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Printed &y Lukt Hansord 4* Sont, 



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IN my Proposals for printing this History of t|;ie 
Church of Christ I promised " an Ecclesiastical 
HistcMy on a new Plan.** The Reader therefore m ill 
naturally expect some distinct account of a Plan, 
which, in.a subject so generally known, lays claim to 
novelty, in order that he may judge for himself 
whether it appears sufficiently mteresting to engage 
his perusal of the Work itself. 

It b certain, that from our Saviour's time to the 
present, there have ever been persons whose dispo-^ 
sitions and lives have been formed by the rules of the 
New Testament; men, who have been real, not 
merely nominal Christians ; who believed the doc- 
trines of the Gospel, loved tl^em because of their 
divine excellency, jand suffered gladly the loss op 


AND BE FOUND IN HIM*. It is the history of thcse 
men which I propose to write. It is of no consc- 
<}uence with respect to my plan, nor of much im- 
portance, I believe, in its own nature, to what 
EXTERNAL Church they belonged. I intend not to 
epter with any nicety into an account of their rites 
and ceremonies, or forms of Church government, 
much less into their secular history. Even reli- 
gious coNTROVERSifg shall be omitted; except 
those, which seem to bear a relation to the essence 
of Christ's religion, and of which the l^tpry of liis 

• f hilipp. iii. 8, 9. 

VOJ^ h A ? 

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real Church requires some account. Let not the 
Reader expect, that the actions of great men — ; 
great in a secular view I mean — will be exliibited 
to his notice. Nothing, but what appears to me to 
belong to Christ's kingdom, shall be admitted : ge- 
nuine pietjz: is tha paly things wlHci> Ji intend to 
celebrate. - . 

It must have struck ^ careful observer, that such 
a history is as yet a great desideratum. Malice 
has been fed, even to satiety, by the large displays 
«he most visionary heretics have filled, the historic 
page; and their follies, both in principle and practice^ 
have been deemed worthy of a particular enume- 
rktk>n. The internal dissensions of Churches hav^ 
been niinutely described. The intricacies and in- 
frigues of Popery, and indeed of every other secular 
system, which pretends to wear a religious garb, havQ 
been develp|>ed with a studious particularity : The 
eonnexion between the Church and the State has 
aflbrded very ample materials of what is commonly 
eaUed Church History ; and learning and philosophy 
have been much more respected than godliness and; 

No doubt, some more ancient voluminous Church 
Historians, as well as Mosheim in his Compendium, 
have given us much useful information ; and if onQ 
might look on them as civil historians altogether, 
there would not be much room for blame. Further, 
if they had incorporated into their secular narratives 
an account of tlie progress of godliness itself, I 
should not have dared to reprehend them as Ecclesi- 
astical Historians : But they e'/idcntly give a much 
larger proportion to the history of wickedness, than 
to that of piety in general. Hence the evils, which 
have been practised in Christian countries, seem even 
greater than they really were ; and, the disagreeable 
inference, which tlic reading of Mosheim produced in 
my own mnjd, is probably no Jugular case, viz, — 

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IJQ^ rea) reU^on Rppears aearcdy. to bam had any 
&uBtm^^ In&hl nmlice ha3 triumphed, though 
^ery ufirefi^soojably^ 4» aeoonot of tbeee things ; th0 
vieqa of Ctifki^n^ so caUed, have certainty ben 
exaggi^nted on Cbe whole ; and Deists and Sceptics 
|)avp t^keq adi^aRtagp, partly from such eis^aratioa 
and paTtly from the poverty of our infonnatioa con^ 
cerning Mahois^etans ibod ragaoe, torepr^^ent tHyrm 
as 0iore viituoua thau •Cbriatiafis. 

What aecxMiot can be giv^en of this iinba|yptty 
p^dal view of Cbwdi history P-^Geouioe godliacas 
IS iond of i^crecy : Humiltty is of its essef)ce : She 
feeksnot^ pram of men, buttiie praise of God; 
and hides even the ^ood sbo daas from the world 
mofe studiously than wickedaeet cooeeak its evils e 
tier sincerest votaries have, hkewise, been chieiy 
private persons, such as have seldom moved in the 
public and noisy spheres of life. The most cele^ 
hrated historians; who hitherto have appeared, seem 
not to have Imd so much relish for goditness, as to be 
mduced to taice any pains to draw her out of her 
paodest obscurity *. The prevalence of wickedness 

• Fox's Book of Martyrs is, howf wr, one striking excep- 
lioB to this remark. The Magdeburgeosian Ceiituriators, 
fvbom I did not me«t wUh, till I IhuI linUbed this VoJume, 
^re likewise, in part, exeo^pted from the charge of writing 
Ecclesiastical history in the secular manner, which I Lave re-^ 
^ebended. Yet while they omit, or very lamely recount, 
•ocne most iinportant Christian facts, they relate with tediocm 
exactness many uninteresting piirticulars. They seem, bow«* 
ever, to have been men of real piety, industry, and learningt 
and may be of much use to me in subsequent parts of the 
^btory, shovld I continue it. 

The volume of Mr. Newton is well known* and its merit 
has been acknowledged by men of piety and judgment. I 
once thought of beginning only where he ended. But as 
there is an unity of manner and style which belongs to every 
author who plans and executes for himself; and, as in some 
points 1 ' really found myseK to diier in sentiment from thm 
very respectable writer, I altered my opinion, contented in 
this place to acknowledge, that, so far as 1 can recollect, the 
perusal of bis instruciive volume of Ecclesiastical History: 
6ni suggested to me the idea of this work* 

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in all ages has heightened the difficulty*. From 
these causes the scarcity of materials, for what pro* 
fperly deserves the name of Church hbtory, is much 
greater than any person, who has not examined the 
subject, can even conceive. 1 have all along, however, 
to the best of my ability and opportunity, consulted 
•origiaal records, and have never contented myself 
with copying the sentiments of modem hbtorians. 

I ho\ye I shall be allowed to call the plan, I pro- 
pose, a proper one* Certainly, the terms '^ Church, 
and Christian," do in their most natural and 
PRIMARY SENSE respcct ouly GOOD men. The 
Divine Founcterof our religion has promised, that 


IT. Such a succession of pious men in all ages must 
therefore, have existed ; and it will be no contemp* 
iible use of such a history as this, if it prove, that, 
in every age, there have been real followers of 
Christ. Other uses cannot fail to offer themselves. 
To see and trace the goodness of God taking care 
of his Church in every age by his Providence and 
Grace, will be, to the devout mind, a refreshment 
of the most grateful nature. The honour of Chris- 
tianity will bet supported ; the value of its essential 
doctrines will be ascertained ; and we shall have fre» 
quent occasion to state what the Gospel is, and what 
it is not. Hence the triumphs of the Sceptic will 
appear to be unfounded in truth ; when it shall be 
evident on the whole, — that Christ's relidon has ever 
existed, and brought fortii its proper fruits, to which 
no other system can make any just pretension ; and 
finally, — that the evils of which Christians, so called^' 
have been guilty, arose not from the Gospel itset^ 
but from the hypocrisy of those who assupaod that 
worthy Name, to which neither their faith ndr their 
practice gave them any right. ' - *' 

• 4 history of iLe pprversions and abuses of religion is not. 
properly a bjslory of the Church ; as al>surd were it to sup- 
pose an history of the highwaymen that have infested tl)!^ 
pountry to be a history of England^ 

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iNTBOtoucnojT. vn 

These, and other obvious advantaji^s of such a 
history, have determined me to attempt it I feel 
oppressed with the greatness of the subject : Never- 
theless, with God's help, I mean to proceed. Ik 


I have two things further to premise: 1st, To 
assure the Reader that I shall think it my indispen- 
sable duty to give him real facts ; and, if I be rather 
more copious in reflections tlian the severe laws of 
hbtory sdlow, he will do well to observe, that the 
&shionable misrepresentations of ancient story re* 
quire considerable attention^ 

And, 2dly, I &irly warn the Reader not to expect 
from me any indulgence in the modemtaste of Scep« 
ticbm. I shall not affect to doubt the credibility of 
ancient respectable historians. And, as it is hardly 
possible to atoid altogether the infection of the age 
in which one lives, I seem to myself sufficiently se- 
cured, by the torrent of prevailing opinions, from the 
other extreme of superstitious l^lief. Both ought 
to be avdded : but that, which supports itself by the 
appearance of extraordinary sense, by the authority 
of great names, and by the love of applause, must 
of course be the more ensnaring. The pre.sent age, 
HI: matters of relig^m, xP&y justly be called the age 
of self-sufficiency : We condemn the tincients by 
wholesale, and without giving them a hearing : we 
suspect their historical accounts, without discrimi- 
nation : malevolence and profancness are both en- 
courage by such conduct : we fancy ourselves so 
i^yLiGUTKNED, as to he without any parallels in 
discernment : we are amazed, that our ancestors 
should so long have been deluded by absurdities ; 
and, we are very little aware how mucli some future 
age will pity or blame us, for follies, of which we 
imagine ourselves perfectly clear. 

J. M. 

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[ ▼«» ] 

[Note to the Edittoo of igio.j 

THE Editor* takes this opportunity of most 
gratefully acknowledging the liberal patronage of 
the University of Cambridge, in having printed at 
their own expence four Volumes of Mr. M/s Ecclc* 
siastical History. Their kindness and consideration 
in this matter makes an indelible impression on his 
mind : and, if any thing could increase his affec- 
tionate attachment to that learned Body, after so 
Jong and active a residence among tliem, it would be 
this honourable token of respect to the memory of 
his deceased Brother, who himself, many years a^o^ 
as a Student in the same Seminary I, received dis- 
tinguished marks of approbation. 

• The Rev. Isaac Milner, d.d. Dean of Carlisle, and Pre- 
ddent of Queen's College, Cambridge^. 

t Mr. M. took his degree of B.A. in the year 1766; and 
obtaiaedy as a prize, one of the Chancellors gold medals. 
The Candidates were uneomtnofily nomeroas and able* 

Jf.B.— Two bbndsome gold medals are given annually by 
the Chancellor of the University of Cambrtdge, to tvch Ba-^ 
«helurs of Arts as excel in classical learning. 


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Chap. I. Jerusalem - , . - - • - P^^ ^ 

Chap. II. Judea and Galilee - • ' " P« 3$ 

Chap. III. Samaria - - - - - ?• S9 

Chap. IV. Ethiopia - \ - - - - p. 41 

Chap. V. Casarea - - - - - p. 44 
Chap. VI. Autioch and some other Asiatic Churches p. 4S 

Chap. VII. Galatia p. 56 

Chap. VIII. PAiViRpi p. 61 

Chap. IX. Thessahnica - - - - p. 65 
Chap. X. Btrea and Athens - - " - P-7^ 

Chap. XL Corinth - - - - - P- 73 

Chap. XII. Rome - p. 78 

Chap. XIII. Colosse p. 8 J 

Chap. XIV. The Seven Churches of Asia - - p. 84 

Chap. XV. The Remainder qf the first Century, p. 97 
▼OL. 1. b 

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Chap. T. The History of Christians during the Reign of 
Trajan - - - - • - -p-M5 

Chap. H. The Tlistory of Christians during the Reigns 
of J drian and Antoninus Pius - - - p. 174 

Ch KV. III. J uUin Martyr • • •» - P* 187 

Chap. IV. The Emperor Mareus Antoninus and his Per-' 
sccution of the Christiata « «• 1^ " ?• 2oa 

Chap. V. The Martyrdom of Poly carp • ^ p, 209 

Chap. VI. The Martyrs of Lyons ^nd Vienne - p. 323 

Chap. VII. The State of Christians under the Reigns of 

' CommoiuSy Pertinux, and Julian, — The Story of Pr*- 

regMmts • • • -• • --p, 241 

Chap. VIII. Some Account of Christian Authors wIjlo 
fiawi^td in this Century - - - - p. $49 

*C«*AiP. VX.'The Ht resits aftdControrerries of "this -Century 
reziewed ; end aji Idea of the SUxte and Progress ^f 
Christianity during the course ofit" - • p. 255 


Chat. T. Irenaus - * • - - "p. 269 

^wkv.W.'Tertullian - - ^ ' - . P- ^7^ 

Chat. III. Panttmus - - - - • T- ^"^ 

Chap. IV. Clemens Alexandrinus - • - p. 289 

Chat. V. The State of the Church during the Reigns df 
Secerus and Curacalla - - - - .p- 3p4 

Chap. VI. Slate of Christianity during the Reigm of 
Mncrinus, HeliogabaluSy Alexander, Maximinus Pa- 
pienus, Gordian, and Philip - -• w -. -p. 310 

^^h^^^lh The Conversion of -Cyprian ^ • p- 3^ 


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Chap. VIIF. The Beginnings of the Persecution of De- 
dm. — The Government y Cyprian till his Retirement, 

P- 334 

Ch A^. IX. The History of Cyprian^ and of the Western 
Churchy during his Retirement of two Years - p. 339 

Chap. X. Cyprian's Settlement of his Church after his 
Return^ and the History of the Western Church till the 
Persecution under Callus - - - - P» 373 

Chap. Xf. The Effects of the Persecution ofDeciusin the 
Eastern Church - .... p. 388 

Chap. XII. Th€ History of the Church during the Reign 
ffGalluS" - - - - - - p. 412 

Chap. XIII. The pacific Part of Valerian's Reign, p. 427 

Chap. XIV. The last Acts and Martyrdom of Cyprian, 

Chap. XV. Cyprian compared zoith Origen - p. 455 

Chap. XVI. Other Particulars of Falerian*s Persecution, 

p. 470 

Chap. XVII. From the Reign of Gallienus to the End 
of the Century ------ p. 480 

Chap. XVIII. Some Account of Gregory Thaumaturgus, 
TAeognostus,andDionysiusofRome - - p. 502 

Chap. XIX. The further Extension of the Gospel in this 
Century ^- - - - - - - p. 510 

Chap. XX. A short View of the external State of the 
Church in the Third Century - - - p. 511 

Chap. XXI. Testimonies to the Church of Christ from 
its Enemies ------ p. 525 

Chap. XXII. Connexion between the Doctrine and Prac^ 
iice of Primitive Christians - - - p. 543 

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Til AT " repentance and remission of sins should chap. 
be preached in the name of Jesus Christ, begin- , J'_ 
ning at Jerusalem*/' is a passage of Scripture, which 
Ht once points out what the Christian, religion is, and 
where we may look for its befiiniung. \V^e are to 
describe the rise of a dispensation the most glorious 
to God, and the most beneficent to man. Christi- 
anity found mankind in an universal state of sin and 
misery. In Judea alone something of the worship 
of the true God existed. The forms of the Mosaic 
economy subsisted, but were greatly obscured and 
corrupted with Pharisaic traditions and Saddupeaa 
profaneness. The ancient people of God had defiled 
themselves with heathen profligacy: and, though 
there wanted not a multitude of teachers among 
them, yet, when He, who knew what w as in man, 
saw the spiritual condition of tliis people, "he was 
moved v^ ith compassion toward them, because tiiey 
£unted, and were as sheep without a sliepherd/* 
Certainly they were in possession of a degree at lea.t 
• Luke, xxiv. 47. 
VOL. I. B 

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of merri informfttton, tiiough that was extremely 4e^ 
fective, and, in many points of view, fundamentally 
erroneous. But, of that knowledge which relates to 
repentance and remission of sins, they were totally 
destitute. Notwithstanding the light of the Old 
Testament, the provision of sacrifices, the declaration 
of so many prophecies concerning thfe Messiah, and 
the examples of so many holy men, who, in that dark 
and preparatory dispensation, had learned to fear 
God, and to believe in his promises of grace, it does 
not appear that the body of the Jewish nation were, 
in their religious stated materially belter than the rest 
of tlie worid. That men needed such a change of 
disposition as in Scripture is expressed by the term 
fjLiTKifoix^ that they must become new creatures, 
and receive the forgiveness of sins by fiaith in the 
sacrifice of the Lamb cf God, were ideas unknown 
in Judea : — if indeed we except the dim light which 
visited the soiils of Zacharias, of Simeon, of Anna, 
ahd of a few other devout person^, who looked for 
tedemptibn in Jerusalem. 

Such ^Bs the dismal night, in trhich the Sun of 
Righteousness made his appearance in the world. 
Scarce irt any age had ignorance and wickedness a 
more general prevalence. The history by Josephu^ 
evinces dris. This author dwells chiefly indeed on 
public and "political affairs ; yet he throws a sufficient 
li^^t on the manners of the times, and shows, that 
the extreme impiety and profligacy of the Herodian 
^inces, wene but too faithfuHy transcribed into the 
Kves of their subjects. There "had been periods Of 
Jewish story more favourable to godliness : for in* 
stance the age of Joshua, of Davm, of Ezra, and of 
Nehemiah. For some persons there ever were who, 
at least, implicitly rented bn the God of Israel, an^ 
trusted in the Redeemer that was to come. But tfie 
darkest season was chosen for the exhibition of the 
Light of Life by him, " who hath put the times and 
seasons in his own power." 

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To know oar own dq>ravi^ aod helplessness, and, 
by fidth m ChrUit, to know " experimentally" the 
suitable and the ^Sicacious cure, is doubtless the 
genuine secret of tn^ piety. But wherever wicked- 
ness and pn^JBineness have spread very generally^ 
the knowledge of these doctrines is usually lost 
Amidsta thousand disputes even on religious subjects, 
tiiese are erased out of men s creed, — the very doc- 
trines — which alone can be the means of treeing 
them from vice and folly. It was their ignorance of 
these things, which moved the Son <^ God to lament 
the uninfiMrmed condition of the Jews in this day. 
To dwell on the history of Christ himself is foreign 
to my design. Indeed a few soub were converted 
during his abode on earth: but the five hundred 
brethren, who saw him all at one time after his resur* 
rection, seem to have made the sum total of hb dis<*> 
dples. And it may further be bbsarved, that aU 
these, and the eleven sincere Aposties themselves^ 
were possessed wi& notions of a tempc»ral kingdom, 
the rock on which their countrymen fatally split in 
their expositions of the Scriptures relating to the ex« 
pected Messiah ; cmd that they had iK>t yet learned, 
with any clearness and steadiness of apprehension, 
to set their afiections on things above. 

And now was the critical moment, when it pleased ^}^^ «^' 
God to erect the first Christian church at Jerusalem. ^'^wZ 
This was the first of those effusions of the Spirit 
of God, which firom age to age have visited the eaith, 
since ^ coming of Christ, and prevented it from 
bong Quite overrun with ignorance and sin. It is an 
unspeakable advantage, that we have the sacred nar- 
rative to unfold this to our understandings. The 
want of such an advantage will appear too fully in 
the history of the succe^Ung effusions*" of tbe 

* In the terai eiiision there is not here included the idea of 
the miraculous or extraordinary operations of tbe Spirit of God, 
but only of such operations as he vouchsafes in every age to his 
church. The plan of this history hgs Uttle connection with the 
former* It is, however, to be remembered, that a remarkable 


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Divine Spirit. Our duty however is^ not to com- 
plain, but to be thankful. If we carefully attend 
to this first instance, it will serve as a specimen, by 
which to try other rehgious phenomena : and whether 
they lead to genuine piety or not, may generally be 
judged from their agreement or disagreement with 

Let us then observe the circumstances in which this 
effusion of the Holy Spirit was vouchsafed. As re- 
pentance and remission of sins were leading doctrines 
of Christ's religion, the most ample room had been 
made for them by the completion of his redemption. 
He had offered himself a sacrifice for tlie sins of men, 
" was risen " from the dead " for our justification/* 
and in the sight of his disciples was just ascended 
up to lieaven. That the Gospel, the good news for 
penitent sinners, the good news of reconciliation 
with God, should Jjegin at Jerusalem, the scene 
of so much wickedness perpetrated, and of so much 
grace abused, was itself no mean argument of the 
riches of Divine Goodness, and was an illustrious ex* 
emplification of tlie grand purpose of the Gospel,-^ 
to justify the ungodly, and to quicken the dead. By 
the order of their Divine Master, the Apostles re- 
mained at Jerusalem, waiting for the promised Holy 
Spirit, " which tliey had heard of him*," and abode 
in mutual cliarity, and in the fervent exercise of 
prayer and supplication. What the Holy Spirit was 
to do for them, they seemed little to understand : if 
one may conjecture from their last question to tlieir 
Master, " Wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom 
to Israel? " It is natural to apprehend, that tiicy were 
feasting their imaginations with the delightlul f>i'o- 
spect of a splendid kingdom, attended with all the 
circumstances of external pomp and grandeur. 

display of the Divine Grace, at some particular season, is always 
intended fey the expressions effusion of the Spirit of God, or 
EFFUSION of the Divine or Holy Spirit. 
• Acts, i. 4. 

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Principalities and lordships were, in their fancy, soon cent. 

to be assumed in the room of fisliermen's nets and , 1 

boats, and they pleased tliemselves with the notion 
of their Master's external dominion in ihe world. 
Not that they were without a genuine taste for some- 
tiling infinitely better. At any rate, they afford us 
an useful lesson ;— " they continued in prayer arid 
supplication." In every age, they who do so, shall 
doubtless understand, in God's due time, what the 
kingdom of heaven means, and find by happy expe- 
rience that kingdom established in their own souls, 
even *' righteousness, and peace, and joy in the 
Holy Ghost" 

During this interesting crisis, we do not find them Matthias 
employed in -any other business thun this of prayer, [" ^^ "p|^^^ 
except in filling up the apostolical college of twelve, ot juda* 
by tlie substitution of Matthias in the room of the ^'*^*""'- 
unhappy Judas, who, for the love of a little gain of 
this world, had unfitted himself for the riches of the 
next, and rendered himself unworthy to partake o£ 
the marvellous scene now about to be exhibited. 
Behold then the twelve Apostles, Peter, James, 
John, Andrew, Phiii|), Thomas, liartholomew, Mat- 
thew, James the, son of Alpheus, Simon Zelot.s, 
Judas the brother of James, and Matthias, expect- 
ing and longing for the unspeakable blessings of true 
Christianity ! , 

The Pentecost, one of the Jewish festivals, was 
the era of the Divine Visitation. The Apostles were 
all in harmony assembled together; when lo ! sud 
denly there came a soimd from heaven as of a rusli I 
ing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they 
were sitting. Their Master, in his conference with 
Nicodemus*, had compared the operations of the . 
Holy Spirit to the wind, and tlic sound trom heaven 
on this occasion was a just emblem of the power of 
the Djvine Influence now commencing. And ther^ 
appeared " unto them cloven tongues like as of tire, 
* John, ifi* 


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and it sat upon each of them* :" Another embkm 
no less just^ which the church of England uses iu 
her hymn to the Holy Ghost in the ordinaticm- 

" Thy blessed unction from above, 
" Is comfort, life, and fire of love." 
In .truth they now found they were ^* baptized with 
the Holy Spirit and with fire f." And the effects in 
purifying their hearts,in enlightening their understand- 
ings, and in furnishing them with gifts, and zeal, and 
bmdness, hitherto unknown, were very soon exhibited. 
They were all filled with the " Holy Ghost, and be- 
gan to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave 
them utterance." Of the many miraculous gifts now 
imparted, this of tongues, at once so useful for the 
propagation of the Gospel, and so strikkig an attes- 
tation of its truth, first displayed itself to 3ie amaze- 
ment of a number of Jews, out of every nation under 
heaven, who heard these Galileans speak each in his 
own language. There is reason to believe, that, as 
many of them were devout men, they had been pre- 
pared by Divine Grace for the effectual reception of 
the Gospel, and that a considerable part of the first 
converts were of their body. 

While many were expressing their admiration at 
this strange event, others, whom we may suppose to 
have been chiefly the native Jews, who understood 
not these several languages, derided the Apostles as 
intoxicated with wine: and now the zeal of Peter was 
stirred up to preach both to those who admired, and 
Peter's ^ those who scomcd. He begged them to have so 
ducourse. much caudour, as not itishly to suppose them to be 
men overcome with liquor, which the very time of the 
day rendered improbable, the third hour of the day, 
answering to our nine in the morning, when it seems 
no Jew was ever known to be in that situation. And 
as his audience professed a regard for the sacred 

* Acts, iL t Matt. iii. 1 1. 

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oracles, he pointed out to them a remarkable prophecy 
in the second chapter of Joel, then fulfilling, namely, 
the promise of an effusion of the Spirit upon all flesh, 
attended with dreadful punishments on those who 
should despise it : — ^yet that whoever, in the deep 
sense of his sinfulness and misery, should call on the 
name of the Lord, should he saved. He then shows 
tfaem how God had fulfilled his own purposes in the 
death of Jesus, at the very time when they bad b|Ben 
executing the dictates of their own malice. He pro- 
ceeds to testify also of his resurrection, according to 
the testimony of David, in Psal. xvi. and ex. in both 
which Psalms it was evident, that not David himself, 
but Christ was the subject of the prophecy. Ijle 
openly declares that he himsdf and his brethren were 
witnesses of the resurrection of their Master, that 
He was exalted to heaven, and had received of the 
Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, which He had 
now shed forth on the Apostles, and concerning which 
Ibey now had the plain demonstration of their senses. 
The conclusion which ho draws from this chain of 
argument, supported by the mutual strength of facts 
and prophecies, was this, — that the despised person, 
whom they had thought unworthy to live, and had 
exposed to the most painfiil and ignominious death, 
tras owned by the God of their Fathers to be t\n 
Lord and Messiah, who was the expectation of the 
Jews, and through whom alone salvation was ofl'er- 
ed to sinful men. 

The design of the whole sermon was evidently to 
produce convictian of sin in the hearers ; and it pleased 
God to crown it with success. Multitudes were pricked 
in their hearts : they found themselves guilty of mur- 
dering the Christ of God : and so povverfuUy werd 
they struck with a sense of their extreme un worthiness, 
that they found themselves also destitute of all re« 
sources in themselves. They cry to Peter and to tho 
rest, " Menand brethren, what shall we do?" Similar 
indeed is the he^nuing of all trg^ r^pent^nnge, when 

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CHAP, men find themselves really lost, helpless, and willing 

^ J- ^ to be led in any way which God shall please, because 

they have no ability in themselves, and "there is no 

health in Ihein*." Peter said unto them, *^ Repent 

^ and be baptized every one of you in the name 

of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye 

' shall receive the gilt of the Holy Ghost. For the. 

prciuise is unto you, and to your children, e^nd to all 

that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our 

God shall call." 

Thus tlie doctrine of re[>entance and remission of 
en7e!"nnd sins, iu the namc of Jesus, began at Jerusalem. 
of/^''^'* The people were called upon to "loath themselves 
for their past iniquities," and to give themselves up 
to God for an intire renovation of soul^ and the 
Grace of God in Christ was offered to every one 
of them. The Apostle exhorted them all to receive 
this grace, by believing on Jesus for the remission 
of sins, with a submission to his ordinance of bap- 
tism as an emblem of washing away their sins; and 
he assured them, that God would receive them into 
his favour in this way : that however guilty they were, 
all their sins should be pardoned, as if they had 
never been committed ; and the Holy Ghost should 
be poured on them also : for the promise of it was 
very general; — to them, to their children, to the 
most distant lands, wherever God should call men 
to reconciliation by Jesus Christ Thus did St. 
Peter convince his hearers of sin, and instruct them 
in the way of salvation. 

They, whose hearts God had smitten with a sense 
of guilt, were consoled by the grace of forgiveness ; 
and " with many other words did he testify and ex- 
hort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward 
generation. — 'Ihen they that gladly received his 
. word, were baptized ; and the same day there were 
added to them about three tliousaiid souls." 

In this manner did the convictions imdconsolationa 
f The Church of England Confesjiou^ 

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oT the Holy Ghost attend the first preaching of cent. 
St Peter. And this gi-eat multitude appear to have ,_ J- ^^ 
been fully converted to Christianity: For they con- 
tinued " stedfestly in the Apostles' doctrine and 
feilowship,and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." 

Here we see the regular appearance of the first ^;^ 
Christian church. These men were not Christians cburciT 
in name only; they understood and believed the 
apostolical doctrine concerning repentance and re- 
mission of sins in the name of Jesus Christ : they con- 
tinued united to the pastors whom God had made 
instruments of their conversion : they received con- 
stantly the ordinance of the Lord's supper, in which 
they enjoyed real communion with their Saviour; 
and prayer was their daily employment and delight. 
Their holy boldness towards God, and their joyful 
sensation of forgiveness, were tempered with a godly 
fear. Every soul was possessed w^th this consistent 
mixture of holy joy and fear. 1 hey had felt the pangs 
of guilt : they had seen what a price was paid for 
their redemption : they ** rejoiced with trembling,** * 
as men jost escaped from the pit of destruction; and 
the same spirit which cried, Abba, Father *, in their 
hearts, taught them to reverence His justice and His 
holiness, to fear Him, and to dread sin above all 
other evils. And though it does not appear to have 
been any injimction of the Apostles, that they should 
live together in a community of goods* and though 
experience soon taught the first Christians, that the 
general establishnjcntandconti^iuanceofsucha usage 
was iiBpractica()le, yet, doubtless, this practice for 
llie present was a rare and convincing instance of 
njutual charity, and proved how soon the operations 
of Divine Grace had loosened their minds from the 
love of this ^^orl(i. They " sold their goods and pos- 
sessions, and parted them to all men, as every man 
had need." In this happy fi'ame of mind they sf)ent 
much of their time in the temple, and in discharging - 
^ Gulatiane, iv. 6, 

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Ihe mutual offices of social kindness: even their 
bodily food was received with a gladness before un- 
known. The Grace of God gave a pleasant tincture 
to every object with which they conversed ; and 
while they extolled it with their hearts and lips, Ibey, 
as yet, found favour with all the people. The natural 
enmity of the heart against the Gospel of Christ did 
n<^ at first show itseli, and the purity of their livet 
eould not but recommend them to the esteem ^ 
others. ^' The Lord added to the Church daily such 
as should be saved." Thus plainly St. Luke inti- 
mates WH0S£ grace it was that effected all this, and 
that his hand, in the Divine Effusion here described, 
ought ever to be acknowledged. 

A miracle wrought soon after by Peter and John 
on a lame man, a well-known beggar above forty 
years old, gave a farther attestation to th^r divine 
authority. Peter was hence led to preach* to the 
admiring multitude, the same doctrine of repentance 
and remission, and exalted the Lord Jesus, as the 
Holy One, and the Just, and the Prince of Life, to 
whom they had wickedly preferred even a murderer, 
Barabbas. He disclaims all merit in himself or in 
his colleagues in the miracle : he shows that God 
bad glorified his Son Jesus; and that it was through 
faith in his name, that the act had been performed. 
He charitably alleges their ignorance; as the only 
possible alleviation of their guilt; and which indeed 
alone prevented it from being unpardonable. He 
exhorts them to repentance and conversion, and lays 
open to their view the prospect not of a temporal, 
but of a spiritual kingdom ; in the hope of which 
they were to rejoice, and patientiy b^ the afflic- 
tions of this present life : he warns them at tlie same 
time of the threats denounced by Moses against tlie 
despisers of the Messiah, through whom alone sal- 
vation was offered to all nations, though the first in- 
vitation was addressed to the Jews. 

• Acts, iii. 

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The Church was now increased to five thousand ; 
and the sigaal for persecution was raised by the ma- _ _ 
gistrates of Jerusalem, many of whom were Saddu- u^i^^eTe 
cees, enemies to the doctrine of a resurrection^ and, th€Cirai»k. 
in truth> to every thing that bad any tendency to raise 
men's minds above the world. The two Apostles 
were imprisoned that evening, but their examination 
was deferred till the next day. The high priest, imd the 
persons of greatest authority, looked on this matter 
as an occasion of suflBcient consequence to require 
the callmg of a solemn court Peter to their inters 
rogatories frankly answers, that the miracle had been 
** wrought in the name of Jesus, wliom ye crucified, 
whom God raised from the dead." He boldly re» 
bukes them for their contempt of Him, who is the 
only Savioor : For '^ there is none other name under 
heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved." 

The wisdom and boldness of two unlettered fishery- 
men, who had been companions of Jesus, struck the 
court with astonishment. But finding no present 
o[^rtunity of gratifying their malice, on account of 
the splendor of the miracle, they dismissed them 
vith a strict charge to be silent in futore concerning 
the name pf Jesus, though the Apostles ingenu^ 
ously confessed their inability to comply with such 
an order, because, ^' they must obey God rather than 

* The Aposties returned to iheir company, and 
reporting the threats of the magistrates, they all, 
with united supplication, intreated the Lord to grant 
them boldness to persevere, notwithstanding the 
menaces of His and their enemies. They were filled 
with the Holy Ghost, and enabled to proceed with 
calm intrepidity. 

The most perfect unanimity as yet prevailed 

among the Christians ; and they not only professed 

to have all things common, but also practised the 

rule accordingly with the gieatcst cheerfulness. 

* Aeu,iv. 

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CHAP. Di\ine Grace was lan^ely diffused among them* 
^* Tlie poor lacked nothing : the richer brethren con-» 
verted their possessions into money, and left the dis- 
tribution ot the whole to the discretion of the Apostles* 
And, in tliis liberality, Barnabas of Cyprus, a Le- 
vite, \^ho had lands of his own, most probably in 
his native country, was eminently distinguished. 

It appeared very manifest, that the Apostles en- 
joyed much more of the power of Christ's religion 
than they had ever done while their Master was with 
them on earth. Such was tlie etFectofthe effusion 
of the Spirit. We hear no more of their dreams con- 
cerning a temporal kingdom. The courage of Peter 
in confronting the magistrates, forms a perfect con- 
trast to his timidity in denying his Master. Wherever 
the same repentance, faith, hope, charity, heavenly-' 
mindednes3 appear, there is ttue Christianity; 
and there also the enmity of the world will be ex- 
cited. Of this something has already discovered 
itselt^ and more is now calling for our attention, as 
well as something much more grievous, — the detec-» 
lion of hypocrisy in certain professors. 

The case of Judas had already prepared the 
Church to expect the appearance of tares among 
the w heat ; and our Lord's parable alluded to, had 
assured them of it. Yet when such things occur, 
good men are often too much surprised, and the 
wicked unreasonably triumph. There was one 
Ananias among the disciples, whose conscience had 
so far been imi)rcssed, as to respect that doctrine and 
fellowship to \\ hich he had joined himself, but v\ hose 
heart was never divorced from the love of the world. 
A regard for his reputation induced him to sell his 
possessions with tl)c rest: but the fear of poverty, 
and the want of faitli in God, disposed him to reserve 
part of tlie price, while he brought the other to the 
Apostles. Peter upbraided him with his being under 
the hiHuencc of Satan, *' in lying to the Holy (ihost ;" 
showed him tliat the guilt of his hypocrisy was 

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aggravated by this consideration, that the action was cent. 
committed not against man, but against God ; and , ^' j 
that nothing could be said to extenuate his baseness, 
because he was under no necessity of selling his pro* 
perty at all, or of laying it at the Apostles' ifeetj after 
he had sold it Immediately the unhappy man fell 
down dead : and, about tliree hours after, his wife 
Sapphira was made a similar monument of Divine 
Justice, as she had been partaker of her husband's 
Such a proof of the discernment of spirits, and 
of the power of punishing hypocrisy, resting in the 
governors of the Church, tilled all, who heaid these 
tilings, with awe* The Lord had now shown his holi- 
ness, as well as his grace ; aiid the love of the world, 
the standing heresy, whicli infects his Church in all 
ag^, was a second time punished by a signal inter- 
position of heavm. Multitudes of both sexes were 
added to tlie Church, chiefly of the cotnmon people. 
Of the rest indeed, though some could not but 
entertain favourable sentiments of Christianity, yet, 
among thq rich and great, none durst hazard his 
character so far as to espouse it *. 

The Sadducees appear at this time to have had the Pcrsecntiou 
* chief sway in the Jewish state. These formed a Apo^stios. 
licentious, worldly-minded sect, and in their opinions, 
they weretlie most corrupt of all those which at that 
time were maintained in Judea. Tiie high priest and 
his party were of this sect, and were filled with indig- 
nation, to see the progress of the Gospel. Their 
first step was to imprison the Apostles, who, by 
night, through tiie ministry of an angel, wer^ set 
free, and ordered to preach in tiie temple. Tlje 
next Dooming a full Sanhedrim was convened, and 
the Apostles were ordered to be brought into couil. 
An angel had opened the prison doors; and the 
court was astonished to find that the prisoners had 
«caped out of prison : they wore, however, informed, 
• Acts, V. 

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tbat they were preaching in die temple. The favour- 
able regard of the common people obliged the San^ 
bedrim to use some address in conducting theif 
prisoners in a gentle manner before the court The 
high priest upbraids them with their disobedience to 
the former inj unction of silence, to whom they returned 
their former answer, that "they ought to obey God 
rather than men." They bore witness to the resurrec- 
tion of Christ, and declared, that " God bad exalted 
him with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour^ 
to give repentance to Israel, and forgivenes* of sins,'* 
and that the " Holy Ghost, whom God bestows oft 
those who obey him, witnessed" the same thing. 
With such plainness did these first Christians lay 
open the real nature of the Gospel, and exhibit it as 
something extremely different from a mere system of 
morals, tiiough it included ail good morality in its 
nature. The testimony of Jesus, the forgiveness of 
sins through his blood, and the operations of the 
Holy Ghost, as they were doubtless the peculiar 
characteristics of Christianity, so they were those 
things which most offended the Jewish rulers, and 
have been indeed the chief object of the enmity of 
unconverted m^ in all ages. 

The spirit of persecution vras proceeding to exer- 
cise itself in violent counsels. There was however one 
Gamaliel among them, a Pharisee, of a sect not in- 
deed inimical to the doctrine of a resurrection, and 
by no means so heterodox in general as the Sad- 
ducees, though on the whole agreeing with them in 
the hatred of Christianity. This man was judicious, 
learned, and respectable, and possessed much worldly 
prucience. Beyond this no evidetiee appears. Pro- 
vidence mside an important use of him, at this thne, 
to prolong twelve nwst valuable lives, who were de- 
signed to spread the Gospel through the world ; and 
by their inspired writings (not one of which was yet 
puUished) to speak to us at this day. Gamaliel, by 
some authentic historical precedents, instructed the 

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DF Junes ALEltf. 15 

lA^inbers of the court, that persons, who rose up tQ 
propa^te new sects, if not sent of God, were soofl 
4^imihUated« He wished thein to exercise forbear*- 
ance and moderation toward the Apostles, wfiose 
influence would soon come to nothing, if it wem 
merely human ; if divine, to attempt its destruction 
would be equally foolish and impious. This sag6 
advice wad followed, and the Apostles were dis* 
mbsed, but not without stripes, and a severe charga 
given them, no more to preach in the name of Jesus. 
They ceased not however to ^* teach and preach 
Jesus Christ, and rejoiced tliat they were counted 
worthy to suffer shame for his name,"* 
H The Church was now much enlarged, consisting 
{)artly of native, partly of foi'eign Jews, who used 
"the Greek language, called on that account Helle- 
nistB, or Grecians. These supposed, that in the daily 
ittpply of the poor, the Apostles had not ministered 
equal relief to their widows, -as to those of the 
Hebrews. Men who know any thing of the vi ork 
of God, in the visitation of his Holy Spirit, and have 
any acquaintance with the fulness of employ, which 
Christian ministers have in great and populous cities, 
k) instructing, warning, consoling, and directing awak- 
ened and seriouB minds, will not wonder, if, througli 
inadvertence, §ome temporary neglects might have 
taken place* The Apostles, however, with great 
ttiildiiess and wisdom, soon regulated this alTair. 
They infomaed the disciples, that the ministry of the 
Word of God nmst be attended to in the first place, 
and must not be neglected for the sake of providing 
ibr the poOr. They therefore advised the disciple* 
to look out tor seven holy and wise men, to whom 
this business fehould be committed. " Bat we," say 
they, *^ tiill give ourselves continually to prayer, and 
CD the ministry of the word *." O that those who call 
tbemselves their successors, were always diposed 
la like manner!— The whole multitude consented vo'^cl*! 

* Acts, ti. 

ClKiicfi oi 

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with pleasure. Seven deacons were amicably elect* 
ed, Steplien, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, 
Parmenas, and Nicholas, every one of whom has a 
Grecian name, and therefore may have been an Hel- 
lenist ; and in this easy way the first appearances 
of contention were blasted in the Cluirch, and seven 
coadjutors were appointed to the Apostles, some of 
whom, at least, were. of signal servj'^e, not only in 
temporal, but also in spiritual things. So happy is 
it to be under the conduct of the lloly Spirit, and 
so amiably did the Love of Christ then rule in the 
hearts of his people. Even many of the priests now 
obeyed the Gospel, and Jerusalem saw continuallv 
large accessions made to the Church. ^ P 

Of these deacons Stephen was at first the most 
distinguished. A synagogue of Hellenist Jews held: 
a contest with hi/n, the result of which filled them 
with such vexation, that they suborned men to accuse 
him of blasphemy against Moses, and against God, 
By this artifice, Stephen was brought before tlie San- 
hedrim, where God threw a lustre over his counte- 
nance, w hich even his enemies could not but observe. 
In his defence he boldly rebuked the Jews, and 
showed that their conduct was but too faitliful a copy 
of that of their fathers, who had treated Moses and 
the prophets with contempt, and had murdered a. 
number of those, who had prophesied of the conjing 
of the Just One — of whom they Ixad now been the 
betrayers and murderers, while they vainly gloried in 
the magnificence of their temple, and put external 
services in the room of genuine piety. 
Martyrdom Thus did Stephen aim at thesame point w ith Peter, 
of Stephen, jq convincc hCs audience of sin in the first place, and 
to leave them no hope in their own righteousness. 
Seldom has the contrast between the spi^Jl of the . 
world and the Spirit of GodappeaiXid more striking. 
^' They were cut to the heart, and gnashed upon 
him with their teeth." But he, '' full of ilie lloly 
Ghost, looked up stedfastly to heaven, and saw the 

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glory of God, and Jesus standing at the ri^t hand cent. 
of God,** and what he saw, he openly confessed. , J - 
Their patience was exhausted, and they stoned him ^ 
to death, while he was calling upon his Divine 
Master, and saying, " Lord Jesus, receive my spirit'* 
Thus /inn and constant was his faith : and his charity 
was no less conspicuous. For, he kneeled down, 
and cried with a loud voice, "Lord, laynot this sin 
to their charge;" thus showing how entirely void of 
all malice were those vehement rebukes, which he 
bad uttered against their wickedness, and which 
men of pusillanimous prudence are in all ages dis« 
posed to condemn. And when he had said this, he 
£fell asleep* ; — the usual beautiful phrase of tlie New 
Testament, to express the death of saints, and at 
tiie same time to intimate their expectation of the 

The eloquence of a Cicero would be mere feeble- 
ness on this occasion. All pnuse isbelow the ex- 
cellency of that spirit, which shone in this first of 
martyrs. Let it stand as an example of the genuine 
temper of martyrdom, of real faith in Christ, and 
of real charity to men ; — and let heroes of the world 
hide their heads in confusion. 

Pontius Pilate having been disgraced, Judea 
seems at this time to have been without a procu- 
rator; and Vitellius, the' governor of Syria, was a 
man of great moderation toward the Jews. In these 
circumstances the mildness of the Roman govern* 
ment was eventually the occasion of a severe perse- 
cution to the Church. 1 he Jewish magistrates, who 
a little before had not the power of lite. and death, 
and could not murder the Lord of Life without the 
intervention of their Roman masters, were now left 
to theiriMlves, at least in religious concerns, and 
Stephen ^as their first Christian victim. lip was 
buried with great lamentation by the Church, and a 
considerable number suffered soon after^ 
• Acts, vii. 

VOL. I. C 

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A young man called Saul, an Hellenist*, of Tar-* 
sus, a person of an active ambitious spirit, who had 
been educated at Jerusalem, under Gamaliel, and 
outstripped all his equals in Judaical learning, 
distinguished himself in this persecution. He took 
care of the clothes of the witnesses who were em- 
ployed in stoning Stephenf , and made havock of 
the church, entering into " every house, and haling 
men and women, he committed them to prison ; and 
when they were put to death, he gave his voice 
against them." In truth, the disciples seemed now 
to be left to the rage of men disposed to show them 
no mercy ; and a superficial observer might have 
supposed, that the fete of Theudas and Judas, men--, 
tioned by Gamaliel, was about to attend the Chris- " 
lians. Men had not yet learned that the " blood 
• of the martyrs was the seed of the Church." The 
religious woi|hip of the disciples must, doubtless, 
have suffered a grievous interruption. Indeed none 
of them found it safe to remain at Jerusalem. The 
Apostles alone thought good to stand their ground, 
and, by the watchful care of their God, they were pre- 
served. The Christians, dispersed throughout Judea 
and Samaria, preached the word wherever they 
went. And thus tliis persecution was the first occa- 
sion of the diffusion of the Gospel through various 
regions, and what was meant to annihilate it, was 
overruled to extend it exceedingly. But we shall 
confine ourselves in this section to the Church of 
ConYcmon Saul, who was all attention to the work of |)erse- 
p«u^"*' ^ cution, was vexed to hear, that a number of the 
Christians had escaped to Damascus, an antiei^ 
36. ^^^y ^^ Syria ; and he procured a commission from 
the high priest to bring them bound to Jerusalem. 
It was a considerable journey, but religious glory 

• That \Sy one bom and bredn Jew in some coimtiy where 
the Greek language was spoken, 
t Acts, viii. 

A* D 

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\ras his idoL When he was near to Damascus^ a 
sudden light from heaven, exceeding even that of 
the sun^y arriested the daring zealot, and struck him 
to the ground. At the same time a voice called to 
him, saying, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 
And he said, Who art thou. Lord ? And the Lord 
said, " I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest : It is 
hard for thee to kick against the pricks." In this 
marvellous manner did the Son of God make known 
his truth, his majesty, and his power, to this enter- 
prismg persecutor, and evince to all ages, what he 
can do to the " praise of the glory of his grace," 
The will of Saul was broken, and made submissive 
to God for the first time, " Lord, what wilt thou 
have me to do/' was his cry ; and whenever this is 
uttered from the heart, it wUl not fail to bring down 
the divine blessing. He was directed to go into 
Damascus, where he remained three days without 
sight and without food, yet constantly employed in 
prayer for divine grace and mercy. Thus the neces- 
sity of the conviction of sin was preached to him 
Hith circumstances more extraordinary than those, 
which took place upoix the preaching to the three 
thousand first converts ; but the spiritual instruction 
conveyed was precisely the same. The work of con- 
verting grace may vary very much in non-essential 
circumstances, — its nature never varies. The grace 
of forgiveness by Jesus Christ would have been no 
welcome news to tim Pharisee, had he still remained 
in the confidence of his own righteousness ; but now 
it was as life from the dead. After three days, by 
the particular direction of a vision from the Lord 
Jesus, Ananias, a disciple of Damascus, was sent 
to him with the tidings of peace. He had heard of ^ 
the active malice of oaul, but was encouraged to gp 
by a positive declaration that Saul was. a chosen 
vessel. Ananias opened his commission by inform- 
ing Saul, that the Lord Jesus, had sent him, to the 
• Acts, ix. 

C 2 

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end that be might receive his sight, and be filled 
with the Holy Ghost Both these eflfects immedi* 
atcly took place. Ananias exhorted him to delay 
no longer, but to '' wash away his sins, calling on 
the name of the Lord *." He was baptized, and 
soon refreshed both in mind and body : and from 
that time the whole vehemence of his natural cha- 
racter, and the whole powder of his intellectual fa* 
culties, which were doubtless of the first magnitude 
among men, were sanctified to the service of Jesus 
Christ ; and to his death, he was engaged in a course 
of labours in the Church with unparalleled success. 
For this is he, who is commonly known by the name 
of St. Paul, and " his memorial is blessed for ever.'* 
He was particularly commissioned to preach to the 
Gentiles, and of all tlie Apostles he seems to have 
entered with the greatest penetration into the na- 
ture of Christianity. Salvation by grace through 
faith was his darling theme, a doctrine diametrically 
opposite to the self-righteous scheme in which he had 
been wont to glory. His countrymen, the Jews, 
were particularly fierce in opposing this grand article 
of the Gospel, and were stung to the quick when at- 
tacked by their once favourite champion. No doubt 
he had been sincere in his rehgion formerly; yet, is 
he far from exculpating himself on this account. 
On the contrary, he magnifies the grace of the Lord 
Jesus, as extended to him, a blasphemer, a perse- 
cutor, injurious, and the chief of sinnersf, in whom 
the long-suffering of the Lord had been exhibited, 
** for a pattern to them, who shall hereafter believe 
on him to life everlasting:" — that mankind may 
know, tliat God accepts sinners on Christ's account 
alone, and through taith in his blood ; and that 
. nothing can be more contnuy to the wbde design of 
the Gospel, than to seek salvation by our own works 
of any kind. He seems ever after to have lamented 
deeply the miserable state of his countrymen, who 
• Acts, xxii. i6 t 1 Tiro. i. 

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^'had a zeal for God, biit not acooirding to know* cent. 
ledge*." He pitied tlieir self-righteous notions : he 
knew by his own experience bow deceitful tho^e 
notions were to those, who were under the power of 
tbein : and, while he rejoiced on account of that 
grace whidi had redeemed himself from hell, he 
commiserated those, who were fast advancing thither 
in fearless pr^umption. In the third chapter of the 
Philippians, he gives us a very particular view of 
fabnaetf. To trust in any thing for salvation, except 
Christ alone, is with him ^' to have confidence in the 
flesh." No man appeared once to have had more 
jost pret^isions to such confidence than himself. 
His regular circumcision on the eighth day, Hebrew 
descent, Pharisaic strictness, zealous Judaism, and 
blameless morals, seined to exalt him above the 
common level of his countrymen : but he declares 
that be '^ reckoned all these things as dung, that he 
might win Christ ;" and in him alone he desires to be 
found, without his own righteousness to trust in ; and 
be maintains the settled determination of his soul in 
-this article of justification. Were it not for the per- 
verse blindness of £sdlen nature, one might be asto- 
nished to find many, persons of leammg and good 
sei^e, after reading this account of the Apostle by 
himself, still endeavouring to represent him as mix- . 
ing grace and works in the subject of justification, 
and describing him as only excluding ceremonial 
works from the office of justifying a sinner; But to 
proceed : 

Having preached Christ for three years abroad, 
be went up to Jerusalem. / Here he attempted to 
join himself to the Church, but the remembrance 
of what he had been, and the very imperfect account 
whid) they had of what he then was, prevented the 
Christiansirom receiving him, till Barnabas brought 
him to the Apostles (two of them only, Peter and 
James f the Lord's brother) and informed them of 
• Rom. X. '»al. i. i8, 19. 

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his genuine conversion. This cleared up all doubts; 
and he was now engaged in the work of the ministry 
at Jerusalem, and would gladly have remained there, 
but the Lord, by a vision, assured him, that the 
Jews would not receive his testimony ; and that the 
great scene of his labours was to be among the 

In fact, some address was needful in his brethren 
to save his life from the rage of the Jews, and he 
was conducted to his native city of Tarsus. By this 
time, however, the fury of persecution subsided : 
the Lord gave rest to his Church : and the dbciples 
both at Jerusalem and elsewhere, walked in the very 
best manner, in which they can walk on this side 
heaven, " in the fear of the Lord, and in the com-r 
fort of the Holy Ghost" Where these go together, 
excesses of all sorts are prevented : and inward joy 
and outward obedience conspire to demonstrate, 
that there Christ reigns indeed. 

Yet so slow are men to receive new divine truths, 
especially those which militate against old preju- 
dices, that the Christians of Jerusalem cmitended 
with Peter on account of his intercourse with the 
Gentiles of Csesarea. The fiercene3s of Peter's 
natural character was now abated : with great meeker 
ness he reasoned on the case with his bigoted 
brethren, and convinced them, by the evident proo& 
of the grace of God being vouchsafed to Gentiles, 
that it was lawful to have communion with them*. 
They glorified God, saying, •* Then hath God also 
to the Gentiles granted repentance to life." Un- 
utterable grace indeed to us, confessed atlen^h and 
owned by our elder brethren the Jews ! David had 
just reason to say, *^ Let me fall into the hand of 
the Lord, for bis mercies are great, and let me not 
fall into the hands of man f . Even a converted 
Jew admits with difficulty, that the grace of God 
may vbit a Gentile. 

• Acts, xi. t 2 Sam. xxiv. 14. 

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The visits of Paul to Jerusalem seem to have 
been but short. The body of the Jewish nation 
sought his destruction; and hb Gentile connections 
and very reserved practice of Mosaical cerembnies, 
rendered him. no peculiar favourite in the mother- 
church, though they "could not but glorify the 
^race of God which was in him *." But the Church 
IS not perfect on eartli. Uis next return to Jerusa-* 
lem was, however, of a popular kind, namejy, to 
convey the alms of Gentile converts to the Jewish 
Christians oppressed by a " fiimine, which came to 
pass in the days of Claudius Coesar t" His compa- 
nion to Jerusalem was Barnabas, whose liberaMty 
iu the b^inning had been so eminent. . This service 
being discharged, they both returned to minister to 
the Ga^tiles. 

The civil pow^ of Judea was now in the hands of 
Herod Agrippa, a great favourite of the Rmnah 
Emperor, a person of considerable talents, and full 
of that specious virtue, which, in secular annals, 
would entitle him to gieat renown. In the Church 
of Christ be stands a persecutor, and his virtues are^ 
in the strong but just language of Augustine j;, splen-* 
did sins. Yet his persecution w^ not the effect of 
a cruel temper. Had the Jews regarded Christianity 
with a Civourable eye, he, at least, would have pro^ 
lected it But long before this timQi the general 
£ivour of the common people toward the Cluristians 
had been dissipated by the active malice of the rulers> 
and Christ was found to have no lasting friends, but 
tboBe whom he made so by effectual grace. The 
first victim of this political persecution was James 
the son of Zebedee : he was slain with the sword, 
the first of the Apostles, who depaited from the 
Church below, to join that which is above. 

Finding that the act was popular, Herod at-* 
tempted to dispatch § Peter also. But God had 
Gal. i. olt. t Acts, xx, toward the end. 

I Splendida peccata. i Acts, xii. 


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CHAP, reserved him for more services ; and yet, io all ap- 
pearance, there was no hope of his preservation. 
' He was imprisoned, and strictly guarded, with a vicM-, 
aft«r the passover, when the concourse of Jews at 
Jerusalem was very large, to have.him publicly exe- 
cuted. The king pleased himself with the idea of 
ingratiating himself with his subjects ; but the Church 
has arms, which men of the world understand Tiot;^ 
and they were vigorously used on this occasion. 

A spirit of lamest peraeveriog prayer was poured 
on the Church of Jerusalem. The Lord delayed to 
answer, till the critical moment; — a method not un- 
common of ecercising the faith, and zeal, and* pati- 
ence of hiB pepple. J3y the miraculous interposition 
o£ an angel, Peter, the night before his intended 
execution, was delivered from prison. At first be 
imagined that to be done in vision, which was a 
leality. At length beii^ fully come to himself, and 
reflecting dst what the Lord had done^ he camfi to 
the house of Mary the mother of John Mark, a wo- 
man of eminent piety and of some opulence, where 
Qiany Christians were gathered together in the reli - 
gbus employment of prayer. Those only, wlio know 
what the spirit of prayer is, can conceive the vehe- 
mence of wrestling, which then engaged Christian 
hearts. The scene which followed was at onceinoe^t 
dstonishing,: and most pleasingi They hear a person 
knocking at the^door ; a yomig woman named lifaoda 
comes to hearken; she knows Peters voice; joy 
prevents her from opening the gate ; slie returns to 
inform the BuppKeants, that Peter stood before it ; 
th^ are induced to suspect her of insanity, rather 
than to believe that their prayers were heard ; so 
slow are even the best to believe the goodness of 
God. She perseveres in her first assertion ; it must 
then, say they, be his angel *. Peter continues knock- 
ing ; they open at length ; they behold him, and are 

* The idea ofXhe mioistry ofangeU among men was popular 
with the Jews ; possibly these good men might carry it too far. 

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astoni^ied Having waved bis band, and hrou^ 
them to silefice, he «fomis tbeni of the Lord s won-, 
derful ioteipositioii in liis favour. Go, says he, and 
show these things to James, and the brethren. James^ 
^bo ^vas the Lord s brother, widi himself and Jolm 
had the greatest concern in the government of the 
mother Church * at that time. Peter retires then to 
a ptece of concealment, 

LitUe did Herod apprehend that his own death Deaih of 
should precede that of his prisoner. On a public "*'^' 
occasion, in which he appeared in great splendor, he. ^' ^* 
delivered an oration, so pleasing to his audience, 44- 
that they shouted, '' It is the voice of a God, and not 
of a man/' That moment he was smitten with an in- 
curable disease by an angel, because he ^^ gave not 
God the^ory." 'fhat pride and ambition, which had 
gained him the cbarac^r of a patriot, orator, and 
statesman, weie punished with death by Him, who 
'^ seethnotas man seeth^'" and he fell a warning to 
princes, not to seek glory in opposition to God. 

The next memorable circumstance in the history Fmt 
of the mother*church will deserve our particular at-^ co«u^ 
tention. This was the first Christian council The "" 
controversy which occasioned it, involved a subject l^ ' 
of vast consequence in real religion. ^ * 

t About, twenty years had dapsed since the effu- 
sion of the Spirit had commenced ; a period of time 
in which, even m tiie midst of one of the most wicked, 
nations in the world, in Jerusalem and in its neigh- 
bourhood, God had erected his king<lom in the 
hearts of thousands who had lived in great unanimity 
and charity, '' keeping the unity of the spirit in the 
b(md of peace," conscious of their Divine Master s 

• Gal. ii. 9. 

t I once for ail observe here, that the niceties af chronology 
make no part of luy study in this work. Yet I shall endeavour 
to attend so much to historical connection, as to be generally 
right within a few years. This seems sufficient for my purpose ; 
and whoever attends to Ihe second and third chapters to the 
Gahtians, will see» thai 1 cannot err much in this instance. 

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spiritual presence, and rejoicing in hope of his second 
coming to complete their felicity. In his strength^ 
they had sustained, with much patience, two very se- 
vere persecutions, in the former of which a Deacon, 
in the second an Apostle, had sealed the truth with 
his blood. In an earlier part of this period their 
hdy harmony had been a little interrupted by a se- 
cular contention ; but this was soon composed. The 
time was not yet arrived, when those, who called 
themselves Christians, could so much forget the 
dignity of their profession, as to contrad passionately 
for worldly things. The present controversy had a 
more intimate connection with the Christian religion 
itself, and therefore seemed more likely to disturb 
the union of men, with whom spiritaal objects were 
the chief ground of concern. The Jews were strongly 
attached to their own religious national peculiarities. 
Under the influence of pride, envy, and other evil 
pas^ons, this disposition supported the sphritof sdf- 
righteousness. Nothing could be more contrary to 
tt^ genius of the Gospel than the attempt of scmie 
Christian Jews, who endeavoured to infuse into the 
Gentile converts an idea of the necessity of circum- 
cision, and of obedience to the whole of the Mosaic 
ceremonial, in order ta salvation. Some of the Pha« 
risees themselves were now real Christians, but they 
were displeased to see and hear of so many Gentiles 
admitted into the Christian Church, and regarded by 
the Apostles as on an equal footiug with themselves 
in the favour of God. Thus were their minds dark* 
ened with respect to the article of justi6cation : and^ 
before they were aware, by thus insisting on the ne- 
cessity of circumcision, they practically averred, that 
the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ was not sufficient 
for man's salvation ; that tlie favour of God was to 
be purchased by human works, in part at least; and 
that their ritual observances, contributed tq their 
acceptance with God. 

Tliis was the first time that the natural pride and 

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ignorance of the human heart, disguised under the cekt. 
pretence of religious zeal, attempted to undermine . _^' 
the simplicity of the faith, by which hitherto Chris- 
tians had rested with complacency on Jesus alone, 
had enjoyed peace of conscience, and had been con- 
strained to obedience by love. The Apostles Paul 
and Bcumabas looked on the growingevil with a jealous 
eye, and after no small fruitless altercation with the 
zealots, thought it better to refer the full consideration 
of the question to a council of Apostles and Elders 
at Jerusalem. And now Paul returned to Jerusalem 
the third time since his conversion, and about seven- 
teen years after it ; and, in his progress with Bar- 
nabas, reported the conversion of tlie Gentiles, which 
gave great joy to the Christian Jews in general. 

At the Council, Peter, who had returned to Jeru- 
salem, and since Ajmppa's death was no longer 
molested, opened the aebate by observing, that a con- 
siderable time ago, God had selected him to preach 
to the Gentiles, and had blessed his labours with 
unequivocal success, in purifying their hearts by faifh, 
and in dispensing the Holy Ghost among them, no 
less than on the Jews. After God himself had thus 
decided, he said it appeared presumptuous in any 
person to impose a yoke on the Gentiles, firom which 
the Divine Indulgence had exempted them. He in- 
sisted that the yoke itself, especially when laid on the 
conscience as necessary to salvatifln, was intolerable: 
•and he concluded, that even they, who still, for cha- 
ritable and prudential reasons, persisted in the ritual v 
observances, were yet obliged to repose for salvation 
only on the ** grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,'' as 
well as these Gentiles, who never had observed them 
at all. This full testimony of Peter was supported 
by Paul and Baniabas, who gave large proof of the 
Divine Grace vouchsafed to the Gentiles. James, 
who seems to have been the standing pastor of Je- 
rusalem, confirmed the same argument, by the pro- 
phets of the Old Testament, agreeably to Peter s 

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CHAP. (Jeclaration of the mercy of God in visiting the Gen- 
tiles. He gave his opinion, that the GentUes should 
no longer be molested with notions subversive of the 
grace of God, and tending to teach them dependence 
on human works instead of the atonement of Christ 
for salvation. Only he recommended, that the Coun^ 
cil should direct them to abstain from the pollutions 
of idols, and from fornication, and from tbin^ stran- 
gled^ and fiom blood*. For the number of Jews 
dispersed through Gentile cities, who heard Moses 
read every Sabbath-day, required these.precautions. 

A letter was sent according to these views ; nor 
does it appear that there was one dissenting voice in 
the Council. It is remarkable, that the synod used 
tliis striking expression of censure against the asealots, 
they '' troubled you with words, subverting your 
soids." Certainly the charitable Apostles would not 
so strongly have rebuked a trifling error. Nor is 
there^ I Uiink, any other method of understanding 
this aright, but on the principle already stated, thai; 
the harm did not consist in practising these ceremo- 
nies, though virtually abrogated by thedeath of Christ 
For these were practised by the Apostle^ themsf lve% 
constantly by such as lived in Judea, and occasionally 
by the rest The real fault was the depending upon 
theoi for salvation, in opposition to the grace of 
Christ Here the Apostles knew it behoved them to 
be jealous, that God migbt be glorified, and souls 
comforted : and the joy, and consolation, and esta- 
blishment in the faith t> which ensued amongst the 
Gentiles, confirms this interpretation. 

It is to be feared, tiiat the Church of Jeri^alem 

* Though an idol was nothing, and what was offered to it was 
nothing, yet St. Paul ha« given solid reasons why Chrifitiane 
should abstain from such meats. Fornication was a sin, con- 
cerning the evil of which the heathen converts mi^ht be, he 
apprehended, as yet uninformed ; and to abstain from things 
strangled and from bloody was necessary, in order to ha\*« any 
intercourse with Jews. 

t Acts, XV. 31. and xvi. 5. 

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reo^ved not all the benefit, which Was to be wished 
from the wfedom and charity of the Council, though 
it doubtless would be of service to many. But its 
mo6t wholesome effects were felt among the Gen- 
tiles. The account, which we have in the Epistle to 
the Galadans, leads us to suspect that the self-righte- 
ous spirit had a very deep influence among some mem- 
bers of the Church at Jerusdem. The Apostle Paul 
was obliged to exercise a particular caution among 
them, and to confer in private with the pillars of the 
Church, lest he should ^ve umbrage to tlie Jewish 
Christians, and hurt his own usefulness among hts 
countrymen *• In this he acted with equal prudence 
and charity : y^t nothing could induce him to act 
inconsistently with the faith. To press the Gentile 
converts to Jewish conformity, appeared to him in 
this Kc^t, as no reasons but those of peace, charity, 
and prudential expediency, could be pleaded for the 
contimmnce of such observances, even among Jews: 
and therefore, among Gentiles, who never had been 
under the yoke, no c^her construction could be put 
on the practice, than that it was necessary to salva* 
tien, and that the primary doctrine of the Christian 
rdigion, tiie sufficiency of the blood of Christ for 
pardon of sin, was disbelieved. The same Apostle 
therefore, who, en another occasion circumcised Ti- 
mothy f because of the Jews in the neighbourhood, 
he being by the mother's side of Hebrew extraction, 
now insisted, that Titus, a perfect Gentile, should not 
be circumcised J:, because of false brethren, who had 
craftily introduced themselves among the Christians, 
with a view to undermine their dependence on Jesus, 
and to draw them back to the self-righteousness of 
Judaism. The liberty of Christ was what he was 
zealous to support; and he would not, for an hour, 
allow any self-righteous mixtures, " that the truth of 
the Gospel might continuel^^ith them ;' an expres- 
sion, which throws farther light on tlic controversy 
•'OaLii. t -^cts, xvi. 3. | Gal. if. 

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we have reviewed ; and shows distinctly) that not 
circumcision itself, but the dependence on it for sal- 
vation in the room of Christ, was the great •bject of 
the Apostle's opposition. 

He had hitherto found, to his satisfaction^ that aU 
his brethren of the Apostolic college had heartily 
concurred in checking tlie progress c^ self-rigbteous- 
ness. But a lamentable instance of human imbecility 
soon appeared. Peter, after having* taken asocial 
meal witii some Gentile converts, afterwards withdrew 
from their company, on the arrival of certain Jewish 
zealots^ who came to liim from James : and thus, for 
fear of their censure, he durst not keep company with 
men, whose fellowship he yet inwardly reverenced, 
and expected to enjoy in heaven. An error committed 
by a respectable diameter is infectious. Other Jews 
dissembled in a similar way: — even Barnabas was 
carried away with their dissimulation, and the truth 
of the Gospel was in danger of being forsaken on the 
authority of those, who had hitherto upheld its stand- 
ard in the world. Such infirmities of the wise and 
good prove beyond doubt, to whom alone we are 
obliged for the preservation of Christian truth in the 
earth. The Lord roused the spirit of Paul on the oc- 
casion : he vindicated the truth of the Gospel by an 
open and manly rebuke of Peter: and a seasonable 
check was put to the growing torrent of Pharisabni, 
— that dark but deadly foe of the Gospel, — which, in 
one form or another, is ever ready to cloud the light 
of truth, and to sap the foundation of Christian peace 
and life. 

St Paul's fourth visit to Jerusalem is but just men- 
tioned in Scripture f. His fifth was attended with 
more memorable events. It was seen by the spiiit of 
prophecy, that he would undergo bitter persecution 
from the infidel Jews ; and the guarded kindness, with 
which he was received h^ many, even of the believers 
there, formed no pleasing inducement to him to 
* Gal. ii. 12. t Acts, xviii. 92. 

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repeat his visits. But divine charity prevailed in St 
Paul's mind over all objections, difiicultieSy and dan- 
gers : he rebuked his friends at Caesarea, who dissua- 
ded him from prosecuting his journey^ by professing 
bis readiness ^^ not only to be bound, but also to die 
at Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord Jesus *." His 
resignation silenced them : they ^aid '^ the will of the 
Lord be done." On his arrival he went to James, and 
in the presence of all the elders, recounted the work 
of God among the Gentiles. They glorified the Lord, 
and rejoiced sincerely on the account: butatthesame 
time they expressed what concern it gave them, to find 
how Jealous of Paul the brethren were, havii^ heard a 
^Edse report of his teaching all the Jews to forsake the 
Mosaic observances. Doubdess he had not done this : 
but, he had done what displeased the Jewish zealots : 
be had insisted on the exemption of Gentiles from the 
yoke ; and men, once out of humour, are disposed 
to hc^ken to malevolent exa^rations. In this 
exi^ncy the advice of James was at the same time 
prudent and charitable, namely, that he should join 
with four men, who were bound by a Nazarite vow, 
in the cvstomaryservicesof the temple; till a sacrifice 
should be offered for each of them. With this Paul 
concurred ; and thus he gave the clearest proof that 
be was ready to* conform both to Jew and Gentile in 
things indifterent, with a view to promote the salva- 
tion of men.< A few remarks, suggested by these 
transactions, shall clo^ this chapter. 

1 . We see here that really there was no difference p^i ^ad 
of sentiment between Paul and James in religious opt- i^a, 
nions, as from a fewf expressions in the epistle of the ^i^tiaaitL 
latter, soine are slad to insinuate. Tliese two Apos- 
tles, and indeed the whole college, were perfectiy ^ 
agreed in ttieir views of the nature of the Gospel. 

2. In Peter there evidently was, in one instance, 

* Acts, xxi. 13* ' t James, ii. latter part. 

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a duplicity of conduct with respect to the Mosaic rites, 
— in Paul a steady uniformity. He lived as a Jew him- 
self : vows, synagogue- worship, and the various rites 
of the law he observed, not even sacrifices excepted, 
on occasion. He could not indeed look on them now 
in any other light than as branches of a humai) esta- 
blishment ; since the death of Christ had annulled their 
divine authority. The establishment itself be knew 
was soon to cease by the destruction of Jerusalem. 
To him and to the rest of the Apostles it appeared 
more charitable, to submit to the inconveniencies of 
conformity, tlian to irritate the whole body of the Jews 
on account of circumstantials. On this ground pious 
men in all ages have acted, and those/who have most 
excelled in Christian fruitfulness, have been most re- 
markable for their candour. At the same time the in- 
flexible firmness of Paul in vindicating the doctrine of 
justification, by allowing on no account the circum- 
cision of Gentiles,informs us, where he laid the stress 
for salvation. This union of candour and firniness 
in the same person, acting variously in opposite cir- 
cumstances, has led some writers to accuse him of 
inconsistency, who seem not to have understood the 
principles of the controversy. This was the case of 
Jerom of old. His controversy with Augustine on the 
subject is yet extant in the epistles of the latter, whose 
statement of the aftkir 1 think perfectly just; audit is 
agreeable to the views in which the conduct of the 
Apostle has now been exhibited. 

3. M^e see here how infinitely important the doc- 
trine of justification is ! What excellent fruits it had 
brought forth * in tlie Jewish Church, now consisting 
of many thousands, has been shown. It appeai-s how 
naturally the human heart departs from tlie ftiith of 
Christ, before it is aware. The penetrating and zea- 
lous spirit of Paul was employed by the divine good- 
ness to uphold still the standard of truth. Many, no 
♦ Acts, xxi. 20. 

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I OF J£RUSAL£lii. 

doubt, received benefit from his example ; but the 
glory of this Church was now on the decline. 

4. The evil of bigotry is no less evident, and how 
naturally it connects itself with self-righteousness is 
apparent An eager stress laid on any rite, or form, 
or external work whatever, easily thus degenerates. 
Stedfastness in the faith, and candour, ana charity, 
are, under God, our preservatives against it 

There was little opportunity of trying the effect of 
the charitable scheme, concerted between the tno 
Apostles, on the minds of Christians, because before 
the seven days were expired, the malice of the infidel 
Jews broke out against Paul. St. Luke's narrative, 
from tlie twenty-first chapter to the end of his 
history, is spent on the consequences of this. The 
cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity, and piety of the 
Apostle Paul : the convincing force of his reasoning, 
which caused Felix to tremble, and Agrippa to 
confess himself almost a Christian : his preservation 
from Jewish malice by the privilege of Roman citi- 
zenship : die jierils he underwent by sea and land, p^^^ ^^ 
till he arrived a prisoner at Rome, and bis labours sent -n 
for two years iq the ministry among them who visited .^idou /r" 
him in his imprisonment: these things are so cir- sea. 
cumstantially, and, I may justly add, so beautifully '^ ^' 
related by tte sacred writer, that I shall refer my 
reader to him altogether, especially as neither the 
history of tlie mother-church, nor of any other par- 
ticular Churches, is connected with the account 

The malice of the Jews having failed of its object 
in Paul, by his appeal to Caesar, would gladly have 
gratified itself on James. But he, though no Roman 
citi:^n, was shielded a little longer by the lenity of 
the Roman government*. His long residence at Je- 
rusalem, where he was atationary for the most part, 

* The first perstcutioa of the ChrittiaDS began about 
A. D. 64, the eleventh yea;' of the reign of the Emperor Nercu 
See page 98* 

VOL. !• D • 

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had given bim an opportaxiity, by a blameless life, to 
abate the prejudice of his unbelieving countrymen, 
and to extort the tribute of praise from the populace 
in general. Aboutihe year of our Lord sixty, he 
wrote his Catholic epistle. . It is addressed to Jews 
in general ; sometimes he speaks to Christians, some* 
time to infidels, like a person well known, add of 
considerable influence among both. The covet-* 
ousness, inhumanity, and persecuting spirit of the 
nation are described in strong colours; and he writes 
like one who foresees the speedy desolati6n which 
was to overtake them. Ry the practical turn of his 
doctrine, by his descanting on the vices of the tongue*, 
of partiality to the rich, and of contemptuous treat- 
ment of the poor in Christian assemblies f, and 
by his directioa against vain swearing if, it is but too 
evident, that the Church had considerably declined 
from its original purity and simplicity ; and that the 
crafts of Satan, aided ever by natural depravity, 
were wearing out apace the precious fruits of that 
effusion of the Spirit, M^hich has been described. 
Such is the common course of things in all similar 
cases, within the like period of about thirty years. 
The Lord had not however forsaken his Church; 
though its members were in a persecuted state, and 
were brought before Jewish magistrates §, and vexed, 
so far as the rage of this infatuated nation had power 
to exert itself. He particularly exhorts them to pa^ 
tience under their trials, and a resignation to the 
Divine Will 

About the same time, or a little after, this Church 
was favoured with the Epistle to the Hebrews, which 
seems to have been written by St. Paul |t. 

As apostasy, partly through the fashionable and 
natural evil of 8elf?rigbteousness, and partly through 

• Chap. iii. t Chap, ii. J Chap. v. § Chap. ii. 6. 

II St. Peter, in bit second epistle to the Jews, reminds them 
<(f Sl Paul's letter to them, yibich probably, coidd have bc^o 
po other th^n (bis epistle. 

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itit cruelty t^f persecution, was the great evil to bfe cent. 
feared among them, he directs them particulary to 
maintain the Christian faith. He largely and dis- 
tinctly ^ows the accomplishment of all the Mosaic 
types in Jesus. His priesthood, sacrifice, and in- 
tercession are amply described. The privileges and 
benefits of his salvation are distinctly stated. He 
exhorts them to constancy in the simple faith of 
Christ He urges them to persevere in supporting 
their Christian assemblies, from which some * had 
declined, probably through fear of persecution. He 
reminds them of the severities they had patiently 
undergone after their first illumination, of the com- 
passion which hb sufferings had excited among them, 
and of the cheerinlness with which they had sus- 
tained the spoiling of their goods, from the con- 
fidence they " had of having in heaven a better 
and enduring substance." The whole turn of his ex- 
hortation shows, that they were in a state of grievous 
molestation at the time of writing this epistle. And 
yet firom tlieir dulness in divine things, which he so 
warmly censures fi it is certain their spiritual taste 
had declined. 'The persecution of St. Paul at Jeru- 
salem probably excited a general hostility against 
the Church. That it did * not proceed to blood :|;, 
seems owing to no other cause than the protectioq 
of the Roman government The Apostle is particu* 
larly earnest in exhorting them to remember and 
hold fast the grace of the Gospel, which their first 
ministers had taught them, and to consider tliat 
Jesus Christ was their great object, and that a re- 
turn to Jewish dependencies would ruin their souls. 
On tli€ whole, we have here the most glorious views 
pf the Gospel, and the most distinct iofonnation of 
tlie nature of a true adherence to it; though I see no 
evidence on the face of the epistle for concluding^ 
that be forbad them that same occasional and pru* 
deotial compliance with Judaism in external obser* 
• Heb. X. as. f lb. v. 12. J lb. xii: 4. 

D 2 

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vances, whic|i all the Apostles practised. It was 
the departure of the heart from the Lord Jesus, 
agailist which he warned them. He dwells not 
largely on particular duties- He had not lived 
much among them ; and special details of practical 
matters came belter from the pastoral pen of James. 
Thus earnestly did these two Apostles instruct 
and warn a declining Church. But grace has its 
seasons ! God will not always strive with man ; yet 
the use of the epistles will remain, till time shall be 
no more. 

CHAP. 11. 


The Holy Land was divided Into three provinces, 
JuDEA, Galilee, and Samaria. This last was 
in a situation so peculiar, as to deserve to be con- 
sidered distinctly. And of the Churches of the two 
iformep I have not much more to say, than that their 
state, by fair analogy, may be estimated from that 
pf the mother-church. Indeed a strong foundation 
had been laid for their conversion by the ministry of 
John the Baptist, and by that of our Lord in the 
days of his flesh. The angel Gabriel had foretold 
of the son of Zaeharias, *' that many of the children 
of Israel he should turn to the Lord their God *." 
Repentance was his theme, and by this he prepared 
the way of the Lord. Jesus himself condescended 
in his subordinate capacity of prophet and teacher 
to pursue the same method, tliough no regular 
Ghurclies were yet formed. He promised that the 
girt: of the! Holy Ghost should be vouchsafed to hiji 
disciples, and we have several intimations f, tliat a 
greater degree of success, of purity, of knowledge, 
find of glory, should attend his religion after liQ 

* Lu]iLe, i. 3. I John, xiv. aad ^vu 

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or JUDEA AKD GALlLtt. 37' 

should leave this world, than during his personal cent. 
ministry *. ^* 

Judiea and Galilee being thus prepared for the 
Gospel^ the blessed tidings began to be spread 
through then)) and to be attended with rapid suC'^ 
cess, soon after the first persecution which arose 
ccmceming Stephen. Those, who had felt the flame 
of Divine Love in Jerusalem, being obliged to flee, 
preached through these regions, and many thousands 
were converted, as we have seen. The mother- 
church, no doubt, 1^ as the most numerous, but vari-^ . 
oas Churches in the country must have contiibuted 
to make up the sum. . The small size of Palestine 
may tempt some to wonder, if many thousands be-- 
came Christians, how the main body of the nation 
could yet remain in infidelity. The amazing popu- 
lousness and fertility of the country accounts for 
this. The number of populous towns, in Galilee 
particularly, is astonishing, as appears from Jose- 
pbus^s narrative of the Jewish war. The single town 
of Gadara, near the lake of Gennezaret, by no 
means a town of the first magnitude, maintained 
two thousand swine t- If tlien tlie importance of 
regions be measured by the number of inhabitants, 
rather than by the extent of ground, tliis small 
country might vie perhaps with modem Russia. 

Of these Churches the first instruments were not 
the Apostles themselves, though they doubtles* 
visited them afterwards, and confirlned them. James 
the son of Zebedee would not confine his labours to 
Jerusalem, till the time of bis martyrdom, no more 
ttmn the rest of the twelve, if perhaps we except 
James the son of Alpheus, who was the first stand- 
mg Pastor of Jerusalem. 

* Let this account, once for all, for the much greater use 
which I make mi the Acts and of the Epistles, than of the four 
Gospels. These ^ast are indeed inestimable ; hut their uses ars 
of another kin^ and fall not within the plan of this work. 

t Hark, v. 15. 


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These Churches, roost probably, followed the 
example of the paient-church, both in its first love 
and Comfortable progress, atid also in its. unhappy 
declension. Peter's activity in establishing them was 
very conspicuous. " The Lord wrought eflfectually'* 
in him foi* the conversion of the Jews all along * 
He passed through all quarters, and visited the places 
iQost remote from the capital, such as Lydda, Saron, 
and Joppaf. In all these places the Spirit of God 
accompani^ his work. ' It was in this last city that 
the Lord by him raised TaWtha from the dead. I^ 
should scarce have mentioned this miracle, in a work 
which professes all along to record the ordinary/ 
not the extraordinary operations of the Holy Ghost, 
were not the woman distinguished by " her good 
works and alms-deeds which she did." AH ithe 
widows stood by Peter weeping, and showing* the 
** coats and garments which she had made, while she 
was with them." Thus had this woman's faith 
evidenced itself by good works ; and the Spirit of 
piety and of prayer had gone hand in hand with that 
of industrioivs beneficence. Hail, Tabitha ! thou hast 
the highest glory and of the most solid kind, which 
is attainable on earth ! But the reader sees how sim- 
ple and low Christian exploits must appear in the 
eyes of worldly men. They are not like the swelling 
deeds of henSes and statesmen, which have hitherto^ 
ibr the most part, monopolized the historic page* 
But the persons who are influenced by the Spirit of 
Christ, with Tabitha will yet know with whom they 
would wish to be numbered. The female sex, almost 
excluded from civil history, will appear perhaps 
more conspicuods in ecclesiasticaL Less immersed 
in secular concerns, and less haughty tad indepen* 
dent in spirit, they seem, in all ages, to have had 
their full proportion, or mcnre tiian the other *x, of 
the grace of the Gospel, * 

•Gal.ii.l^. tAc^ix, 

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. \ 

or SAMARIA. 3^ 


Th 1 8 country lay in the midst between Judea and 

Galilee, though distinguished from them both in its 

polity and religion. The inhabitants possessed a 

c, large part of the district, whicli had teionged to 

-' the ten tribes, whoin the kings of Assyria had car- 

: ried into captivity. These conquerors had filled their 

"^ vacant place with various colonists*, who mixed 

' the worship of Jehovah with their idols, vainly 

J boasted of their relation to Jacob f, professed to 

regard the law of Moses, and despised or at least 

depreciated the rest of the Old Testament Our 

Saviour clearly decides the contest, w hich, for ages, 

had been carried on between them and the Jews, i\x 

• &vour of the latter J. But though tlie Samaritan 

was an idolater in his very foundation, yet in moral 

practice he appears not worse than the Jew. Both,: 

indeed, were at this time extremely corrupt, and 

gloried in cherishing an enmity, which forbad them 

the exercise oi common humanity to one another. 

The Divine Saviour pitied this people. He visited 
them himsdf^ and^ome sinners were converted. 
i He made a second attempt ||, but the bigotry of the 
village to which he approached, prevented them 
froqi receiving him there, a circumstance which ex- 
cited the fiery zeal of the two sons of Zebedee, and 
gave occasion to our Lord to say, '* The Son of mai> 
is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." 
Hcliieekly bore the repulse, and went to anothei' 
village. But the efiusions of liis kindness toward 
this unhappy people were now to appear in abua-; 
Among the seven deacons the next person tp 

^ 2 Kiogs, xvii.'' t J^h^r ^« *^» I ^^^' ^* ^^• 
John,iv. It Luke,ix.5a. 


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CHAP. Stephen, in zeal and activity, was Philip. Drivdl 
from Jerusalem by the persecution, he was directed 
to go to the city of Samaria, pierhaps to the same 
city called Sychar, where our Lord had conversed 
with the woman over Jacob's well. There he 
preached Christ, and the Gospel entered the hearta 
of many, so ** that there was great joy in that 
city*." The inhabitants appear to have been a very 
ignorant simple people, but now that the Spirit of 
God was poured upon tiiem, none received the Gos- 
pel with more cordial pleasure. One effect imme- 
diately appeared, which indeed never fails to attend 
the hearty reception of the Gospel. Superstition 
and diabolical delusions vanished. A person, named 
Simon, had deceived this people vrith sorceries ; I 
dare not say with pretended sorceries: We shall see 
sufficient proof, before we have done with the apos- 
tolical history, that sorcery was a real thing. For 
a long tmie they had been infatuated ; but Philip's 
doctrine expelled their regard for these tilings, and 
numbers of both sexes were baptized. Simon him- 
self, though a stranger to the nature and power of 
Christ's religion, was yet convinced, that Christianity 
in general was true ; and this seems tlie just idea <^ 
a mere historical believer. 

The Apostles liearing of the happy reception of 
the Gospel 9^ Samaria, sent down Peter and John, 
who prayed on the behalf of the peO^ple, tliat tli€r 
Holy Ghost might be imparted Arough the imposi- 
tion of hands. The Spirit was communicated, not 
only in extraordinary gifts, but also in an efiusion of 
the same holy graces, which had appeared in Judea. 
The former were those alone, which attracted tlj« 
attention of Simon. His avaricious heart inmiedi- 
ately conceiving the prospect of vast wealth to be ac^ 
quired, were he once possessed of this supernatural 
power, he offered the Apostles a sum of money 4w 
the communication of the secret* Peters who saw 
♦ Acts, viii* g. 

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6¥ ^ArtAlllA. 

dis&ictiy both bia covetousness and his ignorance, 
rebuked him in the severest manner, assured him that 
his heart was wrong altogether, and his state ac- 
cursed, notwithstajKling his baptism and profession 
of Christianity. At the same time he exhorted him 
to repent and to seek the divine forgiveness. Here 
we see how singularly remote the religion of Jesus 
is from all worldly plans and schemes, and what an 
awful difference there ever is between a real and a 
nominal Christian. The conscience of Simon felt 
the reproof: he begged the Apostles' prayers; but 
it does not appear that he prayed for himself. Peter 
and John preached through many Samaritan villages, 
and then returned to Jerusalem. 

The Samaritans, a sort of half Jews, — ^for they 
were all circumcised, — bdng favoured with the same 
SfHritual blessings as the rest, the minds pf Chris- 
tians were prepared to expect a similar extension of 
heavenly grace to uncircumcised idolaters. And 
among the wonders of divine love which we havo 
revbwed, these are pleasing circumstances, that Jew^ 
and Samaritans, who, for ages, had disagreed in rites, 
riiould now be united in Jesus; and while each felt 
te same obligations to grace, should have learned 
mutual charity for the first time. 



It is instructive to observe, by what gentle degrees 
the goodness of God was preparing the way fbr the 
^eral diffusion of his grace in the world. The first 
Christians, even the Apostles themselves, wei^ by no 

^ The Ethiopia to which .this chapter is confined, seems to 
be that part of the country, whose metropolis is called Meroe, 
•itoated in a large isUmi encompassed bj the Nile and the rivers 
of Astapns and Astoborra: For in these parts (as the elder Pliny 
Informs os) Queens had a long time governed under the title 
•iCandiCf^ See Cave'a Life of Philip. 

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means disposed to think with any particular compaS'*^ 
sion of Gentiles, and would scarce have thought of 
spreading the Gospel beyond the bounds of theu*own 
nation, had not the persecution driven many out of 
Jerusalem. The teachers themselves needed to be 
taught of God in this part of their office. So helpless 
is man in divine things, even after he has been far 
voured witli some spiritual light, that by fresh com- 
munications alone, he can be induced to make any 
additional improvement After Philip had finished 
bis work at Samaria, he was by an extraordinary com- 
mission, ordered to travel southward toward the de- 
sert. He soon discovered the reason : he fell b with 
an Ethiopian eunuch, a minister of Candace Queen 
of the Ethiopians, who bad been worshipping at Je- 
i^isalem, and wa3 returning home in bis chariot 
Men, who feel the worth of their souls, will not bo 
unemployed when alone« Their concern for their 
best interests wiU operate most powerfully, when they 
are most disengaj^ from business. The man was 
iieading the prophet Esaias^ and the adorable provi- 
dence of God had directed him at that particular 
lime to the fifty^third chapter, wMch gives so cleai 
4 d^cription of Christ crucified. Philip asked him, 
if he understood what h« ^ae reading. The maA 
confessing his ignorance, desired Philip to come and 
sit with luni. The Evangelist took the opportunity 
of expounding to him the Gospel from the passage 
he was then reading, which at once lays open the 
guilty and the miserable conditbn of mankind, their 
recovery only by the grace of Jesus Christ, the naturd, 
end, and efficacy of his death and resurrection, and 
the doctrine of justification before God by the know- 
ledge of the same Jesus and by his merits. The 
Etl)iopian's mind bad been prepared for the doctrine : 
he had been at the pains to attend Jewish instruc-* 
tbns, the best then to be htui in the world, except 
the Christian, which he now heard, for the first time; 
hor had the scandalous wickedness of the Jewish 

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' . OP £TOI^8I4. ' 4l|t 

mc^on hindered him from attending that worship, cent. 
which he believed to be of divine origin. The igno- ^• 
ranee of his own country suited not even the weakest 
md most glimmering light of a serious mind. Hk 
case is an encouragement for men, however ignorant 
and mistaken at present, to seek earnestly to God, for 
HE will take care thatlhey shall find. The man felt 
himself guilty and wicked, and tlie views of the pro- 
phetical chapter before ufs, laid open by the preacher, 
discovered to him the remedy, which it pleased. God 
so powerfully to apply to his heart, that as soon as 
they came to a certain water, he desired to be bap- 
tizai* Philip assured him that there was no impe- 
diment, if he was sincere in the faith of Christ. On 
which he professed his belief, that the Jesus of Na- 
zareth, whom Philip had preached to him, was indeed 
the Son of God prophesied of by Isaiah, and that he 
answered the character of Saviour there given to him. 
Philip then baptized the £thiopian, who, though his 
ipstructor was, by the Spirit of the Lord, immediately 
taken from him, went on his way into his own country 
rejoicing *. Doubtless this joy had a solid and pow- 
erful cause ; and if this case be compared w illi thatof 
tlie three thousand first converts, and both of them 
with the doctrine of the fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah^ 
conversion will appear to be a spiritual internal work, 
humbling men for sin, and comforting them witli 
forgiveness by Christ. The nominal profession, with 
which great numbers of persons content themselves, 
may seem to fit them for little else, than to disgrace 
Christianity by their practice. 

It is impossible that the Ethiopian, thus power^ 
fully enlightened and rejoicingin God, could be silent, 
when heretumed home. H is infiuence and character 
would at least secure to him a respeciM attention 
from some of his countrymen ; and thus, the Gospel^ 
most probably, was first planted in Ethiopia. But wa 
have no niore scripture-light on the subject. 

• Acts, viiu ^ 

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C H A F. V. 


1 HE great mixture of Jews and Gentiles, in some 
of the extreme parts of the Holy Land or its neigh- 
bourhood, aflforded a providential opportunity for tlie' 
gradual illumination of the latter, for the abatement of 
Jewish bigotry, for the demonstration of Divine Grace 
in the salvation of all sorts of men, and for the union 
of Christian hearts. Thus we find that a Church was 
planted at Tyre, another at Ptolemais *, places which 
must have abounded with Gentiles. But Ciesarea 
affords the most remarkable instance of the observa- 
tion just now made. It was the residence of the Ro- 
man Governor, and was so situated in the confines 
of Syria and Judea, that it was a matter of doubt to 
which region it ought to be assigned. And the final 
determination of this question in favoyr of the Syrians 
is mentioned by Josephus, as one of the immediate 
causes of the war, which ended with the destruction 
of Jerusalem. This circumstance shows the great 
importance of this city, and the strong interest which 
both parties had in it. 

Philip, after a laborious journey from Azotus, 
preacliing in all the cittes, through which he passed, 
settled at length in Caesarea. Here he was stationary 
for many years f . We find him, toward the conclu- 
sion of the period of about thirty years, which takes 
in the history of the Acts, still fixed in the same 
place, with four virgin daughters, where he entertained 
St. Paul in his last journey to Jerusalem. I can no 
more conceive Philip to have been idle and unfruit- 
ful all this time, than James to have been so at 
Jerusalem. A Church, mixed of Jews and Gentiles, 
would naturally be formed under so zealous a pastor, 
whose observation of the Grace of God in the case 
of the eunuch, must have opened his mind to an 
afifectionate reception of Gentile converts. 

* ActMp xzi. t Acts, viii. 40. all coifipared with xxi. 8. 

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Indeed the abuse, which the malignant pride of 
tiie Jews had made of the Mosaic prohibiticm of 
intercourse mth Gentiles, was a great bar tO the ex- 
tension of the Gospel. They refused to keep com- 
pany with foreigners, and seem to liave looked on 
them as devpted to destruction. The Apostles them- 
selves were, as yet, under the power of the same 
bigotry, till a vision from heaven instructed Peter, 
as he was praying on the house-top at Joppa, that 
he ought not to call any man common or unclean *. 
By this he was prepared for the work which the Lord 
was immediately assigning him. The Holy Spirit 
suggested to him that three men were at that time 
enquiring for him, and directed him to go with them; 
" for I Imve sent them f." Peter was soon informed ^J^^" 
by the men, that they had been sent to him from Ptter. 
Caesatea J by Cornelius, a Roman centurion there, 
a devout man, and one that feared God with all his 
family, gave much alms to the people, and prayed 
to God alway ; who had been warned from God by 
a holy angel to send for him. — Peter lodged the three 
men that night : two of them were houshold servants, 
and the third — rare character! — a devout soldier, 
who waited on the centurion continually. 

On the next day Peter went with them, but had 
the precaution to take with him six Jewish Christians 

* Acts, X. 

t The proper personality and divinity of the Holy Ghost, and 
the unlimited subjection due to him from Christian pastors, and, 
of course, from all Christians, are solidly deducible from thisancl 
various similar passages in th^ Acts of the Apostles. 

J Much has been written concerning two aorta of Proselytes to 
the Jewish religion, circumcised ones, and incomplete ones, 
called Proselytes of the Gate. Two learned critics. Dr. Lardner 
and Dr. Doddridge, seem to have shown, however, that the 
latter bad no existence. Cornelius was a Gentile altogether, and 
was treated as such by the Jews, though from his pious attention 
to the Jewish religion he must have been at least a Proselyte of 
the second sort, if any ever were so. In that case it seems 
difficult to conceive, why any Jew shoulcj have made such a dif" 
(cnjty of converging wjtb persons of ttiis description^ 

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from Joppa as witnesses of his proceedings. The 
following day they entered Caesarea, and came into 
the house of Cornelius, who had called together his 
Icinsmen and near friends, with that charity for tl)eir 
souls, which fails not to influence the minds of those, 
who have real charity for their own. On the entrance 
of Peter be falls down and worships. Peter corrects 
his mistaken devotion. Cornelius informs him, tliat 
having been particularly engaged in fasting and 
prayer, he was assured 1:^ an an^el that his prayers 
and alms were acceptable to God, and that he had 
obeyed the divine direction in sending for him. Peter 
now preached the Gospel to the company, frankly 
owning, that he was at length fully convinced, that 
God was no respecter of persons ; but that he equally 
regarded Jew and Gentile, whoever the person was 
thai •* feared God, and wrought righteousness." Oft 
this broad basis of encouragement, he was enabled 
to preach to tbenj the good news of forgiveness of 
sins by Jesus Christ, whose history they knew, though 
they did not understand the nature of his doctrine. 
He directed them now to receive that doctrine cordi- 
ally for their peace with God. The perfect holiness 
and the supernatural works of Jesus, he observed, 
demonstrated him to be no impostor, but sent of 
God unquestionably : that he himself and the other 
Apostles were witnesses of Christ's resurrection, and 
had received a' commission from him to preach to 
the people, and to urge men's acceptance of him 
here, if ever they expected to be welcomed by him, 
when he should judge the quick and dead at his second 
coming : and that all the prophets had testified, that 
■whoever placed his confidence for salvation in the 
name of Jesus Christ, should receive remission of 

Few words suffice, where God himself powei'fiilly 

works. The whole company were converted to God^ 

The Holy Ghost, both in an extraordinary and in an 

ordinary w^y^ sealed the Apo6tle*s sermon. The 


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JewMi breAren were astonished to find Gentiles put 
on an equal footing with Jews. Peter, after observing 
bow unreasonable it would be to deny baptism to 
persons who had received the Holy Ghost, no less 
than themselves, baptized the whole company ; and 
at their desire spent a few days with them, to mstruct 
them farther in Christian principles ; and then left 
them to the care of Philip, whose character at Cae- 
sarea, would, probably, from this time increase in 
public esteem. 

A remark or two on this important transaction wiU 
be proper. 

1. The Grace of God acts very variously in con- 
verting sinners. There are considerable shades of 
difierence in the cases of Saul, of the Eunuch, and 

'of Cornelius. The preaching of the Gospel found 
the first a determined enemy, the second an ignorant 
enqmrer, tbe third a regenerate person already, 
though witii no more than the Old Testament-light. 
But to all these difierent cases, the doctrine itself id 
ttie sanne : and the work of , God in humbling man 
for his sins, and leading him to Christ alone lor justi* 
fication, is the same also. 

2. How necessary is it, that the way of peace by 
Christ ak»ie be distinctly explained and understood ! 
Cornelius, with an enlightened oliind and a tender 
conscience, unless he had understood the doctrine of 
forgiveness by the blood of the Redeemer, woulit 
never have found peace of conscience. Imperfection 
still attending his best actions, he must have remained 
miserable in his spirit. The doctrine of forgiveness, 
accompanied by the Holy Spirit, brought him at once 
to a peace before unknown. How careful should we 
be to understand this doctrine aright! how zealous, 
in proportion to our ability, to transmit the precious 
jewel to posterity ! 

3. How narrow are the hearts of men ! how cir- 
cumsprib^d th« charity even of the best ! With dif- 
ficulty even Christian Jews are brought to admit a^ 

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brethren the Gentile couvarts. Self-righteousness Ji 
natural to mankind. That God should receive as his 
children idolatrous Gentiles, as well as religious 
Jews, provokes the pride of narrow-minded selfish 
men, who have long been accustomed to consider 
themselves as the peculiar favourites of heaven* 



We have not yet seen all the gpod effects which 
Providence brought out of Stephen s persecution. 
Though the Apostles thought it their duty to con- 
tinue to water the flocks of Judea and Galilee, and 
to look on Jerusalem as a sort of central metropolis 
to them all, they encouraged the inferior pastors, 
who fled from the rage of persecution, to disseminate 
the Gospel in Gentile regions. Damascus, we have 
seen, reaped the benefit of tliis dispensation, and so 
did Tarsus. Some travelled as far as Phemce, 
Cyrus, and Antioch, still preaching only to Jews. 
At length certain Cypriot and Cyrenian Jews ventured 
to bredc through tlie pale of distinction : and at An- 
tioch, the metropolis of Syria, they preached the Lord 
Jesus to the Gentiles. The Greek language here pre- 
vailed, and, on tliis account, the indiabitants were 
called Grecians*, being the descendants of a Mace- 
donian colony, planted there by the successor of 
Alexander. And now the Lord, willing to overcome 
eft'ectually the reluctances of self-righteous bigotry^ 
attended their ministry with remarkable success. 
Tlie idolaters felt the renovating power of the Gos- 
pel, and in great numbers turned to the Lord* The 
inother-church hearing of this, sent Barnabas, whose 
piety and charity were renowned, to carry on and 
propagate a work, which required more labourers. 
Mis benevolent heart was feasted with the prospect; 
• Act3, xi, so. 

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A. D. 

TN ASIA. 49 

tod- tbe ttBalhy of salvation by the grace of Christ cent. 
thus exemplified, in persons, who had hitherto been . 
involved in pagan darkness, was evidenced in a 
manner which, till then, had never been known. 
Finding many converts, he exhorted them to perseve- 
rance ; and the addition of believers was still so large, ' 
that he began to look out for a coadjutor. He sought 
for Saul, who was then labouring at Tarsus perhaps 
uith no great success: we are told of none at least ; 
" for a prophet is not honoured in his own country ;** 
and he brought him to Antioch. This populous city 
employed them a whole year. Here Christian soci- 
eties were regularly formed, consisting, in a great 
tneasure, of Gentiles. And here the followers of 
Christ were first called Christians. It is not probable, 
that they would ^ve tliemselves that name. The 
tarms brethrek^ elect, faithful, saints, were 
tbe names which they would rather apprbve. The 
name of Christian seems to have been given by their 
adversaries. It is now a term of honour : at that time 
41 more opprobrious one could scarcely be thought of 
by tbe learned and the polite. Were a man allowed 
to posBcss many good qualities ; '^ but he is a Chris- 
tian," would have be^i deemed more than a coun- 
terb^ance to them all. And other terms mvented by 
tbe malevolence of unregenerate men, in different 
ages, to stigmatize the same sort of persons, have 
produced, by the bare sound, similar effects on 
prejudiced minds. 

The faith of the Antiochians was signally operative. 
Warmed with the love of Christ, and rejoicing in 
tbe prospect of heavenly treasures, they checimlly 
contributed to the relief of the poor Christians in 
Judea, distressed by a famine. A large extension 
of Christs kingdom in &ny place, naturally calls 
together a large number of pastors. It is pleasant 
indeed to labour among the faithful, encircled witli 
wncere friends. It is not every real saint, who has 
tbe fortitude and charity to quit ^o agreeable a scene, 

VOL. V £ 

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for the sake of breaking up fresh ground . How niudi 
longer these teachers would have remained at Antioch, 
if left* to themselves, we know not. But the Holy 
Ghost now selected Barnabas and Saul for other 
4abours. They obeyed the call ; and Seleucia in the 
neighbourhood was .their first destination. At this- 
port they found a convenient passage to the fertile 
«nd voluptuous Island of Cyprus. Methinks the evil 
^spirits, who there supported the religious rites and the 
sensual practices of tiie devotees of Venus, began to 
tremble tor this capital scene of their dominions. 
• From Salamis, the eastern point of the Island, to 
Paphos the western, they spread the glad tidings of 
the Gospel In tliis last place they found Elymas, a 
Jewish sheerer and false prophet, in company with 
Sergius Paulus, the Roman governor of the Island, 
a man of sense and candour, who sent for Barnabas 
and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. 
The sorcerer endeavoured to prevent the good e&cts 
of their labours; till Paul, full of holy indignation at 
his diabolical malice, was enabled miraculously to 
strike him blind for a season. Sergius u^es astomshed, 
we are toW, '' at the doctrinp^of the Lord*, and com* 
■nienced a Chri^an from that hour. 

The two Apostles sailed now to the adjoining 
continent, and arrived at Perga in Pampbylia. 
And here John Mark, who had thus far attended tfaem 
«is minister, left them and returned to Jerusalem. * 
It was, perhaps, more agreeable to him to profess 
and practise Christianity at home with bis mother and 
friends, than to expose himself to heathens. Even 
then^ traces of the love of the world were to be seen 
among Christians. 

Pisidia, lying to the north of Pamphylia, was the 
next scene. Here was another Antioch ; and tlie 

• Acts, xiii. 12. The expression is repfiarkable, but has a pe- 
culiar propriety. A mere historical believer 'Would have been 
astonished at the miracle merely. Sergius, a true c(invert, who 
entered into the holy, nature of the Gospel by a spiritual per* 
ception, is astonished ** at the doctrine.'* 

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Iir ASIA- 

Apostles on the Sabbath-day attended the Jewish 
tynagogue. After the usual reading of the law and 
the prophets, the rulers gave them a friendly invi- 
tation to ckhoit tiie people, which Paul embraced 
vith his usual zeal. His sermon is much of the same 
strain with those of Peter, and of Stephen, tending to 
b^t in the hearers a conviction of sinfuhiess, and to 
give testimony to Jesus, concluding with a remaikably 
plain declaration of the grand doctrine of justification 
by faith in Jesus only, and a solemn warning against 
the dreadful consequences of hardness of heart, and 
of contempt of the Divine message. The Gentiles, 
powerfully impressed with the new doctrine, desired 
to hear more of the subject the next Sabbath. Many 
Jews and proselytes were converted ; and the whole 
city almost came on the next Sabbath-day to hear*. 
The sight was too much for the envy of the infidel 
Jews, who opposed Paul with all their might. The 
two Apostles boldly assured them, that though it was 
tlieir duty to carry the news of salvation to the Jews 
first, yet as they despised God's Gift of Eternal Lif^, 
it would now be offered to the Gentiles, agreeably to 
the glorious prophecy of Isaiah f, where the experi- 
mental influence of the Gospel on Gentile heaits i^ 
clearly described. The Pagans, i!iot so proud as tlie 
Jews, felt that they had no righteousness to plead 
before God, thankfully embraced the Gospel/ and 
believed in great numbers. 

Pisidia was now full of the Gospel; and the 
Apostlfs proceeded with vast success, till a persccu* 
tion, stirred up by the Jews, induced some sdf-righ- 
teous women of rank, in conjunction with the ma- 
gistrates, to drive them out of their coasts. From 
thence they came to Iconium, the northern extremity 
of the country; and the disciples whom they left, 
though harassed with persecution, were yet " filled 
with Joy and the Holy Ghost" The internal con- 
tcdation.of tbeur religion supported tlieir souls. In 

• Ajfts, xiii. 44. t 49tb C-lmp» 

E 2 

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Iconium the two Apostles continued a long time, and 
delivered the message of Divine Reconciliation with 
much freedom and ener^, to the ccmversion of a 
great multitude both of Jews and Gentiles. The 
unbelieving Jews "^ exerted their usual malevolence, 
and filled the Gentiles with the strongest prejudices 
against tlie Christians. In tiiith, their conduct, 
though by no means uncomnion, affords a dreadful 
instance of human depravity. It cannot be denied, 
ihat those Jews must in religious knowledge have far 
exceeded theidolatrous inhabitants of Iconium. They 
held tlie Unity of the Godhead ; they worshipped him 
in their synagogue ; they heard his precepts from 
Sabbath to Sabbath out of the law of Moses and the 
prophets. They must have known thus far, that the 
Messiah was foretold in the latter, and they could 
not but be acquainted with their duty both to God 
and man in many respects by means of the formen 
Yet so unreasonable are they, as to labour to prevent 
their pagan neighbours from being instructed in any 
thing that deserved the name of religion, and to per- 
secute with unceasing acrimony two of their own 
countrymen, i^ho agreed with them in the profession 
of the worship of the one lining and true (lod. Of 
so little influence is what some call the " Unitarian* 
religion, if it be unconnected with the Knowledge 
and Love of Jesus Christ Persons, who make that 
the whole of their religion, can, it seems, rather see 
mankind remain buried in the depths of the most 
senseless idolatry in worship, and of vicious pi5|ftigacy 
in life, than brought over to the real Christian religion, 
to the hearty renunciation of tlieir own ricrliteousness, 
and to a humble dependence on the atoning blood of 
Jesus ! The preaching of Paul and Barnabas excited 
a variety of speculations in this city. Ilie Gentiles 
were divided; and part ranged themselves with the 
Jews, and part with the Apostles. But the former 
had the advantage for the present, because they bad 
• Aet«, xiv. 

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tbc arms, — which Christian soldiers cannot use — of 
violence and pessecution. 

The Apostles, aware of tlieir designs, fled into 
Lycaonia, a country to tlie east of Pisidia ; and there 
preached the Gospel, particularly in Lystra and 
Derbe, In the former of these places, a poor cripple, 
who neyer had had the use of his feet, heard Paul 
with tlie most respectful attention, and was so far 
wrought upon already in his mind, as to believe that 
there was virtue in the name of Jesus Chqst to heal 
him. To coniirm him \n his yet infant views of the 
Christian religion, to attest the truth, and to convince 
men that Jesus was both able and willing to sav£, 
Paul was enabled by a word to restore the man to 
the foil use of his limbs. Immediately these, poor 
idolaters concluded, that the gods were come down 
to them in the likeness of men. Through this whole 
country of Asia Minor, the Greek literature, and 
with it the nun^erous fables of Hellenistic vanity, 
abounded. They had heard of Jupiter and Mercury 
particularly as visiung mankind ; and now Barnabas, 
as the elder perhaps, and more majestic figure of tlie 
two, must, they conceived, be Jupiter ; and Paul, as 
the more eloquent speaker, must be Mercury, the 
classical god of eloquence. The priest of Jupiter 
brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and, together 
with the people, would have done sacrifice to the 
Apostles. It was a grievous circumstance ; but our 
grief and regret is mitigated, when we reflect that one 
of the ftest opportunities was given to Paul and 
Barnabas of demonstrating the spirit of real godliness. 
However pleasing it might be to corrupt nature to 
receive the idolatrous* homage of a deluded people, 
nothing could be more abhorrent from the nature of 
the Gospel itself, and from the humble character of 
• The historical reader can scarcely fail to contrast with tbi» 
bebavioor of the Apostles the ambitious arts of Jesuit mission- 
aries, and to regret the want of a similar piety and integrity in a 
late celebrated naval commander in a scene of trial of th6 same 
kind, which happened a little bpfoxt his lamented cHtastroplie^^ 


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CHAP, its teachers. They could not bear the sight t they 
rent their clotjies ; and ran in among the people, and 
fexpostulated with them on the absurdity of their 
conduct ; assuring them that they were no more than 
frail men like themselves, and that their intention in 
preaching to them was, to turn them from these vani- 
ties to the living God, who formerly indeed had left 
all nations to follow their own ways, but now had sent 
HIS servants to preach a method of salvation from 
feuch idolatries. Not that the worship of false godi 
was excusable ; the constant benefitaiof Providence 
calling for thankfulness, and pointing out the Supreme 
Creator to the consciences of men. Thus faithfully 
did they preach conviction of sin to the Lycaonians^ 
and with difficulty prevent the actual performance of 
the sacrifice, \vhich would have given them more pain 
than the persecution that followed. 

The fickle multitude, , who had so recently been 
even idolatrously attached to Paul and Barnabas, were 
soon persuaded by some Jews, who came firom An- 
tioch and Icionium, to harbour the worst opinion of 
them ; and dou btless the dislike of secular dory, which 
these excellent Apostles, with a truly Chnstian spirit, 
showed on all occasions, would not a little contribute 
to increase this alienation of mind. In a tumult Paul 
was stoned, and dragged out of the city, as a dead 
corpse; and while the disciples stood round about 
him, he rose up, and came into the city, miraculously 
restored, as it seems : aiKi he departed the next day 
with Barnabas to Derbe. There many were con- * 
verted ; and the persecutyig spirit intermitting, they 
visited again, in circuit, the regions of Pisidia and 
Lycaonia, encouraging the disciples to persevere in 
the faith of Jesus in confidence of divine support, and 
in full expectation of the kingdom of heaven, into 
^hich real Christians must not expect to enter 
without much tribulation. 

They now ordahied some of the brethren to mi- 
nister hi «very Church, and devoutly recommended 

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IN ASIA. 55 

both pastors and flocks to the care qf that graciou3 cent. 
Lord on whom they believed : Solemn fasting and . -', 
prayer were useA on this occasion. Returning 
through Pamphylia, they preached again at Perga, 
and from Attalia sailed to the great Antioch, whence 
they had been, by the prayera of the Church, recom- 
mended to^the grace ck God for the work which they 
bad fulfilled. 

Here they remained a considerable time previous 
to their attendance at the council of Jerusalem, after 
which they returned to the same Church in company 
with Judas and Silas, who, with authority from the 
mother-church, confirmed them in the liberty of the 
Gospel, in conjunction With nYany other teachers. 
The Christians of Antioch walked now in genuine 
consolation, and while they dared to jest on Christ 
alone, they practised good works 'in a filial spirit. 
Thankfbl tor the assistance of Judas and Silas, they 
dismissed them to the Apostles who had sent them*. 
Silas, however, loved his situation, and remained in 
the sendee of the Gentiles. 

Some days after Paul proposed to Barnabas a <c<mtest 
second circuitous visit of the Asiatic Churches. Bar- pJiTi^and 
nabas, fond of Mark bis nephew, proposed to take B^ruab*.. 
him with theno. Paul, remembering his former de- 
sertion, thought him unfit for the wm'k. On which' 
side there was more blame in this contest may be 
hard to determine. Probably both were too positive ; 
but to us at this distance of time Paul's view of the 
question seems the nwre just. The consequence' was 
a separation bet\^'een these two Christian leaders ; 
and It does not appear that they ever saw one another 
after, though it ought not to be doubted, but tlial, on 
the whole, their mutual esteem and regardcontinwed : 
the best men are but men. The progress of the 
Gospel was not, however, retarded. Barnabas sailed 
■>nth Mark to Cyprus, and here he is dismissed from 
the saccad meinoira* P^iul took wiih hior Silas, 
• Acts, XV. 33. 


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having the recomniendation of the thft 
Grace of God, which would lead one to conclude^ 
that the Antiochians preferred hb cause to that of 
Banjabas. He now wpnt through Syria and Silicia, 
confirming the Churches. 

In Lycaonia, he found the pious Timothy, whom 
he took as an associate, and confirmed, the Gentile 
converts every where in Christian liberty: Thus the 
Churches were established in the faith, and increased 
in number daily. 




CHAP. The Love of God, where it rules in an ardent de- 
gree, is insatiable. The Apostle's heart is not con- 
tent with the trophies already erected in many parts 
of Asia Minor. As the miser thinks no acquisitions 
great, while any prospects of farther gain are stiU 
open to his view, so Paul could not with compla- 
cency rest in the attainments already made, while so 
much ground still lay before him, to the north and 
to the west, in the hands of Satan. He travelled 
throughout Phry^a and Galatia*. The plantation 
of the Churches m the former country will after- 
wards engage our attention ; the later, whose history 
in point of time is much sooner concluded in sacred 
story, will be now most conveniently exhibited. The 
epistle written to that Church affords us almost the 
only materials we have; but little as they are, tliey 
are inestimable. 1 am entirely convinted by Dr* 
Lardnerf} that this was an early epistle, and by no 
means dated from Rome, as the subscription at the 
end of the epistle intimates. Nor is this the only 
place in which those subscriptions, which the un« 

^ Aci%t xvi. 6, t See hit SopplemoAU 

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learned reader should know make no part of the 
Apostolical writings, deceive us. 

The people of this country received the Gospel 
in great numbers^ insomuch that several Churches 
were planted through the district. They understood 
St Paul's doctrine, and received it in its true sense, 
namely, that justi6cation before God is attainable 
only by faith m Christ crucified. He cleariy laid 
before them the riches of Divine Grace. And they 
had so deep an impression of the truths, whid^ 
be taught, and felt so much of their energy, diat 
tbey seemed as it were to see the Son of God cruel*- 
£ed among them*: they received the promised 
Spirit of adoption, by which they rejoiced in God 
as their Father f, and they cheerfully suffered much 
persecution for liie name of Christ |. Before this^ 
they had lived in the darkest idolatry ; for these 
Churcbes were formed almost, if not entirely, of 
Gentile § . The true G od was made known to tibem, 
and Unitarianism, of itself unable to emancipate 
men from sin, as the case of the Jews evinced, was 
with them attended with the distinct knowledge and 
lively faith of Jesus. 

What proves the divine taste of this people was, 
that no disadvantage in the circumstances of the 
delivery of the Gospel operated witli them to its 
prejudice. Some remarkable infirmity this great 
man was afflicted with ; — what it was precisely we 
are no where told; — but it presented something con- 
temptible in the eyes of profane persons. And it is 
DO small proof of the Galatians being much humbled 
and awakened in their minds by the Spirit of God, 
that this circumstance lessened not at all their regard 
to the Apostle or to his message. " They received 
him as an- angel of God, even as Christ Jesus ||." 
They confessed the blessedness, which they felt on 
account of the Gospel, and were ready to give even 
the most painful proofs of their affection to him. In 

* Galatiii i^ t iv.6. } iii. 4. S i^* S* 1^ ^v. 14. 

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all this we see^ what the Gospel is, what it does for 
men who truly understand and embrace it in aa 
humbled heart, what was St. Paul's manner of 
preaching, and how different a thing Christianity 
then appeared 'from the frigid speculations which in 
modern times bear that name. 

But soon after Paul had left them with the most 
pleasing hopes of their spiritual growth, he was astO'^ 
nished to hear of a change for the worse, which 
took place among them. Some Jews, who were 
either their own countrymen, or who had lately ar* 
rived at Galatia from other parts of Asia Minor 
where Paul had laboured, took pabs to pervert 
them. They made no attempts, indeed, to unsettle 
thteir minds in the views of the unity of the God^ 
head, and the principal facts of Christianity ; nor did 
they endeavour to draw them back to the worship 
of idols. They neither formally denied the atone^ 
nient of Clirist, nor persuaded the people to desist 
from Christian worship. Yet was it another gospel^ 
though it deserved not the name of Gospel *, to the 
love of which they seduced them. They assured 
them, that they ^ could not be saved without circum- 
dsiOn, and prevailed on them to.jUDAizE so far, as 
to observe the rites of Moses in various instances f. 
They took pains to estrange them from Paul, and 
to- draw them over to themselves, and to a worldly 
spirit of conformity, loving to appear fair in the eyes 
of men, and pretending to be zealous for good works, 
while their real view was to avoid the persecution, 
which attended the Cross of Christ :j:. To give the 
better effect to their insinuations, they instilled into 
them disrespectfiil ideas of Paul as though he were 
fer inferior to the other Apostles : and, as it seems, 
they represented tlie mother-church of Jerusalem, 
with the college of Apostles tliere, as coinciding 
with themselves in doctrine. 

Thus the self-righteous poison, which first issued 
* Cbfep. j, (5, 7. . f iv* w. J. :vi. la. 

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IN GAtilTlA. 

from Jerusalem, was brought into this distant pro* 
vince, where the ignorance And simplicity of the 
people, unacquainted with Jewish modes and habits^ 
gave it the freest room to operate. These false 
teachers still called themselves Christians, and the 
mischief which the^ introduced, may be deemed at 
first sight no great one. So, I doubt not, some 
6shionable perversions of Evangelical truth at this 
day, of a similar kind, appear to many to be of no 
great consequence. I am not, however, to disguise 
3)at this Galatian delusion appears strongly to re* 
semble the perversions to which I allude. I have 
represented things as they appear to me from tiie 
epistle. The great evil lurking under all this art 
and zeal, was the adulteration of the faith of Jesu9> 
the sole Author of our salvation. In no epistle does 
fte Apostle speak so sharply, or express himself so 
veheniently. His exhortation and rebuke came 
Warm from a charitable hear^ just after the recep* 
tion of the disagreeable tidings. He professes him* 
self astonished at the defection of the GaJatians 
from Christ ; and execrates any man or even angel^ 
who should preach any other way of salvation. If 
Mich a person still call himself a Christian, and hold 
the historical facts of the Gospel, the case is not al- 
tered for the better; the deception only pas^g more' 
current on that account ^. He asserts, that if they 
mixed circumcision, or any work of the law, witk 
Christ in the article of justification, Christ would 
be of no effect to them f. He must be their whole 
Saviour, or he would profit them nothmg ; law and 
grace in this case being quite opposite. He markft 
the mere worldly nature of the doctrine they were 
embracing ^ : it would make them bigotted Jews 
indeed, proud, self-rightieous, void of the love of 
God and man§, and no bt^tter in their spiritual state 
than they were while idolaters ||. Thus they would 

• Chap. i. 4 Chap. v. J Chup. vi. toward the end. 
) Chap. V. U tv. 9* 

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lose all die liberty of the Gospel, and be mere slaves 
in religion, like all unconverted persons, who ip 
reality are self-righteous, and devoid of holy prin- 
ciple. He points out to them the peculiar nature 
of the Gospel, as perfectly distinct from any thing 
that man in his depraved state is apt to teach or 
ready to embrace. In the historical part of the 
episde he vindicates his own Apostolical character, 
inculcates throughout, in all possible variety of lan« 
guage, and with his usual copiousness both of clear 
argument and strong diction, the all-important arti- 
cle of justification, and presses the necessity of con- 
timiiQg in it, in order to be benefited by it Other- 
wise we make Christ the minister of sin, or of con- 
flemnation.: we build again what we have destroyed ; 
and, as far as in us lies, make him to have died in 
.vain. He appeals to their own experience of the 
happy fruits of the Gospel, which they bad felt in- 
ternally, and represento himself as travailing in birth 
for them, till Christ be formed in them. He ex- 
presses himself dubious of their condition, and de- 
sirous of visiting them, that he might adapt his lan- 
guage to their perilous situation. He wishes that 
their evil advisers were cut off, so mischievous were 
they to souls ; and assures them, that the Divine 
Vert^ance would overtake tliose that troubled them. 
He informs them, that the persecution, which he 
himself endured, was on account of this very doc- 
trine. This it was that stirred up tlie enmity of the 
human heart ; and this doctrine being lost, the Gos- 
pel becomes a mere name, and Christianity is lost 
in the group of common religions. 

It will be proper for us to bear in mind the 
Apostle's reasonings on thb subject, and to apply 
them to every |)eriod of Church-history; since it is 
evident, that the rise or fall of this great Christian 
Article, must determine the vigour or decline of true 
religion in all ages. He neglects not however to in- 
culcate in his usual manner the necessity of good 

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Works, as the just fruits and evidences of a real 
Christian state*; and he particularly encourages them 
to works of mercy, attended with a patient and 
cheerful prospect into eternity, and animated with 
genuine char% f^ 

There is reason to hope, that the best effects were 
produced by the epistle. No very long time after, 
the Apostle again visited these Churches, and went 
over the whole country, strengthening " all the dis- 
ciples ^.^ This is the substance of what I can collect 
from Scripture concerning the history of this Church, 
— except a sbgle hint in another epistle ^, in which 
be recommends to the Corinthians to use the same 
plan for the r^ef of the pobr saints^ which he had 
tu^rgested to the Galattana. From the influence 
which he hence appears to have had in Galatia, it 
is probable, that the Judaical perversion was over* 



T«E dispensation of the Gospel is doubtless the chap. 
greatest blessing that can be^vouchsafed to any coun- ^' "' 
try. But the times and the seasons G od hath reserved 
to faknself. £ven in this sense salvation is of grace ; 
and Divine Providence alone orders and appoints, 
that the Gospel shall be preached here or there, as 
he pleases. Paul and Silas, if left to themselves, in 
tbar progress to the west, would have evangelized 
Pergamus or Asia propria and Bithynia ||, but were 
prevented by special intimations of the Holy Spirit. 
They came now to Troas,-r— so called from its being 
the place, or near the place, where old Troy had 
stood, by the sea-coa^t, — uncertain whither they 
should g3 next, and perhaps little apprehensive, that 

• Chap. V. toward the end. t Chap. vi. J Acts, xviii. 23, 
«i 1 Con xvi. I. II Acts, xvi. 7. 

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€i HisToar w the enuKcn 

CHA?. God, now for tbe first time was iiHafeducii^ Im 
Gospel into Europe. A nightly vision, in which a 
Macedonian intreated Paul to come over into his 
country and help them, determined at once their 
destination. They sailed from Troas to the Island 
of Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis^ a 
!^facedonian sea-port, whence, through the gulf of 
Strymon, they came to Philippi, the first city of that 
part of Macedonia, which tliey would meet with in 
their way from Meapolis. So I understand St, Luke's 
expressicmn^n; for Thessalonica wfV5 the capital 
•f Macedonia. The city of Philippi, though origin^ly 
Macedonian, and so Jiamed from Philip tl)e faUier of 
Alexander, MnaslbeQatRomaD colony, inhabited by 
Roman citizens^ and regqlated by Roman laws and 
Customs; The.i^egion, in which it iBtood, had been 
renowned for constituting the third J^ the four great 
monarchies under the arms of Alexander, and thQ 
place itself had been, something more than half a 
century ago, the scene of a fanA)us battle, between 
two Roman parties. wjagad in a civil war. Neither 
of THOSE seasons would have been at all convenient 
for the Gospel. The present was a scene of tran- 
quillity and order under the Roman government: and 
Macedonia, thou^ now only a Roman province, was 
going to be the subject of ti^ansactjons infinitely moire 
nohie than those, which adorn the history of its 
{greatest princes. 

The appearances on their arrival did not proipise 
any thbg remarkable. They spent a fow days at first 
with little prospect of success. They found a few 
Jews there, who used on the sabbath day to frequent 
an oratory out of the city by the river side : and 
5ome women, religiously disposed, resorted thither. 
It was the constant method of the Apostles to join 
themselves to Unitarians, wherever they could find 
them, as the first opening for the Gospi^ of Christ* 
Hiey 4id so oo this occc^n, and spake to the wome^. 
One of them was Lydia, a person of some property. 

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-Her heart tbe Lord opened, that '^ she attended to 
the things which were spoken by Paul." She was 
baptized with her family ; and with afiectionate im* 
portunity she prevailed on the Apostle and bh com-* 
panions to niake lier bouse their home in Philif^L 
Here we have the beginnings of the Phiiip)»an 
KJhurch ; but tbe conversion was sound and stable^ 
and the progress of Lydia in the divine life seems of 
the same kind as that of Cornelias. Vexed at the 
prospect, Satan employed a young woman possessed 
with a spirit of Python to bring the Gospel into con* 
tempt, if possible. She constantly followed the Chris* 
tian preachers, and bone them the most honourable 
testimony. Paul was grieved, as being folly sensiUe 
of the ill effect, which a supposed muon between 
Christ and Python "* must occasion in the .minds of 
men. He was at length enabled miraculously to ejec^ 
tbe demon. The propri^ors of the young woman, 
who had made a trafik of her oracular powers, iind^ 
ing that she was ilispossessed of the demon, wreaked 
their vengeance on Paul and Silas, and by slanderous 
accusations induced the magistrates to scourge them 
^verely, and to commit them to prison. The jailer 
thrust them into the inner prison, and ^tene4 their 
leet in the stbcks. 

In this situatbn, distressing indeed, and in the 
eyes <tf many contemptible, thesetwo servants of God, 
«* midnight, tliough oppressed with pain and hunger 
^nd every disagreeable circumstance, were yet eiv 
abled to pray and sing praises to God. So poweriul 
«fe tbe consolations of the Holy Ghost, atid so much 
did the love of Chrfet constram them ! And now the 
Lord caused a great earthquake, which opened all 
the doors of the prison, and loosed every <mt's bondg. 
'The jailer awaldng, in his first trepidation, by a 

• Tbe very term leafte me to apprehend, that tbe oraculnr 
^oik of the Py thiao Apollo amuog the pagans httd sometbixig 
liiabolkal in it ; and the story beA>re -us demonstratcB tb^ re^lit/ 
of such delusions, and that human fraud and sa^actt>: alope aie 

not anfficieot to account for them. 

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CHAP, practice which I wish bad been craditable amottg 
^ "' pagans only, was about to destroy himself. Paul 
kixKlly assured him that none of the prisoners had 
escaped. And now being struck with horror at the 
thought of the world to come, to which he had been 
hastening in all his guilt, and being divinely convinced 
of his danger, he came trembling, and fell down be- 
fore Paul and Silas, and brought them but, and asked 
what he must do to be saved. - The answer was plain 
and direct. Why do any persons who call themselves 
Christian ministers ever give any other? ^ Believe 
in the, Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved 
and thy house." They then instructed him and his 
household in the nature of the Gospel, and opened to 
him the doctrine of forgiveness of sins by the Uood 
of Christ. His conversion appears evidently of the 
same kind, as that of the three thousand at Jerusa- 
lem. He was humbled for his sins, and he received 
pardon by faith in Jesus. His ready submission to 
baptism, his affectionate treatment of those, who had 
just before been the objects of his severity, and his 
joy in tht Lord, demonstrated, that he was turned 
from Satan to God. — His whole fiEunily shared with 
faim in the same blessings. / 

In the morning the magistrates sent an order for 
4he dismission of the prisoners. But Paul thought 
it not inconsistent with Christian meekness, to demand 
from them an apology for their illegal behaviour to 
Jloman citizens; for such it seema Suas was, as well 
as Paul. The' magistrates, alarmed, came personally 
to make concessions, which were easily accept<Jd. 
Being dismissed from prison, they entered into Lydia s 
house, comforted the disciples, and left Phiiippi for 
the presd[it 

Some years after, the Apostle again visited the Phi- 
lippians, and found them still in a flourishing state. 
lie always took a peculiar pleasure in thb Church ; 
and, in his epistle written from Rome, he tiianks 
God for their sincere fellowship in the Gospel from 

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the beginning. He expresses his expectation of 
liberty, and of being enabled to see tliein again, and 
exhorts them to bear patiently the persecutions to 
which they were exposed, as being an evidence of 
the divine favour*. 

Liberality was a shining virtue among these coti" 
vertB. They had sent once and again to his relief at 
Thessalonicaf, And now they had sent Epaphrodi* 
tus to Rome, to minister to his wants. A dangerous 
illness had brought that disciple to the borders of the 
grave. Upon his recovery he was afflicted to think 
of the distress, which the news of his sickness must 
have brought on the minds of the Philippians. Paul 
was therefore the more anxious to send him back. 
The sensibility of that love, with which the Holy 
Ghost had influenced all concerned in this affair, is 
finely described in this part of the epistlej. Tlie 
Apostle, toward the close of it, even exults in the 
pleasure which ihe charity of these disciples gave him ; 
and he azures them, that his God would " supply 
all their need according to his riches in glory by 
Christ Jesus." He warns them however ajjainst the 
dangers of seduction. Judaizing teachers clesired to 
pervert them. He reminds them, therefore §, of his 
own simple dependence on the Lord Jcbus, though 
he had fairei- pretensions tlian most men to self-righte- 
ousness ; and with tears in his eyes declares, that, 
even then, many pretended Christians walked like 
enemies of the Cross of Christ. 

Such was the work of God at Philippi. A consi- 
derable number of persons, once worshippers of idols, 
devoted to the basest lusts, and sunk in the grossest 
Ignorance, were brought to the knowledge and love 
of the true God, and to the hope of salvation by his 
Son Jesus. In thb failh and hope they persevered 
amidst a world of persecutions, steadily brought 
forth the fruits of diarity, and lived in tl^e joyful 
expectation of a blessed resurrection. .; \ - . 

• * Philip, i. «8, 29. t Philip, iv. 16. . 

I Chap. ii. toward the end. § Chap. iii. , 

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^Vy^* Of Abphipolis- and Apollcmia, the next cities of 
Macedonia ilirough which <St. Paul passed, nothing 

• particular i* recorded.; But at Tbessalonica another 
European Churcii --was formed inferior in solid piety 
to none in the primitive times. This city had beeii 
rebuilt by Philip of Macedon, and had its name fixmi 
his conquest of Thessaly. Here Paul followed his 
usual practice of preachings first to the Jews in thdr 
synagogue, and spent the first three Sabbatha in 
pointing put the evidences of Christianity. Thecie- 
torn of thfe Jews in allowing any of tlieir countrymen 
to exhort in their synagogues, gave the Apostle, an 
easy opportunity of preaching to this people, till their 
accustomed ennjity and obstinacy began to exert it- 
self. Some of the Jews \rere houever otmverted*, 
and a great multitude of rel^ious Gentiles, who used 
to attend thesynagogue, and not a few females, of qua- 

' lity. So difficult is itfoi* evenSatan himself to erase all 
perception of the one true God from the minds of 

1 men, so powetiul is the voice of natural conscienoe, 
and so totally unreasonable is tlie polytheism of the 
pagans, that notwithstanding the extreme depravity 
of human nature, we find, wherever the Jews carried 
on the public worship of the God of Israel, it was 

- common for some Gentiles to join in their worship. 
Within the' bbunds of the Holy Land there wereia 
number of this sort. And I observe through the 
whole tenour«4[)f Josephus's history, ^t the Komahs 
treated ^ith respect what the Jews held saaed ; and 

' Tvhoetreriwas distinguished^ by any religious thou^t- 
fbhfiesB fixMn others, such an one: found oothing to 
init him in Gentile rites, but preferred the.woi^p 
of die Jew s. The devout Greeks converted at .Thos* 
salonica were of this class; and thb is not the first 
• Acts, xviu 

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. instance we have seen of the Lord's preparing pcr- 
soiis» by an attention to a more imperfect light, for 
the Sun of Righteousness. But HE is not confined ' 

. to one method. The major part of theTbessaloni^n 
coQverls were idolaters*, who now turned to t{ie 

. living and true God, in the faith and hope of Jes^s, 
who *' delivered them from the wrath to come.'* 
Faitli, hope, and charity evidenced this people to be 
God's elect: the \yord cam.e to their hearts in nmcli 
power and assurance; and, though it exposed them 
to great aflBiction, this did not prevent |;heir joy of 

, the Holy Ghost. /, 

. The restless Jews were not ,ashamed fo join with 

the most profligate, pagians in persecuting the n§w 

converts ; and decent hypocrites and open sinners 

wei*e,x)nce more, seen united in. pppo&ing th^ Churph 

! of God. ; Theymssa^lted tlie bouse of Jason, ^at 
whose houstiPaoland his companions were/ent^r- 

r tained. Precautiops having been used to secrete 
theni, Jason and someothef Christians, were brought 

I before the. mag^^ates, and Qalpmi)iated with Uie 

- usual .charge ;of ; sedition. The Rqman goyernof s, 
I however, were content with exacting tv security from 

JasoQ and his fiien.ds for the peace of the 3tate. J^ut 

- the Apostle knew too well the matter of the Jfew^to 
confide in any present appearances of their niode- 

- ration ; and ^therefore felt iiimself qbliged; abru|)^ly 
' to teivetfie infant Church. The first epistle, how- 

" ever, which he sent to them, not long alter, pljaiply 
proves that they were not without pastors, Ayhom>he 
charges them to honour and obey f, 
. The growlh of Urn people in gpidliness was sqon 
renownal through the Christian wofld. Their per- 
secution appears to havei been grievous ; and, hence 

. the comfort of God their. S^iviour, and the, prospect 

of the invisible world, beq^nae more precious i^ theoi. 

The Apostle made tWQatt^pts ,tQ return to them, 

ttut was as often disappointed by the malice of Satan^*. 

• I Thew. j. 9. t 1 Th€S8. v. % i T.besa. ii. 18. 

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Fearing, lest the weight of afBiction might crush their 
religion in its infancy, he sent Timothy to them, to 
establish and comfoit them. From * him, on his 
return, he learnt the strength of theFr faith and love, 
and their affectionate remembrance of the Apostle, 
whose benevolent effusions of joy and gratitude on 
the occasion exceed all encomium. The influence of 
the Holy Spirit in enlightening, comforting, and in- 
vigorating this Church, seemed in a good measure to 
supply any want of pastoral instruction, in whicli, 
from their circumstances, they might probably be 
defective. They werie taught of God to love one 
another, and they exercised this brotherly affection 
in the strongest manner toward all around f. 

Fornication indeed was a sin so conimonly prac- 
tised among the Gentiles, without the least suspi- 
cion of its evil, tliat Paul thought proper to warn 
them against it expressly and distinctly j. 

In his second epistle he congratulates them on 
their great proficiency in feith and love : and, while 
he comforts them with the prospect of the second 
coming of Christ, he takes occasion to correct a mis- 
take, into which they had fallen fi:om what he had 
menHoned in his former epistle, of imagining that the 
last daj was at hand. Men, who had suddenly pas- 
sed from the grossest ignorance, into the full blaze of 
Gospel-day, might easily make such a mistake, espe- 
cially since their affections were now so strongly 
captivated with heavenly objects, and since they 
found so little in a world of persecution to cheer their 
niinds. There appears only one fault in this people 
which he thought necessary to rebukel He intimated 
something § of it in the former epistle, in the latter 
he was niore express Ij. It was the want of industry 
in their callings, with wliich he charged some of 
them ; for this was not a generd evil. How they 
might fall inta it, is easy to conceive. Persons all 

♦ I Tbess. ui* 9, 10. f iv. 9> 10. | iv. 3 — 9* 
i I ThesSff iv. ti, 1%. || a Tbess. iii. >!• 

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alive for God and his Christ, and knowing little of cent. 
the deceitfuiness of the heart, and the crafts of Satan, ^* 
might find it irksome to attend to tlie concerns of 
this life. It wa3 a fault indeed, and very dangerous, 
if persisted in ; but as it was, in all probability, 
seon c6rrected, and in part occasioned by the strength 
of heavenly aSections, one cannot be very severe in 
censuring them. 

It may be worth while for those, who feel them- 
selves much irritated against similar evils attendant 
on the effusion of the Holy Spirit in our days, to 
consider whether they do not exercise more candour 
toH-ard the Thessalonians, than they do toward those, 
who are actually walking in their steps ; whether 
they are not apt to respect the former as real Ctms- 
tians, and to scorn the latter as deluded enthusiasts! 

This Chuitih bears the strongest signatures of 
crodliness, theeffect of no common effusion of the 
Spirit They adorned the Gospel, with fiEuth, hope, 
and charity ; yet showed, by their faults aDd igno-* 
ranee, the importance of diligent and much pastoral 
iiistruction, in which their circumstances suffered 
them not to abound ; and which, under God, would 
have soon cured the former, and removed the latter. 
They were exposed to such blemishes, as are most 
apt to attend oreat attainments in the divine life made 
\\\tii vast rapidity. 

It appears, that St. Paul visited this people a con- 
siderable time after, and gave them much exhortation; 
but we have no particular further account of them*. 

• In the first epistle he " charges them bj the Lord," that 
it be " read to all the holy bretben." As this seems to have 
beea his first epistle, and indeed the newest part of the whole 
New Testament, the solemnity of the adjuration (o^ju^) has a 
peculiar propriety, as Dr. Lardner observes. The Tbes&alonians 
were no doubt disposed to receive it as matter of apostolical 
inspiration, and the importance of bringing every Christian to 
ht \iell acquainted with the word of Ood is fairly ii^ferred. 

r 3 

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CHAP. Paul was conducted from Thessalonica to Bgrea, 
^ -^-' . a city of Macedonia. Here also was a Jewish sy- 
nagogue, and here, for the first time, tl)e preach'mg, 
of the Cross \^a6 candidly received by Jews. A very 
singular character is given of the Jeiis of this place; 
— they possessed a liberality of mind, which disposed 
them to listen with attention, and to search the Scrip- 
tures of the Old Testament with daily assiduity. The 
grace of God seems to have prepared these persons 
for the Gospel ; and Paul had the pleasure to find 
a number of the stamp of Cornelius, who were 
groping their way to happiness, and were ready to 
bail the light as soon aa it should dawn upon them. 
Many Jews of Berea believed, and not a few Gen- 
tiles also of both sexes : those of the femaie sex 
were persons of quality. The rage of the Tliessalo- 
nianJews soon however disturbed this pleasing scene, 
and stirred up a persecution, which obliged the 
Christians to use some art in saving the Apostles 
life. His conductors at first took the road toward 
the sea, which might lead the persecutors to suppose 
he had quitted the continent They then brought 
him safe to Atheni *, once the first city of Greece in 
all views, and still renowned for taste and science, 
the school b which the greatest Romans studied 
philosophy. Here, while he waited for the arrival 
of Silas dnd Timothy, he beheld the monuments of 
the city w ith other eyes than those of a scholar and 
a gentleman. No place in the world could more 
have entertained a curious and philosophical spirit 
than this. Temples, altars, statues, historical me- 
morials, living philosophers of various sects, books 
of those who were deceased, a confluence of polite 

• Acts, xvii. 

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and humanized persons of various countries, enjoying CFNt. * 
the luxury of learned leisQre,— ^hese things must atf 
Once have obtruded 'IhemseWes orchis notice: and- 
no man in any age, by strength of understanding,i 
iramith of temper/ arfd justness oftaste, seems to 
have been more capable of entering into the spirit 
of such' scenes than Saul 6f Tarsus. But Divine- 
Grace had given his faculties a very different direc- 
tion,- and the Chrbtian in him predominated ex- 
thsmely above the philosopher and the critic. He 
satv here, that even. the excess of learning brought 
men no nearer to God. No place on earth was 
more given to idolatry. He could not therefore find 
pleasure in the classical luxuries presented before 
him : He savr his Maker disgraced, and souls perish- 
ing in ^in. Pity and indignation swallowed up all 
other emotions : and ministers of Christ, by their 
ownf sensations in similar scenes, may try how far 
they are possessed of the mind of Paul, which, in this 
case, certainly was the mind of Christ If aftectiom 
be lively, some exertions will tbllow. He laid open 
the reasons of Christianity to Jews in their synagogue, 
to Gentile worshippers, who attended the synagogue, 
and, daily, to any persons whom he met with in tlie 
forum. There were two sects very opposite to one 
another among the pagan philosophers, namely, the 
Epicureans and 'the Stoics. The former placed the 
chief good in picture, the latter in, what they called, 
virtue, correspondent to the two chief sects among 
the Jews, the Saddtrcees and the Pharisees, and in- 
deed td th^ two sorts among mankind in all ages, who 
yet are in a state of nature^ namely, men of a licen- 
tious and dissipated turn of mind on the one hand, 
and on the other self-righteous prersons who substi- 
tute ttieir own reason and virtue in the room of di- 
vine grace and divine influence. As these will in 
any age unite against the real friendiof Jesus Christy 
so it was here ; The Apostle appeared a mere babbjcr 
in their eyes. Jesus and the U-esurrection,. which he 

F 4 -^ 

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preached, were ideas, from which their minds were 
so abhorrent, that they took them for a new god and 

It belonged to the court of Areopa^s to take 
cognizance of things of this nature. This court had 
unjustly condemned the famous Socrates, as if he 
had depreciated the establbhed religion, though he 
bad given as strong proofs of his polytheistic at- 
tachments, as he had of philosophical pride. It 
pught not however to be denied, that in a lower sense 
be suffered fpr righteousness' sake. His honest re- 
bukes of vice and improbity exposed him to death ; — 
so unsafe is even the least approximation to good- 
ness in a world like thb. That St Paul escaped 
condemnation here, seems owing to peculiar circum-r 
stances. I1ie court under the tolerating maxims of 
its Roman superiors, seems now to have had only 
the privilege of examining tenets as a synod, with^ 
out the penal power of magistracy*. 

It would carry me toO far to dwell on the excel* 
lent apology of Paul delivered before this court 
He reproved their idolatry in language and by argu- 
ments perfectly classical ; and he announced so much 
of the Gospel, as wa$ adapted to the very ignorant 
state of his audience. Whoever duly examines this 
short mcisterpiece of eloquence, may see that he 
labours to beget, in them the spirit of conviction, and 
to prepare them for Gospel-mercy, just as Peter did 
in his first sermon ^t Jerusalem. The means used 
by the two Apostles are as different, as the circum- 
stances of a Jewish and Athenian audience were : 
The end ^imed at by both was the same. 

There is reason to apprehend, that God npver 
suffers the plaia aqd faithful denunciation of hi# 

• In this Jiewevcr,!, am not very positive: A greater degree 
of sceptical indifler^nc^^ might, in the progress of refinement, 
have prevailed at Atti^ns in the days of St. Paul, and the court 
might itself be as littk disposed to persecute^ as the Romao 

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Gospel to be altogether fruitless. A few persons 
believed in reality and with stedfastness, among 
ivbom was Dionysius a member of the court, anci 
a woman named Damaris. These Paul left to the 
care of that gracious God who had opened their 
eyes, and departed from a city as yet too haughty, 
too scornful, and too indifierent concerning things 
of infinite moment, to receive the Gospel. A (.'hurch 
could hardly be said to be formed here, though a 
few individuab were converted. The little success at 
Athens evinces that a spirit of literary trifling in re- 
lig^Ki, where all is theory, and the conscience i$ 
unconcerned, hardens the heart effectually. What 
a contrast between the effects of the same Gospel 
dispensed to the illiterate Macedonians, and the phi- 
losophical Athenians! Yet there want not many 
professing Christians, who, while they stigmatize 
men of the former sort with the name of barbarians, 
bestow on the latter the appellation of enlightened 



This was at that time the metropolis of Greece, chaf. 
Its situation in an isthmus rendered it remarkably xr. 
convenient for trade. It was the residence of the *^^^^^ 
Roman governor of Achaia, the name then given 
to all Greece : and it was, at pnce, full of opulence, 
learning, luxury, and sensuality. Hither the Apostle 
qame from Ad^ns, and laboured both among the 
Jews and the G^tiles. Here Providence gave him 
the acquaintance and friendship of Aquila and his 
wife Priscilia, two Jewish Christians lately expelled 
from Italy with other Jews, by an edict of the em)>e- 
fOT Claudius. •iVith them he wrought as a tent- 
maker, being of the san^e occupation : For every 
Jew, whether rich or poor, was obliged to follow 

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CHAP^ some trade. After the arrival of Silas and Tipiothy, 
^ '^Jl _^ tlie Apostle with iTiuch vehe'mence preached to his 
^— y~- countrymen ; but opjpositioh and abuse' were th^ 
only feturns he met wfthl The modern 'ndfioits of 
charity will scalrcely bfe reconciled to the zealoui hi-* 
digiiation which he showed on this occasJon. He 
shook his garmetit, and 'told them, that he \t'as clea^ 
of their destrudi6n; and that he wodld leave them; 
and ai>jtly himself to the Gentiles in this'city. With 
this denunciatioh hfe Ij^ft tne synagogue, arid entered 
into the house' of one Jhstiis, a devout p^sori, Wcfll- 
affected to Ihe GospeK ^ 'Crispus also, the ruler of 
the synagogue, with his whol6 family, received ihh 
truth. But we hear of tib more Jewish converts at 
this place. However, many Corinthian^ were cori*- 
verted. And a graciou^ vision 6f th6' Lord Jiesus * 
who said, to l^aul m' the night, *^ I 'have mAchpedple 
in this city," erfcouragied hifid to continue here a year 
and a haff. — Hie rage 'of the Jews would doiibtless 
be raised to the highest pitch ; but, ais ^usu'al, 4he 
moderate spirit of the Roman government prev(Hited 
its sanguinary exertions. Gallio the proconsul, bro- 
ther of the famous Seneca, was perfectly indifferent 
concerning the progress of Christianity, and refused 
to pay the least attention to tlieir complaints against 
Paul, wljo now found himself so efFectually preserved 
from tW fury of his countryman, that* He I'emkihkl 
in Corinth a c'oiisiderable nine* longer^ than thbabdV^ 
Ipeutionecl year and 'a( "hatf. After his depaiifcW, 
Apoilbs,' i zealous and eloquent AlexdndHim Jew, 
tame to this'city, knd was mkde*a very powerftll 
instrument 6f bliildiiig lip this' Church, "and of si- 
lencing the opposition of the Jews. The modesty df 
this man was as conspiciious as his dptrit. 1111 he 
was instructed more perfectly byAquilaand PriscUlA, 
he knew no inor^ of Christianity, than ivhat was cori- 
tained in the system of John the^ptist. That so 
able a man could submit to pTofit*y others^ was 'a 
proof of a tumble frame. 

• Acts, xviii. 

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It:ilpp9fU[B, th^l St. Paul| so far as circumstances 
acbnitted, k?pt up a, constant correspondence with 
U)e Churches, llie care of them, as he says, "came. 
upoq him daily/' The. Corinthiaiis wrote to him to. 
aak bis. adviii^Q op, sou^e ca3es of conscience.; and^ 
he understood^ that ^ vaiiety of evils and abuses 
bad crept: in amoog U^i^m. On these accounts he 
wrote tietwo.episU^a to the Cprinthiaos. Wq are 
Qstioaiii^hed to^find in reviewing tlietjn, howfaulty m^ny^ 
persona of this Church were ; and the scene, which 
ibey ei^hiUiit, mof^ i^sQnables modern timn primitive! 
IMW^ in 9> vi^rij^ty of ckcumstances. It £ills not 
witbii^thQ dqsigp Qf this history to cnlai^ Formei: 
writers b^Ye» wife more i\w\ sufficienj: accuracy, 
4etaiBed tbc ^viU ; ^t one ^ Least, be a\lo\ji'ed briefly 
|» recoi4 thQ gcpd tilings of the Church of Chrbt 
Iq regard tQi the people of O.ori^it;h^ tl^eir ^mptioa 
bom per§e(jutipn uad^r G^iift, ^i^ tfe^r, state o| 
wse and pro^pj^i^y^ so uncommon 'tyith other 
Chtu?clies, m a great me^^re account for the little 
fpiritOality which they mJ^^ifested. Perhaps . no 
Church was more numpfous, ^nd none less holy ii^ 
the aposloliQ agp. Apd it may teach us not to repine 
at the waot of thje ^fij^^cptous operation? of the 
Holy ^ifit, when \ve consider ths^t these jCorintlmns 
abouaded in them- But many of them were proud of 
gifts, contentious, self-conceited, and warm partisans 
of Paul, ApoUos, or Peter ; and by the indulgence^ 
of this sectarian spirit, showed how little they had 
leAme<l of true wisdom^ which gives the Apostle oc- 
casion^ to recojoaiepd tlie wisdom that is from 
above^ (o poiul put the nature and properties of 
fipiritunl ivader^t^iog. and to pour a just contempt 
os^tbat, ivfeieb^is .mer»ely ni^tural. 

With the pride of f^lse nisdom tliey joined a very 
i^Mnable ncgtect in piaqMcp. One of tlieir Church 
lived in incest, find the offender was not excommu- 
nicated f. St. JPapl rebukes them also for their liti- 
^ 1 Cor. four firsc Chapieis. t CJb^p. v. 

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giousness and lasciviousness *. In answer to their 
queries, he recommends celibacy as preferable to ma- 
trimony, where a man can practise it, and that I ^hink 
from general reasons f, as more favourable to holi- 
ness, without however depreciating matrimony, or 
giving the least countenance to the food of monastic 
abuses, which afterwards prevailed in Christendom* 
But mankind are ever prone to extremes ,* and the 
extreme which is opposite to superstition so much 
prevails at present, that I should not wonder, if some 
persons should startle at what T have mentioned as the 
sentiments of St Paul, though it be impossiUe for any 
unprejudiced person to understand him otherwise. 

So little were the Corinthians exposed to pme*- 
cution, that they were invited by their idolatrous 
neighbours to partake of their idol feasts ; and there 
were among them those who complied :|;. There 
were also among them false apostles, who, by pre- 
tending to instruct them gratis, endeavoured to de- 
preciate Paul as a mercenary person §. Hence, whil<$ 
he rebukes the faults or defects of this people, he 
observes that he laboured among them freely, which 
the felse apostles pretended to do. He proceeds 
to correct an abuse which obtained in their assemblies, 
in the article of decency of dress; and another 
much worse, — the protianation of tlie Lord s Supper|{. 
He insists also on the correction of their abuse of 
spiritual gifts, particularly those of languages^. 
It appears that gitb were more prized by them, in 
sonje respects, than grace itself; and that love, which 
he beautifully describes, was at a low ebb among them. 
He occasionally mentions however a very common 
effect attendant on the preaching of the Gospel even 
at Corinth : If an ignorant idolater came into their 
assemblies, he was so penetrated with the display of 
the truth as it is in Jesus, that he could not but discoVer 

• Chap. vi. f Chap. vii. J i Cor. viii. 10. 

§ 1 Cor. ix. compared with 2 Cor. xi. 13 — 20. 
U 1 Cor. xi. . V Chap, xii, xiii. xiv. 

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the Tcry secrets of his soul : he would prostrate him- cent. 
self in the worship of God, and report that God was in '• 
them of a truth *. And, if where the Gospel was so 
little honoured by the lives of its professors as at 
Corinth, such power attended the dispensation of it, 
how much more of the same kind, may we suppose, 
happened at Philippi and at Thessalonica ? For we 
have not yet mentioned all tlie evils of this outwaixlly 
flourishing, but inwardly distempered Church. There 
H-ere some, who even denied the resurrection of the 
body, which gives occasion to the Apostle to illustrate 
that important article f. 

Though he had promised to revisit them soon, yet, 
in the nextepistle, he assigns a reason why he delayed 
longer than he had intended. Their Christian stata 
was very imperfect; and he wished to be enabled^ 
by their reformation, to come among them with mwe 
pleasure. In truth, he wrote the first epistle in much 
anguish and afHiction ;{;. His soul was deeply affected 
for this people; and while great progress in pro- 
fession seemed so inconsistent with their experience 
and their practice, he felt the sincerest grief He was 
relieved at length by the coming of Titus §. From hig 
account it appeared, that the admonitions were by no 
means fruitless. The case of the incestuous person at 
length was attended to by them as itought : they pro- 
ceeded even with more severity than the Apostle 
desired ; for, though the man gave the strongest proof 
of repentance, they refused to resulmit him mto their 
Church, till St Paul signified hb express desire that 
they would do so« 

There can be no doubt but that many persons 

* This 18 a proof of the Divine Influenet attendant on Chris- 
tiauity. Genend pioofe of its authenticity may be drawn also 
from the subject of miraculous gifts. The Apostle's manner of 
describing these things proves ^eir redity and their frequency. 
For no mun could have convinced these Corinthians, th it they 
were m possession of those gifts, if they themselves had not be rn 
conscious of them. 

t Chap. XV, J 2 Cor.'ii. 4. § 2 Cor, vii. 

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78 HISTORY 'OF THE 'church 

' belonging to this Cliurch m ere recovered to a state of 
aflTcction and practice worthy 6t* Christianity. In 
particular the Apostle cOinmends their liberality to- 
ward the distressed Christians*. But there was sdll 
an obstinate party among the Corintliians, attached 

' to the falsd aposiks, whose conduct extorted from hitn 
a zedloos and honest commchdafflon of himself his 
endowments, and his office, which yet he manages 
with great address and delicacy, while he bewails the 
sfcdiidaloas practices still existing «mong them f . 

Od his arrival at Coiinth after these epistles, he 
doubtless executed what he had threatened, namely, 
s6me wholesome^ severities on offenders, unless-their 
speedy and sincere repentance prevented the neces- 
sity of such a step. lie s[)ent three months ^ in his 
second visit. But Svc have tio more particular account 
in Scripture of this Church. \ 

• a 


c ir A p. xii. 


CHAP. It may seem to have been purposely ctppointedi)y 
InfinitI Wisdom, that Our fii^st accotmts ottbe Roman 
Church should be very imperfect, iir order to confiite 
the proud pretensions to universal dominion, which 
its bishops have with unblushing arnDganoesopportcd 
'for so many^ges. If a litie or' two' in the Oiospels 
concerning the keys of St. Peterhavc been made the 
foundation of such lofty pretensions in 'his Supposed 
succdssoi's to the primacy, how w6uld they iiove 
gloried, if his labbui^ af Rome had been so distinctly 
celebrated, as those of St. Paul in several Churdies ? 
What bounds t^ould have been set to the pride f of 
ecclesiastical Rome, could she have boasted of her- 
self as the mother-church, like Jerusalem, or even ex- 
hibited such trophies of Scriptural feme, as Philipi)), 
Thessalonica, Corinth, or Ephesus? The sileoce^of 
* 2 Cor. ix. t Cbap. xi. xii, J- AcU, xx« 

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Scripture b tlie more remarkable, because the Church 
kself was m m early period by no uieaus insignifi- 
jqaut, either for tlie number or Uie piety of ite con- 
.verts* Their tkitb wa^ spoken of through the whole 
ivorld*.. The ^^^jostle thus commends them ; nor 
does he in his epLst^e to tliein intimate any tiling pe • 
^uUarly faulty in their principles or conduct. The 
.epistle to the Romans itself^ while tlie world endures, 
uilli)ethe fpod of Christian mimjs, and th^ richest 
^ system^ of dqctrine tp jjcriptural theologians. By 
tlije distinct direqtions Avhich be gives for tlie main- 
;tenaope pf jcqarity betwe^en Jews and Gentiles, it 
appears tHat tliere must have been a, considerable 
nujnbcx of the former among tbeip* ^ If one mig^it 
. ipaulge a conjecture, I should suppose that Aqujla 
, and . Pri:>cilla, who had laboured with ^t. Paul at 
, Corinth botkin a spiritual and temporal sense, and 
bad bee« expelled from Italy by the emperor Clau- 
- diu3, and. whom he here .salutes as at Rome, were 
first ponccn\ed in the plantation of this Church, which 
was n^^meyqus, before any Apostle had been there. 
Andronici^ and Junias are saluted also m'the epistle : 
. th^ wcre.^ m^ of character ^mong fhe . Apostles, 
; whose ^nv^sion were of jqin earlier date than ^t 
P^ul'sj th^y were also his kinsmen, and had suffered 
in coi^uQction. with him for the faith. He salutes 
also a number of Qth;rs, tl^i^^ tho^ might not all 
be residents of J[lome. The work pi /divine Gmce in 
didtingqbbing p^rson^ of various families and con- 
nections i^ ever pteervable. There were saints at 
Rome of the tyvo families of Ari^tobulus and >Jar- 
. jcissus* The former was of tlie royal^ blood of the 
Maccabees, and had been carried prisoner tq Rome 
by Pompey, He himself liad suffered a variety of 
hardships incident to aiife of turbulent ambition like 
his ; yet some of his family, of no note in civil his- 
^ tory, ar&marked as the disciples of Christ, and h^rs 
of the triie riches. )>h arcissus is distinguishe;d in Roman 
^ Rom.i. 

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CHAP, history 03 the ambitions prime minister of Claudius ; 
yet some of his housliold were in ih« Lord. 

Paul had long wished and even projected a visit to 
this Church. Fie did not expect that his journey 
thither at last was to be at Capsars expense. Confi- 
dent however he was, that when he did come to them, 
it should be " in the fulness of the blessing of the 
Gospel of Christ." And he intreats the prayers of 
the Romans,, that he may be delivered from the in- 
fidel Jews, and be acceptable in his ministry to his 
believing countrymen at Jerusalem, whither he was 
then hastening, that *' he might come to them with 
joy by the will of God," and be with them refi'eshed. 
Thus did Christians in those days intreat the prayers 
of their brethren through the world, and sympathize 
M ith one another. And the prayers were answered : 
Paul was saved from Jewish malice : was acceptable 
to the Jewish converts, " who had compassion on him 
in his bonds;" and was conducted safe to Rome. 
At Appii Forum and the three taverns he was miet 
by the Roman Christians : he thanked God and took 
courage *, refi-eshed, as he had been confident he 
should be, whenever he might arrive among them. 
None but those, who know what is meant by the . 
communion of saints, can conceive the pleasure which 
he felt on the occasion. After a charitable but fruit- 
less attempt to do good to the principal Jews at Rome, 
he employed the two years of his imprisonment in 
receiving all who came to him, preaching with all 
confidence, and without molestation. On account 
of bis imprisonment and examination at Rome, the 
nature of the Gospel began to be enquired into f in 
Nero's court, and the conclusion of the epistle to 
the Philippians makes it evident, that some of the 
imperial houshold became Christians indeed. And 
as the court was by no means disposed to treat bini 
with rigour, but rather to favour him with indulgences 
ms a Roman citizen, hence many preachers in Rome 

• Actr^xxviii. 15. t Philippians, i. 

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AT ROME. $1 

and the neighbourhood exerted themselves witti more cent, 
courage than formerly they dared to do. Yet certain 
persons even then could preach Christ with malevo- 
lent views of depreciating the Apostles : others did 
it with sincere charity. But as real bene6t accrued, 
to the souls of men from the labours of the former 
as well as of the latter, the lieart of Paul, with a 
charity, the wonderful effect of heavenly teachings 
could rejoice in both. 

Some writers seem to have gone too far, in denying 
that Peter ever was at Rome. But the cause of 
Protestantism needs not the support of an unreason- 
able scepticisms Undoubtedly the account of Peter s 
martyrdom there, with that of Paul, rests on a foun- 
dation sufficiently strong, namely, the concurrent 
voice of antiquity. His first episticj by an expres- 
sion at the close of it*, appears to have been dated 
thence; for the Church at Babylon, according to 
the style of Christians at that time, could be no 
other than the Church at Rome. — Of the literal 
Babylon we find nothing in the writers of those 


Th I a city of Phrygia was in the neighbourhood of 
Lapdicea and Hierapolis, and all three seem to have 
been, converted by the ministry of Epaphras the 
Colossian, a companion and fellow-labourer of Paul^ 
who attended him at Rome during his imprisonment, 
aud informed him of the sincerity and fruitfulness of 
their Christian profession. For though he speaks to 
the Colossians only, yet the religious state of the two 
neighbouring cities may be conceived to be much thq 
lame. The example of Epaphras d^erv^s to b# 
♦ iPet.v. 1^ 

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CHAP, pointed out to the imitation of all ministers. He always 
^^^/- t laboured fervently for them in prayers, " that they 
might stand perfect and complete in all the vvill of 
God*.** And this was indeed one of the best methods 
of evincing the sincerity of his zeal, whidi Paul owns 
to have been great for these Churches. 

The Apostle himself, in the fulness and fervency 
of his charity, wishes, that the Colossians knew how 
strong the.conflict of his soul was for them, that they 
might feel the comfort, understand the mystery, and 
enjoy the riches of the Gospel f. They had never 
*een his face in the flesh ; but he felt for them as 
Christian brethren, and honoured them as those, in 
whom the word brought forth fruit, and who had a 
Kvely hope in Christ beyond the grave. But there 
must have been some particular dangers incident to 
their situation, to give propriety to the cautions in his 
epistle against philosophy and vain deceit, against 
Judaical dependencies and rites, and against an ille- 
gitimate humility and self-righteous austerities. Such 
filings, he observes, carry indeed the appearance of 
wisdom and goodness J, but lead only to pride and an 
extravagant selfcestimation. And the tendency of 
tliem is, to draw the mind from that simplicity of 
dependence on Christ, which is the true rest of the 
soul, and tlie right frame of a Christian. 

In truth, the Jew by his ceremonies, and the Gen- 
tile by his philosophy, equally laboured to overturn 
^*- the Gospel of Christ. And their self-righteous efforts 

ai-e then only effectually opposed, when Christians 
know their " completeness in Christ, and walk in 
him.'* After delivering a number of beautiful precepts 
closely interwoven with Christian doctrine, the apostle 
directs them to read his epistle in their assembly, and 
then to send it to be read bv the Laodiceans : and 
also to receive an epistle from Laodicea to be read 
m their own Church, which, most probably, was the 
epistle to .the Ephesians; none of these places being 
♦ Col. iv. la. t Chap.ii. i, 2. J CoKii. vkL 

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AT COLOS^E. 8.^ 

lit a great distance from one another*. And he gives 
a plain, but very serious, charge to Archippus their 
present pastor. We see hence with what care these 
precious Apostolical remains were preserved among 
primitive Christians ; and we may conceive, how, in 
the infancy of spiritual consolation, they fed on those 
lively oracles, which we now so indolently possess. 

I see nothing more to be collected from the Scrip- 
tures concerning the state of this Church, except the 
instructive anecdote in the epistle to Philemon. This 
man, a Colossian Christian, had a slave, named 
Onesimus, who deserted from his master, probably 
not without some depredations of his property, and 
wandered to Rome. That, like all great cities, was 
the sink, which received the confluence of various 
vices and crimes. There the wonderful Grace of God 
seized his heart. Providence brought him to hear 
Paul preach, which we have seen that Apostle con- 
tinued to do for two years in his imprisonment 
Though former means of instruction under his Chris- 
tian master had failed, now, at length, his eyes were 
opened, and he became a Christian indeed. Paul 
would have found him an useful assistant at Rome, 
but thought it most proper to send him back to his 
master at Colosse ; and this he did with a short letter, 
which may justly be considered as a masterpiece of 
Christian politeness, address, and sincerity. In his 
Colossian episde he mentions him also as a faithful 
and beloved brother. — What important clianges 
Divine Grace can effect in the hearts of men, eveil 
of slaves, whom proud philosophers despised, appears 
very evident from this instance ! 

• Chap. iv. 16, 17. 

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^^' There arc some countries, to which we understand 
I— .^..M,^ that the Gospel was carried during the 6rst efTusion 
of the Holy Spirit, which are only, incidentally men* 
Uoned without any detail of facts. 

Extensive as vfe have seen, from St. Luke's narra- 
tive, the labours of the Apostle Paul were, it is evident 
from the epistles, that be is far from relating the 
' whole of them. We cannot learn, for instance^ from 
the Acts, when he visited Crete. Yet the short 
epistle to Titus, whom he left there with episcopal 
authority to ordain ministers in every city, and to 
regulate the churches, shows that tliat island of a 
hundred cities had been considerably evangelized ; 
and that many persons, amopg a people proverbially 
deceitful, ferocious, and intemperate, had received 
the wholesome yoke of Christ 

And though I cannot but think, that the strangers 
scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia^ 
Asia, and Bithynia, to whom St. Peter addresses his 
two epistles, must mean the Jews of those countries, 
yet their conversion would doubtless be attended 
with that of many Gentiles. Of three of these we 
know nothing paiticularly : the work of God ii;i 
Galatia has been reviewed ; and Asia propria alone, 
of all the evangelized regions mentioned in scripture- 
history, so far as I can discover, remains now to be 

It was on hib first departure from Corintl), that 
Paul first visited Ephesus*, which name stands at tlie 
head of the seven Churches of Asia, to whom St. Joha 
dedicates the book of the Revelation. The impression 
made on his hearers durmg this vbit, must have beea 

* Acts, xviii. 19. 

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3» ASIA. 85 

reni&rkably ptBtj ad it wtid bat m short oni!, and « 
tiiey pressed hk longer eontkiuance among item. 
He left with them Iwwewr for Itfaeir comfort and 
kistniction Aquiki and Priscilla, \vho8e Uboun were 
afterwards assisted by Apollos, 

P^tii hknself returning to £f>he8U8, baptized in 
thfe name of Jesus about twelve disciptesj who had 
hittierto deceived only John's baptiBm*. From this 
ekcumstatice we learn^ that from the first preaching 
of the Baptist nothit)g had been done ki vain. Th^ 
ioapi^tt^t elements ot that harbinger of Christ had 
leaved the way for d^rer discoveries^ and a variety 
bf pirfeparatory works had tended te ripen tlie Church 
of Ged into the fokiess of light and hohtiess. 

Pairi preached three months in the Jewish syna- 
Mgne at fiphesos^ tiil the usual perverset^ss of the 
?ews indu^ him to desist^ and to fonH the converts 
kito ti distinct Church . One Ty ranmis lent his schaoi 
for the service of Christianity ; and in that convenient 
place, for ^ §paoe of two years, the Apoetie daily 
tninistered, iti^tiructed, and disputed. And tiras the 
H'hole regiofi d( Asia propria had at diGferent times 
an opportunity of heating the Gospel. 

In no place 'does the word of God ^eem so much 
to have trtumplied as at Ephesies. No less nume- 
rous ftan those of Cdrinth^ the believers, were much 
tnore spiritual. The work of conversioh was deep, 
tigorous, and souUttmiisformtng to a areat d^ree« 
Many persons, struck w ith the homor ofthek former 
trimes, made »n open cohfessioti ; and many, wha 
had dealt in the abomitiations of sorcery, now showed 
tbeb' sincere detestation of them by bctfrHing their 
books before all men, the price of ifiiiich amoiyitedta 
a large sum. " So mightHy grew the word of God> 
and prevailed." — ^ThtB triumjSis the saored historian^. 
— Satan must have trembled for his Idngdom ; the 
^mp^ess of all the systems of phik)3D|ihy appeared 
tie less palpable, than the fla^tiouso^sa erf* vk^ aod 
• Acts, xix. 


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CHAP, die enormities of idolatry : The spiritual power of 
yJ^J- . Jesus was never seen in a stronger light since the day 
of Pentecost; and the venal priesthood of Diana the 
celebrated Goddess of Ephesus, apprehended the 
total ruin of their hierarchy. 
idoi.try N^ place on earth was more devoted to idolatry. 
of the A number of ingenious artists were enriched by 
jjphcsians. pfjai^jug silver shriucs for Diana. They felt a sensible 
diminution of their commerce, and found themselves 
. bound by interest to support the credit of the goddess. 
Much people through almost all Asia had been in-r 
duced to believe, that manufactured gods were merQ 
nothings ; and it seemed high time to mal^e somQ 
strong efforts in favour of the declining superstition, 
They soon prevailed so far as to fill the city with 
tumult; and tliey hurried two of Pauls companions 
with them into the theatre, where the whole mob 
assembled. The daring spirit of Paul would havQ 
led him into the same place. His Christian friends 
interposed, and even some of the Asiarcbs,~person5 
who presided over the games, — who had a personal 
esteem for him, kindly dissuaded him. His zeal 
seems not void of rashnass, but it was the rashness 
of a hero vexed to tije soul to tliink that Gains and 
Aristarchus, his two friends, were likely to suffer in 
his absence. Now I apprehend was that season of 
extreme distress, which he felt in Asia, and which he 
describes so pathetically * in his epistle to the Co- 
rinthians, Human resources failed ; and God alone, 
he learnt, could support him, 1 he prudent and 
eloquent harangue of a magistrate, called the town- 
clerk, was the providential instrument of his deliver- 
ance. He calmed the spirit of the Ephesians, and 
silenced the uproar; after which Paul affectionately 
embraced the disciples, and left Ephesus. Tiiree 
years he had laboured with great success; and he had 
the precaution to leave pastors to superintend tha( 
ftnd the neighbouring Churches. Bu( be foresavy 

^ 2 Por. i, 8, 9, lo. 

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»tilh grief, as he afterwards told these pastors ki a 
very pathetic address, when he had sent for them to 
Miletus*, that their present purity would not con- 
tbue an^tained. Wolves would enter among them 
to devour the flock; and, among themselves heretical 
perverseness would find countenance, and produce 
pernicious separations. He did all, however, which 
man could do: he warned them of the danger; and 
exhorted them to the persevering discharge of their 

The. parting between the Apostles and these mi- 
nisters cannot be read without emotion. The elegant 
and affecting narrative of St. Luke is before the reader, 
and ought not to be abridged. The corruption of 
this excellent Church seems not, however, to havQ 
taken place, when he wrote to them his epistle. It 
is full of instruction; and, next to that to the. Romans, 
may be looked on as a most admirable system of 
divinity. It has this remarkable recommendation^ 
that it will serve for any Church and for any ago. 
Not a vestige appears io it of any thing peculiarly 
miraculous, or exclusively primitive. The. contro- 
versies of the Christian world concerning doCivmo 
would soqn be dqcided, if men would submit to b^ 
taught by die simple, literal, and grammatical, meftoing 
of this short treatise. Every thing of doctrine and 
of duty is in it ; and what the Gospel really \% may 
thence be collected with the greatest certainty. 

It appears that Timothy was the chief pastor eA 
Ef^iesus in Paul's absence f- The Apostle's first 
epistle to him throws some light on the state x)f this 
Church during his administration. There were some 
person^ of a judaical and legal turn of mind, who 
endeavoured, by contentious questions, to peryert the 
simplicity of evangelical faith, hope, and love- There 
were others in the opposite extreme : Two are par- 
ticularly characterized, liymenteus and AlexandeE, 
Vfi^Q abused the profession of the faith to such opea 

♦Acts,xp. t iTim-i. 


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it fitSTORY Of mt CtttTHCH. 

lic^tiousiiess, as to render their ejection frotn the 
Church a necessary measure. So early were th^ 
Churches ot Christ infected with the same evih, which 
W this day fail not to attend ihe propagation of Divme 
tfuth! From tlie directions which he gives to Tinmthy 
iconcerning tlie regulation of public worship, and th6 
character and conduct of church-officers, it appears, 
indeed, that ecclesiastical polity had taken a firm root 
In this Church. But m^xiem partisans and bigotd 
will still search the Scriptures in vain to find theit 
own exact model, in matters, which the word 6f God 
hath left indifferent, or at leust to he decided only 
by variotis circumstances of prudential expediency t 
Churches will, doubtless, be much better employed, 
in esiablishing and in observing useful f>ractical rules, 
•which are compatible with very di(Ferent tonus ojf 
government. I should suspect, that the superstitious 
end self-righteous spirit, which, under a thousand 
Austerities, afterwards supported itself in the eastern 
Churcltes, and proved one of the most poweriul 
ftigiuefc of popery, had even theh begwn to sho^ itself 
-in Ephe«\is and had given occasion to tlie Apostolical 
cautions, as well as to the prophetical declaration of 
the vast increase of ttiose evils in after-times *. It 
was the charitable practice of the Chutxrh of Ephesus, 
to maintain Christian widows at the public expense* 
Bet 1 fear this liberality had been abused. Young 
widows, who had been living a life of ease, bad thf own 
themselves as a burden on their religious brethren ; 
afid however' high they might appetir in^ Christiati 
profession, some of them exchanjjed the love of Christ 
for the love of the world, and the Indulgence of 
sensuality t- As an Idle life is a great sOufce of tiiese 
evild, tlie Apostle recommends that these sliouW be 
tfl&coU rdgpd to enter again into the matrimonial state,^ 
wbiph Wmrtd furnish la<idable domestic employments^ 
father than that they should be maintained Ijy the 
CJburch in a state of indolence. The widows, wl^a 
• 1 Tim. iv. ' t ^ ^3« 

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fthotiM be so m^otained by the public sfocft, he re- 6pnt. 
coiDinends to be those, iVho were far advanced in , /•_ j 
Kfe, of eminent laborious piety, and distinguished 
for their woiks of charity. 

On the whole, we may discover among these ex- 
cellent people some appearances of the vefy worst 
of evils; which, as yet, made feeble efforts, were 
kept down by the superior light and grace that 
prevailed, and which seemed in indignant silence 
to be expecting future opportunities of diffusing 

We know nothing more of this Church during the 
remainder of St. Paul's Hfe, nor after his death, till 
toward the do^e of the first «ntury. St. John, the 
only survivor of the Apostles, long continued his 
fetherly care of the Churches of Asia propria. During 
his exile at Patmos he was favoured with an astonish- 
bg and magnificent vision' of the Lord Jesus* from 
Wnonn he received several distinct chargers, addressed 
to the seven Churches of Asia, descriptive of their 
fipiritoAl state at that time, and containing suitable 
directions to each of them. The pastors of the 
Churches are called angels ; and, xvhat has been ob- 
servable in all ages was then the case,— thfe character 
of the pastors was much the same with that* of tli6 
people. We have bene then, fi-om the highest 
authority, some account of the state of these Churches 
ttt the close of the first century. — It is short, but 
important— Let us endeavour to comprise it into 
(IS clear a view as possible. 

The Ephesians were still alive in the faith f. character 
Attempts had been made to jServert them, but in vain, chui!* of 
However subtile the poison of heresy be, here it could Epheius. 
-find no admission. Nor could the abominations of 
the Nkolaitanes, who appear to have been a sect ex- 
tremely corrupt in morals, make any progress among 
them. They patiently bore the cro^s ever attendant 
on the real faitb of Jesus, but could endure nothing 
♦ Rev. i. + Kpv. u. 

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CHAP. that-tGndcd to adulterate it The taste and spirit of iho 
j^^J\^ Gospel continued with them : They laboured ia 
- - good works without fainting or weariness ; and tlieir 

spiritual discernment was not to be imposed on by 
any pretences. Yet they had declined from the 
intenseness of that love, which they had at first exn 
hibited : Their hearts . panted not after Christ with 
that steady ardour which formerly had animated 
this people; and, with all the marks of sound health 
remaining, their vigour had much abated. 

How exactly does this account jxgree with the com- 
mon case of the best Christian churches. Because it 
is a common case, and far from being the worst casei 
Christians are apt to be content under such a decline, 
and to impute it to necessity, or to the loss of sudden 
fervours of no great value, and to plume themselves on 
the solidity of an improved judgment But true zeal 
and true charity should be shown habitually, and not 
only now and tlien when occasional inro^Jds of the 
enemy may happen to call for particular exertions. 
These atFections ought to grow as the understanding 
is improved. The spirit of prayer, of love to Christ, 
of active services for his name, was now abated at 
Ephesus, and a cool prudence was too much magnif 
fied at .the expense of charity. The eternal salvatioi^ 
of real Christians there was safe; but real Christiai>$ 
should have more in view than their own salvation, — ^ 
namely, the propagation of godliness to posterity. 
These cautious Christians did not consider that their 
decline paved the way for farther and more melancholy 
declensions in the ilivine life : that the influence of 
their example was likely to be mischievous to those 
who foUoweS ; that their juniors w ould much more 
readily imitate their defects than their virtues ; in fine, 
that a foundation was already laid for the unr 
churching of this people, and for the desolation in 
which this very region now remains under Mahon^e- 
TheCho h ^" vvickedness and ignorance, 
of smjrr"^ The ChuTcb of Sn^yrna b w\X addressed. They 

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were at once in a state of great purity of doctrine^ an4 
holiness of heart and life. The Divine Saviour com- 
mends them in general. That, toward the end of the 
first century, they should have preserved the divine 
liieia such vigour, — a period of about forty years most 
probably, if indeed there had been no intermissions,^ 
— is somewhat extraordinary, and except in the case 
ot Philadelphia, not easily paralleled in history :— So 
naturally does depravity prevail, in a course of time^^ 
over tlie best-constituted churches. But their tribula- 
tion anl poverty are particularly marked. They werq 
rich in heavenly grace, poor in worldly circumstances. 
If poor Churches were fully sensible of the mischiefs 
wUch often arise from the accession of opulent indi- 
viduab, they would not plume themselves so much 
on the admission of such members as they often do. 
The Smyrnean Christians were chiefly of the poorer 
soit of inhabitants ; yet were they infested with pre- 
tenders, ot tlie same spirit as those, w ho attempted 
to adulterate the Gospel at Ephesus. Of the Smyr- 
peans it may be sufficient to say, that they made large 
pretensions to pure religion; that their corruptions 
were Judaicai; and that they were under the in- 
fluence of Satan. This Church is taught to expect 
a severe persecution which was to last some time ; 
imd they are exhorted to persevere in faith. 

The Church of Pergamus w as also approved of Tbt csinrc^ 
in general. They lived in the midst of a very im- p^Jilni 
pious people, who, in effect, worshipped Satan 
himsell^ and did ail that in them lay to support his 
kingdom. Yet was their zeal firm and steady. Nor 
wab its object a few trifling punctilios, or some little 
niceties of doubtful disputation,, but the precious 
name of Christ himself, and the faith of his Gospel. 
Hence they were exposed not only to contempt, but 
to danger of life itself, and to cruel sutFerings. Ouy 
Lord mentions one person with particular compla- 
.pency, " my faithful martyr Antipas." We know np 
fporc of him than what is here recorded, — that " he 

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^^as slain trhowg thetii, wherfe iSatati d^lt.*^ Bot 
^ what. an hbnouir lo be thus dfetinguiihcd ! Volume?! 
(if panegyric havfe b^en tompos^d for nicrfe statesttt^^, 
heroes, and scholars. Ho\V ftvr^tA At^ they «iU appear 
taken together, compared xviil^ this simple testimony 
ti Jesus ! But this Charch does not escape censum 
Entirely. There tvrre amon]^ them certain tricked 
^nd dangerous characters, m ho, att'mg like Balaatrt 
ti old, were employed by Satan to entice "persons t«> 
eat things sacf iliced to idol6, and to Commit, fornka-^ 
tiob ;— two evils often closely connected : Evien the 
abominations of the Kicobitancs were practised by 
^ome, ,All these are exhorted to repent, from thfe 
fear of divine vengeance. On the vfhole, \\itti ^ fe^ 
Exceptions, and those indeed of an extraordinary 
degree of malignity, the Cbtirch of Pergamus wa4 
pure and lively, and upheld the standaixi of t!*utb> 
though encircled with the flamfcs of martytttom. 
The Chnreii The Church of Thyatita was in a tlniving statei 
Tb/Ztira. ^^^'^^^J') aiitive^crvicc^ patient dependence-on Oody 
and a steady reliance on the divine promises, niftrked 
tticir works : and, what is peculiarly landat^e, their 
iast works were moi-e excellent than their first *. A 
sounder proof of genuine religion than such a grCKiudl 
hnprOvement can scarce be conceived. Yet it is iin* 
puted as a fault to this Church, tiiat they suffered atk 
Artful woman lo seduce the people into the satne ev ils^ 
which had inTccted Perganms. Her real ntiime \^ 
know not : her allegorical name is Jejrebel : sht re*- 
feeaibled the t\ife bt Ahab, who kept four hwidwsci 
prophets at h(^ table, and exerted all her inflottrce to. 
Jjl'omote idolatry. The people of God shotiW h^vfe 
Counteracted her, but they did not : an advant^g*^ 
^hich deceitfiil guides have often gained throilgh the 
Negligence of the smccre. The very sex of the pi?e^ 
tended prophetess was a suflfcient reason why sbfe 
should have been testiained. *^L^ your womiBt)^ 
Iceep silence in the Churches t/' is an expre^ 
• Rev. ii. 19. t 1 C6r. xiv. 34".. 

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mrohibition of fenpale^ from the office of teaching^ 
fcowever wseftil ia oth^r respects pious women may b^ 
in the Church. Our L^rd informs the Church in 
Thyatira, that he gave her space to repent, but to 09 
purpode, and therefore now denounces severe threa* 
lenings against her and her associates, at the sam^ 
time vindicating his claim to divine woxsiiip by the 
incommunicable title of him who searches the hearts, 
and declaring that he would make himself known tp 
be such in all the Churches. To those who had kept 
theo^ives unspotted from these evils, he declare* 
^* be would put no other burden on them :" only he 
exhorts them to hold fest what they already had to tb$ 
day of judgnxent. The unbound Christians in thw 
place pretended to great, depths of knowledge, whioh 
were, in reality, depths of Satan, — Such persow 
often impose on others, and are imposed qn them^ 
selves by pretences to profound knowledge and t^ 
superior degrees of sanctity. 

The Church of Sardis presents us with an unpleaT Tbetwk 
ring spectacle. Their great inferiojity to Thyatira 
evinces, how possible it is for two societies of 
Christians holdmg the same doctrines, to be in a very 
differait state, ne who " walk5 in the midst of the 
Churches,'' extols the growing faith and charity of the 
first, and condemns the drooping condition of tfie 
second. Tliey had neglected tliat course of prayer 
aod watchfulness, which is necessary to preserve the • 
divine life in vigour. Their works, were now faintly 
distinguishable from those of persons altogether dead 
in sin. Some * good tilings remained in them, whiclji 
yet wer^ ready to die: but their Kves brought no glory 
to God, 3or benefit to the cause of Christ; and could 
scarce prevent its being scandaUzed in the worlds 
A few names indeed there were in Sardis, whoni 
Jesus looked on with complacency : they had not 
defiled their garments. But most of the Christian? • . 
there had contracted deep stains;^ probably by freely 
* Key. iii. 

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CHAP, mixing with the *'Orlcl, and by conforming to iti 
^^\' i customs. And we see here an awful fact authenticated 
in the highest possible manner, — that among a so- 
ciety of persons all professing the Gospel, the greater 
part may be very dead in their souls. It should ever 
DC rememl)ered, that human nature b averse to real 
faith, heavenly hope, and genuine charity. An omni- 

Sotent energy alone can produce or preserve true 
oliness. This had been the case at Sard is, when the 
Church partook of the first effusion of the Spirit' 
Quite contrary to the usual course of natural things, 
which are brought to perfection by slow and gradual 
improvements, in Christ's religion Godliness starts up 
in the mfancy of things in its best form. Seldom are 
the last works, as was the case at Thyatira, more 
abundant or more excellent Heresies, refinements, 
human cautions, commonly adulterate the work of 
God. An abuse, perhaps, of some frantic enthu- 
siast appears : the correction of it by some pre- 
sumptuous pretender to reason introduces another 
more specious, but more durable one. The love of 
the world increases with the abatement of persecu- 
tion. The natural propensity of man to sin exerts 
itself more and more : lively Christians are removed 
by death : their juniors inferior in all solid godliness, 
superior only in self-estimation, reduce the standard 
of Christian grace lower and lower : apologies are 
invented for sin : what was once experimentally 
Icnown, becomes matter of barren speculation : Even 
Scriptural terms expressive of vital religion are 
despised or sparingly used : fainter and more polite 
modes of speech, better adapted to classical neatness, 
but proper to hide and disguise the ambiguities of 
scepticism, are introduced : the pride of reasoning 
grows strong : and men chuse rather to run tlie risk 
of hell itself, than to be thoroughly humbled. The 
strong hand of God alone, in overbearing convictions 
and terrors, and in the sweetest, but most powerftrl 
attractions of grace, can conquer thi« contemptuous 

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Spirit. No wonder then, that those who never felt, cent, 
or who have quenched in a great measure these terrors . _^' J 
aDd these attractions, relapse into an impatient 
fastidiousness. And then the influence of the Holy 
Spirit itself is reasoned against with petty cavils, and 
aspersed by illiberal suspicions. Unfaithful and un- 
experienced persons, who undertake to teach in these 
circumstances, will often, in attempting to discriminate 
the operations of the Spirit of God from delusions, 
be unfeeling, rough, and unskilful. To them weeds 
and flowei-s in the garden of Paradise jwill be the same 
tiling. A malignant instinct of profane propensity 
tempts them to pull up all together, till they leave * 
only the love of the world, and, what they proudly 
call, common sense ; which last expression will be 
found, at bottom, to denote a very mischievous 
engine in religious matters ; for, so applied, it means 
neither more nor less than simply, the natural, un- 
assisted powers of the human mind, darkened and 
corrupted, as they are, by the fall. And now, by 
frequent disuse, prayer and religious exercises grow 
disagreeable : Sensual and worldly objects allure the 
tarnal mind with success : Lucrative speculations 
in commerce devour the spirit of godly meditation : 
The seasons of religious duty are justled out by the 
throng of business ; and excuses of necessity are 
easily admitted : Men find a pleasure in being no 
longer reputed fanatics; and professors will now 
ask leave of the world, how far it will permit them 
to proceed in religion Vvithout offence. 

1 dare not say, that all this .exactly took place 
at Sardis; but much of it did, no doubt; and on 
occasion of this first instance of a generart declen- 
sion, it seemed not unreasonable to point oat its 
ordinary progress and symptoms. > 

Tte Christians of Philadelphia are highly extolled. The CbA 
They were a humble, charitable, fervent people, pi„{l,dei- 
deeply sensible of their own weakness, fearful of pi***. 
being seduced by Satan and their own hearts. The 

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CHAP. Spirit assares them, that they had a little streogtb^ 
y^- , wnich had at once been proved and exerted in hold- 
ing fast the simplicity of the Gospel, and in detect- 
ing and resisting all adulterations of it. They are 
further assured, that the Judaical heretics should be 
brought at length tg submit to becon^e their disciples 
in religion : And a promise of strong support is held 
out to them, because they had maintained a truq 
patience in suffering. To them, as to all the rest of 
the Churches, the rewards beyond the grave are 
proposed as the grand motives of perseverance. 
The ChoTch Laodicca too much resembled Sardis. The people 

Laudicea. wcre in a LUKEWARM State, a religious mediocrity, 
most odious to C'hrist ; because his religion calls for 
the whole vehemence of the soul, and bids us to bq 
cool only in WORLD tY things. The foundation of this 
lukevvarmness was laid in pride : They had lost tliq 
conviction of their internal blindness, misery, and 
depravity. When men go on for years in a placid 
unfeeling uniformity, this is always the case. They 
were satisfied with themselves, and felt no need of 
higher attainments. The counsel, which is given tq 
them,— to buy of him gold, white raiment, and eye- 
salve, — is precious ; and this call to their souls de- 
monstrates that they had learnt to maintain, in easy 
indolence, an orthodoxy of sentiments without any 
vivid attention to the Spirit of God: — Inaword^ 
his influence was only not despised in Laodicea. 

Such were the situations of the seven Churches 
of Asia. The criticism is indeed inestimable : It is 
candid, impartial, and penetrating. He, who has 
indulged us with it, ijatended it tor the use of aU 
succeeding Churches : — and ** he that hath an ear, 
let him liear what the Spirit saitb to the Churches'' 

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I T is the observation of one of tl)e antients, that ^^v^' 
St Luke, in the dose of his Apostolical history, \_ ^ - ^ 
leaves the reader -thirsting for more. I feel the 
force and justness of the thought at this monient. 
I have tutherto sailed by the compass of Scripture ; 
and now find myself at once entering bto an im- 
mense ocean without a guide. In fact I have un- 
dertaken to conduct the reader through a long, ob- 
scure, and difficult course, with scarce a beacon here 
and there set up to direct me : — but I must make 
the best use I can of the very scanty materials 
betbre me. 

It aeems plain, that the Apostles in general did 
not leave Judea, till after the first council held at 
Jerusalem. They seem never to have been in haste 
to quit the land of their nativity. Probably the 
tbreateoing appearances of its desolation by the 
ftomans, hastened their departure into distant re- 
jpons. It is certain that before the close of this 
century, the power of the Gospel was felt through- 
out the Roman empire. 1 shall divide this chapter 

into four parts, aiid review, first, — Tlie progress and 
persecution of the Church, Secondly, — ^I'hc lives. 
cbamcters, and deaths <^ the Apostles and most 
celebrated Evangelists. Thijxily, — ^The heresies of 
this period. And, lastly, — -The general character 
.of Christianity in tiiis first ag^. 

It was about the year of our Lord 64, tliat the Baming 
xkj of Borne sustained a general confiagratiou. The i^me. 
-omperor Nero, lost as he was to all sense of repu- ^a. d. 
Nation, and baclmeyed in flagitiousuess, was yet stu- 64* 
4lioQs to avert the infamy of being reckoned the 
Author c£ this calignity, which was generally imputed 
to him. But no steps that he could take were.suf- 

YOL. I. H 

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CHAP, ficient to do away the suspicion. There was, how 
^ -J~ 1 ever, a particular class of people, so singularly dis- 
tbct frmn the rest of mankind, and so much hated 
on account of the condemnation which their doctrinef 
and purity of life affixed to all except themselves, 
that they might be calumniated with impunity. 
These were then known at Rome by the name of 
Christians. Unless we transplant ourselves into 
those times, Me can scarce conceive how odious and 
•contemptible the appellation then was. The judi- 
cious Tacitus calls their religion a detestable super- 
•stition*, " which at first was suppressed, and after- 
wards broke out afresh, and spread not only through 
• Judea the origin of the evil, but through the metro* 
polw ftlso, the common sewer in which every thing 
filthy and flagitious meets and steads." If so grave 
and cautious a writer as Tacitus can thus asperse th« 
Christians without proof, and without moderation, 
we need not wonder, that so impure ^ wretch as 
Nero should not hesitate to charge them with the 
feet of burning Rome. 
First Now it was that the Romans legally persecuted 

'**'^*the°" the Churdif<wr tlie first time. And tliose, who know 
^b"Mh°' *^ virulence of man's natural enmity, will rather 
Rf^nli^ wonder thait it commenced not earH^V, than that it 
A. D. raged at length u-ilh such di^eadiul fiiry. " Sbme 
64. persons were apprehended, who confessed them- 
selves Christians ; and by their evidence, says Tar 
citus, a great multitude afterwards were discovered 
and seizdl : — and they were condemned not so much 
for the burning of Rome, as for being the enemies 
of mankind." A very remarkable accusation f It 
may be explained as follows. — True Ghristibus, 
tiiough the genume fiiends of all their Mt^w-crte^ 
tures, cannot allow men, who are NOt dift Cbm* 
tians, to be in the favour of God. Their ▼ei^'CiAmest- 
Dess, in calling on their neighbours to repent «nd b#- 
yeve the Gospel, proves to those ne^boum ibivfaait 
♦ Taritaft, B. xv. 

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« dangerous state they are ^en apprehended to foa 
All, who are not moved by die admonitions of 
Cbrisdan charity to flee from the wrath to €ome» 
wiU naturally be disgusted ; and thus the purest be- * ^ 
nevolence will be cooatrued iaio the most mercikts 
b^otry. Thus Christians incurred the goieral ha** 
tr^, to whkfa the conduct neither of Jews nor bene* 
tics rendered them obnoxious.*— And the same cause 
produces siojilar eflects to this day. 

Their execution was aggravated with insult They 
^'ere covered with skins of wild beasts and torn by 
d(^ : they were cruciBed^ and set on fire, that tbey 
might serve for lights in the night-*time. Nero 
ofiered his gardens for this spectacle, and exhibited 
the games of the circus. People could not, however, 
avoid pitying them, base and undeserving as they 
were in Jbe eyes of Tacitus, because they suflered 
not for the public good, but to gratify the cruelty of 
a tyrant. It appears from a passage in Seneca * 
compared with Juvenal, that Nero ordered them to 
be covered with wax, and other combustible mate- 
rials: and, that after a sharp stake was put under 
ttieir chin, to make them continue upright, they were 
burnt alive to ^ve light to the spectators f. • 

We have no account how the,pe6pkeof God con- 
ducted themselves under these sutiferings. What we 
-know of their behaviour in similar scenes, leaves ub 
in no doutit of their having been supported by the 
power of tbe Holy Ghost Nw is it credible, that 
the persecution would be confined to Rome. It would 
naturally spread througli the empire ; and one of 
Curiae 8 inscriptions found in Spain X> demonstrattes 
at ooce two important facts, — that tiie Gospel had 
^peady penetrated into that country, and — that the 
•Chnreh there abo bad her martyrs. 

Three or four years were> pn3bably, 4he utmost 

. * Seneca« Ep. 14. Ju-v. 1 and 8, with his Scholiast. 
' T Bulkt 8 tlistory of Established Christianity. 

: See Gibbon's Account of ChrisUanity considered; p. 94* 
H 2 

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extent of this tremendous persecution) as in the 
year 68 the tyrant was himself, by a dreadful exit, 
summoned before the divine tribunal. He left the 
Roman world in a state of extreme confusion. Judea 
partook of it in a remarkable degree. About forty 
years after our Lord's sufierings, wrath came on 
the body of the Jewish nation to the uttermost, in 
a manner too w^ known to need the least relation 
in this history. What became of the Christian 
Jews, alone concerns us. The congregation were 
commanded, by an oracle revealed to the best ap- 
proved among them, that before the wars bc^an^ 
they should depart from the city, and inhabit a village 
beyond Jordan, called Pella*. Thither t^ey retirOT^ 
and were saved from the destruction, which soon 
after overwhelmed their countrymen : and in so re- 
tiring they at once observed the precept, and fulfilled 
the welUknown prophecy of their Saviour. The 
death of Nero, and the destruction of Jerusalem, 
would naturally occasion some respite to them from 
^eir sufferings; and we bea^ no more of their 
perseoited state, till the reign of Domitian, the last 
^.jy. frfthe Flavian famOy, who succeeded to tlie empire 
gl, ind)eyear8i. 

He does' not appear to have raged against the 
Christians, till the latter end of his reign. Indeed^ 
in imitation of bos ikther Vespasian, he made en^ 
quiry for such of the Jews as were descended from 
the royal line of David. His motives were evidently 
political. But there wanted not those who were ^ad 
of any opportunity of wreaking their malice on 
Christians. Some persons, who were brought before 
the emperor^ were charged with being related to the 
royal family. They appear to have been rdated to 
our Lord, and were grandsons of Jude the Apostle, 
his cousin. Domitian asked them, if they were of 
the family of David, which they acknowledged. He 
then demanded, what possessions they enjoyedt and 
• Ettseb. B. iiL C. 5f 

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what money they had. They laid open the poverty 
of their circumstances, and owned that they main- 
tained themselves by their labour. The truth of 
their confession was evidenced by their hands, and 
by their appearance in general. Domitian then in- 
tempted them concerning Christ and his kingdom,. 
— when and where it should appear? They answered^ 
like their Master when questioned by Pilate, — that 
bis kingdom was not of this world, but heavenly : 
that its glory should appear at the consummation of 
the world, when be should judge the quick and 
dead, and reward every man according to his wori^ 
Poverty is sometimes a defence against i^presaioDy 
though it never shields from contempt Domitian 
was satisfied, that his throne was in no danger from 
Christian ambition : and the grandsons of Jude were . 
dismissed with the same sort of derision, with which, 
their Saviour had formeriy been dismissed by Herod. 
Thus had /the Son of God provided for his indigent 
idations: — they were poor in circumstances, but 
rich in feith, and heirs of his heavenly kingdom. 

As Domitian increased in cruelty, towara the end i>onutMn*9 
of his re^ he renewed the horrors of Nero s perse- ^?^^ 
cution. He* put to death many persons accused *. * 
of athebm, the common charge against Christians, ^^' 
on account of their refusal to worship the pagaa 
gods. Among these was the consul^Flayius Clonens 
bis cousin, i^ifho had espoused Flavia DomitiUa his 
relation. Suetonius observes, that this man was 
quite despicable on account of his slotbfulness. 
Many others were condemned likewise, who bad em- 
braced Jewish customs, says Dion ; part of them 
were put to death, others spoiled of^ their ^oods, 
and Domitilla herself was bemished into tlie island 
of Pandataria. Eusebius records the same facts 
with some little variation : but, as he pix>fesses to 
borrow from the pagan writers in this instance, I 
shall be content with their account. 

* Euseb. B. iii. 17. Dion Cassius* 

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GHAi^.' It is not hwpdi to conceive the real cbantctei^ of 
those twa noble persona It ought not to be doubted 
thatfihey were genuine Christians, whom God had 
distitiguisbed by his grace, and enabled to Ufe upon 
it, and toMfkr for it. The Uood of the Casaare, 
and the ipleifidor of the imperial houses rctedered 
them only mor^ conspicuous objects of digest. It 
is well kn(m) that no positive crime is ascribed to 
either of thenv. The charge c^ indolenco against the 
husband is natural ^^ough, and does honour. (!o ihe 
heaveni^mindednessof theman, whose spirit eould 
not uwK With the evils of secular amhitinH), and ndth- 
the vices <jf the imperiat court.* — ^The humantfty of 
the tiaoebiin iil4|ich we live, and the blessings of the 
civil ftoedom which the subjects of these kingdoms 
enjWj 'prdtect us> it is tnie^ from sidulairtdangers 
ofiife'oi^ property) nevertheless, who bainotob* 
served, Wat «vien rank and dignity are (among us 
exposedtto con^iUeniUe ctetempt, wheoovBr.ti^maa 
ii cbnspoccidus andemineBt for azealotis^ppofassioa 
and diligent pradioe of truly £iran0eJkal .dlociirincB 
dnd precepts? ^ . ^ . v. 

^AfjPf ' In the yeaf^ ^ Domitian was slain i and Nervay 
llie succeeding emperor^ poblished a pWdon* for 
those who-* Were condemned for impiety, tecaltexi 
those vi4io were banished, and forbad tlie accusii^ 
of any nien.on'account of impiety, or Judaism. 
OdierS, who were under accusation, or under sen-^ 
tence €>f condemnation, now escaped by the lenity 
of Nerva. This brings us to the dose. of the ora- 
tury, in which we bdiold the Christiansy for the 
present, in a state of eirtemal pieace. One person 
alone enjoyed not the benefit of Nerva s niildneas. 
Domitilla still oontinu^ in exile, probably because 
she was a relation of tiie late tyrant, whose namo 
was now odioas through the world. — Doubtless she 
was not forsaken of b&p God and Savbor. 
IL The Apostles and Evangelists of this jieriody 

• Dion. 

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ireie their Story distinctly known, and c*ircumstantifilly 
related, «rould afford materials indeed of the rarest 
pleasure to every Christian mind. But there never 
arose in the Church any historians like Thucydides 
and Livy, to illustrate and celebrate the actions of 
saints. Heroes and statesmen have their reward 
here, — saints hereafter. Christ's kingdom must not 
af^iear to be of this world ; and while large volumes 
iMve been filled with the exploits of heroes, and the; 
kitrigues of statesmen, the men, who were the di« 
vine instruments of evangelizing souls, — the Nqw 
Testaa»3t history excq^>ted, — are for the most part 

The first of Ae twelve Apostles who suffered 
martyrdocn, we have seen, was James the son of 
Zebedee : He fell a sacrifice to Herod Agrippa's 
ambitioos desire of popularity. I recal him to the ^ 
reader's memory, on account^ of a remarkable cir^ 
cumstance attending his death ''^. The man, who had 
drawn hhn b^£gare the tribunal, when he saw the 
readiness with which he ^bmitted to martyrdom, 
was ftoruck with remorse ; and, by one of those sud- 
d^conversions-not infrequent amidst the remarkable 
effii^ons of the Spirit, was himself turned from the 
power of Satan to God. He confessed Christ with 
great cheerfukiess. James and this man were both 
led to execution; and in the way thither the accuser 
requested the Apostle's forgiveness, which he ob* 
tamed. James turning to him answered, " Peace 
be to thee ;" and kissed him ; and they were bo- 
headed U^etber. The efficacy of Divine Grace, and 
the blessed fruit of holy example, are both illustrated 
in thb story, of which it were to be wished we 
knew more than the very scanty account which has 
been delivered. 

The other James was preserved in Judea to a Martyrdom 
much later period. Hb martyrdom took place ^/j^ 

• j^useb. i. 9. 


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CHAP, about the year 62 ; and bis episfle was published a 
^^ little . before his death. As be always resided at 
Jerusalem, and was providentially preserved throu^ 
various persecutions, he had an opportunity of over* 
coming enmity itself and abating prejudice, in some 
measure. The name of Just was generally etven 
him on account of his singular innocence and ia« 
tegrity. And as he conformed to Jewish customa 
with more than occasional regularity, lie was by no 
means so odious in the eyes of his unbelievins coun? 
try men, as the Apostle of the Gentiles. But we 
are to observe, that if he had fully overcome their 
enmity, he could not have been faitliful to bis Lwd 
and Master. Many Jews Respected the man, and 
admired the fruits of the Gospel in bim. The 
root and principle of the$e fruits was still tfadr ab^ 
horrence; and from the relation of EusebiAis, the 
testimony of Hegesippus, an eaily Christian bbto* 
rian whom he quotes, and of Josephus, it .is plain, 
that it was thought a pitiaUe thing, that so gpod a 
man should b^ a Christian. Pauls eeciipe from 
Jewish malice, by appealing to Cspsar, had sharpened 
the spirits of this people ; and they were deteirmiQed 
.to wreak their vengeance on James, wbo.wasnieriely 
H Jew, and could plead no lioman ^emptions. 
Festus died president of Judea; and, before his 
successor Albinus arrived, Ananias the high -priest, 
a Sailducee and a merciless persecutor, held the su* 
preme power in the interim. He called a couocii, 
before which he summoned James with some others, 
and accused them of breaking the law of Moses. 
But it was not easy to procure his condemnation. 
His holy life bad long secured the veneration of his 

• I have compared Josephus's accoant witb that of Heg^ 
fiippus, which last appears compatible enough with the former, 
and no way improbable ; though I tbink he gives his character 
more of the ascetic, than I beUeve to be consistent with that of 
a Christian Apostle. 

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nzuAmi>MM OP riBST cxnturt. 

The leadiog men were uoemy od acooimt of tb^ 
vast ioerease of Christian eooverts adcfed to the 
Churdi by his labours, example, mod authoritr : and 
tkney endeavoured to eotao^ him, by peniiadH^ him 
to mount a pinnacle of t^ temple, and to sp^ to 
te people assembled at the time of the passover, 
against Christianity. James being placed al<^ deli^ 
wneda firank oonfessicm of Jesus; and declared that 
he was then sitting at the ri^t faauid of power, and 
that be would come in the clouds of heaven. Upon 
this Ananias and the rulers were highly inc^ised. 
To disgrace hb character was tbdr first mtention — 
tiiey iiSieA. To murder his person was thar next 
attempt; and this was of much more easy execution* 
Crying out, that Justus liimself was seduced, ^y 
threw the Apostle down, and stoned him. He had 
strength to fall on his knees, and to imy» *'I beseedi 
thee, lord God and Fath^, for them; fqr they know 
not what they do." One pf the priests^ moved with 
the scene, cned out^ ^^ C^^se^ what do you mean? 
This just man is praying for you^** A person [H^eseat 
with a fuUar's club beat opt his brains, and coinpleted 
bb mar^dom* 

Veryi'emaRkable b the acknowledgement of Jose- ^^^"^ 
pbus. ." These things'* — ^meaning the miseries of josepbvi. 
the Jews from the Romans — " imppened to them by 
way of revenging the death of James the Just, the 
brother of Jesus wliom they call Christ For the 
Jews slew him, though a very just mwi * '' And from 

* I see no good reason to doubt the authenticity of this pas- 
sage; which gives abundant confirmation to his famous testi- 
mony of Christ ; which is as foUolvs. *' About this time lived 
Jesus a wise man ; if indeed we may call him a man ; for be 
performed marvellous things ; he was an instructor of such a$ 
embraced the truth with pleasure. He made many converts 
. both among the Jews and Greeks. This was the Christ. And 
when Pilate^ on the accusation of the principal men among us, 
bad condemned him to the cross, those, who before entertained 
a rtepect for him, continued still so to do ; for he appeared to 
them alive i^in on the third day; the divine prophets having 
declared thfse and many other wonderful things concerning 

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! iTMtoar 4>^ THE ckitrch. 

tfie 'raihe> wpiter we kwrn, that AttmtM severely 
mprialatMfed Anonias, and soon aftier deprived bitn 
lyfUieMgti-ikie^thood. ' 

After the death of Jan^ed and the deaolteiti^i) of 
JeiwaAeai^' the Apostles aad disciples of our Lord, 
Df mthom many were yet alive, gathered tbetna^lvoi 
together with our Lord's kifistnen, to appoinft a 
paMor o^ the Churoh of Jerusalem in the rMm tf 
Jatt)e&> The electaon fell on Simeon, the scm ofti^ 
doopas mentioned by St Luke as one of th^ tfMo, 
^o went to ^riniiiaus, and who was the 4irbth^«ir 
Joseph, our Lottfs reputed fether.~W© shall hmkt 
ShaK^on, at the end of tiiis century, the chief pa^tt>i* 
iiftbe Jewi^Qiureh. . t<P» jj*. 

Patrlihe Apostle seems to !kve labbured w^tk 
Miwejiried attivity from about the year 36 to^ 
je» 63,1 that is, itdm bis oonversiou to the oeriMl 
m which St Luke finishes his hkb^. Witmn ttab 
^riod he wrote felurteen' epistles, which will be the 
blessed meatis of feeding the soub oi the ftiitb^l' t^ 
Ifeeeffd of time. The seisond ep.tsti^ to^imotiiy ha^ 
%een i^mmo»ly supposed to have been vifitt€in ^sft 
before his martyrdom. I am convinced. '^^ Di*. 
* fjHwJn^r's reasonings*, that it was inoi<e probably 
written during his two years imprisonment at R^Gim€(> 

♦'See the Siipplem^iiit to the Credibility: *• 

' f ' >■ ■ ■■ . ■ 

lini. And the sect of Christians so named from him subsists 
to this very time/ * ' * 

I have examined,. as cerefoUy as I can, the doabta whkh 
have been started oo the authenticity of this passaj^e. T^) oae 
thdy seem nwre sumiises. One of them, the supposed Incon- 
'STStency of the historian, in testifying so much of Christ, and 
yet remaining an unconverted Jej?, affords an argument in its 
favour. Inconsistencies oogljt to be expected from inconsistent 
persons. ' Such arc many in the Christian world at this day, 
%ho in like cinrumstances would have acted a similar part. Such 
was Josephns. He knew and had studied something of all sorts 
of opinions in religion ; and his writings show him to have been 
firm in nothing but a regard to his worldly interest. To me b« 
seetns to say just so much and no more of Christ, as might be 
expected tirom a learned sceptic, of remarkable good sense, and 
supreme bvc of worldly things. ' 

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and that be ^feias uader no pai ticular apprebeasim 
ofaufiariigiQ^ixiediately^. PVooi this epi»tle it i^ 
evident that he IM already been called hetove Nero^ 
a^tseaUy to the prodiotion, '^ thou must be brought 
before C^^ear j'' and that no Christian, not even any 
of those who had welcomed big arrival in Italy^ 
dwst appear in support of him: — He feelingly com-: 
plains, *^ aU men forsook me.'' Yet be knew how to 
distiogiush between iDalevoleoce and timidity; and« 
tbeiefoiie, though be could not excuse their ne^QCt 
^bim, he prays* God that it might not be laid U> 
their charge. The terror of Nero seems to have 
ove^wed the Roman Cliristians, ma«y of whom 
Wght have borne witness in his favour. Even Vem^ 
%mook him, from the loye of the world, and dopartec} 
to Thessalonica* H^re axe seasons oi criucal daa^ 
ffTy which try the hearts of the truest Christiana : It 
wm yet a new thing (ot a Christian to be brought 
b^CHpe an emperor, and they bad not prepared tbeixH 
9(dvea by watching and prayer for the nncommon 
Qdoasion. But the grace of the Ijo^ Jesua, which 
itwd hitherto been so eminently with the Apostteii 
foFSQok him not in his trying moments : The X^ord 
*Utood with him, and strengthened him|;'' H^ 
waa enabled to testify for Cbnst and his Gospel ber 
fere Nero, with the same firankness, fortitude, an4 
eloqwenGe, that he had formerly done before FeliX| 
Festus, atKi Agrippa ; and for tlie first time, an4 
probably the last, the murderous tyrant Nero heard 
the ^ad tidings of salvation. It seems, by the ex* 
preasion, — ^* that all the Gentiles naight hear,"— tliat 
Paul was beard in a very full and solemn assembly! 
end bad an opportunity of giving a clear account of 
Chrbtianity* And as some of C«sar a houd>gld are 
maoAioned as daints ia the epistle to the PhiUppians, 
there is reason to apprehend, that the preaching was 

* This aeems evideot by hi* charging Timothy to como to 
hixB before wioter. 
t aTim. iv. 17. 

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A. D* 


not in vain. He was, as he owns, " delhrered from 
(he mouth of the lion/' Nero bad not then b^un txy 
persecute ; and at least he would see the justness of 
his plea as a Roman citizen, and be disposed to 
feTOur it Nor ou^t the adorable Providence of 
God to be passed in silence, who ^ve this man of 
abandoned wickedness an opportumty of hearing the 
word of salvation, though it made no usefbl impres- 
sion oh his mind. Paul seems to have had this audi- 
ence during the former part of his imprisonment at 
Kome, and to have been remanded to his confinement 
for the present 

Here he wrote the epistles to the Philippiaii^ 
Vj ^* and Gotossians beftw^ the end of the year 6^2. From' 
the former of these it appears, tiiat ttie whole court 
of Nero was made acquainted with his case, and that 
the cause of the Gospel was promoted by these 
means. In the epistle to Philemon^ i4^hicb accom- 
panied tiiat to the Colossians, he expresses a cotifi* 
dence of being soon set at liberty, and promises, ii^ 
that case, shortly to pay them a visit *. And as be 
mentions Demas with respect as his fellow-labourer, 
botb in this epistle to the Colossians, and in that to 
Philemon, I apprehend Demas had repented of his 
pusillanimity, and was returned to the Apostle and 
to his duty. This is the second case in which it 
pleased God to make use of this extraordinary BEMtny 
St Paul, for the preservation of ibe Church. The 
former instance respected tiie doctrine of justification, 
from which even Apostles were indirectly declining} 
The latter consisted in the exhibition of a godly spirit 
of zeal, and an open confession of Christ. Such b 
the sloth and cowardice of man in divine tbii^ and 
so little need is there to teach us cauti<Hi and reserve, 
that unless God now and then stirred up the ^rits 

* I follow Dr. Lardner in tbc dates of the epistles, which he 
hat investigated with suigalar ^ligence and sagacity ; and I 
once for all acknowledge my repeated obligations to htm im 

things of this nature. 

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of tome eminent Christian heroes, to venture throu^ cent. 
difficidties, and to stand foremost for the truth against , \ 
opposition, Satan would bear down all before him, ' 
Paul was one of die-first of these hei*oes : and we 
ahaM see in every age, that God raises up some 
persons of this hardy temper, whom worldly men 
never &ul contemptuously to denominate fanatics, 
because they discover that greatness of soul ia a 
heavenly cause, which, in an earthly one, would 
excite respect and admiration. 

Having obtained his liberty in the year 63, he most a « ik. 
probably would soon fulfil his promise to visit the 63. 
Hebrews; after which he might see his Coloseian 
friends. There is no certain account of his commg 
either 10 Jerusalem or to Colosse ; but most probaU j 
he executed what he had a little before promised. 
That he ever visited Spain or our Island, is, to si^ 
ao mcKy extremely doubtful. Of the last there is a 
very unfounded report, and of the former no other 
pmof, than the mention of his intenticm in the episde 
10 the Itonans, which had been written in the year 
58, since which time all bis measures had been dis* 
concerted. And if he once more made an Asiatic 
tour altar bis departure from Rome, there seems 
not time enough for his accomplishing the western 
journey, as he suffered martyrdom on his letum 
to Rome about the year 65 *« He could have 
had no great pleasure at Jerusalem : every thing 
was there Irastening to ruin. No man was ever 
possessed of a more genuine patriotic spirit than this 
Apostle. The Jewi^ war, wliicb commenced in 66, a. d. 
would have much afflicted him, had be lived to see it. 66. 
Bat returning to Rome about a year before, he fell in 
with the very time when Rome was burnt, and Chris- 
tians were accused as intendiaries. He now found no 
mercy in Nero, who would naturally be displeased 
at the effect, which he had observed the preaching 
oi the Apo^e had produced in hiso^rn houslioUL 

* Some very refpectable Chrouologers place the martyrdom 
of St Pm\ A^ su 67. 

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CHAP. A cupbearer and a concobine of the emperor hud 
^^ ^ been, through Paul's means, converted tott^ faith, as 
Martyrdom Chrysostoiii assures us: and this hastened bis death. 
«f Paul. n^ ^jis slain with the sword by Nero's order*. 

He had many fellow-labourers, wliose mtmes he 
has immortalized in his writings. He calls Titus bfs 
own son after the common feithf. Timottiy was 
also a particular favourite. Antiquity regards the 
former as the first bishop of Crete, and^the latter as 
the first bishop of Ephesus. Luke of Antioch, the 
writer of the third Gospel, and the faitbliil reiater, in 
the Acts of the Apostles, of this Apostle'stransactions, 
of which he was an eye-witness, is> by him, affec^ 
tionatdy denominated the beloved Physician. — He 
Beemsto have retired into Grreece after St Paul's first 
A. D. dismission by the emperor, and there to have written 
6^. both his inestimabie treatises about the year 63 or 64. 

Cres^tens, whom Paul sent to Galatia, is anctfaer 
of his fellow*labourers. Linus, the fiiBt bishop of 
Rome, may be added to the list, and Dionysius tiie 
Areopagite of Athens, whom Eusebius reckons the 
first bishop of the Church in tlwu city, 

We have now finished the lives of two taea^ of 
singular excell«ice unquestionably, James the Just 
and Paul of Tansus. The former, by his uncomilion 
virtues, attracted th^ esteem of a whole people, who 
were full of the strongest prejudices against him : 
Bind in regard to the latter, the question may be asked 
witli great propriety, whether such another man ever 
exbted among all those, who have inh^ed the 
corrupted nature of Adam ? He had evidently a soul 
large and capacious, and possessed of those seem- 
ingfy contradictory excellencies which, whcarever ttiey 
-appear in combination, feU not to form an extraor- 
dinary character. But not only his talents were grealt 
and various — his learning also was profound and 
extensive ; and many persons with ftu* iriferior abilities 
and altanHneiit» have effiscted national revolotioie, or 
otberriise distinguished themselves in the history of 
• Oroaius, B. 7. f Titui i* 4. 

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taatdniKL Hisconsutminte fortkuriehf^^ toffijk^ 
with the mreM gentleness, and the moit active dMrity. 
Hb very copious and vivid iniagkifetioa was leha^tizdi 
by the most accurate jud^ait, and \fa^ connected 
wkh the closest argumentative powers^ DWme Gt^c^ 
alone could effect so woddei-fiil a corobinaiiM^ inso- 
mocb, that for the space of near thirty years after fcis 
conversion, this man, whose nauiml haughtiness dnd 
liery temp^ had hurried him into a very sAngiAiary 
course of persecution, lived the fiiend of mankind ; 
reloraed good for evil contimially ; was a model of 
patience and tXsneudlence, and Kteadily attentive only 
to heavenly things, while yet he had a taste, a spirit 
and a genius, which tnighft have shone aknong th^ 
l^r^rtest stateaanen and men of letters tlmt ever Kved; 

We have tfaea in these two men, a strong Bpedmen 
df what Grace can do, and we may fairly chaHdAg^ 
all Che infidels Jn ike world, to produce any thibg like 
them in the whole Kst of their heroes. Yet amid^ 
Ibe constant display of every godly md social virtue, 
we learn item Paufs o^n account, that he ever fell 
hiadaelf ** carnal, sold under sin," and that $iH dwelt 
in him continually. From his writings we learn, 
what the depth of human wickedness is : and none 
of liie Apostles seem to have understood so much as 
he did, the riches of Divine Grace, and the peculiar 
^ory of the Christian religion. ITie doctrines elf 
dection, justificatioh, regeneration, adoption ; of thfe 
priesthood and offices of Christ, and of the infermd 
work of the Holy Ghost, as well as the most perfect 
floorality founded on Christian principle, are to be 
found 4r his writings ; and what Quintilian said of 
Cioerp may be justly appUed to the Apostle of the 
tJanlHes : " lite #e projedsse scktt, cui F cuius vatdt 

During this w>hote eflfbsion of the Spirft, — of 96 
ttttte acooinift in the sight of God are natiYral human 
cKt^dtencfes and •talents, — I see no evidence t^t an jr 
persons of extraordinary genius and ^endowments, 9i 

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Paul excepted, were employed in the divine work of 
propagating the Gospel. St. Luke, indeed, appears 
by his writuig3 to have been a classical scholar oi a 
chastized and regular taste ; and to approach more 
neaiiy to attic purity of diction than any of the New 
TestaBDent writers. But to St. Paul, the greatness of 
hiji conceptions, and tlie fervour of his zeal, give a 
magnificent kind of ne^i^nce in composition, — in 
the midst c^ which there is also, if I mistake not, a 
vast assemblage of the most sublime excellencies of 
ordt(Hy, which demonstrate how high he might have 
stood in this line of eminence, had 1^ been amtntous, 
or rather had he not been perfectly careless of such 
kind of &me. But that men so unlearned as the 
rest of the Apostles were, — none of whom appear by 
nature to have been above the ordinary standard of 
mankind, tiiough by no means below that standard, 
— ^that such men should have been able of themselves 
to speak, to act, ami to write as they did ; and to 
produce such an amazing revolution in the ideas atid 
manners of mankind, would require the most extra*- 
vagant credulity to believe. — The power of God is 
demonstrated from the imbecility of the instruments. 
Tlie minds of men void of the love of God are 
always apt to suspect, as counectedwith fanaticism, 
the most precious mysteries of the Gospel, and the 
whole work of experimental religion. And the more 
vigorously these things are described, the stronger the 
suspicion grows. May not this have been one reason 
why St Piuil was directed to expose himself the 
most to this unjust censure, by dwelling more copi« 
ously than any of the rest of the Apostles On views 
most directly evangelic^;— St. Paul, I say, — begause 
he must be idlowed byall who are not wilHngto betray 
their own want of discernment, to have been a man 
fii eminent solidity of understai^'mg? If Christian 
experience be a foolish thing indeed, it is strange that 
the wisest of all the Christians should have beea the 
mmt abundant in describing it 

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A. D. 


Of St Peter we have by^ no meins so lai^ an cent. 
account as of St. Paul. The last view we have of 
bim in Scripture presents him to us at Antioch. This 
was probably about the year 50. After this he was "^q^ 
employed in spreading the Gospel, — principally 
among his own countrymen, but one canhot suppose 
exclusively of Gentiles, — in Pontus, Galatia, Cap- 
padocia, Asia, and Bithynia. His two episdes were 
directed to the Hebrew converts of these countries. 
And if be was far less successful than Paul among 
the Gentiles, be was much more so than that great 
man was among the Jews. He, who wroiight effec- 
tually in Paul among the forjioer, was mighty in Peter 
among the latter*. It should ever#be remembered, 
VHO alone did the work, and gave the increase. 

Peter probably came tp Rome about the year 63. a. d. 
Thence^ a little before, his martyrdom, he wrote liia 63. 
two episf^s. Strange fiqtions have been invented of 
his acts at Rome, of which I shall sufficiently testily 
my disbelief by silenc0, — the method which I intend 
constantly to use in diings of this nature. It is evi- 
dent, however, that he here met again with that same 
Simon the sorcerer, whom he had rebuked Ions; ago 
in Samaria, and who was practising his sorceries in 
a much hi^er style in the metropolis. No doubt 
the Apostle opposed him successfully ; but we have 
no account of this matter, except a very vague and 
declamatory one by Eusebius. — At length, when 
Paul was martyred under Nero, Peter suffered with 
him by crucifixion with'hishead downward, — a kind 
of deaih which he himself desired, —most probably 
frorr an unfeigned humility, that he might not die in 
the ^ame manner as his Lord had done. Nicephorus 
infbfins Q% tlmt he liad si[)ent two years at Rome. 
St Peter, in his second epistle, observes, that his 
I-ord had shown him, that his death was soon to take 
place. And. this gjves a degree of credibility to a 
story of Ambrose related in one of his discourses,' 
• Gal. ii. 8. 

VOL. I. I 

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• CHAP. 


A. D. 





the purport ofwhich IB, that the pagans being inflamed 
against him, tlie bt^thren b^ed him to retreat 
durinj: the violence of the persecution. Tlieir intrea- 
ties^ ardent as he il^as for martyrdom, moved bim. 
He began to go out of the city by night But coming 
to the gate*, he saw Christ entering into the city. 
Wliereupon he said, Lord, whither art thou going ? 
Christ answered, I am coming hither to be crucified 
again. Peter hence understood that Christ was to be 
CiHiciikd again in his servant. This induced hin> 
voluntarily to return ; and he satisfied the miiKls of the 
bretliren with this accoontj and was soon after seized 
and crucified. Whoever considers tUe very sdemn 
manner in which our Lord foretold tlie violent death 
of this Apostle, in the close of St. J^n s Gospel; and 
that, in his second epistle, he himself declares that 
his divine Master had shown him, that be shouici 
quickly put off bis tabernacle, t^ill find no difficulty in 
conceiving, thatthci visioA-jr^iow related firocn Ambrose 
i»^bt have taken place a littie4ime before ^e writbg 
of this epistle^ and, that the writipg of tiie Epistle may 
bave a Ifttle time preceded his seizure and violent 
death. I mention this as a probable conjecture only. 
The story itself is consonant to tlie miraculous power* 
tJien in the Chunjh'; and its evidence rests on th» 
character of Ambrose himself,, an Italian Inshop,. 
whose integrity and understanding are equally ye- 

Peter's wife had been called to martyrdom a little 
bef(»*e himself. He saw her led to death, and rejoiced 
at the grace of God vouchsafed to her ; and addressing 
her by name, exhorted and comforted her witU 
*' Remember the Lord];/' 

There aie two striking attestations to the character 
of St Peter, which may be fairly drawn fi*om the 

• Sermon cont. x\ux. i. 1 1. 

t Tbere is no necessity to consider Christ's appearance a» 
any Uiing more tbau a vision* 
{ Ckmeut. Strom. 7, 

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ftflcred writings. As it is allowed on all hands, that he 
authorized tlie publication of St. Mark's Gospel, had 
lie been disposed to spare his own character, he would 
not have suffered the shameful denial of his Master 
to have been described, as it is in that Evangelist, 
with more aggravated circumstances of gui! t, and with 
fainter views of his repentance, than are to be found 
in the other Evangelists. I am indebted for the other 
remark to Bishop Gregory, the first ot'th^t name. 
In his second epistle, St. Peter gives the most honour- 
able attestation to the Apostle Paul's epistles, though 
he mast know that in one of them — that to the Gala- 
tians— his own conduct on a particular occasion was 
censured. This is evidently above nature. 'The most 
unfeigned humility appeal^ to have been an eminent 
part of the character of this Apostle, who, in his eariy 
days, w as remarkable for the violence of his temper. 
His natural character was no uncoiAmon one. Frank, 
open, active, courageous; sanguine hi his attachments 
and in his passions; no way deficient, but not emi- 
nent, in undcrstat^ding, — a plain honest man ; yet, 
by grace and supernatural wisdom, rendered an 
instrument of the greatest good in the conversion of 
numbers, and only inferior to St Paul. — He seems 
to have lived long in a state of matrimony ; and by 
Clemenfs account, was industrious in the education 
d his children. 

Mark was sister's son to Barnabas, the son of 
Mary, a pious woman of Jerusalem. He was pro- 
bably l)rought up in Christianity from early life; and 
bis conduct, for sonfie time, gives credibility to an 
opinion, tolerably confirmed by experience, that early 
converts, or those wIjo have been religiously brought 
up, do not make that vigorous piogress in divine 
things generally, which those do, whose conversion 
has commenced after a life of much sin and vanity. 
Their views are apt to be faint, and their dispositions 
in religion languid and indolent. We are told by 
Epiphanius^ that Mark was one of those who were 

I 2 

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CHAP, offended at ,the words of Christ recorded in the 6th 
chapter of St* John ; and that he then forsook him^ 
but was afterwards recovered to his Saviour by means 
of Peter. After our Lord s ascension, he attended his 
uncle Barnabas with Paul ; but soon left them and 
returned to Jerusalem. Barnabas however hoping 
t[)e best from one, whom be held so dear, proposed 
him to Paul as their companion on some ftiture 
occasion. After the rupture, which this occasioned^ 
between the two Apostles, Barnabas took him as his 
companion to Cyprus. Undoubtedly his character 
improved. Some plants are slow of growth, but 
attain at length great vigour, and bear much firuit 
Even Paul himself, who had been so much offended 
:with him, at length declared, ^^ he is profitable to me 
for the ministry*." From the epistle to the Colossians^ 
it is evident that he was witli the Apostle b his 
-A. D. imprisonpfient at Rome, This was in the year 62^ 
62. JJis Gospel was written by the desire of the believers 
at Rome about two years after. I know not when to 
, fix the time of his coming to Egypt. But he is 
allowed to have founded the Church of Alexandria, 
and to have been buried there. He was succeeded 
by Anianus, of whom Eusebius gives the highest 
culogium. It is evident that the society of those 
three great men^ Barnabas, Paul, and Peter, at dif- 
ferent times was very useful to him. Probably his 
natural indolence needed such incentives. In Mark 
then we seem to have noticed one of the first promoters 
of Christianity, of a cast of mind different from any 
we have hitherto reviewed. — ^The variety of tempers 
and talents employed in the service of Crod, and 
sanctified by the same divine energy, affords a field 
of speculation neither unpleasipg nor unprofitable. 

Of the labours of nine Apostles, James, Andrew^ 
Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, Jude, 
Simon, and Matthias, scarcely any thing is re* 

. • a Tim. iv. 2. 

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Of John the Apostle a few valuable fragments 
may be collected. He was present at the council of 
Jerusalem, which was held about tlie year 50 : nor 
is it probable, that he left Judea till that time. Asia 
Alinor was the great theatre of his ministry, parti- 
cularly Ephesus, the care of which Church remained 
witti him after tlie decease of the rest of the Apostles. 
The breaking out of the war in Judea would proba- 
bly oblige the Apostle to bid a total farewell to his 
native country. — While he resided at Ephesus, going 
once to bathe there, he perceived that Cerinthus was 
in the bath ; He came out again hastily : Let us flee, 
says he, lest the bath should fall, while Cerinthus, 
an enemy of truth, is within it. The same story i^ 
told of Ebion as well as of Cerinthus : they were 
both heretics, and of a similar character : and it is 
ah easy mistake for a reporter of the story to cbn* 
found names ; but if the whole should have ha^ no 
foundation, it is not easy to account for the fiction. 
The testimony of Irenaeus, who had it from persons 
who recefved their information from Polycarp the dis- 
ciple of St. John, seems suiEciently authentic. Ire- 
njeus, a man of exquisite judgment, evidently believed 
the story himself; and surely the opinion of such a 
person, who lived near tliose times, must outweigh 
the fanciful criticisms and objections of modern au- 
thors. The fashion of the present age., humanely 
sceptical, and clothing profane indifference with the 
name of candour, is ever ready to seduce even good 
men into a disbelief of facts of this nature, however 
well attested. But let the circumstances of St. John 
be well considered. He was a surviving Apostolical 
luminary. Heretical pravity was deeply spreading 
its poison. Sentiments, very derogatory to the per- 
son, work, and honour of Jesus Christ, were diffused 
with gieat perverseness of industry. What should 
have been tlie deportment of this truly benevolent 
Apostle ? I doubt not but he was ever forward to 
relieve personal distresses : but to have joined tbQ 


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11 8 HiSTOfeY 6T TUl: CUtJRCH. 

CHAP, company of the principal sn pporters of heresy, would 
^ ^1 M have been to countenance it. He well knew the artft 
of seducers. I'hey were ready alvvays to avail them- 
selves of the seeming countenance of Apostles or of 
apostolical men 3 and thence to lake an opportunity 
of strengthening themselves, and of diffusing their 
poison. Such has been their conduct in all ages. 
Having no ground of their own to stand on, they 
have continually endeavoured to rest on the authority 
of some great man of allowed evangelical respectabi-^ 
lity. This artful management, clothed with the pre- 
tence of charity, points out to the real friends of the 
Lord JesUs, what they ought to do, from motives of 
real benevolence to mankind, — namely, to bear pati- 
ently the odious charge of bigotry, and to take every 
opportunity of testifying their aWiorrence of heretical 
views and hypocritical ijctions. Humanly speaking, 
I see not how divine truth is to be supported in the 
world, but by this procedure ; and I scruple not to 
say, that St. John's conduct appears notoply defen- 
sible, but laudable, and worthy the imitation of Chris- 
tians. It is agreeable to what he hinr^self declares 
in one of his short epistles, addressed to a Christian 
lady, — that if " any come to her house, and bring 
not the true doctrine of the Gospel, she ought not 
to receive him, nor bid him God speed ; because tq 
bid him God speed, would make her partaker of his 
evil deeds." His menacing language concerning Dio- 
trephes, in the other epistle to Gaius, breathes, what 
some would call, the same uncharitable spirit. And 
when I see St. Paul shaking his garment against the 
infidel Jews, and hear him saying, *' Your blood be 
on your own heads, I am clean ;" and when I find 
him warning the Galatians thus, " If an angel from 
heaven should preach any other doctrine, let him be 
accursed," and wishing that they which troubled 
them, " were even cut off," — I am instructed how 
to judge of the indignation of holy St John agains^t 
Cerinthus, • 

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Indeed the primitive Christians were even more cent. 
careful to avoid the society of false Christians than 
of open unbelievers. With the latter they had, at 
times, some free intercourse ; with the former they 
refused even to eat*. — We have already seen, how 
our Saviour commends the impatience and discern*- 
ment of tiie Ephesians, who could not bear false 
professors. — They had tried those who call them- 
selves ^'Apostles, and are not; and had foUnd 
them liars." 

It is one of the designs of this History, to show 
the actual conduct of real Christians in life and con- 
versation : and the relation before us, of John's be- 
haviour to Cerinthus, illustrates this. But, — if wc 
must so fer humour the taste of Socinians and sceptics 
as to allow ourselves to doubt the existence of well- 
attested facts because they contradict the fashionable 
torrent, wie shall injure tlie faithfulness of history, 
make present manners the standard of credibtltty, 
and practically adopt a very absurd modish position, 
— ^that the divme charity of a sound Christian, is the 
same thing as the refined humanity of a philosophi- 
cal heretic. — I would ask any person, to whom the 
infection of nK)dem manners renders this reasoning 
of difficult digestion, whether he ought more to ap- 
prove of the conduct of one gentleman who should 
mix in easy familiarity with a company of murderers, 
or ofimotherwho should fly from it with horror. If 
we believe spiritual murderers, who labour to ruin 
«)uls by propagating Antichristian views, to be still 
more pernicious than the former, we shall not be 
under any difficulty in vindicating St John. 

The unreasonable doubts that have arisen in our 
times concerning the fact we have been considering, 
appear to me to originate in a spirit of heresy. There 
is another fact, respecting the same Apostle, which 
comes before us loaded with similar sceptical objec- 
tions: and these are to be ascribed; I fear^ to the 
♦ t C«r. V. 10, 11. 


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CJUP. prevalence of deisrn. Tcrtullian * tells us, that, by 
^^' ^ order of Domitian, John was cast into a caldron of 
boiling oil, and came out again witliout being hurt. 
This must have happened, most probably, during the 
iatter part of the reign of that emperor ; and Tertulr 
lian was certainly compet«nt to relate such a fact as 
this : — Yet it is now generally disbelieved or doubted. 
Is it because we see no miracles in our own times? 
Let the reader transport himself into the first century ; 
and he will see no more improbability, in the nature 
of the thing, that a miracle should be wrought in 
favour of St. John, than infavpurof Paul, as recorded 
in the last chapter of the Acts. The miracle softened 
not the heart of Domitian, who would probably supr 
pose the Apostle to have been fortified by magical 
incantations. He banished him into the solitary Isle 
of Patmos, where he was favoured with the visions 
pf the Apocalypse. After Domitian's death, he 
returned from Patnjos, and governed the Asiatic 
churches. There he remained till the time of Tra- 
jan. At the request of the bishops, he went to the 
neighbouring churches, partly to ordain pastors, and 
partly to regulate the congregations. At one place 
in^his tour, observirtg a youth of a remarkably in? 
teresting countenance, he warmly recoqimended him 
to tlie care of a particular pastor. The young roaa 
was baptized; and, for a time, lived as a Christian. 
But being gradually conupted by company, he became 
idle and intemperate; and at length so dishonest, as 
to becoine a captain of a band of robbers. Some time 
after John had occasion to inquire of the pastor con- 
cerning the young mcin, who told him, that he was 
^ow dead to God ; and that he inhabited a mountain 
over against his church f. John, in the vehemence of 
his charity, went to the place, and exposed himself 
to be taken by the robbers. " Bring me, says he, to 
your captain." Tlie young robber belield him coming ; 
ftud as soon as he knew the aged and venerable Apos^r 
• Prescript Haer. t Clem, Alex, apu^ Eueeb, 

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tie, be was struck with shame and fled. — St. John 
foUoKcd him and cried, jVlyson, why fliest thou firooi 
thy lather, uoamied and old? Fear not; as yet there 
remaineth liope of salvation. Believe me, Christ 
bath sent me. Hearing this, tlie young man stood 
still, trembled, and wept bitterly. John prayed, 
exhorted, and brought him back to the society of 
Christians; nor did he leave him, till he judged him 
fally restored by divine Grace. 

Even the truth of this last relation has been ques^ 
tioned by Basnage. But as I know no reason for 
hesitation, I ^all leave it with the serious reader, 
who loves to behold the tokens ot Grace from age 
to age dispensed to sinners. 

We have yet another story of St John, short, but 
pkasing, and which has had the good fortune to pass 
uncontradicted. Being now very old, and unable to 
say much in Christian assemblies, ^' Children, love 
one another/' was his constantly repeated sermon. 
Being asked, why he told them only one thing, he 
answered, that " nothing else was needed." This 
account rests on the single testimony of Jerom, so far 
as I have found. But as it seems to fall in with the 
spirit of the age more than the others, its truth is al- 
lowed. We may hence observe how little regard b 
paid to real evidence by many critics, who seem to 
make modem mamiers the test of historical credi*- 
bility. Whatever fact shows the spirit of zeal, the 
realty of miracles, or the work of the Divine Spirit 
on the heart, must be questioned : What indicates 
feeling or humanity, this alone must be allowed to 
stand its ground. In truth, I shouM be sorry to 
have so beautiful a story called in question ; but its 
evidences are by no means superior to those of the 
three fonner. 

John lived tliree or four years after his return to 
Asia, having been preserved to the age of almostahun- 
dred years, for the benefit of the Church of Christ,, 
^ inestimable pattern of charity find goodness. 

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Of the Apostle Barnabas nothing is known, excq>t * 
what is recorded in the Acts. There we have an 
honourable encontluna of hi« character, and a particu- 
lar description of his joint laboui's with St. Paul It 
is a great injury to hini, to appixihend the epistle, 
which goes by his name, to be his. 

The v^-ork of Hennas, though truly pious and pro- 
bably written by the person ujentioned in the Epistle 
to the Romans, is yet a composition of inferior nierit; 
oor is it wortli while to detain the reader concerning it. 
Indeed wc liave no ecclesiastical work, exclusive of 
the Scriptures, except one, which does any peculiar 
honour to the first century. To believe, to suffer, to 
love, — not to write, was the primitive taste. 

The work wliich I except is Clement*s Epistle to 
the Corintliians. This is he, whom Paul calls hts 
fellow-labourer, whose *' name is in the book of 
life*." He long survived Paul and Peter, and was no 
doubt a blessing to the Roman Church, over which 
he presided nine years. His epistle was read in many 
primitive churches, and was admh^ed exceedingly by 
the antk^nts. It has a simplicity and a plainness, 
not easily relished by a systematic modem ; but there 
belongs to it, also, a wonderful depth of holiness and 
w isdom. A few quotations relating to its history, its 
doctrine, and its spirit, will not improperiy close this 
account of the pastors of the first century^ 

Its history will bring again to our view the Church 
ef Corinth, which* we have already seen distracted 
wilhschisnis and contentions, and more disgracing its 
hiji^li calling with secular ambition than any other 
priiwitivc Church. From the testimony of Clement it 
fippears that St Paul's two epistles had been abun- 
dantly uscfiil ; and that lie Imd reason tb rejoice ill 
tlie confidence which he reposed in the sincerity of 
profession, which prevailed in many of them, notwith^ 
standing these evils. Tlie account which he gives of 
their good situation, may just;ly be considered as tbo 
♦ PMHpp. tv^ . 

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proper fruit of apostolical admonitions. — " What 
strangers that came among you, did not take ho- 
nourable notice formerly of the firmness and fulness 
of your faith ? Who of them did not admire the 
sobriety and gentleness of your godly spirit in Christ? 
Who did not extol the liberal practice of your Chris- 
tian hospitality? How admirable was your sound and 
mature knowledge of divine things ! Ye were w ont 
to do all tilings without respect to persons ; and ye 
walked in tlie ways of God in due subjection to your 
pastors, and submitting youi^selves the younger to the 
elder. Ye charged young men to attend to the gravity 
and moderation becoming the Christian chamcter ; 
young women to discharge their duties with a blame- 
less, holy, and chaste conscientiousness; to love their 
husbands with all suitable tenderness and fidelity ; 
and to guide the house in all soberness and gravity* 
Then ye all showed a humble spirit, void of boasting 
and arrogance, more ready to obey than to command, 
more ready to give than to receive. Content with the 
divine allotments, and attending diligently to the word 
of Christ, ye were enlarged in your boweld of love ; 
and his sufferings on the cross were before your eyes. 
Hence a profound and happy peace was imparted t© 
you all : an unwearied desire of doing good, and 
a plentiful effusion of the Holy Ghost was v ith you. 
Full of holy counsel, in all readiness of mind, with 
godly assurance of faith, ye stretched forth your hands 
to the Lord Almighty, intreating him to be gra<:ious to 
you, if in any thii>g ye unwillingly offended. Your care 
was, day and night, for all the brethren ; that the num- 
ber of his elect might be saved in mercy and a good 
conscience. Ye were indeed sinqere and harmless, 
nod forgiving one another. All dissension and schism 
in the Church w as abominable to you : ye mourned 
over the faults of your neighbours; ye sympathized 
with their infirmities as your own : ye were unwea- 
ried in all goodness, and ready to every good work. 
Adorned wjth a venerable and upright conversatiooi 

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ye performed all tliingsin his fear; and the law of God 
was written deep indeed on the tables of your hearts/* 

It is pleasii>^ to see this numerous Church, of 
whom our Saviour had so long ajjo declared that ** he 
had much people in this city,'* toward tlie close of 
the century, still alive in the faith, hope, and charity 
•of the Gospel, free in a great degree from the evils,, 
^hich had cost St. Paul so much care and grief, and 
preserving the vigour of ti ue Christianity. But his- 
tory must be faithful : and their decline is described 
in the same epistle. Pride and a scl)ismatical spirit, 
which have since tarnished so many churches, and 
which were evils particularly Cormtliian, defaced this 
agreeable picture. But let Clement speak for himself : 

" Thus when all glory and .enlargement were 
given to you, that Scriptiap was fulfilled, * Jeshu- 
run waxed fat and kicked. Hence envy, strife, dis- 
sension, persecution, disorder, war, and desolation 
have ij. ized your church. ^ The child has behaved 
himsell proudly against tlie antient, and the base 
against the honourable, tlie mean against the emi- 
nent, and the foolish ag-ainst the wise.' Hence righ» 
teousness and pc^ice are far from you ; because ye 
ell leave the fear of God ; and your spiritual sight 
is become too dim to be guided by tlie faith of the 
Gospel. Vc walk not in his ordinances, nor w;alk 
worthy of the Lord Christ; but ye all walk too 
much according to your own evil lusts, nourishing 
and chcribliing a malignant spirit of envy, by which 
tlie t'wbi death came into the work^/' 

The schism pregnant with so many evils gave 
occasion to this epistle. It seems tlie distracted Coi- 
riiUhians asked counsel of the Church of Rome ; and 
hvv venerable p«>tor urotc this epistle inconsequence 
oi their request. lie apologizes, indeed, for the delay 
of writing, which he imputes to the afflictions and 
tiistrefctcb which befel the Christians of Home *, most 

• Tlie lid Pcrscculiou of the Christians, v»as by Dopitiaii, 

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probably on account of Domitian's persecution, tlie^ 
letter itself being written about ihe year 04, or 95. lu. 
these times tlie sin of scliism was looked on wiili the 
greatest horror. Clement calls the promoters of it, 
*' the haughty disorderly leaders of the abominable 
schism." — It is no trilling guilt, which men incur, by 
precipitately giving themselves up to the will of those^ 
whose aim is strife and the advancement of a sect or 
party, not the interest of godliness. He speaks of 
persons, who talk of peace with their lips, while their 
conduct shows, that they love to break the unity of the 
Church ; like the hypocrite, who draws nigh to '* the 
Lord witli his lips, while his heart is far from him." . 
The attentive reader cannot but observe, how the 
san^e evil prevails in our days to tlie great injury of 
leal piety ; and yet how little it is de()lored ; ratlier, 
how much encouraged and promoted by specious 
representations of liberty, of the rlo;ht of private judg- 
ment, of a just contempt of implicit faith, and of 
pleas of conscience. Doubtless, from these topics 
there are deducible arguments of great moment, and 
which deserve the most serious attention in practical 
concerns : but, at present, it is not my prov ince 
to explain the vpiddle path in this subject, nor to 
prove that modem evangelicaj Churches aie far gpnc 
into the vicious extreme of sciiisuu 

Vera remm vocabula amklmus. 

However some persons ipay tiiumph in ejecting 
separations from faithful pastors, it is a sliamcfpl 
and an unchristian practice : and pcrlmps humble 
spirits may, from Clement himself, acquire sufficient 
instruction, how to di^icriminatc the spirit of consci- 
entious zeal from tliat of schism, ami to know when 
they ought not to separate from tlie Church to which 
they belong. 

" The Apostles,*" says he, "with tlie greatest 
care ordained the rulers of the Church, and tielivered 
•.rule of succession in future, that after tlieir de- 

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cease other approved men m\gH succeed. Those 
then who, by them, or in succession by other choice, 
were ordained rulers with the ap[)robat!on and con- 
currence of the whole Church ; and who in a blame- 
less conduct have ministered to the flock of Chrat in 
humility ; who for a series of years have been welt 
reported of by all men, these we think it unrighteous 
to deprive of the ministry. Nor is it a sin of small 
mapiitude, );o eject from the sacred office men whose 
ministry J2ffith been thus blameless and holy. Happy 
those presbyters, who have finished .their course, and 
have departed in peace and in the fruitful discharge 
of their duties ! They at least, remote fi-om envy and 
faction, are not subject to popular caprice, nor ex* 
posed to the danger of out-living the affections of 
their flock, and their own unfruitfulness. We see* 
with grief, brethren, that ye have deprived of the* 
ministry some of your godly pastors, whose labours' 
for your souls deserved a different treatment" And 
he goes on to show, that godly men in Scripturt^ 
** were indeed persecuted, but by the wicked ; were* 
im[)risoned, but by the unholy ; were stoned, but by 
the enemies of God ; were murdered, but by the pro* 
fane. Was Daniel cast into the den of lions by men 
who feared God ? Wei-e Shadrach, Mcshach, and 
Abednego cast into tlic midst of the burning fiery 
furnace by men, who worshipped the Most High?'* 
iScbSsrtti What the sin of schism is, — in what manner the 

c^nfiiiwuj. Corinthians were guilty of it, — and how far all this 
is applicable to the case of Churches at this day, 
will need but little comment. 

Clement afterwards reminds them of their former 
guilt in St. Pauls time. " Do take up the writing 
of the blessed Apostle ; what did he say to you m 
the beginning of the Gospel? Truly, by Divine 
Inspiration, he gave you directions concerning him- 
self, and Cephas, and ApoUos, beijatrse ev^n then 
ye were splitting into parties. But jyour party-spirit 
at that time had less evil in it, because it ww 


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exercised in favour of Apostles of cHiinent holiness, 
»id of one much approved of by thern. But now 
consider who they are that have subverted you, and 
broken the bonds of brotherly love. These ai-e 
^meful things, brethren, very shameful ! Oh tdl 
k not on Christian ground, that the antient and fkni- 
rishing Church of Corinth have quarrelled with their 
pastors, from a weak partiality fior one or two persons. 
This rumour hath not only r-eacbed us Christians, but 
is spread among infidels; so that the name of Gr)d 
b bla^)hemed through your folly ; and your own 
spirilual heaWi is etidangered indeed." After exhort- 
ing them with much pathos to heal the breaches, he, 
toward the close, beseeches Aem — ^* to send back 
owr messengers shortly in peace witti joy, that they 
may quickly bring us the news of your concord, 
which we so ardently long for ; that we may speedily 
lejoice on your acteount." 

What eflfecc on the Corinthians this kind animad- 
versioH produced we know not: The whole history 
ef the schism certainly deserved to be noticed : It rsf 
related by the faithful pen of Clement ; and the spiiit 
of declension IhMw simple Christianity, and the way 
by wliieh the Spirit of God is commonly provoked to 
depart Iroin churches once flourishing in holiness, are 
well described. Human nature appears to have 
been always the same : And tliis example affords a 
standing admonition to Christian churches to beware 
of that nice, factious, and licentious spirit, whichi 
mider pretence of superior discernment and regard 
for liberty of conscience, has often broken the bonds 
of peace, and sometimes subjected the best of pastors 
to suflRer, from a people professing godliness, what 
mi^ have been expected only from persons alto- 
gether impious and profane. 

No apology, I trust, can be necessary fm* laying 
before the reader, from tlie same excellent author, tha 
following occasional exhortation. " Set before yon|i 
^yes tlie My Apostles.r-Through the enmity of the 

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huinEUi heart Peter underwent a variety of afflicliods^ 
and having suffered martyrdom, departed to the due 
place of glory. Through the hatred of a wicked world 
Paul having been scourged, stoned, and seven tinges 
cast into prison, obtained at length the reward of his 
patience : Having preached the Gospel in the east 
and west, he obtained a good report through failii : 
Having preached righteousness to the utmost bounds 
of the west, and having suffered martyrdom from 
princes, he left this world, and reached the shore of 
a blessed immortality : — He was an eminent pattern 
of those, who suffer for righteousness sake., By the 
godly conversation and labours of these men, a great 
multitude of the elect was gathered together ; who, 
through similar hatred of the world, w ere afflicted with 
cruel torments and obtained a similar good report 
among us through faith. Through the operation of 
tlie same principle, even women jiipong us have 
sustained tlie most cruel and unrjghtpous sufferings, 
and finished in patieptfaidi their course, and received^ 
Dotiviibstanding the weakness of tkeir sex, tlie prize 
of Christian heroes." 

The nature of the epistle being practical, and those 
to whom it was written not being corrupted in their 
sentiments, much of doctrine by accurate exposition 
and enforcement is not to be expected Vet the fun- 
damentals of godliness are very manifest : Salvation 
ONLY by tlie blood of Christ, the necessity of repent- 
ance in all men, — because all men are guilty before 


builds on continually. "Let us steadfastly behold 
the blood of Christ, and see how precious it is 
in the sight of God, which being shed for our 
salvation, hath procured the Grace of Repentance 
for all the world." 

And the nature and necessity of lively faith, as si 
{)rinciple of all true goodness and happiness, and 
perfectly dist'inct from the dead historical assent, witU 
which it is by many so unhappily confounded, is well 

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Illustrated in the case of Lots wife. " She had cent. 
udother spirit, another heart : hence, she was made a 
monument of the Lord's indignation, a pillar of salt 
ix> this day ; that all the earth in all generations may 
icQow, that the double-minded, who stagger at the 
promises of God, and distrust the power of grace in 
nnbetief, shall obtain notliing of the Lord, but the 
signal display of. his vengeance." 

The^divine dignity and glory of our Saviour; is 
well described in these words : " Our Lord Jesus 
Christ, the Sceptre of the Majesty of God, came not 
in the pomp of arrogance or pride ; for, notwith- 
standi^ his power, he was meek and lowly." 

The doctrine of Election, in connexion with holi- 
ness, a.s the Scripture always states it, appears re- 
markably distinct in this epistle. A passage may 
properly be introduced here, to show that it was a 
primitive doctrine, and ma^de use of for the promo- 
tion of a holy life: 

, " Let us. go to him in sanctification of heart, 
lifting up holy hands to him, influenced by the love 
of our gracious aikl compassionate Father, who hath 
made us for himself a portion of the election. For 
thus it is written, * When the most high divided to 
the nations their inheritance, and as it were sepa- 
rated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the 
people according to the numbec of his servants. The 
Lord's portk>n is his people : Jacob is the cord of 
his inbsritance.' And in another place he says, 
' Behold, the Lord taketh to himself a nation from the 
midst of the nations, as a man taketh to hinisetf the 
first finits of hm thre^hin^ floor ; and from that 
nation sliall proceed the most holy things.' 

^* Since therefore we aire the holy on£ s portion, 
let us be careful to abound in all thiqgs which ap- 
pertain to holiness*." 

3ut the distinguishing doctiine of Christianity, 
without winch indeed the Gospel is a mere name, 
* £p. ad Cor. 1. 29 sect. 

VOL. I. K 

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and incapable of consoling sinners, is doubtles^ jiMh 
ti6cation by the Grace of Christ through faith 
alone. — See the following testimony to it in this 
author. It deserves to be distinctly remembered, as 
an unequivocal proof of the faith of the primitive 

" All these," he is speaking of the Old Testament 
fathers, " were magnified and honoured, not through 
themselves, not through their own works, not through 
tlie righteous deeds which they performed, but 
through HIS WILL. And we also by his will being 
called in Christ Jesus, are justified not by our- 
selves, nor, by our own wisdom, or undei;standing, 
or godliness, or by the works which we have wrought 
in holiness of heart, but by faith; — by which tlie- 
Almighty hath justified all, who are or have been 
justified firom the beginning." 

His quick perception of the common objection, — 
what need then of good works ? His ready answer to 
it, and his manner of stating the necessity of good 
works, and of placing them on their proper basis, 
show how deeply he had studied, and how exquisitely 
he relished and fdt St Paul's doctrines : — 

" But what then? Shall we neglect good works? 
Does it hence follow, that we should leave the law 
of loving obedience? God forbid; — let us rather 
hasten with all earnestness of mind to every good 
work ; for the Lord himself rejoices in hb works* 
Having such a pttttem, how strenuously should we 
follow his will, and work the works of righteousntesa 
with all our might." 

The doctrine of the work of the Spirit on the heart, 
and of the experience of his consolations in the soul^ 
which, in our days, is so generally charged with 
'enthusiasm, appears from the following passage : 

" How blessed, how amazing the gifts of God ; 
beloved ! Life in immortality, — splendour in right- 
eousness, — truth in liberty, — faith in assurance, — 
sobriety in holiness ! — And thus far in this life we 

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know eiperiroentally . If the earnests of the Spirit be 
so precious, what must be the things which Grod 
hereafter liath prepared for them that wait for him ? '* 

I forbear to produce his views of the resurrection, 
and his beautiful manner of supporting the doctrine 
by the andogy of nature, after the manner of St. Paul. 
His mistake in applying the story of the Arabian 
Phoenix has been, I thmk, too severely censured^ 
None in truth ought to censure it as a blemish, 
except those who can so much compliment their own 
sagacity, as to say, that they in like circumstances 
would not have done the same. If the fact had been 
true, it doubtless would have afforded ahaf^y illus- 
tration of the doctrine of a resurrection. The story 
was generally believed in his days. That Clement 
believed it, is no proof of weakness of Judgment : 
and nobody contends, tliat his epistle, in the proper 
and strict sense, is written by inspiration. 

What men are by nature, — how dark and mise- 
rable ; — what they become by converting grace in 
the renewi^l of the understanding, is thus expressed : 
■^ Thi'ough him, that is, througli Jesus Christ, let 
us behold the glory of God shining in his fkce: 
Through him the eyes of our hearts were opened : 
Through him our understanding, dark and foolish as 
it was, rises again into his marvellous light : Through 
him the Lord would have us to taste of immortal 

This epistle seems to come as near to apostolical 
simplicity, as any thing we have on record : The 
illustration of its spirit would show this abundantly. 
It is difficult to do this by sirj^le passages : A temper 
80 heavenly, meek, holy, charitable^ patient, yet fer- 
vent, pious, and humble, runs through the whole. 
The following specimen deserves the r^er s notice : 

" Christ is their's, who are poor in 4>irit, and lift 
not up themselves above the flock ; but are content 
tb be low in the Church." — " Let us obey our 
^spiritual pastors, and honour our elders^ und let th# 

, K 2 

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CHAP, younger be disciplined in the fear of God. Let 
^^ our wives be directed to what is good ; to follow 
chastity, modesty, meekness, sincerity. Let thetn 
evidence their power of self-government by their 
silence ; and, let them show love, not in the spirit 
of a sect or party, but to all who tear God.'' Again, 
" Let not the strong despise the weak : and let tlie 
weak reverence the strong. Let the rich communis 
cate to the poor ; and let the poor he thankful to 
God, for those through whom their wants are sup- 
plied. Let the wise exert his wisdom, not merely 
in words, but in good works. Let the humble 
prove his humility, not by testifying of himself how 
humble he is ; but by a conduct, tliat may occa- 
sion othei^ to give testimony to him: Let not the 
chaste be proud of his chastity, kno^ ing that from 
God he has received the gift of continency." " Have 
we not all one God, one Christ, one Spirit of Grace 
poured upon us, and one calling in Christ ? Why 
do we separate and distract the members of Christ, 
and fight against our own body, and arrive at such 
a height of madness, as to forget that we are mem* 
bers one of another." 

" Is any among you strong in faith, mighty in 
knowledge, gifted in utterance, judicious in doctrines, 
and pure in conduct t The more he appears exalted 
above others, the more need has he to be poor in 
spirit ; and to take care, that he look not to his own 
things ; but tliat he study to promote the common 
good of the Church." 

. " Every one, whose heart has any good degree 
of the fear and love, which is the rchult of our com- 
mon hope, would ratlier that he himself be exj)osed 
to censure than his neighbours ; and would rather 
condemn hhnself, than break that teautiful bond of 
brotherly love, which is delivered to us." 

After pressing tlie beautiful example of the cha- 
rity of Aloees recorded in the book of Exodus •, be 
• Ex. xxxn. 

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•ays, " Who of you has any generosity of sentiment, 
or bowels of compassion, or fulness of love ? Let him 
say, if tlie strife and schism be on my account : I 
frill depart, wherever you please, and perform what- 
€ver the Church shall require. Only let Christ's 
flock live in peace with their settled pastors. Surely 
the Lord will smile on ^ch a character.'' 

III. The reader will not expect that I should S^'^^"*^ 
solicitously register the names, and record the opi* Ceniuiy. 
nions and acts of those who are commonly called 
heretics. — I have only to view them in one single 
iisjtity namely, as they deviated from the spirit of 
the Gospel. Let us keep in view what that really 
is. The simple faith of Christ as the only Saviour 
of lost sinners, and the effectual influences of the 
Holy Ghost in recovering souls altogether depraved 
by sin, — these are the leading ideas. 

When the effusion of the Holy Ghost first took 
place, these thing^were taught with power ; and no 
sentiments, which militated against them,* could be 
supported for a moment. As, through the preva- 
lence of human corruption and the crafts of Satan, 
the love of the truth was lessened, heresies and 
various abuses of the Gospel appeared : and in esti- 
' mating them, we may form some idea of the declen- 
sion of true religion toward the end of the century, 
which doubtless was not confined to the Jewish 
Church, but appears, in a measure, to have affected 
die Gentiles also. 

The epistolary part of the New Testament affords 
but too ample proof of corruptions. The Apostle 
Paul guards the Romans against false teachers, one 
mark of whose character was, that *' by good words 
and fiiir speeches they deceive the hearts of tlie sim- 
ple *." Corinth was full of ^Is of this kind. There 
false apostles transformed theriiselves into the ap- 
pearance of real ones. The Jewish corruption of self- 
righteousness, which threatened the destruction of 
♦ Rom. xvi. 


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the Galatian Church, has been distinctly considered. 
Maqy Christians, so called, walked as enemies of the 
cross of Christ, " whose end was destruction, whose 
god was their belly, whose glory was in tbar shame, 
who minded earthly things*" So Paul tells the Phi- 
lippians, and with tears of charity.-r-The epistle to 
the Colossians proves, that pretty strong symptoms 
of that amazing mass of austerities and superstitions 
by which, in after-ages, the purity of the faith was so 
m^ch clouded, and of that self-righteousness which 
superseded men's regard to the mediation of Jesus 
and the glory of Divine Grace, had begun to dis- 
cover themselves, even in the Apostle's days. 

The prophesy of Antichrist, in the first epistle of 
Timothy, chapter the fourth, expressly intimates^ 
that its spirit bad already commenced by the exces- 
sive esteem of celibacy and abstinence. The corrupt 
mixtures of vain philosophy had also seduced some 
fix>m the faith. Under the gradual increase of these 
complicated evils, a meaner religious taste was form- 
ed, in several churches at least, which could eveo 
bear to admire such injudicious writers as Hermai 
and the Pseudo- Barnabas f. — Peter, and JudeJ, 
have graphically described certain horrible enormities 
of nominal Chrbtians, little, if at all, inferior to the 
most scandalous vices of the same kind in these 
latter ages. The spirit of schism we have seen 
again breaking out in the Chuixh of Corinth. — But 
let us observe more distinctly the heretical opi- 
nions of the first Century. 

Ecclesiastical historians, who have passed by the 
roost glorious scenes of real Christianity, have yet 
with minute accuracy given us the lists of heretics, 
subtilized by refined subdivisions without end. It 
seems more useful to notice them, as they stand 
contradistinguished to that faith which was once 
delivered to the saints. Tertullian reduces the 
heretic^ of the aposb^ic times to two classes, the 
♦ Philipp. iii, t ? P«t. J Jude'g Epistle, 

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Docetas and the EbiOhites. Tbeodoret also ^ves cent. 
the same account of them. ^ _Jl 

Of the instruments of Satan in these things, Si- 
mon, who had been rebuked by Peter in Samaria^ 
was th^ mo6t remarkable ; lie was tlie father of the 
Gnostics or Docetse, and of a number oi^ heretical 
opinions and piactices of the first century. How- 
ever obscure the history of Simon himself may be* 
the leading opinions of the Dooette are obvious 
enough. They held that the Son of God had no 
proper humanity, and that he died on the cross only 
m appearance. — Cerinthus allowed him a re?tl human 
nature : he considered Jesus as a man born of Jo- 
seph and Mary; but supposed that Chhist, — whom 
yet all the heretics looked onas propeily inferior to 
the supreme God, — descended from heaven, and 
united himself to the man Jesus. 

The Ebionites were not much different from the 
Cmnthians: they removed the appearance of mys<p 
tery from the subject: In general they looked on 
Jesus Christ as a mere man born of Mary and her 
husband, though a man of a most excellent cliaiacter. 
— Whoever tbmks it needful to examine these thingp 
more nicely, may. consiilt Irensus and Eusebius : 
The account of Ebion in the latter is shoit, but suf- 
ficiently clear. 

It is not to be wondered at, that with such low 
ideas of the Redeemer s person, . the Ebionites der 
nied the virtue of his atoning blood ; and laboured 
to establish justification by the works of the law. 
Their rejection of the divine authority of St. Paul's 
epistles, and their accusaticHi of him as an Antino- 
mian, naturally arise from their system. Tertullian 
tells us, that this was a Jewish sect : and their oi>- 
i^irance of Jewish rites makes his account the more 

These two heretical scliemes, the one opposing 
the humanity of Chrbt, the other annihilating tltfi 
divinity, were the inventions of men.leanii>g to their 

K4 • 

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own undetstandings, and unwilling to admit the great 
mystery of godliness, — "God manifest in the fltesh,* 
The primitive Christians held, that the Redeemer 
was both God and man, equally possessed of the 
real properties of both natures ; and no man, willing 
to take his creed from thc^ New Testament, ever 
thought otherwise; the proofs of both natures in one 
person, Christ Jesus, being 'abundlmtly diffused 
through the sacred books. One single verse in the 
ninth chapter to the Romans*, expressing both, is 
sufficient to confound all the critical powers of heret 
tics : 8U[)d therefore, on tlie slightest grounds, they 
have been compelled to have recourse to their usu^ 
method of suspecting the soundness of the sacred 
Text. The only real difficulty in this subject is, for 
man to be brought to believe, on divine authority; 
that doctrine, the grounds of which he cannot comr 
prehend. Though we have just as good reason to 
doubt the union of soul and body in man, from our 
equal ignorance of the bond of that union, yet 
proud men, unacquainted with the internal misery 
and depravity of nature, whicl^renders a complete 
character, like that of Christ, so divinely suitable to 
our wants, and -so exactly proper to mediate ber 
tween God and man, soon discovered a disposition to 
oppose the doctrine of the Incarnation of Jesus ; and, 
as there were two ways of doing this,— by taking 
away either one or the other of the two natures, — 
we see at once the origin of the two sects before ua. 
The doctrine of the atonement was opposed by both ; 
— by tlie Docetsc in their denial of the real hunmu 
nature of Jesus; and by the Ebionites in their de^ 
nial of the Divine Nature, which stamps an infinite 
value on his siifTerings. 

Such were tlie perversions of the doctrines of the 

incarnation and atonement of the Son of God. Nor 

did the doctrine of justification by faith only, which 

St. Paul had so strenuously supported^ escape a ^k 

♦ Verse 5. 

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fiailar treatment In all ages this doctrine bias beea 
either fiercely opposed, or basely abused. The 
tpbtle to the Galatians describes the former treat- 
ment : The epistle of Jude the latter.— The me-i 
moirs of these heretics, short and imperfect ss they 
are, inform us of some, who professed an extraor<« 
c&iaryd^ree of sanctity, an^ affected to be abstracted 
altogether from the • flesh, and to live in excessiye 
abstemiousness. We find al^ that there were others, 
who, as if to support their Christian liberty, lived 
in sin with greediness, and indulged themselves in 
all the gratifications of sensuality. Nothing short 
of a spiritual illumination and direction can indeed 
secure the improvement of the grace of the Gospel 
to the real interests of holiness. At this day there 
are persons, who think that the renunciation of all 
our own works in point of dependence must be the 
destruction of practical religion ; and they are thence 
led to seek salvation " by the works of the law :*'' 
while others, admitting in words the grace of Jesus 
Christ, encourage themselves in open sin. A truly 
humbled Arame, and a clear insight into the beauty 
of holiness, through the effectual influence of the 
Divine Spirit, will teach men to live a sanctified life 
by the faith of Jesus. The Gentile converts by the 
Gnostic heresy, and the Jewish by that of Ebion, 
were considerably corrupted toward the close of the 
oeutury. The latter indeed of these heresies had been 
gradually making progress for some time. We have 
seen, that the object of the first council of Jerusa- 
lem was to guard men against the imposition of Mo- 
saic observances, and to teach tliem to rely on the 
grace of Christ alone for salvation. ^ Ijut self-rijzhte- 
ousness is a weed of too quick a grow th to be easily 
eradicated. The Pharisaic Christains, we may ap- 
prehend, were not immediately advanced to theYull 
size of heresy. But when they proceeded to reject 
St Paul's writings, we miy fairly conclude, that 
they^fully rejected tlic articla of justificktiqn.-r-A 

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CHAP, separation was made ; and the Ebionites, as a dis-^ 
tinct body of men, deserved the name of heretics. 

St. Paul indeed, who, with an eagle s eye^ had 
explored the growing evil, was now no more in the 
world. But the Head of the Church prolonged the 
life of his fevourite John to the extreme agp of almost 
a hundred : and his authority checked the progress 
of heretical pravity. He resided much at Ephesus, 
where Paul had declared, that grievous wolves 
would make their appearance. Jerom says^ that he 
wrote his Gospel at the desire of the bi^ops of 
Asia, against Cerinthus.and Ebion. Indeed such 
expressions as these, ^^ the passover, a feast of the 
Jews,'* — and, **that sabbath day was an high day,** 
seem to indicate that the Jewish polity was now no 
more, it not being natural to give such explications 
of customs, except to those, whahad no opportunity 
of ocular inspection. I cannot but think, that Dn 
Lardner, who is no friend to the vital doctrines of 
Christianity, has betrayed his predilection for So- 
ciniatiism, in his attempts to show that' St. John in 
his Gospel did not intend to oppose any particalar 
heresies *. In truth, there are various internal proofs 
which corroborate the testimony of Jerom. The 
very beginning of his Gospel is an authoritative de- 
claration of the proper Deity of Jesus Christ: The 
attentive reader cannot but recollect various dis^ 
courses to the same purport : The contession of 
Thomas, after his resurrection, stands single in St 
John's gospel : The particular pains, which he takes, 
to assure us of the real death of his Master, and of 
the issuing of real blood and water, from his wounded 
side, are delivered with an air of one, zealous to 
obviate the error of the Docetoe : Nor can I under- 
stand his laying so great a stress on Jesus Christ's 
coming in tlie flesh f in any other manner. 

* See his Supplement to the Credibility, in the history of St, 

t I John, iv. 

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Wlnle this Apostle lived, the heretics were much 
discountenanced. And it is certain that Gnostics 
and Ebionites were always looked on as perfectly 
distinct from the Christian Church. There needs no 
more evidence to prove this, than their arrangement 
by Ireneus and Eusebius under heretical parties. 
Doubtless they called themselves Christians ; and so 
did all heretics, for obvious reasons : and, for rea- 
aooB equally obvious, all, who are tender of the fun- 
damentals of Christ's religion, should not own their 
right to the appellation. Before we dismis them I 
would remark, 

1. That it does not appear by any evidence which 
I can find, that these men were persecuted for their 
leligion. Retaining the Christian name ; and yet 
f^fying man's righteousness, wisdom, and strength^ 
" they spake of the world, and the world heard 
them. The Apostle John in saying this, had hi^ 
eye, I believe, on the Docetce particularly. In our 
own times persons of a similar stamp viould willingly 
ingratiate themselves with real Christians; and yet at 
the same time avoid the cross of Christ,, and what- 
ever would expose them to the enmity of the world. 
We have the testimony of Justin Martyr, that Simon 
was honoured in the Pagan world, even to idolatry*. 
— What stress is laid on this circumstance in the 
New Testament, as an evidence of the characters 
of men in religious concerns, is well known. 

2. If it be made an objection against evangelical 
principles,, that numbers, who profess them, have 
run into a variety of abuses, perversions and con- 
tentions, we have seen enough, even in the first 
century, of the same kind of evils to convince us, 
that such objections militate not against divine truth, 
bat might have been made with equal force against 
the apostolical ag^. 

3. A singular cliange in one respect has taken 
place in the Christian world. Tliu two heretical 

* Apud. Euseb. B. ii. E. 11. 

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parries above described, were not much unlike the 
Arians and Socinians at this day. The former havei 
radically, tlie same ideas as the Docetae, though it 
would be unjust to accuse them of the Antinomian 
aboniiinations which defiled the followers of Simon : 
The latter are the very counterpart of the £bionite8^ 
The Trinitarians were then the body of the Church ; 
and so much superior was their influence and num-^ 
bers, that the other two were treated as heretics. 
At present the two parties, who agree in lessening the 
dignity of Christ, though in an unequal manner, are 
carrying on a vigorous controversy against one aino^ 
ther, while the Trinitarians are despised by both as 
unworthy the n(;tice of men of reason and letters. 
Serious and humble minds will, however, insist on 
tlie necessity of our understanding that certain fun^ 
damental principles are necessary to constitute the 
real Gospel. The Divinity of Christ, — his atone«- 
ment, — justification by ftuth, — regeneration — these 
they will have observed to be the principles of the 
primitive Church: and, witl)in tliis inclosure, the 
whole of that piety which produced such glorious 
efiects has been confined : and it is worthy the 
attention of learned men to consider, whether the 
same remark may not be made in all ages. 

IV, Thus have we seen a more astonishing revo* 
lotion in tlie human mind and in human manners, 
than ever took place in any age, eflfected without any 
human power, legal or illegal, and even against the 
unitt)d opposition of all the powers then in the world: 
and this too not in countries rude or uncivilized, but 
in the most humanizeii, the most learned, and the 
most polished part of the globe, — within the Roman 
empire, no part of which was exempted from a 
sensible share in its etiects. — ^This empire, witfaia 
the first ceijturv at least, seems to have been the 
proper limit of Christian conquests *. 

♦ Indeed that France had any share in the blessings of tht 
Gospel withio this century, can only be inltned irom the 

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If an infidel or sceptic can produce any thing like 
tills, effected by Mahometanism or by any other re- 
ligion of human invention, he may then with some 
plausibility compare those religions with Christianity : 
But, as the Gospel stands unrivalled in its manner 
of subduing the mhids of men, — the argument for 
its divinity from its propagation in the world, will 
remain invincible. 

And, surely, every dispassionate observer must 
confess, that the change was from bad to good. 
No man will venture to say, that the religious and 
moral principles of Jews and Gentiles, before their 
cooversion to Christianity, were good. The idola-* 
tries, abominations, and ferocity of the Gentile 
world will be allowed to have been not less than they 
are described in the first chapter to the Romans: 
and the writings of Horace and Juvenal will prove, 
that the picture is not exaggerated. The extreme 
wickedness of the Jews is graphically delineated by 
thdrown historian, and is neither denied nor doubted 
by any one. What but the influence of God, and 
an EFFUSION of his Holy Spirit, — the first of the 
kind since the coming of Christ, and the measure 
and standard for regulating our views of all sue* 
feeding one8,-rcan account for such a change? 
From the Acts of the Apostles and their epistles, I 
have drawn the greatest part of the narrative ; but 
the little that has been added from other sources is 
not heterogeneous. — Here are thousands of men 
turned from the practice of every wickedness to the 
practice of every /virtue : many, very suddenly, or 
at least in a short space of time, reformed in under- 
standing, in inclination, in atfection ; knowing, lev- 

knowledge wi have, that it was introduced into Sp ;iti. Whe- 
ther our own country was evangeHzed at all in tbis ^^ntnry, is 
very doubtful. Nor can we be certain that any miniiit^rs as yK 
bad passed into Africa. The assertion, tborei'uie, ib^ti Uie G^^ 
ye\ had spread through the Roniun empire, fnust be under^op^ 
with a few exceptions, though I think fec&Ke a^y more thin 
tbost, which kave been memiimed. ' * ... * ' 

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ing, and c6nfiding in God ; from a state of mere 
selfishness converted into the purest philanthropists; 
living only to please God and to exercise kindness 
toward one another ; and all of them, recovering 
really, what philosophy only pretended to, — the do- 
minion of reason over passion ; unfeignedly subject 
to their Maker ; rejoicing in his favour amidst tho 
severest sufferings; and serenely waiting for their 
dismission into a lemd of blissful unmortality. — 
That all this must be of God, is demonstrative : 
— but the important inference, which teaches the 
divine authority of Christ, and the wickedness and 
danger of despising, or even neglecting hin), is not 
always attended to by those who are most concerned 
in it. 

But the Christian Church wais not yet in posses* 
sion of any external dignity or political importance. 
No one NATION as yet was Christian, though thou* 
sands of individuals were so ; — but those chiefly of 
the middling and lower ranks. The modem improve- 
ments of civil society have taught men, however, 
that these are the strength of a nation ; and that 
whatever is praiseworthy is far more commonly dif* 
fused among them, than among the noble and great 
In the present age then it should be no disparage'-' 
ment to the character of the first Christians, that the 
Church was chiefly composed of persons too low in 
life, to be of aily weight in the despotic systems of 
government which then prevailed. We have seen 
one person * of uncommon genius and endowments, 
and twof belonging to the Imperial fiatmily, but 
scarce any more, either of rank or learning, con- 
nected with Christianity. We ought not then to be 
surprised, that Christians are so little noticed by 
Tacitus and Josephu»: These tiistorians are only 
intent on sublunary aftd general politics : they give 
no attention even to the eternal welfare of individuals. 
•~Nor is this itself a slight exemplification of the 
^ PauL t Clemens sod DomiuUa. 

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gemus of that religion^ which is destined to form 
men (or the next life, and not for this. 

In doctrines the primitive Christians agreed : They DoctTinci 
all worshipped the one living and true God, who ^^^t^** 
made himself known to them in three persons, Father^ ^hiil'^ 
Son, and Holy Ghost: Each of these they were 
taught to worship by the very office of t^aptism per* 
formed in the name of the Father, the Son, and the 
Holy Ghost : — And the whole economy of grace se 
eonstantly reminded tliem of their obli^tions to the 
Father who chose them to salvation, to the Saviour 
who died for them, and to the Comforter who sup* 
ported and sanctified them, and was so closely con- 
nected with their experience and practice, that they 
were perpetually incited to worehip the Divine Three 
m One. They all concurred in filling conviction of 
sin, of helplessness, of a state of perdition : in re* 
lying on the atoning blood, perfect rigliteousness, 
and prevalent intercession of Jesus, as their only 
hope of heaven. Regeneration by the Holy Ghost 
was their common privilege, and without his constant 
influence they owned themselves obnoxious only to 
sin and vanity. Their community of goods, and their 
love-feasts *, though discontinued at length, — pro- 
bably because found impracticable, — demonstrated 
their superlative charity and heavenly-mindedness. — 
Yet a gloomy cloud hung over the conclusion of tlie 
first century. 

The first impressions made by the effusion of the 
Spirit are generally the strongest and the most de- 
cidvely distinct from the spirit of the world. But 
human depravity, over-born for a time, rises afresh, 
particularly in the next generation. Hence the dis- 
orders of schism and heresy. Their tendency is to 
destroy the pure work gf God. The first Christiansv . 
with the . purest charity to the pebsons of heretics, 
gave their errors no quarter ; but discountenanced 
them by every reasonable method. 
* See Jude's epistle. 

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CHAP. The heretics, on the contrary, endeavoured trt 
.^^ ^^1 . unite themselves with Christians. If the same itie*- 
thods be at this day continued ;— if the heretic en- 
deavour to promote his false religion by pretended 
charity, and the Christians stand aloof from him, 
without dreading the charge of bigotry, each act in 
character, as their predecessors did. The heretics 
by weakening men's attachment to Christ, and the 
schismatics by promoting a worldly and uncharitable 
spirit, each did considerable mischief; but it was the 
less, because Christians carefully kept themselvea 
dbtinct from heretics, and thus set limits to the in*- 

It has been of unspeakable detriment to the Chris*- 
tian religion, to conceive that all who profess it, are 
believers of it, properly speaking. Whereas very 
many are Christians in name only, never attending 
to the NATURE of the Gospel at all. Not a few 
glory in sentiments subversive of its genius and spirit 
And there are still more who go not so far in opposi* 
tion to godliness ; yet, by making light of the whole 
. work of grace on the heart, they are as plainly void 
of Christianity. We have seen the first Christians 
individually converted : and, as human nature needs 
the same change still, the particular instances of con- 
version described in the Acts are models for us at 
, this day. National conversions were then unknown ; 
nor has the term any proper meaning. But when 
whole countries are supposed ta become Christians 
merely because they are so termed ; when conver- 
sion of heart is kept out of sight ; and when no spi- 
ritual fruits are expected to appear in practice ; — - 
when such ideas grow feshionable, opposite charac- 
ters are blended ; the form of the Gospel stands, 
and its power is denied. — But let us not anticipate ; 
— These scenes appeared not in the first century* 

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THE master of the Roman world in the beginning 
of this Century was the renowned Trajan. His 
predecessor Nerva had restored the Cliristian exiles, 
and granted d full toleration to the Church. Hence 
the last of the Apostles had recovered his station at 
Ephesus, and slept in the Lord, before the short 
interval of tranquillity was closed by the persecuting 
spirit of Trajan. Whatever explication may be 
given or conjectured of the cause of his dislike of 
Christians, he had a confirmed prejudice against 
them, and meditated the extinction of the name : 
nor does it appear that he ever changed his senti* 
ments, or retracted his edicts against them. i 

There is an account of his persecution in his cor- The ma 
respond^nce with Pliny the governor of Bithynia, ^'of tile***' ! 

a man well known in classical history. The two Cnrisiians* i 

epistles between the emperor and the governor ^' ^' ' 

deserve to be transcribed at length*: they seem to ^^^ i 

have been written in 106 or lOTt. ^^ 

C. Plin^ to Trajan Emperor. 

" Health. — It is my usual custom, Sir, to refer all P''ny'« 

things, of which I harbour any doubts, to you. For Tf»>n? 

• Pliny's Epistles, x. 97, 98* I 

t Or perhaps in 102 or 103 of the vulgar sra. The reader 

will do well to keep in miud, that many disagreements in chro- ! 

nology are accoanted for by considering that the Birth of our 

Saviour is placed by some of the best chrooologert four ysars 

before our vulgar asra. 

VOL. 1. I. 

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who can better direct my judgment in its hesitation, or 
instruct my understanding in its ignorance ? I never 
had the fortune to be present at any examination of 
Christians, before I came into this provmce. I am 
therefore at a loss, to determine what is the usual 
object either of enquiry or of punishment, and to 
what length eitlier of them is to be carried. It has 
also been with me a question Very problematical,^ — 
whether any distinction should be made betM^een tiie 
young and the old, the tender and the robust ; — 
whether any room should be given for repentance, 
or the guilt of Christianity once incurred is not to 
be expiated by the most unequivocal retiactation ;: — 
whether the name itself, abstracted from any flagi- 
tiousness of conduct, or the crimes connected with 
the name, be the object of punishment In the 
mean time this has been my method, with respect 
to those, who were brought before me as Christians* 
I asked them, whether they were Christians ; if they 
pleaded guilty, I interrogated them twice afresh, 
with a menace of capital punishment- In case of 
obstinate perseverance, 1 ordered them to be exe- 
cuted. For of this 1 had no doubt, whatever was the 
nature of their religion, that a sullen and obstinate 
inflexibility called tor the vengeance of the Magis- 
trate- Some were infected with the same madness, 
whom, on account of their privilege of citizenship, 
I reserved to be sent to Rome, to be referred to your 
tiibunal. In the course of this business, informa- 
tions pouring in, as is usual when they are encou- 
raged, ni^ore cases occun-ed. An anonymous libel 
was exhibited, with a catalogue of names of persons, 
who yet declared, that they were not Christians then, 
or ever had been ; and they repeated after me an 
invocation of the gods and of your image, which,, 
for this purpose, I had ordered to be brought with 
the images of the deities : They performed sacred 
r\tes with wine and frankincense, and execrated 
Christ, — none of which thin^ I am told a real 

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Christian can ever be compelled to do. On this ac- cent. 
count I dismissed them. Others, named by an in- ^ JL 
former, first affirmed, and then denied tlie charge of 
Christianity; declaring that they had been Christians, 
but had ceased to be so, some three years ago, 
others stjll longer, some even twenty years ago. All 
of them worshipped your image, and the statues 
of the gods, and also execrated Christ And this . 
was the account which they gave of the nature 
of the reh'gion they once had professed, whether 
it deserves the name of crime or error, — namely 
— that they w^ere accustomed on a stated day to 
meet before daylight, and to repeat among them- 
selves an hymn to Chiist as to a god, and to bind 
tfiemselves by an oath, with an obligation of not com- 
mitting any wickedness ; — but on the contrary, of 
abstaining firom thefts, robberies, and adulteries ;— 
also, of not violating their promise, or denying a 
pledge; — after which it was their custom to separate, 
and to meet again at a promiscuous harmless meal, 
from which last practice they however desisted, after 
the publication of my edict, in which, agreeably to 
your orders, I forbad any societies of that sort On 
which account I judged it the mpre necessary, to 
enquire, by torture, from two females, who were 
said to be deaconnesses, what is the real truth. £ut 
notfiing could I collect, except a depraved and ex- 
cessive superstition. Deferring t(ierefore any farther 
investigation, I determined to consult you. For 
Ae number of culprits is so great, as to call for 
serious consultation. Many persons are informed 
against of every age add of both sexes ; and more 
stiU will be in the scune situation. The contagion of 
the superstition hath spread iiot only through cities, 
but even villages and the country. Not that I think 
it impossible to check and to correct it. The success 
of my ^[Kleavours hitherto forbids such desponding 
Aoughts: for the temples, once almost desolate, 
begin to be fireq^qeoted, and tlie sacred wlemnities, 

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CHAP, which had long been intermitted, are now attended 
afresh ; and the sacrificial victims are now sold every 
where, which once could scarce find a purchaser. 
Whence I conclude, that many might be reclaimed, 
were the hope of impunity, on repentance, abso- 
lutely confirmed." 

Trajan to Pluiy. « 

" You have done perfectly right, my dear Plitiy, 
in the enquiry which you have made concerning 
Christians. For truly no one general rule can be 
laid down, which will apply itselito all cases. These 
people must not besought after: — If they are brought 
before you and convicted; let them be .capitally 
punished, yet with this restriction, that if any re- 
nounce Christianity, and evidence his sincerity by 
supplicating our gods, however suspected he may be 
for the past, lie shall obtain pardon for the future, 
on his repentance. But anonymous libels in no case 
ought to be attended to ; for the precedent would 
Jje of tlie worst sort, and perfectly incongruous to 
the maxims of my government." 

The moral character of Pliny is one of the most 
amiable in all Pagan authority; yet does it appear, 
that he joined with his master Trajan in his hatred 
of Christians. In the course of this history, many 
instances of the same kind will occur. Trajan's 
character is do'ibtless much inferior to Pliny's; — It 
is illustrious indeed by reason of great talents, and 
great exploits ; but, by the testimony of Dio, Spartian, 
and Julian, stained \uth flagrant vices*; and, as is 
generally confessed, tarnished by an extravagant am- 
bition. But how* is it to be accounted for, that men, 
who seem enamoured with the beauty of virtue, 
should turn from it with perfect disgust, and even 
persecute it with rancour, when it appears in the 
most genuine colours? Let those who imagine such 
• See Lardncr's Collection, v. ii. c. . 

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men as Pliny to be good and virtuous in the proper 
sense of the words, try to solve this phenomenon on 
their own principles. On those of the real Gospel 
the question is not hard to be determined. Admit-* 
ting that Pliny might at first be prejudiced against 
Chrbtians from misrepresentation, how happens it, 
thaf he continues so after better information, even 
when he is convinced, tlmt no moral evil is to be 
found in the Christians of Bithynia, that their meet- 
ings are peaceable, and the ends aimed at by them, 
not only innocent, but laudable ? The truth is, virtue 
in Pliny's writings, and virtue in St. Paul's, mean not 
the same thing. For humility, the basis of a Chris- 
tian's virtue, the pagan has not even a name in his 
language. The glory of God is the end of virtue in 
the system of one, — his own glory is the end of vir- 
tue in the system of the other. The Christians of 
Bithynia would be able to give the severe inquisitor 
'* a reason of the hope that was in them with meek- 
ness and fear," and then suffering according to the 
will of God, to commit the keeping of their souls 
to him in well-doing, as to a faithful Creator. These 
and other precious sentiments in St. Peter's first 
epistie, which was addressed to some of their fathers, 
possibly to some of themselves then alive, would 
now be remembered with peculiar force. A vain- 
glorious mmd like Pliny's, elated with conscious 
rectitude, would scorn to bear of being saved by the 
atoning blood of Jesus, would not believe the repre- 
sentation of human nature which they would give hioi, 
and would prefer his own reason before the instruc- 
tion of the Holy Spirit. Had he been, like Cicero, 
deeply tinged with the academical philosophy of 
Greece, like him he would have gloried in sceptical 
ambiguity, or have inclined to the atheistic views, tp 
which most of the old philosophers were devoted. 
But as he seems to have imitated him, rather in his 
passion for oratorical glory, than in his philosophical 
spi it, he rested in the vulgar creed, highly absurd 


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as it was, and preferred it to the purest dictates of 
Christianity. The former thwarted not his pride and 
his lusts: the latter required the huoiiliation of the 
one, and the mortification of the other. 
. In all ages, men even of amiable morals, if des- 
titute of true holiness, are enemies of the Gospel. — 
We here see the true reason of this enmity; which 
is not capable of being abated by argument : for if 
that had been the case, Pliny might have seen the 
iniquity of his proceedings. To call a thing madness 
and depraved superstition, on the face of ^hich he 
sees much good and no evil, is the height of unrea* 
sonableness. But it is practised by many at this day, 
who call themselves Christians, but are really as averse , 
to the Gospel as Pliny was : and if we would not be 
deceived by mere names, but would enter into the 
fepirit of thmgs, it would not be difficult to under* 
stand, who they are that resemble Pliny, and who 
they are that resemble the Christians of Bithynia. 

In fact, as there are now, so there were then, per^ 
sons, who worshipped Christ as their God, who loved 
one another as brethren united in him : men who 
derived from his influence support under the severest 
pressures : who were calumniated by others : who 
i^ere treated as silly people, on account of that hum- 
ble and self-denying spirit, by which they kept up 
communion with their Saviour on earth; and who 
^expected to enjoy him in heaven. — It was not the 
HbluII of Trajan and Pliny, that such principles were 
iiot extemnnated from the earth. 1 hey hated the 
weti and their rcligbn. 

The difference between the persecutors and the 
sufferers is remarkable with respect to the spirit of 
politics. The religion of Trajan was governed by 
this spirit : And his servant thinks it needful to force 
men to follow the pagan reli^on, whetlier they 
beHeved it to be right or not. rersecuting edicts 
appear to have been in force against Christians before 
ti^ correspondence which we ^ve seen ; and Nerva's 

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lE^eration seems to have ceased. But the Christians 
showed, that their Master s kingdom was not of this 
world : They were meek and passive, as Christ him- 
seli' had bera, and as Peter had exhorted them to 
be. Their number was very large in Bithynia, ca- 
pable surely of raising a rebellion troublesome to the 
state ; and they would*have done so, if their spirits 
had been as turbulent as those of many pretended 
Christians. " But they were subject not only for 
wrath, but also for conscience' sake." If there had 
been the least suspicion of a seditious spirit among 
them, Pliiiy must have mentioned it ; and their dis« 
continuance of their feasts of charity, after they 
found them disagreeable to government, is a proof 
of their loyal and peaceable temper. 

In Asia, Arrius Antoninus persecuted them with 
extreme fury. I am not certain whether his persecu* 
tion belongs to the reign of Trajan; but as there 
was an Antoninus very intimate with Pliny, the fol- 
lowing story of him, frcHn Tertullian*, may not im-. 
properly be introduced here. — The whole body of 
Christians, wearied with constant hardships, pre* 
sented themselves before his tribunal : He ordered 
a few of them to execution, and said td the rest, 
'^ Miserable people, if you choose death, you may 
find precipices and halters enow." — I am willing to 
believe, that the Christians hoped to disarm the per^ 
secutor by the sight of tlieir oumbers. 

One oi the most venentble ^bamcters at this time 
vas Simeon, bishop of Jerusalem, the successor of 
St. Jaines. Jerusalem indeed was no m(M«, but the 
Church still existed in some part of Judea. Some 
heretics accused hitn, as a Christian, before Atticus 
the Roman governor. He was then a hundred and 
Vwenty years old, and was scourged many days. ThQ 
persecutor was astonished at his hardiness ; but not 
moved with pity for his sufferings: — at last he 
^pdered him to be crucified f • 

* Ad ScapuL C. olt. f Euseb. B« iii, c. 99V 


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eoines to 

A. D. 



'It was \n the year 107, that Ignatius, bishop of 
Antioch, \^as martyred for the faith of Jesus. On 
the death of Euodius, about the year 70, he had 
been appointed in his room by the Apostles wha 
were then alive. He governed the Church during 
this long period : Nor was it a small indication of 
tlie continued grace of God to tliat city, to have 
been blessed so long with siich a luminary. We 
must be content with the short character given of his 
ministry in the Acts of Ignatius, a piece of martyr- 
ology first published in 1647 by archbishop Usher, 
from two old manuscripts w hich have stronger marks 
of credibility than is usual with such compositions. 

^* He was a man in all things like to the Apostles : 
as a good governor, by the helm of prayer and 
fasting, by the constancy of his doctrine and spiritual 
' labour, he opposed himself to the floods of the ad- 
versary : he was like a divine lamp illuminating the 
hearts of the faithful by his exposition of the Holy 
Scriptures : and lastly, to preserve his Church, he 
scrupled not freely to expose himself to a bitter death." 
These Acts were compiled by those who went with"^ 
him from Antioch, and were eye-witnesses of hb 

Ambition atid the lust of power were not stronger 
features in the character of Coesar, than the desire of 
martyrdom was in that of Ignatius. Divine Provi- 
dence however preserved him for the benefit of the 
Church during the persecution of Domitian, and 
reserved him to the time of Trajan. This prince 
being come to Antioch about the tenth year of his 
reign, in the year 107, in his way to the Parthian war, 
Ignatius, fearing for the Christians, and hoping to 
avert the storm by offering himself to suffer in their 
stead, came voluntarily into the presence of Trajan, 
I shall deliver the conference, as it stands in the Acts 
of Ignatius, — a monument of false glory shrouding 
itself under superstition and ignorance, op the on« 

* Wake's Epistles. 

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hand ; and of true glory, supported by the faith anrf cent. 
hofHS of Jesus, on the other. ^ ^^'_ ^ 

Being introduced into the emperor's presence, lie 
was tiuis addressed by Trajan *. W^hat an impious ignatiis 
spii it art thou, both to transgress our commands, and ^l^^j^ 
to inveigle others into the same folly, to their ruin ? 
Ignatius answered, Theophorus ought not to be called 
so ; forasmuch as all wicked spirits are departed far 
from the servants of God. But if you call me impious 
because I am hostile to evil spirits, I own the charge 
iu that respect. For I dissolve all their snares, 
through the inward support of Christ the heavenly 
King.— Traj. Pray,who is Theophorus?— Ign. He who 
has Christ in his breast. — Traj. And thinkest thou 
not that gods reside in us also, who fight for us against 
our enemies.'^— Ign. You mistakein calling the demons 
of the nations by the name of gods. For there is only 
ONE God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and 
all that is in them ; and one Jesus Christ, his only 
begotten Son, whose kingdom be my portion ! — Traj. 
His kingdom do you say, who was crucified under 
Pilate? — Ign. His, who crucified my sin with its 
author ; and has put all the fi^aud and malice of Satad 
under the feet of those who carry him in their heart. — 
Traj. Dost thou then carry him who was Crucified 
within thee? — Ign. I do ; for it is written ; " I dwell in 
them, and walk m them." Then Trajan pronounced 
tills sentence against him : " Since Ignatius con- 
fesses, tiiat he carries within himself him that was 
crucified, we cotnmand, that he be carried bound by 
soldiers to Great Rome, there to be thrown to the 
wild beasts, for the entertainment of the people." 
' The learned Scaliger was puzzled to conceive what 
could induce Trajan to order his being sent so long 

' * SjB« the Acts of Ignatius ; and the preface of the Irfe of 
Ijgnatius prefixed to a Tragedy written by Mr. Gambold, which 
represents the spirit of primitive Christianity. The tragedy, 
ponsidered as a composition, is unequal; but it contains m«ny 
beautiful passages. ^ 

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a journey for execution. It might seem m(»^ natural 
ior him to have directed that he should suffer in the 
view of i)is own flock, in order to deter them from 
Christianity. But Trajan might think the exapiple 
much more striking and extensive, by using the 
method wliich he took. At any rate, Providence 
undoubtedly displayed, in this way, much more abun- 
dantly the honours of the cross, as will appear by what 
follows. — Tlie doctrine of Union with Christ by faith, 
DOW so mucli ridiculed, appears here in its full glory : 
And if ever we be called to scenes like these, we shall 
feci the need of it strongly, and be sensible of the 
impotence of those schemes of mere human inven- 
tion, which are often substituted in its room Christ 
within can alone support the heart in the hour of 
severe trial: The boasted moral vhrtue of proud 
philosophers is radically defective and unsound. 

The scene before us is august ; and the state of 
Christendom at that time is much illustn«ted by it. 
The seven epistles of this great man, undoubtedly 
genuine as they are, and accurately distinguisiied 
torn all corrupt interpolations *, will come in aid to 
the Acts of his martyrdom : By them he being dead, 
yet speaketb ; and wliat the Gospel can do for men, 
who reaUy believe it, and feel the energy of the Spirit 
of its divine Author, haa not often been naore illustri-' 
ously displayed. 

From Antioch he was hurried by bis guards to 
Seleucia: Sailing thence, after great fatigue hs 
aiTived at Smyrna. While the ship remained in port, 
he was allowed the pleasure of visiting Polycarp, 
who was bishop of the Christians there. They bad 
been fellow-disciples of St. John ; and the holy joy of 
their interview may he conceived by such persons a^ 
know what the love of Christ is, and how it operates 
in the breasts of those in whom be dwells. Deputies 
were sent from the various churches of Asia to attend 

•••Arehbisbop Usher bas preserved, or rather restored, theM 
Epistles id us. 

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and console him, and to receive some benefit by his 
spiritUHl communications. Bbhops, presbyters, and 
deacons conversed with him : a general convocation 
seems to have taken place. — Four of Ignatius s seven 
epibtles were written from Smyrna, to the Churches 
of Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, and Rome. 

The Church of Ephesus appears, from his epi^le 
to them, still to have maintained its character of 
evangelical purity. Their zeal indeed had decayed^ , 
but was revived : and the rage of |>ersecutioa was 
the hot-bed, which reanimated their souls, and made 
them fruitful again in faith, hope, and charity. The 
very titles, by which he addresses them, demonstrate 
what their faith was in common widi that of the whole 
Church at that time ; and abundantly show the vanity 
of those, whose dislike of the peculiar truths of 
Christianity induces them to suppose, that the ideas 
of predestination, election, and grace, were purely 
the systematic mventions of Au^ustin, and unknown 
to the primitive Christians. — We are certain, that 
St Paul's epistles, and that particularly addressed 
to this Church, are full of the same things. 

^* Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to tiie 
worthily happy Church in Ephesus of Asia, blessed 
in the majesty and frilness of God the Father, pre- 
destinated before the world to be perpetually perma- 
nent in glory, immoveable, united, and elect in the 
genuine suffering for the truth *, by the will of the 
lather, and of Jesus Christ our God, much joy in 
Jesos Christ, and in his spotless grace." The cha- 
racter, which he gives of their bishop Onesimus, raises 
our idea of him to a great degree. He calls him 
" inexpressible in. charity, whom I beseech you to love 
according to Jesus Christ, and all of you to imitate 
him. Blessed be his name, who has counted ycHi wor- 
thy to enjoy such a bishop." With him he honourably 
mentions fdso some presbyters or deaccms of thdr 
Church, " Throu^ whom," says he, " I have seen 
* Allttdiog, doubtless, to the errors of the DoceUp. 

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CHAP, you all in love." Oncsimus probably was the fuo^itive 
'- , slave of Philemon, a growing plant in St Paurs 

The unaffected charity and humility of Ignatius 
deserve our attention. He alone seemed uncon- 
scious of his attainments, while the whole Christian 
world adniired him. " I do not, says he, dictate to 
you, as if I were a person of any consequence. For 
though I am bound for the name of Christ I am not 
yet perfected in Christ Jesus. For now I begin to be 
a disciple, and speak to you as my teachers. For I 
•ought to be sustained by you in faitih, in admonition, 
in patience, in long suffering. But since charity wiH 
not suffer me to be silent concerning you, for this 
reason I take upon me to exhoit you to run together 
with me according to the mind of God." 

Nothing lies more on his heart in all his epistles, 
than to recommend the most perfect union of the 
members of tlie Church, and to reprobate schisms 
and dissensions. He represents the Christians as all 
united to Jesus Christ ; all partaking of the ;ame 
spiritual life. To separate from the Church ; and to 
lose that subordination in which they stood to their 
pastors, was to tear in pieces the body of Christ, 
and to expose themselves to the seduction^ of those 
who would draw them from the faith and hope of 
the Gospel. In modem times this language is judged 
not very consonant to the spirit of liberty, on 
which we are so apt to felicitate ourselves. And I 
am perfiuaded, that the strong manner, in which 
submission to the Bishop is inculcated, has been 
the most weighty argument with several persons to 
encourage themselves in doubts of the authenticity of 
these pieces. But to doubt the genuineness of these 
epistles ou this account, is to be the slaves of 
prejudice. Usher, and after him Vossius, have suf- 
ficiently distinguished the genuine from the false and 
,. ttie interpolated : and the testimony of antiquity, an4 
the ^reemcnt of the epistles, as thu^ purified, with 

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the quotations of the antients, render them superior cent. 
to all exceptions*. 

The circumstances in which the Churches were, 
sufficiently justify the strong expi^essions of Ijgjnatius. 
Heretics of various kinds abounded : and their speci- 
ous artifices were likely to seduce the minds of the 
weak. What then could be so just a preservative to 
them, as to stick close to the society of their faithful 
pastors, the successors of the Apostles? Humility 
is the guard of real Christian goodness : nothing 
but the want of it could have tempted them to desire 
a separation : and in every age the same conduct 
toward godly pastors is, doubtless, the true wisdom 
of the Church : I'he spirit of schism, of ambition, 
of self-conceit, disguising itself under the specious 
pretences of liberty and of conscience, has constantly 
produced the most fatal effects. Ignatius certainly 
would not have wished the Ephesians to follow un- 
sound and unfaithful pastors : but much more caution 
in judging, and a much greater degree of submission 
to ministers confessedly upright, are doubtless requi- 
site, than many persons in our days are willing to 
admit. — " Let no one," says Ignatius, "mistake; — If 
any man is not within the altai', he is deprived of the 
bread of God. U the prayer of one or two has so 
much strength, how much more that of the IJishop 
and of the whole Church? He, who separates from 
it, is proud, and jondemns himself: For it is written, 
God resistetli the proud. Let us study therefore obe- 
dience to the Bishop, that we may be subject to God. 
And the more silent and gentle any one observes the 
Bishop to be, the more on that account should he 
reverence him. Every one, to whom the Master 
commits the stewardsliip, ought to be received as the 
Master himself." — " Indeed,' says he, " Onesimu3 

• I shall not enter into so large a field of criticism : — whoever 
has leisure and temper suOicient for the subject, may read with 
advantage l)u Pin's statement of the controversy concerning 
Ignatius's epistles; and may tlience, 1 believe, learn all that is 
ntedful to be known concerning it. 

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exceedingly commends your go3ly order : — and that 
you live according to truth, and that no heresy dwella 
with you" — ** Some indeed, with much ostentation, 
make specious but fallacious pretensions, whose 
works are unworthy of God, whom you ought to 
avoid as wild beasts. For they are raging dogs, 
biting in secret, whom you should shun, as being 
persons very difficult to be cured. One physician 
there is bodily and spiritual, begotten and unbegotten, 
God appearing in flesh, in immortal true life, both 
from Mary and from God, — first suffering, — then 
impassible — ** I have known some who went firom 
this placed whom you did not suffer to sow tares 
among you : you stopped your ears; so that you 
would not receive their seed, as being stones of the 
temple of your Father, prepared for the building of 
God Ae Father, lifted up into heavenly places by 
the engine of Jesus Christ, which is his cross, using 
the H^y Spirit as a cord." — " Yet pray earnestly 
for other men without ceasing; for there is hope of 
conversion in them, that they also may be brought 
to God. Give them an opportunity to be instructed, 
at least, by your works." — " Without Christ, think 
nothing becoming; — in whom I carry about my 
bonds, — spiritual jewels; — in which may I be found 
at the resurrection through your prayer, that my lot 
may be cast among the £phesian Christians, who 
have always harmonized with the. Apostles in the 
power of Jesus Christ!" 

" Ye are partakers of the mysteries with Paul 
the holy, the renowned, the blessed, whose footsteps 
may 1 follow !" — " Neglect not assemblies for 
thanksgiving and pra3^r : For when you assiduously 
attend on these things, the powers of Satan are 
demolished, and his pernicious kmgdom is dissolved 
by the unanimity of your faith" — " Remember me, 
as Jesus Christ also does you. Pray for the Church 

^ From Smyrna, I suppose, where the heresy of the Docet# 
was more commcin* 

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in Syria, whence I am led bound to Rome, — the cent. 
meanest of the faithful who are there." . '^'• 

I know not how the reader may conceive ; but, 
to my mind, under all the disadvantages of a style 
bloated with Asiatic tumour, and still more perfmps 
of a Text very corrupt, the Ideas contained in these 
passages of Ignatius's epistle — and indeed the great- 
est part of it is little inferior to this specimen, — 
while they represent partly the faith, discipline, and 
spirit of the Ephesian Church, and partly the chari- 
table and heavenly mind of the author, give the fairest 
pattern of real Christianity alive in its root and in 
Us fi-uits. We see here what Christians once were, 
and what the doctrines of divine grace are. And that 
happy union, order, and peace, which flourishetl so 
long at Ephesus, untainted with heresy, and ever pre* 
serving the simplicity of reliance on the Lord Jesus 
Christ, calls for our commendation of their obedience 
to their faithful pastors ; — the want of a tender con- 
scientiousness in which matter, so soon dissi|)ate» 
the spirit of the Gospel in many modern Churches, 
and favours very much the growth of a contrary 
. spirit of fickleness, turbulence, and self-importance; 
which, at the same time that it .feeds the pride oif 
corrupt nature, reduces large societies of Christians 
into contemptible little parties at variance with one 
another, and leaves them an easy prey to the crafty 
and designing. 

The letters of Ignatius add something to the stock 
of history, as they mtroduce to our acquaintance the 
two Asiatic Churches of Magnesia and Tralles, which 
• else had been unkno^^n to us. In truth, that whole 
fertile region pf Asia propria seems to have been 
more thoroughly evangelized than any other part of 
the world at that period. From the time of St Paufs 
labours at Ephesus, "when all they, which dwelt in 
Asia, heard the word of tl)e Lord Jesus, both Jews 
and Greeks *,** to the martyrdom of Ignjjttius, — that 
♦ Acts, xix. lo. 

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is for half a century or upwards, — the truth as it ii 
in Jesus was preserved in its purity in these Churches : 
The opposers of the Gospel could gain no footing 
at all in some of them : In others they made no 
great, or at least, no abiding impressions : In some 
tiie fervour of piety was much declined ; and in 
others it still retained a considerable strength. A 
strong sense of the infinite value of Jesus in his 
Godhead, his priesthood, and his blood, prevailed in 
this region : Faith and love were fed by the view of 
the Saviour ; and patience in suffering for his name 
was one of their most common virtues. 

Damas, the Bishop of Magnesia^ was a young 
person, whom Ignatius calls "worthy of God, 
Eminent grace in persons of tender years was some- 
times in the primitive Church distinguished by their 
advancement to the Episcopacy. In his letter to 
the Magnesians, he warns them not to despise hi» 
youth, but to imitate the holy Presbyters, who gave 
place to him, but not to him so properly, as to ^e 
Father of Jesus Christ — **Some persons, indeed, 
call a man a Bishop, but do every thing indepen- 
dently of him. Such seems to me to have lost a good 
conscience, because their assemblies are not regulated 
with stedfastness ar>d Christian order." He mentions 
also with honour Bassus and Apollonius as Presby- 
ters, and Sotio the deacon, " whose happiness," 
says he, " may I partake of! because he is subject, 
to the Bishop, as to the grace of God, and to tlie 
presbyterj^ as to ttie law of Jesus Christ" 

Here, as elsewhere, he evidently points out three 
distinct ranks in the primitive Church, — tlie Bishop, 
the Presbyters, and the Deacons. A blind and im- 
plicit submission to a hierarchy, however corrupt, 
worthless, and ignorant, was then unknown. But a 
just and regular subordination, according to the ranks 
of men in the Church, was much attended to ; and 
nothing like it, humanly speaking, so much encou- 
rages and enables godly pastors to discharge their 

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oflSce with zeal and alacrity. Nor is it difficult to 
conceive, what was the most customary mode of 
church-government in those times. In vain, I think^ 
witi almost any modern church whatever set up a 
claim to exact resemblance. Usher's model of re- 
duced Episcopacy seems to come the nearest to the 
plan of the primitive Churches. At first indeed, or 
for some time, church governors were only of two 
ranks, Presbyters and Deacons : At least, this ap- 
pears to have been the case in particular instances i 
as at Philippi* and at Ephesusf: and the term 
Bishop was confounded with that of Presbyter. The 
Church of Corinth continued long in\his state ; so 
£»* as one maiy judge by Clement's epistle ; and 
thence we may in part account for the continuance 
of their conte^itious spirit. As these Churches gre^ 
numerous, they could never be all assembled in one 
place : the Presbyters must have ministered to dif-* 
ferent congregations, though the Church continued 
one. Toward the end of the first century, all the 
churches followed the model of the nriotber-church 
of Jerusalem, where one of the Apostles was the 
first Bishop. A settled presidency obtained, and the 
name of Angel was first ^ven to the supreme ruler^ 
though that of Bishop soon succeeded. That this 
was the case in the seven churches of Asia, is cer- 
tain. The address of the charges to him in the book 
of the Revelation demonstrates his superiority. The 
Deacon, it is well known, was chosen to administer 
in sacred employmaits of an inferior kind. These 
three ranks appear to have been general through the 
ChristiaQ world in tiie former part of this century. 

It has been an error common to all parties, to 
treat these lesser matters, as if they were jtjRE di- 
TiNO, or like tiie laws of the Medes and Persians, 
umdterabte. Could it, however, conveniently be 
done, it may perhaps be true that a reduced Epis^ 
eopacy, in which the Dioceses are of small extent, 
• Ch. i. PWipp. t A^ XX. 17. 


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as those in the primitive Cliureh undoubtedly wefC, 
and in which the President, residing in tlie metro- 
polis, exercises a superintendency over ten or twelve 
presbyters of the same city and neighbourhood, 
would bid the fairest to promote order, peace, and 

But the Christian world has been more anxious 
to /Support different modes of government, than to 
behave as Christians ought to do in each of tlieui. 
A subject of much greater importance is suggested 
to us by a passage in the epistle to the Magncsiang, 
" As tbere are two coiiis, one of God, tlie othei* 
of thej world, and each of them is impressed with 
iti; pwn character : the unbelievers are of this world, 
tb^ believers in Iqve have tlie cliaracter. of God the 
Tatjier through Jesus, into whose sutferings if we 
are unvyilling to die, his life is not in us." Thus 
does Ignatius call our attention to the grand dis- 
tinction of men into two sorts before God ; of which, 
whoever has (felt ]tl*ei force, will be Ultle solicitous 
concerning other distinctions. 

Let us. hear Ignatius's testimony to the Deity of 
Christ, aod to justi6cation by his Grace tlirough 
faith, and to the constant influences of tlie Holy 
Spirit : And we may observe at the same tiiue, how 
the Jewish leaven of self-righteousness had not 
ceased, to attempt at least, to darken, and to cor- 
rupt those essentials of tlie Gospel. The religion 
of the Jews, indeed, must have been at this time in 
a very low state; y^t the same Pharisaism is so 
congenial to tlie hufnan mind, that ministers in all 
ages will see occasion to warn tlieir people against 
k, as Ignatius did. ... 

" Be not deceived with heterodox opinions, nor 
- old unprofitable fables. For if we still live accord- 
ing to Judaism^ we confess that we have not received 
Grace. For the Divine Prophets lived according 
to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this they were 
persecuted, being inspired by his grace, to assure the 

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disobedient, that there is one Godj who manifested cent. 
himself by Jesus Christ his Son, who is his Eternal ^ ^^^ 
Word — If then they have cast off indeed their old 
principles, and are come to a new hope in Christ, 
let them no longer observe the Jewish Sabbath, but. 
live according to the resurrection of the Lord*, in 
whose resurrection from the dead our resurrection 
also is ensured, by him and by his death, which some 
deny ; — through whom and by whom we have re- 
ceived the mystery of believing; and on account of 
this we enduje, that we may be found disciples of 
Jesus Christ our only teacher. How can we live 
without him, whose disciples even the prophets were ? 
for jn spirit they expected him as their teacher. — 
Let us not then be ini^n^ible of his loving-kindness : 
For if he measured to us according to what we have 
done, we should ire ruined. Therefore being his 
disciples, let us learn to live according to Chris- 
tianity : he who follows any other name than this, 
is not of God. Lay aside then the old bitter leaven, 
and be transformed into a new leaven, which is Jesus 
Christ — For Christianity is not converted to Judaism, 
but Judaism to Christianity, that every tongue con- 
fessing God might be gathered together. — ^These 
things I warn you, my beloved, not because I have 
known some of you thus ill disposed ; but, as the 
{east of you, I am willing to admonish you, that ye 
M\ not into the snares of vain-glory, but that ye 
may be well assured of that nativity, suffeiing, and 
resurrection, during the government of Pontius 
Pilate, of which literally and really Jesus Chrbt was 
the subject, who is our hope, from which may none 
of you be turned aside I — I know that ye are not 
puffed up, for ye have Jesus Christ in yourselves ; 
and the more I praise you, the more I know that 
ye will be lowly minded." — Beautiful view of their 
genuine humility i 

'^ Study then to be confirmed in the doctrine? of 

* Rp^Mumv ^r— A manifest intimation to them to observe 
the Lord's Day. 

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the Lord and the Apostles, that in all things which 
ye do, ye may have good success in flesh and spirit, 
m fiaith and love, in the Son, and the Father, and 
the Spirit — Knowing that ye are full of God, I have 
briefly exhorted you. Remember me in your prayers, 
that I may come to God, and to the Church in 
Syria, of which I am unworthy to be called a mem- 
ber. For I need your united prayer in God, and 
your charity, that the Church in Syria may be 
thought worthy to partake of the dew of heavenly 
grace through your Church. The .Ephesians at 
Smyrna, whence I write, together with Polycarp, 
Bishop of the Smyrneans, and the rest of the 
Churches in the honour of Jesus Christ, salute you : 
They live as in the presence of the glory of God, as 
ye do also, who have refreshed me in all things : 
Continue strong in the concord of God : — Possess 
a spirit of union in Jesus Christ'' 

From Smyrna he wrote also to the Church of 
Tralles, the Bishop of which was Polybius, *• who 
so rejoiced with me," says he, "that I beheld all 
your multitude in him. Receiving therefore your 
divine benevolence through him, 1 seemed actually 
to find you, as I have known you to be, followers 
of God. For since ye are subject to the Bishop as 
to Jesus Christ, you appear to me to live, not after 
man, but after Jesus Christ ; who died for us, that 
believing in his death you might escape death." 

In what follows we have an intimation of the weak 
and infant state of this Church ; which, though sound, 
had probably not been so long planted as the rest. 
And the martyr seems to express some conscious- 
ness of superior attainments and gifts, but checked 
with deep humility. 

'* I have a strong savour of God ; but I take a 
just measure of myself, lest I perish by boasting. 
For now I must more abundantly fear, and not 
attend to those who would inflate me with pride — I 
love indeed to »ufler, but do not know wbi^her 
I am worthy. — I need gentleness of spirit, by which 

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the prince of this world is subdued. Cannot I 
write to you of heavenly things? — Ye are infants; 
and I fear lest I should hurt you: — I fear lest, 
through incapacity of receiving stronger meat, ye 
should be injured in your spiritual growth." — Ha 
goes on to guard them against schisms and heresies, 
to remind tliem of the foundation of the Gospel, 
Christ and him crucified ; and, in his usual man* 
ner, to recommend obedience to their pastors: — 
He modestly thus concludes, — " As yet I am not 
out of the reach of danger ; but the Father is faith* 
ful in Jesus Christ to fulfil my petition and yours, 
in whom may we be found blameless ! " 

The subject of his letter to the Roman Christians 
was, to iutreat them not to use any methods for his 
deliverance. — He had the prize of martyrdom before 
him, and he was unwilling to be robbed of it. — He 
speaka with uncomnKm pathos ; 

" I fear your charity, lest it should mjure me. It 
will be easy for you to do what you wish : But, it 
will be dUhcult for me to glorify God, if I should 
be sp«^ through your iotreaties.'—If you be silent 
in my behalf, 1 shall be made partaker of God; but 
if you love to retain me in the flesh, I shall again 
have my course to run. — I write to the Churches, 
and Signify to them all, that I die willingly for God, 
unless you prevent me : I beseech you, that you 
show not an unreasonable love toward me : Suffer 
me to be the food of beasts, by wiiich means I shall 
attain to the kingdom of God. Rather encourage 
the wild beasts, that they may become my sepulchre ; 
that nothing of my body way be left ; that 1 may 
fflve no trouble to any one, when I &11 asleep, — 
From ^rria to Rome, I fight with wild beasts — in 
homan Ibrm, — by land and sea, by night and day^ 
chained to ten leopards, who are made even worse 
by kind treatment fiy their injuries I learn the 
nxne to be a disciple of Jesus^ — yet am I not hereby 
justified, idaj I enjoy the real wild bea:^ which 


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CHAP, are prej'yared for me : May they exercise aU thdr 
^* fierceness lipon me! I will encourage them, that 
they may assuredly devour me, and not use me as 
some, whom they have feared to touch. But if th^ 
will not do it willingly, I will provoke them to it: — 
Pardon me, — I know what is good for me. Now I 
begin to be a disciple : nor shall any thing move 
me, of things visible and invisible : — Let fire and the 
cross, let the companies of wild beasts, let breaking 
of bones and tearing of limbs, let the grinding of 
the whole body, and all the malice of the Devil 
come upon me ; be it so, only may I enjoy Jesus 
Christ! All the ends of the world, and the king- 
doms of it will profit me nothing : It is better for me 
to die for Jesus Christ, than to reign over the ends 
of the earth : Him I seek who died for us : Him I 
desire who rose again for us : He is my gain laid up 
for me : — Suffer me to imitate the Passion of my 
God. If any of you have Him within you, let him 
conceive what I feel, and let him sympathize with 
me, and know what a conflict I have. The prince 
of this world wishes to corrupt my purpose toward 
God : Let none of you present assist him : My 
worldly affections are crucified : The fire of Gods 
love bums within me ; and cannot be extinguished t 
It lives : It speaks, and sajrs, * Come to the Father.' 
I have no delight in the bread that perisheth, nor in 
the pleasures of this life : I long for the bread of 
God ; the flesh of Jesus Christ of tlie seed of David : 
and I desire to drink his blood, — incorruptible love,r 
Certainly no words can express in a stronger 
manner the intenseness of spiritual desire: and one 
is disposed to look down with contempt and pity oq 
the magnanimity of secular heroes and patriots, as 
compared with it Yet I have some doubt, whether 
all this flame, strong and sincere as it unquestion- 
ably was, had not something mixed with it by no 
means of so pure a kind. For I would not carry 
the reader's admiratbn or my ovm .beyond the limifci. 

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of human imbecility. — Ought not the Roman Chris- cent. 
tians to have endeavoured to save Ignatius's life by ^^' 
ail honest means ? — Has any man a right to hinder 
others from attempting to save the life of the inno- 
cent? — or, Will his intreaties give them a right to 
be as indifferent for his preservation as he himself 
is ? — Oujiht not every man, however prepared for 
death, and preferring it, if God please, to use alt . 
possible nielhods, consistent with a good conscience, 
to preserve his life ? 

I cannot answer these queries to the advantage of 
Ignatius's determination. Was not his desire of 
martyrdom excessive? If he was wrong, it was 
douUless a mistake of judgment. I fear the example 
of Ignatius did harm in this respect in the Church. 
Martyrdom was, we know, made too much of in the 
third century : — so hard is it to be kept from all ex- 
tremes :-^ouRS are generally of the opposite kind. 

These reflections are suggested, in part, by the 
example of St Paul. He, indeed, "would go to 
Jerusalem," though he knew he should be bound. 
But the certainty of death was not before his eyes, 
and therefore his resolutbn, in this case, is not si- 
milar to that of Ignatius. As for the rest, he took 
no pains to dissuade others from saving his life : He 
took pains to save it himself : He blames his friends 
at Rome for deserting him : And that eagerness for 
martyrdom which Ignatius expresses, I see neither 
in Paul nor in any of the Apostles. They rather 
refer themselves calmly to the will of God in things 
which concern themselves. On the whole, there 
appears in Ignatius, the same zeal for God and 
love to Jesus Christ, and tlie same lioly contempt 
of earthly things, which was so eminent in the 
Apostles ; but, I suspect, not an equal degree o( 
calm resignation to the Divine Will. 

The time which he was allowed to spend at 
Smyrna, in company with his beloved Polycarp and 
Other ^ieikU, must have been highly agreeable le 

M 4 

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him. But bis keepers were impatient of their long 
stay : the reasons were, most probably, of a maritime 
nature. The season, however, for the public spec- 
tacles at Rome was advancing, and, perliaps, they 
were afraid of not arriving in time. They now set 
sail for Troas, where, at his arrival, he was refreshed 
with the news of the persecution ceasing in the 
Church of Antioch. He had been attended hither 
by Burrhus, the deacon of Polycarp; and him he 
dispatched with an epistle to the Philadelphians, by 
Way of return for the visit which their Bishop had 
paid him at Troas. For here also several churches 
sent their messengers to visit and to salute him : and 
Providence so far restrsined the inhumanity of his 
guards, that he was allowed to have intercourse 
with them. — He wrote three epistles m<He at this 

The Philadelphians, from his account, were still 
favoured with the same spirit of grace, by which they 
had been already so honourably distinguished among 
the seven churches of Asia. He recommends, as 
usual, unity, concord, obedience ;— ^not that he had 
* f^und any thing amiss in them, in these respects. 

One may form some idea of the manner in which 
these primitive Christians enjoyed the grace of God, 
and admired and loved it, as it appear^ in one ano* 
ther, by his way of speaking of the Philadelpbiaii 
Bishop, whose name is not given to us, *^ whom,'' 
says he, " I know to have obtained the ministry, not 
by any selfish or worldly means or motives, but 
for the common good of saints ; nor through vain* 
glory ; but from the love of God the Father, and the 
Lord Jesus Christ I am perfectly charmed with 
his meekness : When silent, he exhibits more power 
than vain speakersy" 

He recommends to them to preserve an unity in 
the administration of the Lord's Supper : '' For there 
is one body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and ooe cup 
m the unity of his blood ; one altouv ^ cdm cm 

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Bbbop, with the Presbytery and the Deacons my cent. 
fellow-servants. — Whatever ye do, do all according ^ /[' 
to the wiU of God." 

The firomess of Christian fiuth, and his zeal 
against the spirit of self-righteousness, are observ* 
able in the following passage. *' If any interpret 
Judaism to you, hear him not. For it is better to 
hear the Gospel from a circumcised person, than 
Judaism f)X>m an uncircumcised one. But if both 
speak not of Jesus Christ, they are to me pillars 
and sepulchres of the dead, on which are written 
only the names of men.—The objects dear to me 
are Jesus Christ, his cross, his death, his resurrec- 
tion, and the faith which is in him ; by which T de* 
sire, through your prayer, to be justified.'' He begs 
them to send a Deacon to Antioch, to congratulate 
his people on the cessation of persecution. Toward 
tiie conclusion be speaks of Philo, the deacon from 
Cilicia, who ministered to him, together with Aga« 
thopes, a choice saint, who renouncing the world, 
had followed him from Syria. 

He wrote also from Troas to the Smyrneans, and 
his commendations of them are consonant to the 
character they bear iri the book of the Revelation. 
They had w^itbered the storm of persecution, which 
was there predicted, and had probably enjoyed the 
ministry of Polycarp from St. John's time. The most 
striking thing in this epistle, is the zeal with which 
he warns them against the Docetse. In his view the 
evil of their heresy consisted in taking away the 
atoning blood of Christ, and the hope of a blessed 
resurrecticm : — Let modem Divines hear him, and 
be in^nicted. ^' I glorify Jesus Christ our God, 
who hath given you wisdom. For I understand, that 
you are perfect in the immoveable friith of our Lord 
Jw» Christ ; who re a lly was of the seed of David 
acoMrdifig to the fiedi, and bom of a virion really ; 
—who REALLY soffcred under Pontius Pilate. — 
For these things he su&red for us, that we might bo 

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saved. And he truly suffered; as also he trxjlV 
raised up himself: not as some infidels say that he 
SEEMED to suffer. — 1 forewarn you of those beasts^ 
who are in the shape of men ; whom you ought not 
only not to receive, but if possible not even to meet 
M'ith. Only you ought to pray for them — if they 
may be converted, — which is a difficult case. — But 
Jesus Christ, our true lifie, has power to save to the 
uttermost" — A humble and thankful sense of the 
unspeakable value of Christ, leads naturally to this 
charitv, and tlie want of it leaves men alwavs, undeF 
tlie api)earance of candour, to a cruel insensibility of 
heart and an qndistinguishing scepticism. It seems, 
that these heretics, with the usual aitifices of such 
persons, laboured to work themselves into the good 
graces of Ignatius. He sees through their designs, 
and says,: — *' for what does it profit me, if any man 
commend me, and yet blaspheme my Lord, denying 
him to have come in the flesh r — Tht^ separate from 
the JCucharlst and from prayer, because they confess 
not the Eucharist to be the body of our Saviour 
Jesus Christ, who suffered for our sins. — ^They who 
contradict . the gift of God, die in their reasoningis/ 
— Union with the Bishop lie strenuously insists on. 
^' It is not lawful without the Bishop, to baptize, 
or .to make a love feast" 

We see the practice of true Christians in those 
times. They carefully separated themseltes firom 
heretics : they beheld their views with borcor : , they 
stuck close to Christ. — His Godhead, Manhood, 
Atonement, Priesthood, were inestimably pirecious 
in their eyes. They could not allow those to be 
Christians at all, who denied the fundarafentais : In 
fine, they preserved order and close connection with 
their pastors : tliey did notliing in religion without 
them. — These were the means of protecting tnilb 
among them : and the long course of evangplic^ 
prosperity in these Churches, under God> may be 
•scribed to the use of these means* . . 

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One tetter only remains to be mentioned, — that c^nt. 
to Polycarp, — It contains a just picture of pastoral 
integrity, wisdom, and charity : 'i he whole of it de- 
serves to be studied by all ministers. Tlie more holy 
any Pastor is, the more will he be sensible of the need 
of divine wisdom and strength. — The disadvantages 
in which a poor sinful worm is involved, who has to 
contend against the united powers of the world and 
the devil, amidst the corrupt workings of his own 
nature, the open opposition of the profane, and the 
faults of God's own people, cannot even be con- 
ceived by a mere secular Clergy, intent only on ease 
and prelerment, or, at best, on literary indulgences 
and external decorum : as littie will they be con- 
ceived by those ambitious and turbulent teachei^, 
who are so swallowed up in poUtical dreams, as to 
forget that Christ's kingdom is not of thb world. 

** I exhort thee, by the grace with which thou 
art clothed, to apply thyself to thy course of duty; 
and to admonish all, that tiiey may all he saved. 
Do justice to thy statbn in all diligence^ both tem- 
NDoral and spiritual : Be studious of that best of bles- 
\m^ unity : Bear with all, as also the Lord doth 
wflb thee : Bear with all in charity, as indeed thou 
aim dost. Find time for prayer without ceasing : 
Ask for more understanding than thou hast at pre- 
sent : Watch, — and possess a spirit ever attentive : 
Speak to each separately,, as Almighty God shall 
enable thee to do : Bear with the diseases of all, as 
a perfect combatant: — ^The more labour, the more 
reward. — If thou love only the obedient disciples, 
thou evidencest no grace : Rather bring into orderly 
subjection the turbulent through meekness ; Every 
wound is not cured by the same metiiod of appli- * 
cation : Watdi as a divine wrestler : Thy theme is 
immortality and eternal life. — Let not those who 
seem experienced Christians, and are yet unsound 
in the faith, stagger thee: Stand firm as an anvil 
continually struck. It is the character of a gi:eat 

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wrestler to be mangled, — and yet to conquer : — Be 
more studious than thou art : Consider the times; 
and expect him who is above all time, who is un* 
connected with time, the Invisible one made visible 
for us, — the impassible, but passible for us; who 
bore all sorts of suffCTings for us. — Let not widows 
be neglected : Next to the Lord, do thou take care 
of them : I-et notliing be done without thy cogni- 
zance : Do thou nothing without the mind of God« 
— Let assemblies be more frequently held: Seek 
out all by name : Despise not slaves of either sex ; 
yet let them not be puffed up, but serve more faitli* 
fully to the glory of God, that they may obtain a 
better liberty from God : Let them not desire to be 
set at liberty at the charge of the Church, lest they 
be found slaves of lust. — If any can remain in chas- 
tity for the honour of the Lord, let them do so with- 
out boasting. If they boast, they are lost : and if 
the man set himself up above the fiishop, he is lost. 
It behoves the married to enter into that connection 
with the consent of the Bishop, that tbe marriage 
may be aiter the will of God, and not to fulfil tbe 
lusts of the flesh." 

From Troas, Ignatius, being brought to Neapolts^ 
passed by Philippi through Macedonia, and that 
part of Epirus, which is next to Epidamnus. Having 
foimd a ship in one of tlie sea-ports, his conductors 
sailed over the Adriatic; and thence, entering into 
tbe Tuscan sea, and passing by several i^ands 
imd cities, at length they came in view of Puteoli, 
which being shown to him, he hastened to go forth, 
desirous to tread in the steps of the Apostle Paul ; 
but a violent wind arising would not permit htm to 
accomplish tliis design. His attendants, the relats^. 
of the martyrdom, say, tiiat the wind then became 
fevourabie for one day and night ; — and that tbey 
were hurried on oHitrary to their wishes: Thet sor-* 
rowed at the thought of being separated from ban : 
but UE rejoiced in the prospect of soon leaving tUo 

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xvorld and departing to his Lord, whom he loved : — ► 
They sailed into the Roman port Ostia; and when 
the unpure sports were at an end, the soldiers began 
to be offended with his slowness ; but the bishop 
joyfully complied with their hastiness^ Ostia was 
some miles from Rome; and he was met by the Ro** 
man Christians, who intimated their strong desire 
for his preservation. Some of them probably had in- 
fluence with the great; and they were willing to 
try it; Ignatius, however, was inflexible. He -was 
brought to Rome, and presented to the Prefect of 
the city. 

When he was led to cxecutioni be was attended Mtityni^^ 
by a number of the bretlwen, and was allowed to ©f 
join in prayer with them. And he prayed to the Son '!"*^ 
of God* in behalf of the Churches, — ^that he would j'^-' 
put a stop to the persecution, and continue the love 
of the brediren toward each other. He was then led 
into the amphitheatre, and speedily thrown to the 
wild beasts. He had here also his wish: The beasts 
were his grave: A few bones only were left, which 
the deacons gathered, carefully preserved, and aiter^^ 
wards buried at Antioch. 

The writers thus conclude: " We have made 
known to you both the day atnd the time of his mar- 
tyrdom, — that being assembled together according to 
that time, we may jointly commemorate the magna- 
nimous martyr of Christ, who trode under-foot the 
devil, and completed the course which he had de- 
voutiy wished in Christ Jesus our Lord, by whom 
and with whom all dory and power be to the Father 
with the blessed Spirit for ever. Amen." 

Usher has preserved, or rather restored to us also 
an epistle of Polycarp to the PhHippians. It breathes 
the same spirit as those of his fel!ow*disciple, but 
has leas pathos and vigour of sentiment. Citations 
from it will be needless. — He begs the Philippians to 

* I use the expression of the Acts : let the reader make the 
obriOQS inferclice for himself. 

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communicate to him what they knew of Ignatiu^^ 
whom they had seen at Philippi, after his departure 
from Smyrna. We hence see how the Cliurches then 
formed one large firaternit)^ abstracted from partial 
views of supporting little factions and interests. He 
exhorts them to obey the word of righteousness, and 
to exercise all patience, which they had seen exem- 
plified in Ignatius, and in others among themselves, 
and in Paul himself, and the rest of tSe Apbstles : 
for these loved not this present world, but him, who 
died and was raised again by God for ui. By his 
account it appears, that the Philippians still retained 
the Christian spirit. — One of the Presbyters, Valens, 
together with his wife, had sinned through covetous- 
ness. — Would to God such spots in the pastoral 
character were as singular in our tinges ! Polycarp 
beautifully expresses his charitable concern for them, 
and exhorts them, in affectionate sympathy, to en- 
deavour to restore their spiritual health. 

These facts and observations throw some light on 
the persecution of Trajan, on the spirit of Christians 
fio far as it can be collected at that time, on the mar- 
tyrdom of Ignatius, and on thesignal glory whichGod 
was pleased to diffuse around it among the Churches. 



Trajan died in the year 117. The latter part 
of his reign had been employed in his great military 
expedition into the East^ whence he lived not to re- 
turn. His exploits and triumphs fall not within my 
province: — I have no concern with him except in 
that line, in which to a Christian he must appear to 
the greatest disadvantage; and out of which, it were 
heartily to be wished, that he had ever given any evi- 
dence of a desire to remove. His successor, Adriaiv 

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appears not to have issued any pereecutmg e(fictei. 
But ttie iniquity of liis predecessor surv<ive<l; and 
Adrian s silent acquiescence for a time, gave it suffix 
cient scope to cxdrt itself in acts of barbarity*. 

In tbe mean time ttie Gospel spread more and 
uaore. A number of Apostolical persons demon- 
strated by their conduct, that the Spirit, whidi had 
influenced the Apostles, re^^ted upon- them. FiUeii 
Mith divine charity, they distributed their substance 
to the poor^aod travelled into rea^ions, which, as yet, 
had not lieani the sound af the Gospel: and having 
planted the faith, they ordained pastors^ committed 
to them the culture of the new ground, and then 
passed into other countries. Hence, numbers through 
grace embraced the doctrine of salvation, at the first 
hearing, with much alacrity f. It is natural to ad- 
mire here the power of the Holy Spirit ^ God in 
the production of so pure and charitable a temper ; 
to contrast it with the illiberal selfishness too preva- 
lent even amon^ tte best in our days ; and to regret 
how little is done for the propagation of the Gospel 
through the world, by nations whose aids of com- 
merce and navigation are so much superior to 
tliose enjoyed by the autients* — One advantage those 
Christians possessed indeed, which we have not : 
They were all one body, one Ciiurch, of one name, 
and cordially loved one another as Brethren : The 
attention to fuudamentals, to real Christianity, was 
not dissipated by schismatic peculiarities, nor was 
the body of Christ rent in pieces by factions : There 
were indeed many heretics ; but real Christians ad- 
mitted tliem not into their communities : the line of 
distinction was drawn with sufficient precision ; and 
a dislike of tlie person or office^ of Christ, and of 
the real spirit of holmess, discriminated the heretics : 
and Separation from them, while it was undoubtedly 

• Tb« j)erwc!ition of the 2d year of Adrian, is commonly 
called the IVtb P^necution of the Christians. 

t.fioseb. B. ill. c. 33, 

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wiisTOiiy OF the church. 
the b^t mark of charity to their souls, tended tx» 
preserve the faith and love of true Christians in 
genuine purity. 

Among these holy men Quadratus M^as much dis« 
languished. He succeeded Publius in the bishopric 
of Athens, who had suffered martyrdom either in 
this or in the foregoing reign. He found the ilock 
m a dispersed and confused state ^: Their publick 
assemblies were deserted : their zeal was grown cold 
and languid : their lives and manners were corrupted ; 
and they sealed likely to apostatize firom Christi- 
anity. Quadratus laboured to recover them with 
much zeal and with equal success f. Order and 
discipline were restored, and with them the holy 
flame of godliness. One of the strongest tesUmo* 
nies of these things, is the account which the famous 
Origen, id the second book of his treatise against 
CebuSi gives of the Athenian Church. While this 
fflreat man is demonstrating the admirable efficacy of 
Christian &ith on the minds of men, be exemplifies 
his positions by this very Church of Athens, on ac- 
count of its good order, constancy, meekness, and 
quietness : — He represents it as infinitely superior in 
these respects to t^e common political assembly in 
tlmt city, which was factious and tumultuary: — He 
affirms th^t it was evident, that the worst parts of 
the Church were better than the best of their popu* 
kur assemblies. This is a very pleasing testimony to 
the growth of Christianity, since the time that a 
handful of seed was sown there by St. Paul : and^. 
let the testimony of so penetrating and sagacious an 
observer as Origen be considered, as one of the many 
proofs that might be ^ven of the happy effect which 
real Christianity hits on human society. To a mind 
not intoxicated with vain ideas of secular glory, the 
Christian part of Athens must appear infinitely more 
happy and more respectable, than that coipmoQ- 
npalth ever had been ia the meridian of it's glory> 

* Euseb. B. iv. c^ ^2. f Cave* s U!h of Qnadratut. 

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Adrian and antoninus tius. 1^7- 

^«^]3ut we hope in future pages to give mufch strohget*' cent. 
proofs of the advantages derived to society from 
the Gospel. 

In the sixth year of his reigrt, Adrian came to 
Athens, and was initiated iti the Eleusinian mysteries. 
This Prince was remarkably fond of Pagan institu- 
tions ; and by this very circumstance demonstrated 
a spirit extremely foreign to Christianity. The per- 
secutors were proceedmg with sanguinary vigour, 
when Quadratus, at length, presented an apology 
to the Emperor, in which he defended the Gospel 
from the calumnies of its enemies ; and ill which 
he particularly took notice of our Saviour s miracles, 
his curing of diseases, and raising of the dead, — 
some instances of which, he says, namely, of persons 
j^sed from the dead, were alive in his time. ' 
' Aristides, a Christian writer at that time in Athens, 
addressed himself also to Adrian in an apology ori 
the same subject. The good sense of the Emperor 
at length was roused to do justice to his innocent 
subjects. The apologies of the two writers may be 
reasonably supposed to have had some effect on his 
i^ind. Yet a letter from Serenius Granlanus, Pro- 
consul of Asia, may be conceived to have moved him 
still more. He wrote to the Emperor, " tliat it 
seemed to him unreasonable, that the Christians 
should be put to deaths merely to gratify the cla- 
mours of the people, without trial, and without any 
crime proved agamst them." This seems the first in- 
stance of any Roman Governor daring publicly to 
suggest ideas contradictory to Trajan's iniquitous 
maxims, which inflicted death on Christians as such, 
abstracted from any moral gui^^. And it seems tO; 
me a sufficient proof, that the severe sufferings of 
Christians at this period, which appear to have been 
very Femarkable in Asia, were more owing to the 
active and sanjguinary spirit of persecution itself, — 
which, from Trajan's example, was become very 
fashionable^ than to any explicit regard to his Edicts. 

VOL. h N 

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We have Adrian's Rescript addressed to Minuclus. 
Fundanus, the successor of Graoianus, whose go- 
vernment seems to have been near to it*s conclusion^ 
when he wrote to the Emperor. 

To Minucius Fundanus. 

" I have received a letter written to me by the 
very illustrious Serenius Granianus, whom you have 
succeeded. — ^To me then the affair seems by no 
means fit to be slightly passed over, that men may 
not be disturbed without cause, and that sycophants 
may not be encouraged in their odious practices. 
If the people of the province will appear publicly, 
and make open charges against the Christians, so as 
to give them an opportunity of answering for them- 
, selves, let them proceed in that manner only, and, 
not by rude demands and mere clamours. For it 
is much more proper, if any person will accuse them, 
that YOU should take cognizance of these matters. 
If any then accuse, and show that they actually break; 
the laws, do you determine according to the nature 
of the crime. But, by Hercules*, if the charge be 
a mere calumny, do you estimate the enormity of 
such calumny, and punish it as it deserves." 

Notwithstanding the obscurity, which I find Dr. 
Jortin and Dr. Lardner suppose to be in this rescript, 
I cannot but think it clearly shows that it was the 
intention of the Emperor to prevent Christians from 
being punished as such. The only reason for hesi- 
tation, which I can see, is the inconsistency of it 
with Trajan's rescript. But it does not appear that 
Adrian intended the conduct pf his predecessor to be 
the model of his ow? ^ and we shall see, in the next 
reign, still clearer proofs of the equity of Adrian's 
views. It is but justice due to this Emperor, to free 
his character from the charge of persecution ; and 

• Thi$ is an Oath, demonstrating only the earnestness of 
tbe writer in his declarations, accor£ng to the nsqal profane* 
Mssofmeii. A 

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Christians of that or of any age could not ol>!€Ct to 
the propriety of being punishc^d equally with other 
men, if they violated the laws of the state. But it is 
the glory of the times we are now reviewing, that 
no men were more innocent, peaceable, and well*^ 
dbposed citizens than the Christians. Yet the enmity 
of men's minds against real godliness, — so natural in 
all ages, — ^laid tJ^em under extreme disadvantaged 
unknown to others, in vindicating themselves from 
unjust aspersions: and this forms, indeed, one of the 
most painful crosses which good men must endure 
in this life. For example, many heretics, who wore 
the name of Christians, were guilty of the most 
detestable enormities : these were indiscriminat^y 
charged by the pagans on Christians in generaL— 
This drcuinstance, in addition to other still more 
important reasons, rendered them careful in pre- 
serving the line of separation distinct : and, by the 
excellency of their doctrine, and the purity of their 
lives, they were enabled gradually to overcome all 
uncandid insinuations. 

There is extant also a letter of Adrian* in which - 
he speaks .of Christian bishops in as respectable a 
manner as of the priests of S^apis; and. of Christ 
tians in general as very numerous at Alexandria. 
Sifice St Mark's time therefore, it is evident, though 
we have scarce any particular accounts, that the 
Gospel must have flourished abundantly in Egypt 

But the same equitable rule of government, which 
ferbad Adrian to punish the innocent Christians^ 
led him to be very severe against the guilty Jews: 
for now appeared Barchocliebas, who pretended 
to be the star prophesied of by Balaam. This 
miBerable p60{^ who bad rejected the true Christy 
received the impostor with open armr; and were by 
him led into horrid crimes ; and amongst the rest 
into a cruel treatment of the Christians f. The issue 

• VopisCQS, b* ii. 67. 

t Justin MartyTi in his first, commonly called second A pology, 
y a observs9 

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CHAP, of the rebelUon was the entire exclusion of the Jew4 
^ J^ , p from the city and territory of Jerusalem. Another 
city was erected in its stead, and called, after the 
emperor s name, -SEIia. This leads us to consider 
how the state of the Mother-church of Jerusalem 
-was affected by tliis great revolution. The Christian 
Jews, previous to the destruction of Jerusalem by 
Titus, as it has been observed, had retired to Pella, 
a little town beyond Jordan, mhabited by Gentiles : 
The unexpected retreat of Cestius had given them 
this opportunity of eflFecting tlieir escape. How 
long they continued here, is uncertain. They must, 
A. t>. however, have returned before Adrian's time, who, 
1 1 7. coming to Jerusalem 47 years after the devastation, 
found there a few houses and a little -Church of 
Christians built on mount Sion. Here the Church 
of Jerusalem kept their solemn assemblies, and 
seemed to have acquired a splendid accession by the 
conversion of Aquila, the emperor s kinsman, whon^ 
he made governor and overseer of the new city. But 
as he continued to pursue hib magic and astrological 
studies, he was excluded from the Church. — A 
strong proof that the Mother-church still retained 
a measure of its pristine purity and discipline ! — 
Corrupt churches are glad to retain persons of emi- 
nence in their communion, however void of the 
spirit of the Gospel. — Aquila, incensed, apostatized 
to Judaism, ^nd translated the Old Testament into 

Eusebius, b. iv. c. 5. gives us a list of the bishops 
who successively presided in Jerusalem. The first 
was the Apostle James, the second Simeon ; both 
whose histories have been recorded. He mentions 
thirteen more ; but we have no account of their cha- 
racters or actions. During all this time something 
judaical seems to have continued in their practice ; 

observi^s that Barchocbebas cru«lly tortured such Christians as 
refused to deny and blaspheme Jesus Christ. 
♦ Cave's Life of Simeon. 

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thoqgb Jewish ideas would naturally decay by de- cent, 
crees. The revolution under Adrian, at length put 
a total end to the Jewish Church, by the extirpation 
and banishment of this people. — ^To such outward 
changes is the Church of Christ subject : a new 
Church, however, arose in iElia, of the Gentiles, 
whose bishop was named Mark. 

Adrian, arfter a reign of twenty-one years, was 
succeeded by Antoninus Pius, who appears to have 
been, at least in his own personal character and 
intentions, always guiltless of Christian blood. It 
was now very difficult for the enemies of Christ to 
support their persecuting spirit, with any tolerably 
specious pretensions: The abominations of heretics, 
whom ignorance and malice will ever confound with 
real Christians, furnished them with son\p: Probably 
these were much exaggerated : but whatever they 
were, the whole Christian name was accused of them. 
They were charged witli incest, and the devouring 
of infants ; and thus a handle was afforded for the 
barbarous treatment of the best of mankind ; till time 
detected the slanders, and men became at length 
ashamed of affecting to believe what was in its own 
nature improbable, and was supported by no evi- 
dence. It pleased God at this time to endow some 
Christians with the power of defending his truth 
by the manly arms of rational argumentation. Justin ;J^'*|"* 
jVIaityr presented hb first Apology to the emperor a.*^d. 
Antoninus Pius, about the third year of his reign, j \q * 
A. D. 146. He was of that class of men, who, in q/ 
those days, were usually called philosophers. His j^q^ 
conversion to Christianity, his views and spirit, his 
labours and sufferings, will deserve to be considered 
in a distinct chapter. Suffice it here to say, that 
the information and arguments, which his first Apo^ 
logy contained, were iK>t in yain. Antoninus was a 
man of sense and humanity. Open to conviction^ 
uncorrupted by the Vain and chimerical philosophy 
<?f the times, he was desirous, of doing justice to all 


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mankind. Asia propria was still the scene of vital 
Christianity and of cruel persecution, — ^Thence the 
Christians applied tp Antoninus; and complained of 
the many injuries which they sustained from the 
people of the country. — Earthquakes, it seems, had 
lately happened ; and the pagans were much terrier 
fied, and ascribed them to the vengeance of Heaven 
against the Christians. We have, both in Eusebius * 
and at the end of Justin's first Apology, the Edict 
sent to the common council of Asia ; every line of 
^vhich deserves attention. 

The Emperor^ to the Common Council of Asia. 

*'^ I am quite of (pinion, that the gods will take 
care to discover such persons. For it much morp 
concerns them to punish those who refuse to worship 
them, than you, if they be able. But you harass 
and vex tlie Christians, and accuse them of Atheism 
and other crimes, i^^ch you can by no means prov^ 
To them ii|; appears an advantage to die for their 
religiont and they gain their point, while they throw 
away their lives, rather than comply with your in* 
junctions. As to the earthquakes which have hap- 
pened in past times, or lately, is it not proper to 
remind you of your own despondency, when ihej 
happen; — and to desire you to compare your spirit 
with theirs, aond observe how serenely they confide 
in Godp In such seasons you seem to be ignorant 
of the gods, and to n^lect their worship: You 
live in the practical ignorance of the supreme God 
himself, and you harass and persecute to death those 
who do worship him. Concerning these same men, 
tome others of the provbcial govemorsi wrote to our 
divine father Adiian, to whom he returned answer, 
-^— ♦ That they should not be molested, unless they 
appeared to attempt something against the Roman 
govermnent' Many also have signified to me con** 

♦ B, iv. u, la, 13, 

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MfDing these men, to whom I have returned an 
toswer agreeable to the maxims of my father. But if 
any person will still persist in accusing the Christians 
tnerely as such, — Let the accused be acquitted, 
though he appear to be a Christian; — and let the 
accuser be punished." — Set up at Ephesus in the 
common assembly of Asia. 

Eusebius informs us, that this was no empty 
edict, but was really put in execution. Nor did this 
emperor content himself with one edict. He wrote 
to the same purport to the Larisseans, the Thessa* 
lonians, the Athenians, and all the Greeks. 

As this prince reigned 23 years, such vigorous 
measures must, after some time at least, have had 
their effect. And we may fairly conclude that during 
a great part of tliis reign the Christians were per- 
mitted to woi-ship God in peace. A few remarks 
on the conduct of this prince, tod on the facts which 
appear on the face of bis edicts may be judged not 

1. There are, it seems, some instances of princes, 
even in antient history, not unacquainted with the 
just principles of religious liberty, which are now 
more generally understood. The most intelligent 
legislator, in any age, never understood the natural 
rights of conscience better than Antoninus Pius. He 
saw that Christians, as such, ought nottobe punish-* 
ed. His subjects, bigoted and barbarous, were far 
itom thinking so ; and it was not till after repeated 
edicts and menaces, that he forced them to cease 
from persecution. 

2. In the conduct of this emperor one may ob- 
serve how fiar human nature can advance in moral 
virtue by its natural resources, while it remains des- 
titute of the grace of God and the superior principle 
of holiness. If the advocates of natural morality, 
considered as abstracted frewm Christianity, were to 
fix on a character the most able to support the weight 
of their cause, it would be their interest tO put it 

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CHAP, ioto the hands of Antoninus Pius. He would defend it, 
not with pompous systems and declamatory flourish^ 
es, but by an amiable, generous, and magnanimous 
conduct. I have been astonished at the character that 
is recorded of him. Doubtless a more distinct and 
explicit detail of his life would lessen our admiratioiu 
We have not the opportunity of knowing him sq 
thoroughly as . we do Socrates and Cicero. The 
former, by the writings of his scholars, the latter by 
his own, are known as minutely as if they were our 
contemporaries. Could the emperor be as accurately 
scrutinized, possibly something of the supercilious 
pride of the Grecian, or of the ridiculous vain-glory 
of the Roman Patriot, might appear. They are both 
allowed to be very eminent patterns of moml virtue; 
but yet, witli all the disadvantages of such imper^ 
feet historians as Victor and Julius Capitolinus, they 
must concede the palm to Antoninus. Despotic 
power, in liis hands, seems to have been only an 
instrument of doing good to mankmd. His tempei* 
was mild and gentle in a very high desree ; yet the 
vigour of his government was as strikms, as if he 
had b^n of the most keen and irritable disposition. 
Hq consulted the welfare of his subjects with great 
diligence : He attended to all persons and things with 
as n^inute an exactness, as if his own private property 
had been concerned*. — Scarce any fault is ascribed 
to him, but that of a temper excessively inquisitive. 
His successor, the second Antoninus, owns, that he 
was religious without superstition; and in particular, 
that he was not superstitious in the worship of th? 
gods. This we have in his Stoical Meditations, still 
extant f. We cannot therefore doubt but that a 
person of this stamp would find opportunities of 
knowing what Christianity was. He certainly did 
know sometliing of it, and he approved of the moraj 

♦ Jali. Capitol. Vit Ant. chap.' 7. See Lardner't Colleo 
tion$, chap. xiv. 

•j- Book vi. c. 30. 

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conduct of Christians. He gives them the most cent, 
honourable character, has no fear of them as disloyal ^* 
or turbulent, and makes comparisc^is between them 
and Pagans to the advantage of the former. From 
an expression in the edict, — " if they be able, "^— one 
might be tempted to suspect, ^at be had very little 
INTERNAL rcspcct for the gods. Were there no 
^ God, no divine providence, and no future state, 
the virtue of this man would doubtless be as com*' 
plete, and as consistent as so absurd an hypothesis 
will permit: — but his case shows, that it is possible, 
by die united influence of good sense and good 
temper, for a man to be extremely beneficent to his 
fellow-creatures without due regard to his Maker. 
Surely — if the holiness of a truly converted Christian, 
and the mere moral virtue of a " natural man," were 
the same things, — ^Antoninus ought to be esteemed 
a Christian. — Yet it does not appear that he ever 
seriously studied the Gospel. — A sceptical careless- 
ness and indifference, not unlike that temper, which^ 
under the names of candour and moderation, has 
now overspread the face of Europe, appears to have 
possessed the mind of this amiable prince : and, while 
he attended to the temporal advantages of man- 
kind, and felicitated himself on his good actions, he 
seemed to forget that he had a soul accountable to the 
Supren^e Being; and scarce to think it possible, 
that it should have any guilt to answer for before 
BiH. The evil of such a contempt of God is what 
mankind are of all things least inclined to discern : 
Yet it is the evil of all others the most vehemently 
opposed in Scripture under the several branches of 
idolatry, unbelief, self-righteousness, and pride. No 
WPhder; — for, wjthput a knowledge of this evil, and 
a humble sense of guilt in consequence, the very 
nature of the Gospel itself cannot be understood. 
The conclusion resulting from this consideration is, 
that godliness is perfectly distinct from mere mo- 
rality: The latter indeed always flourishes where 

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1 86 History ot rat tbxjttln. 

<^^' godliness is ; but it is capable of a sepamt^ eiiM«» 

3. The edict of this good empertf is t singularljr 
Valuable testimony in favour of the Christians of tbafc 
time. It appears that there were then a race of meti 
devoted to the service of Christ, ready to die for his 
name and for his religion : These tnen exemplified 
the superior trorth of their religion by a superior 
probity and innocence of manners, so as to appear 
the best of subjects in the opinion of an emperor of 
the highest candour, mtelli^nce, and acute observa* 
tion. Itiey were pot inferior to the most excellent of 
the heathens in morality : and they possessed, fur- 
ther, — what this emperor confesses their enemies 
were void of, — a sincere spirit of reverence for the 
Supreme Being, — ^an unaffected contempt of death, 
* — and that to which Stoicism pretends, — a real sere- 
nity of mind under the most pressing dangers ; — and 
all this grounded on an unshaken confidence in God^ 
— ^ We cannot but hence conclude — tliat the effusion 
of the Spirit of God, which began at the feast of 
Pentecost, s^as still continued. Christians were so 
IN POWER, and not in name only, by the testi- 
mony of an heathen prince : and those, who would 
substitute the virtue or the morality of fallen man in 
the place of the religion of Christians, would do well 
to consider, that sound virtue and sound morality 
themselves know no support like that of Christiani^. 
^^This divine religion comprehends every possible 
excellence that can be found in all others ; and has,t 
over and above, its own peculiar virtues: — It 
possesses a fund of consolation and an energy of 
support under the prospect of death itself; and it 
points out the only safe and sure road to a blissful 

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This great man was born at Neapolis in Samaria, 
antiently called Sichem. His father was a Gentile^ 
— probably one of the Greeks, belonging to th^ 
colony transplanted thither : He gave his son a phi- 
losophical education. — Justin in his youth travelled 
for the improvement of bis understanding; and 
Alexandria afforded him all the entertainment which 
an inquisitive mind could derive from the fashionable 
studies. The Stoics appeared to him at first tiie 
masters of happiness. He gave himself up to one 
of this sect, till he found he could learn from him 
nothing of the nature of God. It is remarkable — 
as he tells us himself*, — that his tutor informed 
him, — this was a knowledge by no means necessary; 
which fact very much illustrates the views of Dr, 
Warburton, concernuig these antient philosophers : 
namely, that they were Atheists in reality. He next 
betook himself to a Peripatetic, whose anxious desire 
of settling the price of his instructions convinced 
Justin that truth did not dwell with him. A Py- 
thagorean next engaged his attention, who, requiring 
of him the previous knowledge of music, astronomy^ 
^d geometry, dismissed him for the present, wh^a 
be understood that he was unfurnished with those 
sciences. In much solicitude he applied himself to 
fi Platonic Philosopher ; and with a more plausible 
appearance of success from this teacher than from 
any of the foregoing. He now gave himself to re- 
tirement. " As I was walking," says Justin, " near 
the sea, -I was f net by an aged person of a venerable 
appearance, whom I beheld with much attention. 
We soon entered into conversation ; and upon my 

* His dialogue with Tryph^i whence the account of his coi^ 
tersiou is extracted. 

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professing a love for private meditation ; the vene-^ 
rable old man hinted at the absurdity of mere spe- 
culation, abstracted from practice : This," continues 
Justin, " gave occasion to me to express my ardent 
desire of knowing God, and to expatiate on the 
praises of philosophy. The stranger by degrees en- 
deavoured to cure me of my ignorant admiration of 
Plato and Pythagoras : He pointed out the writings 
of the Hebrew Prophets as much more antient than 
any of those called philosophers ; and he led me to 
some view of the nature and of the evidences of 
Christianity: He added, 'Above all things, pray, 
that the gates of light may be opened to you : for 
they are not discernible, nor to be understood by any 
one, except God and his Christ enable a man to 
understand/ He said many other things to the 
same effect : He then directed me to follow his ad- 
vice ; and he left me. I saw him no more ; but — 
immediately a fire was kindled in my soul, and I had 
a strong affection for the Prophets and for those men 
"who are the friends of Christ : I weighed within my- 
self the arguments of the aged stranger ; and, in tlie 
end, I found the divine Scriptures to be the only 
sure phflosophy." — We have no more particulars of 
the exercises of his mind in religion. — His conver- 
sion took place, from this beginning, sometime in 
the reign of Adrian. But he has shown us enough 
to make it evident, tliat conversion was then looked 
upon as an inward spiritual work in the soul, — the 
same work of grace which the Spirit operates at 
this day on real Christians. There appear, in his 
case, an earnest thoughtfulness attended with a strong 
desire to know God, and also an experimental sense 
of his own ignorance and of the insufficiency of 
human resources ; Tlien there appear further, — the 
providential care of God in bringing him under the 
means of Christian instruction, — a direction to his 
soul to pray for spiritual illumination, — the divine 
iiunger created in his heart,— and, ir^ due time, th^ 

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satisfactory comforts and privilegeis of real Chris* tKsr. 
tianity ; which wth him was not mere words and ^' 
declarations ; for he says, He found Cliristianity to " 
have a formidable majesty in its nature, adapted tO 
terrify those who are in the way of transo:ression, as 
well as ' a sweetness, peace, and serenity for those 
who are conversant in it. He owns in another of 
his works* that the example of Christians suffering 
death so serenely for their feith, moved his mind 
not a little : This is an obvious consideration, and 
need not be insisted on ; however worthy it may be 
the notice of those called Philosophers in any age. 
— Justin after his conversion still wore the usual 
philosophic garb, which demonstrates that he re- 
tained, perhaps, too sreat an affection for the studies 
of his youthf : and if I mistake not, he always pre- 
served a very strong tincture of the spirit of philo- 
sophy, though not in such a manner as to prevent 
bis sincere attachment to the Gospel. 

Coming to Rome in the time of Antoninus Pius, 
he there wrote a confutation of the heretics ; parti- 
cularly of Marcion, the son of a bishop bom in 
Pontus ; who, for lewdness J, was ejected from the 
Church and had fled to Rome, where he broached 
errors of an Antinomian tendency. It malces no 
part of my plan to define the systems of heretics ; 
but only to speak of them as they come in my way, 
with a special reference to the opposition, which 
they made to the fundamentals of the Gospel. That 
holiness, *^ without which no man shall see the 
Lord,' and which it was the great desi^ of Christ 
to promote, found in this pretended Christian a cor- 
dial qnemy. Justin, who had tasted of the holy 
nature of the Gospel in his own experience, with- 
stood him both in conversation and' by his writings. 

• Apology second, though misnamed the firtt, in all th^ 
copies of Justin. 

t Cave's Life of Justin. 

I The truth of this charge against his morals has been dis- 
puted, pdsslbly with justice. 

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About the yMr 1 40, he published his excellent Apo# 
logy fofthe Christians, addressed to Antoninus Pius; 
which may reasonably be supposed to have had a 
considerable influence on that emperor s political 
conduct towards the Christians. 

It appears from this performance, that it was com- 
mon to accuse Christians merely as such; and 
to cliarge the faults of any persons, who bore the 
name, on. the whole body. — Thus there is no new 
thing under the Sun.— The term Christian was 
matter of obloquy at that time : Various other terms 
of scoff and contempt have been invented since ; and 
it requires no great degree of rational power to show, 
as Justin has done completely, the absurdity and 
inccmclusiveness of such methods of attacking reli- 
gion, whether they be antient or modern. He takes 
notice alsp of the happy effects which the conduct 
of Christians had then on mankind. " We have 
many instances," says he, '^ to show the powerful 
effects (^example among men : Many persons Imve 
been impressed in fiivour of the Gospel by observing 
the sobriety and temperance of their neighbours, — ' 
or the unparalleled meekness of their fellow-travellers 
under cruel treatment, or the uncommon integrity 
and equiw of those with whom they transacted busi«* 
ness.'' These are fresh proofs of tlie continuance 
of vital reli^n in the time of Justin : — A man 
calling himself a Christian, without any practical 
power of the religion, would scarcely have then beea 
classed among the brethren. I find also fresh proofs, 
in this apology, of the strong line of distinction kept 
up in those days between Christians and hereticsii 
The author observes that the latter were fond of the 
name of Christians, and yet were not persecuted.— 
There was nothing in tbeir s{»rit and conduct that 
provoked persecution.— He takes notice also of the 
small number of Jewish converts in comparison of 
the main body of the nation. But this, he observes,, 
was agreeable to the prophecies of the Old Testa^- 

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rnent He describes likewise the customs of the 
prknidve Christians in public worship, and in the 
i|dministration of the Sacranients, in order co show 
Ihe fiilsehood of the charges generally urged against 
them. "^ 

Not long after his fi^st apology, Justin left Rome 
and went to £phesu% where he had a diacoiirse 
with Trypho the Jew ; — the substance of which he 
has given us in a dialogue. In tliis work he notices 
the common calumnies against Christians, — of theii* 
gating men, — ^of their extinguishing the lights, — and 
of tb^ proopiscuous sensuahty; but treats thes^ 
charges as not credited by men of sense and candour 
among their enemies; and therefore as not meriting^ 
a serious confutation. 

On his retjum to Rome, he had frequent contests 
with Crescens the Philosopher, — a man equally re* 
OMprkable iof malignity to Christians, and for the 
loost horrid vices. Justin nidw presented his second 
apolc^ to M. Antoninus Philosophus, tbe successor 
<^ Pius, and a^ detennined enemy to Christians. He 
bad conceived hopes of softening his ooind toward 
them, as he had done that of his predecessor, — but 
in vain. Marcus was their enemy during his whole 
reign ; and they scarcely ever had an enemy more 
implacable. — The immediate occasion of the second 
apology, as he himself informs the Emperor, was 
this: — 

" A certain woman at Rome had, together with 
b^ husband, lived in extreme profligacy and licen--' 
tionmesa But on her conversion to Christiani^i 
her own conduct being changed^ she endeavoured 
to persuade her husbwd also to imitate her ex« 
ample, by representing to him the punishment of 
eternal fine, which in a future state would be in-r 
flicted on the disobedient. But be persisting in hi^ 
wickedness, she was induced to wish for a separation. 
By.the advice of her friends, she continued, how- 
ever, to live with him; hoping that in process of 

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time he might be brought to repentance, Upori hiS 
coming to Alexandria, he proceeded to greater lengthsl 
of wickedness, so that finding the connection novit 
no longer tolerable, she procured a divorce from 
him. He, not impressed with the happy change 
which had taken place in her dispositions, and un- 
moved with her compassionate attempts to rescue 
him from ruin, accused her of being a Christian. 
Upon which she presented a petition to tou, O 
EMPEROR, that she might have time to dispose and 
regulate her houshold affairs : and she promised that 
after that was done, she woiild answer to the charge ; 
— which petition you granted. The husband, find- 
ing his wife to have gained a respite from his malice^ 
diverted it to another object, —to one Ptolemy, who 
had instructed her in Christianity, and who had been 
punished by Urbicius the Prefect of Rome. He 
persuaded a centurion, his fi-iend, to imprison Pto- 
lemy ; and to ask him whether he was a Christian# 
He, no flatterer or dissembler, ingenuously confessed, 
' and was a long time punished with imprisonment* 
At last, when he was brought before Urbicius, and 
was asked only this question — whether he was a 
Christian, he confessed himself a teacher of the Di- 
vine Trutli. For no true Christian can act otherwise^ 
— ^Urbicius, nevertheless, ordered him to be led to 
execution : Upon this, a Christian, named Lucius, 
expostulated with him on the absurdity of these pro- 
ceedings, — on the iniquity of putting men to death 
merely for a name, abstracted from any one specific 
charge of guilt ; — a conduct unworthy of Emperors 
such as Pius the last, or ^hilosophus the pr^ent* 
or of the sacred Senate. * You too appear to me 
to be of the same sect,' was all that the Prefect 
deigned to reply. Lucius confessed that he was ; 
and was himself led also to execution ; which hei 

* I am aware that the Greek in Justin would make it pixK 
bahle that Pius was then reigning ; but Eusebius's CDntrarj- 
testimony determines me to think oUierwise. 

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bore with triumphant serenity ; declaring that he was cent. 
now going from unrighteous governors to God his ^^' 
» gracious Father and King. A third person was 
sentenced also to death on the same occasion. And I 
also," continues Justin, "expect by persons of this 
sort to be murdered, perhaps by Crescens the pre-* 
tended Philosopher. For he deserves not the name 
of a pliDosopher, who, with a view of pleasing many 
deceived peisons, publickly accuses (christians of 
Atheism and impiety, though he himself be totally 
ignorant of their real character, I, Justin, have 
interrogated him, and proved that he is quite unac- 
quainted with the subject I am willing to undergo 
an examination before you in company with him. 
And my questions and his answers will make it evi- 
dent to yourself, that he knows notliing of our atfairs; 
or, at least, conceals what he does know." 

But Marcus was not a man disposed to exercise 
common justice towards Cliristians. The pliiloso- 
phic garb .vas no shield to Justin, even in the eyes 
of an Emperor, who piqued himself on the surname of 
Piiilosoplier. The sincerity of his Christian attach- 
ments outweighed every argument and every plausible 
appearance in his favour. Crescens procured him 
iioprisoament for the crime of being a Christian, — 
tlie greatest evil of which a human bcihg could be 
giuilty in the eyes of this Emperor. The acts of 
kis maityrdom, which carry more marks of trutli 
tlum many other martyrologies, give the following . 
account*. " lie and six of his coiupanions having 
been apprehended, were brought uefore Rusticus the 
Prefect, — who, 1 suppose, had succeeded Urbicius, 
' — a person of considerable eminence, and famous 
for his attachment to Stoicism. He had been, tutor 
to the Emperor, who acknowledges, in the first book 
of bis Meditation^, his obligations to him on several 
accounts, and particularly for his teaching him to be 
of a placable and forgiving temper. This is one 
* C'ave'3 Liie of Justin. 

VOL. I. O 

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CHAP, instance, among thousands, that it is possible for a 
man to be strongly infipressed with many beautiful 
ideas of morality; and stiU to remain an inflexible 
enemy to the Gospel. Rusticus undertook to per- 
suade Justin to obey the gods, and to comply with 
the Emperor's edicts. — The Martyr defended the 
i-easonableness of his religion. — Upon which the Go- 
vernor enquired in what kind of learning and disci- 
pline he had been educated. He told him, that he 
had endeavoured to understand all kinds of discipline^ 
and had tried alK/iethods of learning, but finding 
satisfaction in none of them, he at last had found 
rest in the Christian doctrine, however fashionable it 
might be to despise it. Wretch! replies the indig- 
nant Magistrate, arjt thou captivated then by that 
■ RELIGION ? I am, says Justin; I follow the Chris- 
tians, and their doctrine is right. " What is their 
doctrine ?" It is this, we believe the one only God 
to be the Creator of all things visible and invisible; 
and we confess our Lord Jesus Christ to be the Son 
of God ; foretold by the prophets of old ; and that he 
is now the Saviour, teacher, and master of all those 
wlio are duly submissive to his instructions, and that 
he will hereafter be the Judge of mankind. — As for 
myself, I am too mean to be able to say any thing 
becoming his infinite Dfeity : This was the businesj^ 
of the prophets, who, many ages ago, had foretold the 
coming of the Son of God into the world. " Where 
do the Christians usually assemble?" The God of 
the Christians is not confined to any particular place. 
** In what place do you instruct your scholars?" 
Justin mentioned the place in which he dwelt, and 
told him that there he explained Christianity to all 
who resorted to him. The Prefect having severally 
examined his companions, again addressed JustiiK 
" Hear thou, who hast the character of im orator, 
and imaginest thyself to be in the possedsbn of truth. 
If I scourge thee trom head to foot, thinkest thott 
that thou shalt go to heaven T AHhouc^ I suffer 

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/what you threaten, yet I expect to enjoy the portion 
of ail true Christians ; as I know that the divine grace 
and favour is laid up for all such, and shall be so, 
while the world endures, " Do you think' that you 
ehall go to Heaven, and receive a reward ?" I not 
only tibink so, but I know it, and have a certainty of 
it which excludes all dou|bt. — Rusticus insisted that 
they should all go together, and sacrifice to the gods. 
Nd man whose understandins; is sound, replies Justin, 
will desert true religion for the sake of error and im- 
piety. " Unless you comply, you shall be tormented , 
without mercy." We desire nothing more sincerely 
than to endure tortures for our Lord Jesus Christ, 
end to be saved. Hence our happiness is promoted; 
and we shall have confidence before the awful tribu* 
nal ef our Lord and Saviour, before which, by the 
divine appointment, the whole world must appear. 
The rest assented, and said, — " Dispatch quickly 
your purpose, we are Christians, and cannot sacrifice 
to idols." The governor then pronounced sentence, 
— *• As to those, who refuse to sacrifice to the gods, 
and to obey the imperial edicts, let them be first 
scourged, and the\i beheaded according to the laws.** Martyrdom 
The martyrs rejoiced and blessed God, and being ^^ 
led back to prison, were whipped and aftenvards ^!°d.^' 
beheaded. Their dead bodies were taken by Chris- |go ' 
tian friends, and decently interred. 

Thus slept in Jesus the Christian Philosopher 
Justin, about the year 1 63, and about the tliird or 
fourth year of the reign of Marcus. Like many of the 
antient fathers, he appears to us under the greatest 
disadvantage. Works really his have been lost; and 
others have been ascribed to him ; part of which are 
not his; and the rebt, at least, of ambiguous authority. 
He is the first Christian since the Apostles' days, who 
added to an unquestionable zeal and love for the 
G ospei, the diaracter of a man of learning and philo- 
sophy. His early habks were retained ; and yet were 
conaecratcd to the service of God. This man, surely^ 

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qisTonT or the church.- 

should not be suspected of unreasonable impfulses 
and fancies. His religion was the effect of serious 
aud long deliberation : and the very best and most 
important /Use which a Gentleman and a Scholar can 
make of his ratj^fual faculties, — namely, — to deter- 
mine his choi(|^ in religion,— was made by Jiistinw 
He examined #e various philosophic sects, not merely 
ibrthe purpose of amusement or osjtentation, but to 
find out God; and in God true happiness: He tried 
and found tliein all wanting : He sought him in tlie 
Gospel: H-e found him there: He confessed him : 
He gave up every thing for him : He was satisfied 
with his choice ; and he died in serenity. His per- 
severing in the profession of philosophy might proba-« 
biy have another view besides the gratification of his 
own taste : Hc'nvight hope to conciliate tlic affection* 
of philosophers, aixi allure* them to Christianity. The 
charity of his heart appears indeed to have been great : 
He played for all ^n : lie declined no dancrers for 
tlie good of souls ; and he involved himself in disputes 
with philosophers for their benefit, to his ow n 
extreme hazard. His hmise was open for the instruc-* 
tion of all who consulted iiim ; thou^^h he seems to 
have iisver assumed the ecclejiasiical character. To 
draw gentlemen and persons of lii>eral education ta 
pay attention to Christianity, appears to Imve been 
his chief ejnployment. But he found it easier to 
provoke opposition, and to throw away his own life, 
than to |)er.^uade a single philosopher to become a 
Christini. The danger of learned pride, the vanity of 
hoping to disarm the enmity ofthe wise of this world 
by tlie most charitable concesssions, and the incurable 
prejudice of the great against the humble rcligioD 
of Jesus, ai^ mudi illustrated by his story. So is the 
viclorious efficacy of Divine Grace, which singled 
out Justin fi'om a race of men, of all others the most 
opposite to Christ. We have seen a philosopher per-* 
secuted to death ; infoxmed against by one of his 
brethren 5 condemned by another, and saitfcringby tb<r 

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muthority tf an Emperor, who gloried more m the 
philosopliic than in the Imperial name. A man of his 
ieai'ning and sagacity should not raslily be supposed 
destitute of argument and system in his views. Men 
of sense will scarce think the ideas of such a person 
vnworthy of their regard. — Let us see then briefly 
what were Justin's sentiments in rehgion. We may led to conclude that (Christian principles 
may be. seriously maintained in consistence with the 
love of science and letters: thouj^h perhaps we may 
observe some degrcHJ of adulteration, wliich these 
principles received, by passing through a channel of 
all others the most.untavourable for the conduaing 
of their course, — the channel of philosophy *. 

It is certain that Justin worshipped Christ as the 
true Cipd in the full anil proper sense of the words. 
\Ve have seen one testimony of it already in his ex- 
jamination before Rusticus, But let the reader hear 
Jus own words. IVyphof the Jew finds fault with 
the Ciiristians on account of tliis very seutimtnt. *' To 
me it appears,.'' says he, '*a paradox incapable of any 
sound proot, to say, that this Christ was God before 
all time ; and diat then lie was made man, and suf- 
fered ; And to assert thj^t he was any thing more 
than a man, and of men, ap|>ears not only paradox- 
ical, but foolish." " 1 know,'' answered Justin, *'lhat 
it appears paradoxical; and particularly to those of 
your nation, who are determined neither to know 
nor do tlw u ill of God, but to follow the invcniion* 
of your teachers, as God declares of you. IJow;- 
ever, if I could not <4Bmon.stratc that he exiiitcd 
before all tiine, being CJod the Son of the Maker of 
the miiverse, and thai he \va3 made uian of the 

* It scarce need be repeated, tluit h\ Xh\* lenn I mci^n all 
along that philiniopby o( Uie Antienis^ u inch was tuuiided in 
pride, was chiefly specuhiiixe and metaphysical, ajid at bottom 
alheisiiral : — no one objt;rls. to tiiosc moral inuxiins of llie aii- 
tient philosophers, wliich were m many instance? excellent, 
tliongb^d«fertiye in principle. 

t Diuit>gue, P. 63. 


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Virgin ; yet, as this personage was ^own by cvety 
sort of proof to be the Christ of God, be the question 
as it may respecting his Divinity and Humanity, you 
have no right to deny that he is the Christ of God, 
even if he were only mere man : you could only 
say, that I was mistaken in my idea of his charactar. 
For there are some who call themselves Christians, 
who confess him to be the Christ, but still maintain 
that he is a mere man only, with whom I agree not ; 
neither do most of those who bear that name agree 
with them ; because we are commanded by Christ 
himself not to obey the precepts of tfien, but hi$ 
own injunctions, and those of the holy prophets.** 
" Those," says Trypho, ** who say that he was mad 
alone, and that he was in a particular manner anoint- 
ed, anil made Christ, appear to me to speak more 
rationally than you. For we all expect Christ a 
]man, of men ; and that Ellas will come to anoint 
him." — ^The purport of tliis whole passage is plain : 
The GENERAL body of Christians in the sec(md 
Century held the proper Deity of Jesus Christ : Th^ 
believed that this was a part of Old Testament reve- 
lation ; and they looked on a small number, who 
held his mere humanity, to be men who preferred 
human teachers to divine. They considered the 
Jewd also, the most implacable enemies of Chris- 
tianity, as choosing to be directed rather by human 
teachers than by the divine oracles ; and as inex- 
■^usable in denying tlie Divine Mission of Christ, 
whatever opinion they might have formed of his 
person. — Let the learned leader judge for himself, 
by turning to the passage in Justin, whether it will 
not bear tlie weight \vhich I have laid upon it— The 
testimony of a man so thoughtful, judicious, and 
honest as Justin, must be decisive, or nearly so ; — 
and therefore must, in a great measure, determine 
the question much agitated in our times, relative to 
the opinion of the Antients, concembg the persou 
of Clirist. 

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la «K>tber part of the same dialogue^, be speaks cent. 
of Christ as the God of Israel who was with Mose^; ^^' 
and explains his meaning when he said that true 
Christians regarded what they were taught by the 
Prophets. In his first Apology, he tells the Emperor 
in WHAT SENSE .Christians were Atheists: They 
did not worship the gods commonly so called, but 
they t worshipped and adored the trufc God, and 
bis Son, and the prophetic Spirit, honouring then^ 
in word and in truth. If those, who call themselves 
Unitarians, were as candid and impartial as they pro- 
fess, the controversy concerning the Trinity would 
be soon at an end. — ^That the primitive Christians 
worshipped one God alone, all who espouse the 
doctrine of the Trinity will allow. Let the Unita- 
rians with equal frankness acknowlec^e that they 
worshipped the one God in the three persons jupjt 
now mentioned ; and then we have the Trinity jki 
Unity. ' Further — Justin uses two terms usually 
expressive of that worship and adoration, which 
incommunicably belongs to the Deity J. — But, till 
there be a disposition in men, without disputation, 
to humble themselves before divine Revelatior\, 
neitlier frankness in concession, nor unity in senti- 
ment is to be expected. 

The all-important doctrine of Justification he 
states^ in the same manner as^St. Paul does; bq« 
lieving, that to press the necessity of Mosaic rites on 
others was to fall from* the faith of Christ. The 
learned reader may see more at -large his views of 
Begeperation and For^veness of all past sins througti 
Chnst Jesus H, and how extremely different they 
were from the nominal Christianity which contents 
so many persons. 

He appears to have had the clearest views of that 
special illumination, without which no man will un- 
derstand and relish real godliness. His first unknown 

.^ Dulpgue62. tl i^t Apology 159, i(k), aod(>6 Dialogue* 

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OTA P. instructor had taught him this ; and he seems never 
to have forgotten it. He informs Trypho, — ^that, 
for tlieir wickedness, God bad hidden from the Jews 
the power of knowing divine wisdom, except from 
a remnant, who according to the grace of his com- 
passion were reserved, that their nation might not 
behke Sodom a'nd CJomorrah. — The eternal punish- 
ment of th(? wicked he avows so plainly, that I shall 
spare quotations upon that subject. 

.In fundamentals he was unquestionably sound: 
Yet there seems, howdver, something in his train 
of thinking, which was the effect of his philosophic 
spirit ; ^nd which produced notions not altogether 
agreeable to the genius of the Gospel. Thus, toward 
tlie close of the second Apology, he declares that 
the doctrine of Plato were not heterogeneoite to 
those of Christ; butonlyNOT altogether similar. 
-And he seems to assert, that Plato, and the Stoics, 
and the Pagan winters, in prose and verse, saw some- 
'thing of truth. from the portion of tlie seed of the 
•Divine Word, which he makes to be the same as 
the Word, the only begotten Son of God. The 
reader, who chuses to consult the last folio page of 
the Apology may judge for himself, \^4}ether he does 
not there confound together two things perfectly 
distinct, — the light of natural conscience which God 
has given to all men ; — and the light of divine grace 
peculiar to the children of God. Certain it is that 
St Paul, who speaks of both, in the epistle to the 
Romans, always carefully distinguishes them, as of 
a kin^ entirely ditFerent one from the other. He 
never allows uncon veiled nicn to have anv portion 
at all of that light which is peculiarly Christian : But 
thus it was tliat this excellent nian seems to tiave , 
forgotten the guard, which can scarcely be too ot'teu 
repeated, against philosophy. We may see hereafter 
how mystics and heretics and piatonizing Christiarts ' 
jumbled these things togethi^r entirely, and what 
.^ attempts were made by the Philosophers to inoor- 

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porate their doctrine of tjie To iv with the Gospel*. 
Justin seems, unwarily, to have given them some 
handle for this: and, if I mistake not, he was the first 
sincere Christian who was seduced by human phi- 
losopliy to adulterate the Gospel, thou}/}) in a small 
degi*ee. It siiould ever be remembered, that Chrisf- 
tian light stands single and unmixed ; 22nd will not 
bear to be kneaded into the same mass with otlier 
systems,- religious 6r philosophical. — We may here, 
mark the beginning of the decay of the first spiri- 
tual EFFUSION among the Gentiles, through taise 
.wisdom: as, long before, — namely,- *from the first 
coimcil of Jerusalen), — we noticed a similar decay 
in the Jewish Church, through self-righteousness. 

The same prejudice in favour of the instructor of 
his youth leads him to pay to Socrates a very great 
compliment, as if that extraordinary man had really 
known the true God, and had lost his life for at- 
tempting to draw men from idolatry. — Whereas al- 
most evefiy line of the narrative left us by his disciple^ 
shows, that he was as much an idolater as the rest 
of his couutrymen. — The last words he uttered, it 
is well known, were entirely idolatrous. — Justin had 
not learnt so fully as St. Paul would have taught him, 
that " the world by wisdom knew not God." In 
the last page of his Trypho there is also a phrase- 
ology extremely ^.uspicious. lie speaks of a self- 
determining power in marif, and uses much the same 
kind of known reasoning on the obscure subject of 
free-will as has been fixshionable since tlie days of 
Arminius. lie seems to have been the first of all 
sincere Christians, who introduced this foreign plant 
into Christian ground. I shall venture to call it 
foreign till ii\s right to exist in the soil shall be proved 
ftom scriptural evidence. — It is very plain tiiat I do 

* An al>stru»e and mystic*;) ojjiiHon, which prevailed very 
gpnerully among the antieoi philosopbers ; but which it is * 
diOicuIt to make iiitc Ili^ible b\ any Lxplaimlion. It difleis, 
howe\er, very httio, if at all, from downright 

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CHAP, not mistake his meankig, — because he never €X-« 


plicitly owns the doctrine of Election ; tliough, with 
happy inconsistency, like many other real Christians, 
he involved it in his experience, and itqplies it ik 
various parts of his writings. 

But, — ^the novelty, once admitted, was not easily 
expelled : — ^The language of the Church was silently 
gnd gradually changed, in this respect, firom that 
more simple and scriptural mode of speaking used by 
Clement and Ignatius : Those primitive ChristiaM 
knew the doctrine of the Election of Grace, but not 
the self-determining power of the human will : — We 
shall see hereafter the progress of the evil, and its 
arrival at full maturity under the fostering hand o^^ 



CHAP. He succeeded Pius in the year 161, and appear^ 
^ -^ very soon after to have commencal the persecution 
A. D. against the Christians, in which Justin and his friends 
161. ^^*^re slain. It excites a curiosity, not foreign from 
the design of this History, to discover what could 
be the cause of so much enmity against a people, 
confessedly harmless, in a Prince so considerate, so 
humane, and, in general, so well-intentioned as 
Marcus is allowed to have been. — Besides; he acted 
in this respect directly contrary to the example of his 
predecessor, whose memory he doubtless much re- 
vered, from whose intelligent and investigating spirit 
he must have derived ample information conceming 
the Christians, and whom in all other matters of go- 
vernment he imitated so exactly. The fact, however, 
is certainly so : Marcus Antoninus was, during all his 
reign, which continued 19 years, an implacable per- 
secutor of Christians; and this not from mere ig- 

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noraiice of their moral character. — He knew them,—* 
yet hated them, and showed them no mercy : He 
allowed and encom'aged tlie i^iost barbarous* treats 
mcBt of their persons ; and was yet himself a person 
of great humanity of temper : just and beneficent to 
tbe rest of mankind : He was free from all reproach 
in his general conduct; and in several parts of it wa4 
a modeUworthy the imitation .of Christians. 

I think it impossible to solve this phenomenon on 
any other principles than those bv which the enmity 
of many philosophers of old, ancl of many devotees 
and exact moralists of modern times against the 
Christian religion, is to be explained. The Gospel 
is in it s own nature not only distinct from careless 
and dissolute vice, but also from the whole religion 
of philosophers : I mean of those philosophers who 
form to themselves a reli^n from natural and self- 
devised sources, either in opposition to the revealed 
word of God, or with the neglect both of that word 
and of the influence of the Holy Spirit, who is tiie 
great agent in applying tlie Scriptures to the heart 
of man. — In all ages it will be found that the more 
strenuously men support such religion, the more 
vehcmentiy do they hate Christianity. Their religion 
is pride and self-importance : It denies the fallen 
tftate of man, the provision and efficacy of grace, and 
the glory of God and the Redeemer. — The enmity 
bence occasioned is obvious. — It must be considered 
also that Marcus Antoninus wa$ of the Stoical 
fiect, — who carried self-sufficiency to the utmost 

He fancied that he carried God within him. 
Like most of the philosophers, he held the mystical 
doctrine of the To h ; but he held it in all its de- 
testable impiety and arrogance. With him to be 
good and virtuous was the easiest thing in the world : 
it was only ta follow nature, and to obey tlie die- 
fates of the Deity, — ^tbat is, of the human soul, 

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which was divine and self-sufiicie»t. He could not; 
with these views be humble; nor pray earpestly; 
nor feel his own internal wickedness and misery; 
nor endure the idea of a Saviour and Mediator. — 
If, like his predecessor, Pius, he had been con- 
tented to be an ordinary person in religion, the hu- 
manity^ of his temper would probably have lei 
him, as it did the emperor Pius, to have respected 
the excellent character and virtues of Cliristians ; 
and he would have felt it his duty to have protected 
such peaceable and deserving subjects. — I say, pro- 
bably; and I express myself with some reserve, 
because I much doubt, whethei' he possessed an 
understanding equally sound with tliat of Antoninus 
Pius. — But, be that as it may, the pride of Philoso- 
phy appears to have been wounded and exasperated. 
Whoever has attended to the spirit which pervades 
his twelve Books of Meditations, and duly compared 
them with the doctrines of the Gospel, must ac- 
knowledge a total opposition ; ^nd then he will not 
wonder that Christians suffered from a serious Sjoic, 
what might have been expected only fiom a flagitious 
Nero. — Pride and licentiousness are equally cou- 
demne4 by the Gospel ; and tliey equally seek re- 
venge. — If this be a true state of tlie case, the 
pliilosophic spirit, explained aixl stated as above, 
however differently modified in different ages, will 
always be inimical to the Gospel ; and the most 
decorous moralists belonging to the class of which 
we are now speaking, will be found in union, on 
tliis subject, with the basest characters. " Beware 
of philosophy," is a precept which as mucli calls for 
our attention now as ever. 

Yet so fascinating is the power of prejudice and 
education, that many would look on it as a grievous 
crime to attempt to tear the laurels of virtue from 
the brows of Marcus Antoninus. Certainly, how- 
ever, if his virtue had been genuine ; or at all q{ 9 

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piece with that of the Scriptures, he could never 
have treated Christians so cruelly, as we shall see 
he did. 

Is this, then, the man, whom Mr. Pope celebrates 
in the following lines ? 

^Vho nubfe ends by noble means obtains, 
Or failing smiles in exile or in chains. 
Lake good* Aurelius let him reign, or bleed 
Like bucratei, that man is great indeed. 

.—Providence seems however to have determined, 
that those who, in contiadiction to the feelings of 
human nature, dirk and indigent as it is, and needing 
a divine illumination, will yet proudly exalt their 
ou-n ability and sufficiency, shall be frustrated and 
put to shame. Socmtes, with his last breath, gave a 
sanction to the most absurd idolatry : and Aurelius 
was guilty of such deeds as human nature shudders 
to relate. 

It b remarkable that Gataker, the editor of An- 
toninus's Meditations, represents himself in the most 
humiliating terms, as quite ashamed to behold the 
superior virtues of this Prince as described in this 
book. — ^To say and to do, are, however, not the same 
things; nor is there much reason to believe, that 
Marcus performed in practice, what he describes in 
theory. — But, exclusively of these reflections, sup- 
pose we were inclined to draw a comparison betue(in 
the author and his commentator with respect to hu- 
mility, such comparison would certainly be much to 
the disadvantage of the fonnqr. I pix»tend not to 
have studied the writings of MaR-us Aurelius with 
fio much anxious care as to be assured, tl^t there 
appear in them no traces of this virtue in the empe- 
ror; but the GENKRAL TURX of the whole book 
leads me to conclude, that the writer felt no abasing 
thoughts of himself. I have already defined in wliat 
sense I use the' term pliilosopher, as contrasted with 
ihe bumble fotbwer of Jesus Christ; and in that 
* ADtofiiDus was called also Aurehus. 

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sense I affirm that no pbiiosopber made such a cottr 
fessipn of himself as Gataker does. — Such is the 
natural effect of some knowledge of Christianity on 
the human mind ! 

If we attend to the notices of history on the edu- 
cation and manners of Marcus, the account which 
has been given of hb enmity against the Gospel will 
be amply confirmed. Adrian bad introduced him 
among the Salian priests when eight years old, and 
he became accurately versed in the rituals of his 
priesthood. At twelve he began to wear the Philo- 
sopher's cloak: he practised austerities: he' lay on 
the bare ground; and was with difficulty persuaded 
by his mother to use a mattress and slight coverlet 
lie placed in his private chapel gold statues of big 
deceased masters; and visited tlieir sepukhral mo- 
numents ; and there offered sacrifices, and strewed 
flowers. So devoted was he to Stoicism, that he 
attended the schools after he became emperor; and 
the faith which he put in dreams sufficiently proves 
his superstitious credulity. From a man so much 
lifted up by self-sufficiency, bigotry, and superstition, 
an illiberal censure of the Christians* is not matter 
of surprise. '^ This readiness," says he, " of being 
resigned to the prospect of death, ought to proceed 
from a propriety of deliberate judgment, not from 
mere uuiiitelligent obstinacy, as is the case with the 
•Christians ; it should be founded on grounds of solid 
reason, and be attended with calm composui-e with- 
out any tragical raptures, and in such a way as may 
induce others to admire and imitate." If this em- 
peror hf d ever attended to the dying scenes of Chris- 
tians tortured to deatli by his orders, with any degree 
of candour and impartiality, he miglit have seen all 
these circumstances exemplified. Thousands of them 
chose to suffer with deliberate judgment ; preferred 
heavenly things to earthly ; counted the cost ; and 
made a reasonable decision; not doubtful^ ns the 
. • iithB. Sects* 

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emperor was, concerning a future life ; but calmly 
resigning this life in firm expectation of a better, and 
without any circumstances to justify the suspicion 
cf pride or ostentation ; on the contrary, they were 
adorned with naeekness, cheerfulness, .^.nd charity. 
— Hence thousands and ten thousands have been 
induced to examine what that hidden energy of 
Christian l*fe must be, which produces such exalted 
sentiments aiid such grandeur of spirit; and the 
power of, prejudice was never more strongly exhi- 
bited than in this malignant censure of Antoninus ; 
which in truth, is the more inexcusable, because ho 
laboured under no involuntary ignorance of Chris- 
tians. For, besides the knowledge of them which 
be must have acquired under his predecessor, he 
hac^an opportunity of knowing tljem from various 
apologies published in his own reign. Justin's se- 
cond apology, as we have seen, was published during 
his reign; one sentence of which denjonstrates, in 
how striking a manner our Saviour's prophecy was 
then fulfilled, " A man's foes shall be they of his 
own houshold ! " — Every where, he observes, if a 
Gentile was reproved by a father or relation, he 
would revenge himself by informing against the 
reprover ; in consequence of which he was liable to 
be dragged before the governor, and put to death. 
Tatian also, Athenagor^, Apollinaiis, bishop of Apologia 
Hieropolis, and Theophilus of Antioch, and Melito c,„|,^^„^ 
of Sardis, published apologies. Tliis last published 
his about the year 177, of which some valuable '^^ ^* 
remains are preserved in Eusebios. A part of his ^77* 
address to Marcus desencs our attention*, both. on 
account of the justness of the sentiments, and the 
politeness with which they are delivered. " Pious 
persons, aggrieved by new edicts published through- 
out Asia, and never before practised, now suffer per- 
secution. For audacious sycophants, and men who 
^vet other persons' goods^ take; advantage of these 
* B. iv. C. 25. 

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CHAP, pipclamations openly to rob and spoil the innocent 
. ^y* ^ by night aiid by day. If tliis be done through your 
order,^— let it stand good ; — for a just emperor can- 
not act unjustly ; and we will cheerfully submit tb the 
honour of i^uch a death : — This only we humbly 
crave of your j\lajest;y, that, after an impartial ex- 
animation of u^ and of our accusers, you would justly 
decide whether we deserve death and punishment, 
or lite and protection. Hut, if these proceedings be 
not yours, and the new edicts be not the effects of 
your personal judgment, — edicts vvhich ought not to 
be enacted even against barbarian enemies — in tliat 
case we entreat you not to despise, us, who are thus 
unjustly oppressed." He afterwards reminds him of 
tlie justice done to Christians by his two immediate 

From this account it is evident that Marcus, by 
new edicts, couunenced the persecution, and that it 
was carried on with n)trciiess barbarity in those 
Asiatic regions which had been relieved by Pius. 
'J'here is nuthiiig pleasant that can be sujigested to 
us by tliis view of the crut^l treatment of Christiana 
and of the author of it, except one circumstance— 
that tlie effusion of the Spirit of God still continued- 
to produce it's holy fruits in those hijjhly -favoured 

Jn the two next chapters. I propose to describe 

distinctly tv\ o scenes of this em[)eror*s persecution ; 

and r shall now conclude tliis general account of 

him, with brictly mentioning the reniarkable story of 

loreinis his danger and relief in tiic u ar of the Marcomanni *. 

tte"Mau^ He and his army being hemmed in by the enemy, 

Mcr:? ready to perish with tlnrst ; when suddenly a 

storm of tliunder and lightning affrighted the 

enemies, whilst the rain refreshed the Romans. It 

is evident that tlie victory was obtained by a remarks 

able providential interposition. Tlie Christian sol- 

cliers in his army, wc are surc, in their distress 

♦ Euseb. B. V. C. 5. 

A. D. 


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would pray to their God, even if Eusebius had not cent. 
told us so. Ail Christian writers speak of the 
relief as vouchsafed in answer to their prayers, and 
no real Christian will doubt of the soundness of 
their judgment in this point. I have only to add, 
that Marcus, in a manner agreeable to his usual 
superstition, ascribed his deliverance to his gods. 
Each party judged according to their own views ; 
and those moderns who ascribe the whole to the 
ordinary powers of nature, or to accident, judge 
also according to their usual profaneness or irre- 
ligious turn of thinking. Whether the Divine inter- 
position deserves to be called a miracle or not, is a 
question rather concerning propriety of language 
than religion. This seems to me all that is needful 
to be said on a fact, which on one side has been 
magnified beyond all bounds ; and on the other has 
been reduced to mere insignificancy. It happened 
in the year 174. The emperor lived five years 
after this event, and as far as appears, continued 
a persecutor to the last. 


In or about the year 1 67, the sixtli of Marcus, ^^ j^^ 
Smyrna was distinguished by the martyrdom of her ^g-r* 
bishop, Polycarp. 

We mentioned him before in the account of Ignatius. 
He had succeeded Bucolus, a vigilant and industrious 
bishop, in die charge of Smyrna. The Apostles,— 
and we may suppose St John particularly, — or- 
dained him to this office. He had been fainiliarly 
conversant with the Apostles, and received tlie go- 
vernment oi the Church from those who had been 
eye-witnesses and ministers of our Lord ; nnd he 

VOL. I. p 

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CHAP, continually taught tliat which he had been taught by 
_ J'_ J them*. Usher t has laboured to s1k>w J that he was 
the ANGEL of the church of Smyrna addressed by our 
Saviour, If lie be ri^ht in this, the character of 
Polycarp is indeed delineated by a hand divine; and 
the martyjKlom before us was particularly predicted. 
By this account he must have presided 74 years over 
that Church : — certainly^ as we shall hereafter see, 
his age must have been extremely great : he long 
sumved his friend Ignatius ; and was reserved tp 
suffer by Marcus Antoninus. Some time before that 
' event he came to liome to hold a conference with 
Anicetus, the bishop of that See, concerning the 
time of observing Easter. The matter was soon 
decided between them, as all matters should be, 
which enter not into the essence of godliness. They 
each observed their own customs without any breach 
of charity between them, real or apparent. But 
Polycarp found more important employment while 
at Rome. The lieresy of Marcion was strong in that 
city ; and the testimony and zealous labours of one 
who had known so much of the Apostles were suc- 
cessfully employed against it; and many were reclaim- 
ed. It was not in Marcion's power to undermine 
the authority of this venerable Asiatic. To procure 
a seeming coalition was the utmost he could expect; 
and it was as suitable to his views to attempt this, 
as it was to those of Polycarp to oppose such dupli- 
city and arti6ce. Meeting him one day ui the street, 
he called out to him, '* Polycarp, own us." " I do 
own tliee," says the zealous bishop, '* to be tlie first? 
born of Satan." I refer the reader to what has 
been said already of St. John s similar conduct onsuch 
occasions ; and shall add only that Irenteus, from 
whom Eusebius relates the story, commends his 
conduct, and speaks of it as commonly practised by 
tbe Apostles and their followers. Irenaaus inform^ 

• Fiiseb, iv. 14. f In his Prolegmn. to Ignatius 

J J^ftYe's Ufe of Polycarp. 

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US* that he had a particular delight in recounting cent. 
what bad been told by those who had seen Christ j^ 
in the flesh ; that he used to relate what he had been 
informed concerning bis doctrine and miracles ; and 
when he heard of any heretical attempts to overturn 
Christian fundamentals, he would cry out, ''To 
what tiioes^ O God, hast thou reserved me ! " and 
would leave the place. 

Indeed when it is considered what Marcion main- 
tained, and what unquestionable evidence Polycarp 
had against him in point of matter of fact, we shall 
see he had just reason to testify his disapprobation. 
This man was one of the DocETiE : According to 
him, Christ had no real human nature : He rejected 
the whole Old Testament, and mutilated the New. 
He held two principles, after the manner of the 
Manichees, in order to account for the origin of 
evil. If ml3n, who assert things so fundamentally 
subversive of the Gospel, would openly disavow 
the Christian name, they might be endured with 
much more composure by Christians ; nor would 
there be any call for so scrupulous an absence from 
their society; — for St. Paul has so determined the 
casef. But for such men, whether anticnt or 
modem, to call themselves Christians, is an intolera- 
ble insult on the common sense of mankind. — We 
know nothing more of the life of this venerable 
bishop : — Of the circumstances of his death we 
have an account, and they deserve, a very particular 

The greatest part of the antient narrative is pre- 
• served by Eusebius ;}:. The beginning and the end, 
which he has not given us, have bcu^n restored by 
the care of archbisliop Usher. It is an epistle 
written in the name of Polycarp s Cluirch of Smyrna : 
I have ventured to translate the whole myself, yet 
not without examining what Valesius, the editor of 

• Irenaeofi's Epistle to Floriw. i 1 Cor. v. lo. 

J B. iv. Euseb. Hist. ch. J5. 

P 2 

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CHAP. Eusebius, and archbishop Wake, have left us on the 
subject. It is doubtless one of the most precious 
ornaments of antiquity ; and it seemed to deserve 
some notes and illustrtitions. 

" The Church of God which sojourus at Smyrna, 
to that which sojourns at Philomelium *, and in all 
places where the Holy Catholic Church sojourns 
throughout the world, may the mercy, peace, and 
love of God tlie Father, and of the Lord Jesus 
Christ, be multiplied ! We have written to you, 
brethren, as well concerning the other martyrs, as^ 
particularly the blessed Polycarp; who, as it were, 
sealing by his testimony, closed the persecution. 
For all these things, which were done, were so con- 
ducted, that the Lord frora above, might exhibit to 
us the^ nature of a martyrdom perfectly evangelical. 
Polycarp did not precipitately give himself up to 
death, but waited till he was apprehended, as our 
Lord himself did, that we might imitate him ; not 
caring only for ourselves, but plso for our neigh- 
bours. It is the office of solid and genuine charity 
not to desire our own salvation only, but also that of 
all the brethren f. Blessed and noble indeed are all 
martyrdoms which are regulated according to the will 
of God : for it behoves us, who assume to ourselves 
the character of Christians, — a name professing dis- 
tinguished sanctity, — to submit to God alone the dis- 
posal of all events;};. Doubtless their magnanimity, 

* A .city of Lycaonia. I thought it right to give the English 
reader the precise term — of sojourninjj — used in the original. 
It was the usual language and the spirit too of the Church at 
ihat time. 

t I translate according to the Greek. But though common 
candour may put a favourable construction on the expiessions, 
the honour then put on martyrdom seems excessive. 

I They doubtless mean to censure the self-will of those whf> 
threw themselves on their persecutors before they were provi- 
dentially called to suft'er. The calm patience of Polycarp, in 
this respect, was more commendable than the impetuosity of 
Ignatius. But Polycarp now was much older than he was when 
Ignatius suffered, and very probably had guowk in grace. Tht 
Asiatic churches seem to have corrected the errors of excessivt 

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their patience, their love of the Lord, deserve the ad- cent. 
miration of every one; who thoughtorn with Avhips till 
the frame and structure of their bodies were laid open 
even to their veins and arteries, yet nneekly endured; 
so that those who stood around pitied them and la- 
mented. But such was their fortitude, that no one 
of them uttered a sigh or groan : Thus they evinced 
to us all, that at that hour the martyrs of Christ, 
though tormented, were absent, as it were, from 
the body ; or rather that the Lord, being present, 
conversed familiarly with them : thus they were sup- 
ported by the grace of (/hrist; thus they despised the 
torments of this world, and by one hour redeemed 
themselves from eternal punishment. The fire of 
savage tormentors was cold to them : for they had 
steadily in view a desire to avoid that fire which is 
eternal and never to be quenched. And w ith the 
eyes of their heart they had respect to the good 
things reserved for those who endure, — things — 


MAN TO CONCEIVE. But these good things were 
then exhibited to them by the Lord : They were in- 
deed then no longer men, but angels. In like man- 
ner those, who were condemned to the wild beasts, 
underwent for a time cruel torments, being placed 
under shells of sea fish, and exposed to various 
other tortures, that, if [)0ssible, the infernal tyrant, 
by an uninterrupted series of sutfering, might tempt 
them to deny their M^ter. Much did Satan contrive 
against them * : but, thanks to God, without eflFect 
agaiast them all. The magnanimous CJermanicus, 
by his patience and courage, strengthened the weak : 
He fought with wild beasts in an illustrious manner; 

• The language of these, aiitient ChristitiDs deserves to be 
noticed; they huve Iheir eye mni*e steadily on a divine influence 
on the one hand, and on a diabolical one on tlie other, thaa is 
fashionable in our limes. 

2eal, which even in the best Christians had formerly prevailed. 
The ease of Qutntus will sood throw light on this subject. 


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for when the Proconsul besought him to pity Im 
own old age, he irritated the wild beasts by pro- 
vocation, and was desirous of departing more quickly 
from a world of wickedness. — And now the whole 
multitude, astonished at the fortitude of Christians, 
that is, of the true friends and worshippers of God, 
cried out, ^' Take away the atheists*, let Polycarp 
be sought for." One Christian, by name Quintus, 
lately come from Phrygia, his native country, on 
sight of the beasts, trembled. He had persuaded 
some persons to present themselves before the tri- 
bunal of their own accord. Him the Proconsul, 
by soothing speeches, induced to swear and to 
sacrifice. On this account, brethren, we do not 
approve of those who offer themselves to martyr- 
dom ; — " for we have not so learned Christ." 

" The admirable Polycarp, when he heard what 
passed, was quite unmoved, and resolved to remain 
in the city. But, induced by the intreaties of his 
people, he retired to a village at no great distance ; 
and there, with a few friends, he spent his time 
entirely, day and night, in praying, according to his 
usual custom, for all the churches in the world. — 
Three days before be was seized, he had a vision 
while he was praying : He saw his pillow consumed 
by fire : and turning to the company, he said pro- 
phetically, " I must be burnt alive." — Upon hear- 
ing that the persons, in search of him, were just at 
hand, he retired to another village : Immediately 
the officers came to his house ; and not finding him, 
they seized two servants, one of whom \vas induced, 
by torture, to confess the place of his retreat. Cer- 
tainly it was impossible to conceal him, since even 
those of his own houshold discovered him. And 
the Tetrarch, called Cleronomus Herod, hastened to 
introduce him into the Stadium ; that so he might 
obtain his lot as a follower of Christ ; and that tliose, 
w ho betrayed him, might share with Judas. Taking 

* The term of reproach then commonly affixed to Christians. 

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then flie servant as their guide, they went out about 
supp^r-tioie, with their usual arms, as against a 
rbbbe'r ; and arriving late, they found liim lying in 
an upj^er room at the end of the hoijsc, whence he 
might have made his escape *, but he would not, 
saying,—'" The will of the Lord be done." Hear- 
ing that they were airived, he cfaine down and con- 
vei'sed with them ; and all, who were present, ad- 
mired his age and constancy : Some said, *' Is it 
worth while to take pains to apprehend so aged a 
person ?" He immediately ordered meat and drink 
to be set before them, as much as they pleased, and 
begged them to allow him one hour to pray without 
mdestatbn ; which being granted, he prayed stand- 
ing ; and was so full of the grace of. God, that he 
could not cease frofn speaking for two hours: 
The hearers were astonished ; and many of them 
repented tliat they were come to seize so divine a 

*' When he had finished his prayers, having made 
mention of all whom he had ever know n, small and 
great, noble and vulgar, and of the whole Catholic 
church throughout the world, the hour of departing 
being comfe, they set him on an ass and led him to 
the cityf. The Irenarch Herod, and his father Ni- 
cetes, met him, who taking him up into their chariot, 
began to advise him, asking, " \Vhat liarm is it to 
say. Lord Coesar I — and to sacrifice, and he safe ?" 
At first he w as siletit, but being pressed, he said, " I 
will nqt follow your advice.'' VVhen they could not 
persuade him, they treated htm abusively, and thrust 
him out of the chariot, so that in falling he bruised 
his thiuh. But he, still unmoved as if he had suf- 
fered nothing, went on cheerfully under the conduct 
of his guards to tlie Stadium. There the tumult 

• Those tvhu know the p-islt- rn cuiftonl of Hai-rooftd houses, 
will not be su'prist-d at this. 

+ I have not thought it wo: th \vliilc to tr.jii.^late what relates 
to the lime when Polycarp M:lloi«'(l, on which point the learned 
disagree in the mode of intcrinctatuii. 

P 4 

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CHAP. , being so great that few could hear any thing, a voice* 
^ _yi ,_, from heaven said to'Polycarp, as he entered on the 
Stadium, " * Be strong, Polycarp, and behave your- 
* self like a man.'' — None saw the speaker, but many 
of us heard the voice. — 
Martyrdom " When he was brought to the tribunal, there was 
Poijwp. ^ great tumult, as soon as it was generally understood 
that Polycarp was apprehended. The Proconsul 
asked him, if he was Polycarp ; to which he assented. 
The former then began to exhort him; — " Have 
pity on thy own great age — and the like. Swear 
by the fortune of Caesar — repent — say —Take away 
the atheists." Polycarp, with a grave aspect, be- 
holding all the multitude, waving his hand to them, 
and looking up to heaven, said, " Take away the 
atheists." The Proconsul urging him, and saving, 
" Swear, and I will release thee, — reproach Christ;" 
Polycarp said, " Eighty and six years have I served 
him, and he hath never wronged me, and how can 
I blaspheme my King whQ hath saved me?" The 
Proconsul still urging, " Swear by the fortune of 
Caesar ;" Polycarp said, " If you still vainly con- 
tend to make me swear by the fortune of Caesar, as 
you speak, affecting an ignorance of my real charac- - 
ter, hear me frankly declaring what I am : I am a 
Christian; an^ if you desire to learn the Christian 
doctrhie, assign me a day, and hear." The Proconsul 
said, ''Persuade the people." Polycarp said, **Ihave 
thought proper to address you ; for we are taught to 
j)ay all Lronour to magistracies and powers appointed 
by Gocl,''.vhich is consistent with a good conscience. 
But I do not hold them worthy that I should apolo- 
gize before themf." " I have wild beasts," says the 
Proconsul : " I will expose you to tfiem, unless you 
repent." " Call them," replies the martyr. ** Our 

* The reader should remember that miraculous interpositions 
of various kinds were still frequent in the church. 

t i cannot think that this was said in contempt of the vul- 
gar, but on account of the prejudice and enmity which their 
conduct exhibited at that time. 

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minds are not to be changed from the better to the cent. 
worse: but it is a good thing to be changed from evil "• 
to good." " I will tame your spirit by fire;" says 
the other, "since you despise the wild beasts, unless 
you repent." " You-threaten me with fire," answers 
rolycarp, ** which bums for a moment^ and will be 
soon extinct; but you are ignorant of the future 
judgment, and of the fire of eternal punishment re- 
served for the ungodly. But why do you delay ? Do 
what you please." Saying this and more, he was filled 
with confidence and joy, and grace shone in his coun- 
tenance : so that he was far from being confounded 
by the menaces : On the contrary the Proconsul was 
visibly embarrassed : he sent, however, the herald to 
proclaim thrice, in the midst of the assembly, " Poly- 
carp hath professed himself a Christian." Upon this 
all the multitude, both of Gentiles and of Jews, who 
dwelt at Smyrna, with insatiate rage shouted aloud, 
** This is the doctor of Asia, the father of Christians, 
the subverter of our gods, who hath taught many not 
to sacrifice nor to adore." They now begged Philip, 
the Asiarch, to let out a lion against Polycarp. But 
be refused, observing, that the am phi theatrical spec- 
tacles of the wild beasts were finished. They then 
unanimously shouted, that he should be burnt alive; 
— for his vision was of necessity to be accomplished. — 
Whilst he was praying, he observed the fire kindling; 
and turning to the faithful that were with him, he 
said prophetically, — " I must be burnt alive." The 
business was executed with all possible speed ; for 
the people immediately gathered fuel fi'om the work- 
shops and baths, in which employment the Jews* 
distinguished themselves with their usual malice. As 
soon as the fire was prepared, stripping off his clothes, 
and loosing his girdle, he attempted to take off his 

* I scarce know a more striking view of the judicial curse ' 
inflicted on the Jews than this, indeed this people all along 
exerted themselves in persecution; and Justin Martyr tells u* 
of a charge which hnd heen seiu from Jerusalem hy the chief 
priests against Chrislians, diiected to theii' brethren through 
the world. 

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shoes,— a thing unusual for him to do formerly,-^ 
because each of the fiuthful were wont to strive who 
should be most assiduous in serving him. For, 
before his martyrdom, his integrity dtid blameless 
conduct had always procured him the most unfeigned 
respect Immediately the usual appendages of 
burning were placed about him. And when they 
were going to fasten him to the stake, he said^ 
" Let me remain as I am; for He who giveth me 
strength to sustain the fire, mil enable me felso, 
without your securing me with nails, lo remain un- 
moved in the fire.'' Upon which they bound him 
without nailing him. And he, putting his hands 
behind him, and being bound as a distinguished 
ram select^ from a great flock, a bumt-oflering 
acceptable to God Almighty, said, ** O Father of thy 
beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through 
whom we have attained the knowledge of thee, O 
God of angels and principalities, and of all creation, 
Bnd of all the just who live in thy siglit, I bless 
thee, that thou hast counted me worSiy of this 
day, and this hour, to receiv? my portion in the 
number of martyrs, in the cup of Christ, for the 
resurrection to eternal life both of soul and body, 
in the incorniption of the Holy Ghost ; among whom 
may I be received before thee this day as a sacrifice 
well-savoured and acceptable, which thou, the faithful 
and true God, hast prepared, promised befoi^ehand, 
and fulfilled accordingly. Wherefore I praise thee 
for all those things, I bless thee, I glorify thee, by 
the eternal High Priest, Jesus C'hrist, thy well- 
beloved Son : through whom, with him in the Holy 
Spirit, be glory to thee both now and for ever. 

" And when he had pronounced Amen aloud, and 
finished prayer, the officers liuhted the fire, and a 
great flame bursting out, — We, to whom it was 
given to see, and who also were Reserved to relate to 
others that which happened, — saw a wonder — For 

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the flame, forming the appearance of an arch, as the 
sul of a vessel filled with wind, was as a wall round 
about the body of the martyr; which was in the 
midst, not as burning flesh, but as gold and silver 
refined in a fiimace. We received also in our nos- 
trils such a fragrance, as arises from fi*ankincense, or 
some other precious perfume. At length the im- 
pious, observing that his body could not be consumed 
by the fire, ordered the confector* to approach, 
and to plunge his sword into his body. Upon this 
a quantity of blood gushed out, so that the fire was 
extinguished ; and all the multitude were astonished 
to see the difference thus providentially made between 
the unbelievers and the elect; of whom the ad- 
mirable personage before us was, doubtless, one, in 
our age an Apostolical and prophetical teacher, the 
bishop of. the Catholic church of Smyrna. For, 
whatever he declared, was fulfilled and will be fiil- 
filled. But the envious, malignant, and spiteful 
enemy of the just, observed the honour put on his 
martyrdom, and his blameless life; and knowing 
that he was now crowned with indmoitality and the 
prize of unquestionable victory, studied to prevent 
us firom obtdning his body, though many of us longed 
to have communion t with his sacred flesh. For 
some persons suggested to Nicetes, the father of 
Herod, and the brother of Alee J, to go to the Pro- 
consul, and intreat him not to deliver the body to 
the Christians, " lest, said they, leaving the Cruci- 
fied One, they should begin to worship him." And 

• An officer, whose business it was in the Roman games to 
dispatch any beast that was unruly or dangerous. 

t I see no ground for the well-known l^apistical inference- 
hence nsually drawn respecting the virtues ascribed to relics. 
To express an utl'ectionate regard to the deceased by n decent 
attention to the funeral rites, is all that is necessarily meant by 
the expression. 

I Alee is spoken of with honour in Ignatius's E4)istle to the 
Sroymeans. She, it seems, bad found, iu htr nearest reUtions, 
inveterate foes to whatever she held dear. 

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they said these tilings upon the suggestions and ar- 
guments of the Jews, who also watched us, when 
we were going to take his body from the pile ; unac- 
quainted mdeed with our views, namely, that it is 
not possible for us to forsake Christ, who suffered 
for the salvation of all who are saved of the human 
race, nor ever to worship any other*. For we adore 
HIM as being the Son of God ; but we justly love 
the martyrs as disciples of the Lord, and followers 
of him, on account of that distinguished affection 
which they bore towards their King and their 
Teacher ; — and may we be ranked at last in their 
number ! The centurion, perceiving the malevolence 
of the Jews, placed the body in the midst of the fire, 
and burnt it Then we gathered up hi« bones, — more 
precious than gold and jewels, — and deposited them 
in a proper place ; where, if it be possible, we shall 
meet, and the Lord will grant us, in gladness and joy, 
to celebrate the birthday of his martyrdom, both in 
conimemoration of those who have wrestled before us, 
and for the instruction and confirmation of those 
who come after f. Thus far concerning the blessed 
Polycarp. — Eleven brethren ft-om Philadelphia suf- 
fered with him,— but he alone is particularly cele- 
brated by all : — even by Gentiles he is spoken of in 
every place. He was in truth, not only an illustrious 
teacher, but also an eminent martyr, whose martyr- 
dom all desire to imitate, because it was regulated 
exactly by evangelical principles. For by j)atience 
he coiKjuered the unjust magistrate ; and thus receiv- 
ing the crown of immortality, and exulting with 
Apostles and all the righteous, he glorifies God, even 

tiie Father, and blesses our Lord, even the Rulei* of 


• The faith of Christ, and a jiist houour paid to true Chris- 
tiaos, abstracted from superstition and idolatry, appear in this 

t If we were in our times subject to such sufferings, I suspect 
^ese anniversary-mai lyrdoms of antiquity might be thought 
■ useful to us also. The superstition of alter- times appears not, I 
think, in this epistle. 

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our bodies, and the Shepherd of his Church dispersed 
through the world. — You desired a full account ; and 
we, for the present, have sent you, what will, per- 
haps, be thought a compendious one, by our brother 
Mark. When you have read it, send it to the 
brethren beyond you, that they also may glorify the 
Lord, who makes selections from his own servants 
of holy men, who shall thus honour him by their 
deaths. " To him who is able to conduct us all by his 
grace and free mercy into his heavenly kingdom, by 
his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, to him be glory, 
honour, power, majesty, for ever. Amen. Salute 
all the Saints ; those with us salute you, particijlarly 
Evaristus the writer, with all his house. He suffered 
martyrdom on the second day of the month Xan- 
thicus, on the seventh day Before the Calends of 
March, on the great sabbath, at the eighth hour. 
He was apprehended by Herod, under Philip the 
Trallian Pontifex, Statins Quadratus being procon- 
sul, but Jesus Christ reigning for ever, to whom be 
glory, honour, majesty, an eternal throne from age 
to age ! We pray that you may be strong, brethren, 
walking in the word Jesus Christ, according to the 
Gospel, with whom be glory to God, even the 
Father, and to the Holy Spirit, for the salvation of 
his elected Saints, among whom the blessed Polycarp 
hath suffered martyrdom, with whom may we be 
found in the kingdom of Jesus Christ, having fol- 
lowed his steps ! 

" These things Caius hath transcribed from the 
copy of IrenoBus, the disciple of Polycarp, who also 
lived with Irenaeus. And I Socrates of Corinth have 
transcribed from the copy of Caius. Grace be with 
you all. And I Pionius have transcribed from the 
tore-mentioned, having made search for it, and re- 
ceived the knowledge of it by a vision of Polycarp, 
as I shall show in what follows, collecting it whe« 
now almost obsolete. So may the I-rord Jesus Christ 

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gather qie with his elect, to whom be glory witli 
the Father and the Holy Spirit to the ages pf ages. 

I thought it not amiss for the iBnglish reader to see 
the manner in which books were th^n successively 
preserved in,the church. Of Irenaeus we shall hear 
more hereafter. Nor ought Pionius's account of his 
vision to be hastily slighted, by those who consider 
the scarcity of useful writings in those days. Whether 
the case was worthy of such a divine interposition^ 
we, who indolently enjoy books without end, caa 
scarce be judges. However, if any chuse to add thb 
to the number of pious frauds, which certainly did 
once much abound, the authenticity of the account 
will still, in substance, remain unimpeached, as very 
neajr the whole of it is in Eusebius. This historian 
mentions Metrodorus, a Presbyter of the sect of 
Marcion, who perished in the flames among others 
who suffered at Smyrna. It cannot be demed that 
heretics also have had their martyrs. Pride and 
obstinacy will in some minds persist even to death. 
Put as fiJl, w1k> have been classed among heretics, 
have not been so in reality, Metrodorus might be a 
very different sort of a man from Marcion. 

A comparative view of a sound Christian Hero 
suffering as we have seen Polycarp did, with a Ro- 
man Stoic or untutored Indian undergoing afflictions, 
where we could have an opportunity of surveying all 
circumstances, might show, in a practical light, the 
peculiar genius and spirit of Christianity, and its 
divine superiority. At the same time, tiiose who 
content themselves with a cold, speculative, and as 
they term it, rational religion, may ask themselves 
how it would have suited their principles to endure 
what Polycarp did; — and whether something of 
what is falsely called enthusiasm, and which the 
foregoing epistle breathes so abundantly, be not 
rqally divine and truly rational in tlie b^t sense. 


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martths or ltoks and vixnnb. 393 


*The 6ame of the persecution by Antoninus reach'* 
ed a country, which hitherto has affiurded us no 
ecclesiastical materials ; I mean that of France, in 
those times called Gallia. Two neighbquring cities^ 
Vienne and Lyons, appear to have been much fa-- 
voured with evangelical light and love. Vi^me was 
an antient Roman colony ; Lyons was more modern, 
and her present bishop was Pothinus. His very 
name points him out to be a Grecian. Irenaeus wa« 
a Presbyter of Lyons^ and seems to have been the 
author of the epistle which EusebiMS has preserved, 
and which the reader shall see presently. Other 
names concerned in these events are evidently of 
Greek extraction, and it is hence nK)st probable tha( 
some Asiatic Greeks had been the founders of tliesq 
Churches. Whoever gasts his eye on the map of 
France, and sees the situation of Lycms, at present 
the largest and most populous city in that kingdom, 
next to Paris, may observe how favourable the con- 
fluence of tlie Rhine and the Soane — antiently called 
the Arar — on which it stands, is for the purposes of 
(Tomniercet- The navigation of the Mediterranean, 
in all probability, was conducted by merchants of 
Lyons and of Smyrna ; and, hence, the easy intro- 
duction of the Gospel from the latter place and from 
the other Asiatic churches b apparertt. How much 
God hath blessed the work in France, the accounts 
of their sufferings will evince. Lyons and Vienne 
appear to be daughters, of whom thei^ A^i^tic mO' 
thers needed nut to be ashamed. 

• Euseb. iv. c. 1. 

t When will the moderns, notwithstai^ding aU ikf^is ^iiligbt' 
eii'^d views and improvements, learn to connect n'4v ig9ii«^ u.tti 
commerce with the propu^atipn q{ th^ Q<;»^p«l: . * 

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The servants of Christ, sojouniing in Vienne 
and Lyons in France, to the brethren in Asia pro- 
pria Rnd Phrygia, who have the same faith and 
hope of redemption with us, peace, and grace, and 
fAorj from God the Father and Christ Jesus our 

Wfe are not competent to describe with accuracy, 
Bor is it in our power to express the greatness of 
the affliction sustained here by the saints, the intense 
animosity of the heathen against them, and the com- 
plicated suflferings of the blessed martyrs. The 
grand enemy assaulted us with all his might ; and 
by his first essays, exhibited intentions of exercising 
malice without limits and without control. He left 
no method untried to habituate his slaves to hb 
bloody work, and to prepare them by previous ex- 
ercises against the servants of God. Christians 
were absolutely prohibited fi-om appearing, in any 
houses except their o^ti, in baths, in the market, 
or in any public place whatever. The grace of God, 
however, fought for us, preserving the weak and 
exposing the strong ; who, like pillars, were able to 
withstand him in patience, and to draw the whole 
fury of the wicked against themselves.' These en- 
tered into the contest, and sustained every species 
of pain and reproach. What was heavy to otiiers, 
to them was light, while they were hastening to 
Christ, evincing indeed, that the sufferings of 


REVEALED IN US. The first trial was from the 
people at large; shouts, blows, the dragging of their 
* Eusebius does not give tfie whole of the epistle at length, 
bat omits some parts, and interrupts the thread of the narrative. 
It is not necessary to notice the particular instances. 

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bodies, the plundering of their gpods, caatidg of 
stones, and the confining of them within their own 
houses, and all the indignities which may be ex« 
pected from a fierce and outrageous multitude, these 
were maignanimously sustained. And now, being 
led into the Forum by the tribune and the magis* 
trates, they were examined before all the people, 
whether they were Christians; and, on pleading 
guilty, were shut up in prison till the arrival of the 
governor *. Before him they were at length brought } 
and he treated us with great savageness of manners. 
The spirit of Vettius Epagathus, one of the bretliren, 
was roused, a man full (^ charity both to God and 
man, whose conduct was so exemplary, though but 
a youth, that he might jpstly be compared to old 
Zachaxias: for he walked in all the commandment^ 
and ordinances of the Lord bl^upoeless, a man evei^ 
univeari^d in.a^ts of bene^cei^e to his neighbours, 
full of zeal towards God, and fervent in spirit. He 
coul4 not bear to see so manifest a perversion of 
justice ; but, beii^ moved with indignation, he de* 
manded to be hem^d in behalf of the brethren, and 
pledg^ himself to prove that there was nothing 
atheistic or impious among them. Those about the 
tribxmal shouted against him : He was a man of 
(juality: and the govempr, being vexed and irri-^ 
tated by so equitable a demand from such a person, 
only asked him if be were a Christian ; and this he 
cqa^QSsed in the most open manner: — tlie conse-* 

?mm^e was, that he was rfiaked among the martyrs* 
Je was called, indeed, the Advocate of the Chris* 
tians; bat he bad an Advocate -f within, the Holy 

* It U probable, but not quite certain, that this governor was 
Stvems, aftenr am eraper^. The conduct of this, governor 
was wmtby of so inhuman a prince. 

t It is not easy to trufslate this, because of the ambiguous 
ose of tke ttrm nei(CM9^«rm,' Which signifies both a comforter 
and an advocate. Besides their only advocate in heaven, Jesut 
Ctirifl^ Cbrvit&ani b»T« tbs comfort ao4 power of bis Spirit 

VOL. I. Q 

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Spirit more abundantly than Zacharias, wliich he 
demonstrated by the tuhiess of his charity, cheer- 
fully laying down his life in defence of his brethren ; 
for he was, and is still, a genuine disciple of Christ, 
following the Lamb whithersoever he goetto*. The 
rest began now to be distinguished. The capital 
martyre appeared indeed ready for the contest, and 
discharged their part with all alacrity of mind. 
Othei-s seemed not so ready ; but rather, unexer- 
cised, and as y<5t weak, and unable to sustain the 
shock of such a contest : Of these, ten in number 
lapsed, whose case filled us with great and tinmea- 
sumble sorrow, and dejected the spirits of those who 
had not yet been apprehended, who, thougli th6y 
sustained all indignities, yet deserted not the martyrs 
in their distress. Then we were all much alarmed, 
because of the uncertain event of confession ; not 
that we dreaded the torments with which we were 
threatened, but because we looked forward unto the 
€nd> and feared the danger of apostasy. Persons 
were now apprehendecl darfy of such as were counted 
worthy to fill up the number of the lapsed, so that 
the most excellent were selected from the two 
churches, even those by whose labour they had 
Ipeen founded and established f. There were seized 
at the same time some of our heathen servants, — for 
the governor had openly ordefed us all to be sought 
for, — who, by the impulse of Satan, fearing the tor- 
ments which they saw inflicted on the Saints, at the! 
suggestion of the Soldier*, accused us of eatinb 
human flesh, and of various unnatural crimes, and 
ef things not fit even to be mentiotted or imagined^ 

* Evi^ry in^XK wbo reads this must see the iniquity and ab- 
surdity of the governor! A tenn pf reproach stands in the room 
of argument, l^he term Christiiin has long ceased to be infa- 
mous. But the words, LoUard, Poritan, Pietist, and Methodist^ 
have supplied it's place. 

: t Hence I judge that their churches were of no great an- 


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End such as ought not to be believed of imnkind*. 
These things being divulged, all were incensed even 
to madness against us ; so that if some were for^ 
merly more moderate on account of any connections 
of btood, affinity, or firiendship, they were then 
transported beyond all bounds with indignation. 
Now it was that our Lord's word was fulfilled; 
"The time will come when whosoever killeth 
you will think that he doeth God service." Thef 
holy martyrs now sustained tortures :which exceed 
tlie powers of description: Satan labouring, by means 
of these tortures, to extort somediing slanderous 
against Christianity. The whole fury of the multi- 
tude, the governor, and the soldiers, was spent in a 
particular manner on Sanctus of Vienne, thejdeacon ; 
and on Maturus, a late convert indeed, but a mag^ 
nanimous wrestler in spiritual things ; and on Attalus 
of Pergamus, a man who had ever been the pillar 
and support of our church J; and, lastly, on Blan- 
dina, through whom Christ showed, that those things, 
that appear unsightly and contemptible among men, 
are most honourable in the presence of God, on ac- 
count of love to his name, exhibited in real energy, 
and not in boasting and pompous pretences. For 
while we all feared ; and among the rest while her 
mistress according to the flesh, who herself was one 
of the noble army of martyrs, dreaded that she would 
not be able to witness a good confession, because of 
the weakness of her body, Blandina was endued 
with so much fortitude, that those, who successively 
tortured her from morning to night, were quite 

• Hence we sec again the usual charge of unnatural crimes 
objected to the Christiiins, believed in the paroxysm of the per- 
secution, but afterwards generally disclaimed by sober persons. 

t Surely they needed much the aid of the heavenly Com- 
forter, promised in those discourses, to enable them to sustain 
the load of calumny so injurious and distressing. 

X A farther confirmation of the idea that the Gospel had 
been brought into France by the charitable zeal of the Asiatic 

ft 2 

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worn out with fetigoe, and owned theo^dves bon- 
querdd and exhausted of their whole apparatus of 
tortures^ and were amazed to see her still breathing 
whilst her body was torn and laid open : they con- 
fessed that any. single species of the torture would 
have been sufficient to dispatch her, much snpre so 
great a variety as had been applied But the bless- 
ed woman, as a generous wrestler, recorered fresh 
vigour in the act of confession ; and it was an evident 
ceSreshment, su{^rt, and an annihilation of all her 
pains to say, ^' I am a Christian, aind no evil is 
<x)mmitted anu)ng us/' 

In the mean time Sanctus, having sustaiisd in a 
manter more than human the most ba]i)arous 
indignkieS) while the impious hoped to extort from 
himsometlibg injurious to the Gospel, througii the 
duration and intenseness of his sulierings, r^isfeed 
with so much firmness, that he would neither tell 
his own name, nor that of his nation or state, nor 
whether he was a freeman or slave; but to every 
interrogatory he answered in Latin, *' I am a Chris- 
tian." This, he repeatedly owned, was to him both 
name, and state, and race, and every thing; and 
nothing else could the- heathen draw from him« 
Hence the indignatioa of the governor and of the 
torturers wasfiercely levelled against this holy person, 
so that having exhausted all the usual methods of 
torture, they at last fixed brazen plates to the most 
tender parts of his body. These were made red 
hot for the purpose of scorching him, and yet he 
remained upright and inflexible, and firm in his con- 
fession ; being, no doubt, bedewed and refreshed by 
the heavenly fountain of the water of life which 
flows from Christ *. His body witnessed indeed the 
ghastly tortures which he had sustained, being one 

• An illustrious testimony to the doctrine of the Spirit* ia- 
flueoces, now so much depreciated, but which was then the 
support of suffering Christians. The aUiision is to St. John, 7^ 
chapter, " He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow 
rivers of living water. And this spake he of the Spirit.'' 

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continued wound and bruise, altogether contracted, 
and no longer retaining tbe form of a human crea- 
ture : , In this man the view of Christ suflFering 
wrought great marvels, confounded tbe adversary^ 
and showed, for the encouragement of tiie rest, that 
nothing is to be feared where the love of the Father 
is; and that nothing is painful where the glory of 
Christ is exhibited. For while the impious imagined, 
when after some days they renewed his tortures, 
that a fresh application of the same methods of pu'- 
oishment to his wounds, now swollen and inflamed, 
must either overcome his constancy, or, by dispatch- 
ing him on the spot, strike a terror into the rest, as 
he could not even bear to be touched by the hand, 
this was so fax from being tbe case, that, contrary to 
all expectation, his body recovered its natural posi* 
lion in the second course of torture ; he was restored 
to bis former shape and to tbe use of his limbs ; so 
dia^ by the grace of Christ, this cruelty proved not 
a punishment, but a cure. 

One of those who had denied Christ was Biblias, 
a female. The devil imagining that he had now 
devoured her, and desirous to augment her condem* 
nation, by 'inducing her to accuse the Christians 
ftdsely, led her to the torture, compelling her to 
charge us with horrid impieties, as being a weak and 
. timorous creature. But in her tcMture she recovered 
herself and awoke as out of a deep sleep, being 
admonbhed, by a temporary punishment, of the dan- 
ger of eternal fire in hell ; and, in opposition to the 
impious, she said, '' How oan we eat infismts, — we, 
to whom it is not lawful to eat the blood of beasts *•-' 
And now she professed herself a Christian, and was 
added to the army of martyrs. The power of Christ, 

* Hence it appears that tbe eating of blood was not prac- 
tised among tbe Cbristians of Lyons; and, tbat they understood 
not christicm liberty in this point, will not be wondered at by 
tboie who cootider the circumstances of tbe first Christia&s. 


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exerted in the patience of his pedple, bad now ex- 
hausted the usual artifices of tonnent ; and the devil 
was driven to new resources. Christians were thrust 
into the darkest and most noisome parts of the 
prison : their feet were distended in a wooden trunks 
even to the fifth hole ; and in this situation they 
suffered all the indignities which diabolical malice 
could inflict Hence many of them were suffocated 
in prison, whom the Lord, showing forth his own 
glory, was pleased thus to take to himself. The 
rest, though afflicted to such a degree as to seem 
scarce capable of recovery under the kindest treat- 
ment, destitute as they were of all help and support, 
yet remained alive, strengthened by the Lord, and 
confirmed both in body and mind ; and these en- 
couraged atid comforted the rest. 

Some youn^ persons who had been lately seized, 
and whose bodies had been unexercised with suffer 
ings, unequal to the severity of the confinement, 
expired. The blessed Pothinus, bishop of Lyons, 
upwards of ninety years of age, and very infirm and 
asthmatic, yet strong in spirit, and panting after 
martyrdom, was dragged before the tribunal ; his 
body worn out indeed with age and disease, yet he 
retained a soul through which Christ might triumph. 
Borne by the soldiers to the tribunal, and attended 
by the magistrates and ail the multitude, shouting 
against him as if he were Christ himself, be made a 
good confession. Being asked by the governor, who 
was the God of the Christians, he answered, If ye 
be worthy, ye shall know! He was then unmercifully 
dragged about, and suflfered variety of ill treatment : 
those, who were near, insulted him with their hands 
and feet, without the least resptct to his age; and 
those at a distance threw at him whatever came to 
hand : every one looked upon himself as deficient iu 
^eal, if he did not insult him in some way or anotber. 
Vov thus they ima^ned tliey revenged the cause 

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of their gods : He was thrown ioto prison almost cent. 
|)reathles8 ; and after two days expired. ^^^J!^ 

And here appeared a remarkable dispensation of 
Providence, ^d the immense cou) passion of Jesus, 
rarely exhibited indeed among the brethren, but not 
foreign to the character of Clirist. Many, who, when 
first apprehended, had denied their Saviour, were 
notwithstanding shut up in prison and suffered dread- 
ful severities, as this denial of Christ had availed 
them not But those, who confessed him, were 
imprisoned as Christians, abstracted from any other 
charge. Now the former, as murderers and inces- 
tuous wretches, were punished much more than the 
rest : Besides, the joy of martyrdom supported the 
latter, and tlie hope of the promises, and the love of 
Christ, and the Spirit of the Father, The former were 
oppressed witli the pangs of guilt ; so that, while 
they were dragged along, their very countenances 
distinguished them from the rest: but the faithful 
proceeded with cheerful steps : Their countenances 
shone with much grace and glory: Their bonds were 
as the most beautiftil ornaments, and they themselves 
looked as brides adorned with their richest array, 
breathing the fragrance of Christ so much, tlmtsome 
thought they had been literally perfumed. The 
others went on dejected, spiritless, and forlorn, and 
in every way disgraced, even insulted by the heathen 
as cowards and poltroons, and treated as murder- 
ers: they had lost the precious, the glorious, the soul- 
reviving appellation. The rest, observing these 
things, were confirmed in the faith, confessed without 
hesitation on their being apprehended, nor admitted 
the diabolical suggestion for a moment. 

The martyrs were put to death in various ways : 
Or, in other words, they wove a chaplet of various 
odours and flowers, and presented it to the Father. 
In truth, it became the wisdom and goodness of God 
(0 appoint that his servants, after enduring a great 

<i 4 

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23a filiBtOttt OF ¥ttE ClttJhtH. 

CHAP, and vijiegated contest, should, as victors, reciivd 
^_ J^, ^ ^ ^ ^, the great crown of imiDortality. — Maturus, Sanctas, 
filandina, and Attalus, were led to the wild beasts , 
into the. amphitheatre, to the common spectacle of 
Gentile inhumanity. 

One day extraordinary of tl>e shows being afforded 
to the people oil our account, Maturus and Sanctus 
again underwent various tortures in the amphitheatre, 
as if they had suffered nothing before. Thus were 
they treated like those? wrestlers, who, having conquer- 
. ed several times already, were obliged afresh to con^ 
tend with other conquerors by fresh lots, till some 
one was conqueror of the whole number and as such 
was crowned. * Here they sustained again, as they 
were led to the amphitheatre, the blows usually in^ 
dieted on those who were condemned to will beasts; 
they were exposed to be dragged and torn by the 
beasts, and to all the barbarities which the mad 
populace with shouts exacted, and above all to the 
hot iron chair, in which their bodies were roasted, 
and emitted a disgusting smell. Nor was this all ; 
the persecutors raged still more, if possible, to over- 
come their patience. But not a word could be extort- 
ed from Sanctus, besides what he first had uttered — 
the word of confession. These then after remaining 
alive a long time, expired at length, and became a 
spectacle to the world, equivalent to all the variety 
usual in the fights of gladiators. 

Blandina, suspended to a stake, was exposed as 
food to the wild beasts ; she was seen suspended in 
the form of a cross, and employed in vehement sup- 
t)lication. The sight inspired the combatants with 
much alacrity, while they beheld with their bodily 
eyes, in tlie person of their sister, the figure of Him 

• The allusions to the savage shows, so frequently made ia 
this narrative, point out their frequency in these ferocious 
times ; and give us occasion to redact on the mild appearances 
which soeiety has asaumcd, nmc^ ev^ the form of Christianity 
has prevailed in the world. 

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who was cmcified for them, that he might pefsunde cent. 
those who believe in him, that every one who suffers *^* 
for the glory of Christ, always has communion with 
the living God. None of the beasts at that time 
toiiched her : she was taken down from the stake, 
thrown again into prison, and reserved for a future 
contest; that* having overcome in various exercises, 
she might fiilly condemn the old serpent, and fire the 
brethren with a noble spirit of Christian emulation. 
Weak and contemptible as she might be deemed, yet 
when clothed with Christ the mighty and invincible 
champion, she became victorious over the enemy in 
a variety of rencounters, and was crowned with im- 

Attains also was vehemently demanded by the 
multitude ; for he was a person of great reputation 
among us. He advanced in all the cheerfulness and 
serenity of a good conscience ; — an experienced 
Christian, and ever ;*eady and active in bearing testi- 
mony to the truth. He was led round the am phi* 
theatre, and a tablet was carried before him, inscribed 
in Latin, " This is Attains the Christian." The rage 
of the people would have had him dispatched imme- 
diately; but the governor understanding that he was 
a Roman, ordered him back to prison : and con- 
cerning him and others, who could plead the same 
privilege erf Roman citizenship, lie wrote to the 
emperor, and waited for his instructions. 

The interval which this circumstance occasioned 
was not unfruitful to the Church. — The unbounded 
compassion of Christ appeared in the patience of 
many : * Dead members were restored to life by 
the means of the living ; and the martyrs became 
singularly serviceable to the lapsed ; and thus the 
Church rejoiced to receive her sons returning to her 
bosom : for by these means most of those who had 
den^ Christ were recovered, and dared to profess 
their Savipur : they felt again the divine life in their 
* Dead in their spiritual affections* 

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souls : they approached tx) the tribunal ; and their 
God, who willeth not the death of a sinner, being 
again precious tb their souls, they desired a fresh op- 
portunity of being interrogated by the governor. 

Caesar* sent orders that the confessors of Christ 
should b^ put to death ; and that the apostates from 
their divine Master should be dismissed. — It was 
now the general assembly, held annually at Lyons, 
and frequented from all parts ; and this was the 
time when the Christian prisoners were again exposed 
to the populace. The governor ag^ interrogated : 
Roman citizens had the privilege of dying by de- 
collation ; the rest were exposed to wild beasts ; and 
now it was that our Redeemer was magnified in ttiose 
who had apostatized. They were interrogated se- 
parate from the rest, as persons soon*to be dismissed, 
and made a confession to the surprise of 
THE Gentiles, and were added to the list of 
martyrs. A small number still remained in apostasy ; 
but they were those who possessed not the least 
spark of divine faith, had not the least acquaintance 
with the riches of Christ iu their souls, and had no 
fear of God before their eyes ; whose life had brought 
reproach on Christianity, and had evidenced them 
to be the children of perdition f; but all the rest 
were added to the Church. 

During their examination, a man who had lived 
many years in France, and was generally known fpr 

* Tt mast be confessed that the power of Stoicism in harden- 
ing the heart was never more strongly illustrated than in the 
case of Marcus Antoninus, thus breaking all the rights of 
Roman citizenship, and all the feelings of humanity. It puts 
me in mind of Mr. Pope's lines, 

In lazy apathy let Stoics b<»ast 

Their virtue fix'd— 'tis fix'd as in a frost. 

t The difference between true and merely professing Chris- 
^ tians is well stated, and deserves to be noticed. A season of per- 
secution separates real believers and real experienced Christians 
from others, much more visibly than ministers can now do by 
the moit judicious distinctions. _ 

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bis love of God and zealous regard for divine truth, cent. 
a person of apostolical endowments, a physician by ^^ 
profession, a Phrygian by nation, and named Alex- 
ander, stood near the tribunal, and by his gestures 
encouraged them to profess the faith. He appeared 
to all who surrounded the tribunal as one who tra- 
vailed in much pain on their account. And now 
the multitude, incensed at the Christian integrity 
exhibited at the conclusion by the lapsed, made a 
clamour against Alexander as the cause of this 
change. Upon which the governor ordered him into 
his presence, and asked him who he was : He de- 
clared that he was a Christian : The former, in great 
wrath condemned him instantly to the wild beasts ; — 
and the next day he was introduced with Attalus." 
Por the governor, willing to gratify die people, de- 
livered Attalus again to the wild beasts ; and these 
two underwent all the usual methods of torture in the 
amphidieatre : indeed they sustained a very grievous 
conflict, and at length expired. Alexander neither 
groaned nor spake a word, but in his heart conversed 
with God. Attalus, sitting on the iron chair and 
being scorched ; when the smell issued from him, 
said to the multitude in Latin, " This indeed which 
TE do is to devour men ; but we devour not our 
fellow-creatures, nor practise any other wickedness.'* 
Being asked what is the name of God, he answered, 
" God has not a name as men have." 

On the last day of the spectacles, Blandina was 
again introduced with Ponticus, a youth of fifteen : 
they had been daily brought in to see the punish- 
ment of the rest. They were ordered to swear by 
the idols ; and the mob perceiving them to persevere 
immoveably, and to treat their menaces with supe- 
rior contempt, were incensed ; and no pity was shown 
either to the sex of the one or to the tender age of 
the other. Their tortures were now aggravated by 
all sorts of methods ; and the whole round of barba- 

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rities was inflicted ; but menaces and puoishnieatft 
were equally ineffectual. Ponticus, ammated by 
bis sister, who was observed by the heathen to 
strengthen and confirm him, after a n!iagtianimoiis 
exertK)n of patience, yielded up the ghost. 
Martyrdom And uow the blessed Blandina, last of all, as a 
^, <>/. ffenerous mother having exhorted her children, and 
«cnt them before her victorious to the King, review^ 
ing the whole series of their sufferings, hastened to 
undergo the same herself, rejoicing and triumphing 
in her exit, as if invited to a marriage supper, not 
going to be exposed to wild beasts. After she had 
endured stripes, the tearing of the beasts, and the 
iron chair, she was enclosed in a net, and thrown to a 
' bull ; and having been tossed some time by the ani* 
mal, and pioving quite superior to her pains, through 
the influence of hope, and the realizing view of the 
objects of her faith and her fellowship with Christy 
slie at length breathed out her soul. Even her ene* 
mies confessed that no woman among them had ever 
suffered such and so great things. But their madness 
against the saints was not yet satiated. For the fierce 
and savage tribes of men, being instigated by the 
ferocious enemy of mankind, were not easily soften^ 
ed ; and tliey now began another peculiar war against 
the bodies of the Saints. That they had been 
conquered by their patience, product no stings of 
remorse : Indeed the feelings of common sense and 
humanity appear to have been extinguished among 
them : Disappointment increased their fury : The de* 
vil, the governor, and the mob equally showed their 
malice; that the Scripture might be fulfilled, " He 
that is unjust, let him be unjust still," as wdl as^ 
" He that is holy, let him be holy still*." They now 
exposed to dogs the bodies of those who had been 

• Rev. xxii. 11. A striking proof of thf sacred regard paid 
to that dJTJne work-^the book of ihe Revelation,— in th« 
second cdutury. 

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mfifocated in prispn, and carefully watched nigbt ^ cent^ 
day, lest any of odr people should by stei^th ppf/j l^Vi 
form the funeral rites. And then expo^ng wha^t had 
been left by the wild beasts w by the Are, , relics, 
partly torn, and partly scorched, and the h^^ witli 
the trunks, they preserved them by military guar(te 
•unburied for several days. Some gnashed on theiQ 
with their teeth, desirous, if possible, to mai^e them 
feel still more of their malice. Qthers laughed £mi4 
insulted them, praising their own gods, and ascribe 
ing the vaigeance indicted on the martyrs to them« 
All, however, were not of this ferocious mould* Yet 
even those who were of a geaitler spiritj and wh<) 
sympathbed with us, in 90011^ degree, upbraided us» 
often saying, — "Where is your God, — and what 
profit do ye derive frow their religion, which y^ 
valued above life itself *?'^ 

As for ourselves, our sorro^v was greatly increase^ 
because we were deprived of the melancholy satisfacr 
tion of interring our friends. Neither the darkness of 
the night could befriend us, nor could we prevail by 
prayers or by price. They watched the bodies witS 
tmremitting vi^lance, a3 if to deprive them of 
sepulchre was to them an object of great importance 
The bodies of the martyrs, halving been co0tun>eT- 
liously treated and exposed fpr six days, were burnt 
-and reduced to a^hes, and scattered by the wicked 
into tlie Rhone, that not tlje least panicle of tbeni 
might appear on the earth any more. And tbey did 
these things as if they could prevail against Qod, aiaij 
prevent tteir resurrection — and tliat they migjit deter 
others, as they said, from the hope of a ft^ture life 
— *'On which relying they introduce a strange aj?d 
new religion, and despise the most excruciating tpr- 
tures, and die with joy. Now let us see if they will 

• A diversity of temper or education produced a diversity of 
conduct among' these men, while yet all seem to have been 
equally void of the fear and love of God. 

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rise again, and if their God can help them and 
deliver them out of our hands* " 

Eusebius observes here, that the reader may 
judge, by analogy, of the fierceness of this persecu- 
tion in other parts of the empire, from this detail 
of thd affairs at Lyons ; and then adds something 
from the epistle concerning the humility, meekness,- 
iind charity pf the martyrs ; and this he contrasts with 
the unrelenting spirit of the* Novatians, which after- 
wards ' appeared in the Church. " They were such 
sincere followersof Christ, who, though he was in 


TO BE EQUAL WITH GOD," that, though elevated 
to such height of glory, and though they. had borne 
witness for Christ not once or twice only, but often, 
ia a variety of sufferings, yet they assumed not the 
venerable name of martyrs, nor permitted us to 
iiddress them as such. But if any of us by letter 
or word gave them the title, they reproved us vehe- 
mently. For it was with much pleasure that they 
gave the appellation in a peculiar sense to Him who 


begotten from the dead, and the Prince of. divine 
life. And they remembered with respect the de- 
ceased martyrs, and said ; They indeed were mar- 
tyrs whom Christ hath deigned to receive to himself 
in their confession, sealing their testimony by their 
exit, but WE are low and mean confessors. ' With 
tears they intreated the brethren to pray fervently 
for them, that they might be perfected. 

They exhibited, however, in real facts, the energy 
of the character of martyrs, and answered wi^ 
much boldness to the Gentiles : llieir magnanimity, 

* The natural enmity of the human mind against the things 
of God was never more strongly exemplified than in this per- 
secution. The folly of thinking to defeat the coun^lv of 
God appears very conspicuous; and so does the faith and hope 
of a blessed resurrection,— the peculiarly animating theme of 
true Christians. 

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imdaunted, calm, and intrepid, was visible to all 
the world, though the fear of God induced them 
to refuse the title of martyrs. • They humbled them- 
selves under the mighty hand by which they are 
now exalted *. They were ready to give a modest 
reason of the hope that was in them before all : 
They accused none : They took pleasure in com- 
mending, none in censuring ; and they prayed lor 
their murderers, as Stephen the accomplished mar- 
tyr did, •* I^rd, lay not this sin to their charge.** 
And if HE prayed thus for those who stoned him; 
how much more ought Qiristians to pray for the 
brethren? — ^They never gloried in aii unbecoming 
way over the lapsed ; but, on the contrary, they 
supplied their weaknesses with maternal tenderness, 
and shed many tears over them to the Father : tliey 
asked life for them, and he gave them it, which 
they were glad to communicate to their neighbours. 
Thus in all things they came off victorious before 
(jod, — ever cultivating peace, — ever commending 
peace ; — In peace they went to God, leaving neither 
trouble to their mother the church, nor faction and 
sedition to the brethren; but joy, peace, unanimity, 
and charity. 

Eusebius has given us another passage also which 
deserves attention. Alcibiades, one of the martyrs, 
had led, bef<;re the persecution, the life of an 
Ascetic: — he used to subsist only on bread and 
water. As he continued the same regimen while 
in confinement, it was revealed in a vision to Attains, 
after his first contest in the amphitheatre, that Alci- 
biades did ill not to use the creatures of God, and 
that he gave an occasion of scandal to others. Al- 
cibiades was hence induced to change his diet, and 
to partake of the bounty of God with thanksgiving. 
— Eusebius tells us also of an epistle directed by 
these martyrs to Eleutherus, the bishop of llome^ 
• 1 Pet. T. 

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in which they give a very honourable encomium of 
Irenaeus the presbyter. Of him we shall have oc* 
casion to speak more hereafter. He was appointed 
successor to Pothinus : he outlived the storm, and 
governed the Church afterwards with much ability 
and success. The letter to the Churches of Asia 
end Phry^a, of which Eusebius has given us such 
large and valuable extracts^ furnishes strong prooi^ 
of his piety and judgment. 

The superstitions, which afterwards arose in sq 
great abundance, and with so much strength : and 
which^ like a dense cloud, so long obscured the 
light of tiiQ Church, seem scarcely to have shaded 
the glory of ^hose Gallic martyrs , in any degree* 
The case of Alcibiades and the wholesoa)e (Seek 
which the divine goodness put to his well*meant 
austerities, demonstrate that excesse^s of this nature 
had not yet gained any remarkable ascendency in 
the Church. And the descripticMi of the hqmility 
and charity of the martyrs shows 1^ spirit much 
superior to that which we shall have occ£^ion, with 
regret, to notice in some succeeding aiMttpIs* of mar".- 
tyrdom. In a word, the power of Divine Grace 
appears little less than apostolical in the church a^ 
Lyons. The only disagreeable circumstance in the 
whole narrative is the too florid and tumid style, 
peculiar to the Asiatic Greeks ; and which Cicero, 
m his Rhetorical works, so finely contrasts with tlie 
Attic neatness and purity. In a translation it is 
scarce possible to do justice to thoughts extremely 
evangelical and spiritual, clothed originally in so 
tawdry a garb. Yet under this great disadvantage 
a discerning eye will see much of the *' unction" of 
real godliness. — At first sight we must be struck 
with the difference between primitive scriptural Chris- 
tianity, and that affectation of rational divinity, 
which has so remarkably gained the ascendant in 
Christendom in our times. In the account we have 
read, the good bfluence of the Holy Spirit on the 

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one handy and the evil influence of Satan on the other, 
are brought forward every where to our view. In our 
times both are concealed, or almost annihilated ; and 
little appears but what is merely human. Whether 
of the two methods is most agreeable to the plan of 
the sacred writings, must be obvious to every serious 
and honest enquirer. Christ's kingdom, in the nar- 
raUve before us, appears truly scriptural and divine : 
Christian faith, hope, and charity, do their work 
under the direction of his Spirit: Christians are 
humble, meek, heavenly-minded, patient, sustained 
continually with aid invisible ; and we see Satan 
actively, but unsuccessfully, engaged against them^ 
In the degenerate representations of the Christian 
religion by many modems, what a different taste and 
spirit ! — Every thing is of this world ! — Policy and 
ambition leave no room for the exhibition of the 
work of God and the power of the Holy Ghost : 
The belief of Satanic influence is ridiculed as weak 
superstition; and natural, unassisted reason, and tlie 
self-sufficiency of the human heart, triumph with- 
out measure ! 





The reigns of the two last-mentioned emperors, chap. 
which close the century, are short, and contain no , ^^^ 
Christian memoirs. That of Com mod us is remark- 
able for the peace granted to the Church of Christ 
through the world*. The method which Divine 
Providence used for this purpose is still more so. 
Marcia, a woman of low rank, was the favourite 
concubine of this emperor. She had, on some ac- 
♦ Euscb. B.v. c. 19. 
VOL. I, R 

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CHAP- count not now understood, a predilection for the 
Christians, and employed her interest with Com- 
modus in their favour*. He was himself the most 
vicious and profligate of all mortals, though the son 
of the grave Marcus Antoninus. Those, who looked 
at secular objects and moral decorum alone, might 
regret the change of emperors. In one particular 
point only, namely, in his conduct towards the 
Christians, Commodus was more just and equitable 
than his father. And the power and goodness of 
God in making even such wretched characters as 
Commodus and Marcia to stem the torrent of per- 
secution, and td afford a breathing- time of twelve 
years under the son, after eighteen years of the 
most cruel sufferings under the fiither, deserve to be 
remarked. For certainly the Church of Christ has 
no communion with debauchees ; and though it be 
abhoirent, also, in its plan and spirit from the sys- 
tems of proud philosophers, yet it is always friendly 
to every thing virtuous and laudable in society. — The 
fact is. It has a taste peculiarly its own : God's *vays 
are not like ours. — The Gospel now flourished abun- 
dantly ; and many of the nobility of Rome, with 
their whole families, embraced it. Such a circum- 
stance would naturally excite the envy of the great. 
The Roman senate felt its dignity defiled by innova- 
tions, which to them appeared to the last degree 
contemptible; and to this malignant source, I thmk, 
is to be ascribed the only instance of persecution in 
this reign. 

Apollonius, at that time a person renowned for 
learning and philosophy in Rome, was a sincere 
Christian; and as such was accused by an informer 
before Perennis, a magistrate of considerable influ- 
ence in tlie reign of Commodus. The law of Anto- 
ninus Pius had enacted grievous punishments against 
the accusers of Christians. One cannot suppose 
his edict had any force during the reign of his sue- 
♦ Dion. Cassiof . 

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tNDER COMMOnuS, &C. 243 

cfessor Marcus; but under Comriiodus it was re-^ 
i^ved ; or rather, a new one, still more severe, was 
enacted, that the accusers should be put to death*. 
Perennis sentenced the accuser accordingly, and his 
legs were broken. Thus far he seems to have 
coniplied with the injunctions of the kw : in what 
follows he obeyed the dictates of his own malice, or 
rather thdt of the senate. He begged of the pri- 
soner with much earnestness, tliat he would give an 
account of his faith before the senate add the court 
Apollonius complied, and delivered an apology for 
Christianity ; in Consequence of which, by a decree 
of the senate, he was beheaded. It is not quite easy 
to account for this procedure. It is perhaps the 
only trial recorded in history where both tlie accuser 
dnd the accused suffered judicially. Eusebius ob- 
serves, that the laws were still in force, commanding 
Christians to be put to death, who had been presented 
before the tribunal. But Adrian, or certainly An- 
toninus Pius, had abrogated this iniquitous edict 
of Trajan. Under Marcus it might be revived, — 
as what severity against Christiaris was not to be 
expected from that cruel persecutor ? Now Corn- 
modus, by menacing accusers with death, probably . 
^Supposed he had sufficiently secured the Christians, 
Yet, if a formal abrogation of the law agabst 
Christians did not actually take place, one may see 
how Apollonius came to suffer as well as his adver- 
sary. In truth, if he had beCn siletit, it is veiy 
likely he would have saved his own life. Insidious 
artifices, under the pretence of much respect and 
desire of information, seem to have drawn him into 
a measure which cost him so dear : — He died, how- 
tver, in the best of causes ! 

There is, in the work of Lucian, a remarkable 

story of a person tiamed Peregrinus, which, as it 

falls in with this century, and throws light 6n the 

character of the Christians who then lived, deserves 

• Buseb. B. T. c. 19. 

R a 

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CHAP, to be here introduced. '* In his youth," says this 
Y "l , author, " he fell into shameful crimes, for which 
he was near losing his life in Armenia and Asia. 
I will not dwell on those crimes ; but I am per- 
suaded that what I am about to say is worthy of 
attention. There is none of you but knows, that 
being chagrined because his father was still alive ^ 
after being upwards of sixty years of age, he stran- 
gled him. The rumour of so black a crime being 
spread abroad, he betrayed his guilt by flight 
He wandered about in divers countries to conceal 
the place of his retreat, till, upon coming into Ju- 
dea, he learnt the admirable doctrine of the 
Christians, by conversing with their priests and 
teachers. In a Httle time he showed them tliat they 
were but children compared to himself: for he 
became not only a prophet, but the head of their 
congregation : in a word, he was every thing to them : 
he explained their books, and composed some him- 
self; insomuch that they spoke of him sometimes 
as a god, and certainly considered him as a lawgiver 
and a ruler. — However, these people, in fact, adore 
that great person who had been crucified in Pales- 
tine, as being the first who taught men that religion. 
— While these things were going on, Peregrinus was 
apprehended and put in prison on account of his 
being a Christian. This disgrace loaded him with 
honour: it was tlie very thing he ardently desired: 
it made him more reputable among those of that 
persuasion, and furnished him with a power of per- 
forming wonders. The Christians, grievously aflBicted 
at his confinement, used their utmost efibrts to pro- 
cure him his liberty; and as they saw they could 
not compass it, they provided abundantly for all his 
wants, and rendered him all imaginable services. 
There was seen, by break of day, at the prison-, 
gate, a company of old womep, widows, and or- 
phans, some of whom, after having corrupted thq 

guard with 'money, passed the night witl^ him: 

3 . • . . ^ 

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there they partook together of ele^nt repasts, and 
entertained otie anoUier with religious discourses. 
They called that excellent man the New Socrates. 
There came even Christians, deputed from many 
cities of Asia, to converse with him, to comfort 
him, and to bring him supplies of money ; for the 
care and diligence which the Chrisrians exert in these 
junctures is incredible: they spare nothing in such 
cases. They sent, therefore, large sums to Pere- 
grinus ; and his confinement was to him an occasion 
of amassing great riches ; for these poor creatures 
are firmly persuaded they shall one day enjoy im- 
mortal life; therefore they despise death with won- 
derful courage, and offer themselves voluntarily to 
punishment. Their first lawgiver has put it mto 
their heads that they are all brethren. Since they 
separated from us, they persevere in rejecting the 
gods of the Grecians, and in worshipping that de- 
ceiver who was crucified : they regulate theirmanners 
and conduct by his laws ; they despise, therefore^ 
all earthly possessions, and use them in common. 
Therefore if any magician or juggler, any cunning 
fellow, who knows how to make his advantage of 
opportunity, happens to get into their society, he 
immediately grows rich; because it is easy for a man 
of this sort to abuse the simplicity of these silly peo- 
ple. However Peregrinus was set at liberty by the 
president of Syria, who was a lover of philosophy 
and of its professors ; and who, having perceived 
that this man courted death out of vanity and a 
fondness for renown, released him, despising him too 
much to have a desire of inflicting capital punishment 
on him. Peregrinus returned into his own country, 
and as some were inclined to prosecute him on ac- 
count of his parricide, he gave all his wealth to his 
fellow-citizens, who, t)eing gained by this liberality, 
imposed silence on his accusers. He left his country 
a second time in order to travel, reckonmg he should 


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CHAP, find every thing he wanted m the purses of tb© 
Christians, who were punctual in accompanying hiixj 
wherever he went, and in supplying him with all 
things in abundance. He subsisted in tliis manner 
for a considerable time; but having done something 
which the Christians abhor, — they saw him, I think, 
make use of some meats forbidden amongst them, — 
he was abandoned by them ; insomuch that having 
not any longer the means of support, be woulc( 
fain have revoked the donation he had made to lus 

The native place of this extraordinary man was 
Parium in Mysia. After his renunciation of Chris- 
tianity, he assumed the cbarg^cter of a philosopher. 
In that light he is mentioned by several heathen au- 
thors; and this part he acted till th^ time of his 
death ; when, in his old ^e, he threw himself into 
the flames, probably because suicide was honourable 
in the eyes of the Gentiles, and because Eippedocles, 
a brother philosopher, had thrown himself into the 
vulcano at moupt JEina. — A remark may here b^ 
made on the writer, on the hefp, and on tlie Chris- 
tians of those times* 

It will not be necessary to give an anxious answer 
to the railleries, cavils and insinuations of Lucian in 
this narrative. Whoever knows any thing of real 
Christianity, and the usual obloquy thrown upon it, 
will easily make just deductions, and separate what 
is true from what is false. Lucian was one of the 
most facetious authors of antiquity : He doubtless 
possessed the talents of wit and satire in a supreme 
degree. But truth and candour are not usually to 
be expected from writers of thjs sort : Lucian, like 
others of the same vein, had his eyes turned malig- 
nantly tchfvards all objects but, himself: He was 
intolerably self-conceited, and may be ranked with 

* Lardner's Collect. Vol iL c. 19.— Bullet's Establishmen^t 
of Clihstiaiiity, 

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Voltaire, Rousseau, Hume, and other modem wnt« 

ers of that stamp: He was sarcastic, unfeeling; and 

suspicious of evil every where, except in his own 

heart. The common consequence of such a temper, 

indulged without restraint, is a sceptical indifference 

to all sorts of religion, a contempt of every mode of 

it without distinction, and supercilious self-applause 

on account of superior discernment Such men, of 

all other?, seem most to fall under the censure of 

the wise man. He that trusteth his own 

HEART IS A fool. They take for granted the 

sincerity, humanity, and benevolence of their own 

hearts, with as much positiveness as they do the 

obliquity and hypocrisy of other men's. Antiquity 

had ONE Lucian ; and, it must be confessed the 

absurdities of paganism afforded him a large field of 

satire^ which, eventually, was not unserviceable to 

the progress of Christianity : Our times hai« 

ABOUNDED with writers of this stamp; and it is 

one of the most striking characteristics of the de« 

pravity of modem taste, that they are so much read 

and esteemed. 

. Peregrinus is no very imcommon character. On 
a less extended scale, men of extreme wickedness 
in a similar way may frequently be noticed : Men, 
whose early life has been devoted to nothing but 
vices : Then, afterwards, something of the garb and 
mode of real Christians is assumed by these de-^ 
ceivers. But it is not every one who has the abi-^ 
lities of Peregrinus to wear the hypocritical ^|arb so 
assumed with consummate address, and to impose 
on genuine Christians of undoubted disoemment 
The unfeeling heart of Lucian appears to rejoice in 
the impositions of Peregrinus ; and particularly^ that 
he was able to impose on Christiana so long and so 
completely. A philantliropic mmd would rathei have 
been tempted to mourn over the depravity of human 
nature, that it should be capable of such wickedness. 
Providence, however, often sets a dismal mark upon 


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,CHAP. such men in this life. Peregrinus lived long enough 
^^IL^ to be proved a complete impostor, and to be ren- 
dered intolerable to Christians; he acted the philo- 
sopher afterw ards, it seems, a long time : for what 
is often called philosophy is consistent enough witli 
much hypocrisy; and his dreadful end is awfully 
instructive to mankind. 

Yet, what is there in all this account of the 
Christians, discoloured as it is by the malignant 
author, which does not tend to their honour ? While 
Peregrinus made a creditable profession, they re- 
ceived and rejoiced in him : they did not pretend to 
infalUbility. His superior parts and artifice enabled 
him a long time to deceive. It is probable that be 
avoided as much as possible the society of the most 
sagacious and penetrating among the Christians. 
The followers of Jesus had learnt to spare the mote 
in thar brother's eye, and to feel the beam in tteir 
own. They were most solicitously guarded against 
that species of deception which is the most fatal, 
namely, the delusion of a man's own heart. If 
many of them were hence too much exposed to the 
snares of designing men, the thing tells surely to their 
honour, rather than to their disgrace. As for the 
rest; their liberality, their zeal, their compassion, 
their brotherly love, their fortitude, their heavenly- 
mindedness, are confessed in all this narrative to 
have been exceeding great 1 rejoice to hear from 
the mouth of an enemy such a testimony to the cha- 
racter of Christians : it is one of the best which I can 
meet with in the second century : Amidst such a 
dearth of materials it was not to be omitted. In 
morals, Christians must then have been, at least, 
much superior to the rest of mankind ; and it is 
only to be kunentdd, that he who could relate this 
story, had not the wisdom to make a profitable use 
of it fer himaelf. 

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It may throw additional light on the history of 
Christian doctrine and manners in this century, to 
give a brief view of Christian authors. Some oi the 
most renowned have been already spoken to, and a 
few more of great respectability must be deferred to 
the next century, because they outlived this. 

Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, lived under tlie reign 
of Marcus Antoninus and his son Commodus. He 
wrote many epistles to various churches, which de- 
monstrate his care and vigilance in support of Chris- 
tianity ; — a pleasing proof that Corinth was singu- 
larly favoured by being possessed of a zealous and 
charitable pastor ; though of his labours there, and of 
the state of the numerous society of Christians^ under 
his ministry, we have no account He wrote to the 
Lacedaemonians an instruction concerning the doc« 
trine of the Gospel, and an exhortation to peace and 
unity. He wrote to the Athenians also ; and, by 
his testimony, he confirms the account before given 
of their declension after the martyrdom of Publius; 
and of their revival under the care of Quadratus ; and 
he here informs us that Dionysius the Areopegite 
was the first bishop of Athens. In. his letter to the 
Christians in Crete he highly commends Philip the 
bbhop, aiid guards them against heresies. In his 
epistle to the churches of Pontus, he directs that all 
penitents should be received who return to the Church, 
whatever their past crimes have been, even, if ^ilty 
of heresy itself. One may heace infer, that discipline 
was as yet administered with much strictness in the 
churches ; and that purity of doctrine, as well as of 
life and manners, were looked on as of high im- 
portance, insomuch that some were inclined to a 

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CHAP, decree of rigour incompatible with the Gospel, 
^^^^ which promises full and free forgiveness through 
Christ to eVery returning sinner, without liinitationa 
or exceptions. Such inferences concerning the man- 
ners and spirit of the Christians at that time seem 
obvious and natural : The present state of chufch- 
discipline among all denominations of 'Christians in 
Engknd would undoubtedly suggest very diffident 
reflections. — He writes also to rinytus, bishop of 
the Gnossians in Crete, advising him not to impose 
on the Christians the heavy burden of the obli- 
gation to preserve their virginity, but to have respect 
to the weakness incident to most of them. It 
seemed worth while to mention this also as a proof 
that monastic austerities were b^inning to appear in 
the Church ; and that the l)est men, after the example 
of tlie Apostles, laboured to control them. Pinytus 
in his reply extols Dionysius, and exhorts him to 
afford his people more solid nourishment, lest, being 
always fed with milk, they should remain in a state 
of infancy. This answer speaks something of the 
ilepth of thought and knowledge in godliness, with 
which Tiny tus was endowed 

In his letter to the Romans, directed to Soter their 
bishop, he recommends to them to continue a cha- 
ritable custom, which, from their first plantation, 
they had always practised ; namely, — to send relieif 
to divers Churches throu^out the world, and to 
assist particularly those who were condemned to the 
mines ; — a strong proof both that the Roman church 
continued opulent and numerous, and also that they 
still partook much of the spirit of Christ*, 

Theophilus of Antioch is a person of whom it were 
to be wished that we had a larger account He 
was brought up a Geotilet wasi educated in all the 
knowledge then reputable in the world, and was 
doubtless a man of considerable parts and learnings 

♦ Euseb. B. iv. c. 23. 

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His conversion to Chriatianity seems to h&ve been cent. 
the most reasonable thing imaginable. The Holy , ''• 
Spirit in his operations ever appears to adapt himself 
much to different tempers. Theophilus was a rea- 
soner; and the grace of God, while it convinced 
him of his own inability to clear up his doubts, effec- 
tually enlightened his understanding. The belief of 
a resurrection appears to have been a mighty impedi- 
ment to his reception of the Gospel : It contradicted 
bis philosophy. — The notions of proud philosophers 
vary in different ages; but they seldom fail in some 
form or other, to withstand the religion of Jesus* 

Of his labours in liis bishopric of Antioch we 
have no account He carried on a correspondence 
with a learned man named Autolycus; but with 
what success we are not told. He appears also to 
have been very vigilant against feshionable heresies. 
He lived thirteen years m his bisliopric ; and died 
in peace about the second or third year of Com- 
modus * 

Melito, bishop of Sardis, from the very little of 
his remains that are extant, may be conceived to be 
one whom C'od might make use of for the revival of 
godliness in that drooping church. The very titles 
of some of his works excite our regret for the loss 
of them. One of them is^ on the submission of the 
senses to faith ; another on the soul, the body, and 
the spirit ; another on God incan^ate. A fragment 
of his, preserved by the author of tlie Chronicle, 
call^ the Alej^andrian, says, '* that the Christians 
do not adore insensible stones, but that they worship 
one God alone, who is before all things and in all 
thiqgs, and Jesus Christ who is God before' all 
ages." He lived under the reign of Marcus Anto- 
ninus. His unsuccessful but masterly apology pre- 
sented to that emperor has already been noticed. 
He travelled into the east on purpose to collect 
authentic ecclesiastical information ; and he gives us a 
* Euseb. B. iv. c. 93. and Cave's Life of Theophilus. 

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OTAp. catalogue of the sacred books of the Old Testament. 
He died and was buried at Sardis ; — a man whom 
Polycrates, bishop of Ephesus, his contemporary, 
calls an eunuch, that is, one who made himself an 
eunuch for the kingdom of heaven's sake*. Several 
such, I apprehend, were in the primitive times. But 
the depravity of human nature is ever pushing men 
into extremes. There soon arose some, who made 
a self-righteous use of these instances of self-denial; 
anci clogged them with unwarrantable excesses. 
The contrary extreme is now. so prevalent, that, — if 
a person were to follow the example of Melito on 
the same generous principles which our Saviour ex- 
presses, — It would be thought very extraordinary, 
and even ridiculous. But, whatever has the sanction 
of Holy Writ, should be noticed to the honour of 
those who practise it, whether agreeable to the taste 
of the age we live in or not, unless we mean to set 
up the eighteenth century as a sort of Pope to judge 
the foregoing seventeen. — ^The same Polycrates ob- 
serves of him, that his actions were regulated by 
the motions of the Holy Ghost ; and that he lies 
intened at Sardis, where he expects the judgment 
and resurrection. 

Bardaswies of Mesopotamia, a man renowned for 
learning and eloquence, escaped not the pollution 
of the fantastic heresy of Valentinian. His talents 
and his love of refinement were probably his snare ; 
but, as he afterwards condemned the fabulous dreams 
by which he had been mfatuated, and as he is al- 
lowed to be sound in the main, some relics of his 
former heresy might be left without materially in- 
juring either his faijh or his practice. I know no 
particular reason for mentioning him at all, but for 
the sake of introducing a remarkable passage of his 
writings, preserved by Eusebiusf, which shows at 

• Matthew, xix. Euseb. B. iv. c. ^5. Du Pin and Cave. 

i Euseb. Precep. Evang. Jortin's Remarks iv. 

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once the great progress and the powerful energy of 

" In Partliia," says lie, " polygamy is allowed 
and practised, but the Christians of Parthia practise 
it not In Persia the same may be said with re- 
spect to incest. In Bactria and in Gaul the rights 
of matrimony are defiled with impunity. The Chris- 
tians there act not thus. In truth, wherever they 
reside, they triumph in their practice over the worst 
of laws and the worst of customs.'* This eulogium 
is not more strong tiian just. — In what age did 
human inventions, whether philosophical or religious, 
produce such fruits as these? 

MUtiades was usefully engaged in discriminating 
the genuine influences of the Holy Spirit from the 
fictitious,— -of which unhappy instances had then 
appeared. False prophets evinced at first the most 
stupid ignorance, and afterwards a distempered 
imagination and furious frenzy. Miltiades showed 
that the influence of the Holy Spirit described in 
Scripture, was sober, consistent, reasonable. There 
is no new thing under the sun: impostures and 
delusions exist at thi^ day; — and why should it not 
be thought as reasonable now as it was then — to 
discriminate genuine from fictitious or diabolical 
influences, by laying down the true marks and evi- 
dences of each, instead of scomfiilly treating all alike 
as enthusiastic ? The extraordinary and miraculous 
influences chiefly come under Miltiades's inspection; 
for these were at that time very common in the 
Christian church ; so were delusive pretences also ; 
particularly those of Montanus and of his followers. 
"T^Let the discerning reader apply the observations 
to be made on these and similar facts to our own 

Apollinarius of Hierapolis wrote several books 
under tlie reign of Marcus Antoninus. We. have 
at present only their tities. One of them was a 
Defence of Christianity, dedicated ^o the emperor. 

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CHAP. The work, of which we know the most from a 
fragment preserved in Eusebius, is that against the 
Montanists, which will fall under our obsei*vation in 
the next chapter. 

Athenagoras^ towards the latter end of this cen-" 
tury, y^rote an apology for the Christian Religion. 
His testimony to the doctrine of the Trinity, con- 
tained in that work, expresses something beyond a 
mere speculative belief. This article of the Christian 
faitli appeared to him of essential consequence in 
practical godliness. He is a writer not mentioned 
by Eusebius. Du Pin does him injustice by ob- 
serving that he recommends the worship of angels. 
I have not access to his apology, but shall give a 
remarkable quotation from Dr. ty aterland, to whom 
I am obliged for the only valuable information I 
have of this author*. Speaking of Christians, he 
describes them as ^' men that made small ac- 
count of the present life, but were intent only upon 
contemplating God and knowing his Word, who is 
from him, — what union the Son has with tlie Father, 
what communion the Father has with the Son, what 
the Spirit is, and what the union and distinction 
are of such so united, the Spirit, the Son, add the 

If this be true, — and Athenagoras may well be 
credited for the fitct — it is not to be wondered at, 
that the primitive Christians were so anxiously te- 
nacious of the doctrine. It was the climate in which 
alone Christian fruit could grow. Their speculations 
were not merely abstracteid. They found in the 
view of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, something 
of that energy which could raise them from earth to 
heaven : That is, they found the peculiar truths of 
the Gospel, which are so closely interwoven with 
the doctrine of the Trinity. The right use of the 
doctrine is briefly, but strongly intimated in this 

• Epiphanius Heres. 54. 1. See Dr. Wat«rlftQd's Import- 
fmce of the Doctrine of the Trinitj« 

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passage; — and the connection between Christian cent. 
principles and practice appears. In truth, a Trini-. . JJ: ^ 
tarian speculatist may be as worldly-minded as any 
other person. His doctrine, however, contains that 
which alone can make a man fix " his affections on 
things above." 



My plan calls me not to notice mirtutely all the 
heresies which appeared in this century: but I 
would not omit them, whenever they may throw 
light on the work of God's Holy Spirit and the pro- 
gress of godliness. — On their own account, they 
deserved not much attention ; yet it was necessary 
to examine and confute some of them; and Irenaeus 
acted charitably in so doing. It is, however, to be 
regretted, that in his celebrated work against here- 
sies, he should be obliged to employ so much time on 
scenes of nonsense. — Let it be remarked in general, 
that tlie same opposition to the Deity of Christ, or 
his manhood, and the same insidious methods of 
depreciating or abusing tlie doctrines of grace, con- 
tinued in the second century, which had begun in the 
first, with this difference, that they were now multi- 
plied, varied, complicated, and refined by endless 
. subtleties and fancies, in which the poverty of taste 
and genius, so common in a period when letters are 
declining, discovers itself no less than the Christian 
doctrine. Like spots in the sun, however, they va- 
nished and disappeared from time to time ; though 
revived again in different forms and circumstances. 
Not one of the heresiarchs of this century was able 

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to create a strong and permanent interest ; and it is 
no little proof of the continued goodness and grace of 
God to his Church, that the sound Christians still 
kept themselves separate and distbct, and preserved 
the purity of discipline. 

It has often been said, that many have been en- 
listed among heretics, who were real Christians. 
When I see a proof of this, I shall take notice of it 
But of the heretics in the second century, I fear, 
in general, no such favourable judgment ought to be 
passed. The state of Christian affairs, in truth, 
w as such as to aftbrd no probable reason for any 
real good man to dissent. Where was there more 
of piety and virtue to be found than among the 
general society of Christians ? And how could any 
persoris be more exposed to the cross of Christ than 
they were? 

Hereiyre- 1. The first sct of hcrctics of this century, were 
th^^jJ^Mon those who opposed or corrupted the doctrines of the 
of Christ, person of Christ. A single quotation from Eusebius 
may be sufficient, as a specimen. 

Speaking of the books which were published in 
these times, he observes*, " Among them there is 
found a volume written against the heresy of 
Artemon, which Paulus of Samosata in our days 
endeavoured to revive. .When this book had con- 
futed the said presumptuous heresy, which main- 
tained Christ to be a mere man, and that this was an 
antient opinion ; after many leaves tending to the 
confutation of this blasphemous falsehood, the author 
writes thus : * They affirm that all our ancestors, 
even the apostles themselves, were of that opinion, 
and taught the same with them, and that this their 
true doctrine was preached and embraced to the 
time of Victor, the thirteenth bbhop of Rome after 
Peter, and was corrupted by his successor Zephy- 
rinus. This might carry a plausible appearance of 

• B. V, c. 35. 

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1»R0GR£SS OF CHftlStlANlTT. 

Irdth, were it not, in the first place, contrddicted 
by the Holy Scriptures, and in the next, by the 
books of several persons, which they published long 
before the time of Victor, against the Gentiles, in the 
defence of the truth and in confutation of the here- 
sies of their times. I mean Justin, Miltiades^ 
Tatian, and Clement, with many others; in all 
which woi4cs Christ is preached and published to be 
God, Who knoweth not that the works of Irenaeus, 
Melito, and all other Christians, do confess Christ 
to be both God and Man? In fine, how many 
psalms, and hymns, and canticles were written fix)m 
the beginning by faithful Christians, which celebrate 
Christ, the Word of God, as no other than God 
indeed ? How then is it possible, according to their 
report, that our ancestors, to the days of Victor, 
should hare preached in that way, when the creed 
of the Church for so many years is pronounced as 
certain, and known to all the world? And ought 
they not to be ashamed to report such falsehoods of 
Victor, when they know it to be a fact, that this 
very Victor excommunicated Theodotus, a tanner, 
the father of this apostasy, who denied the divinity 
of Christ, because he first affirmed Christ to be 
only man. If Victor, as tliey report, had been of 
then* blasphemous sentiments, how could he have 
excommunicated Theodotus the author of the 

Victors government was about the dose of the 
second century. The anonymous author before us 
writes roost probably in the former part of the third* 
Nor is his testimony much invalidated by his being 
anonymous* The facts to which he speaks were 
dotoriouB and undeniable. We see hence, that all 
parties, notwithstanding the contempt, which some 
affect, of the testimony of antiquity and tradition^ 
are glad to avail themselves of it where they can ; 
which is itself a proof of the tacit GOBseiifc of aUflian- 

VOL. I, • 

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l^ind, that this testinaony, thcx^h by no means de-« 
cistve, nor such 9s ought ever to be' put in qunpe* 
tilion with Scripture, yet M^eighs smnething, and 
ought not to be treated with unreserved disdain. In 
our own days the same attempt has been made in 
the same cause ; with what probability of sucoess, in 
the way of sound argumait, let the reader, who 
has considered the passage I have quoted from 
Eusebius, judge for himseli In fact, it appears 
that a denial of the Deity of Christ could not find 
any patron within the pale of the Church, for the first 
two hundred yea^s. The prevaleacy of sentiments 
derogatory to the person and offices of Christ was 
reserved for a lat^r period. Every person of any 
ehiinence in the Church foe J4fldgp)ent and piety» 
holds unequivocally an opposite language. In some 
of the most renowned we have seen it all along in 
the course of this century. 

This Tbeodotus was a citizen of ByMntinmt a 
tanner, but a man of parts and learning. Heie** 
tical perversions of Scripture have often been inr 
vented by such persons: Pride and selfK^ncett 
seem to have a peculiar ascendency over mtn who 
have acquired knowledge in private by their own 
industry : And doubtless one of the best advantages 
of public seminaries is this, — ^that modesty aod rea^ 
sonab)^ submiftsion are iaculmted in them; and neo^ 
by seeing and feeling their own inferiority, are. tw^M 
to think more lowly of their own attainments, 'iniis 
self'-taught tanner speculated ; folt himself importam 
^ough to be sin^ar ; and revived the heresy of 
Ebion. He was brought witb some oiber Cbdsr 
liana before persecuting magistrates: His eovpar 
nions honestly confessed Christ and mxSsmdi Hetwat 
the Qnly man. of the company whod^iied' him. In 
truth, be had no prineiplies stoong enough to induct 
him to bear the cross of Christ TheMotua liv^ 
atul a deokr. of Christ), aad being afier/v^ardB iipbmidr 

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«d[ for dcoyinghis God; •* N(^'* says he> " I have 
not denied God, but man; for Christ is no more *,*' 
His heresy hence obtained a new iiaEne, that of the 
God^denyh^ apostasy f. Persecution frequently 
does in t^iis life, in part, what the last day will da 
completely, — ^separate wheat fix)m tares ! 

2. The controversy respecting the proper time of Controrersy 
the observation of Easter, which bad been amicably ©Stttf"* 
adjusted between Polycarp of Smyrna and Anicetus 
of Home, who had agreed to differ, was unhappily 
revived towards the close of this century : Synods 
were held concerning it: and an uniformity was 
attempted in vain througliout tiie Church. Victor 
of Rome, with much arrogance and temerity, as if 
he had foilt the very soul of the future papacy formed 
in himself, inveighed against the Asiatic churches> . 
and pronounced them excornnmnicated persons. The 
firmness, moderation, and charity of of jc man was 
of great service in quashing this dangerous contention. 
Ireneus, bishop of Lyons, rebuked the uncharitable 
spirit of Victor, reminded him of the union betweea 
Polycarp and his predecessor Anicetus, notwith- 
stacKling their diflference of sentiment and practice 
in this point, and pressed the strong obligation of 
Christians to love and unity, though they mighl 
di&r in smaller matters ; and surely a smaller mat«- 
ter of diversity was scarcely ever known to occasion 

The particulars of the debate are not woithy of 
Ipecital. — Certain fundamentols bein^ stated in the 
first place, in which all real Christians are united^ 
they may safely be left, each society to follow its 
private judgment in other things ; and, — surely,— r- 
yet hold the unity erf the Spirit in the bond of peace. 
But that this was effected with so much difficulty, 
and that so slight a subject should appear of so great 
Aioiiient at this time, seems no small proof that the 

* Damascen. Heres. 54. f A^ynrtOitf •vof'tat^itt. 


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CHAP, power of true godliness had suffered some dedeh* 
v ^j^-^ sion ; and was an omen, towards the close of this 
century, of the decay of the happy effects of the first 
great feffusion of the Spirit When faith and love 
are simple, strong, and eminently active, such sub* 
jects of debate are ever known to vanish like mists 
before the sun, 
Hereiy of ^ 1;^^ Church was internally shaken and much 
disfigured by the heresy of Montanus. This is the 
account of it given by ApolHnaris of Hierapolis, who 
took pains to confute it*. " Being lately at Ancyra 
in Galatia, I found the Church throughout filled, — 
not with prophets, as they call them, but with false 
prophets ; where with the help of the Lord, I dis- 
puted publicly for many days against them, so that 
the Church rejoiced and was confirmed in the truth; 
and the adversaries were vexed and murmured. It 
originated in the following manner : T here is a village 
in Mysia, a region of Phrygia, called Ardaba, where 
we are told that Montanus, a late convert in the time 
of Gratus, proconsul of Asia, gave advantage to 
Satan by being elated with ambition. ITie man 
behaved in a frantic manner, and pretended to 
prophesy. Some who heard him, checked him as a 
lunatic, and forbad his public exhibidons, mindful of 
our Saviour's predictions and warnings against false 
prophets : but others boasted of him as endued with 
the Holy Ghost, and forgetting the divine admoni* 
tions, were so ensnared by his arts as to encourage 
the imposture. Two women were by Satan possessed 
of the same spirit, and spake foolish and fanatical 
things. They gloried in their own supposed superior 
sanctity and happiness ; and were deluded with the 
most flattering expectations. — Few of the Phrygians 
w ere seduced, though they took upon them to revile 
every Church under heaven which did not pay ho- 
mage to their pretended inspirations. The faithful 
♦ Euseb. i3. C. 14. 

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throughout Asia in frequent synods examined and 
condemned the heresy." 

It has ever been one of the greatest trials to men 
really led by the Spirit of God, — besides the open 
opposition of the profane, — to be obliged to en- 
counter the subtile devices of Satan, who often raises 
up pretended illuminations, and so connects them 
with delusion, folly, wickedness, and self-conceit, 
that they expose true godliness to the imputation of 
enthusiasm, and to contempt and disgrace. The 
marks of distinction are plain to minds which are 
serious and of tolerable judgment and discretion; 
but, men, void of the fear of God, will not distin- 
guish. We see here an instance of what has often 
been repeated from that day to die present in the 
Church of Christ; and Christians should never fail 
to do now, what they then did, — namely,^ — they 
should examine, expose, condemn, and separate 
themselves from such delusions : The enthusiasts of 
every age follow the pattern of Montanus in folly, 
pride, and uncharitableness : Nothing happens here 
but what is foretold in Scripture : and in truth, de- 
lusions of this sort so generally accompany the real 
work of God, that wherever that appears, these 
very seldom fail to appear also. 

4. But the eruptions of fanaticism are too wild and 
unnatural to remain long in any degree of strength. 
Whatever high pretensions they make to the influ- - 
ences of the Divine Spirit, they are ever unfavour- 
able to them in reality ; not only by their unholy 
tendency during the paroxysm of zeal, but much 
more so by the effects of contemptuous profaneness 
and incredulous scepticism which tliey leave behind 
them. It is for the sake of these chiefly that Satan 
seems to invent and support such delusions. — ^But 
his grand resource against the Gospel is drawn from 
contrivances more congenial with the nature of man. 
Human philosophy after the rudiments of the world 
and not after Chnst, formed the last corruption of 


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CHAP, this century; which I shall 1^ open, to the best nf 
^^' my judgment, from the lights of history. It was 
toward the close of the century tlmt it made its ap- 
|)ea?ance, nor were the effects of it very great at 
present : in the next century they appeared very 

Alex;andria was at this time the m^ reqowned 
seminary of leaining. A sort ofphilosophers there 
appeared who called themselves Eclectics^ t^causc, 
without tying themselves down to any one set of 
rYules, they chose what tliey thought most agreeable 
to truth from different masters and sects. Their 
pretensions were specious; and while they preserved 
jthe appearance of candour, n^deration^ and dis- 
passionate inquiry, they administered mujch. fuel to 
the pride of men leaning to their awn uiKl^rstandt 
inga. Ammoniu3 Saccaa, a famous Aiexaod^iaa 
teacher,, seems to have reduced the. opinions pf this 
jsect to a system. Plato was bis principal guide; but 
he ' invented many things of which Plato, nevei^ 
dreamed. What Ws religious profession was is dis^ 
puted among the leavned. Undoubtedly he was 
educated a Christian; and, though Porphyry, in 
his enmity against Christianity, observes that he 
forsook the Gospel and returned to gentilisnip yet 
tlie testimony of Eusebius*, who must have known, 
seems decisive to the contrary; — it proves, that be 
continued a Christian all his days : his tracts oa 
the ag] cement of Moses and Jesus, and his har-^ 
mony of the four Gospels, demonstrate that he 
desired to be considered as a Christian, This man 
fencied that all religions, vulgar and philosophical, 
Grecian and bai barous, Jewish and Gentile, meant 
the same thbg at bottom. He undertook by alle^ 
gorizing and subtilizing various fables and systems^ 
to ntake up a coalition of all sects and religions; 
and, from his labour continued by his disciples—^ 
some of whose works, still refa^io,— i^ foiU0wen 

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were tau^t to look on Jew, Philosopher, vulgaf 
Pagao^ and Christian^ as all of the same creed. 

l>r. Lardner, in opposition to Mosheim, who 
aeems to have very successAiUy illustrated this mat* 
'tor J contends that there were no such motley-mixed 
cbaracters,. and that the scheme is cfmnerical. I 
have attended closely to Dr. Larchiar's own ac* 
c<nmt of this teactor; and also to his review of 
t>hilosophers in the third and following centuries ; 
and it appears to me, that persons of the class de- 
scribed did actually exist Ammonius himself seems 
to hdve been, if I may be allowed the expression, a 
Pagan-Christian. I'hat Eusebius and Porphyry 
sixxikl each claim him for their own, is no iittl^ 
proof of his ambiguous character : and I wish we 
may not have too melancholy proofs of the same 
thing, when we come to consider the characters of 
many of the fathers who followed. Longinus, who 
was of the same school, though more a philologist 
than a philosopher, in his well-known respectful 
quotation from Moses, evinces that he wag tinctured 
with a sknilar spirit. Plorinus is largely aiid fully 
in the same scheme. Who knows whether to call 
Ammianujs the historian, and ChalcidiuS) Christian 
Or Pagan? They affected to be bothj or rather 
pretended that both meant the same thing ; and in 
the fourth and fifth century, though some, with Por- 
phyry, through the virulance of their opposition, 
were decided enemies of Christ, it is certain that 
many ambiguous dmracters abounded among the 

In truth, we see in every age similar scenes. The 
Gotpel in its infancy hats to struggle with the open 
and ^avowed enmity of all mankind. He, whose 
decisive power alone can do it, after floods of per- 
secution and a thousand discouragements, gives his 
i^^gion a settiemant inr the woild too strong to be 
overtamectr ^ its enemies hoped at first would be 
tfie case. The light of divine troth fails not to make 
some imptessions on minds by no means converted 

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through it to God. Christianity, though it enforce* 
its truths with much greater clearness than liatund 
religion does ; and though it proves its superiority, 
by exhibiting men who practise accordingly, still haa 
many truths in common with natural religion : Thence 
ingenious persons are ready to persuade tliemselves, 
that their philosophy and the Gospel mean the same 
in substance: They compliment Christianity wth 
^ome respectful attention, and yet studiously avoid 
the cross of Christ, and the precise peculiarities of 
the Gospel, in order to preserve their credit in the 
)*^orld. We may all have so much noticed* this 
disposition in men, and the number of doubtful cha- 
racters in consequence, that Mosheim's account 
cannot, I thbk, appear difficult of admission^ 

Undoubtedly the appearance of persons of this 
$ort is a sure symptom that the Gospel is raised to 
gome degree of eannence ami stability in the world. 
In the first century such an ambiguous character 
would have been a rare phenomenon. Philosophers 
found no desire to coalesce with a religion contemp- 
tible in their eyes in all respects. It was not till 
numbers gave it some respectability, that a coalition 
pf that kind took place. Seneca would haye thought 
himself sufficiently liberal in not persecuting, but 
pnly despising the same religion, which Ammonius, 
a century afterwards, deigned to incorporate, in 
pretence at least, with his philosophy. — It ha^ beeq 
observed, that the attempt of the court of Charles 
^e first to draw over some of the pariiamentary 
leader^ to their interest, was a sure sign of the dimi- 
nution of regal despotism. Satan beheld the decay 
of his empire of idolatry and philosophy in the same 
light ; and it behooved him to try the same arts to 
preserve what remained. Melancholy and disastrous 
as was the evil we are contemplating, and evea 
more decisively destructive to the progress of vital 
godliness than any other which had yet appeared, it 
w»s, however, an evidence of the victorious streogtH 

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of the Gospel, and a confession of weakness on the 
part of paganism. 

In carrying on these arts of seduction, the insi* 
dioasness of such middle chai'acters consisted much 
in expatiating on the truths which lie in common, as 
of the greatest importance; and in reducing, as far 
as in them lay, the peculiar truths of the Gospel 
into oblivion. It was just in this manner, I re- 
member, that* a clergyman speaks in a celebrated 
sermon preached on the accession of James the 
^second. While he deals out strains of fulsome 
adulation on ttie sovereign, he answers the objection 
against hini drawn from his religion, by observing of 
what little importance opinions were; and that 
moral and practical matters were alone worthy of 
consideration. The conduct of James, in a little 
tfane after, shewed the weakness of this reasoning : 
and the effects of this philosophical evil, which, 
like leaven, soon spread in some faint degree over 
the whole Church, shewed too plainly that pure 
and unde61ed sentiments of religion are of high 

We have hitherto found it no hard matter to dis* 
coter, in the teachers and writers of Christianity, the 
vital doctrines of Christ We shall now perceive 
that the most precious truths of the Gospel begin 
to be less attended to, and less brought into view. 
Even Justin Martyr, before the period of eclectic 
corruption, by his fondness for Plato adulterated 
the Gospel in some degree, as we have observed 
particularly in the article of free-will. Tatian, 
bis scholar, went bolder lengths, and deserved 
the name of heretic. He dealt largely in the merits 
of continence and chastity; and these virtues, 
poshed into extravagant excesses, under the notion 
of superior purity, became great engines of self- 
righteousness and superstition, obscured men's views 
9i the faith of Christ, and darkened the whole faci^ 

• Tbe Vkar of Newcaatlc 


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CHAP, of Cbrifitianity. Under the fosteriag band of Am*- 
montus and his followers, this fictitious holinesfly 
di^ised undertime appearance of eminent sanctity^ 
was formed into a system ; and it soon began to ^ 
Iterate the worst of evils. That mem is altogetlier 
fallen, — that be is to be justified wholly by the faith 
^ Christ, — that his atonement and m^iation alone 
procure us access to God and eternal lile, — that 
holiness is the efiect of divine Grace, and is the pro* 
j)er work of the Holy Spirit on the heart of man;— 
lliese, — and if there be any other similar evaiige^ 
lical truths, — as it was not possible to mix them 
with Platonism, faded gradually in the Churd), and 
were at length partly denied and partly forgotten* 

St. Paul's caution against i>h]losophy and vain 
deceit it appears, was now fatally neglected by the 
Christians. False humility, '^ will-worship,"' curious 
and proud refinements, bodily austerities mixed with 
h^h self-righteous pretensions, ignorance of Christ 
and of the true life of faith in him, iniseraUy super* 
seded by ceremonies and superstitiotui, — iSX these 
things are divinely delineated in the second chapter 
to the Colossians ; and, so far as words can do it, 
the true defence against them is powerfully described 
and enforced. 

Even the cultivation of the human mind, when 
carried on in the best manner, is apt to be abused 
by fallen man, to the perversion of the Gcnpel* 
' Yet I would ]Qat place the mathematics and natural 
])diilosopby on the same footing as the Platonic or 
Stoical doctiines. In truth, philosophy is too re^ 
^peetable a name for these last: As they were 
managed in the school of Ammonius or of Antone 
nus, they displayed little that deserved the attaotioD 
of a wise man : They were either rmnantic, or ab« 
selutely fiklse. The philosophy of the modema^ 
whea applied to abstract quantity, or to the works 
of nature, isy doubtless, possessed of truth and so- 
lidity, yet gieat care is requisite to keep evea modem 
3 • 

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i)hilo3ophy within its due bounds; and to|)reywt 
lt& eocroachments oo Christianity : and the danger 
of bek^ elatad by pride, and of beio^ made too 
wise for the teaching of God')& H<^y Spurit, ia coosh 
m^n to this with all other sorts of se<:ular knowledg9« 
In re^d to what is calkd u^oral philosophy and 
ineta^ysks, tliese seem oHich a)ora ;neariy aili^ to 
the an^t philosophical evilsy and have ever been 
dangerous to rd^om: fatal naistakca have beeo 
made through their means; aod in gmerali if wa 
except a very small portion of natural truths vrhich 
are agreeable to the moral sense and conscience of 
mankind, they appear, — at least, — when conducted, 
as they have usually been, by un-evangelical persons, 
— ^to be the very same sort of mischievous specula- 
tion and refinement against which the apostle to the 
Colossians speaks. Certainty his cautions against 
philosophy, are equally applicable to them ; — for 
TH£V have been found to militate against tlie vital 
truths of Christianity, and to corrupt the Gospel in 
our times as much as the cultivation of the more 
antient philosophy corrupted it in early ages. — I 
would here be understood, in both cases, to refer 
to matter of fact, and not^o imaginary suppositions. 
— In fact, the systems of the moral and metaphysi- 
cal writers have rarely been founded on Christian 
principles, and yet they have pretended to incorpo- 
rate themselves with the Gospel. The effect of such 
combination must ever prove mischievous, par- 
ticularly when addressed to the reason of man, 
prejudiced by self-conceit and the love of sin. 

And here we close the view of the second century; 
which, for the most part, exhibited proofs of divine 
grace as strong, or nearly so, as the first We 
have seen the same unshaken and simple faith of 
Jesus, the same love of God and of the brethren ; 
and, — that in which they singularly excelled modern 
Christians, — ^the same heavenly spirit and victory 

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!i6S msTORT or the church. 

CHAP, over the world. But a dark shade is enveloping 
^" these divine glories. The Spirit of God is grieved 
already by the ambitions intrusions of self-righteous- 
ness, argumentative refinements, and Pharisaic pride; 
and though it be more common to represent the 
most sensible decay of godliness as commencing a 
ccntuipF later, to me it seems already begun. The 
surriving effects, however, of the first Effusion of 
the Spirit, and also the effects of some rich additional 
communications of the same Spirit, will appear in the 
tiiird century< 

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BEFORE we proceed with the orderly course 
of events in tins century, it may be convenient 
to continue the account of authors who properly 
bdonged to the last, thou^ they survived the con- 
clusion of it We meet with four celebrated cha- 
racters of this description; Irenaeus, Tertullian^ 
Pantaenus, and Clement of Alexandria. 

Of Irenseus it were to be wished we had a more 
copious account: The place of his birth is quite 
uncertain. Hb name, however, points him out to. 
be a Grecian. His instructors in Christianity were 
Pi^ias, bishop of Hierapolis, and the renowned 
Polycarp. The former is generally allowed to have 
been a man of I'eal sanctity, but of slender capacity. 
He, as well as Polycarp, had been a disciple of 
St John ; and with all the imbecility of judgment 
which is ascribed to him, might, under God, have 
been of signal service to Irenseus. The instructions 
of Polycarp, however, seem to have made the deepest 
impressions on his mind from early life. 

The church of Lyons, we have seen, was a dau^ 
ter of the church of Smyrna, or of the other neigh- 
bouring churches. Pothinus, the bishop, must have 
been a Greek as well as Irenaeus ; who, as Presbyter, 
assisted the venerable prelate in his old age. After 
the death of Pothinus, about the year 169, Irenaeus A. D. 
succeeded him. Never was any pastor more se- 169. 
verely tried by a tempestuous scene. Violent per- 

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secutTon without, and subtile heresies within, called 
for the exertion, at once, of consummate dexterity 
and of magnanimous resolution. Irenaeus was fa- 
voured with a large measure of both ; and he wea- 
thered out the stonn. But heresy proved a more 
constant enemy Aan persecution. The multiplica- 
tion of it, m endless refinements, induced him to 
write his book against heresies, which must have 
been at that time a very seasonable work. — His 
vigour and chaiity also in settHng the insignificant 
disputes about Easter, as well as his share in writing 
the account of the martyrdoms of Lyons, have 
already been mentioned* 

The beginning of the third century was marked 
with the persecution under Septimus Severus, the 
successor of Julian. Severus himself had, most pro*- 
Iwibly, <lirected the persecution at Lyons, in which 
Pothinus suffered ; and when he began to persecute 
as emperor, he would naturally recall the idea 
of Lyons, and of the persecution in which he had 
had so large a share. Gregory of Tours, and 
the antient martyrologists inform us, "that after 
several torments Irenaeus was put to death, and 
together with him almost all the Christians of that 
populous city, whose numbers could not be neckoned, 
so that the streets of Lyons flowed w ith the blood 
of Christians." We may easily allow that this is a 
rfietorical exaggeration. Yet I see no reason with 
some to deny" altogether the truth of this second 
persecution at Lyons, or of Ireneeus suflfering man* 
tyrdom under it. Gregory of Tours is not the best 
nuthority, but tliere is no circumstance of improba^ 
bility here. The silence of Eusebius affords no 
ai-gument to the contrary, because Ite is far finom 
relating the deaths of all celebrated Christians. Of 
those in the West particularly, he is by no means 
copious in his narrative ; and the natural crudty of 
Severus, added to his former connection with LyonsJ^ 
gives to the fact a strong degree of credibility. 

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The labours of Irenasus in Gaul were doubtless 
of the most solid utility. Nor is it asmatl instance 
of the humility and charity of this great man,— > 
accurately versed as he waa in Grecian literature^ 
— that he took psdns to learn the barbarous dialect 
of Gaul, conformed himself to the rustic maiuiem 
of an illiterate people, and renounced the politeness 
and elegant traits of his own country, for the love 
of souls. Rare fruit of Christian charity ! and 
highly worthy the attention of pastors in an age 
Kke this, in which so many undertake to preadt 
Christianity ; and yet seem little desirous of distin« 
guishing themselves in what peculiarly bdoogs to 
their office ! 

His book of heresies is nearly the whole of his 
writings that have escaped the injuries of time. His 
assiduity and penetration are equally remarkable in 
analyzing and dissecting alt the fanciful schemes, 
with which heretics hm disgraced the Christiaa 
name. It is easy to notice that his views of the 
Gospd are of the sanoe cast as those of Justin ''^^ 
w^Kxn he quotes, and with whose works he appears 
to have been acquainted. Dke him he is silent, or 
nearly so, on the election of grace; which from 
|he instructors of his early age he mast often have 
beard: And, like him, he defends the Arminkui 
notion of free-will; and by similar ai^meutsf* 
His philosophy seems to have had its usual infiuence 
oo the mind, — in darkling some truths of Scripture^ 
and in mixing the doctrine of Christ with human 

There is not touch of pathetic, practical, or experi- 
mental religion in the work. The plan of the author, 
which led him to keep up a constant attention to 
ipeoiitattve errors, did not admit it. Yet, there is 

♦ B. 4. C. 14. . 
* t B* ^ C 7air-^Qaiii ii^ aobi9 sit, vecras dquivaleni to JostiD's 

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every where so serious and grave a spirit^ and no^ 
and then such displays of godliness, as shew him very 
capable of wilting what might have been singularly 
useful fo the Church ia all ages^ 

He mdies a strong use of the argument of tradition 
111 support of the apostolical doctrine against the 
novel heresies. His acquaintance with primitive 
Christians Justified him in pressing this argument* 
The force of it, in a certain degree, is obvious, though 
the papists have perverted his declamtions in favour 
of their own church. But what may not men per- 
vert and abuse? The reasonable use of tradition^ 
as a collateral proof of Christian doctrines, is not 
hence invalidated. What he observes here concern* 
ing the barbarous nations is remarkable*. — " If 
there were any doubt concerning the least article,—* 
ought we not to have recourse to the most antient 
churches where the apostles lived? What — if the 
apostles had left us no writings whatever ? Ought 
we not to follow the tradition which they left with 
those to whom they committed the care of the 
diurches ? It is what several barbarous nations do, 
who believe in Jesus without paper or ink, having 
tlie doctrine of salvation written on their hearts by 
the Holy Ghost, and faithfully keeping up to antient 
tradition concerning one God the Creator and his 
Son Jesus Christ Those, who have received this faith 
without Scripture, are barbarians as to their manner 
of speaking, compared with us; but as to their senti- 
ments and behaviour, they are very wise and very 
acceptable to God ; and they persevere in the prac- 
tice of justice and charity. And if any oi>e should 
preach to them in their language, what the heretics 
have invented, they would immediately stop their 
ears and flee far off, and would not even hear thosa 

• B. 3. C. 4.— Sec Fleory's Charch History on the Subject 
of the Works of the Fathers, Vol. i. B. 4. 

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Tbtis it appears, that to the illiterate barbarians, 
tradition, thougti a poor substitute, supplied the place 
of the written word. We may not, however, suppose 
that their faith was blind and implicit. Our author 
gives a strong testimony to iheii' godliness ; and those 
of them who were taught indeed of God would have 
in themselves the strongest and most reasonable of 
all proofs of the divinity of their religion. — This is 
a valuable evidence of the Holy Spirit's influences, 
and of the native energy of divine truth on the hearts 
fmd lives of very illiterate men. 

There is uo new thing under the sun : — The arti- 
fices of the Valenlinians in alluring men to their 
communion are specimens of the wiles of heretics 
in all ages. — '* In* public," says Irenaeus, ''they use 
alluring discourses, because of the common Chris- 
tians, hs they call those who wear the Christian name 
in general ; and to entice them to come often, they 
pi-etend to preach like us : and they complain that, 
though their doctrine be the same a9 ours, we ab- 
stain from their communion, and call them heretics. 
When they have seduced any persons firom the faith 
by their disputes, and made them willing to comply; 
they then begin to open their heretical mysteries." 

He doubtless agrees with all the primitive Chris- 
tians in the doctrine of the Trinity : He makes use of 
the forty-fifth Psalm particularly to prove the Deity 
of Jesus Christ. He is no less clear and sound in his 
views of the incarnation f: and, in general, notwith- 
standing some philosophical adulterations, he cer- 
tainly maintained all the essentials of the Gospel. 

The use of the mystic union between the Godhead 
and manhood of Christ in tiie work of redemption ; 
and, in general, the doctrine of the fall and of the 
RECOVERY, are scarcely held out more instructively 
by any writer of antiquity. The learned reader, who 

• B. 3.C. 15. t C.6.P.V. 15. 

VOL. I, T 

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has a t^te for what is peculiarly Christiai^ will not 
be displeased to see a few quotations *. 

" He united man to God : For if man had not 
overcome the adversary of man, the enemy coul4 
not, according to the plan of God's justice, have beeo 
effectually overcome. — ^And again, if God had not 
granted salvation, we should not have been put into 
firm possession of it ; and if man had not been united 
to God, he could not have been a partaker of immor- 
tality. It behooved then the Mediator between God 
and man, by his affinity with both, to bring both 
into agreement with each other." 

"Thef Word of God, all powerful and perfect 
in righteousness, justly set himself agauTst the apos- 
tasy, redeeming bis own property from Satan, who 
had borne rule over us from the beginning, and had 
insatiably tuade rapine of what was not his own ; — 
^ni this redemption was effected not by violence ; 
but the Lord redeemed, qs with his own blood, and 
gave his life fojr our life, and his tlesh for our flesh/ 
and so effected om* salvation/' 

He beautifully expresses our recovery in Christ J. 
^ Our Lord would not have gathered together thesf 
things to himsdi^ and have saved through himself 
in the end wb^t had perished in the beginning 
through Adam, if he had not actually been made flesh 
and blood. He, therefore, had flesh and blood, nof 
of a kind different from what men have ; but he 
gathered into himself the very original creation of 
the Father, and sought that which was lost§." 

Udoubtedly the intelligent scriptural reader will 
recollect the divine reasoning of the author to the 
Hebrews to be very similar to all this. And those, 
who see how well the views of Irena^us are supported 
by him, will know bpxV to judge of the opinions of 

* * B. 3. 20. t L. 5. C. 1 

t AfeuufmXmof^i Eplu i. 10. — See Dr. Owen's Preface U 
his ** Xeir«>u)y«»." 

i B. 5, C. 14. 

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those who call this scbotasUc theology, wUl dee also (Dbnt^ 
bow accurately the primitive fathers understood anjd ^^^* 
maintained the doctiines now deemed fanatical) and 
lastly, will observe the propriety of being zealous lot 
Christian peculiarities. — Anotlier short extract shall 
conclude this account of the book of heresies. 

" The Word of God, Jesus Christy on account of 
his imioense love, became what we are, that he 
aii^t nc^ke us what he is*. " 

Of the few fragments of this author, there is nothiog 
that seems to deserve any peculiar attention, except 
that of an epistle to Floriaus, whom he had knorwa 
^in early life, and of whom he bad hoped better thingg 
than those into which he was afterwards seduced. 
*' These doctrines," says he, " those who vi-ere 
Presbyters before us, — those who had walked with 
the apostles, did not deliver to you. For I saw 
you, when I wafi a boy, in the lower Asia, with 
Polycarp ; and you were then, though a person ef 
rank in the emperor's service, very desirous of being 
approved by him. I choose rather to mention things 
that happened at that time than facts of a later date* 
The instructions pf our childhood grow with our 
growth, and adhere to us most closely, so that I caa 
describe the very spot in which Polycarp sat and 
expounded, and his coming in and going out, and 
the very manner of his life, and the figure of his 
body, and the sermons which he preached to the 
multitude, and how he related to us his converse 
with John, and with the rest of those who had seen 
the Lord, how he mentioned their particular expres- 
sions, and what things he had heard from them 
of tl)e Lord, and of his miracles and of his doctrine. 
As Polycarp had received frotn the eye-witnesses 
of the Word of Life, he told us all things agreeable 
to the Scriptures. These things, tlien, through the 
mercy of God visiting me^ I heard with seriousness^ ; 
1 wrote theo) not on paper, but on my heart; and ^ 
^ Books. Pre&ce. 

T 2 

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ever since, through the grace of God, I have m 
genuine remembrance of them, and 1 can witness 
before God, that if that blessed apostolical Presbyter 
had heard some of the doctrines which are now 
maintained, he would have cried out and stopped 
his ears, and in his usual manner have said, ^ O 
good God, to what times hast thou reserved me, 
that I should endure these things ! ' And he would 
immediately have fled from the place in which he 
bad heard such doctrines/' 

How superficially, in this age, which calls itself 
enlightened, numbers ai^ content to thmk on re- 
ligious matters, appears from the satisfaction with 
which two confused lineS of a certain author, great 
indeed as a poet, but very ill-informed in religion, 
lare constantly quoted ; 

For modes of faith 1«t graceless zealots fight; — 
His cati't be wrong wh»&e life is in the right. 

Proud and self-sufficient men, to whom tJiese lines 
appear full of oracular wisdom, may, if they please, 
pronounce Irenseus a '* graceless zealot" But those 
in every age, to whom evangelical truth appears of 
real importance, will regret that so little of this zeal, 
"in earnestly contending for the faith 
aV'-hich M'^as once demveeed to the saints,"* 
discovers itself in our times : — They will regret, I 
say, this want of zeal, because they think it absolutely 
necessary to preserve practical as well as theore- 
tical Christianity in the world. ^ 

C H A P. II. 


^'** We have not yet had any occasion to take notice 
of the state of Christianity in the Roman province 
of Africa. This whole region, once the scene of 

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Carthaginian gi*eatness, abounded with Christians in cent* 
the second century, Ihougli of the manner of the in- *'^' 
troduction of the Gospel and of the proceedings of 
its first planters we have no account. ' In the latter 
part of the second, and in the former part of the 
third century, tliere flourished at Carthage the famous 
Tertullian, the first Latin writer, of the Church 
whose works are come down to us. Y^t, were it 
not for some light which he throws on the state of 
Christianity in his own times, he would scarcely 
deserve to be distincdy noticed* I have «eldora 
seen so large a collection of tracts, all professedly 
dn Christian subjects, containing so little matter of 
useful instruction. The v?ry first tract in the vo- 
lume, namely, that de Pallio, shows the littleness of 
his views. The dress of the Roman Toga ofi'ended 
him : he exhorted Christians to wear the Pallium^ 
a more vulgar and rustic kind of garment, and there- 
fore more becoming their religion. All his writings 
betray the same sour, monastic, harsh, and severe 
turn of mind. — *' * Touch not, taste not, handle not," 
might seem to have been the maxims of his religious 
conduct The Apostle Paul, in the chapter alluded 
to, warns Christians against '' will-worship and 
Voluntary htimility," and shows that while the flesh 
outwardly appears to be humbled, it is inwardly 
puflfed up by these things, and induced to forsake 
the Head, Christ Jesus. This subtile spirit of self- 
rightebusness may, in all likelihood, in Tertiiliian's 
time, have very much overspread the African church; 
— otherwise his writings would scarcely have ren- 
dered him so celebrated amongst them. 

All his religious ideas seem tinged deeply with 
the same train of thinking: his treatise of Repentance 
is meagre and dismal throughout; and while it 
enlarges on outward things, and recommends pros- 
tration of our bodies before the priests, is very ^ight 
on the essential spirit of repentance itself 

* ColftSStxi. 


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A Cbristlao soldier, who had refused to 
erown of laurel which his commander had given faiitr 
with the rest of his regiment, was punished for the 
disobedience, and was also blamed by the Chris- 
tians of those times, because his conduct bad a 
tendency to irritate jieedlessly the reigning powers* 
I am apt to think that he mi^t have worn it ai 
knocently as St Paul committed himself to a ship 
whose sign was Castor and Pollux. It was a mili- 
tary ornament merely, and could no more be sidd 
to have any connection with idolatry than almost 
«very custom of civil life must have had at that 
time. The Apostle, I think, would have concurred 
in disapproving the soldier's want of obedience to his 
lawful superiors : and he might have referred Chris* 
dans to his own determination in the case of eating 
things sacrificed to idols, — ^^ Eat of such things as 
they set before you, asking no questions for conscience 
sake." But Tertullian decides on the other side of 
the question, and applauds the disobedience of 
the soldier. His reasons are dishonourable to his 
understanding. He owns that there is no scripture 
to be found against compliance in this case. Tra-» 
dition, he thinks, a sufficient reason for contumacy: 
and then he proceeds to relate some traditional 
customs maintained in the African churches, among 
which the very frequent signing of themselves with 
tiie sign of the cross is one. 

Superstition, it seems, bad made deep inroads into 
Afrita. It was rather an unpolished region ; — 
certainly much inferior to Italy in point of civiliza- 
tion. Satan's temptations are suited to tempers and 
situations. But surely it was not by superstitious 
practices that the glad tidings of salvation had been 
first introduced into Africa. — ^There must have been 
a deep decline. — Ohe of the sti^ongest proofs that 
the comparative value of the Christian religion in 
different countries is not to be climated by their 
distance from the apostolic age, is dedudble from 

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WHftiLLlAKi 279 

the times of TerttiMiati.-^If tiiy life be ^red, that I ce!«t. 
may proceed with thb History, we shall see Africa 
dfi^bit a much ittote pleading spectacle. 

AH thi^ inan*d casuistical detemiinations savour 
of ti)6 same asperity. He approved not of flidit 
in p^^ecution,-^m direct conkradiction to our ^* 
viour s determination*. He takes notice of a martyf 
aamed Rulilius; who, having died several times from 
^ace to plade to avoM persecution^ and saved him-^ 
jictf by money, was suddenly seized, and (^ried 
he^ve the Governor, when he thought hitnself secure. 
He add^, thai baving undergone several previous 
torments, he finished ^ martyrdom by fire. « 

I would iMich rath^^ qtiote TeituUian as an his- 
torian than a rcAsonet;-^We may make useful 
ftifleetion^ on this fa<!;t, without concerning ourselves 
with the inferetices of the writer. 

He dbapproved alto,^—at least after hi^ separation 
it6m the Church, — of second marriages, and called 
Acm AB-uifTEBT. FoT as he does not appear to 
hate be^ri much acquainted with tl)e depravity, 
mtsef'y, and imbecility of human nature, most of his 
precepts cai»ry rathet a stoical than a Christian ap- 
pearance. He was, in his own disposition, doubtless 
a man of gt'eat natural fortitude ; and most pro- 
bably of great strength of body : He lived to an 
advanced age. — He seems not to have had any thing 
of that sympathy with the weak and timid, whicb 
forms so beliutitol a part of the Chi^istian cliaracten 
The Church in general was not severe enough, 
according to his ideas of discipline ; yet, it must bd 
confessed, they were by no means wanting in thai 
respect. In our licentious tiiHes, when sloth and 
dissipation, — the very opposite extremes to those 
which pleased the genius otTertuHian, — abound, all, 
who love the ways of Christ, regret that disciplind 
is at so low an ebb. 

The Montanists, H*hoee austerities' wero extremey 
• &fattbew, X, 23. 

T 4 

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CHAP, and whose enthusiasm was real, seduced at lef^tb 
our severe African ; and he not only joined them^ 
but wrote in their defence, and treated the body 
of Christians, from whom he separated, with much 
a)ntempt. — I have the satisfaction however, as yet, 
to find that the largest body of Christians, so called, 
was the soundest. 

Tertullian, we are told, resented certain treatment 
which he met with firom some Homan Christians. 
But of this I know no particulars; only, that an 
accident of this sort is said to have influenced his 
secession from the Church. Error, however, is 
very inconstant : He afterwards left the Mpntanist» 
either entirely, or nearly so ; and formed a sect of 
his own, called TertuUianists, who continued in 
Africa till Augustine's time, by whose labours their 
existence, as a distinct body, was brought to a close. 
The character of Tertullian is very strongly deli- 
neated by himself in his own writings ; if there had 
been any thing peculiarly Christian, which he had 
learnt, from tlie Montanists, his works must have 
shown it: but they are all of the same uuitbnnly 
sable complexion : nor' does he seem to have in- 
creased in any thing but in severity. 

It is but an unpleasing picture which truth has 
obliged me to draw of this author. One agreeable 
circumstance, however, attending iiis history is this; 
—It was not on account of any fundamental error 
in principle, that he left tlie Church.* The faith of 
Christ, and the practice of real godliness existed - 
there, beyond doubt, to a much greater degree than 
, amongst the heretics of th6se times, though it be 
allowed and hoped, as it ought to be. that some 
good persons might belong to them. The abilities of 
'jTertullian, as an orator and a scholar, are far from 
being contemptible; and have, doubtless, given him 
a reputation to which he is by no means entitled ou 
account of his theological knowledge. Yet the man 

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appears stlwajs serious and earnest ; and, therefore^ 
much more estimable than thousands \vho would 
take a pleasure in despising bim, while they them- 
selves are covered with profaneness. Nor is it for 
us, after all, to condemn a person, who certainly 
honoured Christ, defended several fundamental Chris- 
tian doctrines, took large pains in supporting what he 
took to be true religion, and ever meant to serve God. 
He might even in his latter days, if not before, be 
favoured with that humbling and transforming know« 
ledge of Christ which would tit him for the enjoyment 
of the kingdom of heaven. — Supersdticm and enthu^* 
siasm are con^patible with real godliness : profiuie- 
ness is not so. — It were to be wished, that those, 
who are noost concerned in this remark, were more 
dbposed to attend to it than they generally are. 

In his treatise against Praxeas, he appears to have TertiUiaa 
had very clear and sound views of the doctrine of the ^^eas. 
Trinity. He speaks of the Trinity in Unity, " Father, 
Son, and Holy Ghost, yet one God." He speaks of 
the Lord Jesus as both God and man, son of man 
and son of God, and called Jesus Christ. He speaks 
also of the Holy Spirit, the^ comforter, the sanctifier 
of the feith of those who believe in the Father, Son, 
and Holy Spirit. He observes, " that this rule of 
&ith had obtained from the beginning of the Gospel, 
antecedent to any former heretics, much more to 
Praxeas, who was of yesterday." To those who 
know the primitive times I need not say, that Ter- 
tullians own heresy lessens not the credibility of his 
testimony to these things. — His M ontanism altered 
not in the least his view of the Trinity. 

The heresy of Praxeas consisted in making the 
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all one and the same: 
and this notion is no other than what has since been 
better known by the name of Sabellianism. In this 
way the distinction of persons in the Godhead is 
denied ; and no doubt tlie mystery of the Trinity 

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38t^ HlSTORt or tJftft CHURCH. 

€HAi^. removed ; but theh what becomes of the divide Re* 
^^l' t _j velation itself? — All attempts to subvert the faith of 
Scripture on thi$ subject, labour utider the sftiiHl 
error, namely, a desire to accommodate divine tfutbi 
to our narrow reasoning faculties :-^let men learfl 
to submit; and on no account attempt to strip the 
Almighty of his attribute of Incomprehertsibility I 
TertuUian informs us,— that Praxeas first brougbl 
ti^s evil from Asia into the Roman world ; and that 
he seduced many; but at last was confuted and 
dilenced by "an instrument* whom God pleased to 
make use of :-*-^nd tlie evil appeared to be eradi- 
cated.'* EVen Praxeas himself had the ingeiluouBnesi 
to retract his mistake, and his hand^writing still 
remikins among the natural meft — so Tertulliaii ealte 
the Christians in general from whom he had sepanMedj 
■—and he no more revived his heresy. Others 
t^vived it afterward, which occasioned the treatiM 
whence I have extracted this brief account, 
^r^lo^**^'* In his Apology, the eloquence and argomentativc 
^ ^^' powers of our author appear most conspicuous Hd 
refutes, in the usual manner, the stale heathen calum«« 
fties of Christians feediog on infiemts. Their remark- 
able power over demons be states in the same mannef 
as various of the fathers have done.— As a proof d 
the unity of the Godhead, he appeals to the con- 
science^ of mankind, and to a common practice, evert 
among idolaters, founded on the supposition of onb 
God. His description is remarkably striking*-* 
" What God hath given,^' " God sees it,** and ** I 
recommend to God," and " God will restore to me ;** 
" These," says he, " are universal modes of speaking 
and of appealing to the osk supRfEME. O testi- 
mony of the soul, naturally in favour of Christianity! 
— When men seriously pronounce these words, they 
look not to the Capitol at Rome, but to tieaven above. 

* A modest periphrasis, I apprehend, denoting TertulliaA 

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For file soul knows the sent of the living God, whence 
it had its own origin.'' — I scarce remanber a finer 
observation made by any author in favour both of tte 
aatural vcuce of conscience and of the patriarchal 
tradition of titie religion ; for both may fiurly be sup- 
posed concerned in the support of thk practice. It 
nhows bow difficult it was for Satan to eradicate 
entirely every vestige of truth; and every classical 
reader may obe^ve how cpmmoB it is for the Pagaa 
writers to speak <tf God as one, when they are mosfr 
serious ; and instantly to slide into the vulgar poly<K 
theism, when they b^n to trifle* 

This apology exhibits a beautiful view of the man^ 
ners and spirit of the Clnistians of his time ; and 
shows what real Christianity does for men^-^The 
following passages merit particular attention.'*-'^ We 
pray," says he, *^ for the safety of the emperors to^ 
d^ eternal Gt)d, the true, the living God, whom: 
emperors themselves would desire to he propitious to 
tiiem above all others who are odled gods. We, 
looking up to heaven, with out-sttrttcbed hands 
because they are harmless, with naked heads because 
we are not ashamed, without a prompter because we 
pray from the heart, constantly pray for all emperors, 
that they may have a long life, a secure empire, m 
safe palace, strong armies, a faithful senate, a ^vell-^ 
moralized people, a quiet state of the world,— what*- 
ever Cssar would wish for himself in his public and 
private capacity. I cannot solicit these things from 
any other than from Him from whom, I know, I shaU 
obtain them, because he alone can do these things, 
and I am he who may expect them of tiirn, being bis 
servant who woi'ship him alone, and am ready to 
lose my life for his service. Thus then let the claws 
of wild beasts pierce us, or their feet trample on us, 
while our hands are stretched out to God : let crosses 
suspend us, let fires consume us, let swxntls pierce 
Mr breasts, — a prayii^ Christian is in a frame for 

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CHAP, enduring any thing. How is this — ^ye generous rulers? 
— Will ye kill the good subject who supplicates God 
for the emperor? Were we disposed to return evil 
fin- evil, it were easy for us to revenge the injuries 
which, we sustain. But God forbid £at his people 
should vindicate themselves by human fire ; or4)e 
reluctant to endure that by which their sincerity is 
evinced. Were we disposed to act the part, I will 
not say, of secret assassins* but of open enemies, 
should we want forces and numbers? Are there not 
multitudes of us in every part of the world ? It is true 
we are but of yesterday, and yet we have filled all 
your towns, cities, islands, castles, boroughs, coun- 
sels, camps, courts, palaces, senate, forum : — We 


war should we not be ready and well prepared, even 
tiiough unequal in numbers ; we, — who die with so 
much pleasure, were it not that our religion requires 
us rather to suffer death than to inflict it? — If we 
were to. make a general secession from your domi-^ 
nioiis, you would be astonished at your solitude. — 
We are dead to all ideas of worldly honour and 
dignity : nothing is more foreign to us than political 
concerns: The whole world is our republic. — We are 
a body united in one bond of religion, discipline,, 
and hope. We meet in our assemblies for prayer. 
We are compelled to have recourse to the divide 
oracles for caution and recollection on all occasions. 
We nourish our faith by the word of God, we erect 
our hope, we fix our confidence, we strengthen our 
discipline by repeatedly inculcating precepts, exhor* 
tations, corrections, and by excommunication, when 
it is needful. This last, as being in tlie sight of God^ 
is of great weight ; and is a serious warning (rf the 
future judgment, if any one behave in so scandalous 
a manner as to be debarred from holy communion. 
Those, who preside among us, are elderly persons, 
not distinguished for opulence, but worthiness. a£ 

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eharacter. Every one pays something into the pub- cent. 
lie chest once a month, or when he jileases, and ^^ "^; ^ 
according to his ability and inclination ; for there is 
no compukion. These gifts are, as it were, the de- 
posits of piety. Hence we relieve and bury the 
needy, support orphans and decrepit persons, those 
who have suffered shipwreck, and those who, for 
the word of God, are condemned to the mines, or 
imprisonment This very charity of ours has caused 
us to be noticed by some ; — See, say they, how these 
Christians love one another." 

He afterwards takes notice of the extreme readi- 
ness with which Chrisrians paid the taxes to the 
existing government, in opposition to the spirit of 
fraud and deceit, with which so many acted in these 
matters. But I must not enlarge ; — the reader may 
form an idea of the purity, uitegrity, heavenly-mind- 
edness, and passiveness under injuries, for which 
the first Chrbtians were so justly renowned. The 
effect of that glorious effusion of the divine Spirit was 
the production of this meek and charitable conduct in 
external things : Every evidence that can be desired 
is given to evince the truth of this relation : — ^The 
* confession of enemies unites here with the relations 
•f friends. 

I shall close tlie account of Tertullian with a few 
facts taken from hb Address to Scapula, the perse- 
cuting governor, without any remarks. ^ ^ 

Claudius Herminianus, in Cappadocia, was vexed 
because his wife was become a servant of Christ, 
and for that reason he treated the Christians cruelly. 
— Being eaten with worms, " Let no one," says he, 
" know it, lest the Christians rejoice." Afterward, 
convinced of his error in having, by force of torments, 
caused persons to abjure Christianity, he died ahnost 
a Christian hhnself 

At Thistrum, Cincius Severus himself taught 

? Scie the foregoing ^count of Peregripus, jmge 2^^. 

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CHAP. Chri^niQ$ how to answer «o as to obtom their 
I ^_ . dismissbn. 

Asper^ having tnoderately tortured a person and 
brought bim to auhmit^ would not cooipel hkn to 
sacnfiee ; and he made a public declaration aiBong 
the advocates, ^^ that be was grieved that be had 
b«d any tbbjg to do with such a cause/' 
, The einperor Severus faknself was^ in one part ai 
bis life^ kind to the Christians. Procuhis, a Christ 
tian» had cured him of a disorder by the use of a 
certain oil ; and he kept him. in his palace to his 
xleath. The man was well known to Caracalla, the 
anccessorofSeverusi^ whose nurse was a Christian. 
Even some persona of the hi^esit quality, of botii 
ses^es, were^ openly ccnnmended and protected by 
Severus against the raging populace. 

Arriua Antoninus, in Asia, persecuted sa vehe- 
mently, ^at all tbe Christians of the state presented 
tbemsdves in a body : He ordered a few of them to 
bQ puif to deaih^ and dismissed the rest,, sayings ^' If 
you wish to diei Mretdied nocn, ye may find preci- 
pices and halters." 


CHAP. One of the most respectable cities within the 
^_^^^'- __j precincts of the Roman empire was Alexandria, the 
metropolis of Egypt Here the Gospel had been 
pkntol by St. IVtark ; and, from the considerable 
auccesa which bad attended it in most capital towns, 
it is probable that many persons were converted. 
But of the first pastors of this Churdi, and of the 
work of God among them, we have no account Our 
more (Kstinct information begins with what is evil. 
The Platonic philosophers ruled the taste of diis city, 
which piqued itself on its superior erudition. Am- 

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mooios Sgcqas had, as we have seen, reduced tberf 
the notions of tb^ learned into a system, which pre- 
tended to embrace all sorts of sentiments ; ana bif 
successors, for several ages, followed bi§ plan. We 
are told, that from ^i. Marks lime, a Christian 
catechetical school was supported in Alexandria. 
Whether it be so or not, Pantaeuua is the first mastQC 
of it of whom we have any account. It should seena 
from a passage of Eu^ebius *, that be was a Hebrew 
by descent. By tradition he bad received tlie true 
doctrine from Peter, James, John, and Paul ; and| 
no doubt, he deserved this testimony of Eusebiu^, 
notwithstanding the unhappy mixture of philpsq* 
phy which he imbibed in this region. For Pan* 
taenus was much addicted to the sect of the Stoic5| 
H sort of romantic pretenders to perfection, which 
doctrine flattered human pride, but was, surely, ill 
adapted to our natural imbecility and to scriptural 
views of innate depravity. The combination of 
Stoicism with Christianity m the system of Pantsem^ 
mqst have very much debased the sacred trutlis; 
and we may be assured that those who were disponed 
to follow implicitly the dictates of sucli an instructor* 
must have been furnished by hkn with a cloudea 
light of the Gospel; — still, it is not improbable but 
that many of the simple and illiterate Christians 
might happily escape the infection, and preservQi 
unadulterated, the genuine simplicity of the faith of 
Christ :-^The bait of reasoning pride lies more in 
the way of the learned ; and, in all ages, they ar^ 
more prone tQ. be caught by it. 

Pantffinus always retained tl)e. tilie of the Stoi^ 
philosopher, after he had been admittedi to. eminent 
employments in the Christian qhujpqht- Fw twi 
years he laboriously discharged the office, qf Gate* 
chist, and freely taught all that desired him : wlievca^ 
tiie school ol; hi;s predecess^ors bad hem mpr^ 

• B. 5. C. 10. t Care's Life of Pantffi«us. 

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Certain Indian ambassadors, — it is not easy to 
determine from what part of India they came, — 
intreated Demetrius, then bishop of Alexandria, to 
send them some worthy person to pregich the faith 
of Jesus in their country. Pantcenus was chosen ; 
and the hardshyjs he must have endured, were, 
doubtless, great But there were at that time* many 
Evangelists, who had the apostolical spirit to propa- 

fite the faith at the hazard of their lives. And, as 
antaenus very freely complied with this call, we 
have here one of tlie best proofs of his being pos- 
sessed of the spirit of the Gospel. His labours among 
ignorant Indians, where neither fame, nor ease, nor 
profit were attainable, appears to me much more 
substantial proofe of his godliness, than any which 
can be drawn from his catechetical employments at 
Alexandria. The former would oblige him to attend 
chiefly to Christian fundamentals, and could afford 
Kttle opportunity of indulging the philosophic spirit. 
We are^told he found in India the Gospel of St 
Matthew, which had been carried thither by the 
Apostle Bartholomew, who had first preached amongst 
them. — I mention this, but much doubt the truth of 
it. — Of the particular success of his labours we have 
no account : He lived to return to Alexandria, and 
)*esumed his catechetical office. He died not long 
after the commencement of the third century. He 
wrote but little : Some commentaries on the Scrip- 
tures are all that are mentioned as his, and of them 
not a fragment remains. 

Candour, I think, requires us to look on him as 
a sincere Christian, — whose fruitfulness was yet 
much checked by that very philosophy for which 
Eusebius so highly commends him. — A blasting wind 
it surely was; but it did not entirely destroy Chris- 
tian vegetation in all whom it infected. — I^t us now 
turn our eyes to his disciple, from whom we may 
collect more clearly what the master was, because 
• Euscb. B. 6. C. 9. 

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we have more evidence concerning him. — But the cenI*. 
Christian reader must be prepared to expect a de- . ^^ 
clension in divine things, in the state of tlie Church 
before us. 



He was, by his own confession, a scholar of Pan- 
ttenus, and of the same philosophical cast of mind. 
He was of the eclectic sect It is sincerely to be re- 
^tted that Clemens had any acquaintance with 
them : for so far as he mixed their notions widi 
Christianity, so far he tarnished it: and though we 
may admit, that by his zeal, activity, learning, and 
reputation, he did good to many in instructing and 
inducing them to receive the fundamentals of tlie 
divine religion, it is nevertheless not to be denied 
that he clouded the pure light of the Gospel: — Let 
us hear himself: '^ * I espouse neither this nor tliat 
philosophy, neither the Stoic nor the Platonic^ nor 
the Epicurean, nor that of Aristotle ; but whatever 
any of these sects hath said, that is fit and just; 
whatever teaches righteousness with a divine and 
religious knowledge, all this I select; and call it 

Is it not hence very evident, that from the time 
that this philosophizing spiiit had entered into the 
Church through Justin, it had procured to itself 
a respect to which its merit no way entitled it? For 
what is there even of good ethics in all the philoso- . 
phers, which Clemens miglit not have learnt in the 
New Testament; and much more perfectly, a^ 
without the danger of pernicious adulteratiofis r 

* Sirom. L. K S«» Cetft'% UU of CI#fnen«. 
VOL. I. V 

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CHAP. Doubtless many valuable purposes are answered by 
an acquaintance with these writers ; — but to dictate 
to us in religion, Clemens should have knojin, was 
no part of their business. — " The world by wisdom 
knew not God;" — " Beware of ^philosophy.'' The 
Christian worjd was now gradually k*aming to neglect 
these Scriptural cautions, and divine knowledge is 
certainly much too high a term for any human doc- 
trine whatever. 

He succeeded his master Pantaeuus in the cate- 
chetical school, and under him were bred the fa- 
mous Origen, Alexander bishop of Jerusalem, and 
other eminent men. I read the following passage of 
Clemens with no pleasure, — " As the husbandman 
first waters the soil, and then casts in his seed, so 
the notions which I derive out of the writings of the 
Gentiles serve first to water and soften the earthy 
parts of the soul, that the spiritual seed may be 
the better cast in, and take vital root in the minds 
of men." 

This, certainly, is not a Christian dialect : The 
Apostles neither placed gentile philosophy in the 
foundation, nor believed that it would at all assist 
in raising the superstructure of Christianity. On 
the contrary, they looked on the philosophical re- 
ligion of their own times as so much rubbish ; but, 
in all ages, the blandishments of mere reason on 
such subjects deceive us; — " VAiaX man w^oulb 


Besides his employments in the office of Catechist, 
he was made Presbyter in the Church of Alexandria. 
Duringthe pereccution under Severus most probably, 
he visited the East, and had a peculiar intimacy with 
Alexander bishop of Jerusalem, who seems to have 
been a holy man. This last suffered imprisonment 
for the faith ; and in that situation he wrote a letter 
to the Church of Antioch, which was conveyed by 
Clemens^ Something c^* the ^irit oii Christianity 

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appears in the fragment of this letter. " Alex- cknt. 
ander^ a servant of God, and a prisoner of Jesus ^^^' 
Christ, to the blessed Church at Antioch, in the 
Lord, greeting. Our Lord has made my bonds, in 
this time of my imprisonment, light' and easy to me; 
while I understood that Asclepiades, a person ad- 
mirably qualified by his eminency in the faith, was, 
by divine providence, become bishop of your holy 
Church of Antioch. These letters, brethren, I have 
sent you by Clemens tlie blessed Presbyter, a man 
of approved integrity, whom ye both do know already 
and shall still ilirther know: He hath been here 
with us according to the good will of God, and hath 
much established and augmented the Church of 
Christ" From Jerusalem Clemens went to Antioch, 
and afterwards returned to his charge at Alexan- 
dria. — The time of his death is uncertain. 

The mystic philosophy, to which he was so much 
addicted, would naturally darken his views of some 
of the most precious truths of the Gospel. In par- 
ticular, the doctrine of justification by faith in Jesus 
Christ will always sufter from a connexion of this 
kind: Human philosophical doctrines admit no 
righteousness but what is a man s own. — There is, 
not\A ithstanding, good proof of the solid piety of 
this learned man. Little is known of his life ; but 
his religious taste and spi: it may be collected fiom 
his writing^. 

His Exhortations * to the Gentiles is a discourse 
written to convert the. Pagans from their religion, 
and persuade them to embrace that cf Jesus Christ. 
In the beginning of it he shows what a difference 
there is between the design of Jesus Christ, and 
that of Orpheus, and of those ancient musicians who 
were the authors of idolatry. ** These captivated 
men by the sweetness of their music with a view of 
rendering them miserable slaves to idols ; and of 
leaking uiem like the very beasts, the stocks, the 
• Dg Pio Clement. 

U 2 

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Stones, M hich tljey adored ; — whereas Jesus Christ, 
who, from all eteniity, was the Word of God, always 
bad a compassionate tenderness for men, and at last 
took their nature upon him, to free them from the 
slavery of Demons, to open the eyes of the blind and 
the ears of the deaf, to guide their paths in the way 
of righteousness, to deliver them from death and hell, 
and to bestow on tl)em everlasting life, and to put 
them into a capacity of living a heavenly life here 
upon earth ; and, lastly, God made himself man to 
teach man to be like unto God." He shows them, 
that eternal salvation cannot otherwise be expected, 
and that eternal torments cannot otlierwise be avoids* 
ed, than by believing in Jesus Christ, and by living 
conformably to his laws. *' If you were per- 
mitted/' says he, *' to purchase eternal salvation, 
what would you not give tor it? And now you may 
obtain it by faith and love; — there is nothing can 
hinder you from acquiring it; — neither poverty, nor 
misery, nor old age, nor any state of life. Believe^ 
therefore, in one God, who is God and man, and 
receive eternal salvation for a recompenoe. — Seek 
God, and you shall live for ever." 

The candid Christian sees that the fundamentals 
of the Gospel are actually here, though not laid 
down in the clearest and happiest manner. "^ lu 
bis Paedagogue he describes the word incarxate 
as the instructor of men; and says, " that he pei^ 
^rms his functions by tbrgiving our sins as he is 
God, and by instructing us as he is man, with great 
sweetness and love:— He equally instructs all 
sorts, because, in one sense, all are children : yet w« 
must not look on Christian doctrines as childish and 
contemptible : on the contrary, the quality of chil- 
dren, which we receive in baptism f — or regcne^ 

• Du Pin. 

t The outward sign and the inward spiritual grace, on ac- 
count of their usual connexion in the pritnitive church, an 
UM^ 48 synonymous by a number cf primitive writer^ which 

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radon, — i^enders us perfect m the koowledge of cent. 
divine thin^, by delivering us from sdns through tJ^L^ 
grace, and by enlightening us with the illumination 
of fwth; so that we are at the same time both chil- 
dren and men: and the milk with which we are 
nourished, being both the word and will of God, is 
very solid and substantial nourishment." These 
appear to be some of his best ideas of Christianity. 

In his Stromata he speaks with his usual par- s^omatt 
dality in favour of philosophy, and shows the effect ciennL 
his regard for it had on his own mind, by saying that 
faith is God's gift, but so as to depend on our own 
free-will. His account of the perfect Christian, 
whom hie calls Gnosticus, is sullied by stoical rhap- 
sodies *. — " He is never angry, and nothing affects 
him; because he always loves God : He looks upon 
tliat time as lost which he is obliged to spend in re- 
<5eiving nourishment: He is employed in continual 
and mental prayer. He is mild, affable, patient, but 
at the same thne so rigid as not to be tempted : He 
gives way ndther to pleasure nor to pain.** — But 
enough of these views : Pseudo- religionists have since 
his time dealt lai^ly in such reveries, so inconsistent 
with that humbling sense of imbecility, and that sin- 
cere conflict against the sin of our nature, which is 
pecoliariy Christian. In truth — if his knowledge 
of Christian doctrine was really defective, the de- 
fect lay in the point of original sin. Of this his 
philosophical sect knew nothing aright; and it must 
be owned he speaks of it in a very conftised, if not 
in a contradictory manner. On the whole, — such 
ig the baneftileffect of mixing things which will not 
incorporate,-— humaninventions with Christian truths^ 
— that this writer, learned, laborious, and ingenious 
as he was, may seem to be far exceeded by many 
obscure ' and illiterate persons at this day^ in true 

has, unhappily, piven ormsimi to one of the worst abuses, by 
these wim pUiIce all grace in form and ceremi»ny only. 

• Fleury^ B, 4. 

V 3 

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Scriptaral knowledge and in the experience oT di- 
vine things. — That he was, in the main, a truly pious 
person, neither makes this account less credible, 
nor the danger less of admitting the pestilent spirit 
of human self-sufficiency to dictate in the Christian 

C H A P. Y. 


It seemed proper to prefix to the general history (rf 
the third century, the lives of the four persons, which 
we have reviewed ; partly because they were studious 
men not very much connected with the public state 
of Christianity ; and partly because the knowledge 
of their views and taste in religion may. prepare the 
reader to expect that unhappy mixture of phUosophi* 
cal self-righteou«ness and superstition, which much 
clouded and depraved the pure light of the Gospel in 
this century. 
The vth Severus, though in his younger days a bitter per- 
^w'^fVhc secutor of Christians at Lyons, was yet, through the 
ciiri>ti«ii». influence of the kindness which he had received 
fi-om Proculus, favourably disposed toward the Chris- 
tians for a considerable time. It was not till about 
A.D. ^^ ^^^^ y^*^ ^f h'^ re^g^j which fells in with the 
201. y^^^ ^^^ hundred and two, that his native ferocity 
of.temper brake out afresh, and kindled a very severe 
persecution against the Christians. He was juat re- 
tuined from the East victorious: and the pwide of 
prosperity induced him to forbid the propagation of 
tlie Gospel. Christians still thought it right to obey 
God rather than man. Severus persisted; and 
exercised the usual cruelties. The persecution raged 
every where; but particularly at Alexandria. From 
various parts of Egypt the Christians were brought 

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ttikher to suffer; and they expired hi torments, cemt. 
lieonidas, father of the famous Origen, was be- ^.J^l^^ 
headed; 6o easy a death Iwwever was esteemed a 
favour. His ^on was then very young; but the ac- 
eoont, which is given of him by Eusebius*, deserves 
owr notice. 

Lseftus was at that lime governor of Alexandria Account of 
smdof the test of Egypt; and Demetrius had been " ^*"* 
recently elected bishop of the Christians in that city. 
Great numbers now suffering martyrdom, young 
Orig^ panted for the honour, and needlessly exposed 
himae^ io danger. His mother checked the impru- 
dent zeal at first by earnest entreaties ; but perceiving 
tJhat heatill was bent on suffering with his fether, who 
at ^dttime was closely confined, she very prppferly 
«)K^rcised her motherly authority by confining him to 
the house, and by hiding fipom him all his appareL 
The vehement spirit of Origen prompted him, when 
he could do nothing else, to write a letter to his 
fetber, in which he thus exhorted him, " Father, faint 
not, Add don't be concerned on our account." He 
had been carefully trained in the study of the Scrip- 
tures under the inspection of his pious father, who, 
together wkb the study of the liberal arts, had par- 
ticularly superintended this most important part of 
education.- Before he introduced his son to any 
material exercises in profane learning, he instructed' 
him in the Scriptures, and gave him daily a certain 
task out of them to repeat. The penetrating genius 
of Origen led him, in the course of his eu:ployment, 
to investigate the sense of Scripture, and to ask his 
&tlier questions beyond his ability to solve. The 
fiither (decked his curiosity, reminded him of his 
imbecility, and admonished him to be content 'Aith 
the plain grammatical si^nse of Scripture, which 
obviMi^ly offered itself; — but inwardly rejoiced, it 
seems, thutGod had given him such a son. And it- 

• Ecjseb.B. vi.C. 1. 

V 4 

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CHAff. would not have been arnks^ if he bad rqjoifod wttM 
Tiif:tfBX.iKG; — perhaps he did so; and Origw^ 
early loss of such a father, who, probably, was mora 
ainqple la Christian faitb and piety than be bllQ9^tf 
ever wa^t might be an extreme disadvantage to bjm*^ 
Youths of great and uncommon parts, acconipaoi?dL> 
as is generaliy the case, with much aiobitioii and 
boundless curiosity, hc^ve often been the instruments 
of Satan in perverting diviue truth: and it is not so;ended to as it ought to be by WMJ tni^y 
pious and bumble spuls, that the superior efDinenoe^* 
in parts and good sense, of young persoos wbonk 
tb^, love and respect, is % no means a progiaQ9tie> 
of ^e like superiority in real spiritual knowMg^ tod: 
the discernment of divine things. Men of gwkiii; 
if they meet with enc<Miragement, will be sure to> 
distingubh themselves in whatever lioe of life Ibey* 
inove. But men of genius and even of very reivark* 
able endowments, thoqgh sincere in Cbristiaiyty,. 
may, not only in the practice, but even in the per- 
e^tion of Gospel-truths, b^ for out-stripped by 
others who are naturally o^ch their inferiors; bteause 
the latter are by no means so exposed to the crafts 
of Satan, are not so liable in their judgments to be 
warped from Christian simplicity, are more apt to 
look for understanding from above, and are less 
cUsposed to lean to an^arm of flesh. 

We seem to discover, in the very be^^oning of 
Origen, the foundation of that presumptuous spirit 
which led him afterwards to phiiosophii^ so 'danger^ 
Qusly in the Christian religion, and never to oootent 
himself with piain truth, but to bunt after some- 
thing siugulac and extraordinary ; — though it must 
be acknowledged his sincere desire of serving God 
appeared from early life; nor does it ever seem to 
have forsaken him, so that he may be considered as 
having been a child of God from early years. 

His father dying a martyr, be was left, with his 

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lPI»6ier aod other «x cbfldreo, aa orphtn aged 
•9v«ntaen years. His fiuiher a substance was coo^ 
Vacated b; the emperor, and the fiunily Deduced to 
great distress. But Ptovidmce gave him a fnend ia 
a. rich and godly matron,- who yet supported in her 
bouse a certain person of Antiocb, who was noted 
for heresy. We cannot at this distance of time assign 
bar motives ; but Origen, though obtiged to be m the 
company of the heretic, could not be prevailed on 
to JQin in prayer with him. He now vigorously ap- 
plied himself to the improvement of his understand^ 
mg; and having no more work at school,— it seems, 
bMausQ he soon acquired all the learning his master 
could give him, — and finding that the business ot 
eatechising was deserted at Alexandria because 6l 
tbe pers^ution, he undertook the work himself; and 
Mnreral gentiles came to hear him and became his 
disdples. He was now in the dghteenth year of h/m 
%ae; and in the lieat of tbe persecution be disCioguish- 
ed himself by his attachment to the martyrs, not only 
to those of his acquaintance, but in |;eneral to all 
who suffered for Christianity. He visited such of 
them as were fottared in deep dungeons and close 
impsipooment;; and was preseutwith them even after 
tbar condemnation, and boldly attended them to 
tbe place of execution : he openly embraced and sa* 
luted them; and was once in imminent dai^^ of 
bemg stoned to death on this account Indeed he 
was repeatedly in peril of bis life; for the persecution 
daily prevailed; and he could no longer pass safely 
through tbe streeto of Alexandria. He often chained 
his lodgmgs, but was every where pursued; and, 
humanly spmking, it seemed impossible fw him to 
escape. Hjs instructions, however, and his zeal pro* 
duced great ^fe^ ; multitudes crowded to hear Mm ; 
and were by his labours incited to attend to Chfis* 
The charge of tbe School was now, by Deme^ 

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triga the bidK>p, committed to him alone; and to 
converted it wholly kito a school of reKgious kifbr* 
motion : He makitained himsdf by the sale of tiie 
prdfene books which- he had been wont to study. 
Thus he Uved many years, an amazing monunient^ 
at once both of industry and of self-denial. Not only 
the day, but the greater part of the night was by hkn 
devoted to religious study ; and he pracdsed, witb 
literal conscientiousoessy our Ijord's rules, of not 
having two coats, nor two pairs of shoes, and of nol 
providing for futurity. He was inured to cold, 
nakedness, and poverty: He offended many by his 
QnwilUognesa to receive their gratuities: He ab* 
stained from wine; and, in ^neral, lived so abste- 
miously as to endanger his life. Many persons 
imkated.his! excessive austerities : and were^ at that 
timo, honoured with the name of philosophers ; and 
sCMne of them patiently suffered martyrdom. 

I state facts as I find them. — A strong spirit of 
self-righteousness, meetmg with a secret ambition,* 
too subtile to be perceived by him who is the dupe 
of it, and supported by a natural fortitude of mind 
and by the active exertion of great talents, hath ena- 
bled many in external things to seem superior in 
piety to men of real humility and self-diffidence, 
who penetrating more happily into the genius of the 
Gospel^ by the exercise of faith in the Son of God 
and. that genuine chanty which is its fh^it, are led 
into a course of conduct less dazzling indieed, but 
much more agreeable to the Gospel. One cannot 
fern^ a high idtea of the solid judgnv^t of these Alex- 
andria^ converts. Were there none of the elder 
and more experienced ChristianB in that city, who^ 
were capable, vith meekness of wisdom,«of cor- 
recting the exuberances of this zealous youth, and* 
of .Rawing bicD that, by such a rertisal di the com- 
forts of life, he affected a superiority to Paul him-' 
se^t.y^bo grateftiUy received the alms of thePiulip- 
pians ? Excesses of this sort must have been attended 

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with great defects in bward vital ^dljness : The cekt. 
reader is again referred to the second chapter of the ^^JJIl^ 
epistle to the Colossians, for a comment on the con- ^'"'^^^'^ 
duct of CMgen, How much better had it been for 
him to have continued a scholar for some time 
longer ; and not to have feasted the pride of the 
humati heart by appointing him a teacher! — But the 
lively flow of genius seems to have been mbtaken 
for great growth in Christian knowledge and piety. 

One of his scholars, called Plutarch, was led to Kartjr. 
martyrdom. Origen accompanied him to the place ^"^ 
of execution. The odium of the scholar's sufferings 
reflected on the master ; and it was not without a 
peculiar providence that he escaped the vengeance 
of the citizens. After him Serenus suffered by fire: 
the third martyr was Heraclides; the fourth Heron. 
The former bad not yet been baptized, being only 
what was called a Catechumen : the latter had been 
lately baptized ; but both were beheaded. A second 
Serenus of the sair^e school, having sustained great 
torments and much pain, was beheaded. A woman 
also, called Rata, as yet a Catechumen, suffered 
death. Potamie^na, a young woman remarkable 
for beauty, ipurity of mind, and firmness m thefiiith 
oi Christ, suffered very dreadful torments: She was 
scourged very severely by the order of Aquila the 
judge, who threatened to deliver her to be abused by 
the basest characters. But she remained firm in .tbe 
fidth : was led to the fire, and burned together vritfa 
her mother Marcella. Tlie heart of l^isilides, a 
soldier, who presided at her execution, was softened. 
He pitied her, treated her courteously, and protected 
her, so far as he durst, from the insplence of the 
mob. She acknowledged his kindness, thanked him, 
and promised that after her departure she would in- 
treat the Lord for him. Scalding pitch was poMJ^ 
on her whole body, which she sustained in much 
patience. Some time after Basilides, being required 
by his feUow-soldiers to swear profanely on a certain 

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occasion, be i^sed, and confessed fahnself a Chris* 
tian. Tbey disbelieved him at first ; but finding him 
senoos, tbey carried him before the judge, who re<* 
manded him tD prison. The Christians visited him ; 
and upon being qaesdoned as to tiie cause of hia 
sudden change, be declared that Potamiiena, three 
days after her martyrdom, had appeared to him by 
night, and informed him that she had performed her 
promise ; and that he should shortly die. — ^After 
this he suffered martyrdom. 

The reader will think this an extraordinary story : 
It is tinged with superstition, no doubt; but who 
can vaiture, without meriting the imputitioa of te^ 
merity, to reject it altogether as a fiction. EuseUus 
lived at no great distance from the time of Orioen : 
He had made accurate inquhies after him and hitf 
followers in Alexandria ; and he observes that the 
fam^of PotamisBna was in his own time very great 
in that province. Her martyrdom and that of the 
soldier seem sufficiently authentic. Her promise to 
pray for him after her departure only shows the 
gradual pi^valence of &natical philosophy, will* 
worship, and the like; and if the reader be notpre^ 
pared by a sufficient d^ree of candour to admit the 
truth of authentic narratives and the reality oi con- 
verting grace, because pitiably stained; in many 
instanced, with sucli superstition, he will find little 
sa^^ction in the evidences of Christian f^ety for 
many ages. But we are slaves to habit In our 
Own time we make great' allowances in Christians 
for the love of the world : we are not so easily dis* 
posed to make allowances for superstitions. Yet 
many wrong sentiments and views may be found 
where the heart is devoted, in faith and love, to God 
and his Christ It will still be objected, that God 
would Mt sanctify superstitions of this sort, by caus- 
ing supematurally tlie deceased spirit of a martyr to 
appear to Basilides.— *I answer,— the supposition of 
ft dream removes aU die difficult; andtbe ax)rt 

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^^Yy whra w& recollect that the man's iniod could CBiir^ 
notiail to have been previously under a strong im- ^" 
pression of the person of the sutferer^ of her. late 
mar^rdom, and of tlie circumstances which at* 
tended it 

A peculiar resoUitioD made and put into execu* 
tioQ aboutthia time by Origin illustrates his character 
in the strongest manner. Though disposed beyond 
most men to allegprize the Scriptures, in one paa* 
sage hefollowed their literal sebse too ck^ely. ^'Tbecc 
ere some who have nmde themselves eunuchs for 
the kif^dom of heaven's sake*." — We need not b^ 
at a loss for his motives. He was much convermnt 
among women as a cttecbiser and ao expounder ci 
the Scriptures ; — ahd, no dodbt» he was desirous of 
renooving occasions for the slanders of infidels^ as 
wel) as temptations from himself. — However he took 
all possible pains to conceal the fact 

One cannot but be astonished in noticing how 
strong the self-righteous maxims and views were 
grown in the Church; — yet still, — piety of principle« 
combined^ with fervour of zeal, must be revered by 
every one, who is not lost to all sense of goodness* 
— ^Tbe extraordinary step taken by Origen, above 
alluded to, could not remain a secret Demetrius 
his bishop, at first enocmraged and commended him : 
afterward |^ through the power of envy, on account 
of his growing popularity, he published the &£t 
abroad with a view to asperse him. However, the 
iHshops of Cesarea and Jerusalem protected and 
supported him, and <u*dained him a presbyter in the 
Church. Day and ni^ he contiaued «tiU to taboiur 
at Alexandria. — But it is time to turn from Alex-* 
andria toother parts of the Roman empire;, and to 
aee what effects wane produced by this sane pcise-s 
cution of Severus. . -. 

Alexander, a bishop in Capfmdocia, confessed thi 
fiidth of Christ, and sustaineda^aorietyof sufiefki^^ 

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and yet by the providence of God was at length 
deliver^: — and he travelled afterwards to Jerusa- 
lem. There he was joyfully received by Narcissus 
the very aged bishop of that See, a mam of extra- 
ordinary piety, who associated Alexander with him 
in the labours of Christian instruction. Some epistles 
of the latter were extant in Eusebius s time, who 
gives us a short fragment of one of them, sufficiently 
authenticating the fact, — that thpse two holy men 
wsere joint pastors of Jerusalem. 

" Narcissus greets you, who governed this bj- 
sbopric before me ; and now being an hundred and 
sixte^i years dd, prayeth with me, and that very 
seriously, for the state of ttie Church, and beseeches 
you to be of one mind with me." 

If the ancient martyrologies had been preserved 
uDCorrupted, they would afford us useftil materials, 
and illustrate much the spirit and genius of real 
Christianity in its primitive professors. But frauds, 
interpolations, and impostures, are endless: The 
papal and monastic superstitions, in after-ages, in- 
duced their supporters to corrupt these martyrolo- 
gies, and indeed the writings of the fathers in general, 
llie difficulty of procuring materials for a well-con- 
nected credible history of real Christians is, hence, 
increased exceedingly. What I cannot believe, I 
shall not take the trouble to transcribe; what I can, 
where the matter appears worthy of memory, shall 
be exhibited. This is the cas^ of the maityrs of 
Sdllita, a city of Africa, in the province 6f Carthage. 
The narratbn is simple, credible througlK)ut, and 
worthy of the purest ages of tlie Gospel. — The facts 
belong to the times of Severus. 

" Twelve persons were brou^t before Satuminus 
tiieprocoi^ul at Carthage, the chief of whom were 
Speratus, Narzal, and Cittin, and three women» 
Donata, Secunda, and Vestina. Whan they canoe 
bdbre him, be said to them all, ^^ You may expect 
tho emperor our master's pardoiii if you return to 

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\ UN PER SEVF.RU^, &C. '$0^ 

^yoor senses, and observe tbe oerermuks t)f our 
gods." To which Speratus replied, *' We have never 
been guilty of any thing that is^vil, nor been par- 
takers of injustice : We have even prayed for those 
wlio persecute us unjustly; iu which we obey our 
Em PERORj who prescribed to us this rule of beha^ 
viour/' Saturninus answered, " We have .als6 a 
religion that is simple: We swear by the genius of 
the emperors, and we o0er up vows for their bealtb^ 
which you ought also to do/' Speratus answ6ted, 
•* If you will hear me patiently, I will declare unto 
you Ae mystery of Christian simplicity." The pro- 
consul said, '' Shall I hear you speak ill of our cere- 
monies? Rather swear, all of you, by, the genius of 
the emperors our masters, that you may enjoy the 
pleasures of life." Speratus answered, ** I kpow 
not the genius of the emperors. I serve God, who 
is in heaven, whom no man hath se^n, nor can see. 
I have never been guilty of any crime punishable 
by the public 1 iws: if I buy any thing, I pay the 
duties to the collectors : I acknowledge my God and 
Saviour to be the Supreme Governor of all natioqs : 
I have made no complaints against ai^y person ; afid 
therefore they ought to make none against me." 
The proconsul turning to the rest said, *' Do not yc 
imitate the folly of this mad wretch ; but rather 
fear our prince and obey his commands." Cittin 
answercdi, " We fear only the Lord our God, who 
is in heaven." Tlie proconsul then said, — " Let 
them be carried to prison, and put in fetters till to- 

The next day the proconsul, seated on \m tribn- 
nal, caused them to be brought before him, and 
said to the v^omen,' — " Honour oar ptince, and do 
sacrifice to the gods." Donata replied, ** We ho- 
nour Caesar as Caesar; but to God we offer pi^yer 
and worship." Vestina said, *' I also am a. Cbri^ 
tian." Secunda said,. ^* I abo believe iiVioylCnwiit 
and willcQptinue steadfast to him; and, u\ regard to 

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your gocb) we will not serve and adore tiiem.'* The 
proconsul ordered them to be separated; then, try- 
ing called for the men, he said toSperatus, *' Perse- 
verest thou in being a Christian?" Speratus answered, 
" Yes, I do persevere : — Let all give ear, I am a 
Christian ;^' which being beard by £e rest^ they said, 
" We also are Christians." The proconsul said, 
" You will neitiier consider ycHir danger nor receive 
mercy." They repUed, " Do what you please, we 
rimll die joyfully for the sake of Jesus Christ'' 
The proconsul asked^ ** What books are those which 
you read and revere?" Speratus replied, " The 
four Gospels of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; 
the Epistles of the Apostle St Paul, and all the 
Scrip^re that is inspiml of God." The proconsul 
said, " I will give you three days to reflect and to 
come to yourselves." Upon which Speratus an^ 
swened, ^^ I am a Christian, and such are all those 
who are with me: and we will never quit the faith 
of our Lord Jesus. Do, therefore, what you 
think fit'^ 

The proconsul, seeing their resolution, pronounced 
aentence aeainstthem, — that they should die by the 
hands of toe executioner, in these terms :— ** Spera- 
tus and the rest, having acknowledged themselves to 
be Christians, and havmg refosed to pay due honour 
to the emperor, I command their heads to be cut 
off." Th^ sentence having been read, Speratus and 
his fellow^sufferers said, " We give thanks to God, 
who honoureth us this day with behig received' as 
martyrs In heaven, for confessing his nameV They 
were carried to the place of ptmishraent, where they 
fell on their knees all together, and having again given 
thanks to Jesus Christ, they were beheaded ^. 

f At Carthage itself four youn^ Catechumens 

were seized, Revocatus and Felicitas, — slaves to 

tiiesame master, — with Satuminus and Secondulus, 

and abo Vivia Perpetua, a lady of quality. She 

• Henry, B. 5. p. 77. ' t Acta sincerA, p. S6. 

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had a fether, a mother, and t^o brothers, of whom 
one was a Catechunjen : she was about twenty-two 
years of age ; was married, and was then pregnant ; 
and moreover, she had a young child at ber breast. 
To these five, by an excess of zeal too common at 
that time, Satur, voluntarily, joined himself. While 
they were in the hands of the persecutors, the father 
ofPerpetua, himself a Pagan, but full of afFectioA 
to his fevourite offspring, importuned her to fall froni 
the feith. His intreaties were vain. Her pious 
constancy appeared to him an absurd obstinacy, and 
enraged him so much as to induce him to give her 
very rough treatment. For a few d^ys while these 
catechumens were under guard, but not confined in 
the prison, they foutid means to be baptized ; and 
Perpetua's pmycrs were directed particularly for pa* 
tience under bodily pains. They were then put into 
h defrk prison. To the rest, who had been more ac- 
customed to hardships, this change of scene had not 
toy thing in it very terrible. To her, who had ex- 

rriericed nothing but the delicacies of genteel life, 
was peculiarly formidable and distressing: Her 
concern for her infant was extreme. — ^Tcitius and 
Pomponius, two deacons of the Church, obtained 
by money, that the prisoners might go out of the 
dark dungeon, and for some hours refresh themselves 
ill a more commodious place, where Perpetua gave 
the breast to her infant, and then recommended hin^ 
carefully to her mother. For some time her mind 
was oppressed with concern for the miseir she had 
brought on her family ; though it was for the sake of 
ti good conscience ; but she grew more composed, 
and her prison became a palace. 

Her lather, sonie time after, came to the prison 
overwhelmed with grief; which, in all probability, 
'A^as. augmented by the reflections he had made on his 
own rough and angry behaviour to her at their last 
ihterview. "Have pity, my daughter," says he, ^^ori' 
Ay grey hsiri jr have pity on your fatlier, if I wits 

VOL, !• X 

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CHAP, ever worthy of that name : if I niyself have brought 
you up to this age ; if I have preferred you to aU 
your brethren, make me not a reproach to mankind: 
respect your father and your aunt" — these, it seems^ 
were joined in the interests of paganism, while the 
mother appears to have been a Christian, ottierwise 
his silence concerning, her seems scarcely to be ac- 
counted for ; — *' have compassion on your son, w ho 
cannot survive you : lay aside your obstinacy, lest 
you destroy us all : for if you perish w^e must all of 
us shut our mouths in disgrace." The old gentleman, 
w ith much tenderness, kissed her hands, threw him- 
self at her feet, weeping and calling her no longer 
his daughter, but his mistress — the mistress of his 
fate ! He was the only person of the family who did 
not rejoice at her martyrdom. Perpetua, though in* 
wardly torn with filial affection, could offer him no 
other comfort than to desire him to acquiesce in tlie 
Divine disposal. 

The next day they were all brouglit into the courts 
and examined in the presence of vast crowds. 
There the unhappy old gentleman appeared ^ ith his 
little grandson, and taking Perpetua aside, conjured 
her to have some pity on her child. The procurator, 
Hilarian, joined in the suit, but in vain. The old 
man then attempted to draw his daughter from 
the scaffold. Hilarian ordered him to be beaten; 
and a blow, which he received with a staff, was felt 
by Perpetua very severely. 

Hilarian condenmed them to be exposed to the 
wild beasts. They then returned cheerfully to their 
prison. Perpetua sent the deacon, Pomppnius, to 
demand her child of her father, which he refused to 
return. The health of the clvld, we are told, 
suffered not; nor did Perpetua feel any bodily in-, 

Secondulus died in prison. Felicitas was eight 
months gone with child j and seeing the day of the 
public shows to be ncar^ she was much afflicted lest. 

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her execution should take place before herdeliveiy. 
Her compaQions joined in prayer for her three days 
before t^ie spectacles ; and she was, with gre^t dif- 
ficulty, delivered of a child. One of the door-keepers, 
who, perhaps, expected to have found in her a stoi- 
cal insensibility, and heard her cries,' said, " Do you 
complain of this? what will you do when you are 
exposed to the beasts?" Felicitas answered, with a 
sagacity truly. Christian, " It is I that suffer ipw, 
but then llhere . wili be aqother with me, . that will 
suffer for me, because I shall suiffer for his sake/' — 
Her new-born daughter was delivered to ^ Christian 
woman, who nursed it as her pvvu* * 

The tribune appears to ha,v^ credite4 a report, 
tliat the prisoners would, fr^i^hpmselves by masjical 
practices; and, in consequ^jq^,'to have pceaied then> 
roughly. *' Why don't you,? Isays I^^rpetua, " give 
us some relief? Wil| ,it/iot be for .yoiu? honour that 
we should appear vjfi^] fed at the spec^:acles ? " 

This address of hers had thedesir^ effect ; It pro- 
cured a very agreeable alteration in.thejr.^treatmeut* 
On the day betoe the sliows, they wqrej supplied with 
their last meal ; and the martyrs did mq\v utmost to 
convert it into ai^ *ocy»vii ; they ate in public : their 
brethren and otliers were allowed to vi§it them : and 
the keeper of the prison himself, by this time, was 
converted to the faith : they talked to the people, and 
warned them to flee fro^i the wrath to come: they 
pointed out to them their own happy lot, and smiled 
at the curiosity of those who ran to see them. *' Ob^ 
serve well our faces," cries Saliur, with much anima- 
tion, " that ye may know them at the day of judg- 


The Spirit of God was much with them on the 
day of tria.1 : joy, rather than fear, was painted on 
their looks. Perpetua, cherished by Jesus Christ, 
went OH with a composed countenance and an easy 
paiq^ holding down her eyes^ lest the spectators 

• A'loTt'kaaC 


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might draw wrong conclusions from theJr vivacity* 
Some idolatrous garments were offered them by the 
Pagans: " We sacrifice our fives," said they, " to 
avoid every thing of this kind.** — The tribune de- 
sisted from his demand. 

Perpetua satig, as afreidy vitforious* : and H6- 
vocatus, Saturrtiriiis, dnd Satur, endeav6utedt6 affect 
ftie people with ihe fear of the wrath to come* 
Being cortie into Milarian's presence, " Thbu judges?t 
is,*' said they, '* and God shall judge theie." The 
niob Mi'is ^nriged, and insisted drt tlieir beihg 
Scourged tiefbre they were exposed to thie beasts. 
It was done, and tiie martyrs rejoiced in being con- 
formed fo their Saviour s sufferings. 

Perpetua and Felicitas were stripped, and put ftito 
fhe nets, dtid eitpos^d to' a wild cow. The spectators 
were slrbcked dt the sight : idr the one was an ac- 
complished "beauty, and the other had been newly 
delivered of a child. — ^The assistingexecutionerdreM^ 
them back and covered them with loose garments. 
P'erpettia wbs fit st attacked ; and falling backwards 
khe put herself into a reclining posture; and seeing 
her habit torn by h^r side, she retired to cdver her- 
self: shfe then gathered up her hait, that she might 
seem less disordtered : she raised herself up, and 
seeing Felicitas bruised, she gave her her hand and 
lifted her up : then they went toward the gate, 
ijvhere Perpetua was received by a catechumen, called 
Rusticus, who attended hi6r : " I wonder,"' said she, 
'^ when they will expose us to the cow;" — She 
had been, it seems, insensible of ^iiat had {Massed; 
nor could believe it till she saw ori her bogy and 
clothes the marks of her sufferings. She caused her 
brother to bfe called, and addressing herself to him 
^d Rusticus, she ^aid, '^ Continue firm in the feith ; 
love one another; and be neither frigbtenited noi* 
6ffended at our suffering^." 

The people insisted on having the martyr* ttrodj^t 
into the midst of the amphitheatre tfaiit tbifty* might 

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bave tb6 piea9ure of peeing tb^n die : some of them ce^. 
rose, up aild went forward of their own accord, after ui. * 
having given one another the kiss of charily : others 
received the last blow without speaking or stirring. 
Perpetuafell into the hands of an unskilful gladiator, 
vhp pierced her between the ribs so as to give her 
much unnecessary pain. She cried out ; and then 
9be hersdf suided his trembling hand to her 
throat: — ana thus with the rest she slept in 

Augustine, in his ex|X)^tion of the forty-seventh 
Pfalm, takes notice of the victorious strength of di- 
yine Iqw prevailing over all natural affections, and 
produces this same Perp^etua as an exapiple"*: — > 
?^ We know and read thus in the sufferings of the 
t>le8sed Perpetufu" — He mentions the same story 
also in three other places in his treatise of the soul f* 
Sut it is evident that he doubts whether Perpetua 
herself wrote what is ascribed to her. If go, we 
may well doubt ; and more than doubt the truth 
of the visions with which this excellent narrative has 
been inti^rmixed; and with which I have not thoqght 
it worth while to trouble the reader. Yjet the ge- 
neral histpry has every mark of a.utbenti,city.— Au-r 
gustine himself published three sermons on the an-? 
niversary of the martyrs. It is much to be regretted 
that the finest monuments of e.cple$if^tical antiquity 
have been thus tarnished ^y mixtures pf fraud pr 
sujierstition.^ — ^The authority of Augustine has ep^ 
abled me to distinguish with some degree of precision 
the truth from the falsehood. My business dpes no( 
call me to recite the frauds ; and it will be needless 
to add further remarks : The pious reader sees, ^itl^ 
pleasure, thqrt God was vet present with his people. 
--riodeed the power of God appeared evidently dia-; 
pkyed during the cpAjrae of this dreadful persep«- 
tkaa, by the sudden and ama^ng conversipns of ^* 
vend pei^Qos who vohmtarily sulfered death fqr th%| 
• Tom. V. ilL t ^ i« C. iq« U3. do. U 4* )8. Tom. 7t 

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doctrine which they before detested. Of this we 
have the very respectable testimony of Origen, who, 
whatever other defects he be justly charged with, ig 
certainly allowed to be of unquestionable veracity *. 
' Severus would naturally extend this persecution 
to Gaul, the scene of his former cruelties. In fact, 
it was now that Irenaeus suffered : and tnany n[X>re 
suffjrcd with him ; and Lyons was once more dyed 
with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. Vivarius 
and Androlus, who had been sent by Polycarp ttiere 
to preach the Gospel, were put to death. At Co- 
mana in Pamphylia, Zoticus the bishop^ who had dis- 
tinguished himself by writing a^nsttbe Montanists, 
obtained the crown of martyrdom; 

At this tryirig season it was, that some Churches 
purchased their peace awi quiet by paying money, 
not only to the magistrates, but also to the infornjers 
and soldiers who v^ere appointed to search them 
out. The pastors of the Churches approved of this 
proceeding, because it was only suffering the loss of 
their goods, and preferring that to the endangeijng 
of their lives. However casuists may decide this 
question, it is easily conceivable tlmt the practice 
might take place with many in real uprightness 
of heart. ' 

It is usuaLwith God to moderate the sufferings 

of his people, and qot to suffer them to be tried by 

A. D. persecution at once very long and ve!^ violent. — In 

211. the year two hundred and eleven, after a reign of 

eighteen years, the tyrant Severus died : and tiie 

Church found repose and tranquillity under his son 

and successor Caracalla, though a monster of wick- 


Divine Providence had long before prepared for 
the Christians this mitigation of trial, in the circum- 
stances of Caracalla's education. He bad known 
Proculus the Christian, wlio had reco\'ered the health 
of his father, and was maintaiaed in bis palace to 
* Contra Cekuni, L. i. 

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bis death : and he had himself been nursed, when 
an infant, by a Cliristian woman. Though this could 
not win his heart to Jesus Christ, it gave him an 
eariy predilection in favour of Christians, insomuch 
that when he was seven years old, observing one 
of his play-fellows to be beaten because he fol- 
lowed the Christian religion *, he could not for some 
time after, behold with patience either his own father 
or the father of the boy. Certainly few men have 
ever exceeded him in the ferocious vices; yet, durijig 
the six years and two months which he reigned, the 
Christians found in him friendship and protection. In- 
deed, for the space of thirty and eight years, — from 
the death of Sevcrus to the rei^n of Decius, — if we 
except the short turbulent interval of Maximinus, the 
Church enjoyed a continued calmf. — About the year Ongo^ 
two hundred and ten, Origcn came to Rome, where R^e."* 
Zephyrinus was bishop, desirous of visiting that an- a. d. 
tient Church, but soon returned to Alexandria, and 210. 
to his office of catechising. He entrusted to Ilcraclas^ 
his associate in that employment, the instruction of 
the more ignorant, while he himself took care of those 
who had made a greater proficiency. His active 
spirit induced him to study the Hebrew language; 
and the first fruit of his labour was the publicJition 
of the Hexapla. In this great work he gave the 
Hebrew text and the translations of the Septuagint, 
of Aquiki, Symmachus, Theodotion, — and two 
othcTs, which had long been obsolete, and whose 
authors were unknown. Of these interpreters, Sym- 
machus was an Ebionite ; that is, he held that Christ 
was but a mere man J; and he inveighed against the 
genuine Gos[)el of St Matthew, for no other reason, 
that 1 can see, but on account of the clear testimony 
M-hich the beginning of it affoi'ds against his heresy. 

'* Spartiau's Caracalla. The Pagan author says, "because he 
ft»lluwed the Jewihh Religion ;" but, wosl probably, he means 
the Christian. 

t SulpitiuB Severus, B. 2. C. 42. t £useb. B. 6. C. 16. 

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— T|;)ese works of Or^en, in addition to his constant 
_ diligence, both in writing and in preaching, are 
"" monuments at least of the most laudable inoustiy. 
Tlie evangelical reader would wish, no doubt, to see 
stronger signs of real Christian proficiency in expe- 
rimental and practical religion ; — but we must be 
content with such matter as tlie ecclesiastical recordsj 
afford us. 

One Ambrose, addicted to the Valentiniah here- 
sy, an extn^mely fanciful and romantic scheme, 
not w orthy of the reader's attention, found himsel( 
confuted by Origen, and was brought over to thq 
(Church. Many learned men also felt the force of 
|iis argumentatioas, Heretips and philosophers at- 
tended his lectures ; and he took, no (doubt, a very 
excellent method to procure regai'd to himself at least; 
— he instructed them in profene and seculai' learn- 
ing. He confuted the opinions of the different sects 
by opposing them to each other ; and he exposed the 
various fallacies with so much acuteness and sagacity, 
that he obtained among the gentiles the reputation of 
a great Philosopher. He encouraged many persons 
to study the liberal arts, assuruig them, that they 
would, by that means, be much better furnished foi; 
the contemplation of tlie Holy Scriptures :— He was 
entirely of opinion, that secular and philosophical 
institutes were very necessary and profitable to his 
own mind. — Does it escape the reader, how muct^ 
in the course of the Christian annals we are alreiuly 
• departed, though by insensible degrees, from Chris* 
iian simplicity r Here is a man looked up to with 
reverence, at least by the eastern Church, as a grea( 
luminary ; — a man, who, in his younger days, wa^ 
himself a scholar of the amphibious Ammonius; who 
mixed together Christianity and pagan phUos(^hy ; 
and who, by reading his motley lectures, drew over, 
in form at least, many of the heathen philosophers to 
embrace the religion of Jesus. These nientioD h\v^ 

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often in their books: some dedicate their works to 
him; and others respectfully deliver them to him as 
thdr master. All this Eusebius tdls us with much 
apparent satisfaction. To him the Gospel seems to 
have triumphed over gentijism by these means. — • 
There is no doubt, but, in a certain sense, Origen's 
^ucce$s was great; but I much fear that, in return; 
the pure Gospel suffered greatly by an admixture oJF 
gentilism. What can this e:ptraoj:dinary teacher and 
author mean, by asserting tlie utility and even the 
* necessity of philosophy for himself as a Christian!^ 
Are not the Scriptures able to make a mait 


IS IN Christ Jjjisus, that the man of God 


ErVERY GOOD WORK ? Suppose R man of common 
^ense, perfectly qnacquainted with all the learned 
lore of Ammonius, to study only the sacred books, 
with prayer, dependence ou divine guidance and 
illumination, and with self-examination? Is it not 
conceivable that he may acquire a competent, — nay, 
eveifi an eminent knowledge of the Scriptures? Cer- 
tainly an acquaintance with classical and philosophic 
ica^ lemming may furnish him with strong arguments 
to prove the necessity and the excellency of divine 
i^velation; fipd therefore they deserve seriously to be 
epcourag^ in the minds of all who are to instruct 
others, — for their improvement in taste, language, 
eloquence, and history; but if they are to dictate 
in religion, — or are thought capable even of adding 
to the stjock of theological knowledge, — the Scrip- 
j(ures, — with reverence be it spoken, — may seem to 
bave been defectively written. In tnith, we hear, 
^ujQong these learned converts of Qrigen, nothing — 
^f QonvictioQ of sin — of conversion — of the influence 
of the Holy Spirit — of the love of Christ. They 
jjyre pleased with their master;— Superioi' parts wi 
• Eweb, 3^6.— 17, 

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citap: learning always command the esteem of mankind : 
^\ , -^but, what are all his labours which we have now 
before us, but vain attempts to mix thinjrs which the 
HoJy Ghost has declared will not incorporate ? The 
mischief which actually followed, was to be expect- 
ed: Characters were confounded : and hencefor- 
ward, among the learned, the distinction bet^^»een 
Christian godliness and human philosophy is but 
faintly marked. — 1» Origen had simply and plainly 
expounded to his learned additors the peculiar and 
vital trullis of the Gospel,! cannot but suspect that 
many of them would have ceased to attend his in- 

The iamous Porphyry, — than whom Christianity 
bad never a more acriuionious enemy, — takes notice 
of Origen's allegorical mode of interpreting Scripture, 
observes that he was acquainted with him when 
young, and bears testimony to his rapid improve- 
ments under Ammonius. He asserts, — ^what indeed 
Eusebius, who niust have known, contradicts, — 
that Ammonius, though brought up a Christian, 
turned afterwards a gentile. He acknowledges " that 
Origen continually perused Plato, Numenius, and 
the rest of the Pythagoreans; that he was well venei 
in Chceremon the Stoic, and inCornutus; and, that 
from all these mastery, he borrowed the Grecian 
planner of allegorical interpretation, and applied it 
\o the Jewish Scriptures." 

We have seen, before, the wanton spirit of alle- 
gory introduced by Ammonius: and it is very pro- 
bable that Origen then first leai-nt to treat the Scrip- 
tures in the same manner. He had the candour to 
confess that he had been mistaken in his literal inter- 
pretation of our Saviour's words concerning eunuchs. 
He, afterwards, fell into the contrary extreme, and 
allegorized all the three clauses in the Gospel of St. 
Jllatthew*; — and introduced such a complicated 
♦ Chap.'xix. 12. % 

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scheme of fanciful interpretation, as for many ages 
after, — through the excessive respect paid to titiis 
man, — much obscured the light of Scripture. 

There wanted not, however, some persons who 
' found n^ult with Origen for all this attachment to 
J>agan philosophy. Probably, simple, docile, inge- 
nuous minds, wliich desired to be fed Avith the 


MIGHT GROW THEREBY," found themsclvcs Starved 
amidst all this heterogeneous, inconsistent doctrine. 
He felt himself called upon to vindicate his practice; 
— which he does, only by observing the use of phi- 
losophy in confuting heretics; and by the example ©f 
Pantflenus, and of Heraclas, an Alexandrian pastor, 
— his coadjutor, who formerly had worn the common 
dress, and afterwards took up the philosopher s garb, 
and still studied eamestiy the writings of the heathen 
philosophers. What does all this prove but the 
destructive progress of this epidemical disease ? 

The governor of Arabia sent to Demetrius, de- 
siring ttje instruction of Origen; who did not hesitate 
to undertake the necessary journey for that pqrpose; 
and he then returned back to Alexandria. 

The elegant publication of Alinucius Felix,-^a 
work deserving even to be ranked among the Latin 
classics for neatness and purity of style, was an orna- 
ment to the I^tin Church. The arguments contained 
in it against Paganism are well pointed and well 
adapted to the state of the world at that time : It is 
pnly to be regretted that we see not more of the 
real nature of Christianity in that celebrated per- 

In the ypar two hundred and seventeen, M acrinus a.^d, 
succeeded Caracalla, who bad reigned a little morQ 217. 
than six yems. 

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5i6 HUTORr or the chuiuim. 



jMacrinus reigned one year and two montiis; 
and was succcjeded by Heliogabalus ; whose follies 
and vices are infamous ; but it does not appear that 
tbp Church of God suffered on that account. He 
seems not to have conceived any particular pre- 
judices against Christians ; on the contrary, he ex- 
Sressed a desire of removing their rites of worship to 
Lome. — It is not worth while to attempt an expla- 
nation of the views of so senseless a prince. — He was 
«ii»?%ii»- slain at the age of eighteen, in the year two hundred 
and Jwenty-two, after he had swayed the sceptre 
three years and nine months. His cousin Alex- 
ander succeeded him ; who was then only in the 
sixteenth year of his age, but was esteemed one of 
the best moral characters in proiieme history. — Hi* 
mother IVf amms&a, is called by £usebius *, a most 
godlv and religious woman. — I am at a loss to 
vindicate the expression. — It does not appear that 
phe received the faith of Christ : — however, — nei- 
per she nor her son persecuted, they rather approv- 
ed and countenanced, the Christians. They wenft 
persons ol^candour and probity theniselves ; and they 
saw that, in morals at least, the people of God con^ 
curred with their own views. Their conduct wa* 
laudable; but — mark the mischief of blending 
philosophy with Christianity ! How cheap is the term 
GODLY 2?'owa in the eyes of Eusebius ! 

The providence of God not only secured his CJhurch 
from suffering, but procured it a favourable patron in 
this princess and her son. The emperor had a do- 
mestic chapel, where, every morning, he worshipped 
* Eufieb. L. 6. Fleuiy, B. v. iv. 


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sTAti OF ciinnrikviTY. 

flittse decjBased ptinces, whoise characters were most 
*steemed : their statues were placed ai!nong those 
of the gods : and into this company hfe introduced 
ApollbniuB of TVana, Jesus Christ, Abraham, ^nd 
Orpheus*. He had a desire to erect even a tefriple 
tb Christ, and to rettive htm regularly ittto the num- 
ber of the gods. 

There are, on record, other instances of his can- 
dour towards the Christians. — The right of possessing 
A ceitain piece of ground wds claimed by a tavern- 
keeper : It had beto common for a lotigtimef, and 
the Christians had 6ccupied it for a place of worship. 
— ** It is fitter," said Alexander, '' that God should 
fe served there, in finy nmmier whatever, rather than 
thiat it should bfe used for a tavei*n." He frequently 
teed this Chri^ian sentence, " Do Ai yo^ would 
BE DOirtE BT." He obliged a crier to repeat it wheri 
fee punished any person; and ^asso fond of it, thai 
he caused it to be written in his palace and in the 
public buildings. When he was going to app6int 
^verriors of provincies or other officers, he proposed 
their names in public, giving the people notice, that 
if they had dny crime to accuse them of, they should 
come forv\*ard and make it known. " It would be! 
a shame," says he, " not to do that with respect to 
governors, who are entrusted with men's properties 
and lives, which is done by Jews and Christian^ 
when they publish the names of those whom they 
mean to ordain Priests." And, indeed, by Origen's 
iwrcount J, the Christians were so very careful in the 
choice of their pastors, that the civil magistrates werd 
by no means to be compai-ed with them in probity 
and sound morality. This prince had, it seems, too 
tnuch gravity and virtue for the times in which he 
lived : — for some persdns, in derision, called him 
Archysynagogus ||. 

* Lamprid. i That is, v^ithout owner or possessor. 

i* Ag* Celsus, B. iii. and viii. 

i Hie chief niler of the syaagogae. 

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It seeais to have been bis plan to encourage every 
tiling that carried the appearance of yeligion and 
virtue ; and to discQimtenancc whatever was openly 
immoral and profane. — His historian* tells us ** that 
he favoured astrologers, and permitted them to teacb 
publicly; that hehiniself wasw^lUkiJled in the vain 
science of tlie Aruspices, and was master of that of 
the Augurs in a high degree." 
A. D. In the year two hundred and twenty-nine, Alex* 
22y. andcr was obliged to go to (he East, and to reside 
at Antioch. I J is mother Mamma^a w^nt with him, 
and having heard of the fame of Origen, and being 
very .curious t<) hear new things ; slie sent him a guard, 
and caused him to come to her. All the account 
>ve have of this interview is, that he continued there 
a while, and publislied many things to thp glory of 
(iod, and concerning the power of the heavenly doc- 
trine; and, that he then returned to his school at 

* v\Vhat Ori;;en taught this princess we are not told: 
AVhat ho ought to have taught her, the Acts of the 
Apostles would have amply informed him — A plain 
and artless declaration of the vanity and wickedness 
of all the reigning idolatries and philosophical sects; 
and what is still more— of the corruption, helpless- 
ness, and misery of man, and a faitliful information 
concerning the only way of salvation by Jesus Christ, 
tiie great duty of believing on him, of confessing him, 
and of admitting the sanctifying operations of his 
Spjrjt, — these things a perfectly sound preacherwould 
have shown to her ; and his exhortations would have 
been entirely founded on these doctrines; nor would 
he have felt the necessity of aiding his message by the 
authority of Plato or of any other philosopher. — 
History informs us of no remarkable eftect which 
attended the ministry of Oriiien on this occasion. 
1 hat hi spake what he believed and whlat he thought 
* Lampridius. 

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toost wise and expedient, id not to be doubted ; but 
\s/e ii)ay be elloNyed to lament, that his ^own state 
and views were too similar to those of MamoKisa 
and of her son, to permit him tp represent Ciiris- 
tianity to them in the clearest and ,tbe most striking 
manner. In truth, it is to be feaied that a number 
of Cl^istians so called, at this time, were much of 
the same religion witli Alexander himself. — He seems 
to have learnt, in some measure, the doctrine of the 
upity of the Godhead ; and by die help of the eclectic 
philosophy to have consoHdated all religions intp 
one mass. — But the Scriptural method of teaching 
tilings that accompany salvation will not incorpo- 
rate witli this system of doctrines. 

The liberality of his friend. Ambrose enabled 
Origen to prosecute his Scriptural studies with vast 
rapidity. Ambrose hin)S8lf was a deacon of the 
Church ; and, by his faithfulness under persecution, 
he obtained the name of Confessor. 
. At this time Noctus of Sinyrna propagate^! the 
same heresy in the Last, wliidi Praxeas had done 
in the West, — namely, that tliere was no distinction 
among the Divine Persons. The pastors of the 
Church of Ephesus sumuioned him before them ; 
and demanded whether he really maintained this 
opinion. At first he denied it; but afterwards^ 
having formed a party, he became more bold, and 
publicly taught his heresy. Being again interro- 
gated by the pastors, he said, " What harm have I 
done ? I glorify none but one God ; I know none 
besides him who hath been beijotten, who suffered 
and died.'' He evidently, iq, this way, confounded 
tlie persons of the Father and the Son together ; 
*and being obstinate in his views, he was ejected 
put of tlie Church with all his disciples. — We hava 
here an additional proof of the jealousy of the pri- 
'mitive Christians in support of the fundamental ar« 
ticles of Christianity : The connexion also indissolubly^ 

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$id antonr of the churca- 

cJflAP. fjreserVed between heretical pravity and pride of 
ju--^^ „ ^ heart appeared in this teacher. — He called himself 
Moses, and his brother Aaron*. 

Origen was now sent for to Athens to assist the 
Churches, which were there disturbed with several 
Ori^ heresies. Thence he went to Palestine. At Caesa- 
•^J^?^ rea, Theoctbtus the bishop, and-Alexander bishop of 
A. D. Jerusalem, ordained hiiii a priest it the age of forty- 
230. "^^^9 about the year two hundred and thirty. De- 
metritis, his own bishop, was offended; and, at 
length, divulged what had hitherto been kept very 
secret, — the indiscreet self-mutilation before-men- 
tioned, which took place in the youth of Origen. 
Alexander defended himself in what be had done, hf 
iheentonlium which Demetrius had given of Origen 
in his letter. The latter, on his return to Alexan- 
dria, found his bishop quite incetised against him ; 
for, he procured even his ejection from the ChiircH 
by a council of pastors, on account of some en*ors 
that appeared irt his works. Wlmt judgment is to 
be formed of these errors I shall have a future occa- 
sion to consider. Banished from Egypt, this great 
man lived now in Palestine with his friends Theoc* 
tistus and Alexander, still followed by many disciples, 
and particulariy respected by Firtnilian of Cappa- 
docia, who looked ii pon it as a happiness to enjoy 
his in^structions. Here also the famous Gregory 
Tliaumaturgiis attended his theological lectures, 
which, even in his exile, were delivered iii Origen's 
usual manner. 

Demetrius, bishop of Alexan(dria,died, after having 
held that office forty-three years. A long period! 
—but, our information is too indistinct and scanty 
to enable us to pronouhce his real character. , If we 
were sure that he preserved a very upright conscience' 
fo^i^rd God in things of ess^ntifat moment, sotiie- 
thing mi^ht be advanced tX) justify his severe treat- 
ittent of Origen: but; aS we ane lett on that head to' 
* Floury. B. 5. Epipbanius and Theo<lor«t» 

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conjectures, it is, perhaps, better to be silent- 
Or^en's assistant Heraclas succeeded him. 

In the y^ar two hundred and thirty-five Alexander The 
was murdered together with his mother; and Maxi- ^^p^'^J^, 
min the murderer obtained the empire. His malice murdered, 
against the house of Alexander disposed him to perse- a. d, 
cute the Christians; and he gave orders to put to 235. 
death the pastors of the Churches. The persecution Maximin 
was not confined to them : Others suffered at the same ^^^* 
time; and, it seems by Firmilian's letter to Cyprian sccution. 
of Carthage, that the flame extended to Cappadocia. 
Ambrose, the friend of Origen, and Protoctetus, 
minister of Caesarea, suff'ered much in the course of 
it; and to them Origen dedicated his book of martyrs. 
He himself was obliged to retire. But the tyrant's 
reign lasted only three years, in which time it must 
be confessed that the rest of the world had tasted of 
his ferocity as much as the Christians had. — His 
persecution of them was local; but his cruelty to 
mankind in general seemed to have no limits. 

Pupienus and Balbinus, the successors of Maxi- j^^ ^^ 
rain, were slain in the year two hundred and thirty- 238* 
ei^t: Gordian reigned for six years, and was then 
supplanted by the usual military turbulence, which 
made way for his murderer, Philip the Arabian. 

Origpn, in a letter to his scholar Gregory Thau- 
maturgus, exhorts him to apply himself chiefly to 
the holy Scripture ; to read it very attentively ; not 
to speaJc or judge of it lightly, but with unshaken 
&ith and prayer, which, says he, is absolutely neces^ 
sary for the understanding of it. — ^This exhortation 
will be noticed by the pious reader, doubtless, with 
much satisfaction. It proves that his philosophy 
had not obliterated hb Chiistianity. 

A fi'esh attempt was now made to pervert the doc- 
trine of the person of Christ — Beryllus, bishop of 
Bostra in Arabia, aflirmed that our Saviour, betbre 
his incarnation^ bad no proper divinity, but only his 

VOL. !• y 

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Fathd's divinily dwelling in himself. Thus Ease** 
bius states the matter. It is not easy to form clear 
ideas of these sentiments : they seem, however, to 
annihilate the divine personality of the eternal Word. 
The mail, it seems, was not obstinate : he listened 
to sound Scriptural argument, and was therefore re- 
claimed by means of Origen. He even loved his 
instructor ever after, and was sincerely thankful to 
him ; — a circumstance, which reflects an amiable 
, light on tliie character of Beryllus .*. 
A. D. Philip began to reign in the year two hundred 
244. and forty-four. Eusebius tells us that he was a 
, Christian ; and indeed that he was so^ by profession, 
seems well attested by the concurrent voice of anti- 
quity. He is said to have submitted to certain 
ecclesiastical censures from a bishop; but tlie 
report is void of proper autJienticity ; — and most 
probably, he ranked at his death only as a Catechu- 
men. — There is, however, no doubt, but in the fourth 
A. D. y^^*' ^^ ^^ ^^^S^9 fi^d in the year of Christ two 
^.y] hundred and forty seven^ he allowed and conducted 
the secular games, which were full of idolatry : and 
this is a tact, which clearly proves that he was not 
disposed to give up any thing tor the sake of Christ : 
And, in general, there is not the least ground to con- 
clude from history that he was a cordial friend to the 
Gospel. — Nevertlieless the progress of Christianity 
in the world at this lime must have been very grea^ 
which could induce so worldly-minded a person as 
Philip to countenance it without reserve or ambi-^ 
guity. — To this emperor and to his wife Severa, 
Origen wrote an epistle, which was extant in Euse- 
bius's time. • 

It appears frpm' one of the homilies of Origen, 
that the long peace which the Church, — with only 
the short interruption <^ Maximin's persecution, — - 
had enjoyed, hjid brou^^t on a great degree of luke- 

• Hieronym. Eccle. Scrip, luxx. — Sec Dr. WaterlaQd «« 
the Importaoce of the Trinity. 

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warmness and even of much religious indecorum, cent. 
Let the reader only notice the difference between ^ ^|^ , i 
th# scenes which he here describes and the conduct 
of the Christians both in the first and second century, 
and he will be affected with the greatness of the de- 

'* Several*," says he, *^come to Church only on 
solemn festivals; and tlien, not so much for instruc- 
tion as diversion : Some go out again as soon as they 
have heard the lecture, without conferring or asking 
the pastors any questions t Others stay not till the 
lecture is ended ; and others hear not so much as a 
single word: but entertain themselves in a comer 
of the Church." 

By the blessing of Almighty God, nothing was so 
likdy to conquer this careless spirit, as the faithftrl 
<lispensation of the peculiar truths of the Gospel in 
a practical manner, so as to search the hea,rt.— 
But the ability as well as the taste for doing this had 
much declined, in the eastern part of the Churqh 
especially. — Origen complains elsewhere of the am- 
bitious and haughty manners of pastors, and of the 
wrong steps which some took to obtain prefer* 


This great man was now once more employed in 
Arabia in coiifvting another error, namely, — of those 
who denied the intermediate state of souls ; and this 
he manago^ with his usual good success f. 

Philip enjoyed the fruits of his crimes five years, ^^^ 
and was then slain and succeeded by Decius. — A bishop of 
little before his death, in the year two hundred and Carthage. 
forty-eight, Cyprian was chosen bishop of Carthage. * ^Z 
— A star of the first magnitude, — when we consider ^ 
the times in which ho lived. — I^t us recreate our- 
tselves with the contemplation of it : We are fatigued 
-with 'hunting for Christian goodness ; and we have 
discovered but little: and that with much difficulty. 
' — We shall find Cypriaa to be a character, w1m> 
* rieury. f E«»«b. B. vi. 3& 

Y 3 

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partook indeed of the declensions which we have 
noticed and lamented ; but who was still fair superior, 
I apprehend, in real simplicity and piety, to the 
Christians of the East 


^viL*' The life of this prelate was written by Pontius his 
deacon. It is to be regretted, that one who must 
have known him so well, should have written in so 
incompetent a manner. Very little distinct infor- 
mation is to be gatliered from him ; but Cyprian's 
own letters are extant, and from them I shall en- 
deavour to exhibit whatever is of the greatest 
moment They are, in truth, a valuable treasure 
of ecclesiastical history : The spirit, taste, discipline^ 
and habits of the times, among Christians, are strongs 
ly delineated; nor have we in all the third century 
any account to be compared with them. He was a 
professor of oratory in tlie city of Carthage, and a 
man of wealth, quality, and dignity. Caecilius, a 
Carthaginian presbyter, had the felicity, under God, 
to conduct him to the knowledge of Christ; and, 
in his gratitude, Cyprian afterwards assumed the 
pnenomen of Csecilius. His conversion was about 
V. D. the year two hundred and forty-six; and two 
846. years before his elevation to the See of Carthage. 
About thirteen years comprehend the whole scene 
of hb Christian life. — But God can do great things 
in a little time ; or to speak more nervously with the 
eacred writer, " one day is with the lord as 
A thousand tears.*' He did not proceed by slow 
painful steps of argqmentation, but seems to have 
been led on with vast rapidity by the effectual opera- 
tion of the Divine Spurit : — ^and he happily escaped^ 
in a great measure at least, the shoals and quicksands 

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of false learning and self-<x)nceit, which so much 
tarnighed the cluiracter of his eastern brethren. Faith 
and love in native simplicity appear to have been 
possessed by him when an early convert He saw 
with pity the poor of the flock ; and he knew no 
method so proper of employing '^ the unri^teoos 
mammon as in relieving their distress*/' — He sold 
whole estates for their l^nefit. 

It was an excellent rule of the Apostle concern- 
ing ordination, '* Not a novice, lest, being lifted up 
with pride, he fail into the condemnation of the 
devil." There appeared, however, in Cyprian a 
spirit at cmce so simple, so zealous, and so intelligent, 
that in about two years after his conversion he was 
chosen presbyter, and then bishop of Carthage. 

It was no feigned virtue that thus advan)ced him 
in the eyes of the people. With Cyprian the love 
of Christ evidently preponderated above all seoular 
considerations. In vain his wife opposed his Chris- 
tian spirit of liberality. The widow, the orphan, 
and the poor, found in him a sympathizing benefactor 
contiQually. The presbyter Ccecilius must have be- 
held with much delight the growing virtues of his 
pupil : — ^When dying, he recommended to his care 
his own wife and children. It was with no satis- 
faction that Cyprian observed the designs of the 
people to choose him for their bishop. He retired, to 
fivoid solicitation: His house was besieged: His 
retreat was rendered impossible. He yielded at 
length, and with much reluctance accepted the 


it. — Five presbyters, however, were enwnics to his 
exaltation. His lenity, patience, and benevolence 
towards them were remarked by every one. 

The active spirit of Cyprian was, no doubt, much 
ipmployed before he was mado a bishop: Indeed 
Pontius tells us, that this was actually the case]; 
• Pontius Vit. Cyp, 

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but he communicates no parti^lars. St. Ausim 
says, that liis letter to Donatus was his first work ; 
and) therefore, the time of writing it may safely be 
placed before hb arrival at episcopal dignity, rart 
of thb letter, as it will illustrate his conversioii, and 
show the spirit of a man penetrated with di?ine love, 
and lately recovered iirom the idolatry of the world, 
well deserves to be translated. — " 1 nnd your whole 
care and concern at prescint is for conversion : you 
look at me; and in your affection, expect much 
from me : — I fear, I cannot answer your expccta- 
ticms. — Small fruits must be looked for from my un- 
woithiness;-7-Yet, I will make the attempt; for the 
SUBJECT MATTER IS all On my side. — Let plansibte 
arts of ambition be used in courts ; but when we.r 
speak of the Lord God, plainness and sincerity, not 
the powers of eloquence, should be used. Hear, 
then, things not eloquent, but impottant ; not court- 
ly, but rude and simple; — so, should the divine 
^)odDess be celebrated always with artless truth. --« 
Hear, then, an account of something which is felt be- 
fore it is learnt ; and is not collected by a long course 
of speculation, but is imbibed by the soul through 
the compendium of grace ripenmg her, as it were all 
at once. 

*' While I lay in darkness and the night of paganism, 
and when I fluctuated uncertain and dubious with 
wandering steps in the sea of a tempestuous age, 
ignorant ctf my own life, and alienated from light an4 
truth, it appeared to me a harsh and difficult thing, 
as my manners then were, to obtain what divine 
grace had promised, — namely, that a man should be 
bom again ; and that, being animated to a new life 
by the salutary washing of regeneration*, be should 
strip liimself of what he was before, and though the 
body remained the^ame, he should, in bis miad, 

* An instance we have here of the powerful effects of rege- 
neration attending baptism in thoise dayi. 

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become altogetber a new creature. How can so 
great a change be possible, said I, — that a mail 
should suddenly and at once put off what natofe and 
habit have eonlirmed in hitn. These evils are deef^y 
and closely fixed in us. How shall be team parsi- 
mony, who has been accustomed tio expejisive cukI 
magnificent feasts? And how shall be, wboihas been 
accustomed to purple, gold, and costly attke^ con^* 
descend to the simplicity o( a plebeian habit? Can 
he who was delighled with the honours of ambilicffi^ 
live private and obscure ? Further,^ — the man hai^ 
been a€CU8k>med to crowds of clients, and will tbink 
selitude the most dreadful punishment — He must 
still, thought I, be infested by tenacious allurements^ 
Drunkenness, pride, anger, rapacity, cruelty, ambi*- 
tion, and lust, must still domineer over him. 

^^ These reflections engaged my mind very often; 
fcfr they were peculiarly applicable to my own case; 
' — I was myself entangled in many errors of my 
former life, fxom which I did not thmk it possible to 
be cleared : hence, I favoured my vices, and, through 
d^peir of what was better, I stuck close to them as 
part of my very ftame and constitution.. But after the 
filth of my former sins was washed awuy in the laver 
of regeneration^ and divine light, fro(n abovei^ had 
infused itself into my heart now purified and cleansed); 
after, througli the effusion of the Holy Spirit from 
heaven, the new birth had made me a new creatare 
indeed, — immediately, and in an amaeing mmnef^ 
dubious things began to be cleared up' i things once 
abut were opened ; dark things slione forth*; and wh£(t 
before seemed difficult and even impossible, now 
appeared easy and practicable. I saw that, that 
which was born after the flesii and had lived enslaved 
by wickedness, was of the ** earth, earthy;" but that 
the new life, now animated by the Holy Ghost, 
began to be of God. You know and recollect, as 
perfectly as I do, my conversion frpm a deadly 
crimmal state to a state of lively virtue: You know 

r 4 

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what these opposite states have done for mc :^-what 
they have taken away ; and what they have conferred : 
and, therefore, I need not proclaim it : To boast of * 
one's own merits is odious ; though that cannot he 
called an expression of boasting, but of gratitude, 
which ascribes nothing to the virtue of man, but pro<p 
fesses all to • proceed from the gift of God : Thus 
deliverance from sin is the consequence of sound faith : 
— The preceding sinful state was owing to human 
blindness. — Of God it is, — of God, 1 say, even all 
that we can do: — thence we live; — thence we have 
strength; — thence we conceive and assume vigour ; 
even though, as yet, placed here below, we have 
some clear iforetaste of our future felicity. Only, 
^ — ^let fear be the guardian of innocence ; that the 
Lord, who kindly shone bto our minds with an 
effusion of heavenly grace, may be detained as our 
guest by the steady obedience of the soul which 
delights in him, — lest pardon received should beget 
a careless presumptioui and the old enemy break ia 

*^ But if you keep the road of innocence and. of 
righteousness, if you walk with footsteps that do not 
slide, — i^ dependbg upon God %vith all your heart 
and with all your migh^ you be only what you have 
begun to be, you will then find, that according to the 
proportion of faith, so will your attainments and 
enjoyments be. For no bound or measure can be 
assigned in tlie reception of divine grace, as is the 
case of earthly benefits. The Holy Spirit is poured 
fortli copiously; is confined by no limits; is re- 
strained by no harriers; he flows perpetually; he 
bestows in rich abundance: Let our heart only 
thirst and be open to receive him : As much of ca- 
pacious faith as we bring, so much abounding grace 
do we draw from him. Hence an ability is given, 
with sdber chastity, uprightness of mind, and purity 
of language, to heal the sick, to extinguish the force 
of poisou; to cle^se the filth of distempered minds, 

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to speak peace to the hostile; to give tranquillity to 
the violent, and gentleness to the fierce; to compeli 
by menaces, unclean and wandering spirits to auit 
their hold of men ; to scourge and controul the foe, 
and by tormaits to bring him to confess vi^bat he is. 
— ^ThuSy in what we have already begun to be, our 
new spiritual nature, which is entirely the giit of 
God, triumphs in its freedom from the b^daflo 
pf sin and Satan; though, till our comiptime 
body and members be changed, the prospect, 
as yet(:amal, is obscured by the clouds of world- 
ly objects. What a faculty, what an ener^ is 
this ! — that the soul should not only be emancipated 
from slavery, and be made free and pure ; but also 
stronger and more eflScient, so as to become victorious 
and triumphant over the powers of the enemy ! " 

Thie testimony here given to the ejection of evil 
spirits, as a common thing among the Christtaos, 
evai in the tl^rd century, deserves to be noticed, as 
a proof that miraculous influences had not ceased in 
tl^ Church. Minutius Felix speaks to the same 
purpose, and I think with more precision. ^^ Being 
adjured by the living God, they tremble and remaia 
wretehed and reluctant in the bodies of men : they 
either leap out immediately, or vanish by degrees, 
as the faith of the patient or the grace of the person 
administering relief may be strong or weak.'* — Indeed 
the testimony of the FaUiers in these times is so general 
and concurrent, that the fact itself cannot be denied 
without universally impeaching their veracity. It is 
not my province to dwell on this point : The sane- 
tifyii^ graces of the Spirit call for my particular at- 
tention ; ai>d these are described by Cyprian as bj 
one whp had seen and tasted them. No doubt, after 
his conversion, he experienced in himself vital, ener« 
getic, and divine principles, &r beyond the reach of 
ordinary rational processes;— and he appeals to hit 
friend Donatus if be had not also felt the same* 

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(33P KISTOBT OF Tfire CHfTfeCR. 

^ We may stfely, therefore, infer that mch things 
utare then not infrequent among' Chrftttansi though 
ciBTtahllj, the effusions of the Holy Ghost did Mi 
so ttmdi abound as in the two former eenturies. — In* 
deed wtiat but the power of God on the heart can ac- 
count for a cfaaqge so sudden^ so i^pid, and yet so 
fivmand solid, as that of Cyprian ? What can be con- 
cei^ed more opposite than the last thirteen years of 
his life compared with the former part of it? — Will 
itiodernfastKltousness call all this Enthusiasm? 

In this narrative, the reader will notice, that tht 
essentiai doctrines of justification and regeneration 
by drrine grace were not only believed but experi- 
enced by ^s eeafous African. — ^The difference be- 
tween mere human and divine teaching is rendered 
striking by such cases. With no gf^eat furniture of 
learning, it was his happiness to know little, }f any 
things of tfie then reigniog philosophy. — We see a 
man of business and of the world rising at once a 
Huenix in the Church ; and though no extraordinary 
Theologian in point of accurate knowledge, yet an 
useful practical Divine, an accomplished Pastor; 
flflfflning witfi the love of God and of souls, and with 
unremitted activity spending and being spent for 
Christ Jesus.— This is the Lord's doing; and it 
should be remarked as his work.^— We shsdl see 
tliat Cyprian's own conversion prepared him fof 
iKTtusl service. — Argument and dispute prevailed 
amons Christians in the East; — brotherly love in 
Ae West. 

He seems to record a remarkable influence of 
Divine Grace as having accompanied his baptism. 
it is reasonable to suppose that this was commonly 
the case at that time: The inward and spiritual 
grace really attended the outward and visible sign. 
And it is to be lammted, that the corruption and 
pcrvei-sion of affcer-ages, availing itself of the ambi- 
guous Itfigoage of the fathers on this subject, — 

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wUch, ^nitii them, vitfts natural ^nou^, — supposed cctt. 
A NECESSARY coDnexioD to take place where there ^"* 
had been a frequent one, Iti Cyprian's time to call 
baptism itself tlie new hirth was not very dangerous : 
In our age it is poison itself: Men are apt to con^ 
tent themsdves with the outward and visible' sign; 
and it has long been the &shbn to suppose all per-" 
BODSj who have been baptized when they were infants, 
to be, of course, when they are grown up, in a state 
of regeneration by tiie Holy Spirit: and thus rneii 
have Teamed to furnish themselves with a convenient 
evasion of all that is written in Scripture concerning 
the godly motions of the third person of the sacred 

Cyprian goes on, — " And that the marks of di- 
vine goodness may appear the more perspicuously by 
a discovery df the truth, I would lay open to your 
view the real state of the world ; — I would remove! 
the thick darkness which covers it, and detect the 
liidden mischiefs and the evils which it cotitains.— 
For a Kttle time, fancy yourself withdrawn to the 
top of a high mountain ; — thence inspect the appear- 
ance of tilings below you ; look all around ; — preserve 
yourself unfettered by worldly connexioris, — observe 
' the fluctuating tempests of the world ; — you will then 
pity mankind ; you will understand and be sensible 
of your own happiness ; — you will be more thankful 
to God ; and, w ith more joy, you will congratulate 
yourself on your escape." 

He then gives an affecting view of the immensity 
of evils which the state of mankind at that time 
exhibited ; and graphically delineates the miseries of 
pubKc and of private life; after which he returns 
to the description of the blessings of true Chris- 

" n>e only placid and sound tranquillity,** says he, 
" the only ^lid, firm, and perpetual security is, to 
be delivered from the tempests of this restless scene, 
to be stationed in the port of salvation; to lift up 

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GBAPL the eyes from earth to heaven, and to be adUnitted 
P^ , into the favour of the Lord : Such a man approaches^ 
in his thoughts^ near to his God; and justly gtorie% 
that whatever others deem sublime and great ia 
human afiairs, — is absolutely beneath his notice. 
He, who is greater than tiie world, can desire 
nothing, can want nothing from the world. What 
an unshaken protection ; what a truly divine shelter 
fraught with eternal good, it must be» to be loosed 
from the snares of an entangling worlds to be puiged 
from earthly dreg^ and to be wafted into the light 
of immortal day ! When we see what the insidious 
rage of a destructive enemy was plotting against us; 
— certainly, we must be the more compelled to love 
what we shall be, because we have now learned both 
to know and to condemn what, we were. Nor is 
there> for this end, any need of price^ of canvassing, 
or of manual labour : This complete dignity or power 
of man is not to be acquired by elabomte efforts ; 
The gift of God is gratuitous and easy. As the sun 
shines freely, as the fountain bubbleS| as. the rain 
bedews, so tlie Celestial Spirit infuses himself. The 
soul looks up to heaven and becomes conscious of 
its Author : It then begins actually to be what it 
believes itself to be : It is higher than the firmament, 
and sublimer than all earthly power. Only> — do 
you, whom the heavenly warfare hath* marked for 
divine service, preserve untainted and sober your 
Christian course by the virtues of religion. Let 
prayer or reading be your assiduous employment : 
Sometimes speak with God : At other times heay 
him speak to you : Let him instruct you by his pre-t 
cepts; let him regulate you : Whom he hath made 
rich, none shall make poor. There can be no 
penury with him whose heart has once been enriched 
with celestial bounty. Uoofs arched with gold, and 
houses inlaid witli marble, will be vile in your eyes, 
when you know that your own minds are rather to 
be cultivated and adorned: That this house is morq 

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valuable which the Lord has chosen to be his temple, 
in which the Holy Ghost has begun to dwell. Let 
us adorn this house with the paintings of innocence, 
let us Uluminate it with the light of righteousness. 
This will never fall into ruin through the decays 
of agp: Its ornaments shall never fade. Whatever 
is not genuine is precarious, and affords to the pos* 
lessor no sure foundation. This remains in its 
culture perpetually vivid; in honour, and in splendor, 
spotless and eternal : It can neither be abolished nor 
extinguished. — Is it then capable of no alteration? 
— ^Yes, — It will receive a rich improvement at the 
resurrection of the body. 

** Let us be careful how we spend our time : let us 
r^oice ; but let not an hour of entertainment be in* 
consistent or unconnected with divine grace. Let 
the sober banquet resound with psalms ; and as 
your memory is good, and voice harmonious, per- 
form this office, — as I believe you da — It will be 
more than agreeable, — it will be delightful, — ^to your 
dear friends to hear of your sjnritual and religious 

In all this the intelligent reader sees the jHctureof 
an active Christian, — possessed of a rich portion of 
that effusion of the Holy Ghost which, finom the 
Aposdes' days, still exhibited Christ Jesus, — and 
fitted by experience to communicate to others the 
real Gospel, and to be a happy instrument of 
guiding souls to that rest which remains for the 
people of God. 

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S34 histohy of thje cbubcs 





CHAP. How Cyprian conducted himself in his bishopric, 
■L -^-l' who is sufficient to relate? says Pontius, in the fuU 
ness of his admiration* Some particular account 
however might have been expected from one who 
had such large opportunity of information. He 
does make some brief observations on his external 
appearance. *^ His looks had the due mixture of 
gravity and cb^rfulness; so that it was doubtful 
whether he were more worthy of love or of reve- 
rence. His dress alao was correspondent to his looks : 
He had renounced the secular pomp to which his 
rank in life entitled him ;— yet be avoided affected 
penury.'' — From a man of Cyprian's piety and good 
sense united, such a conduct might be expected. 
The vuth While Cyprian was labouring to recover the spirk 
b^E^tiiT' ^^ godliness among the Africans, which long peace 
A. dT ^^^ corrupted, Philip was slain and succe^ed by 
250! Decius. His enmity to the former emperor con- 
spired with his pagan prejudices to bring on the 
most dreadful persecution which the Church had yet 
experienced. It was evident that nothmg less than 
» the destruction of the Christian name was intended. 

'Jlie chronology is here remarkably embarrassed ; 
nor is it an object of much consequence to trouble 
either myself or the reader with studious attempts 
to settle it. Suffice it to say that the eventful period 
before us of Cyprian's bishopric extends from the 
A. D. y^^^ *^^'^ hundred and forty-eight to two hundred 
248^ ^^^ sixty, and that Decius's succession to the empire 
^Q must have taken place toward the beginning of it. 
260. '^^^ persecution raged with astonishing fury, beyond 
the example of former persecutions, bo& in the 

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East und WesL ThQ latter is the seeae beft)re \j& 
at present lo a treatise of Cypriao conceming 
the lapsed*, we have an a&cting account Qf the de^ 
clension from the spirit of ChristiaDity, virhich bad 
taken place before hk conversion, and which moved 
God to chastise his Church, ^^ If the cause of our 
miseries," says he> " be investigated, the cure of 
the wound may be found. The Lord would have 
bis family to be tried. And because long pooice 
bad corrupted ttie discipline divinely revealed to us^ 
the heavenly chastisement hath raised up our faith 
which had lain almost dormant: and when, by our 
sins, we had deserved to suffer still more, the mer- 
ciful Lord so tnoderated all things, that the wbde 
scene rather deserves the name oi a trial than a 
persecution. . Each had been bent oo improving his 
patrimony; and had forgotten what believers had 
done under the Apostles, and what they ought 
always to do : — They were brooding over tlie arts of 
amassing wealth: — The pastors and the deacons, 
each forgat their duty: Works of mercy were neg- 
lected, and discipline was at the lowest ebb. — 
Luxury and effeminacy prevailed : Meretriciouf 
arts in dress were cultivated ; Fraud and deceit were 
practised among brethren. — Christians could unite 
themselves in matrimony with unbelievers; could 
swear not only without reverence, but even witiiout 
veracity. With haughty asperity they demised their 
ecclesiastical superiors: They railed against one 
another with outrageous acrimony, and conducted 
quarrels with determined malice: — Even many 
bishops, who ou^t to be guides and patterns to 
the re^ neglecting the peculiar duties of their 
stations, gave themselves up to secular pursuits : — 
.Tbey deserted their places of residence and their 
flocks : They travelled through distant provinces in 
quest of pleasure and ffixi ; gave no assistance ta 
the needy brethren; but were insatiable in their 
* S«ctioa4. 

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thirst of inoney : — ^Thcy possessed estates by frftikl, 
and multiplied usury. What have we not deserved 
to suffer for such a conduct ? Even the Divine Word 
hath foretold us what we might expect, ' if his 


WITH SCOURGES.' Thesc things had been denounced 
and foretold, but in vain : Our sins had brou^t 
our affairs to that pass, that because we had despised 
the Lord's directions, we were obliged to undergo 
a correction of our multiplied evils and a trial of our 
fiuth by severe remedies." 

That a deep declension firom Christian purity 
had taken place not only in the East, where fidse 
philosophy aided its progress as we have seen, but 
also in the West, where the operation of no pecu- 
liar cause can be traced beyond the common in- 
fluence of prosperity on human depravity, is now 
completely evident from this account of Cyprian : 
and, — it deserves to be remarked, that the first grand 
and general declension, after the primary effusion 
of the Divine Spirit, should be fixea about the 
middle of this century. The wisdom and goodness 
of God is also to be dbserved in qualifying the 
bishop of Carthage by a strong personal work on 
bis own heart : and then, in raising him to the See 
of Carthage, to superintend the western part of his 
Church in a time of trial like the present The 
trial, no doubt, was kindly intended by Providence 
to operate as a medicine for the revival of the de- 
clining spirit of Christianity; but it needed, never- 
theless, all that fortitude, zeal, and wisdom with 
which Cyprian was so eminently endowed. 

In such a situation it was not to be expected that 
the people under the bishop's care should, in generali 
stand their ground: avarice had taken deep root 
among them ; and vast numbers lapsed into idolatry 
immediately. £ven before men were accused at 

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Chrisdans, ** many ran to the forum and sacrificed cent. 
io the gods as they were ordered ; and the crowds ^"' 
of apostates were so great * that the magistrates 
wished to delay numbers of them till the next day^ 
but they were imporiuoed by the wretched sup- 
pliants to be allowed to prove themselves heathens 
that very n^t" 

At liome tht persecution ra^ with unremitting 
violence. There Fabian the bishop suffered ; and, 
for some time, it became impracticable to elect a 
successor : yet, it does not appear*that the metropolis 
suffered more, A proportion, than some other places, 
since we find that the flame of persecution had 
driven several bishops from distant provinces, and 
made them fly for shelter to Romef. Cyprian, 
however^ having been regularly informed by the 
Roman clergy of the martyrdom of their bishop, 
congratulated them on his glorious exit;]:, and exulted 
on occasion of his uprightness and integrity* He 
expresses the pleasure he conceived in observing that 
his edifying example had so much penetrated their 
minds ; and owns the energy which he himself felt 
to imitate the pattern. 

Moyses and Maximus, two Roman presbyters, 
with other confessors, were also seised and im- 
prisoned. Attempts were repeatedly made to per- 
suade them to relinquish the faith, but in vain. Cy- 
prian found means to write to them also a letter 
fiill of benevolence, and breathing the strongest pa- 
thos §. He tells tliem that his heart was with them 
contiimally, — that he prayed for them in his public 
ministry, — and in private. He comforts them 
under the pressures of hunger and thirst which they 
endured, and congratulates them for living now not 
for this life but for the next; and particularly, becauic 
their example would be a means of confirming many 
who were in a wavering state. — But Carthage sooa 

♦ Cypri. ilelapsis. + Ep. 31. t Ep. 4. § Ep. 16. 
TOL. I. Z 

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CHAP, became an unsafe scene to Cyprian himself. — By 
repeated suffrages of the people at the theatre he waH 
demanded to be taken and given to the lions; and 
it behoved him immediately eith^ to retire into a 
place of safety, or to expect the crown of martyr* 

Cyprian's spirit in interpreting Scripture was mord 
simple, and more accommodate to receive its plain 
and obvious sense, than that of men who had learned 
to refine and subtilize. He knew the liberty which 
bis Divine Master had given to his people — of fleeing 
wh^i they were persecuted in one city, to another ; 
— and he embraced it Nay, he seems scarcely to 
have thought it lawful to do otherwise. — Even the 
last state of his martyrdom evinces this.— His man* 
ner of enduring it, when it, proividentially, was 
brought on him, sufficiently acquits him of adl sus- 
picion of pusillanimity. — To unite such seemingly 
opposite things as discretion aad fortitude^ each in a 
very high degree, is a sure characteristic of gi^eataess 
in a Christian : — 'It is grace in its h^est exercise. — 
Pontius thinks it was not without a particular divine 
direction that he was moved to act in this nmoner 
for the benefit of the Church. 

Behold him at pr^ent, in some place oi retreat, 
under the protection of God, and through .the love 
of his people safe for. the space of two years from 
the arm of a most barbarous. persecution ; — and let 
us next see how he employed ^is interval of re*- 

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HisToar OF cvpBiAK. 339 

C H A P. IX. 


V^YPRIAN wae never more active than in his 
retreat Nothing of moment occurred in ecclesias^ 
tical affiurs either in Africa or in Italy with which he 
was unacquainted; and bis couosek, under God^ 
were of the greatest ii^uence in both countries. I 
shall endeavour to abbreviate the account from his. 
own letters which were written in this period. 

The presbyters of Carthage sent Clementius, a 
sub-deacon, to Rome, from whom the Roman clei^ 
learnt the place of the retreat of the bishop. They, 
in return, express to the Africans their perfect agree^ 
ment in opinion concerning the propriety of the con- 
cealment, because be was an eminent character^ 
and a life extremely valuable to the Church. They 
represent the conflict as very important, which God 
had now permitted for the trial of his servants : 
They said, it was the express purpose of Crod to 
mamfest both to angeb and to men, that the con^ 
queror shall be crowned, and the conquered, that is, 
the faithless apostate, be self-condemned. They ex^ 
press the deep jsense which they had both of their 
own situation and that of the clergy of Carthage^ 
whose duty it was to take care not to incur the cen** 
sure passed on fiuthless shepherds in the prophet *, 
but rather to imitate their Lord the good shepherd, 
who laid down his life for the sheep f, and who so 
^rnestlyand repeatedly charges Simon Peter/ as 
a propt of his love to his Master, '^ to feed his 
sheep^;." " We would not wish, dear brethren^" say 
they, ** to find you mere mercenaries, but fpod 
shepherds, since you know it must be highly smiul 
* Ezek. xxiLiv. 3,4. fJoho, x. t John, xxi. . 

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in you not to exhort the brethren to stand immove- 
able in the faith, lest tliey be totally subverted by 
idolatry. Nor do we only in words tlius exhort you ; 
but, as you may learn from many who came from 
us to you, our actions, "a ith the help of God, accord 
witH our declarations : we make no scruple to hazard 
our lives; for we have before our eyes the fear of 
God and of eternal punishment, ratiier than the fear 
of men and of a temporary calamity: we do not de- 
sert the brethren ; we exhort them to stand in the faith, 
and to be ready to follow their Lord when called : 
We have also done our utmost to recover those who 
had gone up to sacrifice in order that they mij^t 
save their lives. Our Church stands firm in the 
foith in general : Some indeed, overcome by terror, 
either because they were persons in high life or 
were moved by the fear of man, have lapsed ; yet 
these, though separated from us, iie do not give up 
as lost altogether, but we exhort them to repent, if 
they may find mercy with him who is able to save: 
we would not, by abandoning them^ render their 
case hopeless and incurable. 

** We wish you, brethren, to actio the same man- 
ner, as much as in you lies : — Exhort the lapsed, if 
they should be seized a second time, to confess their 
Saviour. And we suggest to you to receive again 
into communion any of these, if they heartily desire 
it, and give proofs of sound repentance. And, cer- 
tainly, officers should be appointed to minister to 
the widows, the sick, those in prison, and those who 
are in a state of banishment A special care should 
be exercised over the catechumens, to preserve them 
from apostasy ; and those, whose duty it is to inter 
the dead, ought to consider the interment of the 
martyrs as matter of indisponsable obligationC" 

" Sure we are, that those servants, who afaall be 
found to have been thus faithful in that which is 
least, will have " authority over ten cities *•" May 

• L4ike, xix. 19, 

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God, who does all things for those who hope in him/ 
grant that we may all be found thus diligently em- 
ployed ! The brethren in bonds, the clergy, and the 
whole Church salute you : We all of us with earnest 
solicitude watch and pray for all who call on the 
name of the Lord. And w*e beseech you, in re- 
turn, to be mindful of us also in your prayers/ 

Several obseiTations present themselves on this 
occasion, r. It appears, that, both at Rome and 
Carthage, the reduced mode of episcopacy was the' 
form of ecclesiastical government which gradually 
prevailed in the Christian world. It is not to be 
supposed that the whole body of Christians either 
at Rome, or at Carthage, was no more than what 
might be contiuned in one assembly. — The inference 
IS obvious. 

2. The Roipian Church appears, in the beginning 
of' Decius s persecution at least, to have been in a 
much more thriving state than that of Caitliage, 
and their clergy to have been models worthy of' 
imitation in all ages. 

3. The administration of discipline among the 
Christians, wisely tempered by tenderness and strict- 
ness, is truly admirable. 

4. The work of the Divine Spirit also amongst 
them, infusing the largest charity, even to the laying 
down of their lives for the brethren, is manifest 
beyond contradiction. — Now mark the spirit of a 
pnmitive pastor, full of charity and meekness, of 
2eal and prudence, in the following letter of Cyprian 
to bis dergy : — 

" Being hitherto preserved by the favour of God, 
I salute you, dearest brethren, and I rejoice to hear 
of your safety. As present ck'cumstances permit 
not my presence among you, I beg you by your faith 
and by the ties of religion, to discharge your duties, 
iu conjunction with mine also, that nothing be 
wanting either on thjs head of discipline or of dili- 
g^ce. I beg that nothioii may be wanting to sup- 

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ply the necessities of those, who are imprisooed 
because of their glorious profession and avowal of 
God, or who labour under the pressure of indir 
gence and poverty, since the whole ecclesiastical 
fond is in the hands of the clergy for this very pur- 
pose, that a number may have it in their power to 
relieve the wants of individuals. 

" I beg further, fhat you would use every pru- 
dential and cautious method to procure the peace 
of the Church; and if the brethren, in their charity, 
wish to confer with and to visit those pious suffering 
professors, whom the divine goodness hath thus £BMr 
shone upon by such good be^nnings, they should^ 
however, do this cautiously, not in crowds,..Aor in 
a multitude ; lest any odium should hence arise, and 
the liberty of admission be denied altogether; and 
lest while, through greediness, we aim at too much, 
we lose all. Consult therefore and provide, that 
this may be done safely and with discretion ; so 
that the presbyters one by one, accompanied by the 
deacons in turn, may successively minister to them, 
because the change of persons visiting them is less 
liable to breed suspicion. For, in all things we 
ought to be meek, and humble, as becomes the ser- 
vants of God, to redeem the time, to have a regard 
for peace, and to provide for the people. Most 
dearly beloved and longed-for, I wish you all pros- 
perity, and intreat you to remember us. Salute fiU 
the brethren. Victor the deacon, and those that 
are with us, salute you *." 

The numerous defections which took place, must 
have penetrated deeply the fervent and charitable 
spirit of Cyprian. Not only very many of the laity, 
but part of the clergy also had been seduced ** I 
could have wished,** says hef, "dearest brethren, to 
have had it in my power to salute your whole body 
sound and entire ; but as the melandtioly ten^)eat has^ 
in addition to the fall of so many of tb^ peopl^ ako 
• EpU. 4. t Epis. 5. 

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afifinrted part of the deray, — aad accumulation of our cent. 
sorrow! we pray the Lord, tbat, by divine mercy, 
we may be enabled to salute you at lea^t, — whom 
we have known hitherto to stand firm in faith and 
Tirtae, — as sound and unshaken followers of Christ 
for the time to come. — Though the cause loudly cal- 
led on me to hasten my return to you ; first, on 
account of my own desire and regret for the loss of 
your coinpany,-^-a desire which bums strongly within 
me; — in the next place, that we might, in full 
oouocil, settle the various objects in the Church which 
require attention ; yet, on Uie whole, to remain still 
concealed seemed more advisable on account of 
other advantages which pertain to the generai safety, 
an account of which our dear brother Tertullus will 
give 3fOo ; who, agreeably to that care M'hich he 
employs in divine wwks. with so much zeal, was also 
the adviser of this counsel, that I should act with 
caution and moderation, and not rashly commit 
aoyself to the public view in a place where I had so 
often been sought and called for. 

" Relying theareforeon your affection and conscien- 
tiousness, g( which 1 have l^d good experience, 
I exhort and charge you by these letters, that you, 
whose situation is less dangprous and invidious, 
would supply my lack of service. Let the poor be 
attended to as much as possible, — those I mean, who 
have stood the test of persecution : suftfer them not 
to want necessaries ; lest indig^ence do that against 
them which pei*secution could not 1 know the 
charity of the brethren li^s provided for very many 
of them :— yet, — as 1 wrote to you before, even while 
they were in prison, — if any persons do want meat 
or clothing'^, let tlieir necessities be supplied." 

In the sequel of this epistle, he shows a deep 

knowledge of the depravity of the human heart, which 

is very apt to be putl'ed up witl) vain-giory and self«> 

conceit, on the consciousness of havii^ well per* 

* It hence appears that a number of thtm hud been released. 


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CHAP, formed our part in any respect I cannot fbr-^ 
hew transcribing the following practical rules of 

^' Let them know, — that they must be instnided 
and taught by tou ; — that the doctrines of Scripture 
require subordination in the people to their pastors ; 
—that they should cultivate an humble, modest, and 
peaceable demeanour ; — and that tho^e who have 
been gloriously bold id the avowal of thdr fieuth, 
should be equally exemplary in all the branches of 
Christian conduct — The harder trial yet remains: — 
The Lord saith, ' H^ that endureth to the ^id, the 
same shall be saved *.' Let them imitate the Lord, 
whose humility never shone more than at the eve oiF 
his passion, when he wadied his disciples' feet* 
The Apostle Paul too, alter repeated sufferings, still 
continued mild and huinfole. Hb elevation to the 
third heaven begat in him no arrogance; neither, says 
he, ^ did we eat any man s bread for nought, but 
laboured andlravailed night and day, that we might 
not be charg^ble to any of you t«' 

'^ A 11 tliese duties do you instil into the minds of the 
brethi-en : and, — because he, who humbles himself, 
S)ball be exalted, — now is the time more particularly 
that they should fear the snares of the enemy of 
souls, who loves to attack even the strongest, and to 
revenge the disgrace which he has already sustained 
from them. The Lord grant that, in due seascm, 
I may be enabled to visit my people i^ain ; and to 
exhort tliem to uselul purpose. For I am grieved 
to hear that some of them run about idly, foolishly, 
and insolently; or give themselves up to strife; and 
even pollute, by fornication, those members which 
had^ confessed Christ; and are not willing to be 
subject to the deacons or presbyters, but seem to 
act as if they intended, by the bad conduct of a 
few profcs2K)rs, to bring disgrace on the whole body. 
• Matthew, X. 12. . f « Thess. iil S. 

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He is a true professor indeed, on account of whcmi cent. 
the Church need not blush, but glory. '"' 

"To the point, concerning which certain presbyters 
wrote to me,* I can answer nothing alone; for, from 
the beginnmg of my appointment to this See, I de- 
termined to do nothing without your consent and 
the consent of the people. But when, by the favour 
of God, I shall have returned to you, — we will 
treat in common of all things." 

In* the next letter he dwells on the same subject, 
namely, the ill conduct of some of the confessors. 
The use of good discipline in the Church of God; 
the benefits of orderly subjection in the members ; 
the danger of pride and self-exaltation ; and — the 
deceitfuhiess of the human heart, are well staled^ 
mid in exceeding strong terms. 

After having congratulated his people on the 
steadiness of their confession, he reminds them of 
the necessity of perseverance, since faith itself and the 
new birth conduct us to life eternal, not merely as 
once received, but as preserved. He reminds them, ' 
that the Lord regards him that is poor ^and of a 
contrite spirit, and that trembles at his words; — and 
he rejoices to find that the greatest part of the con- 
fessors thus adorned the Gospel. — But he had Heard 
that some of them were puffed up : To these he ex- 
hibits the mild, charitable, anc! bumble spirit of the 
Lamb of God : " And dare," says he, " any one, 
who now lives by him and in him, to lift himself 
up with pride? — He that is least among you, the 
same shall be great. How execrable ought those 
immoralities and indecencies to appear among you, 
which we have heard of with the deepest sorrow oif 
heart !" — He then repeats what he had before men- 
tioned of the lasciviousness of some. 

** Contentions and strifes ought to have no place 

among you, since the Lord has left us his peace. 

1 bes^h you abstain from reproaches and abuse; 

♦ Epia. fi.iid Rogatianum prcsbyterum ft csteros confcssores. 

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346 . HisTOftr OF the church* 

CHAP. — for he who speaks what is peaceable, and good, 
and justy according to the precepts of Christ, daily 
imitates his Lord and Master. — We renounced the 
world when we were baptized ; but now we truly 
and in deed renounce the worlds when, upon being 
tiled and proved by God, we scruple not to pye 
np our own wills ; to follow the Lord ; and to staod 
and live in his &ith and fear. Let us strengthen 
one cuiother with mutual exhortations, and stnve ta 
grow m the Lc«xl; — that when, in hb miercy, he 
shall give us that peace and tranquillity which be 
has promisad, we may return to the Church as new 
man ; — and that both our brethren and the gentiles 
way receive us improved in holy conduct; aad may 
admire the excellency of the morale and disciplino 
of those very Christians, who had astonished tbeia 
by their fortitude during the persecution." 

The mind of Cyprian, fuH of the fear oi God, and 
reflecting, from a comparison of Christian precepts 
with the practice of professors, how exceedingly his 
people had provoked the Lord before the persecution, 
was v^hementiy incited to stir Uiem up to repentance. 
— He addresses them from his recess*, as fol- 
lows :t-*' Though I am sci^ible, dearest brethr«[i, 
that as we all live in the obedient fear of God, you 
are instant in prayers, yet I also admonish you that 
we ouglit to breathe out our souls to God, not only 
in words, but also in fieisting, tears, and every method 
of supplication. In truth, we must understand and 
confess that the apostasy which, in so large a degree, 
has wasted our flock and still wastes it, is the pro* 
per consequence of our sins." 

He then goes on to speak erf their practical cor- 
ruptions', as be does in his treatise concerning the 
lapsed. " And what plagues, what stripes do we 
not deserve, since even confessors, who ought to be 
patterns to the rest, are quite disorderly! Haioe, 
while the proud and indecent boa^Uug of their con? 
fessiou pufis up^m^ torments have come upon us, 
* Epi». 7. 

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wd torments unremitted ; — ^tedious and most dis- 
tressing; and so protracted as to exclude even the 
comfort of death itsdf ! *" 

" Let us pray wkh our whole heart for mercy : 
and if the answer to our prayers be slow, because 
we have deeply ofihided ; — ^let us knock ; for to 
him that knosketb it shall be opened, when prayers^ 
groans, uid tears beat at the door." — ^He thai 
records some visions ; — which, as they rather suit 
the dispensation of ttmt i^ in which mhracles were 
by no means wantii^ I pass over. 

^^ Our Master himself prayed for us ; because 
thou^ himself no smner, yet he bore our sins. 
And if HE laboured and watched on account oi ra 
and of our sins, how much more should we be m^geot 
m prayer? Brethren*- let us first intreat our Lord 
himseUT, and then throu^ him we may obtain fitvour 
with God the Father. The Father himself ccnrects 
and takes care of us, in the midst of all pressures* 
provided we remain finn in the faith, and stick close 
to his Christ ; — as it is written, * Who shall se* 
parate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, 
or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, 
or peril, or sword?' None of these can separate 
believers : Nothing can pluck away those, who ad- 
here closely to his body and blood. — P^secution 
is the examination and trial of our heart. God 
would have us to. be sifted and tried ; nor was ever 
his help wanting in trials to those who believe. 
Let our eyes be lifted up to heaven, lest earth with 
its enticements deceive us. If the Lord see us 
biunble and quiet, lovingly united, and corrected 
by the present tribulation, he will deliver us. Cor- 
rection has come first; pardon will follow : Let us 
only continue to pray in steady fiuth; and to behave 
like men placed between the ruins of the fallen, and 
the remains of these who are in fear, — between a 
multitude of the sick, and the few who have escaped 
a devouring pestilence.'* 

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CHAP. Thus the persecution at Carthage appears to haire 
been very Kli'eadful ; but mostly so on account of the 
number of apostates : Tlie Christian laith, patience, 
and magnanimity of Cyprian and of a small remnant 
were in full exercise. 

The persecutors endeavoured to lessen the num* 
ber of Christians by banishing irom Carthage all 
those who confessed Christ : but this not answering 
their pwpose, they proceeded to cruel torments. 
Cyprian, hearing that some had expired under their 
sufferings, and that^others were still in prison yet 
alive, wrote to these last a letter of encouragement 
and consolation. Tlieir limbs had been sorely 
manned and torn., so that they appeared like one 
contmued wound ; yet they remained firm in the 
fiiith and love of Jesus. One of them, Map^ 
pitdicus, amidst his tonuents, said to the proconsul, 
** To-morrow you shall see a contest for a prize." 
— He alluded to the crown of martyrdom ; and, what 
be uttered in faith, the Lord fulfilled : — He lost bis 
Kfe in the conflict on the next day*. 

So keenly was the mmd of Cyprian fixed on hea- 
venly things; and so completely lifted up above the 
world, that he ardently exulted and triumphed amidst 
those scenes of horror. He describes the martyrs 
and confessors as wiping away the tears of tlie Church, 
while she was bewailing the ruiiJs of her sons. He 
represents even Christ himself as looking down with 
complacency; fighting and conquering in his ser- 
vants; and giving strength to believers in proportion 
to their faith : — " He wis present in the contest,** 
says be ; ^* He encouraged, corroborated, animated 
his warriors. And he, M'ho once conquered <leath 
FOR us, always conquers in us." Toward the close 
of bis epibtle he consoles, with suitable, arguments, 
those, who had not yet been crowned with martyr- 
dom, but were preparai for it in spirit. 

The joy of Cyprian, on account of the fidthfulnesa; 

* Epis. 8, . • ' 

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of tiie martyrs, was, however, considerably damped cent. 
by the disorderly conduct, which begiin to take place '"* 
in his absence. Those, who had suffered tortures for 
Christ, and were on the point of martyrdom, and to 
whom it was usual to make application for the pre* 
sentation of petitions, wrote to him and requested, 
that the consideration of the cases of lapsed Chris- . 
tians might be deferred till the persecution was stop-- 
ped, and the bishop was restored i& his Church. In 
the mean time, several of these lapsed bnethrto of- 
fered themselves to certain presbyters of Carthage to 
be received again into communion ; and they were 
actually re-admitted to the Lord's supper without 
any just evidence of their repentance. — The bishop 
dissembled not his displeasure on this occasion: 
He confessed, he had long borne with these disorders 
for the sake of peace, till he thought it his duty to 
bear with them no longer : — He said, " that it was 
quite unprecedented to transact these things without 
the cous^ent ef the bishop*:- — and that, — even in 
lesser offences, a regular time of penitence was ex- 
acted of the members ; — a certaio course of discipline 
took place, — they made open confession of their sins, 
and were re-admitted to communion by the im- 
position of hands of the bishop and his clergy." — 
He directs, that the irregular practice might be stop- 
ped, till, on his return, every thing should be settled 
with propriety. 

Some of the martyrs themselves, it api>ears f, acted 
very inconsiderately in this business, and gave to 
lapsed persons recommendatory papers, conceived 
in general terms. Cyprian wishes them to express 
the NAMES of the persons, and to give no such re- 
commendations to iny but those, oif whose sincere 
repentance tl)ey had some good proof; and even in 

• A further confiriration of the antiquitj of a limited 
episcopacy in the Church of Christ. 
t Ep'iB. 10. 

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1^ case to refer tfaeuhknate cofpuooioe of soch 
mattsers to the bishop. 

£ver7 thing has two handles. Cjrpnan* has 
beai represented as stretehh^ Ihe episcopal power 
beyond its due bounds. I see no evidence that be 
exceeded the powers of his predecessors. A pious 
care for the good of souls, — not any ambition for 
the extension of his own authority, seems to influence 
his mind in these afiairs ; — but of this, the learned 
reader must judge for himself, who will take the 
pains to examine bis episdes with attmtion. Let 
any man peruse the following letter ; and consult his 
own heart as he goes along, wh^er it be the Ian* 
guage of a tender £Uher of the Church, or of an 
imperious lord 


I know from my own feelings, dearest Brethren, 
that you must grieve, and bitterly bewail over the 
ruins of our people, as I sincerely join with you in 
sad grief ajod lamentation for every one of them : 
I experience the truth of what the blessed Apostle 
said, " Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who 
is offended, and I bum not?" and again, '' If one 
member suffer, all the members sufier with it" I 
sympathize, and condole with our brethren, who have 
lapsed dirough the violence of persecution : It is true, 
their wounds give me the most acute pain : they ab- 
solutely break my heart; but, divine grace can heal 
them.*— Still I think we should not be in a hurry ; 
nor do any thing incautiously and precipitately ; lest, 
while we rashly re-admit them into communion, the 
divine dbpleasure be more grievously incurred. Th^ 
blessed martyrs have written to us, ** begging that 
their petitions in jfavour of the lapsed may be ex- 
amined, when the Lord sliall vouchsafe pejgu:e to us, 

* Mosh^nh—Eccksiastical History* 

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tnd we fihidl be able U^ retimn to the Cborch." — 
Certainly then every case shall be examkied in 
your own presence and wkb the concurrence of your 
own judgoienls.^ — But I hear that some presbytery . 
—neither inkidfol of the precepts of the Goepel, — ' 
DOT considering what the martyrs have written to 
us, — ^and i^ in contempt of the episcopal authority, 
have already begun to commanicate with the lapsed, 
and to administer the Lcml's supper to them, in de- 
fiance of that legitimate order by which alone re*ad- 
tnissions ars ever to be regulated. For, if in lesser 
faults this discipline should be observed, much more 
ought It in evits, tike these, which radically affect 
Christian profession itself. Our presbyters and Cha- 
cons are bound to admonish the people in this matter, 
that tiiey may <^herish the sheep intrusted to them, 
and instruct them in the way of imploring mercy by 
the divine rules.— I have too good an opinion of tte 
peaceable and humble disposition of our people to 
believe that they would have ventured to take such 
a step, had they not been seduced by the adulatory 
arts of some of the ctei^. 

Do you, then, take care of each of them; and, 
by your judgment and moderation, according to the 
•acred precepts, moderate the spirits of the lapsed: 
let none pluck off fruit, as yet uiu^ipe, with im- 
provident predpitation : let none commit a vessel 
ag^ to tte deep, shattered already and Idaky, till 
it be carefully re-fitted : let none put on his tattered 
garment, till he see it thoroughly repaired. — I beseech 
TiiKM also to attend to this advice, and to expect 
our return ;-*that when we shall come to you, — by 
the mercy of God, — we may, with the concurrence 
<^f oth^ bishops examine the letters and the petitions 
of the martyrs, in the presence of the confessoi-s, 
according to the will of the Lord." 

It is hence observable, that persons, whose re- 
ligion had. more of form than ^cerity, and whose 
consciences were not altogether seared, acted in tlie 

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same manner then as such do now ; — that is^ they 
were more ha^ to gain the good will of men than 
of their Maker. They were ambitious of the fevour 
of the martyrs of those times, who were unquestion- 
ably soimd and pious Christians ; and we shall see 
5oon still stronger proof, that even men of eminent 
godliness are sometimes too apt to repay, with 
concessions of a dangerous nature, the professions of 
respect made to them by ambiguous characters. The 
Lord s supper was then, as it is now, made by some 
an engine of self-righteous formality. And it is in 
cases of this nature tSat wholesome Church-discipline 
is v^ry precious. The danger of fal$e healbg justly 
appeared .great to Cyprian, nor can any thing be 
conceived more proper than the delay which he 
directed. Yet as the time was protracted to a more 
distant period than he expected, and as he was 
afraid that (he sickly season of the hot weather might 
carry off some of the lapsed, he directs, in a sub- 
sequent letter*, *' that any of the 'laps^ penitents 
whose lives miglit be in danger, slK>uld, by such 
Church officers as were authorized, be re-admitted 
into tbjB Church." And he intreats his clergy to 
cherish the rest of the fallen Christians with care and 
tenderness. — He observes that the grace of the Lord 
would not forsake the humble. 

His exhortations to his clergy were not without 
effect They fell in with his views, and solicited the 
people to patience, modesty, and real repentance. — 
They consulted him how they should act in certain 
critical cases : He referred them to his former letters; 
and repeated his ideas of the proper season of set- 
tling, in general, tlie concerns of the lapsed ; at the 
same time he urged the indecency of some persons 
in expecting a re^admission into the Church before 
the return of those who were io exile, and were 
f^ripped of all their goods for tiie sake of tlie Grospel. 
*' But, if they are in such excessive hurry,'" said the 
* Epifr. 12. 

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HIStOftt or CYFRIAN. ' S5S 

bkbop, " it is in their own power to obtain even cent. 
mbre than they desire. The battle is not yet over ; ^^^•- 
the conflict is daily carrying on. If they cordially 
repent, and the fire df divine faith bums in their 
bi^easts, he who cannot brook a delay, may, if he 
pleaee, be crowned with martyrdom!" 
- The African prdate was^ ever studious of preserving 
an intimate connexion v^iih the Roman Church, 
where still the persecution raged and prevented the 
election of a successor to Fabian. 

The next epistle is employed in giving them an 
account of his proceedings. 

The bold neglect of discipline in Carthage proved 
a source of vexation to his mind in addition to his 
other trials, and called forth all the patience, tender- 
ness, and fortitude of which he waf? possessed. — Lu- 
cian, a confessor of Christ, sincere and fervent in 
£uth, but injudicious, and too litdie acquainted with 
Christian precepts, undertook, in the name of the 
collective body of the confessors, to re-admit into 
communion all the lapsed who had applied to them*; 
and he wrote a very concise letter to Cyprian, in which 
he desirfed* him to inform the rest of the bishops of 
what Ibey had donel and expresses a wish that he 
may acquiesce in thie views of the martyrs. — It 
canoot be denied, — Aat, -ori the one hand, a super- 
stkiousvenei^tibn'fof the character of a martyr and 
n confessor had grown up atriong these Africans; — 
and that; on the otber^r-those, who had suffered for 
Christ fin persecution, were apt to be elaicd with 
spiritual pride, and'te assume an authority which by 
no means belonged tothem ;— ^6 dangerous a thijig ii 
it to be unacquainted M^ith Satan's devices,-^and so 
prone in ail ages are- even profi^ssors of true religiort 
to walk in the steps of Korah; Dathaft, and Abirair. :J:. 

Cyprism sent the copy of tliisjetter to his clergy 
at Cartbage; and prefaced his observations on it, 
in the f<^wing pointed manner; ** To this i^rAN 

• Epis. |7« t Ep^» *^» J -^^ Numbers, \^i. 

VOL. I. . A A 

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CHAP. WILL I LOOK, saith the Ijord. even to him thai? 



TREMBLETH AT Mv WORD. This character becomos 
us all, particularly those who have fallen, that they 
may appear before the Lord humble and penitent 
indeed." He then added, — " that the biahops, 
his brethren, had agreed with hiiD in opinion to de- 
fer the consideration of the cases of the lapsed to a 
qouncil to be held by them in general, after that it 
should have pleased God to restore peace to his 
Church;'' — and he urged them " to support these 
views.'' He sent them, at the same time, a copy oi 
a correspondence between Caldonius, aii African 
bishop, and himself. 

It is not known in w hat place Caldonius lived, 
but he, like Cyprian, was very caotious in restoring 
the lapsed to communion. Some, however, of bis 
Church, having apostatized by sacrificing to the 
pagan gods, were called to a second trial ; whea 
they recovered their ground ; and. in consequaoce^ 
were driven into banishment and stripped of their 
property. Caldonius expressed his opinion that such 
should be re-admitted. Felix, a presbyter, bis wife 
Victoria, and one Lucius, thus lost their possesaiQiia, 
which were forfeited to the Imperial treaaucy^. A 
w^oman, also, nan^d Bona, who was dra^^ by her 

Eagan husband to sacrifice, was, while th^ held 
er hands, compelled to a seeming comptiance, but 
she fully cleared lier integrity by saying, '^ I did it 
not, — YE have done it" She also was banished. 
Caldonius having stated the facts and given, his owa 
opinion, asks the advice of .Cy(»rian, w ho acquiesces 
in his judgment; and adds, tlmt he wished all the 
lapsed, who then caused him so much affliction, 
were disposed to retrieve their Cbrbtian character by 
these methods, rather than to increft^ their faults by 
pride and insolence *• 
A confessor, named Celerinus, who lived iaaome 

• Epit. i8, 19. - . * 

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|HUrt of Africa, — most probaWy in banishment, — cent. 
was much grieved on account of the apostai^ of his 
two listers, Numeria and Candida. He wept night 
and day in sackcloth and ashes on their account; 
and, h^Ming of Ludan still being in prison and re« 
served for martyrdom at Carthage, be wrote to him 
10 into^eat that either he himself or any of his suf- 
fering brethren, — particularly, whosoever shoold first 
te called to martyrdom, — ^would restore them to the 
Churchy He bc^s the same favour for Etcusa also; 
who, though she had not sacrificed, had given money 
to be. excused from the act^. He assures Lucian 
of the sincerity of their repentance ; and says, k 
was evicknoed by their kindness and assiduity m 
attending on the sufiering brethren. He, manif(^y, 
attributes too vnich to the character of martyrs, ih 
affirming, that ^' because they were friends and wit> 
oessesof Christ, they had therefore a power of v^ 
dulging all requests of this sort" This letter ami 
tfae answer of Lucian bonttiki a mixture of good anA 
•evil: they exhibit true gmcetumished witii pitiable 
knorance, and superstition. Both Celerinus and 
Lucian were, doubtless, good men; — but we are 
more dbposed to make candid allowances for tlie 
^lefects of our own age than for those of preceding 

The conduct of Lucian affords a memorable and 
laooeiitable instance of the weakness of human nature 
'even in a r^n^^te spirit. His answ^er to Cele- 
jmm t disfdays the most consummate fortitude, — and 
this, — as fiftT as appears — grounded, in the main, on 
the true faith and love of Christ The existence of 
a deploraUe and subtile spirit of pride, in some de- 
gree, is, perhaps, not to be denied; but this holy 
man was, certainly, not aware of the alloy. — He de- 
scribes himself and his companions as shut up and 
pressed to^gether excessively close in two sfiiall 
cells, and also greatly suffering from hunger, thirst, 
* Epit. sa. t £p^9. ai. 

A A 2 

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CHAP, and intolerable heat He mentions a ''Duft>j[)^!<3f 
^ tbem as already killed in prison; and adds thi^t, in 
a few days, he himself must expire. *^ For five 
days," says he, ** we have received very little bre«d.; 
-and the water is apportioned to us by measure/' — 
Such were the sufferings of this persecutioo-— ^ 
Xuciax) sp^tks of all ttiis in a cool, and most un«> 
^ected manner ; — like one, whose mind was lifted 
up above the world and its utmost malice, and pa* 
tiiently- expected a blessed immortality. As to Ihe 
{)etition o( Cielerinus in favour of his sisters, he in- 
forms him that Paul the martyr who bad lately suf*^ 
jpred, had visited hiai while tlt in the Boi>v,and 
^d said, — " Luciao, I Bay to thiee betbre Chiisl, 
that if any person after my decease beg of ydin to be 
restored to the Church, ck) you, in nay name, grant 
lijs request." . Lucian extends this gemrosity. to the 
4jpce£^test height ; and. refers hijin to the. general 
';i|i^er, which he had already wiiiten in behalf of the 
lapsed. Yet, he owne, they ought to. explain their 
cause before tiiebftsbop, and make a coufessipn. It 
is very plain, however, that heattiibutes, in this mat* 
ter, a sort of superior tlignity to PauU to hiipsel^ 
and to Uie other mailers : and, no doubt^ the vain- 
glory of martyrdpip was much augq^ented by the 
excessive regard which now began to be shown 
to sufferers. — These a^d simibr facts eoo^tj^in - 
the reluctant historian to acknowledge^ that the 
corruptions of superstition, in giving iqfimoderate 
honour to saints and martyrs, which a&erwards^ 
through Satan's artifice and deliision> grew to the 
-enormous pitch of idolatry itselli bad alreaby en- 
tered tile Church, and contamiqated tlie simplicity 
and the purity of Christian faitii and de}>eiidenGe. 
Yet this concession, — it must be letpfiembered, — ■ 
implies no suspicion of hypocrisy eitliqr \a the martyrs 
or in their adniii^rsv This same^ Lucian ira^a maa 
of true, of ^substantial p^e!ty.~-He wept and lament^ 

ed excecdjn^y,. on account of the lapseflavomen; 
2 • •• 

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and had the fear of God^ constantly before his eyes/ gent. 
Probably, he was not very judicious : his letter is 
confused and perplexed beyond measure; nor is it 
now easy to say, how far the obscurity is to be- 
ascribed to the want of a clear understanding, or to 
his very distressed circumstances, or to the corrup- 
tion of the text. 

It is evident that a spirit extremely dangerous to 
the cause of piety, humility, and wholesome'yisci- 
pline, was spreading fast in the African Church. 
Celerinus himself, who had been a confessor *, owns 
that the cause of his sister had^been heard by the 
clergy of her Church, — at that time it seems, des- 
tkute of a bishop; — who had deferred the settlement 
of it till the appointment of the chief pastor; — but' 
the precipitation of men would brook no deW. 

The eyes of all prudent and more discerning per-* 
sons in the Church were fixed on the bishop of 
Carthage in this emergency. The danger of the loss ' 
of the Gospel itself, by substituting a dependence ori- 
saints instead of Christ Jesus, forcibly struck his"^ 
mind. His connexion with the Roman clergy, and ' 
the superior regard to discipline which thet^ prevailed, ' 
was of some service on the occasion ; and, in his 
correspondence with them f, he compares the im- [ 
moderate assuming conduct of Lucian with the^ 
modesty of the martyrs Mappalicus and Satuminus; 
who had abstained from such practices : The former 
bad written only in behalf of his own mother and 
sister; and the latter, who had been tortuffed and 
imprisoned, had yet sent out no letters whatever of 
this kind,. Lucian, he complains, every whei*e 
fbrei^hed the lapsed with letters testirncnial for 
their reception into the Church, written with his 

/ * By a confess(»r in the langurtge of those times, we are sil- 
viVfB to uoderfttand a ptrson who has publicly professed or 
confessed bJisself to be a Christian, when called upon by the i 
heathens to nacriuce to their godd, oi olheiwist; vu wuisliip 
them. . , 

tKpisi^M."' • ' ' - — • 

A A3 

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own band in the name of Paul wfaile alive, ooDtiiided 
to furnish them after his deaths and declared that 
that martyr had directed him to do so; — though be 
should have known, says Cyprian, that he ought to 
obey the Lord rather than his fellow-servant 

A young person, named Aureiius, who had suf- 
fered torments, was seized with the same vanity, but 
was unable to write; and Lucian wrote many papers 
inhis name. 

Cy|»ian complains of the odium thus incurred by 
the bishops. In some cities, he takes notice how 
the multitude had forced the bishops to re-admit tlie 
lapaed ; but he blames those rulers cif the Church 
for want of faith and Christian constancy. In his 
own diocese he had occa^on for all his fortitude^ 
Some, who were formerly turbulent, were now much 
more so, and insisted on being speedily re-admitted. 
He observes that baptism is performed in the name 
of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and that re- 
mission of past sins is then received ; and then he 
complains that the name of Paul, in effect, is in^ 
serted in the place of the Trinity. He applies, on 
this occasion, St. Paul's well-known holy execration 
denounced in the beginning of the Epistle to the 
Galatians. He owns his obligation to Rome for the 
letters of their .clagy, which were well calculated to 
withstand these abuses. 

He * wrote a congratulatory letter to the confes- 
sors Mouses and IVUximus, whose fttith and zeal^ 
united with modesty and with the strictest attention 
to discipline, he had formerly much commended ; and 
he now thanks them for the epistolary advice, which 
they had given to the African confessors. In their 
answer f they appear transported with holy joy, and 
elevated with the heavenly prospects before tfiem. 
Iliey quote the New Testament Scriptures rela- 
tive :}; to these things; and express such strength of 

I MatUv. 10, II. Luke vi. 23. MaU.x. i8. Raoi.viii,35- 

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fenth, kd|)c, and charity^ as demonstrates the real cent. 
power of diTine grace to have been possessed by "^ 
tbem in a very eminent manner.* Their love of the 
divine word andof justt discipline appears no less ^;reat 
than their zeal and ardour for martyrdom. They 
ebsenre bow deeply and bow widely spread the evil 
of defection bad been ; and they conclude with very 
just observatiocis on the light method of treating the 
lapsed, in perfect agreement with Cyprian. Great- 
ness of mind, a hi^ sense of the importance of or- 
der, a bearvenfy warmth of temper, wd an accuracy* 
of judgment are equally and abundantly evident in 
ftis eptttle : — Such endowments esdsting mjust pro- 
pordoo prove that tim work of the Hdy Spirit was 
very sound in these excellent men. 

Cyprian now wrote to tiie lapsed themselves ; and 
rebuked tbe predpitationof some, and exposed tlie 
injustice of their dakm, ' since they acted as if they 
took to theinselves the whole title of the Church ; 
be commended the modesty of others, who refused 
to take advantage of the indiscreet recommendation 
of the mart3rrs, and who wrote to him in the lan- 
guage of penitents ;— whence it appears diat the folly 
oi tiiB lapsed was by no means universal*. 

Gaius Diddensis, one ofthe presbyters of Cyprian, 
undertook, along with bis deacon, against the sense 
of the rest of tlie clergy, to communicate with the 
lapsed. Repented admonitions availed not to a re« 
formation. As the bishop was sensible that the 
common people, for whose salvation he wh3 soli- 
citous, wers deceived by these things, he commends 
bis clergy for refusing communion with so obstinate 
and irregolar a presl^ter and deacon. — He again f 
intmates his intention of judging all things m full 
council u|>on his return ; and intreats them to co- 
operate, in' the mean dme, ^vith his views in the 
OMUntenAnce of discipline. In writing again to the 
Roman clergy, he declares his determination of 

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acting as God had directed bis mioisterB in tha Coa* 
pel, if the contuinaciotia were not reformed bybia 
and by their admonitions *. . 

Ttje Roman clergy condole affectionately with 
Cyprian ; — "Our sorrow," say they, " is doubled^ 
because you have no real from these pvessinjg diffi- 
culties ^of the persecution ; and because the immo-' 
derate petulance of the lapsed has proceeded to the 
height of arrogance. But, though these thingis have 
grievously afflicted our spirits; yet your firmness and 
evangelical strictness of discipline have moderated* 
the load of vexation : You have both restrained the 
wickedness of certain persons ; and also, byexh(»rt-i 
ing them to repentance, havesbown them the whc^- 
some way to salvation. — We w^ astonished that tbey 
should proceed to such lengths, in a timeao mourn- 
ful, so unseasonable as the present; — that they 
should not so much as ask for re-communion with 
the Church; but claim it as a ri^t; — and even 
affirm that they are already forgiven in heaven. 
Never cease, broti^r, — in' your love of souls, — to 
moderate and resti*ain tliese violent spirits ; and to 
oflfer the medicine of truth to the erroneous, thou^ 
the inclination of the sick be often opposite to the 
prudent industry of the physician. These wounds of 
the lapsed are fresh, and produce considerable tu* 
mours; but we feel assured, that, in process of time, 
their heat and violence will subside; — and the pa- 
tients themselves will then be thankful for that delay, 
which was absolutely necessary for a wholesome cure, 
provided there be none to Wm them with w^pons 
against themselves, and, by perverse instruetions, to 
demand for them the deadly poison of an overhasty 
restoration : for wc cannot think that they would 
all t have dared to have cl^iujed their admission sa 
petulantly, without the encouragement of 3otne per- 
sons of ecclesiastical idfluence. , , We know. the &ith^^ 

i They mutt have unHeirstood that by much Uie .major part 
at leust of the lapsed Were guil^ of this evil. 

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the good order, the humility of tfae Carthaginian 
Church ; — ^wh^ce we have been surprised in notic- 
10^ certain harsh reflections made against you in a 
oortain epistle^ when we have formerly had repeated 
pfroof of your mutual charity/' 

They proceed to give the most whdesome advice 
to the lapsed ; and^ in truth, the whole conduct of the 
Roman clergy, at this season, reflects the highest 
honour on theor wisdom and their affisction ; and af- 
fords the most pleasing proofs of the gpod 3tate of 
that Church at that time. Tbe same can by no 
means be said of C^rjan's:-^they. v*ere, — aft we 
have seen, — a dedinu^ peofde befoFe his appoint- 
ment to tiie See; and the acoarge of persecution 
}m>duccfd rasi numbers of apostates.-^^ln those days 
of disdplioe, the lapsed, hy their eagemessfor re-ad« 
mission, showed the same dispositions of selfishness 
and of pride, wfaicb, in our times, are evinced by wish- 
ing to hear nothing but cwofort preached to tbem, 
— by finding fault with mbisters who dare not speak 
folse peace; — and by unsoundly healing themselves. 
We are perfectly lax in point of discipline: — Who 
r^rds its menaces against the disorderly ? — With 
the first Christians this was an awful concern. — ^Tlie 
same depravity of nature seems now to work on cor- 
rupt minds in another way ; but so as still to exer- 
cise the patience and fortitude of godly ministers ; 
who, by persevering in their duty, and not giving 
way to tbe unreasonable humours of their people in 
tlttogs of importence, will find, in the end, a whole- 
some issue even with many of their most unpromising 
and froward hearers. 

An African, named Privatus, who had left his 
country and travelled to Rome, solicited to be there 
received as a Christian. , Cyprian had mentioned 
liim to tbe Roman clergy, and pointed out his real 
and dcmgerous character. Iri the close of this ad- 
mirable * letter they inform him that, before they 
• EpU. 29. * 

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bad reeeived his cautionary letters, thaybad detected 
the impostor. At the same timetbey lay down a 
golden maxim, ^^ that we all aa^l to watebfor tbe 
body of the wtole Church, difiurod Hiroi^ various 
provinces." — It was this unity and umfonmty of tbe 
Christian Church, irbich hitterto bad preserved it, 
under God, from tbe infection of heresies* Node 
of these were yet able to mbc themselves w^ the 
'' body of Christ * :' and the Churcb,— instead of 
bdng brofca:! into miall bandfiils of distinct sets of 
persons, aU glorying in lumng something peculiarly 
cKceUent, and prone to despise their neighboun,-- 
as yet knei^ no other name than tba^of chbistiak : 
numbers and diver^ of place alone prevented timr 
assembling all togetter ; for (bey were one people. 
In Ifeah^ and Afiica the union at this time a(^>eiff» 
very salubrious: and the vigorous spirit and sound 
understamiii^i of Cyprian was enatded to apply the? 
solid graces of tbe Romaii Church as amedicine for 
the reformation <tf his own disordered ftock. 

The Roman clergy, in af second letter, take notice 
of St. Pauls eulogium oif their Church in the be^ 
ginning of his epistle ; — ^ that their foitb was spoke» 
of through the whole world," and they express tfadr 
desire of treading in the steps of their Cbristiaa pr^ 
decessors. They mention the caiea of :j: Libelli^ici,^ 
which were two^fold; ist, Of those who d^vet«d 
in written testimonials to heathen maj^strates, in 
which they abjured the Gospel; and who, at the SMie 
time, by paymg money, obtained the privilege of not 
sacrificing to tbe gods. — ^dly. Of those wbo procured 
itiends to do these same things for them. Bdtbf 

* Coloss. i. 24. His body's 9ake« which is Cbe Church. 

t Epis. 30. 

J So called from tibellus, — which here mtans a nmci«e 
urritteu document, signed by the person whom it coiKtrttid, 
and contaiiUBg an account of bis religion ; In many cases^ it 
\va« oqly signed by s<»uie creditable and well-known friend. — 
An evasive contrivance— for the purpose of quieting insincere 
CiPiiscienceSy not yet quite hardened I 

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nmmr of CYjpaiAir. 363 

kinds,* these last, at well as those who had actually cent. 

sacrificed^ were censured by the Roman clergy as ^ J[^]^ 

lapaed persons. They mention likewise the letters 

sent by the Roman confessors into Africa to the 

same piurport, and express their joy on account of 

the consistency of thetr conduct in matters of db- 

dpline with their suflS^ngs for the faith. Thqf 

declare their agreement, in opinion witili Cyprian,-^ 

to defer the setdement of these aftairstiU some ganeral 

measure could be planned for this purpo8e> aft^ peace 

should be restored. '' Behold/' say they, ^^ almost 

the whole world is laid waste : — Fragments of the 

feUen lie in ev^ place :-*With one and the same 

counsel, with unanimous prayers and tears^ let us, — ' 

who seem hitherto to have escaped the ruins of this 

idsitatiooi as well as those, who have ifiot stood 

entirely faithfid during the persecution, intreattbe 

Divine Maiesty^ and bes peace in the name of ttie 

whole Chutfcfa: let us cherish, guard, and arm one 

mother with mutual prayers : let us supplicate for 

the liq^isedi that they may be raised : let us pray for 

those who stimd, that they may not be temptai to 

their ruin ; let us pray also, that those, who have 

feUen, may become sensible of the greatness of the 

oime, and may ha:ve the wisdom not to widi for 

a crude and momentary medicine, and that they may 

BOt chiturb the yet fluctuating state of the Church^ 

*— lest they should appear to aggravate our distresses 

by exciting iirrfiAif allt sec^ious and in&unma* 

tory Qoounotions. — Let them knock at the doors, 

but not break then. — I ^t them go to the threshold 

of the Church, but not leap over it Let them watch 

at the gates of the heavenly camp, but with that 

modesty winch becomes those who remember they 

iMive been deserters. Let them arm themselves 

indeed with the weapons of humility, and resume 

tliat shieid of fatth which they dropped through the 

fear of death ; but so that they may be armed 

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against tlie devil, — not against that very -Churchj- 
whidi laments over their fall." ' 

The want of d bishop at Rome was an additional 
reason for delay. They speak, of certain bishops 
who lived in their neighbourtiood, and alsO' of others, 
who, through the- flame 4)f persecution, had ftedto^ 
them from distant provinces, — who allc(fti6ur^» 
in the same views. * ^- ' ' 

There was a very young man, named Aurelins, 
whom Cyprian speaks of as greatly excelling in the' 
graces of Christianity. He had twice' unoergone 
the rage of persecution for the sake of Christ : — 
Baoisbment was his jfirst punishment, ^and torture^ 
the second. The bishop had drdained this youth 
m reader in the Church of Carthage ; and he apo- 
logizes on account of the peculiar circumstanced 
of the case and of the times, for bb not having pre-; 
Tiously consulted his presbyters ^and deacons. He 
beseeches them to pray, that both their bishop and 
good Aurelius may be restored to the exercise of 
theirrespcctive functions*'—! cannot butbende ob- 
serve, how exact and orderly the ideaB of ordinatiCNfi 
were in those times.— It is not to th^ advantage of 
godliness among us, that pereons can now be in- 
troduced to very high offices in tht ministry without 
much previous trial, ceremony, or difficulty*. 

Celerinus was also ordained a reader by the 
same f authority. However weak in judgment be 
may appear from the transactions between him and 
Lucian already stated^ the man suffered with great 
zeal for the sake of Christ. The very beginning 
of the persecution found hSai aready^ combatant 
For nineteen days he had remaioedi in ^risott fet- 
tered and starved^ but he persevered and escaped 
at length without martyrdom. . His grandlatlier and 
two of. his uutJes had sufFered for Christ;; and thei^ 
anniversaries were celebrated by the Chur&h. 

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rrtasmmr »T ctprian. 

, 'It^eem^, tii^ Cyprian Jblioiight proper to reward 
wtth-heoouraUe estatiliiihments in the Church those 
who had suffered with th^ greatest faithfulness in 
the persecution, which was naw drawing to« close* 
NuBoidicus. wa^ advanced to the office of presbyter. 
He had attended * a great number ^of martyrs who 
-wwe murdered, pactly with stones, and partly by 
fire. His wifc^ sticting close by bis side, was burnt 
to death with th^ rest : He himself, half burikt, buried 
with stones aiMl leftibr dead, was found a^wardi^ 
by his daii^ter ; and, through her care, he recovered. 
PmbaWy, tb»la$t4»ie was^tbeeflfectof thi tumul* 
tuary rage of ap^rseeiHing populate : The ferocity 
of many in .these limes cHdnot permit them to wait 
forjegal orders; — Who can teU the number of Chris- 
tKm sufferers;: whiditby mode of oppression must 
have added to the list of' martyrs'f' ' a i 

Ainictetall these caras the charity and diKgfence of 
Cyprian toward bis flock were unremitted. The read^^ 
er wiio loves tbe-aonalsiof genuine and active god- 
liness will not be wearied dm tseeing stilt fi^h proofs 
of it in extratcts of twrt letters to hk clergy |. 

** Dear brethren, Is^Lhfte you :• By the graced 
God,^ 1 am still safe; and I wiih to come soon to 
you ^---^tbat Quhr mntnall desire, and that ^ of 'a\l th6 
brethren, maytbe gratified. Whenever, on the settle- 
menl ol your a&irs, you ^mll write to me that I 
ought to come, or^ if tUd Lord should €ond^c«fnd 
to make it plain to lae before, then I will eomd ttf 
you; for where can 1 have more happiness ftudjclV,' 
than there, wb^e' God appointed me both first to 
become a belicves,.and also to grow iu ikith. I 
breech you, takedtfigent carec^ the widows, of 
the sick, and of all tiie poor; and supply also 
strangers, if any be indigent, widi what is needful 
for tliem, out of my proper portion, u hich I l^ft 
with Rogatian tbepriwbyter. And lest tliut^hould, 

* Kpis. 35. t Epi«* 8^. 37* * * 

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Hi^TORT tMP niE eamman. 

by this time, be all spent, I have seat by Nirieoi 
the Acdytb *, another sum ai money to the aame 
presbyter, that you may 4hemoc« readily and larg^ 
supply the distressed. 

'^ Though you have been frequently admoniahed 
by my letters to show all oare for those, who have 

furiously confessed the Lord, and are in prison, yet 
must repetfedly intieat your attetitioci to the same 
tlung. I wish circumstances would permit my pre^ 
sence among you: With the greatest pfeasm^ and 
readiness would I dkchai^ these soleoem duties of 
kve and afiectbn towards our brethren. Birt — De 
you represent me. — A decent care for the bterment, 
not only of those who died in torture, but also of 
such as died under the pressures of confinement, is 
necessary. For, whoever hath submitted himself lo 
torture and to death, umler tiie eye of God, hatth 
already suffered all that God would have him to 
suffer. — ^Mark also the days in which they depart 
this life, that we may cdieboale their commemocation 
among the memorials of the martyrs : — ^though our 
most fidthfid and devoted friend Tertullos,— who, 
Igneeably to hk usual exactness and care, attends to 
^ir obsequies^*— bath written, still writes to me, 
and s^ni6e8 the days in which tibe tiessed mar^ 
are transmitted to immortality. — ^Thair memorials 
^ celebrated, and I hope^shortly, under Di« 
viae Providence, to be able to celebrate them with 
y9u» Let not your caie and diligence be wanlii^ 
for the poor, wk> have stood firm in the faith, and 
have fou^ with us in the Christian war&re* Our 
affectionate care and attention to them are tto more 
requisite, because neither their poverty nor persecu- 
(ion have driven them from the love of Christ" 

Every one knows into ii^hat iddatry these oom- 
memorations of martyrs afierwards degenerated. — 
But I observe few or no ^iffa of it in the days of 

* An inferior officer of the Church, signifying an attendaaW 

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- . hk additian to other evils, the providenee of God cj^nt! 
iiow tboqght fit .to ^xjeroise the mind of Cyprian .^ ^^^ 
^vkh ooe of tim oooBtdidtressU^ calamities, wbidii 
can happen to a fever of peiiQe and cbarityi— the 
rise of a acbianu 

There * existed in the Church of Cmthagb a perr Acooeat •r 
tKm of a very ^soeptionable character, oai^ Feli- ^^' 
cisaiEpua, w|k> had long been a aecret ^9iwy qf the 
JtHfibop. By the wm^. artiAoes and Mandishments, 
4whicbi»editiQusperQoii9 onJce use 4M^ mnUi^ies^ tfab 
wan had «Qtk6d some :of the \Mmei£; and 
i^ beUcpnuaoaioB witb tbrnn onatcertim tii^ttQtein. 
Amm^ tbeae wA in iJliw Q^ighhoOThoo4>()bere ak«- 
jiviKlseireraldiscfGetbffatfaraf^ ivJbp/wereAiithorriaed 
^ Cyfftiao tofdisobai^^teileteif^ 
4«iA to fomisb thiem ;witti>iiaiall simn of i3ioDcy to^ 
jbif^gin iHMiteas mio ; and aldo to maker^ sefport of 
ib^ages^ tipflMtiHons, aadqaalitiesy idiattha tgij^t 
.•i^^Mcb af Iben for e<t9h^ratical as aho^ 
;h0JiK)9^{«9Qp6rLy.qi<a]tf^ F^uuimiimst oppMed 
aod-thiTiafMd. bath ftin^e. dmyid. Seferrf^ofr^kie 
.pooi^ who.iytnieAp^feto^iieUawdrivyei^^tliftt 
liy b^ with iiBptridue jerefity, bisoause^^ey arefbaed 
to eomoiiiiikiile w^the notfeMda. This oian^rom- 
^ iMta.inarieMi;, and takkis<BMd^^*^<'^^^^9P^^'^ 
abseoca, ii(boserat»nihes{^Qdi^r expectadbes^^ 
ihe jiaiwatHiaa bad. Marly ceased at^ Quthaga, 
railed an oppositiQQ agaiaat the btshoipi in f«iair,e«- 
iomd aoeans to unite a cooatdevable fxtrty toiamfldf, 
--«nd threatened aU those pecaoos, whordidnot 
cbu9e to partaka ia the fl€dition4-rnAsM>ng otlier 
crimes, this sower of disoard Ivid Imd gtiiltjr>€£)adal- 
lery; and be wm saw ito method oS .^eveofeing an 
i nfeg wbs eummmmitfitionf. butthirf|tif .setting tip 
faimself aa a leader.-^HisMOond im this^ttdkHis busi- 
Beas was aaoied uViigenduss .viiiq: did .his utniost to 
promote the same views,**-4i;ypriaii, by letter, «x- 
jpressed his yehci^ent sorrow oqacgoimt of. these 
• Epii. 38. 

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evils, promified to take fiill cognizance of tbeni oti 
his retuhi, and in the nnean-time be wrole to bis 
clergy to suspend from communion Felidsnimis and 
his abettors. — Hb clergy wrote to*him in answer, 
that they had suspended the chiefii of the fiictbn 
accordingly *. 

In the mean-time there were not wanikig upright 
and sealous ministers^ who instructed the people ak 
Carthage. Among these were distinguished Britius 
the presbyter, also lU^tian and Numidicus^ >con- 
fessors; and some deacons of real godliness* j|Fhett 
warned their flodts of tM eVik^f «cbism,'Md en- 
deavoured to preserve peac^ahd unky^ and to recover 
the lapsed by wholesome t^etliods^ In addttibn to 
tlieir labours, Cyprian wrote now to the peojf^vthem- 
selves fv ^* For,*' sayshe, ** the mfalice^anid p^pfidy 
of soQ(fe presbyters hath^cted^ that i'^Muld not 
be able to come to yoii before Easter'j;^ But the 
source of the faction of FelidBsimui is now dtaeoveved, 
and we are acquainted Witfetbe>foundttlf#n oo which 
ft stands. Hisfolloweraeneourage^^cmiitiwnfes^rM, 
Aat they shodld notiharmMiseiwkh'Chm-'' bishop, 
nor observe ecde^iasstieal di^^pHqe fiiitbMly^and 
modestly. And aa if ' «t were tdo iJIde for them to 
have corrupted the tniiidii of coirfelMrffi andto hatis 
armed them against theip pastor,iand to baif^eatained 
Ihe glcM7 of theit confessions Uiey turnM^aFemtelves 
to poison the spirits of <tiie lapsed, to beep thetti 
fit>m the great duty of constant pr&yar, iwid to^ kmne 
them to an unsound and dang^us re-admidi^« 
But I beseech you/ brethren^ watch ;again«t'\i^ 
snarebof thedotil: Be on ^ngtuufd^imd ' wodc 
out your own salvation:' ^9 is a BWond^and tt dif* 
ierent sort of ptmecution and umf/MixXi* '^fhe^iit^ 
seditious prcsbytnrs may be justly dompat^ to ihie 
five pagan niiers> wfaoiatdy^via conjundion with 

• £pi». 39. f Epis: 4<i. 

{ In wb«t wa/ tii«y hindered Lis arriving Sooner vrtH appear 

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thfe magistrates, published some plausible arguments CENTi 
with a view of subverting souls. The same method ,__i^ll 
is now tried, for the ruin of your souls, by the five 
presbyters with Felicissimus at their heaid : They 
teach you, — thr^t you need not petition ; — that he 
who hath denied Christ, may cease to supplicate th6 
siame Christ whom he hatii denied ; — that repentance 
is not necessary; — and in short, that every thing 
should be conducted in a novel manner and contrary 
to the rules of the Gospel. 

'* My banishment of two years, and my mournful 
separation from your presence ; my constant grief 
and perpetual lamentation ; and my tears flowmg day 
and night, because the pastor whom you chose with 
so much love and zeal could not salute nor embrace 
you, — all this, it seems, was not a sufficient accu-^ 
mulation of sorrow. — ^To my distressed and exhausted 
spirit a still greater evil must be added, — that in so 
great a solicitude I cannot, with propriety, comd 
over to you. The threats and snares of the perfi- 
dious oblige me to use caution ; lest, on my arrival^ 
the tumult should increase ; and lest I myself, th^ 
bishop, who ought to provide in all things for peace 
and tranquillity, should seem to have afforded mat- 
ter for sedition, and again to exasperate the miseries 
of the persecution. Most dear bretliren, I beseech 
you do not give rash credit to the pernicious repre* 
mentations of those who put darkness for light : 
Tbey speak, but not from the word of the Lord : 
They, who are themselves separated from the Church, 
promise to restm^ the lapsed. 

" There is one God, one Christ, one Church. De- 
part, I pray you,^ far from these men, and avoid their 
discoofse^ as a plague and pestilence^ They hirtder 
your prayers and teats, by affording you false con- 
iolations. Acquiesce, I beseech you^ in my counsel : 
I pray daily for you, and desire you to bf i^tored 
to the Church by the grace of the Lord. — ^Joln yout 
prayers and tears with mine. But, if any person 


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shall <l€6pise repeintance^ and belak6 himsdf W 
Felioi3si[nuf> and to his foctioo^ let him know that 
his re-admissiOn into the Church will be impracti- 

It is not possible^ by a few extracts, to give a 
perfect idea of the glowing charity, which reigned in 
Cyprian's breast on this oojasion. Wlioever has 
attended to the imbecility oi human natui^, ever 
pione to consult ease^ to humour selfish feelings^ 
and. to admit flattery, will see the difficult trials of 
patience, wl^ch fai^ful pastors, kk all agies, have 
endured from the insidious arts of those who would 
heal the wounds of people falsely, — Uncharitable — 
and> imperious— ^-are the ususd epithete with which, 
they are aspersed on account of their faithfulness. — 
But " Wisdom is ju&titied of lier children," 
Character But thcrc was also auotbcr character, who wast 
Vovlm. * primary agent in these disagreeable scenes, — No-. 
vatus, a presbyter of Carthage, a man extremely 
sc£|ndaloias and immco^l'^. His domestic crimes 
had been so notorious as to render him not only w> 
longer fit to be a minister, but even unworthy to be 
received into lay-commiUX>ion. The exawnation of 
his conduct was about t^ take place, wh^i^ t^ break* 
ing out of the persecution by Decius prevented it 
He it was, who supported aud cherished the viewa 
of Feliciss^mus and of th^ rest; and he ai^pears,* by 
his address and capacity, to have be^ mtreiBel}! 
well qualified to produfce much mischief in the 
Church. He could do it no serviw ; because he wa? 
absolutely devoid both of honesty aad conscience. — 
FeUcissimus biasself; though ^ first the ostensible 
leader of the cong^gaAi(»Q on the loouAtaip^ g9VQ 
way afterwards to ope of the five pr^byt^ic^fw^iied 
I'ortunatus, who wa^ constituted bishop uaii opposi* 
tk.n to Cypriaii. Most of tl^ five had beeaalvead)^ 
bw)ded \vith infamy for iii^o^oraluies. Yet so deep 
is tbecorruptioe of human nature — thatsudi chaioc- 
• Eptf . 49. 

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ters Qsbfl^y find advocates, even where the light of 
the Gospel shines^ and where thece .exist pastors of 
emineiit sanctity. The fiurt is^ pastors of this last de* 
scription cause numerous eneoues to themselves by 
irritating the corruptions of wicked soeQ, which they 
constantly do by refusing to speak peace where there is 
no peace. — It is no slight proof of the strength of these 
evils, that even a persecution tlie most dreadful yet 
recorded in the annals of the Church, did not per- 
fectly unite Christian professors in love. The pious 
reader will, hence, infer the necessity^ which called 
for so severe a scourge to tlie Church ; and will also* 
vemark the advantages thence accruing to the really 
&itbful, either by happily removing them to rest out 
of a world of sin and vanity, or by promoting their 
sanctification, if their pilgrimage be prolonged. 

Novatus^ either unwilling to &ice the bishop of AccOnnt 
Carthage, or desirous to extend tlie mischiefe of 
schism, passed the sea and came to Rome. There 
he connected himself with a priest, named Novatian, 
a friend of the confessor Moyses, who has been al^ 
ready mentioned, and whose sufferings at Rome were 
of a tedious nature. Novalus had the address and 
Boanagement to effect the^ separation of Novatian 
fipom the Church. — Moyses renounced all intercourse 
with his former friend and acquaintance on account 
of thia conduct; and soon after died in prison, where 
he had been confined nearly a year. DoubtlesB, he 
entered into eternal glory at length, having left the 
evidenee of modesty and peaceableness, in addition 
to his other mcnre splendid virtues, as testimonies of 
bis love to tlie Lord Jesus* 

Novatus found the religious ideas of his new asso^ 
en^ and partner arrang^ in extreme opposition to 
bis own. Novatian had been. a Stoic before he was 
a Christian ; and he still retabed the rigour of the 
sect to such a degree, that 'he dkapproved of re* 
ceiving those into the Church %\ ho once, had lapsed, 
though they gave the sincerest marks of repentance. 


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FuU of tb^ unwarranted severities, he eielaimect 
against the wise and well tempered lenity of the Ro- 
man clergy in receiving penitents. Many of the 
clergy of llooie, who were still in prison for the 
&uth;-^^nd among these Maxhnus and otliers, to 
whom Cyprian had formerly written, — were seduced 
by this apparent zeal for Church-discipline ; and they 
joined Novatian. His African tutor, with astonish- 
ing inconsistency, after having stirred up a general 
indignation in his own country and against bis dun 
bishop on account of severity to the lapsed, now 
supported a party who complained of too much 
lenity at Uome. It is hard to say which of the two 
cxti^emes is the worse: — Novatus detended both 
within the compass of two years; — and with equal 
pertinacity. * - 

The Roman clergy thought it high time to stem 
the torrent They had, for sixteen months*, with 
singular piety and fortitude governed the Church 
during one of its most stormy seasons. Schism was 
now added to persecution : The necessity of choos- 
ing a bishop grew more and more urgent ; yet a 
bishop of Rome must, of course, be in the mostim- 
ioinentdwger of martyrdom ; — for Decius threatened 
all bishops with great haughtiness and asperity. Six- 
teen of them Imppened to be then at Rome, and 
tliese ordained Cornelius as the successor of Fabiao. 
He was very unwilling to accept the office; but the 
people, who were present, approved of his ordina- 
tion ; and no step was to be neglected, which might 
be useful in withstanding the growing schism. — ^The 
life of Cornelius appears to have been worthy of the 
Gospel : Novatian, however, not only vented many 
calunmies against him, but also contrived, in a very 
irregular manner f, to be elected bishop in op- 
Thcfim Thus was forined tlie first body of Christians. 

PisseutCff. "^ 

♦ Flcury, B. 6. 

t See in Euseb. B. 6« Cornelius's letter concerning Nova* 

tian, whom Eutebius confounds \?ith Novatus by mistake* 

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tvho, in modern laemguage, may be called dissen- 
Ti:rs ; that is, inen, who separate from the general 
Church, not on grounds of doctrine, but of disci- 
pline- The Novatlanists held no opinions contrary 
to the faith of the Gospel. It is certain from some 
writings of Novatiau extant*, that their leader was 
sound in the doctrine of the Trinity. But the con- 
fessors, wiiom his pretensions to superior f purity 
bad seduced, returned afterwards to the communion 
of Cornelius,' and mourned over their own credulity. 
In a letter of Cornelius to Fabius, bishop of Antioch, 
a few circumstances are occasionally nHJntioned, \ 
from which an idea of the state of the Church of 
Rome, at that time, may be collected;}:. There 
were under the bishop forty-six priests, seven dea- 
cons, seven sub^deacons, forty-two acolyths, fifty- 
two 'exorcists, readers, and porters, and upwards 
of fif^en hundred widows, and infirm or disabled 
persons. — *' The number of the laity was," says he, 
"innumerable." — I don't know so authentic a me- 
morial of the numbers of the Christians in those 

' In his letter he charges Novatian, — perhaps with- 
out sufiicient warrant, — with having denied himself 
to be a priest during tlie heat of the persecution, and 
with obliging his separatibts, when he administered 
to therai the Lord's supper, to swear to adhere to 
himself — The party, however, at Rome daily lost 
ground : Nicostratus ttie deacon was among the very 
few persons of note there, who, after being seduced 
by the arts of Novatian, did not return into commu- 
nion and peace with Cornelius. — Conscious of scan- 
dalous crimes §, this schismatic fled from Rome into 
Africa;: — whither Novatus himself also returned*: 
and there the Novatians found many adherents, and 
are said to have elected for themselves, as a sort, of 

• Ste Wateriand's Importance of the Trinity. 
t Epis. 48 and 49. 

t About the middle of the third century. 
^ I'he Novatians called themselves Cathari, pure peoplt. 

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574 HISTOBT or the CliURCU. 

counteT'blshop, a presbyter, named Maximus^ who 
had been lately sent as deputy from Rome, by 
Novatian, to inform Cyprian of the new election* 
in opposition to that of Cornelius, — ^This same de-» 
puty, Cyprian had rejected from communion. 

k would not have been worth while to have de- 
tailed these events so distinctly, but for the purpose 
of marking the symptoms of declension in the Church, 
— the unity of which was now broken for the first 
time : for it ought not to be concluded that all the 
Kovatians were men void of the faith and love c£ 
Jesus. The artifices of Satan also, in pushing for*« 
ward opposite extremes, are worthy of notice : The 
skilful tempter tries both the lax and the severe me- 
thod of discipline. The former he finds more suitaUe 
to the state of Christianity in our times ; but it could 
gain no solid footing in the third century. The No* 
tatian schism stood at last on the groimd of exces* 
sive severity; — a certain proof of the strktuess of 
the ecclesiastical government then fashionable among 
Christians, and, of course, of great purity of life 
and doctrine having been prevalent among tliem: 
To refuse the re^mission of penitents was a dan-* 
gerous instance of pharisaical pride: but, injustice 
to Novatian, it ought to be mentioned, that he ad- 
vised the exhorting of the lapsed to repentance, 
though he thought that they should then be left to 
the judgment of God. On tlie same plan he also 
condemned second marriages: — Extreme austerity 
fuid superstition were growing evils in this century; 
and thoy were cherished by false' philosophy. 

At length, Cyprian ventured out of his retreat 
und returned to Carthage. In what manner be 
there ccxKlucted himself, shall be the subject of tho 
pext chapter. 

^ The election of I<)ovatiaiu 

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cTf^RiAir, 375 

C H A P. X. 


A H£ prudeiKe of Cyprian had been so remarkable 
tfcnring the whole of itie persecution of Decius, that 
we inay faWy conclude he had ceased to apprehend 
uny personal danger when he appeared again in 
public at Carthage. In feet, k was not the cessa* 
tion of malice, but the distraction of public affairs^ 
which put an end to this persecution. Decius, on 
account of the incursion of tfie GoAs, was obliged 
to leave Rome; mnd God gave a respite to his ser- 
"watitfl, while men of the world were wholly taken up 
with resisting or mourning under their secular cala- 
mities. — After Easier a council was held at Carthage, 
and the eyes of Christians were turned toward it : 
The Chwch was in a very confused state; and some 
settlement of it w«o expected under the auspices of 
Cyprian and the other bishops of Africa. At first, 
a. short delay was occasioned on accoimt of doubts 
which arose respecting the validity of the election of 
Cornelius*. But an exact infoi*mation of the cir- 
cumstances laid open the truth : the regulajity of 
his appotnteient, and the violation of order in the 
schisomtical ordination of Novatian, by some persons 
who were^ in a state of intoxication, appeared so 
clearly, that no room for hesitation was left : Nova- 
tian was rejected in the African synod ; — Felicissi- 
mus, with his five presbyters, was condemned-, and 
Cornelius wiis owned as legitimate bishop of Rome. 
— And now the case of the lapsed, which had given 
so much disquietude, and which Cyprian had so 
often promised to settle in Hill council, was finally 
• Set CotHtlitis'a letter in E\iseb. 
BB 4 

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determined : — and with men, who feared God, it was 
no hard thing to adjust a due medium. — A proper 
temperature was used between the precipitation of 
the lapsed and the stoical severity of Novatiao. 
Hcpce, tried penitents were restored, and the case 
of dubious characters was deferred ; and yet every 
method of Christian charity was used to bring about 
and facilitate their repentance and re-admission. 

Fortunatus preserved still a schismaticai assembly. 
But' both this bishop and his flock shrunk soon into 
insignificance. The Christian authority of Cyprian 
was restored. The Novatian party alone remained 
a long tiipe after, in Africa and elseu here, numerous 
enojjgh to continue a distinct body of proteasing 
Chri^^tians. The very little satisfectory light, which 
Christian annuls afford concerning these dissenters, 
shall be given in its place. And, as I am convinced 
that tlie Almighty has not liiinted his creatures to 
any particular aqd strictly defined nnodes of Church- 
government, I cannot be under much temptation to 
partiality. — 1 he laws of historical truth have obliged 
me to state facts which prove their secession to baite 
been unjustifiable ; but that circumstance does not 
render it impossible that the Spirit of God might be 
M^ith some of this people during their continiianoe as 
a distinct body of Christians. 

Thus did it please God to make use of the vigour 
and perseverance of Cyprian in recovering the 
Church of Carthage from a state of most deplorable 
declension. First, she had lost her purity and piety 
to a very alarming degr^ ; then, she was torn with 
pel secution, and lifted by tlie storm so much that 
the greatest part of her professors apostatized ; and, 
lastly, she was convulsed by schisms, through men s 
unwillingness to submit to the rules of Good's own 
word in wholesome discipline and sinc^e repentance. 
On Cyprian s return, however, a new train of regii- 
lation was established by the council of Carthage; 
and unity was restored in a great measure 2 The 

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accounts of the succeeding transactions are imper- cknt. 
fcrt ; but there is great reason to believe that tlie ^ ^": ^ 
Church of God was much recovered in these parts. 

Decius lost his life in battle in the year two a. d. 
hundred and fifty-one, after having reigned thirty 251. 
nioutiis. — A prince — neither deficient in abilities 
nor in moral virtues, but distinguished, during this 
whole period, by the most cruel persecution of the 
Church ot God ; he appears to have been bent on 
its ruin; but was stopped in his career by an over- 
ruling Providcuce. 

Tiie Church were now allowed peace for a little 
time under Gallus, tlie successor of Decius. 

There remain a few circumstances to be observed, 
which attended this persecution in the West, before 
we proceed to relate its eflFects in the Eastern Church. 

Cyprian, zealous for the unity of the Church, in^ 
formed Cornelius"^, that certain persons camo to 
Carthage from Novatian, who insisted on being 
heard as to some charges which they had to produce 
against ComeHus: — But, — tliat as sufficient and 
ample testimony had already been given in favour 
of Cornelius, — as a prudent delay had also been 
made, — ^and as the sense of the Church of Rome 
bad been authentically exhibited, any further au- 
dience of the NovATiANs had been refused. — 
These, he observes, strove then to ipake a party in 
Africa ; and for this purpose solicited different towns 
and private houses. The council of Caithage in- 
formed them that they ought to desist from their 
obstinacy, and not to relinquish their motlier Church; 
but to own, that a bishop being once constituted 
and approved by the testimony and judgment of his 
colleagues and of the people, another could not be 
lawfully set up in liis room : and, that therefore, if 
they intended to act peaceably and faithfully, — if 
they pretended to be the assertors of the Gospel of 
Christ, — tliey ought to return to the Church. 
* £pi8. 41. ^ 

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57^ HISTORY or tK£ CHURCH. . 

CHAP. Though the ideas contained in this fj|)isUe mny 
y_,-^ _' appear very repugnant to the habits of thmking con- 
tracted by many professors of godliness in our days', 
I see not, I own, on what principles they can be 
controverted. There is a medium between the des* 
potisni of idolatrous Ron>e and the extreme licen- 
tiousness of modem ecclesiastical polity.— Are not 
peace and unity precious things?— and ought ncft 
they to be preserved in the Church if possible ? — 
Then \vby should not the decided sense of the ma* 
jority prevail, where that mode of evangelicaUy set- 
tling a Church has been usual, and where it is not 
contrary to the established laws of the country, — 
and lastly, M-here pastors sound in faith and decorous 
in manners have been appointed ? — Can it be right 
lor a small number of individuals to dissent-^and 
that, on no l>etter ground, than tlieir own fancy and 
humour*? This is not keeping the uidty of the 
Spirit in the bond of peace.— Such, however, was 
the first origin of the Novatian schism. 

'o ' 

* Tlie autbm* would, by bo means, be understood liere to 
encroach on the right of private judgment^ but hje laments 
sincerely that the evil of separation bhould have been ronsi- 
dered by the Novatians as a trifling matter; and he, fortber, 
laments, tbata s|iirit of the same kind should anpear tm prevail 
strongly in our own days.— Does, tli en, right and wr^nj^;, — witl 
wiy one say,— depend upon numbers? llave not the fkw a5 ud- 
doubled a right to their own opinions as the maKy? — Such 
questions are often asked, — and with on air of trinmph.-^But, 
after aU, — whoever denied this right of opinion ; this right to 
think? — It is the right of actino according to this right ef 
opinion that is contested. — a man, for examj>le, in his pri- 
vate judgment prefer for his pastor or his bbhop some person 
diilerent from him who has betn elected by the majority; — 
, Let him publicly show this preference at the time of gtvinig 
bis suQrage;— but let him remember to acquiesce peaceably in 
the appointment of the person elected; and not endeavour 
to divide the Church of Christ by placing a rejected candidate 
or some other favourite at the head of a faction in oppositkm 
lo the election of, — perhaps, — a truly godly and rel^ttms man* 

But in all this the author supposes either the Lex scriptaor 
the Lex non scripta of the country to authorize eccksiafitiral 
appointments by election. 

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, Persons, wIk> have been accustooied to approve cent. 
the unrestraaned and ooscriptural manner of con- . "'y 
dueling religious communities, which now so unhap« 
pily prevails ; who feel no pity for the Church of 
Christ, nor care how much her members be torn one 
from another, and who make no more difficulty of 
ehanpiog their pastors than their workmen ; will not 
ent;;r into the beauty of Cyprian's charitable concern 
for the unity of the Church. It is evident, union at 
Rome was as much on his heart as union at Car- 
thage, becautse he considered Christ's body as one. 
He explains* to Cornelius why lie was not imme* 
diately acknowledged as'bisbop, and how he wa» 
honourably received on full information. He speaks* 
of the Roman schism with horror ; he represents the 
Cliristian scliismatics, as rehising the bosom and 
the embrace of tlieir mother, and as* setting up an 
adulterous head out of the Church. I attempt not 
to vindicate expressions which go to.the length of a 
total condemnation of the persons of schismatics : 
Schism is not so deadly an evil as heresy ; nor must 
we undertake to judge the hearts of others. But 
when all this is allowed,— ^Does not the zeal of Cy- 
prian call fpr similar candour ? — The mischief, which 
bad just begun to show itself in Rome and Carthage^ 
was then new in the Chrbtian world. Before the 
time of tliis able and active prelate, no instance had 
happened of any separations made from the Church, 
except in the case of damnable heresies : Slight and 
tolerable inconveniendes had not yet been thought 
sufficient reasons to justify such violet measures; — 
and, it must be owned, if really good men in all ages 
had possessed the same conscientious dread of the 
sin of Schism, it would have fared much better with 
vital Christianity; and, further, those separations 
which roust of necessity be made, wheii false wor-* 
ship and false doctrine are prevalent, would faav« 
been treated with more respect in the world, 

• £pis.42. 

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Encouraged with the success of his pacific labours 
at home, Cy|)riaii endeavoured to heal the breaches 
of the Roman Christians. He was sensible that the 
example of the confessors, whom Novatian's appear- 
ance of superior piety in discipline had seduced, 
had occasioned a great defection. He wrote re- 
spectfully to his. former correspondents, and assured 
them that the deepest sadness had possessed hb 
breast on their account : he reminds them of the 
honour of their faithful sJfferings : he intreats them 
to return to the Church; and points out the in- 
consistency of their glorious contession of Christ 
with their present irregularity. But so exactly at- 
tentive was Cyprian to order, that he first sent the 
letter to Cornelius,, and ordered it to be read to hira, 
and submitted to his^ consideration before he would 
sufier it to be sent to the confessors*. With the 
same eautious charity lie explains again to Cpmelius 
some things which had given umbrage to that prelate 
with respect to the delay of the acknowledgmeni 
i)f his ordination f. These transactions appear to 
me to beloni^ to my plan ; and to be sin^gularly in- 
structive. — ^The conduct of this African bishop is 
calculated to admonish Christian ministers in all 
ages to enlarge tlieir views «o as to comprehend the 
whole Church of Christ; and never to feel assured 
that they grow in true zeal and true charity, as long 
as they do not fear tlie evils of division, and do nol 
labour to preserve peaee and unity. 

The progress of Christian grace wiU always be 
much seen in the just management of matters of 
this kind. 

There is the greatest reason to believe that the 
authority of Cyprian had a great effect on the minds 
of Maximus and l!je other seduced confessors, whose 
imdoubted piety gave the chief support to Nova- 
tian s ptirty; iiut another circumstance happa^ed 
about the same time, which contributed to open 
* Epis. 43, 44. t Epis. 45- 

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their eyes eifectufally. The excessive eagerness of (Xip\ 
the schismatics at Rome defeated their own end. > ^l. 
With the view of increasing the Schism, they were 
so fraudulent as to send out frequent letters in the 
u^mes of these confessors, almost throughout all 
the Churches. Maximus and the rest became ac* 
quainted with the fact and were exceedingly surprised: 
they owned they knew not a syllable of the contents 
of these letters: and they heartily desired a re* 
union with the Church. The whole body of the 
Roman Christians, — and probably, at that time no 
purer Chnrch existed, — sympathized with these con- 
fessors both in their seduction and in their recovery. 
Tears of joy and thanksgiving to God burst forth in 
the assembly. " We confess," say Maximus and 
Ihe rest witli ingpnuous frankness, ** our mistake. — 
We own Cornelius the bishop of tlie most holy 
j^eneral * Church, chosen by Almighty God and by 
Christ our I-ord; we suffered aa imposture: We 
were circumvented by treachery and a captious plau- 
sibility of speech ; and tliough we seem to have had 
some communication with a schisumtic and a he- 
retic f, yet our mind was sincerely with the Church; 
for we knew that tliere is one God, one Christ, 
one Lord, whom we have confessed ; one Holy Ghost ; 
and that one bishop ought to be in the general 
Church." " Should we not," says Cornelius, *• be 
moved nith their profession; — and, by restoring 
them to the Church, give them the op|)ortunity of 
acting according to that belief which they have dared 
to profess before all the w orld ? Wc have restored 
Maximus the presbyter to his office: — the rest we 
liave also received with the zealous consent of the 

* I choose to translate Cornelius's C ithulicx in Fpis. 46. 
trhich gives an account of this transaclitai, general ruLber 
than CATHOLIC, to distinguish the Church of Christ at large 
from particular separatists. 

t They confound here two terms that ought to be kept dis- 
iioct. Novatian was a schismatic, but not a heretic. 

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CHAP. Cyprian, with his usual animation* congrahi^^ 
]^' lated Cornelius on the event; and describes the 
^ happy ^ect which the example of the confessors 
had on the minds of the people. — And, I cannot but 
tibink that, in modem times, much evil might have 
been prevented in the Church of Christ, — if many 
excellent men, who have suffered their minds to be 
harassed by needless and frivolous scruples, had 
possessed more tenderness of conscience in regard 
to the question of schism and separation. — " No 
one can now be deceived," says Cyprian, *^ by the 
loquacity of a frantic schismatic, since it appears 
that good apd glorious soldiers of Christ cooiUi not 
long be detained out of the Church by perfidy and 

Th^ Novatians being baflBied at Rome, Nova- 
ti]» and Nicostratus went over to Afi"ica. We 
have already taken notice of their seditious attempts 
HI those parts. ' Cornelius f, by letter, warned Cy- 
prian of the probable approach of the schismatics ,- 
and certainly, there is a disagreeable harshness of 
language in this account of his enemies as-well as in 
the fi^toent of his Epistle preserved by Eusebius. 

Of Novatus himself, the bishop of Carthage, who 
must have thoroughly known him, asserts expressly 
and circumstantially that he was guilty of horrible 
crimes, which, in truth, it is neither pleasant to par^ 
ticularize, nor does the plan of this history call tor 
such a detail. — The honest charity of Cyprian re- 
quires that this testimony should be admitted ;{;• 
This bishop was as remarkable for moderation as 
fosr aeal. He speaks with much sensibility of p^^ns 
aeduced by the arts of the foul impostor ; and ob* 
serves — -^^ Those only will perish, who are wilful in 
then- evils* The rest, says he, the mercy of God 
the Father will unite with us, and the grace of our 
Loitl Christ, and our patience." I wish this be- 
nevolent spirit bad bad opportunities of knowing 
• £pift«47. t Epis.48. t I^fuu49- 

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CYPETAN. 385. 

Ktyvatian as perfectly as he knew Novatus, But a cent.' 
Roman, who does not appear ever to have come ^*'* 
into Africa at all, could only be made known to bitu 
by report — I shall fiad a convenient place by and 
by, in which it may be proper to make such further 
remarks upon him as tlie scanty and imperfect ma« 
lerials will supply. — Let the candid reader, liowever, 
always bear m mind, that, though Novatos was, 
doubtless, a very wicked man, though no gromid* 
for tlie separation appears in history, and though, 
there is not the least reason lo l>elieve that the Spirit 
of God had left the general Church to abide with 
the dissentiente, yet the personal character of several 
of the supporters of the schism might still be exr 

In answer lo a friendly letter of the Roman con- 
fessors*, Cypiian, after congratulating Ihem on 
their re-union with the Church, and expressing hia 
sincere sorrow for the former defection, delivers his 
sentiments on the duty of Christians in this point.. 
The fluttering idea, whicb had seduced these good. 
wen, was a notion of constituting a Church here o» 
earth exactly pure and perfect. — The man, wba 
sustained so much ill-will on account of discipline, 
may be beard with patience on this subject. — Yet he 
was far from supposing that fallible mortals should 
be able,, in all cases, lo decide positively who were 
true Christians and wl)o not, and to rectify all 
abuses, and to cleanse the Cliurch of all its tares* 
The middle state between impracticable efforts of 
severity aiKl licentious neglect was Cyprian s judg- 
maiit : He thought it necessary that the lapsed should- 
9Im>w good marks of penitence ; and he held it highly 
culpable to separate from the visible Church, for the 
want of that exact purity in the members which the 
present state. of thmgs does not adniit. But let us 
hear the bishop himself : The subject is not^ indeed^ 
• Epw, 50,51. 

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of the first importance, but it deserves, on account 
of its practical influence, to be deeply considered by 
all friends of vital godliness. 

^* Though there appear to be tares in the Church, 
our faith and love ought not to be impeded by seeing 
them, so that we should desert our post. — Our 
business is to labour, that we ourselves may stand a 
scrutiny, that when the wheat shall be gathered into 
the harvest, we may receive reward according to our 
labour. The Apostle speaks of vessels not only of 
gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth, and 
some to honour and some to dishonour. 

" Be it our care that we be found vessels of gold or 
silver : but we arje not to break in pieces the vessels of 
earth : this belongs to the Lord alone, who has a rod 
of iron. — The serx'cmt cannot be greater than his 
master : nor must any man claim to himself what the 
Father attributes to the Son alone : — No man shpuld 
think himself capable of thoroughly purging the floor, 
or of separating all the wheat from the tares by human 
judgment To think so is proud obstinacy and sa- 
crilegious presumption, which a depraved madness 
assumes to itself; and while some lay claim to a 
dominion of this kind beyond the limits of justice and 
equity^ they are lost to the Church ; and, while they 
insolently extol themselves, they become blinded by 
their passions, so as to lose the light of truth. With 
these views, we have aimed at a proper medium; 
we have contemplated the balance of the Loi-d ; we 
have thirsted exceedingly that we might be directed 
both by the holiness and tlie mercy of God the Father; 
and, aiter a long and careful ddiiberation, we have 
settled a just m^iocrity. — I refer you to my own 
books on the subject, which I lately read here ; and 
which, from motives of brotherly love, I have sent 
over to you, to read. In them there is wanting 
neither a due censure of the lapsed, nor medicine 
to heal the penitent. — I have e^ressed also my 

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thougiits on the unity of the Church to the best ol* centt. 
'my iceble judgment*." ]^^' 

There- was a bishop of some note, named Anto- 
nius, who seemed disposed to embrace the Novatian 
schism. To him Cy[)rian in a lonj; letter explains 
M ith much force and clearness the whole of his ideas 
on the subject. A short abridgment of it may merit 
penisal, because of tlie charity and good sense 
which run through it f . 

He clears himself from the charge of inconsistency, 
by showing, in both cases, the views on which he 
acted under very different circumstances, formerly 
^vith strictness, now with lenity; — he informs him 
' what had been determined both at Itome and Car- 
thage concerning tlic lapsed ; — he enlarges on the 
virtues of Cornelius, who had ventured his life in 
a time of severe trial under Decius ; — he defends 
him against the unjust aspersions of the Novatians, 
and demonstrates, tliat very difFereut rutes and 
methods should be used, according to the circum- 
stances of offenders ; and that Novatian's stoicism, 
by which all sins are ecpial, was absolutely repugnaiit 
to the genius of Christianity. He supports his ideas 
of mercy by striking and apposite passages of Scrip- 
ture. For instance : " The w hole need not a physi- 
cian, btit the sick." What sort of a physician is he, 
' who says, ** I cure only the sound? " — " Nor ought 
we to think all those w horn we sec wounded by a 

* degree of apostasy, during tlie deadly persecution, to 
be absolutely dead ; but rather to lie half dead only, 

' ^nd to be capable of being recovered by sound faith 

* and penitence, yet to display in future tlie true 
chai'actcrs of confessors and martyrs." 

He shows that the censures of the church ought 
not to anticipate the judgment of the Lord. His 
quotations of Scri[)ture, in behalf of receiving peni- 

* lie means Lis treatises on the Lapsed, and on the Unity 
of the Church. 

. t 5pis. 52. 

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tents, agab into the Church, may wipll be spfu-ed : — • 
The Novatian uncharitableness will, in our days, 
.scaixely find a defender. 

He beautifully insists on the propriety and whole- 
someness of mercy, gentleness, and charity, and 
exposes the unreasonableness of the present dissent, 
-from this circumstance, — that formerly, in Affica, 
.sometishops excluded adulterers from a retprn into 
the Churcb, — but they did not form a schism on .that 
account. And yet an adulterer appears to him fo 
'deserve a greater degree of severity than a man who 
.lapses through fear of torment. — He exposes the 
^absurdfty of the Novatians in exhorting men to re- 
pent, while they rob them of all those comforts and 
,hopes which should encourage repentance. It is 
observable that he alleges noticing particular against 
the personal character of Npvatian : — but he blames 
Schism with an excess of severity not to be de* 

Reniark, from another circumstance, the strictness 
of discipline which then prevailed in the purest 
.Churches. — Several persons, who stood firm for a 
time in persecution and afterwards fell tiirough ex* 
tremity of torment, were kept three years in a st^te 
of exclusion from the Churcb ; and yet they livcji 
all that time with every mark of true repentknce.— » 
.Cyprian being consulted * decided that they ought 
to be re-admitted to communion. * 

The appearance of a new persecution frpm Gallus 
now threatening the Churph, . Cyprian, with the 
African synod, wrote to Cornelius on the subject of 
hastening the reception of penitents, that they mig6< 
be aniied for^ the approachmg storm f- 

In the meaii-time Fehcissimus finding, after his 
condemnation, no security to his reputation in ^fr^f^i 
crossed the sea to Rome, raised a party against Cof- 
neUus, and, by nienaces, threw him into great fear^ 
Cj'prian's spirit seems more disturbed on tlus opqi).' 

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sion than I have seen reason to observe in any of his cent. 
epistles. He supports the dignity of the episcopal 
character in a style of great magnificence ; but it is 
evident, that continued ill treatment from seditious 
characters had led him into some degree of impa- 
tience: The language he uses concerning the autho- 
rity of bishops, would sound strange to our ears, 
tliough it by no means contains any definite ideas 
contrary to the Scriptures. The whole epistle is cal- 
culated to rouse the dejected spirit of Cornelius ; 
and shows much of the hero, — less of the Christian. 
He confesses — that he speaks grieved and irritated, 
by a series of unmerited ill usage. He takes notfce 
tliat, at the very time of writing this, he was again 
demanded by the people to be exposed to the lions. 
He speaks of the ordination of Fortunatus and also 
of Maximus, by the schismatics, in a contemptuous 
manner. — It is very evident, that, on the whole, he 
triumphed in Carthage among his own people. His 
great virtues and unquestionable sincerity secured 
him their affections ; but they seem not to have been 
sufficiently patient and discreet in the re-admission 
of offenders : He complains that, in some cases, they 
were violent and resentful; — and in others, preci-» 
pitately easy and favourable. The eloiquence, and 
even the' genuine charity of this great man, appears 
throughout this fifty-fifth epistle; — but it is deficient 
in the meekness and the moderation, which shine 
in his other performances. 

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C H A P. XI. 


CHAP. 1 HE eastern and western Churches were, in those 
times, divided from each other by the Greek and 
Roman language, though cemented by the common 
bond — of the Komail government, and much more 
— of the common Salvation. It will often be found 
convenient to consider their history distinctly. The 
gentile Church of Jerusalem still maintained its re- 
spectability under Alexander its bishop, who has 
been mentioned above. He was again called on to 
confess Christ before the tribunal of the president at 
Caesarea; and, in this second trial of his faith, 
having acquitted himself uith his usual fidelity, he 
was cast into prison : His venerable locks procured 
him neither pity nor respect ; and he finally breathed 
out his soul under confinement*. 

At Antioch, Babylas after his confession dying in 
bonds, Fabius was chosen his successor. In this 
persecution the renowned Origen was called to suffer 
extremely. Bonds, torments, a dungeon, the pres- 
sure of an iron chair, the distension of his feet for 
many days, the threats of burning, and other evils 
Mere inflicted by his enemies, all which he manfully 
endured: and his life was still preserved; for the 
judge was solicitously careful that his tortures should 
not kill him. " What words he uttered on tliese 
occasions and how useful to those who need conso^ 
lation, many of his epistles," says Eusebius, " de- 
clare with no less truth than accuracy ! " — If the 
words here aljuded to w ere now fextant, more light, 
I apprehend, might be thrown on tlie internal cha- 
racter of Origen, in respect to experimental godli- 
jiess, tfian by all hb works which remain. Th^ 

' {iuseb. B. 6. from C. $9 to the end. 

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show the scholar, the philosopher, and the critic : — . cent. 
Those would have displayed the Christian. This > j^,: ^ 
gi*eat man died in his seventieth year, about the same 
time as the emperor Decius. 

By and by I shall find occasion to insert an esti- 
mate of his character. 

Dionysius was at this time bishop of Alexandria, Arconnt of 
—a person of great and deserved renown in the bilhopTr 
Church. We are obliged to Eluscbius for a few frag- AicxaudrU. 
ments of his writing?, some of which being historical, 
must be here inserted. In an epistle to Germanus 
he writes thus : — " Sabinus, the Rom'an governor, 
s^nt an oflficer to seek me, during the persecution 
of Decius, and I remained four days at home, ex- 
pecting his coming : he made the most ' accurate 
storch in the roads, the rivers, and the fields \vhtre 
he suspected I might be hid. A confusion seems to 
have seized him, that he could not find my house ; 
for he had no idea that a man^^in my circuinstances, 
should stay at home. At length, after four days, 
God ordered me to remove*; and, having opened 
me a w ay contrary to all expectation, 1 and my ser* 
vants and many of the brethren went together. The 
event showed that the whole was the work of Divine 
Providence. — About sun-set, I was seized, together 
\?ith my vvliole company, by the soldiers, and was 
led to Taposiris. But my friend Timotheus, by the 
providence of God, was not present, nor was he 
seized. He came afterwards to my house, and found 
it forsaken and guarded ; and he then learned that 
we were taken captive. How wonderful was the 
dispensation ! but it shall be related precisely as it 
happened. — A countryman met Timotheus us he 
ilras flying in confusion, and asked the cause of his 
hurry: he told him the truth: the peasant heard 
the story and went away to a nuptial fe;ist, at wliicU 
it was the custom to watch all night. . He informed 
the guests of what he had heard. At once, they 
' • 3y 4 vision or some other Divine manifestation, I support. 

. c c 3 

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all rose up, as by a signal, and ran quickly to us, and 
shouted : our soldiers, struck with a panic, fled ; and 
the invaders found us laid down on unfurnished beds. 
I first thought they must have been a con?pany of 
robbers. They ordered me to rise and 20 out quick- 
ly : at length, I understood their real designs ; and 
I cried out, and intreated them earnestly to depart^ 
and to let us alone. But,^ if they really, meant any 
kindness to us, I requested them to strike off my 
head, and so to deliver me from my persecutors. 
They compelled me to rise by downright violence: 
and I then threw myself on the ground. They seized 
my hands and feet, pulled me out by force; and 
placed me on an ass, and conducted me from the place.*" 
In so remarkable a manner was tliis useful life pre- 
served to the Church. We shall sec it was not m vain. 
. In an epistle to Fabius bishop of Antioch, he 
gives the following account of the persecution at 
Alexandria, which haa preceded tlie Decian per- 
secution by a whole year, and which must have, 
happened therefore under Philip, the most open 
friend of Christians. " A certain augur and poet 
took pains to stir up the malice of the gentiles agains.t 
us, and to inflame them with zeal for the sup* 
port of their own superstitions* Stimulated by him, 
they gave free course to their licentiousness, and 
deemed the murder of Christians to be the most 
perfect piety and the purest woi*ship of demons. 
They first seized an old man, named Metras, and 
ordered him to blaspheme: he refused; and they 
beat him with clubs, and pricked his face and eyes 
with sharp reeds : they dragged him to the suburbs, 
and they there stoned him. Then they hurried one 
Quinta, a faithful woman, to the idol-temple, and 
insisted on her worshipping of the gods.-^Quinta 
showed the strongest marks of abominating that prac^ 
tice. They then tied her by the feet; draggs;<l her 
over the rough pavement through' 9II the city ; dashed 
her a^inst mill-stones^ and whipped her; and lastly 

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^Persecution' ov t>£cius. 391 

Uiey led her back to the place where they had cent. 
first seized h6r ; and there they dispatched her. 
-^After this, with one accord, they all rushed 
on the houses of the godly : every one ran to the 
house of his neighbour, spoiled ^nd plundered it ; 
and purloined the most valuable goods, and threw 
away those things which were vile and refuse, and 
burnt them in the roads ; and thus was exhibited the 
appearance of a captive and spoiled city. The 'bre- 
thren fled and withdrew themselves, and received 
with joy the spoiling of their goods, as those did 
to whom Paul beareih witness ; and I do not know, 
that any person, who fell into their hands, — ex- 
cept one, — denied the Lord. Among others, they 
seized an aged virgin, called Apol Ionia, and dashed 
. out all her teeth ; and having kindled a fire before 
the city, they threatened to burn her alive, unlesji 
she would consent to blaspheme. This admirable 
woman begged for a little intermis&ion; and she 
then quirkly leaped into the fire, and was consumed. 
They laid violent hands on Serapion in his own 
hous^ : they tortured him and broke all his limbs ; 
and, lastly, threw him head-long from an upper 
room. No road, public or private, was passable 
to us, by night or by day : the people crying out 
always and every where, that unless we would speak 
blasphemy, we should be thrown into the flames ; 
— and these evils continued a long time. A sedition 
then succeeded, and a civil war, which averted their 
fury from us, and turned it against one another ; and 
tigain we breathed a little during the mitigation of 
^ their rage. Immediately the change of government 
"^ was announced : The persecuting Decius succeeded 
Philip our protector, and we were threatened with 
destruction : The edict, which our Lord foretold 
would be so dreadful as to seduce, if it were possible, 
even the elect*, appeared against us. — All were 

• It 18 evident that this application of out Lord's words is a 

C C 4 

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CHAP, astonished ; many Cliristians of quality discovered, 
themselves immediately through fear; others, who 
held public offices, were constrained by their office to 
appear; and others were brought forward and be- 
trayed by their gentile relations. Each person was 
cited by name. They then approached tlie unholy 
altars; some pale and trembling, not as if they were 
goini» to sacrifice, but to be themselves the victims; 
so that they were derided by the multitude who stood 
Uround ; and it was visible to all that they were very 
much frightened both at tlie prospect of death and 
at the crime of sacrificing : but some ran more readily 
to the altar, and affirmed boldly, that they never had 
been Christians. Of such our Lord affirmed most 
truly, that tliey should be saved with great diffi- 
culty*. Of the rest, some followed the various ex- 
amples above mentioned ; and others fled : — Some 
persisted in the faitlij and suffered bonds and iai- 
prisonment for many days ; but, at last, before they 
were led to the tribunal, they abjured their religion; 
— others lield out longer, and endured torments. — 
But the firm and stable pillars of the Lord, being 
strengthened by him, and having received vigour and 
courage proportionate and correspondent to tke 
lively faith which was in them, became admii-aU« 
martyrs of his kingdom. — The fust of these Avas 
Julian^ a gouty person who could neither stand nor 
walk; he was brought forth with two others who car- 
ried him; one of whom immediately denied Christ* 
Tlie other, called Cronion the IJenevolent, and old 
' Julian hims(ilf, liaving confessed the Lord, were led 
through the whole cityy — very large as ye know it isj 
— sittmg on camels : they were then scourged, and 
were at last burnt in a very hot fire in the view of 
surrounding multitudes. A soldier, named Besas, 
i^tood by them and defended tliem from insults; which 
so incensed the mob^ that the man lost his head iot 
liaving thus behaved boldly in the service of his God* 
* 1 supposie he meaus b«cau«e they were rich* 

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*r-An Afncaii by birth, called Macar*, and truly cem'. 
meriting the appellation, having resisted much im- ' '^^* 
portunity, was burnt alive. After these, Epimachus 
and Alexander, who had long sustained imprison- 
ment and undergone a thousand tortures, were burnt 
to death ; and along with these four women. Am- 
monarion, a holy virgin, was grievously tormented 
by the judge for having declared beforehand that she 
would not repeat, the blasphemy which he ordered: 
she continued faithful, and was led away to execution. 
The venerable ancient JMercurid — and Dionysia, a 
mother, indeed, of many children, but a mother who 
did not love her children more tlian the Lord — and 
another Ammonariou, — these, together with many 
others, Mere slain by the sword without being first 
exposed to torments : — for the president was ashani- 
ed of torturing them to no purpose, and of being baf- 
fled by women; — which had been remarkably the 
case in his attempt to overcome the former Ammo- 
narion, who liad undergone what might have beeu 
esteemed sufficient toiture for them all. — Heron, 
Ater, and Isidore, Egyptians, and w ith them a boy 
of fifteen, called Dioscorus, were brought before tlie , 
tribunal : the boy resisted both the blandishments 
tmd the tortures which were applied to him : the rest, 
after cruel torments, were burnt. The boy haviua 
answered in the wisest manner to all questions, and 
excited the admiration of the judge, was dismissed 
by him from motives of compassion, with an intima-^ 
tion of hope that he might afterwards repent: — And 
jiow the excellent Dioscorus is witli us, reserved to 
a greater and longer conflict. Nemeslan was first 
accused as a partner of robbers ; but he cleared 
himself of this charge before the Centurion: — An 
information — that he was ^ Christian, was then 
brought against him, and he came bound before the 
president, who most unjustly scourged him \\itU 
twice the severity used in the case of malefactors, 
* iiappy or blessed. 

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CHAP, ahd then burnt him among robbers. — Thus was h^ 
h6noured by resembling Christ in suffering. 

"And now some of the military guard, Ammon, 
Zeno, Ptolemy, and Ingenuus, and with them old 
Tbeophilus, stood before the tribunal; when a certain 
person bemg interrogated whether he was a Chris- 
tain, and appearing disposed to deny the imputation, 
iliey made such lively signs of aversion as to strike 
tfie beholders ; but before they could be seized, they 
ran voluntarily to the tribunal and owned themselves 
Christians, — so that the governor and his assessors 
were astonished. — God triumphed gloriously in 
these ; and gave them evidently the ascendant over* 
tiie judges; and they went to execulion with all the 
marks of exultation. 

" Many otliers through the towns and villages were 
torn to pieces by the gentiles. Iscyrion was an 
a'^ent to a certain magistrate ; yet he refijsed to sa- 
crifice : This man, after repeated indimities, was 
killed by a large stake driven through his intestines. 
— But why need I mention the multitude of those 
who wandered in deserts and mountains, and were 
at last destroyed by famine, and thirst, and cold, and 
diseases, and robbers, and wild beasts? Those, who 
survived, are witnesses of their faithfulness and vic- 
tory. SuflSce it to relate one fact : There was a very 
aged person named Chaeremon, bishop of the city 
of Nilus. He, together with his wife, flbd into an 
Arabian mountain; and they did not return; nor 
irould the brethren, after much searching, discover 
them alive or dead ; and many persons about the 
Bame Arabian mountain were led captive by the 
Barbarian Saracens, some of whom were aftbrwards 
redeemed for money with difficulty ; — otiiers could 
never regain their liberty.'' Dionysius adds some- 
thing concerning the benevolence of the martyrs 
towards the lapsed, and contrasts it wkh the inex- 
orable severity of Novatian. 

Two things are evident frotia this nairrativd, isl^ 

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Tiat tjhe, persecutipn found the eastern Chrisfiaijs as cent. 
poorly provided against the storm as the western, -^^l^-'l^ 
Long peace and prosperity bad corrupted both ; and 
men, in t^e former part of this century^ had forgot- 
ten that a Christian life was that of a stranger. The 
Decian persecution, under God, was at once a 
spourge and an antidote.. 2d, Yet there still existed 
a competent number of tliose who should prove the 
truth of Christianity, and the power of Divine Grace 
accompanying it. — The true Church is not destroyed, 
bilt flourishes and triumphs amidst inward and out- 
ward evils. 

Eusebius relates a story, from Dionvsius's letters Thettory 
to Fabius, which he says was. full ot wonder : — scropi^n* 
".There was a faithful aged person, named Serapion, 
i»vho had lived blameless a long time^ but fell, in the 
time of trial, through fear of death or of bodily pain, 
lie had frequently solicited to be restored to the 
Church, but in vain. — because he had sacrificed. 
He was seized with a distemper and continued speech- 
less and senseless for three days successively ; but 
recovering a little on the fourth, he called to his grand- 
son, " And how long," says he, " do you detain me? x 
I beseech you hasten and quickly dismiss me. De* 
aire one of the presbyters to visit me;" and after 
this he was again specdiless. The boy ran for the 
presbyter ; it was night ; the presbyter Mas sick, and 
could not come. But he had given directions to re- 
ceive dying penitents, — particularly if they should 
have supplicated for it,— that they might leave the 
world in good hope. He gave a little of the Eucha- 
rist to the boy ; and bid him to dip it in water, and 
put it into the old man's mouth : The child hasteneii 
to follow the directions ; and found Serapion a little 
recruited,^— who said, " You are come, son ; — da 
quickly what you are ordered, and dismiss me." The 
^d man had np sooner received the morsel, than hq 
fOLve up the ghost — Was he not evidently reserved, 
until be was absolved ; and was not his sin remitted, 

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396. History of the cifuftcin ^ 

CHAP, and the man acknowledged by Christ as a faithful^ 
sen^ant on account of many good works/* Thus faf 

I remark here, ist, That the connexion between 
the sacrament and the grace conveyed by it, being 
usually thus expressed as if it were necessary and 
iridissoluble, both in baptism and the Lords Supper, 
gave occasion to the increase of much superstition 
in the Church. I am disposed to believe, that both 
Dionysius and Serapion knew that the sign was no- 
thing without the inward grace. Yet perhaps they 
are not to be acquitted of superstition on account of 
the inordinate stress which they laid on external 
things. — The reader must observe that this evil con- 
linues to grow during the third century. 

2d, — That, along with this superstition, the power 
of the leaders of the Church would naturally increase 
beyond tlie due bounds. That it did so afterwards' 
surprisingly is well known ; — but I judge the evil to 
have begun already both in the east and in tlie 

3d, — ^That there was at that time, among persons 
of real piety, a general propensity to extend disci- 
pline too far. IScrapion ought, doubtless, to have 
been sooner received into the Church. The Lord 
seems to have favoured him with a token of his loving 
kindness, by fulfilling his desires of being re*admitted 
into the Church before he left the world.-- But how 
much more decent and proper would it have been 
for him to have been received while in health? Satan 
always pushes men to extremes. Church-discipline 
was held then too high ; with us it is reduced to the 
lowest state. Without communion with a visible 
Church establishment in form, however impractica- 
ble it might be, it was scarce thought possible for a 
man to be saved : Many persons, at that time, would 
have had no hope of Serapion's salvation, if the 
|>ower of his disease had prevented the reception of 
the Eucharist. This miserable superstitioq increased. 

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. till by the light of the Reformation it was destroyed. 
On the contrary, in our age, tlie Lord's Supper it- 
self is treated witli levity by thousands who call 
themselves Christians; and communion with a set- 
tled ministry and Church is esteemed as a thing of 
trifling consequence by numbers who profess the 
doctrines of vital godliness. 

Dionysius wrote several other tracts, which are 
J mentioned by Euscbius : — Among the rest, he wrote 
. to Cornelius, bishop of Rome, in answer to his* 
^ letter against Novatian*; and informed him — that 
. he had been invited by Ilejenus of Tarsus in Cilicia, 
and bv the rest of the bishops of his neighbourhood, 
by Firmilian of Cappadocia. and Theoctistes of 
Palestine, to meet them in a synod at Antioch, w hef e 
some attempts were made to strengtlien the Nova- 
tion party. — But all these Churches united to con- 
demn the schism : and, with this view, Dionysius 
>vrote to the Roman confessors both before and after 
they had returned to the Church. On tirj whole, 
the East and West united in condemning the new 
dissenters; whose head having professed that some 
brethren had compelled him to the separation, 
Dionysius wrote to Novatian himself to this effect: 
*^ If you were led unwillingly, as you say, you will 
prove it by returning willingly; for a man ought to 
suffer any thing rather than to rend the C'hurch of 
God. Even martyrdom on this, account would be no 
less glorious than on any other; — even more so, — 
For in common martyrdom a man is a witness for 
one soul : — here for the whole Church. And now, 
if you would compel or persuade the brethren to 
unaniniity, your good conduct would be more lauda- 
ble tlian your defection was culpable. The latter 
will be forgotten, the former will be celebrated 
through the Christian world. But if you find it im-' 
practicable to draw over others, save your own soi4 
f llusebiua certainly calls liim ](^[Qwitus b^ mistake* 

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at least; I wish you to be strong in the Lord, and 
studious of peace/' — Sucli Mas the zeal of 'tile 
Christian leaders at that time for the preservation 'of 
UNitr. If there had been a defection from Christian 
purity of doctrine in the general Church, or if the 
Heads of it, for the most part, had been %4cious men 
in principle or practice, one might have suspected 
tliat the Lord had forsaken these, and that his spfrit 
bad rested chiefly with the new separatists. But that 
godliness in a considerable degree prevailed still in 
the Church at l^rge is very evident Cyprian, Dio- 
nyslus, Cornelius, Firmilian, were holy men : Mar- 
tyrs, in abundance from their flocks, suffered for 
Christ's sake: A number of Church-officers sdflferfed 
jn a very edifying manner : — ^The lapsed wdi^ re- 
stored among them by the moSt Christian' methods 
of mildnress and just discipline ; — arid this vi^ith sute- 
cefes In a variety of cases. — Dionysius concurred with 
Cyprian in his views on the Subject : and, though the 
flame of Christian piety was Considerably* lowei^ed 
since t&^ days df Ignatius; I see not a stiadow of 
proof that there was any just Reason for dissent x>r 
any superior degree of spirituality with the NbVatSaAs. 
' —If, for example, there had been many |)ersdn$ 
among them of half the piety of Cyprian, I think it 
f)robabte, that history would not have been ^lent 
respecting them. * * * 

It is my diity to trace the work of the Divine 
Spirit wherever I can find it. Tracefc of this Spirit, 
with the Novatians in general, in these times, I can- 
pot discern : and yet, it is improbabfe, that they shotild 
h^ve been a people altogether forsalccri of God. 
Whereyer the real truth, as it is in Jesus, is pro- 
'fessed, there some measure othis Spirit most pro- 
bably exists. Novatiali himself is constantly repre- 
liended'both by Cyprian and by Dionysius: Yei, I 
observe, they cast noimputations'oil his moral cha» 
^acter : ilis schism alone is theobjfect of theii^ repte- 
bension :^ Corndius/indeed, carries the in&tter stilj 

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farther, as we have seen ; but I am not disposed to cent. 
credit all he says : His temper was heated by per- ^" ' 
.jsonal competition. 

Before we proceed to other instances of the De- 
cian persecution, it may be proper to conclude tlie 
aftair of Novatian : Let us collect what evidence we 
can ; .and endeavour to form a just estimate of his 
character: — If our observations appear unsatisfac* 
tory ; — let it be imputed to the scantiness of tlie 

Novatian was originally a Stoic ; and seems to Cfatractcr 
have contracted all the severity, which marked th^t Norititn. 
sect of philosophers. He was born a Phrygian, and 
came to Rome, where he embraced 'Christianity. 
He applied for the office of presbyter ; but, as he had 
peglected certain ecclesiastical forms after recovery 
from a sickness, he was objected to by the clergy and 
the people. The bishop, — probably, Fabian the pre- 
decessor of Cornelius, — desired that the rules might 
be dispensed with in his case. ' This was granted ; 
and it is a testimony, surely, rather in favour of his 
abilities and conduct than otherwise, particularly, 
, as the circu mstance stands recorded by the pen of his 
rival Cornelius*. That he excelled in genius, learn- 
ing, and eloquence, is certain: and hence, it is not 
})roba^)le, that iie was a man of debauched or of 
09$e morals. The evils of hi» schism were unques- 
tionably great; but novice seems affixed to his cha- 
racter; ' nor. (Joes any just suspicion he against the 
J purity of his intentions. One f of the letters of the 
lomari clergy'to Cyprian, written by Novatian hin>- 
self, is still extant: It is worthy of a Roman pres- 
byter and of a zealous Christian ; —and, at that time, 
the writer coincided in opinion with the African pre-? 
Jate. Eus(^bius, in his Chronicon, ranks him among 
.jthe copfessore; and it'is certain, that \^hiio Ije coij? 
* See bis letter u) Eusebius, 

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tinued presbyter his fame was not only without a 
blot, but very fair in the Cfmrch. 

Perhaps it had been happy for him if he had neveV 
consented to become a bishop. The preference 
given to Cornelius in the election of a bishop, was, 
probtlbly enough, the grand cause of tlic ^chisiii: 
From being actuated by a temperate degree of seve- 
rity, he became intolerably inexorable in his ideas of 
discipline: It is not for man to say how far temper, 
Stoicism, prejudice, and principle might all unite in 
this business : — ^Wc must uow behold him bishop of 
tlie Novadans, and industriously spreading the schism 
through the Christian world. The repeated con- 
demnation of it in synods hindered not its growth; 
and as purity of principle and inflexible severity of 
discipline, v>ere their tavourite objects, it is not to 
be apprehended that Novatian could have supported 
himself in the opinion of his followers without some 
degree of exemplary conduct. He is allowed to have 
preserved in soundness the Christian Faith : There 
' is actually extant a treatise by him on the Trinity ; — 
and that, one of the most regular and most accurate 
which is to be found among the ancients. It is 
astonishing that any man should ascribe the ideas of 
the Trinitarians mainly to the Nicene Fathers. We 
have repeatedly seen proofs of the doctrine beii^ 
held distinctly in all its parts from the Apostles' days. 
This treatise by Novatian may be added to the list. 
— I know not how to abridge it better than by re- 
ferring the reader to the Athanasian creed*. The 
Trinity in Unity, and the Godhead and Manhood 
of Christ in one person, are not more plainly to he 
found in that creed, than in the composition of this 
IX)n temporary of Cyprian. 

1 wish that a more experimental view, — a more 
practical use — of Christian doctrines, were to be 
seen in it. But all professors of Christianity, — 
C'hurchnien or dissenters — seem, at that time, tq 

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FRBSECVTIOlr OF bECltS. ' 401 

iaave much relaxed in this respect The favour and 
simplicity of the life of faith in Jesus was not so well 
known : yet, — particularly under the article of the 
Holy Ghost, — he speaks very distinctly of ^^ Hiai as 
the author of regeneration, the pledge of &e pro* 
tniaed inheritance, and, as it were, the hand*-wnting 
of eternal salvation, — who makes us the temple ct 
God and his house, — who intercedes for us with 
* groanings which cannot be uttemd,' — who acts aA 
oor advocate and defender,--7who dwdis in our^ 
bodies, and sanctifies them for immortality. He i(; 
is, who fights against the fl^h, — ^bence the flesh 
fights against the spirit :" — and he proceeds to speak 
in the best manner of his holy and blessed operations 
in the minds di the £uthful *. 

He wrote also a sa^isibie little trac^ against the 
bondage of Jewish meats ; in which he explains the 
nature of Chrbttan liberty, according to the views of 
St Paul, withjp^tdirections for the maintenance of 
temperance and decorum. 

The letter to Cyprian before mentioned closes his 
works* He lived to the time of Valerian, under 
whom Cyprian suffered. In that persecution also 
fell Novadan by martyrdom, as i^pears from the 
authentic testimony of Socrates f. His rival Cor- 
nelius died a littie time before them, in exile for 
the faith. — It will be a grateful refreshment to the 
reader to pause for a moment; and to contemplate 
tiiese three men meeting in a better world, clothed 
with the garments of Jesus, and in him knowing their 
mutual rdation, which prejudice hindered in this 
mortal scene of strife, infirmity, and imperfection. 
Neither the separation of Novatian, nor the severity 
mth which the tworeguk^ bishops condemned him, 
can be justified. — ^There ^seems, however, sufficient 
evidenc^of the Christian character of the separatist : 

^ Nw. THn. p. it4. t L. IV. C. a«. 

VOL. !• iDp 

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— The general tepor of his life ; — and above all, bii 
death, show to whom he belonsred *. 

The reader will pardon this dlgresrion ; — if that be 
indeed a digression, — which shows that the Spirit 
of <jod was not limited to one denomination of 
Christians; and wh?ch paves the way for a liberal 
and candid construction of characters. In the future 
scenes of this history, while we trace the kingdom of 
God through a multiplicity of names and divisions 
of men, it will highly behove us to cultivate an un« 
prejudiced temper. 

To proceed with the Decian p^secution. — The 
management of this seems to have been the whole 
«mployment of the magistrates. Swords, wild beasts, 
pits, red-hot chairs, wheels for stretching human 
bodies, and talons of iron to tear them; — these were 
at this time, the instruments of pagan vengeance. 
Malice and covetousness in informing against Chris- 
tians wei-e eagerly and powerfully set on work during 
this whole short, but horrible reign : And the genius 
of men was never known to have had more. of em- 
ployment in aiding the savageness of -the heart. IJfe 
was prolonged in torture, in order that impatience 
in suffering might effect at length, what surprise and 
terror could not. 

Mark two examples of Satanic artifice. A martyr 
having endured the rack and burning plates^ the 
judge ordered liim to be rubbed all over with hcMiey, 
and then to be exposed in tlie sun, which was very 
hot, lying on hi§ back with his hands tied behind 
him, that be might be stung by the flies. — ^Another 
person, young and in the flower of his age, was, 
by the order of the same judge, carried into a plea- 
sant garden among flowei's, near a pleasing rivulet 
surrounded with traces: here they laid him on a ifea- 
ther bed, bound him with silken cords, and left him 
alone. Afterward, a very handsome lewd woman 

* Greg. Nyss. vita TbaunK p; looo.— See Fleary, .B..6-r-a5. 

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turas introduced to»him; who- b^an^ to embrace him 
Bod to court him with' all imaginable impudence. 
The martyr spit in lier face; and at length bit off his 
own tongue; as the nfiost effectual method in his 
power of resisting the assaults of seosuidity. In the 
most shocking and disgusting- trials, Christianity, 
however, appeared what it is, — true holiness ; while 
its persecutors showed that they \\ ere at ciiiuicy witii 
45very virtuous principle of internal benevolence, 
and of external decorum *. 

Alexander, bishop of Comana, suffered martyr- Martyrdom 
dom by fire. At Smyrna, Eudemon the bishop apos- Aiwaader, 
tatized, and several unhappily followed his example. Wshop 
But the glory of this Church, once so celebrated by commi. 
the voice of infalHbility f, was not totally lost. The 
example of Pionius, one of the presbyters, was 
salutary to all the . Churches. — The account of his 
martyrdom is, in substance, confirmed by Eusebius: 
— Nor, in general, is there any thing in it impro- 
bable, or unworthy of the Chrbtian spirit if. — In 
expectation of being seized, he put a chain about 
his own neck, and caused Sabina and Asclepiades ^ 
to do the same, — to show their readiness to suffer, 
Polemon, keeper of the idol-temple, came to them 
with the magistrates : ** Don't you know," says he, 
" that the emperor has ordered you to sacrifice ? '* 
" We are not ignorant of the commandments/' says 
Pionius, " but they are those commandments which 
direct us to worship God." *' Come to the market- 

Jlaccy" says Polemon, ** and see the truth of what 
have said." " We obey the true God," said Sabina 
and Asclepiades. 

When the martyrs were in the midst of the mul- 
titude in the market-place, " It would be wiser in 
you," says Polemon, '* to suboiitand avoid the tor- 
ture." Pionius began to speak : " Citizens of Smyrna, 
who please yourselves with the beauty of your walls 

• Jerom vita Paul. f Rev. ii. 8, 9, &c. 

J Euscb. B. 4. C. 15.— Fleury, B. 6—30. 
• I> D 2' 

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And tjty, 'snd ^oAne yotisd^^eB on account df youf 
Poet H^ner; and ye Jews, if there be any among 
you, hear fne speak a ifew words: We find that 
Smyrna has beene^teeroed^liefmestcityintbewcrUi, 
and was reckoned tiie'chief of those which contended 
for the honour of Homer's birth. I am informed 
that yoQ deride those who come df their own accord 
*D sacrifice, or whoxlo niot reftise whennrged to it 
fiirt sorely your admired Homer should teach von 
never to rejoice at the death of any man *•'* " And 
ye Jews onghtto obey M<ises, who tells yoo, * Thou 
•sfaalt not see thy 'brothers ass or his ox fall down by 
the way, andihicte thyself from Mm : thou shalt sordy 
help him to lift 'them up again f/ And Solomon 
says, /^joicenot when thine enemy faHeth/ — For 
tny part i would rather ^ie, or undergo any »ifferines 
timn c(Hitradi(^ my eonscienoe in religions <concems^. 
Wfaenoe then proc^ those bursts of laughter and 
-crud scoiffe of the Jews, pointed not only against 
those who haw sacr)6c^ but against lis? They 
insult us wjth a malicious pleasure to see our long 
f)eace in*<nrrupted. — ^Thou^ we were thc^ enemies, 
5tifl we ere men. — fiot what harm have we done 
them ? What have we made them to suffer? Whom 
have we spoken against? Whom have we perseouted 
with unjust and unrelenting hatred ? Whomlia^ we 
ccHBpeUed to woi^bip 4dols? Have they no compas- 
sion for the unfortunate? Are they themselves less 
-culpable than tiae poor wretches, who, Ihrou^ tiie 
fear rf men or of tortures, have been induced to 
frenounoe their religion ?" (Hetben addressed the J ews 
on the grounds of their own Scriptures, and solenmly 
-placed befoi^e the Pagans the day of judgment. 
The sermon bore some resemblance to Stephen's § 

* Odyss. 5c«ii. v. 412. 

t Deut. xvti.4. 

I Plonius adapts hiniMlf to his audience, and coDvictstheaa 
of guilt even by their own principles, a thing not hard to bt 
done in all cases,— Except in those of true Christians, wh» 
never fail to jibow ^helr £u(^%y their. woAs. 

S Actsof the Apostles, dHtp.-vii, 

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in I&e cfrcttniitaacea: Ife tended to beget Qotsmoi^ 
of sin, and to lead nen to feeltb^r rmd of the Di- 
Tine Savioar, accordiog to tiMf JAistest views ttnd in 
tfae soundest taste of the Grospel. He spa^e ton^^ 
and was nery attentively heard; and there 16 readon 
to hope that his exertions were not in vain. Tbe peo- 
pfe who surrounded him said with PoletniM^ ^' Beilieve 
us, Piooiust your probity and wisdom make us dee» 
yo« worthy to lifve ; — and life is pleaaant" — ^Thus 
powerfully did eousdenee and huopanity operate m 
tfafiir/ hearts. '^ I own/' says the martyr, '^ life is 
pltasaat, but I mean toat eternal life whieh I aspire 
after: I do not with a contemptuous spirit reject Ae 
l^ood things of tlus life ; but I prefer soeoething wbick 
la io&aitely better: — I tbaok youi for your expres^iioa 
al kkadness: I cannot^ however, butsus|)eet sooie 
stratagem inii" 

The peqpile contamed intreatuig him : md he stiU 
discoursed to- them of a fiitare stata — ^Tbe weUr 
knowa siaserity and um|uestionable virtues of the 
xoati serai to hkve filled the Smymeans wilb veneM- 
tiony and htt enemies bcmur to fear an u]^roar labia 
fevour. ^^ It is imposB^e to persuade yoU. then^'' 
said Polemon. '' I wouU to God I couJiot'' sftys 
FicHiiiis, '^ persuade yeuto be a €bristiaii}/' 

Sabina^ tw the advice of Pisontaav who.waaber 
beottiar, had chaoged her nam^ for feair of felting 
into the hands of heat pagan mbtresa^ wh<K in wder 
to compel her to renounce Chrisliaiii^, bad feimeily 
pot her in irons, and baaidied bet to Ibe nouotainsk 
where the bret^ea secretly supported her with qqu^ 
rishment She new called b^^fTbeodota. ^^What 
God dost tliou adoie ?" says Polemea. *^ God Ah 
mighty," she answered, " who made all thing»; — of 
which we are assured by his Word Jeeui Quist'^ 
^' And what dofitTHOuadoee?" speaking to Aatdb* 
piades. ^' Jesus Christy" sagra be. *^ What, ia tbeie 
anotfacv G<xl?'' saj^PoLemon. ''No,"saysbe,''ai» 
is the same whom we come here to <;QvlM?r '^^He» 

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who worships the Trinity in Unity; will find no cHffi« 
culty in reconciiing these two confessions. Let him, 
who does not so worship, attemptit. One person 
pitying Pionius, said, " Why do you that are so 
learned seek death in this resolute manner ?" 

When carried to prison, they found there a pres- 
byter named Lemnus, — a woman named Macedonia, 
— and another called Eutychiana, a M ontankt 

These all employed themselves in praising God, 
and showed every mark of patience and cheerfulness. 
Many pagans visited Pionius, and attempted to per- 
suade him to renounce his religion : — His answers 
struck them with admiration. Some persons, who, 
by compulsion, had sacrificed, visited them and shed 
many tears. ** I now suffer afresh," says Pionius; 
^^ and n^hinks I am torn in pieces when I see the 
pearls of the Church trod under-foot by swine, and 
the stars of heaven cast to the earth by the tail of the 
dragon *. — But our sins have been the Cause." 

Ihe Jews, whose character of bigotry had not 
been lessened by all their miseries, and whose hatred 
to Christ continued from age to age with astonishing 
uniformity, invited some of the lapsed Christians to 
their synagogue. The generous ' spirit of Pionius 
was moved to express itself vehemently against the 
Jews. Among other things he said, " They pretend 
that Jesus Christ died like other men by constraint 
Was that Man a common felon, whose disciples 
have cast out devils for so many years ? Coqld that 
man be forced to die, for whose sake his discifrfes, 
and so many others, have voluntarily suffered the 
severest punishment?" — Having spoken a long time 
to them, he requested them to depait out of the 

Though the miraculous dispensations attendant on 

Christianity form no part of the plan of tiiis History, 

I cannot but observe' on this occasion, how strongly 

their contbuanc6 in the third century is here attestedi 

• Rev. xii. 14, 

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Pionia& affirms, that devils were ejected by Qbris- cent. 
tians in the name of Christ; and he does th'is in the 
face of enemies, who would have been glad of the 
shadow of an argument to justify their bitterness, 
resentment, and perfidy. 

The captain of the horse came to the prison, .and 
ordered Pionius to go to the idol-temple. " Your 
bishop £udemon hath already sacrificed,'' said he. 
The martyr, knowing that nothing of this sort could 
be done legally till the arrival of the proconsul, re- 
fused. Tlie captain put a cord about his neck, and 
dragged him along with Sabina and others. They 
cried, " We are Christians," and fell to the ground, 
that th^ might not enter the idol-temple. Pionius, 
after much resistance, was forced into it nnd placed 
on4he ground before the altar : and there stood the 
unhappy £udemon, after having sacrificed. 

Lepidus, a judge, asked; "Wlxat God do you 
adore?" " Him," says Pionius, " that made heaven 
and earth." " You mean him that was crucified r" 
^^ I mean htm whom God the Father sent for the 
salvation of men." The judges then whispered to 
one another, and said, — " We, must compel them to 
say what we wish." — Pionius heard them, and cried, 
" Blush, ye adorers of false gods : have some respect 
to justice, and obey your own laws : they Qnjoin 
you not to do violence to us ; hut merely to put us 
to death." 

Then Ruffinus said, ** Forbear, Pionius, .this thirst 
after vain-glory." " Is this your eloquence?" an- 
swered the martyr : " Is this what you have read in 
your books ? Was not Socmtes thus treated by the 
Athenians' ? According to your judgment and advice 
HE sought after vain-giory, because lie applied him- 
self to wisdom and virtue." — Ruffinus was struck 
dumb. — ^Thecase was apposite in a dcigree : Socrates, 
undoubtedly, sui&red persecution on account of hb 
realtor moral virtue. 

. A certain person placed a crown. qaPjqiuuss 
p D 4 

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hnd, vfbieh be tore in pieces beiwe tbe altar : Tte 
pagans, finding Iheir parsuasions ineffixtual, m^ 
manded diem tx) prison. 
Martyrdom A few days after thi3> the prooxisul Quintiluui 
c( Pipnius. jeturned to Smyrna, and exammed Pionius^ He^ 
Ham; tried both tortures and persuasions in vain; 
and, at length, emraged at his obstinacy, be sentenced 
faiai to be burnt alive. The martyr went cheerfully 
to tlie place of execution, and thanked God, who had 
preserved his body pure from idolatry. After he 
was stretched and nailed to the wood, the executioner 
' s«d to him, ^^ Change your mind, and the nails shaft 
be taken out" " I have felt them/' answered Pio-i 
i^us: He then remained thoughtful for a^time} 
afterward he said, '^ I hasten, O Lord, that I may 
the sooner be a partaker of the resurrection." MetrcH 
dorus, a Marcionite, was nailed to a plank of wood 
in a similar manner : They were then both placed 
upright ; and a great quantity of fuel was heaped 
around them. — Pionius, with his eyes shut, remained 
ttotionless, id»orbed in prayer while the fire was 
eonaum^ng him. At length be opened his eyes, and 
liooking cheerfully on the fire, said, ^^ Amen ;"— ^ia 
last words were, " Lord, receive my soul." — Of the 
^ticular manner in which his companions suffered 
deaith we have no account 

1q this narrative we see tbe spirit of heavenly 
love triumphing over all worldly and selfish consi** 
Anrationa Does not the zeal of Pionius deserve 
M be coonneiDorated as lon^as tbe world endures? 
The man appem^ to have forgotten his sufferings : 
He h wholly takep up in vindicating the divine truth 
ao the last. — Who can doubt of his having been a 
faMvful preacher of the Gospel ? He is intent on the 
Messed work amidst his bitterest paons. — Glorious 
0xempti<ication of true religion in its simplictl^ ! 

If there be any thing particular m the treatment 
he underwent, it consists in the repeated endeavoiifs 

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momscuTTOir of saxmrs. 409 

was iimch respected, tiiough the Cfanristiaii was ab* cekt. 
horred. Integrity and uprightness, ivhen esMnent yJlJL 
and supported by wisdom and learning, £ul not to 
overawe, to captivate, and to soften maidcind. The 
TOice of natural conscience pleads; but cannot over^ 
come the enmity of the human heart a^rainstGod 

There are many good reasons which may be as^ 
signed why soond le^lming ought to be cultivated by 
Christians, and especially by all who mean to be 
pastors of Christ's flock. The case of Pionius djearly 
kitiiBates this. Knowledge never iails to ensuret re** 
spect. It doe^ thb a thousand times more effectually 
with mankind than birth or wealth, or rank, or power. 
— It is evident that Pionius was a man of learning 
and Aat his persecutors esteemed hint on that 
account, and took pains to detach hkn from Cbrifr^' 
tianity. — We may conceive how usefui this accom« 
pl»htfient bad been in the course of his ministry. 

A Montanist and a Marcionite are the fellow* 
sufferers of this martyr : The latter is consumed 
with him in the flame$». Doubtless^ from all tkm 
information of antiquity, both these heresies appear 
m an odious Kgbt But there might be exceptions, 
and who so likely to be among those exceptions^ aa 
tfiose who suffered? We must not confine the truth 
of godiiness to any particular denominatimi. Pro* 
vidence, by mixing persons of very opposite piuties 
m the same scene of persecution, demonstrates that 
the pui'e faith «k1 love of Jesus may operate in those 
who cannot own each other as brethren : I know 
not whether Pionius and Metrodqirus did so on earth : 
I trust they do so in heaven. 

In Asia a merchant, ndmed Maximus, was brought 
before Optimus the proconsul, who inquired wer 
hb condition? ^^ I was bom free," said he, ^' but I 
am the serwmt of Jesus Chrfet" " Of what profes* 
sion are you ?" " I live by commerce." -" Are you a 
QwistJan?"/' Though a sinner, yet I ama Chriiiian.'' 
While the ttSQal process of persuaaions andoftortures 

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CHAP, wfas going forward; — he exclaimed, — ** Tb^eare 
J!'^ A ^^^ torments which we suffer for the name of our 
LordJesus Christ: They are wholesome unctions." 
— Such was tlie effect of the Holy Ghost shedding 
the love of God in Christ abroad in the human 
heart ! — He was ordered to be atoned to death *. 
- All this time the persecution ratted in Egypt with 
unremitting fury. In the lower Thebais there was 
a young man named Paul, to whom, at fifteen years 
of age, his parents left a great estate. He was a 
person of much learning, of a mild temper, and full 
of the loye of God. He had a married sister,, with 
whom he lived. Her husband was base enoughto 
design an information against him, in order tp ob- 
tain his estate. Paul, having notice of this, retired 
to.tbe,descrt mountains, where he waited till the per^ 
secution ceased. Habit, at length, made solitude 
agreeable to him. He found a pleasant retreat, and 
lived there to tlie age of fourscore aixi ten years* 
At the tinie of bis retirement he was twenty-thrce, 
^ and he lived to be a hundred and thirteen years old f- 
' This is the first distinct account of an hermit in the 
Christian Church. — No doubt ought to be made of 
the genuine piety of Paul. — ^Those, who, in our days^ 
condemn all Mouks with indisciiminatiog contempt^ 
seem to make no allowance for the prodigious change 
of times and circumstances. Reflect seriously on 
tlie sort of society to which Christians were exposed 
in the reign of Decius : Ws^ there a day, — an hour^ 
in which they could enjoy its comforts, oi' secure 
its benefits? Wher^ could Christian ^yes or ears di- 
rect their attention, — and not meet with objects ex- 
ceedingly disgusting^ If Paul preferred solitude in 
such a season, we need not be more surprised tlmn 
we, are at the conduct of Elijah the profit. — But> 
why did he not, with the return of peace, return ^Isa 
to the dischat*ge of social duties? — The habit wais 
^Contracted ; and the love of extremes is the infifnu^ 
♦ Flcury,^ B. 6 — 40, t ttW. B. 6—48. 

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of human nature. — Besides, a heart breathing the 
purest love to God, might riatoraliy enough be led 
to think the perfection of godliness best attainable in 
solitude. — The increasing spirit of superstition soon 
produced a number of imitations of Paul : and the 
most lamentable effect was, that those, who possess- 
ed only external religion, placed their righteousness 
and their confidence in monastic austenties ; — and 
thus, firom the depraved imitations of well-meant be- 
ginnings, one of the strongest supports of false religion 
gradually strengthened itself in the Christian world. 
Here we close the account of the Decian peree- 
cution. Its author is admired by Pagan writers. 
What has been said of IVajan and Antoninus is ap- 
plicable to him: lie was a moralist; and be was 
a cruel persecutor. — tt cannot be denied, that for 
thirty months the Prince of Darkness had foil op- 
portunity to gratify his malice and hisfory. But 
the Lord meant to chasten and to purify his Church, 
— not to destroy it. The whole scene is memorable 
on several accounts. — It was not a local or inter- 
.mitting, but an universal and -constant persecution : 
and, therefore, it must have transmitted great num- 
bers to the regions where sin and pain shall be no 
more. — ^The peace of thirty years had corrupted the 
whole Christian atmosphere: The lightning of the 
Decian rage refined and cleared it. No doubt, 
the effects were salutary to the Church. External 
Christianity might indeed have still spread, if no 
stioh scourge had been used ; but the internal spirit 
of the Gospel would, probably, have been extin- 
guished. The survivors had an opportunity of learn- 
ing, in the faithfulness of the martyrs, what that 
spirit is ; and- men were again taught, that he alone, 
who strengthens Christians in tliKeir sufferings, can 
eflfectually convert the heart to true Christianity* — 
Tbesloq^iD, however, proved feital to manyindividmds 
who apostatized; and Christianity was, in that way, 
cleared -of many false friend& We have also noticed 

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412 liisTaitT OF the: CH-inecn 

tiro collaiteral enls. — Betl^ the fennatien of adiua» 
aod of superstitious 9oHtudes> bad their 4ate from the 
fieciaa persecution. 



CHAF. Xhs successor of Decks allowed the Church of 
^^J^lJ;,^ Christ a little tranquiUity. Duriog that sptiee' the 
Caiite toe two snadl treatises ^^Cypriaa concerniog^the Lapsed 
ceediDe- ftQ^ eooccsning Unity, were, doi^btless, of some 
•***^*** service vk recovering the lapsed to a state of pe- 
'^' ^^ nifceoc^ aad ia disposing tlie minds of Q»en to pre^ 
^5^- serve the unity of the Church- In the fofmer of 
these treatises, indeed, it must be confessed he car- 
fKS bis censure of the Novatians too for* The sia 
and tiie danger of rending the body of Christ might 
iwe beea stated in the sibroi^iBst terms, without pro* 
navocing the evil to be absohitely daoinabte: Thi^ 
wed earrying the matl&r beyond all bounds ^ mo* 
iktaAion. But the same candour which should 
imdiae one to apprehend tiiat Novatian wm influ<» 
eoced by good indentions, in his too ri^ seliemev 
pieads^ s^o for the n^otives of Cyprian's zeal in the 
maiotenanee of unity. — He seems to have considered 
tbe t&i^bief a^ most ex^eed^ly destructive; and 
be caotfind no terms si^ci^tly stuong taexfHress- 
hje detestatieoiof it 
^JT thr ^^^ Gallttfi seoa begpin to disturb the pe^ce of the 
TEitb Per- CliTiotians, though liot with the incessant fury Qf bi^ 
•^*'*^* predecessor. — A Roman presbyter, naraed-Uyppo^ 
litusy bad been seduced into Novatiani^m; Unt bi$ 
mkkA bad not been perverted from the &ith wd love 
of Jesu^ He waj» now called on to suffer martyr^ 
doHV wbichbadddwith courage and fidelity father 
curiosity or a desire of instinctive mformation in-^ 

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dned 190106 f^erscMss to. aekbimiRitl^ soeaeiof 
bis svffenii^, wb^heribe stiM persi&fted 4u the coat^ 
BiiniioBi of Novatian ? He declared in the moit 
explidt terms, tbc^ be^now saw the-affiikiQ a-neiir 
ligbt, — tbat be repented of Slaving ^ocouraged itit 
fichbm, — a»(d that be <died m tbe-comnHi&ion of 4be 
general Church* — SuchrajesfeUBOoy mudt have 'wedc* 
ened the 4niueQoe of the achism *. 

In 4his iperseoutkm of Gdius it was tiiat Conae- Banisimient 
iius ccmfessed dte £Mth of Chirist, 'aad was banished^ (Wiki. 
by the emperor, to Civita Veoobia; which .gave <k:<- 
caakm to a coq^atulatory letter from Cypiaaiu im 
one {>art of it be reflects on the Novatians with 4us 
usual vehemence: — The rest bpeathes a fervenl; spirit 
of piety and charity, and throws a strong light oa 
two historical facts; — namely, — that the persecution 
of <jraUu8 was severe ; — and, that the Roman Chris^ 
iians bore it with becoming and exemplary fortitude. 

^ We have been ;made acquainted, dearest bro- 
ther, wkb tbe:^riou8 testimonies of your faith and 
virtue; and we have received the honour of your 
-confession with such exuttation, that, in the upraises 
of your exceUent conduct, we reckon oursdves part* 
jBt&rs and compwiions. For, as we have but one 
Oiurch, united hearts, and indivisible concord, what 
pastor rqjcMcesiiot intbe honours of his fellow-pastors 
as his own ? Or what brotherhood does not eveiy 
^her^ exult in the joy of brothers? We cannot ex- 
press how great was our joy and gladness when we 
iheard of your prosperous fortitude ; — that at Rome 
YOU were the leader of the confession, and, moreover, 
•that the confession of the leader stren(]^thened, in the 
^brethren, their disposition to confess ; — that while 
you ted the way to glory, you incited many to be 
eomipanions of your glory ; so that we are at a loss 
•which most to ^ebrale, — your active and steady 
£uth, or the ins^arable love ofttlie brethren. The 
.virtne of the bishogx in leading the way was publicly 
• Flcury, B. 7. x. 

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CHAP, adrmred ; while the union of the br*ethren in follow- 
y^JJ^ ing him was proved beyond contradiction : There 
was but one mind and one voice among you all. The 
Apostle foresaw, in spirit, this iaith aAd firmness of 
the whole Roman Church, which have shone so illus- 
triously ; and, in praising the primitive fathers, he 
stirs up their future sons to an imitation of their 
courage and patience. Your unanimity and per- 
severance is a great and an instructive example to 
the brethren. Ye have taught largely the important 
lesson of fearing God, of firmly adhering to Christ, 
of uniting pastors with the people, brethren w th 
brethren in one common danger : ye have proved, 
-^tbat a concord thus formed is invincible ; — that 
the God of peace hears and answers the joint 
prayers of the peace-makers. — With terrible vio- 
lence the adversary rushed to attack the soldier^ of 
Christ; but was bravely repulsed. ^ 

" He had hoped to supplant the servants of God, 
by finding them, like raw soldiers, unprepared : Ht 
had hoped to circumvent a few individuals ; but he 
found them united for * resistance : and he learnt, — 
that the soldiers of Jesus remain on the watch sober 
and armed for the battle ; — that they cannot be con** 
quered ; — that they may die ; but that they are 
invincible because they fear not death ; — that they 
resist not aggressors, since it is not lawful for them^ 
though innocent, to kill the guilty* ; and lastly — that 
they readily give up their life and shed their blood, 
in order that they may the more quidcly depart fit>m 
an evil world in which wickedness and cruelty rages 
with so much fierceness. What a glorious spectacle 
under the immediate eyes of God! What a joy in 
the sight of Christ and of his Cliurch, that — not a 
single soldier, but the whole army together, en- 
dured the waifare ! Every individual, who heard of 
* A plain proof of the passiveness of CbristiaDs, still con- 
tinued from the Apostolic age, under the mo»t onjist treat* 

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UNDER GAttUS. 4^5. 

^is proceeding, has joined in it : How- many lapsed cew. 
are restored ^y this glorious confession : For now 
Ibey have stood firm ; and, by the very grief of their 
penitence, are made more magnanimous : Their for- 
mer fall may now be justly considered as the effect 
of sudden tremor ; but tl)ey bave returned to their 
true character : they have collected real faith and 
strength from the fear of God, and have panted tor 

" As much as possible we earnestly exhort. our 
people not to cease to be preparcd for the approach- 
ing contest, by watching, fasting, and prayers. Thes^ 
are our celestial arms : these are our fortresses and 
weapons. Let us remember one another in our 
supplications ^ Let us be unanimous and united : 
and let us relieve our pressures and distresses by 
mutual charity : And whosoever of us shall first be 
called hence, let our mutual love in Christ continue ; 
and let us never cease to pray to our merciful Father 
for all our brethren and our sisters.'' 

Thus ardent was the spirit of Cyprian in the ex- 
pectation of martyrdom ! And so little account did 
he make of ten)|)oral things ! And, in this natural 
and easy manner, did he esteem the dreadful scenes 
of persecution as matter of joy. 

He himself was preserved, for the use of the 
Church, beyond the life of Gallus, as well as of 
Decius. — Coinelius died in exile: IJ is faithfulness 
in suffering for Christ evinces all along whose ser- 
vant he was; — otherwise, history atibrds little evi- 
dence respecting his character. — The little specimen, 
which we liave of his writings, will induce no one 
to think highly of his genius or capacity. 

It Ls no wonder that Cyprian, who had seen and 
known such dreadful devastations under Decius, 
finding after a very short interval, the persecution 
raiewed by Gallus, should be attempted to imasnne . 
the approach of Antichrist, — the end of the world, 
—and the day of judgment to be at hand. Sagacious 

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and holy men are never more apt to be deceived 
than when they attempt to look into futurity. God 
hath made the present so much the exclusive object 
of our duty, Uiat he will scarce suffer even his best 
and wisest servants to gain reputation for skill and 
foresight by any conjectures concerning the times 
and the seasons, which he hath reserved in his own 
power. The persecution of G alius proved, however, 
a light one compared with that of Decius. Under 
very formidable apprebeqsions of it Cyprian wrote 
an animating letter to the people of Thibaris *. 
The mistaken idea I have mentioned, probably, added 
fipirit to the epistle; nevertheless the reasoning is 
5olid ; and his arguments, and the Scriptures whick 
he quotes, deserve attention in all ages. — ^A few ex- 
tracts may gratify the reader. 

^^ I had intended, most dear bnethi^en, and wished, 
— if circumstances bad permitted, agreeably to the 
desires you have frequently expressed, — ^iny^lf to 
have come among you; and, to the best of my poor 
endeavours, to bave strengUiened the brotherhood 
witli exhortations. But urgent aftairs detain me at 
Carthage; I cannot make excursions into a country 
so distant as yours; nor be long absent from my 
people. — Let these letters then speak for me. 

" You ought to be well assured, tliat the day of 
affliction is at hand ; and, that the end of th^ world, 
and the time of Antichrist is near : We should all 
istand prepared for the battle, and think only of the 
glory of eternal life and of the crown of Christian 
confession. Nor ought we to flatter ourselves that 
the imminent persecution will resemble the last : — 
a heavier and more ferocious conflict hangs pver us^ 
for which the soldiers of Christ ought to prepare 
themselves with sound faith and vigorous foititude; 
and consider that they f daily drink the cup of the 
blood of Christ, for this reason, — ^that they them- 

. • Epis. 56. 

t The daily reception of the Lord's supper appears to h«« 
been the practice of the African Church at that tim*^ 

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selves may be able to shed -their blood for him--^ c^. 
To folloH' what Christ'hath taught and tlone is to be 
willing to be found with Christ. As John the Apos- 
tle says ; ^ He^ that saith he abideth in Christ, oUght 
himself also to walk even as he walked.' Thus also 
the blessed Apostle Paul exhorts and teaches," say* 
ing, * We are the sckis of God, and if sons, then 
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if we suffei* 
with him tliat we may also be glorified together. ** 
Ijet no man desire any thing now which belongs td 
a perishing world ; but let him follow Christ, who 
lives for ever, and who makes his servants to live,' 
if indeed they be settled in the faith of his name. 
For the thue is come, most dear brethren, which out* 
Lord long ago foretold, saying, * The hour is coming, 
when whosoever killeth you niH think hedoeth God 
service.' " In his usual manner he quotes those Scrip* 
tures which relate to persecution : and, doubtless, 
the force and beauty of tliem would then be felt and 
admired, more than they are by us, who, it is to be 
feared, are apt to speculate upon them at our ease 
with too much inditference. 

Observe how justly he arms their minds against 
the discouragement which the circumstances of ap- 
proaching persecution are apt to induce. " Let 
na onOj when be sees our people scattered through 
' fear of persecution, be disturbed, because he sees 
not the brethren collected, nor the bishops emplo^^ed 
among them. We, whose principles allow us to 
suffer death, but not to inflict it, cannot possibly, in 
such a season, be all in one place. Wherever, there- 
fore, in those days, by the necessity of the time, any 
one shall be separated, in t>ody, not in spirit, from 
the rest of the flock, -^let not such an one be moved - 
at the horror of the flight, nor be terrified by the so- 
litude of the desert, while he retreats and lies hid. 
No man is alone, who hath Christ for his com- 
panion:' No man is without God, who, in hb own 
soul, preserves the temple of God uadefil^^.* T^^ 

VOL. I. £ E 

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ctup. Cbristiaa may indeed be assailed by robberd or by 
^" wild beasts among the mountains and deserts; he 
may be afiUcted by famine, by cold, and by thii^t ; 
he may lose bis life in a tempest at sea, — ^but the 
^AViouH himself watches hb feithful soldier fight' 
ing in all these various ways ; and is ready to bestow 
the reward which he has promised to give in the 


He then produces precedents of Scripture-saiote, 
who suffered for God in the most antient timesi and 
adds, ^^ How shameful must it be f<Mr a Christian 
to be unwilling to suffer, when the Master suffered 
first ; to be unwilling to suffer for our own sins, 
when he, who had no personal sin, suffered for us'^. 
The Son of God suffered, that he might make us 
tfae sons of God : — and, shall not the sons of men 
be willing to suffer, that they may continue to be 
esteemed the cliildren of God ? 

^^ Antichrist is come, but Christ is also at hand. — 
The enemy rages and is fierce, but the Lord is our 
defender : and lie will avenge our sufferings and 
our wounds." — He again makes apposite Scripture- 
quotations.-^That from the Apocalypse is remark- 
able, ^^ If any man worship the beast and his 
image," &c. Rev. xiv. 9. 

^^O what a glorious day," contmues Cyprian, 
" will come, when the Lord shall begin to recount 
his people, and to adjudge their rewards ; — ^to send 
the guilty into hell ; — to condemn our persecutors to 
the perpetual fire of penal flame; — and to bestow 
on us the reward of feith and of devotedness to him. 
What glory ! what joy ! to be adipitted to see God ; 
— ^to be honoured ; to partake of the joy of eternal 
light and salvation with Christ the Lord your Goj> i 
to salute Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and ail the 

* I hi^e traoslated this literally, 'ilie difiereiice bctweea 
suflfering for our own sins, and saf&riiig for as, is strii^iog; tb« 
first is corrective, the second is by imputation. Cyprian be*, 
lieved the atonement of Chrifit, and therefore i^aried'his phrase-* 
^ogy, tapreTeot nustakes. **^ " • ^ 

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Patriarchs, and Prophets, Apostles, and Martyrs; to 
joy with the righteous, the friends of God, in the 
pleasures of immortality! — When that revelation 
shall come, when the beauty of God shall shine 
upon us, we shall be as happy as the deserters and 
rebellious will be miserable in inextinguishable fire." 

Such are the views of the next life which this good 
bishop sets before Christians. The palm of heavenly- 
mindedness belonged to these persecuted saints: 
and I wish, with all our theological improvements, 
we may attain to a measure of this zeal amidst the 
various good things of this life, which, as Chrbtians, 
we at present enjoy. 

Lucius was chosen bishop of Rome in the place Ladoi 
of Cornelius ; but was immediately driven into exile BiJ]J^"^f 
by the authority of Gallus. Cyprian congratulated Rome, 
him both on his promotion and on his suflferin^. a. d. 
His exile must have been of short duration. He 252. 
was permitted to return to Rome in the year two 
hundred and fifty two ; and a second congratulatory 
letter was written to him by Cyprian *. He suffered 
death soon after; and was succeeded by Stephen. 
— ^The episcopal seat at Rome was tlien, it should 
seem, the next door to martyrdom. 

It was not owing to any diminution of his usual 
zeal and activity, that the African bishop was still 
preserved alive, while three of his contemporaries 
at Rome, Fabian, Cornelius, and Lucian, died a 
violent death or in exile. About tliis time he dared 
to write an epistle to a noted persecutor of those 
times, named Demetrianus : and, with great freedom 
and dignity, he exposed the unreasonableness of the 
pagans in charging the miseries of the times upon 
the Christians. There will be no necessity to give 
any detail of his reasonings on the subject : — Pagan- 
ism has at this day no defenders. — The latter part 
of the epistle, which is exhortatory and doctrinal,, 
♦ EpU. 58. 

E E 2 

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in Africt, 



shall be afterwards considered, when we come to 
make an estimate of Cyprian's theological works. 

The short reign of Gallus was distingubhed by 
so large an assemblage of human miseries, as to give 
a plausible colour to Cyprian's mistake of the near 
approach of the end of tlie world. A dreadful 
pestilence broke out in Africa, which daily earned 
off numberless persons ; and frequently swept away ' 
whole houses. The Pagans were alarmed beyond 
tneasure : They neglected the burial of the dead 
through fear, and violated the duties of humanity. 
The bodies of many lay in the streets of Carthage, 
and in vain seemed to ask the pity of passeogei's*. 
— It was on this occasion, — that the Lord stirred 
up the spirit of Christians to show the practical su- 
periority of their religion ; and, that Cyprian, in 
particular, exhibited one of the most brilliant proofe 
of his real character. He gathered together his peo- 
ple, and expatiated on the subject of mercy. He 
pointed out to them, — that if they did no more than 
others, — no more than the heathen and the publican 
did in showing mercy to their own, there would be 
nothing so very admirable in their conduct ; — that 
Christians ought to overcome evil with good, and, 
like their heavenly Father, to love their enemies, 
since he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the 
good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust' 
Why does not he, who professes himself a son of 
God, imitate the example of his Father? We ought 
to answer to our birtli, and tliose, who appear to be 
bom again of God, should not degenerate, but should 
be sohcitous to evidence the genuineness of their 
relation to God by the imitation of his Goodness. 
Mucb more than this, Pontius tells us, was s^d by 
him. — But Pontius is always very scanty in hia 

The eloquent voice of Cyprian, on this occasion 
.as on otherd, foused the alacrity of his people. The 
• Vit. Pont. , 

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Christians ranked themselves inte classes for the 
purpose of relieving the public distress. The rich 
contributed largely : The poor gave what they could ; 
namely, their labour with extreme hazard of their 
lives:— The pagans saw with astonishment the 
effects of the love of God in Christ; and had a 
salutary opportunity of contrasting these effects with 
their own selfishness and inhumanity. 

The dreadful calamity of the plague gave to Cy- 
prian an opportunity of impressing on the minds of 
his people, what in truth had been the ruling object 
of his own life since his conversion, nainely — a warm 
and active regard for the blessings of immortality, 
joined with a holy indifference for things below. 
He published on this occasion his short treatise on 
Mortality. He, who wrote it, must have felt what 
all have need to feel, — how little a thing life is, — 
bow valuable the prospect of heavenly bliss ! The 
whole of tliis little tract is very precious ; but the 
reader must be content with a few extracts. 

" The kingdom of God, my dearest brethren, 
shows itself to be just at hand. The reward of life, 
the joy of eternal salvation, perpetual gladness, and 
paradisejost, — all these things come into our pos- 
session now that the world passes away: Heavenly 
and eternal glories succeed eartkly, fading trifles. 
What room is there for anxiety, solicitude, or sad- 
ness, unless faith and hope are wanting? If,Mndeed, 
a man be unwilling to go to Christ, or does not be- 
lieve that he is going to reign with him, such a 
one has good reason to fear death : For, * the just 
live by faith.' — Are ye then just; Do ye live by 
faith ; Do ye really believe in the promise of God ? 
— If so, — why do ye not feel secure of the faithful- 
ness of Christ; why do ye not embrace his call, and 
bless yourselves tliat ye shall soon be with him and 
be no more exposed to Satan ?" 

He then makes an apposite use of the case of 
good old' Simeon, and adds, 

'^ Our stable peace, our sound tnmquillity^ our 
EE 3 

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CTL4P, perpetual security, is in tiie world to come : — In this 
world we wage a daHy war with our spiritual ene- 
mies; we have no rest :t If one sin be subdued, 
another is up in arms: — We are continually exposed 
to temptations ; but the divine laws &riAd us to yield 
to them. — Surely, amidst such omstant pressures, 
we ought to be joyful in the prospect of hastening to 
Christ by a speedy departure. How does our I^rd 
himself instruct us on this very head? Ye shall 
weep and Ifiment, but the world shall rej<Hce; aad 
ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be 
turned into joy. — Who does not wish to be free 
from sorrow f Who would not run to take possession 
of joy ? Since then to see Christ is joy, and since our 
joy cannot be full till we do see HiM,-^what 
blindness, what infatuation is it, to love the penal 
. pressures and tears of the world, and not to be 
desirous of quickly partaking of that joy which shall 
never pass a^^ay ! 

" The cause of this, dear brethren, is unbelief : 
We none of us believe really and solidly those things 
to be true which the God of truth promises,-— whose 
^ord is eternally firm to those that put tlieir trust in 
him. If a man oC a grave and respectable character 
promises you any tiring, you do not doubt his per- 
formance, because you know him to be faithful. Now 
God himself speaks with you; and dare you waver 
in uncertainty ? He pronrises you immortality when 
ye shall depart out pf this world ; and will ye still 
doubt?' — This is not to know God : This is to ofToid, 
with the sin of unbelief, Christ the Lord and Master 
of believers : — ' To me to live is Christ, and to die 
18 gain/ said the blessed Apostle, — who computed 
it to be gain indeed, — no longer to be detaiti^ in 
the snares of the world, — no longer to be obnoxious 
to sin and the flesh,— -to be exempt from excruciating 
pressures, — to be freed from the poisonous jaws rf 
Satan, — ^and lastly, to go to the joys of eternal sal- 
vation upon the call of Christ" 

Some of Cyprian's people happened to be stag- 
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gered in tbdr minds, because they found tiiat Chm- 
tians were liable to be afflicted with tiie plague as 
others: Upon which, the bishop explained to them 
— ^that IN SPIRIT the children of God are indeed 
separated from the rest of mankind; but that, in all 
other respects, they are obnoxious to the common 
evils of human life. In hk usual manna* he suppcntft 
his precepts by Scripture^examples ; and speaks 
eloquently and solidly of the benefits of affiction$, 
and of the opportunity of showing what spirit they 
are of. " Let that man fear to die," says he, " who 
has the second death to uiuiergo ; who is not bom 
of water and the spirit ; who is not a partdcer c^ 
the cross and passion of Christ ; and whom elenml 
flame will torment with perpetual punishment. To 
such an one life is indeed a desirable object, because 
it delays his condemnation: — but what have good 
men to dvead from death ?^ — ^They are called by it 
to an eternal refreshment. — There is, however, great ^ 
use in a season of uncommon mortolity : It rouses 
the idle ; compels deserters to retom ; and produces 
faith in the gentiles : It dismisses and sends to rest 
many old and fiedthful servants of God ; and it raises 
fresh and numerous armies for future battles. 

" We should consider and think again and again, . 
that we have renounced the world and live here as 
8trang^i*s. What stranger loves not to return to 
his own country? Let us rejoice in the day whidi 
summons us to our home. — There, a great number 
of dear friends await us : What raptures of motoa) 
joy to see and embrace one another.** 

The active as well as the passive graces of Cyprian 
Trere kept in perpetual exercise by various calamities, 
which happened at no great distance of time from 
each other. The madness of men has ever been 
generating the horrors and miseries of war, and there 
have never been wanting poets and historians to <Se- 
lebrate the praises of those who have most exceeded 
others in shedding human blood. — It belongs to 

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it?HAi^ jiarratioQBi purely Christian to record, with a modest, 
^1 , _^ yet firo) approbation, the ax:tions of holy men, whom 
the world despi^ies, but, whom the grace of God 
leads to the exercise of real love tp God and roen.^ — 
Mark another instance of Cypriap's truly Christian 
beneyolence; . Nuiqidja, the country adjoimQg to 
Cs^rtbage, h^ been blessed with the light of the 
jGpspel, and a number of Churclies were planted in 
it. Py op irruption of the. barbarous nations, who 
fieithf r o\^ed the Romap sway, nor had the Teast 
^u:quaintanc^ with Christianity, many Numidian 
jconyerts were parried into captivity. laght bishops, 
- Janp^rius, Maximus, Proculus, Victors Mpdianus, 
jlsfemesian, Nampulqs, and Honoratus, wrote the 
piournful account tp the prelate at Carthage. What 
he felt and did on the occasion his own answer will 
best explain. '^ he love of Chrbt and the influence 
pf his Holy Spirit will appear to have been not small 
in the African Church from tlus and from the fore- 
going cqse ; nor will the calaipities of the tiopes and 
ihe spourge of persecution seem to have been sent 
|p tlneip in vain*. 

^* With much heart-felt sorrow and tears we r^d 
your letters, dearest brethren, which y^ wrote to us 
in the solicitude of your Ipvc concerning tlie captivity 
pf our brethren and sisters, for who would not 
g-ieve in such pases ? or who would not reckon the 
^ef of his brother his own? since the Apostle Paul 
says, ' If one member suffer, all the members suffer 
>vith it; and if one member rejoice, all the other 
members rejoice with it ;' and elsewhere, * Who ip 
>veak, fmd I am not weak?' Therefore now the 
captivity of our brethren is to be reckoned our cap- 
tivity; and the grief of those who are in danger is to 
|>e reckoned as our own grief, since we are all one 
)x)dy : — Not only our affections, but the religion of 
Jesus itself ought to incite us to redeem the brethren: 
for, since the Apostle^says, in another place, ' Knp^ 
* EpLfc 6q. Pam. 

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ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the cent. 
Spirit of God dwelleth in you?' It follows, that " 
evenif our lovedid not induce us to helpthe bnetbren, 
yet, in such circumstances, we ought to constder^'thiBtt 
they which are taken captive, are the temples of God, 
and that we ought not, by a long delay and n^ect, 
to suffer the temples T)f God to remain in captivity, 
but to labour with all our mi^^ and quickly to show 
our obsequiousness to Christ our Judge, our Lord, ^ 
AND OUR God. For whereas Paul the Apostle 
says, ^ As many of you as have been baptized into 
Christ, have been baptized into his death ;' Christ H 
to be viewed as existing in our captive brethren ; and 
itE, who dwells and abides in us, must, by a sum.c^ 
money, be redeemed from captivity,, and snatched 
from the hands of the barbarians ; — he, who by his 
cross and blood*, redeemed us frx)m death, and 
snatched us from the jaws of Satan. — In fact, he 
suffers these tbinas to happen, in (Htler that our faidi 
-mky be tried, %nd that it may be seen whether we be 
•wilUng to do for another what every one would wish 
to be done for himself, were he a prisoner $unong the 
barbarians. For who, if he b§ a father, does not 
now feel as if his sons were in a state of captivity? 
Who, — if a husband, — is not affected as if his own 
wife were in that calamitous situation ? This must be 
the case, if we have but the common sympathy of 
men. — Then how great ought our mutual sorrow and 
vexation to be on account of the danger of the virgins 
who are there iield in bondage! Not only their sla- 
very, but tiie loss of their chasdty is to be deplored : 
the BONDS of barbarians are not so much to be 
dreaded as the lewdness of men, lest the members 
of Christ dedicated to him, and devoted f for ever to 

' Redemption by the bleod of Jesus, union and fellowship 
with him maintained in the soul by faith, and the retains of 
love answerable to his loving kindness, these are the principles 
of Christian benevolence. 

i Voluntary celibacy, I apprehend, was in growing repute 
in the Church at that time. St. Paul's advice in the 7th of 

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Ifae honour of continency, should be defiled aod 
insulted by libklioous savages. 

" Our brethren, ever ready to work the work of 
God, but now much more quickened by great soitdw 
and anxiety to forward so sakitary a concern, have 
freely and largely oootributed to the relief of Ibe 
distressed captives. For, whereas tlie Lord says in 
the Gospel, ^ I was sick, and ye visited me;' with 
how much stronger approbation would he say, ^ I was 
a captive, and ye redeemed me!' And when again he 
Bays, ^ I was b prison, and ye came to me;' how 
mudi more is it in the same spirit to say,— I was in 
the prison of captivity and lay shut up and bound 
among barbarians, axid ye freed me from the dun- 
geon of slavery : Ye shall receive your reward of the 
Xord in the day of judgment!- 

^ Truly we thank you very much that ye wished ns 
to be partakers of your solicitude, and of a work so 
cood and necessary; — that ye have offered us fertile 
nelds in which we might deposit the steds of our hope 
with an expectation of an exuberant harvest. We 
have sent a hundred thousand sesterces, — the (collec- 
tion of our clergy and laity* of the Church of 
Carthage, which you will dispense forthwith accord- 
ing to your diligence. Heartily do we wish that no 
such thing may happen again, and that the Lord 
may protect our brethren from such calamities. But 
ii^ to try our faith and love, such afflictions should 
again befal you, he«%itate not to acquaint us ; and 
be assured of the hearty concurrence of our Church 
with you both in pii^iyer and in cheerful contrW 

*' That you may remember in your prayers, our 
brethren, who have cheerfully contributed, — I ha^e 
subjoined the names of each ; — I have added also 

first Cor. had then many followers, but monastic vows had yet 
no existence. 

* About 7Si^ 51. sterling. — See Notes to Epif. 62, Oxford 
Edir. ^, . . - 

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fte names of oar colleagues 'm die irasMtrjy 'mbo 
were present and contributed^ in dieir.own names 
and in that of the people; and/ besides my own 
proper quantity, I have set down and sent tbrnr 
respective sums. We wbh you, brethren, always 

About tliis time> Cyprian wrote to an African 
bishop, named Cascilius, for the fmrpose of correct- 
ing a practice in the administration of tlie Lord'a 
Supper, which had crept into some Churches, — of 
using water instead of wine. — With arguments dbrawn 
from the Scriptures, he insists on the necessity of 
wme in the ordinance, as a proper anblcfm of tbe 
bleod of Christ 

The appcmitment oi Stephen to tbe bishopric of 
Rome was soon followed by the death of Gallus ; 
who was slain, in the year two hundred and ftftj- |^V^ 
threes after a wretched reign of d^een months. 



Under Gallus the peace of the Church of Christ ca^. 
seems to have been very short and precarious. But 
his successor Valerian, for upwards of three years, 
proved Aeir friend and protector. His house was 
full of Christians, and he appears to have had a 
strong predilection in their favour. 

The Lord exercises his people in various ways. 
There are virtues adapted to a state of prosperity 
as well as of adversity. — ^The wisdom and love erf 
God, in directing the late terrible persecutions, have 
been plainly made manifest by the excellent fruits. 
— Let us now attend to the transactions of Christians 
during this interval of refreshment. 

The affairs of Cyprian detain us long, because 
his eloquent pen continues to attract us ; and because 


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CHAP, we would not lose. a £iitMjl and an able guide, tfll 
y^^- ^ .we are compelled to leave bim. — Probably, there 
were many before his time, whose Christian actions 
would have equally deserved to be commemorated: 
But the materials of information Sail us : The fine 
^ compositions of this bishop are still, however, a 
capital source of historical instruction. 
. Duringthetraoguillityundertbeemperor Valerian, 
a OQUncil was hcdd in Africa, by sixty-six bishops, 
with Cyprian at their head. The object of this as- 
eeoAAy was, doubtless, the regulation of various mat- 
ters relating to the Church of Christ-^— These bishops 
had, unquestionably, each of them, a small diocese; 
and with the assistance of their clergy, they superin- 
tended their respective jurisdictions according to the 
primitive mode of Church-government The face of 
Africa, which is now covered with Mahometan, 
idolaJtrous,:and piratical wickedness, afforded in those 
days a very pleasing spectacle ; for we have good rea- , 
son to believe that a real and salutary regard was paid 
to the various flocks by their ecclesiastical shepherds. 
But, we have no particular accounts of the proceed- 
ings of this council beyond what is contained in a 
letter of Cyprian, to which I shall presently advert. 
:He mentions two points, which engaged their attaa- 
tioji ;-r-but, it is very likely, that matters of ^-eater 
importance than either of those . points were then 
reviewed: — The synod was worthy of the name of 
Christian : many of the bishops then present had 
faithfully maintained the cause of Christ durii^ scenes 
of trial the most severe that can be imagined i and 
I know no ground for suspecting the clergy of those 
.tiiDCs to have been influenced by schemes of political 
ambition for increasing their wealth or power. 

A presbyter, named Victor, had been i^-admitted 
into the Church without having ftndergone tlie le^ 
timate time of trial in a state of penance, and ateo 
without the concurrence and consent of tne people* 
His bishop Thempius had done this arbitrarily and 

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contrary to the itistitutes of the former council for 
settling such matters. Cyprian, in the name of the 
council, contents himself with reprimanding Thera- 
pius ; but yet confirms what he had done, ami warns 
him to take care of offending in future. 

This is one of the points. And^ we see hence thai, 
a strict and godly discipline, on the whole, no^ pre-- 
vailed in the Church; and that the wisest and mG^ 
successful methods of recovering the lapsed were 
used. , The authority of bishops was firm, but not 
despQtic : and the share of the {i^ople, in matters 
of ecclesiastical correction and regulation appears 
worthy of notice. 

The other point he thus explains in the same tetter 
addressed to lldus : " As to the care of infismts, of 
whom you said that they ought not to be baptized 
within the second or third 'day after their birth, and 
that the ancient law of circumcision should be so 
far adhered to, that they ought not to be baptized 
till the ei^th day ; we were all of a very different 
opuiion. We all judged that the mercy and grace of 
God should be denied to none. For, if the Lord says 
in his Gospel, ' the Son of man is not come to de- 
stroy men's lives, but to save them,' how ought we 
to do our utmost, as &r as in us lies, that no soul 
be;lost ! Spiritual circumcision should not be impeded 
by carnal circumcision. If, even to the foulest of- 
fenders when they afterwards believe, remission of 
sins is granted, and none is prohibited from baptism 
and grace ; how much more should an infant be ad*- 
mitt^ ; — who, just born, hath not sinned in any re- 
spect, except, that being carnally produced according* 
to Adam, he hath, in his first birth, contracted the 
ccNfKt^^n of the ancient deadly nature ;-T*and wbo^ 
obtains the remission of sins with the less difficulty,: 
because not his own actual guilt, but that of andther,' 
is. t^ be remitted ? 

** Our sentence therefore, dearest brother, in the 
council was, that none, by us, should be prohibited 

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Defence of 


CHAP, from baptism and the grace of God, who is merciful 
^"il , and kind to all.^ 

I purpose carefully to avoid disputes on subjects 
of small moment Vet to omit a word here on a 
pointy which hath produced volumes of strife, mi^t 
seem almost a studied affectation: On such occasions 
I shall briefly and pacifically state my own views, as 
they appear deducible from evidence. 

Instead of disputing whether the ri^t of infant- 
baptism is to be derived from Scripture alone, and 
whether tradition deserves any attention at all, I 
would simply observe, — that the Scripture itself 
seems to speak for an infant baptism * ; — Mid further, 
that tradition, in matters of custom and discipline, is 
of real weight, as appears from the confession of 
every one; for every one is glad to support his cause 
by it, if he can : — and, in the present case, — to those 
who say that the custom of baptizing children was 
Bot derived from the apostolical ages, the traditional 
argument may fairly run in language nearly Scrip- 
tural, *^ if any man seem to be contentious, we have 
no such custom, neither the Churches of Godf T 
— and we never had any such custom as that of con- 
fining baptism to adults. 

Here is an assembly of sixty-six pastors, men of 
approved fidelity and gravity, who have stood the 
fiery trial of some of the severest persecutions ever 
known, and who have testified their love to the Lord 
Jesus Christ, in a more striking manner than any 
Antipsedo-baptists have had an opportunity of doing 
in our days; and, if we may judge of their religiousr 
views by those ofCyprian, — and they are all in per- 
fect harmony with him, — they are not wanting in any 
fiindamental of godliness. No man in any age more 
reverenced the Scriptures, and made more c6pious 
use of them on all occasions, than he did ; and, — it 
must be confessed, — in the very best manner. For 
he uses them continually, for practice, not for 

• 1 Cor. vii. 14. t 1 Cor. xL 16. 

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osT£KTATiON ; for USE, not far the sake of vic«* 
TORY m argument— Before this holy asseix^ly a 
questioQ is brocghty — uot whether in&nts should be 
baptized at all, — none contradicted this, — but, whe- 
ther it is right to baptize them immediately, or on 
the eighth day ? Without a single negative, they alt 
determined to baptize them immediately. This trans- 
action passed in the year two hundred and fifty-three, a* jk 
Let the reader consider : If infant-baptism had been 253. 
an innovation, it must have been now of a consi- 
<lerable standing : The disputes conceniing Easter, 
and other very uninteresting pomts, siiow that such 
an innovation must have formed a remarkable mm 
in the Church. The number of liercsies and divisions 
had been very great Among them all such a devi- 
ation firoih apostolical practice as this must have 
been remarked. To me it appears impossible to 
account for tliis state of things, but on the footing 
that it had EVER been allowed; and, therefore, that 
the custom was that of the first Churches. Though, 
then, I should wave the argument drawn from that 
sentence of St Paul, " Else were your children 
unclean, but now they are holy ;" — and yet it is pot 
easy to explain its meaning by any thing else than 
infant-baptism, — I am under a necessity of conclud- 
ing, that the antagonists of infant-baptism are mis- 
taken. Yet I ifee not wljy they may not serve God in 
sincerity, as well as those who are differently minded 
llie greatest evil lies in the want of charity; and 
in that contentious es^^erness, with which singularity, 
in little things, is apt to be attended. Truly good 
men have not always been free from this ; — perhaps 
few persons, on the whole, cultivated larger and 
more generous views than our African prelate ; — 
yet, in one instance, we shall presently see, he was 
seduced into a bigotry of spirit not unlike to that 
tvbtefa I here disapprove, and greatly lament 

1 could have wished that Christian people had 
never been vexed with a controversy so fiivolous as 

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CHAP, this about baptism : but having, once for all, given 
my views and the reasons of them, I turn from the 
subject, and observe further, — that there is, in the 
extract of the lettei- before us, a strong and clear 
testimony of the faitli of the ancient Church concern- 
ing the doctiine of original sin. One may safely be 
allowed to reason, on that head, in the same way 
as in the case just now considered; but the fulness of 
Scripture concerning so momentous a point precludes 
the necessity of traditional arguments. A lover of 
divine truth will, however, not be displeased to find 
— that, without contradiction, Christians in the mid- 
dle of the third century did believe, that men were 
bwn in sin and under the wrath of God throu^ 
Adam's transgression, and, by their connexion with 
him. as a federal head, were involved in all the con- 
sequences of his offence. Such were the sentiments 
of the ancient Christians in general; — ^^of the very 
best Christians, — w ho possessed the Spirit of Chiist 
in the most powerful degree. — The just consequences, 
which belong to this fact, are seldom attended to by 
persons who are wise in their own conceit — '' Let 
us attend," say they, " to right reason, — to modern 
improvements in tlie interpretation of Scripture, and 
let us reject without ceremony the obsolete absur-' 
dities of ancient ignorance f — The real practical 
meaning of which is this : We will torture and twist 
ia every possible direction the most perspicuous 
passages of holy writ, rather than we will acknow- 
ledge them to contain doctrines, which we dislike* — 
To submit at once to the testimony of the Divine 
Word is, in itself, the most reasonable thing in the 
world ; but when men will not abide by that; — whea 
they will subsdtute schemes of their own fancy and 
invention, — in the place of actqal revelation,— and 
still profits themselves to be under the guidance of 
the Scriptures, it may dien be v«ry expedient tor 
oppoiie and confute their unwarrantable constructions 
and criticisms by the uuai^imous judgment of tbr 

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tlTBEU VALfeuiAir. 43^ 

fhifliMv^ Ghurch, ^^ho had th6 biBSt (JpportmiitY oi (^lir. 
kndWftig the truth.^-^There is no linprgudieed iiiirid, "' 
n^lch will not feel the htce of this Argument. 

Thefolloifrtng private case,— *vbich must haVi 

^ KAjf^petied in time of p6aee,— and therefore rfiAy 

ptoptAy be rdeited tb tWJ peri6U, QeieHts, on ac^ 

^oofit of file light, which it throws oh pridiittv^ Ghris^ 

iito ntttfrtiers, to be distractljr recorded. 

'* Cyprian to Eucratius his brothBn HttMh. 
Ydtrt* knre arid ^^teem have indnti^ you, dearest 
bfoAer, to cOiteult me as to what I think of thri 
«»6 of a Player finlong you ; who ^ill cOiitinues id 
instruct others in that infamous and miserable drf, 
irbhlh he Wnrielf hath ledrnt You afik, whfetiier he 
AouM bt ilHowed ib6 continuance of Christian com-^ 
ihtttndn? I think it very inconsistent with the ma- 
jesty of God, find tiie rul^ of his Gospel, that th^ 
fiiodeSty and honour of the Church should bd 
defiled by so base and infamous a contslgioh. hi 
fce law • men are prohibited to wear female atth^, 
ind are pronounced abominable; ho^V much mor^ 
criminal must it be, not only to put on wonlen'^ 
ffTtnebtSy but also to express lascivious, obscene; 
tad effeminate gestures in si wiety of instructing 
dihcrs!-— By these meilnS boys will not be improved 
nk dny thmg iSiat is g6od, but abSclately ruined id 
fteir morals. 

*^ And let rto man excuse himself, as having left the? 
fheittre, while yet he undertakes to qualify other^ 
ht the work. Yon cannot say that the man ha^ 
d&sed firom his business, when M provides stfbdti- 
fetes in his own place; and funfiishes tb^ playhouse/ 
.With a number of performfefi instead of^ on6; aiicf 
feacb^ them, contrary to the divioi ordinanc^jl, to 
liotlfotind, in their app&nrf, iht proper and dtfedirilf 
dfafln ai o n t of the sex6s ; and so gratifies Safari \f^ 
ttedeflleMeflt t^ tat ditine worlknimsbip.-^lf the 
man makes poverty his excuse, hid fi^s^d ma/ 

• Deut xxii. 5, 
Vol. I, » f 

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CHAP, he relieved iu the same maaner as those of o&iei9f 

who are maintained by the alms of the Church, pro* 

vided he be content with fixigal and simple foodg 

;and do not fancy that we are to hire hmiy by a salary, 

to cease from sm; since it is not our interest, but 

pis OWN, that is concerned in this affiiir. But,— 

jet his gains by the service of the playhouse be ever 

so large, — What sort of gain is i\mt, which tears 

men from a participaUon in the banquet of Abraham, 

Isaac, and Jacob, and leads them from their misera* 

ble and ruinous feasting in this world to the punish-* 

pents of eternal &unine and thirst? Therefore,— 

if possible, — recover him from this depravity and 

infamy to the way of innocence and to the hope of 

life, that he may be content with a parsimomous, but 

salutary maintenance from the Church.. And, if your 

Church be insufficient to maint^ its own pow \ 

he may transfer himself to us^ — ^and he shall here 

receive what is necessary for food and raiment:— 

He must, however, no longer teacii his pernicious 

lessons ; but himself endeavour to learn somethii^ 

from the Church that may be useful to his salvation^ 

Dearest son, I wish you constant prosperity f," 

. The decision of Cyprian is, doubtless, that, which 

piety and good sense would unite to dictate in the 

case. — A player was ever an infamous character at 

Rome ; and was looked on as incapable of filling 

any of the offices of state. The Romans, at the 

same time that they showed, in this point, the sounds 

ness of their political, evinced the depravity of their 

moral, sense : for there were still maintained by 

them, at the public expense and for the public 

amusement, a company of men, who, — they,knew, — 

must of necessity be dissolute and dangerous mem-^ 

bers of society. If this was the judgiuent of sober 

pagans, we need not wonder that tie purity of Chris- 

. * Eiicratiiis was the bishop of a place called 'fbeae^ lyiug 
in the military road to Carthage. 

t Ep.6i,J>am. 

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UNDER VALraiAN"* 43.^ 

Canity would not even ^ufier such characters to be cent. 
admitted into the bosom of the Church at all. To , i' ^ 
say» that there are noble sentiments to be found in 
some dramas, answers not the purpose of those, who 
would vfaidicate the entertainments of the stage. The 
support of them requires a systek in its own na- 
ture corrupt; — a system, which must gratify the vo^ . 
luptuous and the libidinous, or it can have no dura-^* 
Ue existence. Hence, in eveiy age, compkunts have 
been made of the licentiousness of the stage ; and 
the necessity of keeping it under proper restraints* 
and relations has teen admitted l^ its greatest* 
admirers. But it is, I think, a greatmistake to sup- 
pose that the stage may remain a favourite amuse- 
ment, and, at the same time, be so n^lated as not 
to offend tiie modest eyes and ears of a humble 
Christian. The gravest advocates for the theatre 
expect pleasure from it rather than instruction : If, 
therefore, you believe that human nature is corrupt' 
and impure, only ask yourself what sort of dramatic 
exhibitions and conversations will be most likely to 
meet with the applause of the people; — and you will* 
soon be led to conclude, that the playhouse is and 
must be a school of impurity. 

The first Christians felt the force of this^ obvious 
argument, and they rejected the stage entirely.— 
A Christian, renouncing the pomps and vanity of 
this wicked world, and yet frequenting the play-' 
bouse, was with them a solecism. — The effusion 
of the Holy Spirit, which, during three centuries, we 
are now reviewing, never admitted these amusements 
at all— The profession of the dramatic art, and the 
professicm of Christianity, were held to be absolutely 
inconsistent with each other. 

It is one of the main designs of this History tQ 
dhow, practically, what true Christians were, both in 
principles and in manners : and, in this view, the 
case befpr^ us is exceedingly instructive. — What 
would Cyprian have said had he ^e^n large assem* 

W T 2 

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CHAP, btie^of Gbristita^ SO calted, devoted} taliMM mpn^' 
J^"j' y lities, and supporting them wi& tH their vnght^ and 
deriving ffom them the highest ck^^t? — ^' Such 
persons mus^ certainly, be straagera to the joy of 
tbe H^y Ghost; and I cannot but wonder ithy tb^ 
choose to retain the naoie of Cbriatam*'^ — ^TlMsni if 
he had examined their stage-emeftmnmentfi, and 
compared them with those tlmt were in vogue in his 
own day, — ^Woald he not have seen the sameoon- 
fiision g( sexes, — the same ^acouragement of on- 
chaste desires, and the same sensuality, with the same 
contemptuous ridicule of Christianity ?-^if^ nideed, 
in bis time the Gospel was ever burlesqued on a 
stage, as it has, finequentiy, been in ours. — la some 
points of lesser consequence, tiie ancient drama 
might differ from the modem ; but, on the wfax^ the 
i»pirit and tendency was the same; and, doabdess, 
this exedUent bishop would ha^e been astonished to 
betold^ that in a country, wkidi called itself Chris- 
tian^ actors and actresses and managers of play- 
iKMses amassed large sums of money; — that many 
exemplary dergyraen could scarce find subsistence; 
cfnd^ that theologians of great ertiditioa enlisted in 
the service of the stage, and obtained applause by 
writing comments on dramatic poets. ^ 

Tb^e was a bbhop of Assurae, named Sbrtuna* 
tus, who had lapsed in the tune of persecution^ uid 
who, without any mark&of repmtance, stiHassun^ed 
to himself the episcopal character^ and insisted oi^ 
kis beii^ received as such bytheclergy and people. 
Tti^ case produced an epistle of Cyprian to the 
Church \ in whicb he as strenuously opposes the 
atihiliiHiB claims, of the bbhop as, in similar ciroum^ 
stances, he had formerly d^ those of the laity; 
and he repeats the advice which he had be&H^ ^ven 
to the lapsed^ and cautions the people a^iot the 
reception of him ill his former rank aad station. — 
Behold now the atremious assertor of the right o£ 



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fattMul bishdpB opeilly exposing the pratawiotntof craxL 
unworthy 'Ones, and imtructing the people toguaod 
themselves agftkitf aoch ilehianoB ! Wbat efiwt hb 
efHstb had, does not appear: The weight of has 
character, and the vigour of the disGiptine then hap- 
pily prevalent in Africa, maloe it probaUe that it had 
the desired sitccesa 

Rogatian, an African bishops coflBpIakied to Cy- 
priaa alid his oolleBga^ assembled id a SyAod, of 
titt inaakiot and iojurious hebav^nlr ef ^ deaoett* 
Cyprian ofaservefi^ that he might hai^aidonahiipsclf 
jusdoe without takii^: this tttp^^^Hp af^pdies t&e 
caseof Korah, Datfaan, and Abirao^te tfak of the 
hm^ity deacon^ ^and takes netbe wfjrproperiy 4f 
tine hwdfiUe and unassombig carmf^e ek our Laid 
toariBird the impioua dignitaries of doe Jewish Church. 
" He taught u8," says he, " by his own behavioar 
femrardi nlse pastors, how true ones ought to be 
folly flffid f^lajrijr honoured." 

The Mowing passa« is, periuips, die most 
atrildqg proof tn any in Cyprian's writi^, that ttee 
ideas of episcopacy usore too lofty, even Tn that age, 
and that they hul insensibly gro«in widi the gradual 
increase of supenrtitaon*— Juet it be temarkM as a 
cbameter of the spirit of diose times; and as ah 
instance of the eSxkoi that spitit oa a aakid the 
most pure and humble. 

'' iL)Bacons ought to renxmber that the Lord . 
dmaQ Aposdes, tint is, Irnbops and rulers ; but that 
dieApoktes^ after his ascent kito heaven, chose fo 
tliemsel ves deacons, as the ministers of their g6veni« 
fbeat toid of tbeCharch. Nt>w if we dare do any 
tfaiogt against God ^ho makes bishops, tiien m^y 
BEACOKs dare to act against us by wbcuttj they are 

Even the least aSBsmvri part of this eotnparisoa 
is vGxy iKiseeialy : Bishops are, by io nUeans, to be 
constderod in the same light as ApostJb^-^IIb iMkt 
observation is, however^ Mric^y justi ^^ These are 

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CHAP, ^tbe begintUDgs of heresies, and the attempts of iU- 
^"^' , disposed schismatics to please tfaemsehres and to 
despise with haughtiness their superiors :^ ' He pro- 
ceeds td advise the bishop how to act concerning a 
turbulent lieacon ; and he does this with that happy 
mixture of firmness and charily, of which, by a pe- 
culiarly intuitive discernment, he seldom failed to 
abbw himself a master *. ' 

Geminius Victor, by his will, appointed Faij^- 
fitts, It presbj^, a guardian. In an African synod, 
Cypriaaaiid'.libt colleagues iiltote to the Church df 
Furnfb t • fffbtest agamst the practice. — The derj^y 
iteHBthetl looked xm ashmen wholly devoted to dime 
thitigs; secular cares wcrh taken out of their hands 
: as. much i9is possible. — Let this fact, also, be noted 
AS (Hie of the happy effects of the work of the Holy 
Ghost on the Church. 

Novattamsm had spread into Gaul ; and Mercian, 
bishop of the Church of Arelate, united bimseUf 
to the schism. Fauatinos, liishop oi Lyons, and 
fiQverdl other French bishops, wrote to Stephen of 
Rome on this subject Faustinus wrote, also, con- 
. cernii^ the same matter, to Cyprian of Carthage ; 
who, id a letter td Stephen^ supported the aiuse of 
the g^ieral; Church a^instthe schismatics. — ^Tliese 
facts are maDtioifed, for the purpose of showira how 
the Gospel, which had so gloriously begun at Lyons 
in the secoikl century, must now have spuead in 
France to a great d^ree.-~Contentions and schisms 
, usually have no place, till afior Christianity has 
taken dfiep root 

The same observation may be made respecting die 

• progress of Christianity in Spain ; where, by the 

iQScriptipna of Cyriac of Ancona, it appears that the 

light of truth had entered in Nero s tifaie. Two 

. Spaniab bishops, Basilictes and Martial, had deser- 

vetdiy lost their pastoral offices in the Church, on 

^ »(H^unt of tiifiir uoiakbfulness in the persecution. 

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Cyprian and his colleagues in council wrote to con- 
firm their deposition : He shows that the people no 
less than the clergy were bound to abstain firon^ 
communion with such characters; and he supports 
his argument by the directions of Moses to the 
children of Israel, " Depart, I pray you, from thei * 
tents of these wicked men/* He recommends*— 
that ordinations should be performed in the sight 
of all the people, that they might all have jan 
opportunity to approve or to condemn the cha- 
racters of thepersons ordained. He takes notice — < 
that, in Africa, die neighbouring bishops used to 
toeet in the place! where the new bishop was to be^ 
ordained ; and, that there he was chosen in the 
presence* of the people themselves, who kneW fully 
the fife dnd conversation of every candidate* He 
observes— ^that Sabinus, who had been substituted 
in the room of Basljlides, had been ordained in this 
fail" and equitable manner : and be censures Basilides 
for going to Rome, and for gaining by deceit, the 
consent of Stephen to his being re-iastated in his 
former dignity. Cyprian thinks — that his guilt was 
much aggravated by this conduct : and in regard to 
MBrticd, who, it seefns, had defiled hmiself with 
Pagan abominations, he insists, — that his deposition 
ought to remain confirmed. 

While these things show the unhappy spirit of 
linman depravity bearing down the most wholesome 
fences of discipline, they evince, that there existed 
persons at that time in tne Christian world, who ex^ 
crted themselves, — and that not wiUiout success,— 
to preserve the purity of Ae Church. — And, if ever 
it should please God to affect, with due care an(| 
zeal, the hearts of those, who possess thel power to 
reform our own ecclesiastical defects and abuses, 
better guides and precedents than these, — next to 
the Scriptures, — will scarcely be found. x. D. 

In the year two hundred and fifty-four, Pupian, 254^ 
* Epis. 68. 

y F 4 ' 

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440 HISTQl^T or THJP CfmiECH 

a Christian of 4i$tinctiou ia Ca,rtibi^gey b^ iettei 
accused Cyprian qf ruling the Church Mf jth wpcri^ 

ous sway; and of ejecting ipember^ firpn) i| witl| 

»ccusatiun great insolence and haughtiQe^fi. Th^ African pr^ 
of c>prun. i^^g jjj^j presided now during six je^s, 91^ hA4 
signalized himself;, equally V^. p^rsecMtipp ao4 U) 
peace, as the friend of piety, order, aii4 ^i^pliiMi 
and had exerted himself, ^ tt^^ u^e of qvj^ ten^;^ 
ral and spiritual faculty, solely for thi^ gppfii of ti^ 
falling and distempered Churcl^: hp s^w, by t^Mf 
time, the great success pf hi^ labours.; 9p4f it bWi 
behoved him to pay the ta^, wbMch (^loiqei^t; viftiif 
6ver does pay to slander aj]ud to envy,-:-A tp3|, 09 
doubti exceedingly irksome £jpddistre6^g;n»n^i^i^fr 
thel^ss, necessary to preuent the ri$ingp of pn4^ 
and to preserve the most enweut Qbristwi^ l^i^i^ 
befpre his pod. Pupiajfi believed, or affeo^i to 
believe yejy unjust rumours, lyhic^i w^ra c4fC^)#f4 
against his pastors aad s^id, that tinr scruplp of 
conscience, with vYhichhQw^ seized, pr^veq^him 
frqm owning the authority of Cyprian, ^fe himself 
had suffered during the persecutipn, sov^ l^d b«W 
faitliful; but, like Luciap, whom he, prohafclji r^r 
sembled both in virtues and weakn^as^, he wa$ db- 
gustcd at the backwardues^ of Cypriap ia rccoiving 
tliG lapsed. This nialcoi}tent heavily QoaipI%iQed of 
^is Si^ve^fity, while the Novatian party bad sepiur^ted 
from theif bishop qa;,iiccount of his lenity. Th* 
i>est Qnd wisest characters have ever beep inoBt 69* 
posed to such ipcoqsistent charges, {t 6fm not 
appear that j^upian wa^ able to raiso. a 4ft@094 90a( 
of dissenters on oppqsit^ grounds to tho9e of tbf 
i^rst : and w^ may hx>pe tb^t he reflectqd on hit 
error,, aiid returned into ^ statc^.of recoacili^M:^'witb 
ills bishop. A few e^^tracts fion^ CypriauVsiWwer^ 
— for we have not Pupian s letter.-^in^y tbrow 9^ 
stronger light on the tennper and pnocipl^f. of C^ 
prian, and afford us spm^ ss^Mtary i^^^ciptjoi^. 
To the charge of Pupian — that bf WM not pos- 

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a«^c4 of- buidiliiy, he »ii$wei»4hi]fl< '^ WUofa tif 
^ J3 nuwt deficierA w hijLo^H^?-*'!, who daily sarvt 
the bretbrw ; ^d whp, with kiqidpefts Md pleasure^ 
c^ceive eiy^ry oja/f whacooMiB to iN Church; or you, 
.who cQa^tttpte yom^lf the \fi^o^ of the biif^p» and 
li^p judgQ o( tiiiQ ipc}«appQintRd by Godib( a cav 
twi ^iQe? Th^ Lordi W th« <jk>spel, when it was 
i^d to hup, ' Aji^(^f^ thw the hi^ priest so V 
sdll |ire§ei*vU% th? ro^pect dim to tkw ncentobil 
ch^adn^r,! ^d votbifig %g«iaAt the high priest^ bufc 
qaly cli^^ hisown ipiiocfow : and St Paul, though 
he mig^t h^^ bOQC^ jus^fied im usbg atn»g laoguage 
Agimst thpsQ wt^ bfid crud^ the Ixund, 701 en^ 
fiwers, ^I wbtnot, brethren, thfit he was ^ H^ 
J^rktf; for i)t if writteRi tbot shaU not speak evil 
ojf ^ wifa?;of thy p^opW/ 
, ^^ tTnl^aS; jiftdiMi youwiHsay — kbat before the 
Der^ft^opi whra yoi^ woi^ i« cofDmuoion with m% 
X w9^ yottir pastor; k4% th|i:t alter the peiseoulioa I 
Cfi9^ to h^sa— I s>4ppoaey then, the persecution 
f^xalted yoM to tha hi^ hQiKHur of a witness £ot 
Christ ;^ and, at t^ ^wao tioif^ depreaaadme from 
ipy oflSce by ^ heavy peoscxiption : — yet,— the very 
i^cty which pfos^i^ me, acknowkictged my rank: 
^ a bisliop^ ; TbiBp^ ev#fi those, who believed not 
God who appqiats th6rt)ishop, cpedited the devil wh6 
proscribed lua^ 

^' I speak not thas^things in a way of boasting, but 
Tvith grief; sii^ypu set youraelf upasa^geof 
God and his Christ, who sayStto tiie Apostles,— andl, 
of conseqa^(>oet to ajil the bmhopa, the successors of 
the ApostleS) -*-' He that heareth you^ beareth me ; 
;snd hk that reject^ you, r^ectsth ma' — Hence 
heresies and sohisin mrise: and must arise, w-benever 
persons presamptuoqsly despise tbe autooriiyof the 
bisttop^ who alone is the president of the Church : — ; 
what arcog^tfica is this, —to eali pastors to toua 

^ The t^ict.niw tk^%^^^ Wkotvep skaH Jiold or possess any 
jptart of thft jy^ods, of C«ailHW Cyfftw, Insbop o£ tbt Chria' 

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443 Misffefet OF tHE CHlfRCH 

CHAP. Icoghizance ; dud anleiss they be acquitted M Youm 
ijar, — behold, — the brethren must be pronounced to 
JiRve been without a bishop for the last six years ! 

" You say your scruples must be solved : — buf; 
^Wby did not those martyrs, who, full of die Holy 
<jtho8t,»*-suffered for God and his Christ ; — ^Wby 
did not many of my Colleagues, and many of the 
people, who have been illustnous for their sufferings, 
indulge similar scruples? Must all — as you affirm — 
i¥bo have commuracated with me» be considered as 
polluted^ and as having lost the hope of eternal life? 
— Pufmn alone is upright,— inviolable, — holy, — 
•chaste: he must not mix with us : he must dwell 
tolitary in paradise ! !" 

He then exhorts him to return to the bo^rii .of 
the Church: but at the same time he informs Wm, 
that, in the matter of hia( re-admission, he shfell be 
£uided by intimations and fidtnonitiohs from the 
Lord, communicated to him possibly by visions and 
dreams. — ^This is a language not unusual in Cyprian : 
but we know too little of the mode of dispensation 
which the Church, at that time, was under, to judg^ 
accurately concerning it : — certainly the age of mi- 
racles had not tlien ceased : and, certainly, instruct- 
tion by dreams was very much the method used by 
God in Scripture :-r-TQ rejedl> therefore, wholly the 
positive declarations of a man of Cyprian's wisdom 
and veracity, would be inexcusable temerity. — He, 
repeatedly, speaks of ttie Lord's directbns revealed 
to him in the manner above mentioned. If some ex- 
pressions in tlie letter be allowed to favour of epis- 
copal haughtiness which was then growing in the 
Church, the main tenor of it, nevertheless, contains 
nothing but what Pupian ought to have attended 
to n^ost seriously. A readiness to believe stories, 
-which tend to calumniate the worthiest pastors, is 
e snare which Satan has too succes^lly laid for 
the men^rs of the Church in all ages : and, doubt- 
4ess, much greater circumspection is required on this 
head, than many are disposed to pay. The brotberiy 

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fellowship of Churches depends, in a great mea- cent. 
«ure, on their endeavours to preserve the unity of i^l^: JL 
the Spirit m the bond of peace. 

Cyprian concludes in this nervous manner: " I 
have veritten these things with a pure conscience, and 
in the firm reliance on my God. — You have my let- 
ters; I have yours; both will be recited in the day 
of judgment before the tribunal of Christ*." 

A controversy no\v arose among; Christians, while Controrer- 
the pacific spirit of Valerian continued to protect lig ^^^ 
them, which reflects no honour on any of the parties 
concerned in it. The question was, whether persons 
returning from heresies into the Church ought to be 
re-bapti^. The active spirit of Cyprian was em- 
ployed, partly by a council in Africa, and partly by 
his letters, in maintaining that the baptism of here- 
tics was nul) and void; and that even Novatian 
baptism ought t<if be looked upon in the same light. 
Stephen, bishop of Rome, maintained, that, if per- 
sons had been baptized in the name of the Fatiier, 
the Son, and the Holy Ghost, imposition of hands 
^ould then be sufficient for their reception into the 
.Church: '^The point vras left undecided, because no 
party had power to compel others; most Christians, 
however, have long since agreed with Stephen ; and, 
indeed, it is the voice of good sense as well as of Ae 
Church of England, — that the efficacy of a Sacra- 
ment, rightly administered, depends not on the cha- 
racter of him that ministers it. But the respect 
which Cyprian, not undeservedly, had acquired by 
his labours, his sufferings, and his abilities, procured 
him a much greater degree of strength than either 
the importance of his cause or the weight of his iar- 
euments merited. Even Firmilian of Cappadocia, 
m a long letter, supported his side of the question. 
— ^This bishop, occasionally, adverts to the case of a 
woman, who, about twenty- two years before the date 
t)f his tetter, had professed herself a prophetess, and 
•Epis. 69. 

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444 HIsn>]%T OF TH^ CHUflCH. 

CHAP, far a 4ong turn had deceived the brethren with bar 
^yjlji ecstatic raptures, till one of the exorcists confiited 
her pretensions. It may be worthwhile just to have 
mentioned this fiact, a& it shows that del vsicxis have 
ever been raised by Satan to di^raoe the ^ork of 
jGod, ' It appears by Ae same letter*, — that Ste- 
phen behaved with much violence and asperity in the 
contest ; — that be did not evei^ adpuk to atconibrenbe 
the breUiren who cao>e to hka froo» dbtaot parte, if 
they happened to be of Cyprian's opinion ;~biit 
that be denied them the commonr^ts of bo^itality. 
•^In the course of thi3 controver^ Cyprian decided^ 
and certainly with much jHopnel^, — that tbo8et> 
3¥hase weak state of health did not permit tbem to 
be washed in water, w^re yet sufficiently bapfi^ by 
bein^ sprinkled: — He observ^^, tbfttth^ virtue of 
bapbsm ought not to he eatimated^ in n caniid mai»- 
ner, by the quantity of external apparatus* 

How weak, alas, is man !— rA p6Ma<^ three yews 
has set the members of the Chui^ ma flaiM among 
themselves, — and ipr a matter of tri6iM importW 
And one of the best and wisest men of bis day, by 
^ for unity, and by caution against innovation;)^ 
is.betrajed into the support ^ an i^de^sn^ible, powt 
of mere ceremony^ wtueh tends to the encoiiri^e^ 
ment of superstidoo and the weakening of brotb^y 
iove! — How soon do we forgel that '^ the kingdom 
of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, mid 
Joy in the Holy Ghopt !''^ — With jp^hat difficulty ia the 
veal love of Jesus and its fruits preserved amof^ 
professors of Christianity! AU this proves in tbe 
strongest manner, — how m%hty and ^tracioiis the 
Lord is in still preaevviag a Chuiteh in Uie earth; — 
how dark and corrupt is man;— how actiw aod 
subtile is Satan;— how precbus is that blood which 
cleanses from all sm ;— and how true is tfaat book 
which contains these salutary dootr ines and fmthfuUy 
^iescribes the misery of man!— How sf^My SMy vt 
• Epis. 75* t Epi»* 7^ 

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ifdy Oft the nay of solvation which it ^eaeto; «d 
haw pteMB^ ia the prospect which it cmhibits of the 
Church kil^i^ca! 

The reader would justly think the time iil-aafr^ 
ployed m unntvdting the niceties of this trifling 
controversy. — Beeidas^ our attention is called to 
raoife koportsttt matter:— <jrod prepares a scourge 
far his fix>Ward diildren : Persecution lowers again 
with rtoewed strength ; and Christians are called 
on — to forget their idle internal squabbles, — ^to 
hnmble themselves before him, — and to prepare for 
fresh scenes of horror and des^tion. 



1 HE dutnge in the disposition of Valerian to- viiia 
wards Ac Christians^ which took pface about the ^^^ 
year of our Lord two hundred and fifty-seven, 
is one of the most memorable instances of the ^* ^* 
instabfnty of human diameters. In kittdhess to ^^^* 
them he had surpassed all his predecessors. Even 
from Philip they had not experienced so much cour- 
te^ and ftiendship. Hispsdacehad, usually, been 
fan of the folio wei^ of Jesus, and was looked on as a 
^anrtaary. But now, after he had reigned three years^ 
he was induced, by his favourite Macrianus to com- 
mence a deadly persecution. This man dealt largely 
in magteal enchantments and abominable sacrifices; 
lie slaughtered children, and tore out the intestines 
of new-born babes **• The persecution of Christians 
^asacrud employment, worthy of a mind so fascinated 
^9aA diabolical wickedness and folly ; and he found 
ID Valerian but too prompt a disciple. This fresh 
attack on the servants of Christ began in the year two 
hundred and fifty-seven, and continued during the 
itMaander of the rdgn of this emperor; — namely, 
♦ Dionysius of Alex.— Euicb. B. 7. C. io» 

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three years and a half. Stephen of Roooe afipears t^ 
have died a natural death about the begkming of it: 
For, there is no evidence of hb martyrdom ; and, 
therefore, we want the proofs which might, in that 
case, have been afforded, whether bis turUilent and 
aspiring spirit was really combined with .genuine 
Christian affections. — He was succeeded by Sixtus. 
. Cyprian, who bad escaped two persecutions, was 
now made the victim of the third, — though by slow 
degrees, and with circumstances of comparative 
lenity. Every thing relating to him is so interesting, 
that it may not be amiss to prosecute bis story, in a 
connected manner, to his death ; and to reserve the 
narrative of other objects of this persecution till 
afterwards. i 

He was seized by the servants of Patemus the 
proconsul of Carthage, and brought into his council- 
chamber. ** The sacred emperors. Valerian and 
Gallienus/' says Paternus, "havedone me the honour 
to direct letters to me, ia which they have decreed, 
that all men ought to adore the gods whom the Ro- 
mans adores and on pain of being slain with the 
sword if they refuse. I Iftiv^ heard that rou despise 
the worship of the gods ;— whence I advise you to 
consult for yourself and to honour them." ^^ I am a 
Christian," replied the prelate, ^^ and know no god 
but the one true God, who created heaven and eartl^ 
the sea, and all things in them. This God we Chris- 
tians serve: To him we pray night and day for ^ 
men, and even for the emperors.** " You will die 
the death of a malefactor, if you persevere in this 
disposition of mind *." ^^ That is a good dispo^tioD 
which fears God," answered Cyprian, " and therefore 
it must not be changed." " It is the will, then, of 
the princes, that, for the present, you should be 
banished." " He is no exile," replied the bishop^ 
'^ who has God in his heart, for the earth is the 
Lord's, and the fulness thereof." Patemus said, 

* The passioD of Cyprian in Pam. Edit. — ^Fleuiyi UuuB^J* 

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MAfiTTBPO^ OP C7i»IAir«r 447^ 

V Be&fte you^^ tell me^-r-wher^ are your ptesby*^ cent. 
ter3 : Th^ arewid to be in thisdty ?**— With much .^^''; ^ 
presence of mind, Cyprian ranmded him of the 
edicts made by the best Roman princes against the 
practice of informers: '^ They ou^t not, Uierefore, 
to be discovered by me; and you yourselves dp not 
approve of men^ ni^o offer themselves voluntarily to 
you.** " I will make you discover them by torments." 
^' By me," the intrepid bishop rejoii^, " they shall 
not be discovered.'" ^' Our princes have ordered that 
Christians should hold no convaiticles; and whoever 
breaks this rule shall be put to death.'' ^^ Do what 
you are ordered," Cyprian calmly replied 

Patemus, however, was not disposed to hurt 
Cvprian. Most probably he respected the character 
of the man, who, by this time, must have been highly 
esteemed hi Africa on account of a shining series of 
good works. ' After havbg made some ineffectual at- 
tempts to work on his fears, he sent him into banish^ 
ment to Curubis, a little town fifty miles from Car- 
thage, situate by the sea, over against Sicily. The 
place was healthy, the air good, and, by his own 
desire, he had private lodj^ngs. The citizens of 
Curubis, during the eleven months which he lived ' 
among uiem, treated him with great kindness; and 
he was repeatedly visited by the Christians. — In this 
short interval Patemus died. 
[ While the exiled prelate remuned by the sea-side 
serving hb divine Master in holy meditations and 
useful actions to the best of his power and opportu* 
nity, he was informed that the persecutors had seized 
nine bishops, with several priests and deacons, and a 
great number of the frdthful, even virgins and children; 
and, after beating them with sticks, had sent the^i 
to work in the copper-mines among the mountains. 
Every one of these bishops had been present at the 
last council of Carthage ; their names were Nemesian, . 
Felix, Lucius, a second Felix, litteu^, Polus, Victor, 
Jader^ and Dativus. I cannot account for the milder 

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trmtamit wh|eh Cyprian received ftoti Cbe ItoriMui 
govemdrs in any other \ray than by ^opposing, tiM; 
8ti eifitraordin&ry and reverential redpeet wad paid tiy 
his si3peri<»* qoaMty, labours, and Yirtoes. Be ihttt 
as it m6£ff Providence <^rtainly fevotrred him itt ^ 
peculiar manner. But bis sympathising spirit cooNt 
net but be witti his brethren :— His sentiments dind 
liis feelings are strongly expressed in a letter to 
Namesidd and the rest. 

•* Your glory requires, blessed and beloved 
brethren, that I ought to come and emfatace yoo, 
vrerei it not that the eonfiession of die same name 
has confined me also to this plac^ : but i^ it be fyt-^ 
bidden me to come to you in body, I am present 
with you in spirit and afiectbn ; and I endeavour to 
express my very soul to^ you in letters.— How do I 
exult itiyour honours^ and reclton myself a partiter 
wfcb you, — tfiough not in 8uflFeriftg,-**yet in the ftJ- 
lo«rship of love ! — How can I hold my peace, wheir 
I hefitr sitch glorious thmgs of dearest breAren ? Horr 
hath the Divine dispensations honoured you ! Part of 
y»u have eiveady finished the course of martyrdom^ 
and are now receiving cmwns of righteousness fhntt 
Uie Lord ; and the rest, as yet in prisons, or in mine^ 
and bonds, exhibit, in the tedioushes&r of their affile^ 
tliMis, still greater examples of patience and perse- 
verance, which will arm and strengthenthe brethren, 
at the same time that these long-continued torments 
witt advance the sufferers to a higher proficiency to 
€liri9Cia& glory, aild ensure to them a proportion^ 
mv^rd in heaven. 

^ In truth, — that the Lord has thus honoured yOo, 
affords^ me no surprise when I reflect ort your blime* 
less liv>es and faithfulness ; your firm adfaerencetothe 
divine ordnance ; your integrity, concord, homillt^v 
<iiKgence; mercy in cherishing the poor; constant 
.ijrt ch^nee of the truth ; and strictness: of Christian 
'' dtsdipline : — And, that nothing might be wantiifg' iit 
jtouas' patterns dfgoodworfc^ cvextriow, bycoii- 

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le^sipn with the mouth and by suffering vvitii the body, cent. 
you stir up the minds of the brethren to divine mar- , }^^ 
tyrdom, and distinguish yourselves as leaders of 
eminent goodness; nor do I doubt, but that the 
■flock will imitate their pastors and presidents, and 
be crowned, in like manner, by our common Lord. — 
That you have been grievously beaten with clubs, 
imd have been initiated, by that punishment, in 
Christian confession, is a thing not to be lamented. 
The body of a Christian trembles not on account of 
clubs: All his hope is in wood*. The servant of 
Christ acknowledges the emblem of his salvation : 
Redeemed by a cross of wood to eternal life, by this 
wood he is advanced to liis crown. O happy feet ! 
shackled indeed at present with fetters; ye wilj 
quickly finish a glorious journey to Christ ! — Let 
mcdice and cruelty bind you as they please, ye will 
soon pass from earth and its sorrows to the kingdom 
of heaven. — In the n^ines ye hijivc not a bed on w hich 
the body may be refreshed ; — nevertheless, Christ is 
your rest and consolation : Your limbs are fatigued 
with labour and lie on the ground : but, so to lie 
down, -wheu you have Christ with you, is no punish- 
ment. — Filth and dirt defile your linjbs, and ye have 
no baths at hand ; but, remember, ye are inwardly 
washed from all uncleanness. — Your allowance of 
bread is but scanty ; be it so, — man doth not live by 
bread alone, but by the word of God. Ye have no 
proper clothes to defend you from the cold ; — but he, 
who has put on Christ, is clothed abundantly." 

He afterwards comforts them, by suitable argu- 
ments, under the loss of means of grace and of 
public fvorship ; and speaks of the Lord as rewaading 
the patience and fortitude of his saints, which virtues 

^ I observe* OBce fur all, — that the want of a just classical 
U&te like tl^at of the Augustan age, and the excess of false 
rhetorical ornaments, appear every where in Cyprian's writings. 
This was not the defect of the man, but of the times : asd &e 
fDcavV^ess of the pun in this place will be forgiven by ail, who 
relish the juieciattsness of the doctriiM connecud wiih it. 

VOL, 1. G G 

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CHAP, are indeed his own work in their hearts. ** For it 
is of him that we conquer; it is not ye that speak, 
but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." 
— He shows, hence, tlie great sin of unbelief — in 
not trusting him who promises his aid to those who 
^ confess him, and in not fearing him who threatens 

eternal punishment to those who deny him. In con- 
clusion, he begs their earnest prayers, — that he and 
they may be freed from the snares and the darkness 
of the world ; and that those, who, in the bond of 
love and peace, had stood together against the in- 
juries of heretics and the pressures of the heathen, 
might together rejoice in the celestial mansions*, 

Nemesian and the other bishops returned hiih an 
answer full of affection and gratitude, from three 
different places in which they were confined ; and 
they acknowledge the pecuniary assistance which he 
had sent them. 

Cyprian wrote also to Rogatian the younger, and 
to other confessors who were in prison, — most pro- 
bably, at Carthage: — He animates them in his usual 
manner, " to despise present afflictions through the 
hope of future joys;" and he speaks with much plea- 
sure of some women and boys who were partners of 
their sufferings. He recommends to them the ex- 
ample of the elder Rogatian, and of the ever peace- 
able and sober Felicissiujusf, who had consum- 
mated their martyrdom already. 
Cyprian re- Jn the year two hundred and fifty-seven, Cyprian 
wile. *^ was permitted to return from exile ; and he lived in 
A. D. a gaixien near Carthage, which was now providen- 
957 • tially restored to him, though he had sold it at bis first 
conversion. His liberal spirit would have inclined 
him once more to sell it for the relief of the needy, 
if he had not feared lest he should excite the envy 
of the persecutors. Here he regulated the affairs ot 

* Epis. 7S, 79, 80. 

t ,He thus distinguishes this humble, patient martyr, from 
the factious character of the same name. £pi8. 8i. 

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the Church and dfetriboted to the poQrwbat he had cent. 
left He sent messengers to Rome for the purpose 
of clearing up certain indistinct information which 
bad been. received concerning the persecution having 
broken out afresh; and he immediately communi- 
cated to the brethren* tlie following facts, namely — 
That Valerian had given orders that bishops, presby* 
ters, and deacons should be put to death .witliout 
delay ; — that senators, noblemen, and knights should 
be degraded and deprived of their property;, and, 
that if they still persisted in bemg Christians, they 
shouldlose their lives; — thatwomen of quality should 
be deprived of their property and banished ; — and 
that all Caesar's freedmen, who should have con- 
fessed, should be stripped of their goods, be chained, 
and sent to work on his estates. These were Vale- 
rian s directions to the senate ; and he sent letters, 
to the same effect, to the govemprs of provinces : 
" These letters," said Cyprian, " we daily expect to 
arrive. We stand, however, in the firmness of faith, 
in patient expectation of suffering, and in humble 
hope of obtaining, from the Lord's help and kind^ 
ness, the crown of eternal life." He mentions also 
the daily ferocity with which, — he understood, — the 
persecution was carried on at Rome in all its hor* 
rors : and, he gives a particular instance of it, in the 
martyrdom of Xystus the bishop. — He begs that 
the intelligence may be circulated through Africa ; 
*' That we may all think of death; but not more of 
death than of immortality ; and, that, in the iulnesi 
of faith, we may, rather with joy than with fear, ex- 
pect the approaching events." 

Galerius J\faximus had succeeded Paternus in 
the proconsulate and Cyprian was daily expected 
to be sei^ for. In tins awful crisis a number of 
senators and o^rs, considerable for their offices 
or tb(ji)r quality, came to him. Ancient friendship 
nelted the mii^ds of some of them towards him; 

G G 2 

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iii HlfttOlit 0» THE CHUftCH. 

mAP. ^tnd they dfl^ed to ccmceal bkn ki countiy^-plaees ; 
but his Soul was now thirsting for martyrdom. 
The uncertainty of tedious banishment could not 
be agreeable to one, who had had so much experi- 
ence of that kind ; and, Valerian s law being express* 
ly levelled at men of his character, there seemed little 
probability left of his being long concealed. Further, 
I believe the g^nerotjus temper of this prelate wouM 
have been hurt, if the safety of his former pagan 
iriends had been endangered on bis account He 
might, therefore, hesitate to accept their ofiera, 
though, according to the steady maxims of his con- 
scientious prudence, he would, by no means, do 
any thing to accelerate his own death. Pontius 
bis deacon tells us, — that in opposition to the intern* 
perate zeal of thosQ who were for giving themselves 
up to the martyrdom^ Cyprian had always on this 
head consdentious fears, lest he should displease God 
by throwing away his life. In fact, he continued still 
at Carthage, exhorting the faithful, and wishing, tlutt 
when he should suflFer martyrdom, death might find 
him tiius employed in the service of his God. Being 
Informed, however, that the proconsul, then at Utica, 
had sent soldiers for him, he was induced to comrply, 
for a season, with the advice of his friends, by re- 
tiring to some place of concealment, that he might 
not suffer at Utica, but, — that if he was called to 
jJMTtyrdom, — he mi^t finish his life among his own 
people at Carthage : So he stales the matter m the 
last of his letters to the clergy and the people. 
^ Here in this concealment, I wait for the retara 
of the proconsul to Carthage, ready to appear be- 
fore him, and to say what shall be given me at the- 
hour. Do you, dear brethren, — Do you, agreeably 
to the instructions you have always received from tM, 
continue still and quiet : Let none of you excite tmy 
tumult on account of the bretfiren, or ofifer hhnself 
voluntarily to the Gentiles. — He, who is seized an* 
delivered up, ought to speak : The Lord, wlio dwells 

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mos^ triH speak at that hour: Confession ra&er 
than profession is our duty." 

The proconsul returned to Carthage^ and Cy- 
prian returned to his garden. There he was seized 
by two officers, who had been^eut with soldiers for 
that purpose. They obliged him to sit between 
themselves in a diariot ; and they conv^ed him to 
a place named Sextus, six miles from Cartht^e, by 
the sea-side. The proconsul lodged there on account 
of indisposition; and be gave orders that Cyprian 
9boa\d be carried back to the house of the chief 
officer, about the distance of a stadium* irom the 
prsetorium ; and— that the consideration of the bu-^ 
siness should be deferred till the next day.-n^Tbe 
news spread tiirough Carthage : The celebrity <^tba 
bishop, on account of his good wbrks, drew prodi4 

fious crowds to the scene ; not only of Christians^ 
ut of infideb, who reverkl eminent virtue in dis^ 

The chief officer guarded him,**-'but, in a cour- 
teous manner; so that he was permitted to have 
his friends about him as usual. The Christians 
passed the night in the street before his lodgings; 
and the benevolence of Cyprian moved hhn to direct 
a particular attentbn to be paid tothe young women 
who were anK)ng the multitude. The next day the 
proconsul sent for Cyprian, who walked to the pne^ 
torium attended by a vast concourse of people. The 
proconsul not yet appearing, be was ordered to wait 
for him in a private place. He sal down, and being 
in a great perspiration, a soldier, who had been a 
Christian, offered him fi^esh clothes : ** Shall we," says 
Cyprian, ** seek a remedy for that which may last 
no longer than to-day?" The arrival of the pro- 
consul was announced, and this venerable servant 
of Christ was brought before him into the judgment- 
hall. — '* Are you Thascius Cyprian?'' ^ " I am," 
" Are you he whom the Christians call their 

• A kimdrtod and twenfty-fiv« paces, 
OG 3 

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CHAi*. bishop ? " " I am.": *^ Our prioote^btv* ordered 
^^^Jl_r you to worship the goda." " That I Will not do." 
"' Y6u wpuld judge better to consult your safety, 
and not to despise the gods." " My safety and 
my strength is Christ the Lord, whom I desire to 
serve, for ever." " I jpity your case," 3ays ^the pro- 
consul^ /* and, could wish to conault for you.'* '*! 
have no; desire^" says the prelate, " that things 
should he otherwise with me, than that I n^y adore 
my God, and hasten to him mth all the ardour of 
my souh-r-rfor the afflictions of this present time 
are not worthy to ba. compared with the glory which 
shall be revealed in us.': The proconsul grew red 
witfi anger;, and imniedia^ly pronounced sentence 
of jdieath; in tiie following teareas :— " You. have lived 
sacrilegicmsly a long time ; you have formed a so- 
cietjrof iixi{Hous conspirators ; you hj«ve shown your- 
self an enemy to. the gods and their religion, and 
have not hearkened to the equitable counsels of our 
princes ; yojii have.evier been a father and a ringlead- 
er of the impious* sect. — You shall, therefore, be an 
example to the rest, — that, by the shedding of your 
blood> they may learn their duty. Let Thascius 
Cyprian, who refuses. to sacrifice to the gods, be 
put to death by the sword.' "God be prabed!" 
said the martyr; and while they were leading him 
•away, a multitude of the, .people followed and cried, 
'* I^t us die with our holy bishbp." 
^'^c ''^riwi ^ troop of soldiers ^attended the martyr ; and th^ 
* A^^iir offic^^s marched on each side of himi They led him 
258* into a plain surrounded with trees, and many climb- 
ed up to the top of (hem, to see him at a distanca 
Cyprian took off his mantle, and fell on his knees 
and worshipped his God : then he put off his inner 
garment and remained in his shirt. — The execu- 
tioner being come, Cyprian ordered twenty-five gol- 
den denarii to be given to him : lie himself bound 
.the napkin over his own eyos ; and a presbyter and 
a deacon tied his hands, and the (Jbris^aos placed 

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before him napkins and handkerchiefs to receive bis 
blood. — His head was then severed from his body 
by the SAvord*. 

His biographer Pontius represents himself as 
wishing to have died with him ; and, as divided be- 
tween the joy of his victorious martyrdom, and sor- 
row, that himself was left behind. 

Thus, — after an eventful and instructive period 
of .about twelve years since his conversion, — after a 
variety of toils and exercises among friends, and open 
foes and n6minal Cljristians, by a death more gentle 
than commonly ffell to the lot of martyrs, rested at 
l^igth in Jesus the truly magnanimous and benevo- 
lent spirit of Cyprian of Carthage. — An extraordi- 
nary personage, surely ! And one, whose character 
calls for the most distinct review and illustration in 
our power. — An attempt of this sort we would make 
in the next chapter, however imperfect, or inadequate 
it may prove. — Let writers, whose views are secular, 
celebrate their heroes, their statesmen, and their 
philosophers ; but let us, — even though a Christian's 
taste be derided, — at least take advantage of the rare 
felicity of the present times of civil liberty, and, en- 
deavour, in employing the press, to do some justice 
to the virtues of men, who, while they lived, " set 
their affections on things above," and who, after 
death, — according to modern sentiments of worth 
and excellence, — are, almost, assigned to con- 
temptuous oblivion. And, may their memorial 

be blessed for ever ! ! 



1 UE east and the west beheld at the same time these 
two men, in talents, activity, and attainments much 
superior to the rest of the Cl^fistian world. The 

* Acts of his Martyrdom. Passiou of Cyprian in Pam. 
Pontius's Life of Cyprian, and Fleury's History. 
G G 4 

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Hdmah seems, beyond contradiction, to Imve much 
e?tcelled the Grecian in those things in which true 
Christian virtue consists ; yet, as the latter, by thd 
FRUITS of his life, — thoug^h they were miserably tar- 
nished and clouded by a depraved philosophy, — still 
claims a just place among saints, it may ai^wer 
some valuable purpose, not impertinent to the de* 
liigh of this History, to compare, in several particu- 
lars, the respective endowments, defects, and excel- 
lencies of these extraordinary men. 

1 . There may have been as pious and holy men 
as Cyprian, in the interval df time between thd 
Apostles and him, but we have no opportunity of 
knowing any other Christian so well. The distinct 
particularity of the accounts concerning him makes 
his character remarkably deserving of our atten- 
tion. The dealings of God with a sinner, at bis 
first conversion, often give a strong tincture to the 
whole future life. Cyprian was intended for very 
rreat and important services in the Church; and^ 
niose — of an active nature, and attended with an 
almost uninterrupted series of sufferings; — such ai 
no man could perform to the glory of God, but 
one, who knew assuredly ihe ground on which he 
ttodd, by a strong work of liie Divine Spirit on hi^ 
»oul. His experience in convtsrsion he himself de- 
scribes in his letter to Donatus. — His reception of 
Christianity was not the effect of mere reasoning 
dr speculation. It was not carried on in a scho- 
lastic or philosophical manner, but may truly be 
said to have been " in the demonstration of the 
Spirit and of power." He felt the doctrines of the 
Gospel, — namely, the gr^ce of , God ; forgiveness of 
sins by Jesus Christ; and the influence of Uie 
Hojy Ghost, — powerful, exuberant, and victorious. 
Mis soul was brought into tlie love of God, and 
that of the purest kind, tempered ever with hu- 
mility and godly fear : and it is evident — that 
he always saw tlie work to be of God, and beheld 
nothing in himself as wise, holy, and glorious ; and 

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tiiat a Spirit of thankfulness for recteeibing hnre^ of 
simple dependence on the divine promises^ and| 
of steady charity to God and man^ was the result 
His race was of no long duration ; only about twelve 
years; and byfiEur the greater part of the time he waA 
iMshop of Carthage. He lived a Christian life ; and 
no part of it was exempt frotn much labour or ibuch 
affliction. He seems never to have known what it 
was to settle into a lukewarm state. The fire wbidi 
was first kindled in him, burnt serene BXtd steady ta 
the end of his days.— rl am aware that Mosheim 
chaises him with an ambitious, domineerii^ spirit^ 
tiiat invaded the rights of the lower clergy «id peo^ 
pie*. But I take the liberty of assuring the cautious 
reader, that this excellent smd very judicbus 8£C«^ 
hAK historian, is dot to be trusted in bis aecoin^ of 
men of real holiness. From the most attei^ve 
review which I have been able to mafce of th^ cim* 
rpcter of tl)e African prelate^ by a repeated perusal 
of the existing evidence, especially bis epistles, I 
cannot see any thing on which to ground sodi a cen^ 
sure. He did notlun^ in general^ without the der^ 
gy^and people. He wlia ever sedulous in promoting 
the good of the whole. The episcq)al aothority was^ 
in bis time, at no very blomeable height in tbe 
Church: nevertheless, through the gradual growth of 
sup^stition, it was, naturally, advancing to an ex* 
cess of dignity ; and itis not to bedeniied thatsomefevT 
expres^ons savouring of haughtiness and asperity 
are to be found in the writings of Cyprian. — But 
these few expressbns were evidently the effect of 
particular provocation ; — nor is there the least evi- 
dence that ambition was his vice. Candour would 
rather say, he was, in general, influenced by a very 
fervent zeal, supported in its exertions by a temper 
remarkably active and sanguine. But, whoever looks 
into the original records with an expectation of find- 
ing any thing selfish, proud, or domineering in his 
• Eccles. Ilistory, Geotury III. Ghap. ». 

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general conduct, wiH be disappointed ; and, on the 
contrary, will be struck i^ith tlie steady tenor of 
f^ntleness, charity, and humility. In fine, it he bad 
not been a Christian, one might have held him 
forth to the world as a great man; — if it be tb« 
part of a great man to unite, in a large and capacious 
mind, many viitues, and each of them in a high de- 
gree of perfection ;— ^virtues too, which are opposite 
in thehr nature, and ^^ hich rarely meet in firm con* 
ststencem the same subject ;---for example, vigpur 
and mildness, magnanimity and mercy, fortitude and 
prudenoe^ warmth of temper and accuracy of judg- 
ment, wad, above all, — zeal and discretion. 

In Origin's conversion we see nothing remarkable. 
He received Christianity in a way of education, 
rather than by quick, lively, and decisive operations 
of the Holy Spirit. It is not usual with God to make 
use of SUCH persons for extraordinary services, like 
those for which Cyprian, in the prime of life, ap« 
pears to have been selected firom the world. Origen 8 
views> of the peculiar truths of Christianity were, — 
to say no more, too feint and general,* — nor ever 
SUFFICIENTLY distinguished from moral and phi- 
losophical religion. He bore persecution, when 
young, w ith much zeal and honesty ; but he lived 
many years in peace and prosf^erity. Much re^ 
spected: and sought after by philosophers, hi^ly 
esteemed and honoured by courts and by the great, 
he lived a scholastic rather than an active life in the 
Church; always fully employed indeed, but more 
like a man of letters Uian a minister of the Gospel ; 
ever bent on promoting truth and holiness so fer 
as he knew ilieui ; but always leaving one s mind 
dissatisfied on account of the defectiviyiess of his 
views. His last scenes are the most satisfactory 
and the most decisively Christian* He suffered per- 
secution with the patience and honesty of u martyr; 
and proved indeed whose disciple he was cm the 
whole. Moshemi charges him with dishonesty in 

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his argiimeotB gainst Celsib; and says, fhat "sny 
oce that has penetration and judgment may discern 
it*. It would have been more to the purpose to 
have pointed out the instances of dishcniest argu- 
mentation, wlBch he alludes to. My examination 
of tbe tract in question induces me to dissent ^om 
this learned hisloiian ; and further, I am convinced 
that ^Feat upiigbtDess of mind was a ruling feature 
in Origen s cki^mdier. — But it is. not the practicex)f 
modem writers to be candid in their judgment of 
the ttocient Christian^ 

• After .this genec^Krevaew of these two. men,, and, 
after it has been admitted ithat integrity and fiiimess 
of mind were possessed t^botii in a very great de- 
jjrefe, it may be natural* itd ask — In what consisted 
the superior excillecice : of Gyprian ? — ^The genercd 
answer to such an ^iquiry is — Tht manner of their 
first conversion has appeared to have been strikitigly 
different in i the two cases ; and still more so— The 
work of God upon thdr heai^ afterwards. — But 
besides tbiS) — 

2; Cyprian was possessed of a simplicity erf t a ste 
to which Origen seems ever to have beena stranger. 
By simplicity of taste I mean here a genuine and 
unadnherated relish for the doctrine and sjMrit of 
the Christian religion, just as it stands in its real 
nature* It is possible for a person very eminent in 
this gift, — which is purelj divine and spiritual, — ^to 
be, in no way, remarkable for hi^ knowle^^ of 
evangelkral truth : In respect of knowledge he may 
not muehtexceedt another who is far his inferior in 
the former graoaof the Spirit : The light and means 
of information iure .very diflferient in different ages of 
the Church ; and,it<isreArident that the third century 
suffered a decline in illumination. But where a man 
IS deticient in knowledge, yet if his simf^ity of 
Christian taste be very great, he will be silent on 
those subjects which he does not understand, or at 
* Moeheun's Eccl. History, Century III, Chap. 3. 

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leftit be tvill be extremely cautious in i^ppomgmty 
part of divine truth. This was Cyprian's case. He 
appears not, for instance, to have understood the 
doctrine of the election of grace. Smce Justin's 
liays the knowledge of that article of &ith was de* 
fiartii^ froni the Church. — But, he opposed it not 
•'-^Origeni less humUe and less submissive to divine 
kistruetion, and feeling more resources in his reason- 
ing powers, dares to oppose it by a contrary state^ 

In Cyprian this simplicity appears in a supreme 
degree.— He never trifles with Scriptmre, or sets up 
Us reason against it Uniencumbcned wkb the ap- 
paratus of Grecian f^osophy, and possessed of 
ivhat is much better, — ^plain good fletise, be takes, 
Always, the words of Scripture in tfaeir obvious, and 
■MMt natural meaning ; and thinks he has sufficiently 
ptonred his point, when he has supported it by an 
apposite quotation. His humble spirit bows to the 
divkie word: and hence fiuth« patience, charity^ 
heavenly-mindedness, have full dominion in his soul : 
and faeace c^, bis senttmenis have a strength, 
a purity^ a perspicuity, peculiarly the property of 
those whose rel^ous taste is altogether scripturaL 
Here it is that Cyprian and Origen are diametrically 
opposite to each o\b&r. The latter is full of endless 
a]3^cnical inter[Mretations, and c^ platonic notioos 
^coHcektiing the soul of the world, the transmigratioil 
ef sfHrits, free-will, and the pre^exislence of souls^. 
Tbe first and simple sense of Sciipture be too often 
ventures to rgect entirely f* David's sin in the 
affitir of Uriah he cannot admit It seems, be had 
not such stroi^ and palpable proof of bis own innate 
depravity, as to suppose it possible for so good a 
man lo iall so foully. He has recourse, therefore, 
to a hidden and abstruse sense. His numberless 
oonimeats on Scripture constitute a system of fonct'- 
ful allegory, which pervades the whole of the sacred 
* Phllocalia xxi. f PliiIoc.Cb«^ i^ psge^o. 

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orades : The just and pbin sense is much neg- 
lected ; and the whole is covered with thick clouds 
of mysticism and chimerical philosophy. He kbours, 
it is true, to support the faith, which was once de- 
Kvered to the saints ; but, like his platonic master 
Ammonius, he introduces large quantities of figura- 
tive trash, which will not incorporate with Christian 
doctrine. — ^Thus, by accommodating his interpreta- 
tions to the then reignitig literary taste, he gained 
to himself, indeed, a celebrity of character among 
lihe heathen, even among the great and noWe, but 
threw all things into inextricable ambiguity. — His 
quickness of parts and his superior ingenuity served 
mily to entangle him more effectually, and to eniMe 
bim to move in the chaos of his own formation 
with an ease ai)d rapidity that rendered him un- 
conscious of the difficulties in which he bad involved 

One remarkable consequence of this difference of 
character was, that while Origen, among the pagans, 
succeeded in gaining the favour of the great, 
and was heard by them with patience, Cyprian 
could not be endured in his preaching or writings, — 
except by real Christians. — Another consequence is 
tfiis, — It is no easy thin^ to vindicate the soundness 
of the former in Christian principles : — The latter 
challenges the severest scrutiny. — He is chrisdan 

Such is the difference between a man of simplicity 
and a man of philosophy in religion ; and the mind, 
on this occasion, is led to compare the eflfect of a 
philosophical and of a philological spirit. Origen 
had the former, Cyprian the latter. Eloquence was 
it IS distinguishing accomplishment; and he pos- 
iessed dt the powers of it in a very high degree, ac^ 
cording to the taste of the age, — which was far from 
being the best. And here, I would humbly submit 
to the consideration of the pious and well-disposedf 
—whether the knowledge of gratnmar, history, criti- 

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cism, and of oratory, theoretical and practical, pro- 
perly regulated by common sense and in subordi- 
nation to divine grace, be not much less dangerous^, 
and, in their way. more useful endowments for a 
minister of Christ, thati deep researches into philo- 
sophy of any kind ? — Far, very far, fi^om meaning 
to insinuate that thcstudies of metaphysics and ^ 
natural philosophy should be entirely excluded from, 
the education of persons, who mean to be pastors, 
— I would be understood to suggest, — that a les^ 
proportion of THESE, and a greater proportion of 
THOSE than what agrees with, the present fashionable 
taste, might be more advantageous to the Church. 
The reasoning powers might nnd in the former aa 
useful exercise and improvement, without the same 
danger of presumption which so strongly adheres 
to the latter *. 

3. Having compared the lives and the tempers of 
these men, let us now view the PRrxciPLEs of each. 
Of Cyprian, after the many quotations already givea 
from his writings, little needs be added- Neverthe- 
less, as it has lain more in our way to consider him 
as addressing Christians than pagans or infidels, I 
shall select a letter.of his to Demetrian, a persecutor 
of Christians in Africa, in which his manner of 
preaching to men altogether profane and uncon- 
verted is observablci. 

He denounces to them the plain threatenings of 
eternal punishment '* There remains hereafter f 
an eternal prison, constant flame, and perpetual 
punishment There the groans of supplicants will 
not be heard, because here they disregajcded the ter- 
ror of God's indignation." He bids them solemnly 
look into themselves, and appeals to the conscience 
as aftbrding full proof of guilt before God. And 

\* These sentiments are certainly ^vonred l^ the coo^^ 
•on of C>prian and Origen.— It is true, this is only a sii^ 
instance of such comparison:— but, I believe, it will be ver/ 
difficult to find examples of a contrary tendency. 
'•4 P^in^ad Depietrian. ,, . - 

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be aggravates the charge of condemtiation, because, 
amidst the miseries of tiie times, men did not re* 
pent- After exposing the folly 6f idolatry, and ex-* 
hibiting, in lively colours, the all-iniportant scenes 
of the last judgment, he concludes with this Chris- 
tian exhortation, which is introduced in the true taste 
and order of things, after he had first denounced 
the terroi's of the law. " Provide then for* your se- 
curity and life, while you may. We offer you the 
most salutary counsel ; and because we are for- 
bidden to hate you or to requite evil, to exhort you, 
while there is time, to please God and to emerge 
from the profound night of superstition into the 
fair light of true religion. We envy not your ad- 
vantages, nor db we hide the divine benefits. We 
return good will for your hatred ; and, for the tor- 
ments and punishments, which are inflicted upon 
us, we show you the paths of salvation. — 'Believe, 
and live ; and do ye, who persecute us for a time, 
rejoice with us for ever. When you depart hence, 
there will be no room for repentance : no method 
of being reconciled to God : hare, eternal life is 
either lost or secured ; here, by the worship of God 
and the fruit of taith, provision is made for eternal 
salvation : — ^and let no man be retarded, either by 
his sins or by his years, ftom coming to obtain it. 
No repentance is too late, while a man remains io 
this world. 

" An access lies opai to the grace of God ; and, td 
those, who seek and understand the truth, the access 
is easy. Even, in the very exit of life, pray for re- 
mission of sins, and implore the only living and true 
God with confession and fiuth ; Pardon is granted 
to him who confesses his sin ; and saving grace 
from the divine goodness is conferred on tiie believer ; 
and, thus may a man pass from death to immortality 
in his very last moments. By subduing death 
tfaifoui^ tbe trophy of his dross, by redeeming the 
believer with tbe.price df his blood) by peconciling 

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man to God the Father, and by quickeraog the dead 
with celestial regeneratkm, Christ imparts to us these 
great mercies. Him, if it be possible^ let us all 
follow ; — let us be baptized in tm name. He opens 
to us the way of life ; he brings us back to paradise. 
He leads us to the heavenly kingdom : and we ahaU 
always live with him. By him made sons of God> 
we shall rejoice with him for ever : Redeemed by his 
Mood, we shall be Christians with Christ in glory^: 
we shall be the blessed of God the Father ; and 
^11 give him thanks to all ^bemity.-^Tbe man, who 
was ^Snqoxious to death, and has been made a sure 
partaker ^ immortality, cannot but be filled with 
joy and gratiiude for evermore." 

With such an affectionate spirit, and with such 
deamess of doctrine did Cyprian preadi justification, 
0T FAITH ONLY, to the uncouverted. It must not be 
dfinied,' — that, in his address to men, who had ^ready 
^^ lasted that the Lord is gracious," there is not the 
^ame degree of evangelical purity. In his treatise 
on Good Works, be says very exedlent things on the 
duty of alms-giving : but he sometimes uses lan*^ 
. guage that might easily be construed into the Ian* 
guage of merit; and as he had not learnt to distin- 
guish the Apocrypha from the Old Testament, he 
supports his ideas with quotations fi'om Tobit and 
Ecelesiasticus. We have had, — what he had not, — 
an experience of the evil tendency of any expres- 
sk>ns which, in the smallest degree, countenance 
the wpposition of tlie efficacy of human works in 
wasliing away the pollution of sin^ whether contracted 
before or after baptism. We know too, ftx>m the 
^peoftence on divine grace and on the Spirit's illu* 
pimntioD, which Cyprian and many other fathers of 
the same stamp habitually exercised, — ^besides the 
testiniony of their holy lives, — that the same ex- 
pressions mean not with them what they do in the 
mouths of modern^, full of self-righteoasness asd 
of contempt bo^ of the gniu^e of Christ and of the 

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work of the Hdy Ghost We arc sure, that the cent. 
former meao no opposition to the free gift of God, 
liecause they are hamble : whereas, it is but too evi- 
dent that the latter do, — because they are proud, 
and scorn th« whole wonk of the Spirit of God in 
the New Birth. It had been well, however, if saints 
had never given a handle to the profime to adulter 
fate the doctrines of the Gospd, But J have b^ore 
observed that Cyprian^s views of (y^race were not 
equally clear wilh those of the first Qiristians : Yet, 
in every fundaanontal pcincipie, he speaks as the 
Oracles of God : and in bis addcesses to Pagans, 
Cfaristtaas^ or Jews, be is always fervent and zealous, 
tiis tract on Palience, as a practical per&rma^eet^ 
and Uiat on the Lord s Prayer, as n doctrinal cme^ 
^kservp the highest praise. In general, bis works 
are excellfflit in their kind, and he must have % poor 
taste indeed in godliness who will not find the pera- 
sal of them refreshing to bis soul. Nevertheless, Cy- 
prian shines much more in pnacdcal than in specu* 
lative divinity. The shortness of his Christian lite 
and the pressure of liis employtncnts will easHy ac* 
tount for this. . 

I wiah It were ais easy to clear the doctrinal cha- 
racter of Origen from reproach. The ancients 
Ihemsdvies were moch divided in their views of hb 
opinion concerning the Son of God. It is certaiti 
that the Arians of the fourth century seemed to Re- 
ceive some conatenaiKre fipom him ; and m^n, wlio 
had so wry littk atsistatiQe from precedents, were 
1^ to oitdi at the shadow of an argument drawn 
Seem his iUnstrious name. — But what, if his Arianisaa 
were indeed full and confessed on all hands, — What 
H'oald such a fact avail as an argument, — I say, not 
aK|ainst£^ Scripture^;— but against the joint consent 
«t' the whole Chuvch for three huodr^ years? £v^ 
the very opposition made against his character by 
many, A^ows how zealous theChmxh had ever been 
in the defence of the doctrine of the Trinity.-*- Henr 

VOL. 1. a H 

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CHAP, is open a wide field of controversy; but litde profit 
^^'* is to be expected from traversino; it. — The writings 
of Origen against Celsus, in M'hich he ably defends 
Christianity against philosophy and paganbm, and' 
the Philocalia of the same author, furnish sufficiently 
decisive passages against Arian tenets, — if they were 
not embarrassed by others of a more doubtful cast. 

It is probable, however, that one, who thought so 
rapidly, wrote so much, and had his eyes so steadily 
fixed on his philosophy, must have dropped many- 
tilings, which he would not have seriously main- 
tained if he had ever carefully reviewed them. I'hat 
he never meant to hold any thing different from the 
general creed, may be inferred from the pains which 
he took against heretics, as well as from his general 
character. His erroneous sentences, therefore, ought 
to be considered as containing queries and conjec- 
tures rather than settled opinions. Athanasius must 
be allowed to have been a judge of this matter ; and 
HK believed him to be sound, and quoted his writings 
to prove our Lord's co-eternity and co-esseniiality 
with the Father. And he, likewise, observes — tliat 
what things Origen wrote by way of controversy and 
disputation are not to be Jooked on as liis own * sen- 

After all, the best defence of this great man con- 
sists in the general holiness of his lite, and iri his 
patient sutFering for the faith of (/hrist in old age: 
And I rejoice that, amidst all the trash with which 
his writings abound, we have yet this unquestionable 
testimony — that he kept the commandmei^ of God,. 
and had the faith of Jesus. The loss of his voluminous 
commentaries, and of his other numerous works, is, 
perhaps, not much to be regretted. There are two 
sentences t in them which mem particular ffitentioD^ 
He thus speaksT on tlie words, Kom* iil " we con- 

• Cave's Lije of Origen. 

t See Bishop Beverid^e on tlie Articles of the dttrch of 

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tludfe, tliat a man b justified by faith," &c. " the 


on the case of the penitent thief, " he was justified 
by faith without. the works of the law; because^ 
concerning these, the Lord did not enquire what he 
had done before; neither did lie stay to ask what 
work he was purposing, to perform after he had be- 
lieved ; — but, the man being justified by his confes- 
sion only, Jesus, who was going to paradise, took 
liim as a companion, and carried him there." 

Thus, the precious doctrine of justification, though 
much sullied and covered with rubbish, was yet 
alive, in tl)e third centuiy, even in the faith of the 
most dubious cliaracters among the Ante-Nicene 
fathers. This it was that kept Origen, with aU 
'* his hay and stubble,'" firm on Christian founda- 
tions, and distinguished, him radically from an ad- 
versary of Christ. 

4. If we compare the public life of these two 
men, the Grecian shines in a scliolastic, the Roman 
in a pastoral capacity. Oirige n appears as an author, 
and moves in a sphere calculated for the learned, 
Cyprian is a preacher, and, like the Apostles, ad- 
dresses equally all sorts of men. The latter, on ac- 
count of the |)ride of cocrupt natui*e, was most 
likely to be regarded by the poor : He valued not 
refinement of composition : His aim was to reach 
the heart and the conscience, and to reduce every 
religious consideration to real practice. Origen^ 
however, was usefully employed in untying knotty 
speculations, in refuting heresies, and in recom- 
mending Christianity, or something like Christi- 
anity^ to the learned world. No doubt, bis labours 
would be of some advantage amidst the mischief, 
which the accommodating scheme produced ; btit 
the |>astoral. exhortations of Cyprian, a3 tiiey would 

' M\X2 

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468 ^ HISTORY or TB% CEITtbCII^ 

CHAP, not b6 received at eill'by pr^iidiocd ph9i>sbpliefi| 
'80, where tbey ^ere received, Irfl effedts «f udfldul^ 
terated piety, through ^ divine mAudtce tbait iDb* 
tended them. As let Chrii^ian bishop, cicafeely Mjr 
age has seen his superior — in activity, disitilemstdi*^ 
bess, and orteady att^tion to ^iscipHAe : He was 
equally remote Irom the leisetretnos of negr^&nt re» 
missnees, wnd impracticable Beterity : and he pos«- 
Bessed a charity and a patience unwearied, and ever 
consistent. He noay safety he necommiended as a 
•model to all pastors^ and particularly to those of 
rank and dignity tbHToughoutChristendotD. Whoever 
feels a desire to serve God in the ^Ktmtmdfticm&vki 
the most important of all profeesiow, tnay pro* 
titably, — next after the study of tte sacred orac(es> 
:give days and nights to Cypiian\3 writings. — Ail bis 
genuine compositions, — if you exjccpt his come- 
ispondence and controversy with Stephen of ftome, 
— deserve a diligent perusal ; yet no man mast bfc 
-expected to relish them thoroughly, miless he hind- 
self has experienced the new-birth unto »ri]^*eoos- 
»ness : A truly regenerated person u-ill not only relish 
them, but also will not fail to 'be efi^ted with a 
»generoQs glow ofthe purest godliness, upon reading 
them with care and attention. — ^The frequency cff 
-such bishops in Europe is devoutly to be viished ! 
What avail good sense, taste, learning, without 
Christian simplicity — and a heart above tiie world, 
its flatteries or its frouns! — Contemplate — study 
the character of Ae prelate of Carthage, and you 
will learn what Christiiai bMiops onoe were, and 
what they still ought to be. 

5. But the chief point of view in vilvich thfe 
contrast betn^een these two persons is most striking, 
is in the consequences and fruits of their ia(i>oa«s 
and their writhigs. Before Cyprian's time, Atirica 
appears to have been in no very flourishuig state 
with respect to Christianity. Within twelve yearft, 
he was the instrument or most^natarial service ib 

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Mcoveriag oiany sipeatBtes, m reforming diseiplme,, cent. 
i|nd m r^invkig tbe essence o^ godliaessk. His ex- . 1"^ i 
4in|^ w%» most po^^ulf wd effi^md among 
^m fior tige$. Tbe heoours paid to his memopy 
4eqfK0nstnJ:e thk : Moreov^ it is certain, theit hm 
diocese, oi|g« (be ^ei^ cf Futpc gr^atpe^s^ cooitv- 
nued, long a£t:er, one oif the most precious gardens 
of Christianity, u^ I shaU have abundant occasion 
to show in the cpuffse of this History, — if I should 
be permitted to coptinue it — Rut the mischiefe of 
Orige^'s taste $inci spirit in rdigion were inexpres- . 
«ible. — Talents and learning are coveted by man- 
kind ; he« however, who possesses much of them, 
kfis the more abundunt need tp learui humiUty and 
divine cwition. F(H*» if he dio not evideotly benefit 
gMmkJBKt by them, he is in danger of doing muchi 
MlcUttf. — No man^ not altogether unsomd aiidi 
4i37pocritica)y ever injured the Church of Christ 
iKote than Origen did. Fr^m the faqeiful mode ^ 
aikgory^ iatr^xluced fay hiin and uncontiolled by 
^iptural rule and order^ arose a vitiated naethod 
4if commenting Qa tbe saered ptgfs ; wliich has heeq 
succeeded by the contrary extreme — naipely, a con^ 
lemot of types and figures altogeth^: and» in i( 
similar way, nisfancifiil ideas of letter and spiriy 
tended to remove firom men s minds all Just concepr 
tkms of genuine spirituality.-^A thick n^ist for agea 
pervadeo the Christian world, supported and 
strengthened by^ his absurd ^legoarical manner of 
interpretatioa^ The learned alone were considered 
as guides impliditty to be followed ; apd the vul^, . 
— when the liters^l sense was hissed off the stagey 
— had nothing to do but to follow their authority 
wherever it might conduct tliem.^ — It was npt tiH 
tlie days of Luther and Melancthon, that this evil 
was fairly and successfully opposed. 

If I have carried the parallel to a greater length ^ 
than tlie Just la^vs of history allow, the importance 
pi the case is my apology. Let the whole be atten- 

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lively weighed by the serious reader, in connection 
with two passages of St. Paul : the first of which 
is, — ** I am jealous over you with a godly jealoasy, 
lest your minds be corrupted from the simplicity 
that is in Christ;"— and the second—" Hath not 
God made foolish the wisdom of this world?** 



xvi.* It has been already mentioned, that Cyprian 
heard of the death of Sixtus, bishop of Rome, a 
little before his own martyrdom. In pursuance of 
the cruel orders of Valerian, for carrying on the 
persecution, that prelate had been seized with some 
of his clergy. While they Mere carrying him to 
execution, Laurentius, bis chief deacon, followed 
him weeping, and said, " Whither goest thou. 
Father, without thy son?" Sixtus said, "You 
shall follow me in three days." We may suppose 
him to have been possessed with the spirit of pro- 
phecy in saying this, because we are certain that 
miraculous gifts uere as yet by no means extinct 
in the Church : But, perhaps, the declaration was 
not out of the reach of common sagacity from the 
circumstances of affairs. 

After Sixtus s death*, the Prefect of Rome, 
moved by an idle repoit of the immense riches of 
tlie Roman Church, sent for laurentius, and or* 
dered him to deliver them up. Laurentius replied, 
" (live me a little time to set eveiy thing in order, 
and to take an account of each particular.'* 1 he 
Prefet t granted him three days time. In tlmt space 
Laurentius collecti*d all the Poor who were sup- 
ported by tlie Roman Church, and going to the 
♦ Aug. VoL p. p. 52.-^See Fleur;-, B. 7, 

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' ^U^BEtt VALERIAN. '4P 

Prefect, said. "Come, behold the riches of oiir -CRjfv. 
God; you shall see a large court full of golden ves-, , 
seis," The Prefect followed him, but seeing all the 
poor people, he turned to Laurentius with looks fidl 
of anger. " What are you displeased at?" said the 
martyr;— r" The gold, you so eagerly desire, is but 
a vile metal taken out of the earth, and serves as an 
incitement tso all sorts of crimes : the true gold is 
tliat Light whose disciples these poor men are. The 
n)isery of their bodies is an advantage to their souls : 
Sin is the real disease of mankind : The great ones 
of 'the earth are the truly poor and contemptible. 
These are the treasures which I promised you ; to 
which I will add precious stones. — Behold these vir- 
gins and widows, they are the Church's crown ; make 
nse of these riches for the advantage of Rome, of the 
emperor, and of yourself." 

Doubtless, if the Prefect's mind had been at all 
disposed to receive an instructive lesson, he would 
have inet with one here. The liberality of Chris- 
tians in maintaining a great number of objects, and 
in looking fof no recompence but that which shall 
take place at the resurrection of the just, while they 
patiently bore affliction, and humbly rested on an 
iinseeu Saviour, was perfectly agreeable to the mind 
of HIM, who bids his disciples, in a well-known 
parable, to relieve those, who cannot recompense 
them*. How glorious was this scene! at a time 
when the rest of the world were tearing one another 
in pieces, and when philosophers made not the slight- 
est attempts to ajleviate the miseries of their fellow- 
creatures! — But, as the persecutors would not hear 
the doctrines explained, so neither would they see the 
precepts exempUfied with patience. " Do ye mock 
me?" cries tlie Prefect; *' I know, ye value your'- 
:^lves for contemning death, and therefore ye shall 
pot die at once/' Then he caused Laurentius to be 
fftrippeil, extended, and fastened to a gridiron, and* 
* J-uJtf xiv. 12—15. 


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47^ HisTomr of thb cuvhch 

cfi^. in that manner^ to be brdiled to death b]^ a riowfim. 
^.\Lj . When be had continued a considerable tkae with ode 
side to the fire> he said to the Prefect, *^ Let fue be 
turned, I am sufficiently broiled on one side.'' And 
«hdn they had turned him, he looked up to heaven 
and prayed fcH* the conversion of Rome; asd then 
gdkve up the ghost ! 

I give tilts story at some lengtfi, because k has 
sufficient marks of ci^ibility, and is auf^portckl by 
Ibe evidence of Augustine. — I am not disposed to 
follow Floury in various other narrates. In sub- 
jects of martyrology this author seems directly oppo- 
site to our countryman Gibbon. Whatever judgment 
these historians possested, remained, in this matter, 
equally unexercised by both. Indiscriminate iocre- 
duliiy is as blind as indiscriminate belief — I may not 
always succeed, but I certainly endeavour to separate 
truth 6rotn fiction, and nddber to- impose on my 
rcadci^ nor mysclfl 

At Ccesarea in Cappadocia, a child, named Cyril, 
rix>wed uncommon Ibrtitude. He called on the name 
of Jesus Christ tonthbually, nor could threats or blows 
prevent him from openly avowing Chrisliaiiity. — 
Several children of the same age perseiOQted him ; and 
liis own father, with tlie app&uses of many pereons 
for his 2eal in the suppoit of paganiscn^ drove him 
out ^f his bouse. The judge ordered him to be 
brought before bitn, and said, '^ My chHd, I will par- 
don your ft^ults ; and your ^tber shfdl receive yoo 
again : It is in your pon-er toenjoy your ftither*s estate, 
provided you are wise, and take care of your own 
interest*" " I rejoice to bear your reproaches," re- 
plied the child ; — " God will receive me : I am not 
sorry that lam expelled out of our house : I shall 
have a better mansion : I tear not death, because it 
wiH introduce me into a better life." Divine Grace 
having enabled him to witness this good contesskiOi 
he was ordered to be bound and led, as it were^ Vol 
execution. Ttie judge had ^ven scarct oitlers to 

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jntjyzR. TALXEiAir. 473 

bring him bade again, boping that die si^t of the ciarr. 
fire mi^ overcome his reaolution. Cyru reaiained ^^^ 
inflexiUe. The hamanky of the judge induced him 
8tiU to continue his remonstrances. ^' Your fire and 
your sword," saya the yoong martyr, *^ are insiguifi* 
cant I go to a better house ; I go to more exoei*- 
lent riches : Dispatch me presentiy, that I may enjoy 
them.'' The spectators wept tbrougb com|Midsioa 
^^ Ye should rather rejoice,'' says he, '^ in conducting 
me to punishment Ye know not what a city I am 
going io inhabit, nor what is my hope.** Thus he 
^ent to. his death, and was the admiration of thr 
whde city. — Such an example illustrates well that 
Scripture, — " Out of the mouths of babes and suck^ 
lings thou bast ordained strength." 

There were at Antiocb a pi-esbyter and a layman, 
the former named Sapricius, the latter Nicephorus^ 
who through some misundarstandmg, after a remark* 
able intimacy, became so completely estranged, tiiat 
they would not even salute each other in the street 
Kicephoms after a time relented, b^ged forgiveness 
of his fault, and took repeated measures to procure 
reconciliation, — but in vain. He even ran to the 
house of Sapricius, and throwing himself at bis feet» 
entreated his forgiveness for the Lord's sake : — the 
presbyter continued obstinate. 

In this situation of things the persecuUonof Vale* 
rian reached them suddenly. Sapricius ^vas carried 
before the governor, and ordered to sacrifice in obe* 
dience to the edicts of the emperors. " We Chris- 
tians," replied Sapricius, ^'acknowledge for our King 
Jesus Christ, who is the true God, and ttie Creator 
of heaven and eartb^. — Perish idols, which can do 
neither good nor harm !" The Prefect tormented him 
a long time, and then commanded that be should be 
beheaded. Nicephorus, hearing of this, runs up to 
him, as he is led to execution, and renews in vain 
(be same supplications. The executioners deride bis 
humility as perfect foll^. Jim he perseveres, and 

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CHAP* attends Sapriciiis to the place of execution/ Therfe 
^^^b^ i be says further, It is written, " Ask, and it sbaH 
•be given you."-— Dut, not even the mention of the 
urord of God itself^ so suitahle to Sapricios's own 
circumstances, could affect his obstinate and unfor- 
giving temper. 
ftipriciiis Sapricius, however, suddenly forsaken of God^ 
recants, and prcKXHses to sacrifice. Nicephorus, 
amazed, exhorts him to the contrary, but ki vain. 
He, tl>en, says to the executioners,' ** I believe in 
the name ol the Lord Je^us Christ whom he hath 
renounced." The officers return to give an account 
to the governor, who ordered Nicephorus to be 

The account ends here: — but if Sapricius lived 
to re)xnit, as I hope he did, he might learn what 
a danirerous thing it is for a miserable mortal, whose 
sufficiency and perseverance rest entirely on Divine 
Grace, to despise, condemn, or exult over his bro- 
ther. The LAST became the first: — and God 
sliowed his people wonderfully by this case, tliat he 
will support them in their sufferings for his name; 
l>at that, at the same time, he would have tliem to 
be humble, nieek, and forgiving This is the 6rst 
instance I have seen of a man attempting to suffer 
for Christ on philosophical grounds; — and it 
tailed : SeFf-sufficieiKy and pure Christianity 'are, in 
their nature, distinct and opposite: — Let no man 
attenipt to unite or mix together such heteroge- 
neous and Jarriog principles. 

It appears, that Christian fortitude is a very dif- 
ferent thing from the steady pride of a philosopht^r, 
or the sullen patience of an Indian; and, that k 
Cimnot even subsist in tJie absence of Christian 
nicekness and cliarity, — ]^hiloso|)liei*s und savages 
without tlic least supernatural help, have frequently 
nhiintained a hardy and unconquerable spirit lint, 
the event of this story may teach the infidel, — th^ 
• i'kury. Book 7. Acta siopcra 253, 254. 

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he has no reason to exult in such instances, — feat cknt. 
the spirit of suffering for Christ is, in its kind, a ^ ^' 
quite different thing,^— that it is above mere human "" 
nature, — that it is wrought in the heart by divine 
grace, — and, that it cannot subsist if the Spirit of 
God be provoked to leave the sufferer. 

Dionysius oif Alexandria, whom Divine Provi- 
dence had so remarkably preserved in tlie Decian 
persecution, lived to suffer much also in this-^— but 
not to death. Eusebius has preserved some extracts 
of his writings, which not only prove this fact beyond 
dispute, but also throw considerable light on the 
effects of Valerian's persecution in Efzypt*. 

This bishop, with his presbyter Maximus, three 
deacons, and a Roman Christian, was brought before 
-Slmilian the Prefect, and was ordered to recant: 
At the same time, it was observed, that his doing so 
might have a good effect on others.— He answered, 
" We ought to obey God rather than man ; I 
worship God, who alone ought to be worshipped." 
** Hear the clemency of the emperor," says ^Emilian: 
** You are all pardoned, provided you return to 
a natural duty: — Adore the gods who guard the 
empire, and forsake those things which are contrary 
to nature-"* Dionysius answered, " All men do not 
worship the same gods, but men worship variously 
according to their sentiments. But we worship tlie 
One God, the maker of all things, who gave tlie 
empire to the most clement emperors Valerian and 
Gallienus ; and to him we pour out incessant prayers 
for their prosperous administration." *' VVhat can 
be the meaning," says iEmilian, " why ye may not 
still adore that God of your's, — on supposition that 
he is a god — in conjunction with our gods ? " I^iony* 
ejus answered, — ** We worship no other God." 

From this remarkable question of the Prefect, it 
is evident, that n^en might have been tolerated in 
^e worship of Jesus, if they had allowed idolatei's 
♦ Book 7. Chap. X. 

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nh6 to be right m tHe iiab» Vy fMssociBtii^ i<Mfl 
wtb the true God- The firvdiieaA of CtifiaHpaAs, im 
thb respect, provoked their eoes^Keu Th^ 4islikey 
nt tbia ^y, of the pure Qq^pei «f Cbfist» arisen frong^ 
9 similar cduae : >len nre emden^ied w bi)$(]it9| 
because they c2iDfiQt allow ^ worliA ai la^ tn ^ 
ip^bt io the eyes of Ckxi 

JEmilian banUhed tbeoi a{l lo a tillage near th% 
desert, called CQ)>hrow AihI thkber Diwy<wS|| 
thougbsickly, iras wostraimd lo depatt immeiMMdly* 
^ And truly/' aaya Dioo^may " wo 9^ opt ah(ien| 
from the Church; for I stiU gftthof «u€^ as ate » 
tlie City aa if 1 weve fwaaapt: — abeent indeed k^ 
bodjr, bot preaent in spirit And th^ eoDtaiued 
with us» in Cephro, a greal congi^tion, partly oC 
the brethren which foUowed us from Alexandrif^ an4 
partly of them wHich came firoa^ Kgypt- And tbert 
God cqpened a door to me to apeclk )m word- Yet, 
at ihe beginning we suffered persecution and were 
i^tooQd; but atlengd)> not a few of the pag^ms larsook 
their idols and wei^ conv^ted. For, bere» we b»d 
aa opportunity to preach the word of God to 8 
people ii^bo hm never heard it before. And God^ 
that brought us among thenit removed m to anptbeff 
place, titer our nuoistry was there completed. A« 
«oon as I heard that iEmilian had ontiered us to 
depart from Cepbro, I undertook my journey eb©er» 
fully, though I did nol know whither we were to go} 
butt upon being informed that Colluthio was the 
place, I felt much diatresa ; because it was reported 
to be a situation destitute ^ all the coo^forta oi ao* 
ciety, exposed to the tumults c^ traveliers ai|d in? 
fested by thieves. My cofnpaniona well renieinber 
4he effect this had on my mind. 1 proclnimi my 
own shame; At first I grieved tmnKHierati4y« It 
M;aB a consolation, however, that it waa uigh to a 
f^ity. I was in hopes from the neamesa of the city» 
that we^jghtetyoy the company of dear brethren; 
and that particular assemblies iof divine worship 

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«r)Cf>t:ft VALERtAl^. 

MMt^ be tetablidhed in tiie suburbs, which indeed 
cftme fo pass.*' 

AmM^ this seatitiiiess of Mformation comreyed 
in «rd great perspicuity or bemity of styfe, it appears, 
however, that tbe Lord was with Dionysius, and 
eaoded his offerings to ttend to the fuitherance of 
tiie GrOBpel. — tiis confession of liis own heaviness 
*f tnind does honour to his ingemiousQiss : and 
^K «tr6nglh of Christ was made perfect in bis 
weakness. • 

In another episde, he pvts a brief account of the 
affiictioils oC others. — It deserves to be transciibed 
as a monument of the greatness and the violence of 
ValeriAo's persecution. 

** it may seem superfluous to recite the namei 
tef our people : for they were many, and to me un^ 
fcnown. Take this however for certain : There were 
men aud wotnen, young men and old men, virgtnf^ 
iind ok) women, soldiers and vulgar persons, of all 
feorts and agte. Some, after stripes and fire, were 
crowned victets^: ^some, immediately by the sword, 
«nd others, stfter a short but severe torture, became 
• Mceptable sacrifices to the Lord. You all heard 
*ow I,«ndCaius, and Fausttis, and Peter, and Paul, 
when we were led bound by tiic centurion and his 
ftoldielrs, were sei2^d by certahi men of Mareota, and 
"drawn away by violence. I, and Caius, and Peter, 
*were separated from the other brethren, and were, 
confined in a dreary part of Libya, distant tlivee days 
journey fixwn PanBtoninm."— Atterwards he says, 
•* There hid themselves in the city, some good men, 
^^ho visited the bnrthren secretly: Among these, 
Maximus, Dioscorus, Demetrius, and Lucius, were 
ministers. Two others of greater note, Faustitius 
-and Aquila, now wander, 1 know not where, in 
EgjTrt. All tbe deacons died of diseases, except 
Faustinu\ Eusebius, and Cha?remon. God instruct- 
ed Eusebius and strengtliened him, fix)m the begin*'* 
tring, to minister diligently to the confessors in prison^ 

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uiAF. and ta bury the bodies of the holy martyrs :— ^whidiy 
-"^y^ however, he could not do without great danger.. 
'"' The president, to this day, ceases not his cruelty, 
killing some instantly, and tearing in pieces others 
by torments, or consuming them by bonds and im- 
prisonments : He forbids any persons to come nigh 
them; and inquires daily whether his orders be 
obeyed. — Yet our God stilL refreshes the afflicted 
with consolation and with the attendance of the 

This Eusebius, — here honourably mentioned, — 
was some time after bishop of Laodicea in Syria ; 
and Maximus the presbyter was successor to Dio- 
nysius in Alexandria. Faustus was reserved to the 
days of Dioclcsian — again to suffer, — even to blood. 
At Caesarea in Palestine, Priscus, Malcus, aod 
Alexander, were devoured by wild beasts. These 
persons led an obscure life in the country; but 
hearing of the multitude of executions, they blamed 
themselves for their sloth ; they came to Caesarea; 
went to the judge, and obtained tlie object of their 
ambition. — Our divine Master, both by precept 
and example, condemns such forward zeal ; — which 
however in these inj>tances, we trust, was not without 
a real love of his name. — We have seen abundantly 
how much like a true disciple of Christ, Cyprian of 
Carthage conducted hiinself in these respects. — la 
this sauie city, there likewise suffered a woman, who 
was said to be inclined to the heresy of Marcioo ; 
but, probably, tlicre was not much ground for the 
Vat<:nait After thrce years employed in persecution, Va- 
^y%a^T^ lerian was taken prisoner by Sapor king of Persia, 
' A.D. ^^ho detained him the rest of his life, and made use 
260. of his neck when he mounted his . horse ; and at 
length commanded him to be flayed and sailed. 
'Jliis event belonss to secular rather than Church- 
history : But as it is pert'ectly well attested, and a^ 
no one that I know ot^ except Mr.' Gibbon, ev^ 

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atFccted to disbelieve the fact, it cannot but strike the- cent. 
mind of any one who fears God. — Valerian had . "^i ^ 
known and respected the Christians : His perseoition 
must have been a sin against the light; and it is 
common with Divine Providence to punish such 
daring offences in a very exemplary manner. 

After Valerian's captivity the Church was restored 
to rest. About the year two hundred and sixty-two, a. d. 
Gallienus his son and* successor proved a sincere 262. 
friend to the Christians, though, in other respects, 
no reputable emperor. By edicts be stopped the 
persecution ; and he had the condescension to give 
the bishops his letters of licence to return to their 
pastoral charges. One of these letters, as preserved 
by Eusebius, runs thus ; — *' The emperor Ca?ear 
Gallienus, to Dionysius the bishop of Alexandria, 
and to Pinna and Demetrius, with the rest of ttic 
bislK>ps. The benefit of our favour we command 
to be published through the world: and 1 have,* 
tliereforc, ordered every one to withdraw from such 
places as were devoted to religious uses; so that, 
you may make use of the authority of my edict 
'against any molestation ; for 1 have, some timesirire, 
glinted you my protection : — wherefore, Cyrenius 
the governor of the province will observe the rescrij^t 
which 1 have sent" He directed also another edict 
to certain bisho[)s, by which he restored to tliem the 
places in which they buried their dead. 

Were it needful at this dny to r^^fule the rash 
calumnies of Tacitus anO of others against the Chris- 
tians, one might ai>[)eal to tliese two edicts of Gal- 
lienus. It is iinposbibic that eitlier of thcrii cotild 
have taken place, if it had not been undeniable, that 
tl)e Christians, even to the time Uyond the «uid<lle 
of the tliird century, uere men of [)j obity and w^orthy 
of tlie pjotectiQn of government. As it is im- 
possible to avoid this conclusion, the tieepest stain 
rests on the characters of Traj«n, Decius, and \'a- 
ierian, men highly respected in jjccular hiotory, for 

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48o msToRir w the cytiftCH. 

trettattg (heir M^jectB of the best cbaradeTs whh 
savige ferocity- — But God, who has the hearts of 
all men in his hand, provided for his servants a pro* 
lector in Gailienus, sufter an unexampled course of 
heavy persecution during the three test reigns.— Gal- 
lienus himself seems to have been more like a mo^ 
dem than an uicient sovereign ; — a man of taste^ 
indolence, and philosophy ^--disposed to cberbh 
every thing that looiced like knowledge and libeity of 
thinking ;---by no means so kind and generous in hia 
constant practice as his profession -might seem to 
promise; — the slave of his passbns, and led away 
by every sudden feeling thnt seised his imagination. 
The Christians appear to have been considered by 
him as a sect of new philoSDphei^ ; and, as bs 
judged it improper to pereecute philosophers of any 
sort, they found a complete toleratibn under a piince, 
whose conscience seems to have been inAueiioed by 
no religious attachmont whatevar. 

CHAR xvn. 


J HE general history of the Chorch of Cterist, for 
the T^mainini; forty years of this century, affords no 
great quantity of materials. After iiaving collected 
them into this chapter in order, it may be proper to 
reserve, to a distinct considemtbn, the lives of some 
particular persons, and other miscrilaneous matters^ 
which belong not to the thread of the naiTadve. 

We now behold a new scene ; — Christians legally 
tolerated under a pagan government for forty years! 
— The example of Gallienus was, follow^ by tb« 
successive emperor^ to the end <rf the century : — It 
was violated only in one instance; — the effect of 
^kkh was presently dissipated by the hand of Pi^ 

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^ridence. — This new scene did not prove favourable cent. 
to the growth of grace and holiness. In no period ,^ ^^}' jf 
since the Apostles was tlierc ever st> great a general 
decay as in this; — not even in particular instances, 
can we discover, during this interval, much of lively 

Jliose, however, are not well informed in the 
nature ol the religion of Jesus, who suppose, that; 
literally, there was no persecution all this time : 
' — ^True Christians are never without some share of 
it ; nor is it in the power of the best and the mildest 
governments to protect men of godliness from the ' 
malice of the world in all cases. We saw an exam- 
ple of this when Commodus was emperor: — Observe 
another under the government of Gallienus. — At 
Ca?sarea in Palestine, there was a soldier— of bra- 
very, — of noble family, — and of great opulence; 
who, upon a vacancy, was called to the office of 
centurion. His name was Marinus. — But, another 
soldier came before the tribunal, and urged, — that, 
by the laws, Marinus was incapacitated, because he 
was a Christian and did not sacrifice to the emperors ; , 
-^and that he himself, as next in rank, ought to be 
preferred. — Achaeus the governor asked Marinus , 
what was his religion ; — upon which he confessed 
himself a Christian. * The governor gave him the 
space of three hours for deliberation.- — Immediately 
Theotecnes, bishop of Caesarea, called Marinus from 
the tribunal, — toot him by the hand, — led him to 
the Church, — showed him the sword that hung by 
his side, and a New Testament which he pulled out 
of his pockety — and he then bid him choose which 
of the two he liked best. — Marinus stretched out his 
hand ; and took up the Holy Scriptures. — ** Hold 
fast, then,** said Theotecnes ; " Cleave to God : and 
HIM whom you have chosen, you shall enjoy: you 
shall be strengthened by him, and shall depart in 
peace."* — ^After the expiration of the three houra^ 
upoQ the crier ft summons, he appeared at the bar, 

VOL. t. I i 

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CHAP, mai^ully confessed the &ith of Christ, beard At 

I ^-^^ L_ f 8^^"^^ ^f condemnation, and was beheaded. 

^ Without more acquaintance with the particular* 

institutes of Roman law on this subject, it is not 

€asy to reconcile this proceeding with the edict of 

Gallienus. — Perhaps the act of Achaeus was ill^^ 

I — or, perhaps some particular military law might 

be in force against the martyr. The fact, however, 

rests on the best authority ; and the profession of 

arms appears to have bad still among tiiem, sbce the 

days of Cornelius, those who loved Jesus Christ 

The greatest luminary in the Church at this time 

^ was Dionysius of Alexandria. His works are lost: 

A few extracts of them, preserved by Eusebius, have 

already been given; — and some few more may be 

Sabdr ^^^ introduced. — He speaks of the Sabellian 

HerJj" heresy, which had now made its i^peanmce, — as 

•ppears. foUoWS :— 

^^ As f many brethren have sent their books and 
disputations in writing to me, concerning the impious 
doctrine lately propagated at Pentapolis in Ptoleinais, 
which contams many blasphemies against the Al- 
mighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
and also much infidelity respecting his only-b^olt&i 
Son, the FfRST begotten of every creature, 
and THE Word incarnate; and, lastly, much 
senseless ignorance relative to IbeHoly Ghost; — 
some of tl^m I have transcribed, and sent the copies 
to you." 

This is the first account in existence of the ori^ 
of Sabellianism; — a plausible corruption, no doub^ 
— perhaps the most so of all those which oppose the 
mastery of the Trinity. But, like all the rest, it 
fails for want of Scripture*evidence,*and dbows itself 
to be only a weak attempt to lo^^r and submit to 
human reason that, which \v9tB never noeant t9 be 
amenable to its tribunal. The earful distioctioiis 
of Dionysius, in recounting the persons of Ibe Triaily, 
* ^VL»A. Book 7, Chap. 14, f B^ok 7» Chap. 5* 

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were very proper in speaking of a heresy wliich 
confounds the persons, and leaves them nothing of 
tliose distinct characters, on which the nature of the 
doctrines of the Gospel so much depends. 

Tliis bishop also delivers his sentiments in the con- 
troversy concerning the re-baptizing of heretics: He 
is against that practice ; and, at the same time, h^ 
condemns with great severity the Novatian schism ; 
— because, says he, "it charges tlie most loving 
and merciful God with unmercifulness *." Yet, on 
the subject of baptism, he confesses hims/elf to have 
been,. for some time at least, staggered in opinion by 
a remarkable case. — " When the brethren were ga- 
thered together, and when there was present one who 
had been, before my time, an ancient mbister of the 
clergy, a certain person, allowed to be sound in the 
faith, — ^upon seemg our form and manner of baptism, 
and hearing the interrogatories and responses, came 
to me weeping and wailing, falling prostrate at my 
feet, and protesting — that the baptism which he had 
received was heretical, — could not be the true bap- 
tbm, — fu:id, that it had no agreement with that 
which was in use among us, but, on the contrary, 
was full of impiety and blasphemy. He owned, 
that the distress of hb conscience was extreme, — 
that he durst not presume to lift up bis eyes to God, 
because he had been baptized with profane worda 
and rites. He begged therefore to be re-baptized; 
with which request I durst not comply; but I told 
him tiJ9/t frequent communion, many times admi- 
iHstered, would sutHoe. This majti had heard thanks^ 
^ifig sounded in the Church, and had sung to it, 
*^ Amen;'' he had been present at tlie Lord's table; 
Jbad stretched forth Ins hand to receive the }ioly food ; 
imA actually communicated ; and, indeed for a long 
time, had been partaker of the body and blood of 
owr Lord Jesus Christy — therefore, I duret not re- 
.bi^tiK bkoj but bade him beof good clieer and of 
♦ Book 7i CJbap. 7. 


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CHAP, a sure faith, and boldly approach to the communioft 

J*^^^ , of saints. — Notwithstanding all this, the man mourns 

continually; and his horror keeps him from the 

Lord's table; and he iscarce, with much intreaty, 

can join in the prayers of the Church." 

We have no farther account of this matter : but, 
surely there is good reason to believe that the God erf 
Grace would, in due time, relieve such a character. 

The detestation of heresy, .end the marked dis- 
tinction of true Christianity were, in some circum- 
stances, carried to an extreme, during this century : 
disfcipline, however, was not neglected in the Church; 
. but, as I have already observed, was carried some- 
times to excess — even to superstition. — Satan's 
temptations are ever ready to drive to despair truly 
penitent and contrite spirits. This story, as it re- 
spects all the parties concerned, breathes throughout 
a spirit the very opposite to the licentious boldness 
of our own times, and marks the peculiar character 
of the piety of the age of Dionysius ; — ^which was 
sincere, but mixed with superstition*. 

The celebration of the feast of Easter and of 
other holy days forms tlie subject of another of 
Dionysius's epistles. 

Dionysius, now returned from exile to Alexandria, 
found it involved in the hoiTors of a civil war. On 
the feast of Easter, as if he was still in banishment, 
he wrote to his people, who were in another part of 
the city, with which he could have no personal in- 
tercourse. In a letter to Hierax. an Egyptian bishop 
at some distance, he says, *' Itis not to be wondered 
at, that it is difficult for me to converse by epistles 
with those at a distance, when I find myself here 
precluded from having any intercourse with my most 
intimate friends and tenderest connexions. — Even 
"with THEM I have no intercourse but by writing, 
though they are citizens of the same Church ; atrf I 
find it very difficult to procure a safe convcyance'of 
• Euseb. Book 7, Chap. 8.— SceGi'eek. 

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ftoy letters which I would send to them. A man may ceot. 
paore easily travel from the east to the west than from ^" 
Alexandria to Alexandria. The middle road of this 
city is more impassable than that vast wilderness 
which the Israelites wandered tlirough in two gene- 
rations." — He goes on to describe the miseries of war 
and bloodshed, of plagues and diseases, which, at 
that time, desolated Alexandria; — and he complains 
that the people still repented not of their sins. 

To the brethren he says, " Now every thing is 
full of lamentation ; — every one does nothing but 
mourn and howl thr6ugh the city, H^ecause of the 
multitude of corpses and the daily deaths. — Many 
of our brethren, through their great love and bro- 
therly affection, spared not themselves, but clave 
one to another, and attended upon the sick most 
diligently; and, in doing so, they brought the sor- 
rows of others upon themselves; they caught the 
infection, and lost their own lives. In this manner 
the best of our brethren departed this life ; — of 
whom some were presbyters, and some deacons,^— 
highly reverenced by the common people." He then 
goes on to observe with what affectionate care the 
Christians attended tlie funeralp of their friends, 
while the pagans, in the kame city, through fear of 
receiving the contagion, deserted and neglected theirs. 
Undoubtedly he describes here a strong picture of 
the benevolence of Christians, and of the selfishness 
of other men. — It belongs to true Christianity to 
produce such fruits, though, in some respects, they 
might be carried farther than real Christian prudence 
would vindicate. — But every lover of Jesus is re-, 
freshed to 'find the certain marks of his Spirit and 
uis presence among his people. 

An Egyptian bishop, named Nepos, taught that 
the Millennium was to commence after the resur^ 
rection ; and described the happiness of saints as 
much consisting in corporeal enjoyments. Dionysiua 
thought the notion dan^rous; — yet, his caiidoiic 

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CHAP, inclined him to entertain a good opinion of Nepos on 
I j^-)^-^ » the whole. He commends his feith, his diligence,