totle, repudiating the prevailing Platonic mode of argument nsed by Oriffeo, 
and Clement of Alexandria. — Socrates, 11. c. 86. 

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Chap.V. council of RIMINI. 449 

incessant assemblages of the clergy, there must have 
been much melancholy truth in their statement. " The 
East and the West are in a perpetual state of rest- 
lessness and disturbance. Deserting our spiritual 
charges, abandoning the people of God, neglecting the 
preaching of the Gospel, we are hurried about from 
place to place, sometimes to great distances, some of 
Tis infirm with age, with feeble constitutions or ill 
health, and are sometimes obliged to leave our sick 
brethren on the road. The whole administration of 
the empire, of the emperor himself, the tribunes, and 
the commanders, at this fearful crisis of the state, are 
solely occupied with the lives and the condition of the 
bishops. The people are by no means unconcerned. 
Tlie whole brotherhood watches in anxious suspense 
the event of these troubles; the establishment of 
post-horses, is worn out by our journeyings ; and all 
on account of a few wretches, who, if they had the 
least remaining sense of religion, would say with the 
prophet Jonah, ' Take us up and cast us into the sea ; 
so shall the sea be calm unto you ; for we know that 
it is on our account that this great tempest is upon 

The synod at Sirmium had no effect in reconciling 
the differences, or affirming the superiority of either 
party. A double council was appointed, of the Eastern 
prelates at Seleucia, of the Western at Rimini. The 
Arianism of Constantius himself had by this time 
degenerated still farther from the creed of Nicaea. 
Eudoxus, who had espoused the Anomean doctrines 
of Aetius, ruled his untractable but passive coandi of 
miiid. The council of Rimini consisted of **°^* 
at least four himdred bishops, of whom not above 

1 Hilar., Oper. Hist. Fragm. zi. c. 25. 
VOL. II. 29 


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eighty were Arians. Their resolutions were firm and 
peremptory. They repudiated the Arian doctrines; 
they expressed their rigid adherence to the formulary 
of Nic«a. Ten bishops, however, of each party, were 
deputed to commimicate their decrees to Constantius. 
The ten Arians were received with the utmost respect ; 
their rivals, with every kind of slight and neglect. 
Insensibly the Athanasians were admitted to more 
intimate intercourse ; the flatteries, perhaps the bribes, 
of the emperor prevailed ; they returned, hioiving signed 
a formulary directly opposed to their instructions. 
Their reception at first was unpromising; but by 
degrees the council, from which its- firmest and most 
resolute members had gradually departed, and in 
which many poor and aged bishops still retained their 
seats, wearied, perplexed^ worn out by the expense 
and discomfort of a long residence in a foreign city, 
consented to sign a creed in which the contested word, 
the Homoousion, was carefully suppressed.^ Arianism 
was thus deliberately adopted by a council, of which 
the authority was undisputed. The world, says 
Jerome, groaned to find itself Arian. But, on tlieir 
return to their dioceses, the indignant prelates every- 
where protested against the fraud and violence which 
had been practised against them. New persecutions 
followed : Gaudentius, Bishop of Rimini, lost his life. 
The triumph of Arianism was far easier among the 
hundred and sixty bishops assembled at Seleucia. 
But it was more fatal to their cause : the Arians and 
Semi-Arians and Anomeans mingled in tumultuous 

1 It is curious enough, that the Latin language did not ftmush terms to 
express this fine distinction. Some Western prelates, many of whom proba- 
bly did not understand a word of Greek, proposed, "jam usisd et homooosii 
nomina recedant quse in divinis Scripturis de Deo, et Dei Filio, non inveni- 
untur scripta." — Apud Hilarium, Oper. Hist Fragm. ix. 

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cmaf.v. triumph of amanism. 451 

strife, and hurled mutual anathemas against each 

The new council met at Constantinople. By some 
strange political or religious vicissitude, the party of 
the Anomeans triumphed, while Aetius, its author, 
was sent into banishment.^ Macedonius was deposed ; 
Eudoxus of Antioch was translated to the imperial 
see ; and the solemn dedication of the Church of St. 
Sophia was celebrated by a prelate who denied the 
similitude of nature between the Father and the Son. 
The whole Christian world was in confusion; these 
&tal feuds penetrated almost as {Seit as the Gospel 
.itself had reached. The emperor, whose alternately 
partial vehemence and subtlety had inflamed rather 
than allayed the tumult, found his authority set at 
nought; a deep, stern, and ineradicable resistance 
opposed the imperial decrees. A large portion of 
the empire proclaimed aloud that there were limits 
to the imperial despotism; that there was a higher 
allegiance, which superseded that due to the civil 
authority ; that in affairs of religion they would not 
submit to the appointment of superiors who did not 
profess their views of Christian orthodoxy.* The 
emperor himself, by mingling with almost fanatical 
passion and zeal in these controversies, at once lowered 
himself to the level of his subjects, and justified the 

1 Aetius and Eonomius seem to have been the heroes of the historian 
Philostorgiutt, fragments of whose history have been preserved by the pious 
hostility of Fhotius. This diminishes our regret for the loss of the original 
work, which would be less curious than a genuine Arian history. Philostor- 
gius seems to object to the anti-materialist view of the Deity maintained by 
the Semi-Arian Eusebius, and, according to him, by Anus himself. He 
reproaches Eusebius with asserting the Deity to be incomprehensible and 
inconceivable: uyvuoroq koL &KaTu}jprroc. — lib. i. 2, 8. 

3 Hilary quotes the sentence of St Paul, '* Ubi fides est, ibi et libertas 
est;" in allusion to the emperor's assuming the cognizance over religious 
questions. — Oper. Hist Fngm. L c. 6. 

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importance which they attached to these questions. 
If Constantius had firmly, calmly, and consistently 
enforced mutual toleration, — if he had set the ex- 
ample of Christian moderation and temper ; if he had 
set his face solely against the stern refusal of Athar 
nasius and his party to admit the Arians into 
communion, — he might perhaps have retained some 
influence over the contending parties. But he was 
not content without enforcing the dominance of the 
Arian party ; he dignified Athanasius with the hatred 
of a personal enemy, almost of a rival ; and his sub- 
jects, by his own apparent admission that these were 
questions of spiritual life and death, were compelled 
to postpone his decrees to those of Grod; to obey 
their bishops, who held the keys of heaven and hell, 
rather than Caesar, who could only afflict them with 
civil disabilities, or penalties in this life. 


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Chap, VL JULIAN. 458 



Amidst all this intestine strife within the pale of 
Christianity, and this conflict between the civil and 
religious authorities concerning their respective limits, 
Paganism made a desperate effort to regain its lost 
supremacy. Julian has perhaps been somewhat un- 
fairly branded with the ill-sounding name of Apostate. 
His Christianity was but the compulsory obedience of 
youth to the distasteful lessons of education, enforced 
by the hateful authority of a tyrannical relative. As 
early as the maturity of his reason, — at least, as soon 
as he dared to reveal his secret sentiments, — he 
avowed his preference for the ancient Paganism. 

The most astonishing part of Julian's history is the 
development and partial fulfilment of all his vast 
designs during a reign of less than two years. His 
own age wondered at the rapidity with which the 
young emperor accomplished his military, civil, and 
religious schemes.^ During his separate and subor- 
dinate command as Caesar, his time was fully occupied 
with his splendid campaigns upon the Rhine.^ Julian 
was the vindicator of the old majesty of the empire ; 

1 " Dicet ab'quis : quomodo torn multa tarn brevi tempore. £t rectd. Sed 
Imperator noster addit ad tempus quod otio suo detrahit. . . . Itaque gran- 
dievum jam imperium videbitur his, qui non ratione dieram et meosiumf sed 
opcrum multitudine et effectarum rerum modo Juliaai tempora metientur.'* 
— Mamertini Grat. Actio, c. xiv. 

2 Six yean, from 866 to 361. 


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he threw back with a bold and successful effort the 
inroad of barbarism, which already threatened to over- 
whelm the Roman civilization of Gaul. During the 
Short reign two Unfinished years of his sole government, 
AD. 86i^%3. Julian had re-united the whole Roman empire 
under his single sceptre ; he had reformed the army, 
the court, the tribunals of justice; he had promul- 
gated many useful laws, which maintained their place 
in the jurisprudence of the empire; he had estab- 
lished peace on all the frontiers; he had organized 
a large and well-disciplined force to chastise the Per- 
sians for their aggressions on the eastern border, and, 
by a formidable diversion within their own territories, 
to secure the Euphratic provinces against the most 
dangerous rival of the Roman power. During all 
these engrossing cares of empire, he devoted himself 
with the zeal and activity of a mere philosopher and 
man of letters to those more tranquil pursuits. The 
conqueror of the Pranks and the antagonist of Sapor 
delivered lectures in the schools, and published works, 
which, whatever may be thought of their depth and 
truth, display no mean powers of composition : as a 
writer, Julian will compete with most of his age. 
Besides all this, his vast and restless spirit contem- 
plated, and had already commenced, nothing less than 
a total change in the religion of the empire; not 
merely the restoration of Paganism to the legal su- 
premacy which it possessed before the reign of Con- 
stantine, and the degradation of Christianity into a 
private sect; but the actual extirpation of the new 
religion from the minds of men by the reviving ener- 
gies of a philosophic, and at the same time profoundly 
religious. Paganism. 
The genius of ancient Rome and of ancient Greece 

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Chap.TI. raS CHARACTER. 455 

might appear to revive in amicable union in the soul 
of Julian. He displayed the unmeasured military 
ambition, which turned the defensive war character of 
into a war of aggression on all the imper- ''""^ 
Hied frontiers ; the broad and vigorous legislation, the 
unity of administration, the severer tone of manners, 
which belonged to the better days of Rome ; so, too, 
the fine cultivation, the perspicuous philosophy, the 
lofty conceptions of moral greatness and purity, which 
distinguished the old Athenian. If in the former (the 
Roman military enterprise) he met eventually with 
the fate of Crassus or of Varus, rather than the 
glorious successes of Germanicus or Trajan, the times 
were more in fault than the general : if in the latter 
(the Grecian elevation and elegance of mind) Julian 
more resembled at times the affectation of the Sophist 
and the coarseness of the Cynic than the lofty views 
and exquisite harmony of Plato or the practical wis- 
dom of Socrates, the effete and exhausted state of 
Grecian letters and philosophy must likewise be taken 
into the account. 

In the uncompleted two years of his sole empire,^ 
Julian had advanced so far in the restoration of the 
internal vigor and unity of administration, that it is 
doubtful how much further, but for the fatal Persian 
campaign, he might have fulfilled the visions of his 
noble ambition. He might have averted, at least for 
a time, the terrible calamities which burst upon the 
Roman world during the reign of Valentinian and 
Valens. But, diflScult and desperate as the enterprise 
might appear, the re-organizatiou of a decaying empire 
was less impracticable than the restoration of an all 

1 One year, eight months, and twenty-three days. — La Bleterre, Vie de 
Julien, p. 494. 

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but extinguished religion. A religion may awaken 
from indiflFerence, and resume its dominion over the 
minds of men ; but not if supplanted by a new form 
of faith, which has identified itself with the opinions 
and sentiments of the general mind. It can never 
dethrone a successful invader, who has been recog- 
nized as a lawful sovereign. And Christianity (could 
the clear and sagacious mind of Julian be blind to 
this essential difference ?) had occupied the whole soul 
of man with a fulness and confidence which belonged, 
and could belong, to no former religion. It had inti- 
mately blended together the highest truths of philoso- 
phy with the purest morality ; the loftiest speculation 
with the most practical spirit. The vague theory of 
another life, timidly and dimly announced by the later 
Paganism, could ill compete with the deep and intense 
conviction, now rooted in the hearts of a large part of 
mankind by Christianity ; the source in some of har- 
rowing fears, in others of the noblest hopes. 

Julian united in his own mind, and attempted to 
ReUgionof work iuto his new religion, the two incon- 
jnuan. gpuous charactcrs of a zealot for the older 
superstitions and for the more modem philosophy 
of Greece. He had fused together, in that which 
appeared to him an harmonious .system. Homer and 
Plato. He thought that the whole ritual of sacrifice 
would combine with that allegoric interpretation of the 
ancient mythology, which undeified the greater part of 
the Heathen Pantheon. All that Paganism had bor- 
rowed from Christianity, it had rendered comparatively 
cold and powerless. The one Supreme Deity was a 
name and an abstract • conception, a metaphysical 
being. The visible representative of the Deity, the 
Sun, which was in general an essential part of the 

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new system, was, after all, foreign and Oriental ; it 
belonged to the genuine mythology neither of Greece 
nor Rome. The Theurgy, or awful and sublime com- 
munion of the mind with the spiritual world, was 
either too fine and fanciful for the vulgar belief, or 
associated, in the dim confusion of the popular con- 
ception, with that magic, against which the laws of 
Rome had protested with such stern solemnity ; and 
which, therefore, however eagerly pursued and reve- 
renced with involuntary awe, was always associated 
with impressions of its unlawfulness and guilt. Chris- 
tianity, on the other hand, had completely incorporated 
with itself all that it had admitted firom Paganism, or 
which, if we may so speak, constituted the Pagan part 
of Christianity. The Heathen Theurgy, even in its 
purest form, its dreamy intercourse with the interme- 
diate race of demons, was poor and ineflFective, com- 
pared with the diabolic and angelic agency, which 
became more and more mingled up with Christianity. 
Where these subordinate demons were considered by 
the more philosophic Pagan to have been the older 
deities of the popular faith, it was rather a degrada- 
tion of the ancient worship : where this was not the 
case, this fine perception of the spiritual world was 
the secret of the initiate few, rather than the all- 
pervading superstition of the many. The Cliristian 
demonology, on the other hand, which began to be 
heightened and multiplied by the fantastic imagination 
of the monks, brooding in their solitudes, seemed at 
least to grow naturally out of the religious system. 
The gradually darkening into superstition was alto- 
gether imperceptible, and harmonized entirely with 
the general feelings of the time. Christianity was a 
living plant, which imparted its vitality to the foreign 

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suckers grafted upon it : the dead and sapless trunk 
of Paganism withered even the living boughs which 
were blended with it, by its own inevitable decay. 

On the other hand, Christianity at no period could 
TJnikTonbie appear in a less amiable and attractive light 
chrtetuuiitj. to a mind pre-indisposed to its reception. It 
was in a state of universal fierce and implacable dis- 
cord : the chief cities of the empire had run with blood 
shed in religious quarrels. The sole object of tlie 
conflicting parties seemed to be to confine to them- 
selves the temporal and spiritual blessings of the 
faith; to exclude as many as they might from that 
eternal life, and to anathematize to that eternal death, 
which were revealed by the Gospel, and placed, accord- 
ing to the general belief, under the special authority 
of the clergy. Society seemed to be split up into 
irreconcilable parties: to the animosities of Pagan 
and Christian were now added those of Christian and 
Christian. Christianity had passed through its earlier 
period of noble moral enthusiasm ; of the energy with 
which it addressed its first proclamation of its doc- 
trines to man ; of the dignity with which it stood aloof 
from the intrigues and vices of the world ; and of its 
admirable constancy under persecution. It had not 
fully attained its second state, as a religion generally 
established in the minds of men by a donjinant hio- 
rarchy of unquestioned authority. Its great truths 
had no longer the striking charm of novelty ; nor were 
they yet universally and profoundly implanted in the 
general mind by hereditary transmission or early 
education, and ratified by the unquestioning sanction 
of ages. 

The youthful education of Julian had been, it might 
almost appear, studiously and skilfully conducted, so 

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as to show the brighter side of Paganism, the darker 
of Christianity. His infant years had been clouded 
by the murder of his father. How &r his mind might 
retain any impression of that awful event, or remem- 
brance of the place of his refuge, the Christian church, 
or of the saviour of his life, the virtuous Bishop of 
Arethusa, it is of course impossible to conjecture. 
But Julian's first instructor was a man who, bom a 
Scythian and educated in Greece,^ united the severe 
morality of his ruder ancestors with the elegance of 
Grecian accomplishments. He enforced upon his 
young pupil the strictest modesty, contempt for the 
licentious or frivolous pleasures of youth, for the 
theatre and the bath. At the same time, while he 
delighted his mind with the poetry of Homer, his 
graver studies were the Greek and Latin languages, the 
elements of the philosophy of Greece, and music, that 
original and attractive element of Grecian education.^ 
At the age of about fourteen or fifteen, Julian was 
shut up, with his brother Gallus, in Macellae, a fortress 
in Asia Minor, and committed in this sort of honorable 
prison to the rigid superintendence of ecclesiastics. 
By his Christian instructors, the young and Bducation of 
ardent Julian was bound down to a course •'""*"• 
of the strictest observances, the midnight vigil, the 
fast, the long and weary prayer, and visits to the 
tombs of martyrs, rather than a wise and rational 
initiation in the genuine principles of the Gospel, or 
a judicious familiarity with the originality, the beauty, 
and the depth of the Christian morals and Christian 
religion. He was taught the virtue of implicit sub- 
mission to his ecclesiastical superiors ; the munificence 

1 His name was Mardonius. — Julian, ad Athen. et Misopogon. Socrat., 
£. H. iii. 1. Amm. Marc. xxii. 12. 

2 See the high character of this man in tiie Misopogon, p. 851. 

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of conferring gifts upon the churches : with his brother 
Gallus he was permitted, or rather incited, to build a 
chapel over the tomb of St Mammas.^ For six years, 
he bitterly asserts, he was deprived of every kind of 
useful instruction.* Julian and his brother, it is even 
said, were ordained readers, and officiated in public in 
that character. But the passages of the sacred 
writings, with which he might thus have become 
acquainted, were imposed as lessons ; and in the mind 
of Julian, Christianity, thus taught and enforced, was 
inseparably connected with the irksome and distasteful 
feelings of confinement and degradation. No youths 
of his own rank, or of ingenuous birth, were permitted 
to visit his prison ; he was reduced, as he indignantly 
declares, to the debasing society of slaves. 

At the age of twenty, Julian was permitted to 
reside in Constantinople, afterwards at Nicomedia. 
The jealousy of Constantius in Constantinople was 
excited by the popular demeanor, sober manners, 
and the reputation for abilities, which directed all eyes 
towards his youthful nephew. He dismissed Julian to 
the more dangerous and fatal residence in Nicomedia, 
in the neighborhood of the most celebrated and most 
attractive of the Pagan party. The most faithful 
adherents of Paganism were that class with which the 
tastes and inclinations of Julian brought him into 
close intimacy, — the sophists, the men of letters, the 

1 Julian is said even thus early to have betrayed his secret inclinations: in 
his declamations be took delight in defending the cause of Paganism against 
Christianity. A prophetic miracle foreboded his future course. IVhile this 
church rose expeditiously under the labor of Gallus, the obstinate stones 
would not obey that of Julian : an invisible hand disturbed the foundations, 
and threw down all his work. Gregoiy Nazianzum declares that he bad 
heard this from eye-witnesses ; Sozomen, from those who had heard it from 
eye-witnesses. — Gregor. Or. iii. p. 69, 61. Sozomen, v. 2. 

^ Uaarroc fia$7ffMTo( aTTOvdaiov. 

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rhetoricians, the poets, the philosophers. He was 
forbidden, indeed, perhaps by the jealousy of his 
appointed instructor Ecebolus, who at this time con- 
formed to the religion of the court, to hear the dan- 
gerous lectures of Libanius, equally celebrated for his 
eloquence and his ardent attachment to the old religion. 
But Julian obtained his writings, which he inteiwune 

® ' with the 

devoured with all the delight of a stolen phuoaophm. 
enjoyment.^ Julian formed an intimate acquaintance 
with the heads of the philosophic school, with -^desius, 
his pupils Eusebius and Chrysanthius, and at last 
with the famous Maximus. These men are accused 
of practising the most subtle and insidious arts upon 
the character of their ardent and youthful votary. 
His grave and meditative mind imbibed with eager 
delight the solemn mysticism of their tenets, which 
were impressed more deeply by significant and awful 
ceremonies. A magician at Nicomedia first excited 
his curiosity, and tempted him to enter on these 
exciting courses. At Pergamus he visited the aged 
^desius ; and the manner in which these philosophers 
passed Julian onward from one to another, as if 
through successive stages of initiation in their mysteri- 
ous doctrines, bears the appearance of a deliberate 
scheme to work him up to their purposes. The aged 
^desius addressed him as the favored child of wisdom; 
declined the important charge of his instruction, but 
commended him to his pupils, Eusebius and Chrysan- 
thius, who could unlock the inexhaustible source of 
light and wisdom. " If you should attain the supreme 
felicity of being initiated in their mysteries, you will 
blush to have been born a man, you will no longer 
endure the name." The pupils of -^desius fed the 

I Liban. Orat. Par. t i. p. 626. 

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462 HAXIMU& Book HI. 

greedy mind of the proselyte with all their stores of 
wisdom, and then skilfully unfolded the greater fame 
of Maximus. Eusebius professed to despise the yulgar 
arts of wonder-working, at least in comparison with 
the purification of the soul; but he described the 
power of Maximus in terms to which Julian could not 
listen without awe and wonder. Maximus had led 
them into the temple of Hecate ; he had burned a few 
grains of incense, he had murmured a hymn, and the 
statue of the goddess was seen to smile. They were 
awe-struck, but Maximus. had declared that this was 
nothing. The lamps throughout the temple shall 
immediately burst into light: as he spoke, they had 
kindled and blazed up. " But of these mystical won- 
der-workers we think lightly,'' proceeded the skilful 
speaker : " do thou, like us, think only of the internal 
purification of the reason." " Keep to your book,'' 
broke out the impatient youth: "this is the man I 
seek." ^ Julian hastened to Ephesus. The person and 
demeanor of Maximus were well suited to keep up the 
illusion. He was a venerable man, with a long white 
beard, with keen eyes, great activity, soft and persuar 
sive voice, rapid and fluent eloquence. By Maximus, 
who summoned Ghrysanthius to him, Julian was 
brought into direct communion with the invisible world. 
The faithftil and oflBicious Genii from this time watched 
over Julian in peace and war; they conversed witli 
him in his slumbers, they warned him of dangers, they 
conducted his military operations. Thus far we pro- 
ceed on the authority of Pagan writers : the scene of 
his solemn initiation rests on the more doubtful 
testimony of Christian historians,* which, as they were* 

1 EunapiuB, in Vit Mdeaai et Maximi. 

s Greg. Naz. Orat iii. 71. Theodoret, iii. 8. 

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little likely to be admitted into the secrets of these 
dark aiid hidden rites, is to be receiyed with grave 
suspicion ; more especially as they do not scruple to 
embellish these rites with Christian miracle. Julian 
was led first into a temple, then into a subterranean 
crypt, in almost total darkness. The evocations were 
made ; wild and terrible sounds were heard ; spectres 
of fire gibbered around. Julian, in his sudden terror, 
made the sign of the cross. All disappeared, all was 
silent. Twice this took place, and JiQian could not 
but express to Maximus his astonishment at the power 
of this sign. "The gods," returned the dexterous 
philosopher, " will have no communion with so profane 
a worshipper." Rrom this time, it is said, on better 
authority,^ Jidian burst, like a lion in his wrath, the 
slender ties which bound him to Christianity. But he 
was still constrained to dissemble his secret apostasy. 
His enemies declared that he redoubled his outward 
zeal for Christianity, and even shaved his head in 
conformity with the monastic practice. His brother 
Gallus had some suspicion of his secret views, and 
sent the Arian bishop Aetius to confirm him in the 

How far Julian, in this time of danger, stooped to 
diseuise his real sentiments, it were rash to conduct of 

° ' Coofitantiua 

decide. But it would by no means commend to juuan. 
Christianity to the respect and attachment of Julian, 
that it was the religion of his imperial relative. Popu- 
lar rumor did not acquit Constantius of the murder of 
Julian's father ; and Julian himself afterwards publicly 
avowed his belief in this crime.^ He had probably 
owed his own escape to his infant age and to the activ* 

^ Libanius. 

' Ad Senatum Populomqiie Atfaenienacn. Julian. Oper. p. 270. ' 

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itj of his friends. Up to this time, his life had been 
tiie precarious and permissive boon of a jealous tyrant, 
who had inflicted on him every kind of degrading 
restraint. His place of education had been a prison, 
and his subsequent liberty was watched with suspi- 
cious vigilance. The personal religion of Constantius, 
his embarking with alternate violence and subtlety in 
theological disputations, his vacillation between timid 
submission to priestly authority and angry persecution, 
were not likely to make a favorable impression on a 
wavering mind. The Pagans themselves, if we may 
take the best historian of tlie time as the represent- 
ative of their opinions,^ considered that Constantius 
dishonored the Christian religion by mingling up its 
perspicuous simplicity with anile superstition. If there 
was little genuine Christianity in the theological dis- 
cussions of Constantius, there had been less of its 
beautiful practical spirit in his conduct to Julian. It 
had allayed no jealousy, mitigated no hatred ; it had 
not restrained his temper from overbearing tyranny, 
nor kept his hands clean from blood. And now, the 
death of his brother Oallus, to whom he seems to have 
cherished warm attachment, was a new evidence of the 
capricious and unhumanized tyranny of Constantius, 
a fearful omen of the uncertainty of his own life under 
such a despotism. He had beheld the advancement 
and the fate of his brother ; and his future destiny 
presented the alternative either of ignominious obscur- 
ity or fatal distinction. His life was spared only 
through the casual interference of the humane and en- 
lightened empress; and her influence gained but a 
slow and difficult triumph over the malignant eunuchs 
who ruled the mind of Constantius. But he had been 

1 Ainmianus MarcelUnuB. 

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exposed to the ignominy of arrest and imprisonment, 
and a fearful suspense of seven weary months.^ His 
motions, his words, were watched; his very heart 
scrutinized; he was obliged to suppress the natural 
emotions of grief for the death of his brother; to 
impose silence on his fluent eloquence, and act the 
hypocrite to nature as well as to religion. 

His retreat was Athens, of all cities in the empire 
that, probably, in which Paganism still main- j^^;^^^ 
tained the highest ascendency, and appeared ^"»«»' 
in the most seductive form. The political religion of 
Bome had its stronghold in the capital ; that of Greece, 
in the centre of intellectual culture and of the fine 
arts. Athens might still be considered the university 
of the empire ; from all quarters, particularly of the 
East, young men of talent and promise crowded to 
complete their studies in those arts of grammar, rheto- 
ric, philosophy, which, however, by no means disdained 
by the Christians, might still be considered as more 
strictly attached to the Pagan interest. 

Among the Christian students who at this time paid 
the homage of their residence to this great centre of 
intellectual culture, were Basil, and Gregory of Nazi- 
anzum. The latter, in the orations with which in later 
times he condemned the memory of Julian, has drawn 
with a coarse and unfriendly hand the picture of his 
person and manners. His manners did injustice to 
the natural beauties of his person, and betrayed his 
restless, inquisitive, and somewhat incoherent charac- 
ter. The Christian (we must remember, indeed, that 
these predictions were published subsequent to their 
fulfilment, and that, by their own account, Julian had 

1 *Ruk A iufSftu f»6yi(, kind fttfvvv Sku» kMoac rpdc iC9ff citfe. — Ad. 
S. P. Ath. p. 272. 

VOL. II. 80 

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already betrayed, in Asia Minor, his secret propensi- 
ties) already discerned in the unquiet and unsubmis- 
sive spirit the future apostate. But the general 
impression which Julian made was far more favora- 
ble. His quickness, his accomplishments, the variety 
and extent of his information, his gentleness, his elo- 
quence, and even his modesty, gained universal 
admiration, and strengthened the interest excited by 
his forlorn and perilous position. 

Of all existing Pagan rites, those which still main- 
juiiaa tained the greatest respect, and would 

impress a mind like Julian's with the pro- 
foundest veneration, were the Eleusinian mysteries. 
They united the sanctity of almost immemorial age 
with some similitude to the Platonic Paganism of the 
day, at least sufficient for the ardent votaries of the lat- 
ter to claim their alliance. The Hierophant of Eleusis 
was admitted to be the most potent theurgist in the 
world.^ . Julian honored him, or was honored by his 
intimacy ; and the initiation in the Mystery of those 
emphatically called the Goddesses, with all its appall- 
ing dramatic machinery, and its high speculative and 
imaginative doctrines, the. impenetrable, the ineffable 
tenets of the sanctuary, consummated the work of 
Julian's conversion. 

The elevation of Julian to the rank of CsBsar was at 
jserattoii length cxtortcd from the necessities, rather 
titoSSfrf *b^ fi-eely bestowed by the love, of the 
^**'- emperor. Nor did the jealous hostility of 
Constantius cease with this apparent reconciliation. 
Gonstantius, with cold suspicion, thwarted all his 

^ Compare (in Ennap. Vit ^des. p. 62, edit. BoisBonade) the prophecy of 
the dissolution of Paganism ascribed to this pontiff; a prediction which may 
do credit to the sagacity, or evince the apprehensions of the seer, bat will by 
no means daun the honor of dirine foreknowledge. 

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measures, crippled his resources, and appropriated to 
himself, with unblushing injustice, the fame of his vic- 
tories.^ Julian's assumption of the purple, whether* 
forced upon him by the ungovernable attachment of 
his soldiery, or prepared by his own subtle ambition, 
was justified, and perhaps compelled, by the base in- 
gratitude of Constantius ; and by his manifest, if not 
avowed, resolution of preparing the ruin of Julian, by 
removing his best troops to the East.^ 

The timely death of Constantius alone prevented 
the deadly warfare in which the last of the Death ©r 
race of Constantino were about to contest ^°»**°*''^ 
the empire. The dying bequest of that empire to 
Julian, said to have been made by the penitent Con- 
stantius, could not efiace the recollection of those 
long years of degradation, of jealousy, of avowed or 
secret hostility ; still less could it allay the dislike or 
contempt of Julian for his weak and insolent prede- 
cessor, who, governed by eimuchs, wasted the pre- 
cious time which ought to have been devoted to the 
cares of the empire, in idle theological discussions, or 
quarrels with contending ecclesiastics. The part in the 
character of the deceased emperor least likely to find 
favor in the sight of his successor Julian was his reli- 
gion. The unchristian Christianity of Constantius 
must bear some part of the guilt of Julian's apostasy. 

Up to the time of his revolt against Constantius, 
Julian had respected the dominant Christianity. The 

1 Ammianuflf 1. xt. 8, ei teqq, Socrates, iii. 1. Sozomen, y. n. La Ble- 
teriOf Vie de Julien, 89 et teqq. The campaigns of Julian, in La Bleteiie, 
lil>. iL — Gibbon, iy. pp. 1, 4. 

The well-known passage in Ammianns shows the real sentiments of the 
conrt towards Julian. " In odium yenit cum yictorils suis capella non homo; 
ut hlrsutum Julianum caq)ente9 appellantesque loquacem talpam, et puipura- 
tam simiam, et litterionem Gnecum.** — Amm. Marc ±yii. 11. 

s Amm. Maze xx. &c. Zosimus, ilL Liban. Or. x. JuL ad S. P. Q. A. 

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religious acts of his early youth, performed in obedi- 
Conduct of ®^^ to? or imder the influence of, his instruct- 
^^*""* ors; or his submissive conformity, when 
his watchful enemies were eager for his life, — ought 
hardly to convict him of deliberate hypocrisy. In 
Gaul, still under the strictest suspicion, and engaged 
in almost incessant warfare, he would have few oppor- 
tunities to betray his secret sentiments. But Jupiter 
was consulted in his private chamber, and sanctioned 
his assumption of the imperial purple.^ And no 
sooner had he marched into Illyria, an independent 
emperor at the head of his own army, than he threw 
aside all concealment^ and proclaimed himself a wor- 
diipper of the ancient gods of Paganism. The au- 
spices were taken ; and the act of divination was not 
the less held in honor, because the fortunate sooth- 
sayer annoimced the death of Gonstantius. The army 
followed the example of their victorious general. At 
his command, the neglected temples resumed their 
ceremonies ; he adorned them widi offerings ; he set 
the example of costly sacrifices.^ The Athenians in 
particular obeyed with alacrity the commands of the 
new emperor; the honors of the priesthood became 
again a worthy object of contest; two distinguished 
females claimed the honor of representing the genuine 
EumolpidsQ, and of officiating in the Parthenon. Ju- 
lian, already anxious to infuse as much of the real 
Christian spirit as he could into reviving Paganism, 
exhorted the contending parties to peace and unity, as 
the most acceptable saorifioe to the gods. 

1 Amm. zxi. 1. 

s The Western army was more easily practised upon than the Eastern 
soldiers at a subsequent period. QpqoKevofUv roiic Ocot)f icvai^cofddv Kot 
t6 vXffOoc TOO ffvyKatiXdoinvc UM arparoTridw ^eoaeS^ ioriv, — Epist. 

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Chat. VI. B£IIGI0K OF JULIAI7. 469 

The death of Oonstantius left the whole Boman 
world open to the civil and religious schemes which 
lay, floating and unshaped, before the ims^nation of 
Julian. The civil reforms were executed with neces- 
sary severity, but, in some instances, with more than 
necessary cruelty. The elevation of Paganism into a 
rational and effective faith; and the depression and 
even the eventual extinction of Christianity, were the 
manifest objects of Julian's religious policy. Julian's 
religion was the eclectic Paganism of the new Platonic 
philosophy. The chief speculative tenet was Oriental 
rather than Greek or Boman. The one inmiaterial, 
inconceivable Father dwelt alone ; though his majesty 
was held in reverence, the direct and material object 
of worship was the great Sun,^ the living and anima- 
ted, and propitious and beneficent image of the 
immaterial Father.^ Below this primal Deity and his 
glorious image, there was room for the whole Pantheon 
of subordinate deities, of whom, in like manner, the 
stars were the material representatives; but who 
possessed invisible powers, and manifested themselves 
in various ways, — in dreams and visions, through 
prodigies and oracles, the flights of birds, and the 
signs in the sacrificial victims.^ This vague and com- 
prehensive Paganism might include under its domin- 
ion all classes and nations which adhered to the 

1 Tdv ftiyov "^^.xoy, rd (uw a/a^ Koi kft^x^t i^ einfoOv kcH &ya^ 
Ooepybv, rov vc^tov narpog. 

* Compare Julian, apud CyriL, lib. it. p. 66. 

< Julian asserts the yarioiu offices of the sabordinate deities, apad CjrrO., 
lib. vii. p. 286. 

One of the most femarkable Ulnstrations of this wide-spread worship of 
the Son is to be found in the address of Julius Firmicus Matemus to the em- 
perors Constantins and Constans. He introduces the Sun as remonstrating 
against the dishonorable honors thus heaped upon him, and protests against 
being responsible for th« acts, or involyed in the fate, of Liber,.Att7B, or 

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Heathen worship ; the Oriental, the Greek, the Boman, 
even, perhaps, the Northern barbarian, would not 
refuse to admit the simplicity of the primal article of 
the creed, spreading out as it did below into the 
boundless latitude of Polytheism. The immortality 
of the soul appears to follow as an inference from 
some of Julian's Platonic doctrines ; ^ but it is re- 
markable how rarely it is put forward as an important 
point of difference in his reli^ous writings ; while, in 
his private correspondence, he falls back to the dubi- 
ous and hesitating language of the ancient Heathens, 
— " I am not one of those who disbelieve the immor- 
tality of the soul : but the gods alone can know ; man 
can only conjecture that secret."^ But his best con- 
solation on the loss of friends was the saying of the 
Grecian philosopher to Darius, that, if he would find 
three persons who had not suffered the like calamities, 
he would restore the king's beautiful wife to life.* 
Julian's dying language, however, though still vague 
and allied to the old Pantheistic system, sounds more 
like serene confidence in some future state of being. 

The first care of Julian was to restore the outward 
Restoration form of Paganism to its former splendor, 
ofPagMiym. jy^^ ^ infuse the vigor of reviving youth 
into the antiquated system. The temples were every- 
where to resume their ancient magnificence; the 
municipalities were charged with the expense of these 

Osiris. ^* Nolo ut enori yestro Domen meum fomenta suppeditet. . . . Qnlo- 
quid Bum Bimpliciter Deo pueo, nee allud vole de me ixiteliigatis, nid quod 
TidetiB."— c8. 

1 Lib. u. 68. 

s O^ yctp d^ KtU ifidc hfuv tuv ireiretoftivav rdp ^n^df IJTOi irpoearSX' 
hfodai Tuv aufiuTuv ^ owamiX^voOcu. ... 'Of roi^ ftkv avOpumic itpfto- 
(ec nepi wurOruv eUdCeiy, kKioTaawu 6^ ainit rode ^eodf ia^ini» — EpisL 
bdii. p. 452. 

* Epistie to AmeiiuB on the loss of his vife. — Ep. xzztu. p. 412. 

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costly renovations. Where they had been destroyed 
by the zeal of the Christians, large fines were levied 
on the churches, and became, as will hereafter appear, 
a pretext for grinding exaction, and sometimes cruel 
persecution. It assessed on the whole community 
the penalty merited, perhaps, only by the rashness of 
a few zealots; it revived outrages almost forgotten, 
and injuries perpetrated, perhaps with the sanction, 
unquestionably with the connivance, of the former 
government. In many instances, it may have re- 
venged on the innocent and peaceful the crimes of 
the avaricious and irreligious, who either plundered 
under the mask of Christian zeal, or seized the oppor- 
tunity when the zeal of others might secure their 
impunity. That which takes place in all religious 
revolutions had occurred to a considerable extent: 
the powerful had seized the opportunity of plunder- 
ing the weaker party for their own advantage. The 
eunuchs and favorites of the court had fattened on 
the spoil of the temples.^ K these men had been 
forced to regorge tlieir ill-gotten gains, justice might 
have approved the measure; but their crimes were 
unfairly visited on the whole Christian body. The 
extent to which the ruin and spoliation of the temples 
had been carried in the East, may be estimated from 
the tragic lamentations of Libanius. The soul of 
Julian, according to the orator, burned for empire, in 
order to restore the ancient order of things. 

In some respects, the success of Julian answered 
the high-wrought expectations of his partisans. Eds 
panegyrist indulges in this lofty language: '^Thou, 

^ " Pasti templonun spoliis *' ia the strong expression of Ammianos. 
LilMmins says, that some persons had built themselves houses from the mate- 
rials of the temples. Xpfffjara ^ heXow oi rdg tQv UpCv Xi$oic a^af 
aOroic oUutc fydponfrec^Orat, Parent p. 604. 

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then, I say, mightiest emperor ! hast restored to the 
republic the expelled and banished virtues ; thou hast 
rekindled the study of letters; thou hast not only 
delivered from her trial Philosophy, suspected hereto- 
fore and deprived of her honors, and even arraigned 
as a criminal, but hast clothed her in purple, crowned 
her with jewels, and seated her on the imperial throne. 
We may now look on the heavens, and contemplate 
the stars with fearless gaze, who, a short time ago, 
like the beasts of the field, fixed our downward and 
grovelling vision on the earth." ^ " First of all," says 
Libanius, '' he re-established the exiled religion, build* 
ing, restoring, embellishing the temples. Everywhere 
were altars and fires, and the blood and fat of sacrifice, 
and smoke and sacred rites, and diviners fearlessly 
performing their functions. And on the tops of moun- 
tains were pipings and processions, and the sacrificial 
ox, which was at once an offering to the gods and a ban- 
quet to men." ? The private temple in the palace of 
Julian, in which he worshipped daily, was sacred to the 
8un; but he founded altars to all the gods. He 
looked' with especial favor on those cities which had 
retained their temples ; with abhorrence on those which 
had suffered them to be destroyed, or to fall to ruin.* 

Julian so entirely misapprehended Gliristianity, as 
to attribute its success and influence to its external 
oi^anization, rather than to its internal authority over 
the soul of man. He thought that the religion grew 
out of the sacerdotal power, not that the sacerdotal 
power was but the vigorous development of the religion. 

^ Mam. Grat. Act c. sdii. This dause refers, no doubt, to astrology 
and dirination. 

s See y. 1. p. 629, one among many panages; likewise, the Oratio pro 
Templis, and the Monodia. 

< Grat. Parent, p. 664. 

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He fondly supposed that the imperial edict, and the 
authority of the gOTemment, could supply the place 
of profound religious sentiment; and transform the 
whole Pagan priesthood, whether attached to the dis- 
solute worship of the East, the elegant ceremonial of 
Greece, or the grayer ritual of Rome, into a serious, 
highly moral, and blameless hierarchy. The emperor 
was to be at once the supreme head and the model of 
this new sacerdotal order. The sagacious mind of Ju- 
lian might have perceived the dangerous power, grow- 
ing up in the Christian episcopate, which had already 
encroached upon the imperial authority, and began to 
divide the allegiance of the world. His political ap- 
prehensions may have concurred with his religious 
animosities, in not merely endeavoring to check the 
increase of this power, but in desiring to concentrate 
again in the imperial person both branches of authority. 
The supreme pontificate of Paganism had, indeed, 
passed quietly down with the rest of the imperial titles 
and functions ; but the interference of the Christian 
emperors in ecclesiastical affairs had been met with 
resistance, obeyed only with sullen reluctance, or but 
in deference to the strong arm of power. The doubt- 
ful issue of the conflict between the emperor and his 
religious antagonist might awaken reasonable alarm 
for the majesty of the empire. If, on the other hand, 
Julian should succeed in re-organizing the Pagan 
priesthood in efficiency, respect, and that moral supe- 
riority which now belonged to the Christian ecclesias- 
tical system, the supreme pontificate, instead of being 
a mere appellation or an appendage to the imperial 
title, would be an office of unlimited influence and 
authority.^ The emperor would be the undisputed 

1 See the cnriooB fragment of the sixty-second epistle (p. 460), in which 

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and unrivalled head of the religion of the empire; 
T lu-.- . tho whole sacerdotal order would be at his 

juiiaii'i iMW 

priMthood. command: Paganism, instead of being, as 
heretofore, a confederacy of different religions, an ag- 
gregate of local systems of worship, each under its 
own tutelar deity, would become a well-regulated mon- 
archy, with its proyincial, ciyic, and village priesthoods, 
acknowledging the supremacy, and obeying the im- 
pulse, of the high imperial functionary. Julian 
admitted the distinction between the priesthood and 
tlie laity.^ In every province a supreme pontiff was 
to be appointed, charged with a superintendence over 
the conduct of the inferior priesthood, and armed with 
authority to suspend or to depose those who should 
be guilty of any indecent irregularity. The whole 
priesthood were to be sober, chaste, temperate in all 
things. They were to abstain, not merely from loose 
society ; but, in a spirit diametrically opposite to the 
old religion, were rarely to be seen at public festivals, 
never Where women mingled in them.* In private 
houses, they were only to be present at the moderate 
banquets of the virtuous ; they were never to be seen 
drinking in taverns, or exercising any base or sordid 
trade. The priesthood were to stand aloof from soci- 
ety, and only mingle with it to infuse their own grave 
decency and unimpeachable moral tone. The theatre, 
that second temple, as it might be called, of the older 
religion, was sternly proscribed; so entirely was it 
considered sunk from its high religious character, so 

Julian asserts bis supremacy, not merely as Pontifex Maximus, but as hold- 
ing a bigb rank among the worshippers of Cybele. ^Eyti rotvw ^TreoS^ir^ 
elfu Kord, fttu rd irarpta fuyac ^Apxupivc, iXaxov 6k vw not toO ^ido' 
Hatou icpo^reoav. 

1 'Eni2 aol noO fiinariv kfinupuK (^Aijf) ruv duuduv, 8c die (Ma ri 
fttu Upevc, ri 6i iiSui^. — Fragm. Epist IxU. 

* See Epist zlix. 

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incapable of being restored to its old moral influence. 
They were to avoid all books, poetry, or tales, which 
might inflame their passions; to abstain altogether 
from those philosophical writings which subverted the 
foundations of religious belief, those of the Pyrrhonists 
and Epicureans, which Julian asserts had happily fal- 
len into complete neglect, and had almost become 
obsolete. They were to be diligent and liberal in alms- 
giving, and to exercise hospitality on the most generous 
scale. The Jews had no beggars; the Christians 
maintained, indiscriminately, all applicants to their 
charity ; it was a disgrace to the Pagans to be inat- 
tentive to such duties ; and the authority of Homer 
is alleged to show the prodigal hospitality of the older 
Greeks. They were to establish houses of ma 

/. . . , charitable 

reception for strangers m every city, and in»titutfoM 
thus to rival or surpass the generosity of the Chris- 
tians. Supplies of com from the public granaries 
were assigned for these purposes, and placed at the 
disposal of the priests, partly for the maintenance of 
their attendants, partly for these pious uses. They 
were to pay great regard to the burial of the dead, a 
subject on which Grecian feeling had always been 
peculiarly sensitive, particularly of strangers. The 
benevolent institutions of Christianity were imitated 
to be imitated and associated to Paganism. tiaS^. 
A tax was to be levied in every province for the main- 
tenance of the poor, and distributed by the priesthood. 
Hospitals for the sick and for indigent strangers of 
every creed were to be formed in convenient places. 
The Christians, not without justice, called the em- 
peror "the ape of Christianity." Of all homage to 
the Gt)spel, this was the most impressive and sincere ; 
and we are astonished at the blindness of Julian in 

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not perceiving that these changes, which thus enforced 
his admiration, were the genuine and permanent results 
of the religion ; but the disputes and strifes and perse- 
cutions, the accidental and temporary effects of human 
passions awakened by this new and violent impulse 
on the human mind. 

Something like an universal ritual formed part of the 
design of Julian. Three times a day prayer 
was to be publicly offered in the temples. 
The powerful aid of music, so essential a part of the 
older and better Grecian instruction, and of which the 
influence is so elevating to the soul,^ was called in to 
impress the minds of the worshippers. Each temple 
was to have its organized band of choristers. A 
regular system of alternate chanting was introduced. 
It would be curious, if it were possible, to ascertain 
whether the Grecian temples received back their own 
music and their alternately responding chorus from 
the Christian churches. 

Julian would invest the Pagan priesthood in that 
BMpectibr respect, or rather that commanding majesty, 
tmptofc ^^jj ^hich the profound reverence of the 
Christian world arrayed their hierarchy. Solemn 
silence was to reign in the temples. All persons in 
authority were to leave their guards at the door when 
they entered the hallowed precincts. The emperor 
himself forbade the usual acclamations on his entrance 
into the presence of the gods. Directly he touched the 
sacred threshold, he became a private man. 

It is said that he meditated a complete course of 
Beiigioiu religious instruction. Schoolmasters, cate- 
fatftroction. chists, prcachcrs, were to teach, — are we to 
suppose the Platonic philosophy? — as part of the 

1 On Mojuc, see Epiat lyi. 

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religion. A penitential form was to be drawn up for 
the re-admission of transgressors into the fold. In- 
stead of throwing open the temples to the &ee and 
promiscuous reception of apostatizing Christians, the 
value of the privilege was to be enhanced by the difiS- 
culty of attaining it.^ They were to be slowly admitted 
to the distinction of rational believers in the gods. 
The dii averruncatores (atoning deities) were to be 
propitiated; the believers were to pass through dif- 
ferent degrees of initiation. Prayers, expiations, lus- 
trations, severe trials, could alone purify their bodies 
and their minds, and make them worthy participants 
in the Pagan mysteries. 

But Julian was not content with this moral regenera- 
tion of Paganism; he attempted to bring 
back the public mind to all the sanguinary 
ritual of sacrifice, to which the general sentiment had 
been gradually growing unfamiliar and repugnant* 
The time was passed when men could consider the 
favor of the gods propitiated according to the number 
of slaughtered beasts. The philosophers must have 
smiled in secret at the superstition of the philosophic 
emperor. Julian himself washed off his Christian 
baptism by the new Oriental rite of aspersion by blood, 
the Taurobolia or Kriobolia of the Mithriac mysteries ; ^ 
he was regenerated anew to Paganism.^ This, indeed, 
was a secret ceremony ; but Julian was perpetually 
seen, himself wielding the sacrificial knife, and ex- 
ploring with his own hands the reeking entrails of the 
victims, to learn the secrets of futurity. The enor- 
mous expenditure lavished on the sacrifices, the heca- 

1 See EpUt lii. * Qrtgqr. Nm. iiL p. 70. 

* The person initiated descended into a pit or trench; and through a kind 
of siere, or stone pierced with holes, the blood of the bull or the ram was 
ponred over his whole person. 

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tombs of cattle, the choice birds from all quarters, 
drained the revenue.^ The Western soldiers, especiallj 
the intemperate Gauls, indulged in the feasts on the 
victims to such excess, and mingled them with such 
copious libations of wine, as to be carried to their tents 
amid the groans and mockeries of the more sober .^ 
The gifts to diviners, soothsayers, and impostors of all 
classes, oflFended equally the more wise and rational. 
In the public aa well as private conduct of Julian, 
there was a Heathen Pharisaism, an attention to mi- 
nute and trifling observances, which could not but ex- 
cite contempt even in the more enlightened of his own 
party. Every morning and evening he oflfered sacri- 
fice to the sun ; he rose at night to offer the same 
homage to the moon and stars. Every day brought 
the rite of some other god. Julian was constantly 
seen prostrate before the image of the deity, busying 
himself about the ceremony, performing the menial 
offices of cleansing the wood, and kindling the fire 
with his own breath, till the victim was ready for the 
imperial hands. The sacrifices were so frequent, that, 
had he returned victorious over the Parthians, it was 
said there would have been a dearth of cattle.^ 

1 Julian acknowledges the relactance to sacrifice in many parts. " Show 
me," he says to the philosopher Aristomenes, " a genuine Greek in Cappa- 
docia*" Tewf ydp Tot)f fitv ob Povh>fdvovc, bXtyov^ <ft nvof ideXovrac 
fihf oOk eidoTO/^ 6i •dveiv, bpd, — Epist iv. p. 876. 

^ I do not believe the story of human sacrifices in Alexandria and Ath- 
ens, Socrat. £. H. iii. 18. 

8 "Innumeros sine parsimonift mactans; ut crederetar, si revertisset de 
Parthis,** boyea jam deftcturos.— Amm. Marc xxy. i. 


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