Skip to main content

Full text of "The history of the church of Christ, from the days of the Apostles, to the year 1551 [microform]"

See other formats













At their Theological Bookstore, one door west of the Post-Office, 
Genesee Street. 



:\*orllern District of New York, to wit: 

BE it remembered, that on the fifteenth day of February, in the fortieth 
year of the Independence of the United States of America, TALCOTT CAW, ITIA 
MKRRELL 6? GEORGE CA>IP, of tlie said district, have deposited in this office the 
title of a book the right whereof they claim as proprietors, in the words follow- 
ing, to wit : 

"The History of the Church of Christ, from thedavs of the Apostles, to the 
year 1.551, abridged from the five first volumes of Milner's Church History. 

In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States entitled. "An 
act for the encouragement of learning, by securing 1 the copies of Maps, Charts 
and Book*, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times 
therein mentioned," and also to an act entitled, "An act supplementary to an act, 
entitled an act ior 'he encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of 
Maps, Charts and Bm-ks, to the au'hors and propr.etors of such copies, during 
the t niv -.herein mentioned, and ext-iuLng the benefits thereof to the arts of 
g, engraving and. etching historical an 1 other prints. 

of the Northern District of New York, 


THE publishers are bound to offer an apology for 
some delay in the publication of the ABRIDGMENT OP 
MILNER. The only one they can offer is, that the oc- 
currence of events unforeseen and uncontrollable by 
them, has rendered ineffectual their strenuous exer- 
tions to ensure its earlier appearance. 

WHILE they regret the necessity of any excuse, 
they trust, this, in the estimation of the candid ancj 
generous, will be sufficient. 

HISTORIES of the church have always been re- 
garded as most interesting and valuable works. The 
multitude of marvellous events that have happened to 
it, its vicissitudes, its dangers and sufferings, its dis- 
asters and successes, its miraculous preservation and 
progress, cannot fail to excite the wonder and admi- 
ration of mankind, the poignant regret and grief of its 
enemies, the lively joy and gratitude of its friends. 
To become acquainted with these facts must be an 
object of peculiar and earnest desire with all true be- 
lievers in Christianity. The size and expense of gen- 
eral histories of the church, have locked up their 
abundant treasures from many readers whose piety 
made them especially anxious to acquire a portion of 
those exhaustless riches, 


IN this Abridgment, it has been a principal object 
to retain the material and most interesting facts, that 
the value of the original work might be preserved, 
and the price and size so reduced that the former 
should not surpass the ability of those who are desir- 
ous to purchase, and the latter not require more time 
and attention in perusal than they can easily bestow. 
These objects they hope will be fully accomplished, 
and the work in its present form prove extensively 
useful. That it may be satisfactory to the public, and 
beneficial to the interests of religion, is the sincere 

desire of 



I have examined TOWNSEND'S ABRIDGMENT, and in my opinion, it 
is executed in such a manner, as will render it an acceptable and useful 
work to the public,, 

of first Presbyterian Church Utica, JV. Y. 

From my acquaintance with the Rev. Mr. DWIGHT, I most cheer- 
fully give my name, if it will aid in the more general diffusion of the 
Abridgment ojf Milner's Church History. 


President of Hamilton College. 

I have examined a part of Townsend's Abridgment, and cheerfully 
concur in opinion with the Rev. Mr. Dwight and Doctor Backus, ex- 
pressed in the above recommendations. 

Pastor of the fast Congregational Church, Clinton JV. Y. 


designed for (he use and benefit of such families as may not 
feel themselves able to purchase, or may not have time to 
read the entire work. 

THE principal facts there detailed, are here presented to 
the public in a condensed form, mostly in the language of 
the author. 

THE progress of truth and its salutary influence on a 
world ruined by sin ; the consolations which result from a 
life of true holiness, and the faithfulness of Zion's King in 
the means used to support his cause in the world, are here 
exhibited. The saints are seen in sackcloth* with their 
hearts fixed, trusting in God : errors in their various forms 
and deleterious nature, are noticed, and the blood of the 
martyrs is seen to be the seed of the church. 

MAY all, who shall read this abridgment, be excited, by 
the Holy Spirit, to live to the glory of Him, who has said 
to his church ; FEAR NOT, LITTLE FLOCK, IT is TOUR FA- 

J. T. 

Utica, Feb. 10. 1816, 






A HAT "repentance and remission of sins should 
be preached in the name of Jesus Christ, beginning 
at Jerusalem ;" is a text which shows what the Chris- 
tian religion is, and where we are to look for its com- 
mencement. We are to describe the rise of a dispen- 
sation, the most glorious to God, and the most benefi- 
cent to man. In Judea alone something of the wor- 
ship of the true God, and of the forms of the Mosaic 
economy subsisted, but greatly obscured and corrupt- 
ed with Pharisaic traditions, and Sadducean pro- 
faneness. Of that religion, which consists in repen- 
tance and remission of sins, they were totally igno- 
rant. The great body of the Jewish nation knew not 
that men need to be made new creatures, and to re- 
ceive the forgiveness of sins by faith in the sacrifice of 
the Lamb of God. Some there were, however, who 
implicitly rested on the God of Israel, and trusted in 
the Redeemer that was to come ; such were Zachari- 
as, Simeon and Anna. 

This dark season was chosen by Him "who hath 
put the times and seasons in his own power," for the 
exhibition of the Light of Life. 


But few souls were converted during Christ's 
abode on earth. The five hundred brethren, who all 
saw him at one time, after his resurrection, seem to 
have been the sum total of his disciples. 

The first Christian Church was erected at Jerusa- 
lem. As repentance and remission of sins were the 
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 the sins of men, " was risen" from the dead " for 
p*r justification," and in the sight of his disciples had 
just ascended up to heaven. That the gospel, the 
good news of reconciliation to God, for penitent sin- 
ners, should begin at Jerusalem, the scene of so much 
wickedness perpetrated, and of so much grace abu- 
sed, evinced the Divine goodness, and displayed the 
grand purposes of the gospel to be, to justify the un- 
godly, and to quicken the dead. 

By command from their Divine Master, the Apostles 
remained at Jerusalem waiting for the promised Holy 
Spirit, in mutual charity, and in the fervent exercise 
of prayer and supplication. During this interesting 
crisis, they elected Matthias to fill the place from 
which Judas by transgression fell. 

The day of Pefiticost was the eta of the Divine visit- 
ation. They were filled with the Holy Ghost, and be- 
gan to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them 
utterance. By this they were prepared to propagate the 
gospel ; and this was an attestation of its truth. Jews, 
devout men, out of every nation under heaven, then 
dwelling at Jerusalem, with amazement, heard these 
Gallileans speak, each in his own language. But 
some derided the apostles as intoxicated with new 
w r ine. The zeal of Peter was now excited t6 preach 
both to those who admired and to those who scoffed. 
The design of his sermon was to beget a conviction 
of sin in his hearers, and to bring them to look to Je- 
sus, through whom alone salvation is exhibited to sin- 
ful men. It pleased God to crown his preaching with 
success. Multitudes were pricked in their hearts-, 
found themselves guilty of having murdered the Christ 


of God, and anxious to know what they should do. 
Peter's direction to them was ; " Repent and be bap- 
tized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, 
for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the Ho- 
ly Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your 
children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as 
the Lord our God shall call." 

Thus the doctrine of repentance and remission of 
sins in the name of Jesus, began at Jerusalem. 

They, who gladly received the word which Peter 
preached, were baptized, " and the same day there 
were added unto them about three thousand souls." 
These appear tq have been fully converted to Chris- 
tianity ; for we are assured, " they continued steadfast- 
ly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in 
breaking of bread, and in prayers." 

Here we see the regular appearance of the first 
Christian church. A church that understood and be- 
lieved the apostolic doctrine of repentance and remis- 
sion of sins in the i^ame of Jesus Christ. A church 
that continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and 
fellowship. They regarded their pastors as those 
whom God had made instruments of their conversion. 
They manifested their faith by their obedience to the 
command of Christ relative to the Lord's supper, and 
were devout and prayerful. 

" And all that believed were together, and had all 
things common, and sold their possessions and goods, 
and parted them to all men, as every man had need." 
Mutual charity proved how soon the operations of Di- 
vine grace had loosened their affections from a love of 
this world, and that they had chosen God for their 
portion. This was a happy season of religious revival, 
for "the Lord added to the church daily such as 
sliouldbe saved." 

Soon after this, a miracle, wrought by Peter and 
John, OH a lame man, a well known beggar, above for- 
ty years old, gave a further attestation to their doc- 
^rine ; and prepared the way for Peter to preach to 
the admiring multitudes the same doctrine of repen- 
tance and remission, and to point them to Jesus for 

pardon and salvation. In this St. Peter exalts the 
Lord Jesus as the Holy One, and the Just, the Prince 
of Life ; shows them their guilt in their having prefer- 
red Barrabas, a murderer, to him, disclaims all merit in 
himself and his colleague in the miracle just wrought, 
and shews that God had glorified his Son Jesus, and 
that it was through faith in his name, the wonderful 
cure had been performed ; exhorts them to repentance 
and conversion, and shows them that " there is none 
other name" than that of Jesus "under heaven given 
among men whereby we must be saved." 

The signal for persecution was now raised by the 
magistrates of Jerusalem, who were enemies to all 
practical godliness. The two apostles were imprison- 
ed that evening ; but their examination was deferred 
until the next day. 

To the interrogatories put to him by the court of ex- 
amination, Peter frankly answers, that the miracle had 
been " wrought in the name of Jesus, whom ye cru- 
cified, whom God raised from the dead," and boldly 
rebukes them for their contempt of him, who is the 
only Savior. The wisdom and boldness, of these two 
unlettered fishermen, struck the court with astonish- 
ment. But finding no present opportunity to gratify 
their malice, on account of the splendor of the miracle, 
they dismissed them with a strict charge to be silent 
in future concerning the name of Jesus. With this 
charge the apostles ingenuously confessed they could 
not comply, because they must obey God rather than 

The apostles returning and reporting all these things 
to their company, they all with united supplication 
entreated the Lord to grant them boldness to perse- 
vere, notwithstanding the menaces of his and their 
enemies. They were filled with the Holy Ghost and 
enabled to proceed with calm intrepidity. 

At this season, brotherly love and the most perfect 
unanimity happily prevailed among the Christians. 
Divine grace was largely diffused among them. The 
poor lacked nothing; the richer brethren converted 
their possessions into money, and left the distribution 


of the whole to the discretion of the apostles. But 
the wheat among the tares now began to appear. 
There was one Ananias among the disciples, whose 
conscience had been so far impressed, as to respect 
that doctrine and fellowship to which he had joined 
himself; but whose heart was never divorced from 
the love of the world. A regard for his reputation in- 
duced him to sell his possessions with the rest ; but 
the fear of poverty and the want of faith in God, dis- 
posed him to reserve a part of the price, while he 
brought the other to the apostles. Peter upbraided 
him with being under the influence of Satan, in lying 
to the Holy Ghost ; shewed him that the action was 
not committed against man, but against God, that the 
guilt of his hypocrisy was hereby aggravated ; that he 
was under no necessity of selling his property, or of 
laying it at the apostles- feet when sold, and that 
nothing could be said to extenuate his baseness. Im- 
mediately the unhappy man fell down dead ; and 
about three hours after, his wife Sapphira, who had 
been partaker of her husband's guilt, was made a 
similar monument of Divine justice. 

Such a proof of the discernment of spirits, and of 
the power of punishing hypocrisy, resting in the gov- 
ernors of the church, rilled all who heard these things 
with awe. The Lord had now shewn his holiness as 
well as his grace : and the love of the world, was a se- 
cond time punished by a signal interposition of hea- 
ven. Multitudes of both sexes were now added to 
the church, chiefly of the common people. 

At the progress which the gospel was thus making, 
the rage of the high priest and his party, all of whom 
were of the sect of the Sadducees, was greatly excited. 
Their first step was to imprison the apostles. But 
God by night, sent his angel and set them free, and 
bade them preach in the temple. The next morning, 
a full Sanhedrim \vas convened, and the apostles 
were sent for. They were not, however, found in con- 
finement, but preaching in the temple, and in a gentle 
manner were conducted before the court. The high 
priest upbraids them with their disobedience to his 


former injunction of silence, to whom they again an- 
swer, "they ought to obey God rather than men." 
They bore witness to the resurrection of Christ, and 
declared that " God had exalted him with his own 
right hand to be a Prince and Savior, to give repen- 
tance to Israel, and forgiveness of sina," and that " the 
Holy Ghostj whom God bestows on those who obey 
him, witnessed" the same thing. Thus these first 
Christians did, with the most pungent plainness, lay 
open the gospel, and exhibit it as something extreme- 
ly different from a mere system of morals, though it 
included all good morality in its nature. 

The spirit of persecution was now about to burst 
forth in violent counsels. But Providence made use 
of the counsel of Gamaliel, a judicious, learned, res- 
pectable man, though as far as appears, a man of the 
world, and a hater of Christianity, to prolong the lives 
of the apostles. They were dismissed, but not with- 
out stripes, and a severe charge no more to preach in 
thq name of Jesus. They ceased not, however, to 
" teach and preach Jesus Christ, and rejoiced that 
they were accounted worthy to suffer shame for his 


The church was now much enlarged ; an increase 
of ministerial labor devolved upon the apostles : dis- 
satisfaction in the mean time arose in the minds of 
some, from a supposition that, in the daily supply of 
the poor, relief had not, by the apostles, been equally 
ministered to the widows. Seven coadjutors were 
chosen to see to an equal ministration to the poor, ancl 
the apostles were left free to give themselves continu- 
ally to prayer and the ministry of the word, The love 
of Christ then ruling in the hearts of his people, the 
multitude consented with pleasure. Many of the 
priests now obeyed the gospel, and Jerusalem saw, con- 
tinually large accessions made to the church. 

The enemies of Christianity could not be at rest, 
Stephen, one of the seven who had been chosen to as- 
sist the apostles, in relieving them from the daily min- 
istration to the poor, a man most distinguished for his 
piety, was accused of blasphemy against Moses and 


against God ; and brought to make his defence before 
the Sanhedrim. In his defence, he boldly rebuked 
the Jews and labored to bring his audience to a deep 
conviction of their sin in having been the murderers of 
the Prince of Life, and to leave them no hope in their 
own righteousness. Behold the contrast between the 
spirit of the world and the spirit of true Christianity ! 
His enemies " were cut to the heart, and gnashed on 
him with their teeth." He, " full of the Holy Ghost, 
looked up steadfastly to heaven, and saw the glory of 
God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God," 
and what he saw, he openly confessed. Their malice 
burst into a flame. " They cried out with a loud 
voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with 
one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned 
him," while he called upon his Divine Master, " Lord 
Jesus receive my spirit." He kneeled down, and cri- 
ed with a loud voice, " Lord, lay not this sin to their 
charge." And having thus shewn the constancy of 
his faith, and the ardor of his benevolence, " he fell 
asleep." Real faith in Christ, and real charity to 
men, were here a glorious exemplification of the true 
spirit of Christianity. Stephen was buried with great 
lamentation by the church, and a considerable num- 
ber soon after suffered. 

The spirit of persecution now raged with unrelent- 
ing fury. Saul of Tarsus, a young man of an active, am- 
bitious spirit, educated at Jerusalem under Gamaliel, 
and pre-eminently versed in Judaical learning, distin- 
guished himself as a most bitter persecutor. He took 
care of the clothes of the witnesses employed in ston- 
ing Stephen, and made havoc of the church, entering 
into every house, " and haling men and women, com- 
mitted 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 shew them no mercy, and a superficial ob- 
server might have supposed, that the fate of Theudas 
and Judas, mentioned by Gamaliel, was going to at- 
tend the Christians. Men had not yet learned that 
the " blood of the martyrs \va the seed of the church," 


The religious worship of the disciples must have suf- 
fered a grievous interruption. They were all in a 
perilous condition. The apostles alone stood their 
ground, and by the watchful care of their God, were 
preserved. The dispersed Christians preached the 
word wherever they went. And thus this persecution 
was the first occasion of the diffusion of the gospel 
through various regions, and what was designed to an- 
nihilate it, was overruled to extend it exceedingly. 
But we shall confine ourselves in this section to the 
church of Jerusalem. 

Saul, zealous for persecution, was vexed to hear, 
that a number of the Christians had escaped to Da- 
mascus, an ancient city of Syria, and procured a 
commission from the high priest to bring them bound 
to" Jerusalem. On his way, when near to Damascus, a 
sudden light from heaven, exceeding that of the sun, 
arrested the daring zealot, and struck him to the 
ground. At the same time, a voice called to him, 
" Saul, Saul, w r hy 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." The will of this bitter per- 
secutor was broken for the first time, and, "Lord, 
what wilt thou have me do," was his cry. 

He was directed to go into Damascus, where, after 
having remained three days without sight and with- 
out food, 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 receiv- 
ed his sight and was filled with the Holy Ghost, was 
baptized, and soon refreshed both in mind and body. 
From that time till his death, he was engaged in the 
service of Jesus Christ, in a course of labors in the 
church, with unparalleled success. - This is he who 
is commonly known by the name of St. Paul, and his 
memorial is blessed forever. Particularly commis- 
sioned to preach to the Gentiles, he entered with the 
greatest penetration into the nature of Christianity, 
became one of its most able advocates and zealous 
supporters, and travelled extensively for its propaea- 


lion. Having preached Christ for three years abroad, 
he went up to Jerusalem, not to join himself to his 
former friends in persecution, but to join himself to 
the church, The church, after receiving particular 
information of his genuine conversion, received him 
cordially. Gladly would he have remained at Jeru- 
salem ; but the Lord by a vision assured him that the 
Jews would not receive his testimony, and that the 
great scene of his labors was to be among the Gen* 

The unconverted Jews sought his life, but by the 
address of his Christian brethren, he was safely con- 
ducted to his native city of Tarsus. The fury of per- 
secution now subsided, the Lord gave rest to his 
church and the disciples, both at Jerusalem and else- 
where, " walked in the fear of the Lord, and in the 
comfort of the Holy Ghost." Where these are united^ 
excesses of all sorts are prevented, and inward joy and 
outward obedience demonstrate that there Christ 
reigns indeed. Yet so slow are men to receive new 
divine truths, especially those which militate against 
old prejudices, that the Christians of Jerusalem con- 
tended with Peter on account of his intercourse with 
the Gentiles of Csesarea. Peter with great meekness 
reasoned with his bigoted brethren, convinced them 
by evident proofs that the grace of God was vouch- 
safed to the Gentiles, and that it was lawful to have 
communion with them. They glorified God, saying, 
" Then hath God, also to the Gentiles, granted repen- 
tance unto life." Evert a converted Jew, now admits 
with difficulty, that the grace of God may visit a 

The visits of Paul to Jerusalem seem to have been 
but short. In one of these the grace of God shone 
bright, in the alms of Gentile converts sent by him to 
the Jewish Christians aiilicted with a famine in the 
days of Claudius Caesar. His companion to Jerusa- 
lem was Barnabas, whose liberality in the beginning 
had been so eminent. Having discharged this ser- 
vice, they both returned to minister to the Gentiles, 


The civil power of Judea was now in the hands of 
Herod Agrippa, a person of considerable talents, and 
full of specious virtue, but a persecutor of the church 
of Christ. Of this persecution, James, the son Zebe- 
dee, was the first victim ; who was slain with the 
sword, the first of the apostles, who departed from the 
church below, to join that which is above. 

Herod, finding this act popular, sought to despatch 
Peter also. But God had reserved him for more ser- 
vices. Though irriprisoned and strictly guarded, with 
a view to his being publicly executed, after the pass- 
over, when the concourse of Jews at Jerusalem was 
very large, yet was he miraculously preserved. 

A spirit of earnest, persevering prayer, on his behalf 
was poured on the church of Jerusalem, and on the 
night before his intended execution, an angel was sent 
for his deliverance from prison. Jie then gladly re- 
paired to his praying Christian friends, who received 
him with great joy, and he informed them of the 
Lord's wonderful interposition in his favor. After thi* 
he retired to a place of concealment. 

Little did Herod apprehend that his own death 
should precede that of his prisoner. On a public oc- 
casion, in which he appeared in great splendor, he de- 
livered an oration, so pleasing to his audience, " that 
they shouted, it is the voice of a god and not of a man." 
'That moment he was smitten with an incurable dis^ 
/ease by an angel, because he " gave not God the glo- 
ry." Thus he fell, a warning to princes not to seek 
glory in opposition to God. 

The next memorable circumstance in the mother 
church was "the first Christian council." The many 
thousands, in whose hearts God had erected his king- 
dom, though in the midst of one of the most wicked 
nations in the world, had now lived about twenty 
years, in great unanimity and charity, "keeping 
the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." But at 
length their peace and harmony were interrupted by 
some Christian Jews, who urged upon the Gentile con- 
verts the necessity of circumcision, and of obedience 
to the whole of the Mosaic ceremonial, in order to sal- 


nation. In this they practically averred, that the grace 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, was not sufficient for man's 
salvation, that the favor of God was, in part at least, to 
be purchased by human works, and that they by their 
ritual observances contributed to their acceptance with 
God. In this an attempt was made to corrupt the 
simplicity of the faith, by which Christians had hith- 
erto rested with complacency on Jesus alone, had en- 
joyed peace of conscience, and been constrained to 
obedience by love. This growing evil, the apostles 
Paul and Barnabas, after no small fruitless altercation 
with the zealots, sought to counteract, by referring the 
full consideration of the question to a council of apos- 
tles and elders at Jerusalem. 

At the council Peter argued, that as God had select- 
ed him to preach to the Gentiles, and had given great 
success to his preaching among them, in purifying 
their hearts by faith, and in shedding down upon them 
the Holy Ghost, no less than upon the Jews, God 
had unequivocally decided, that the yoke of ceremo- 
nial observances was not to be imposed on them, as 
necessary to their salvation. Paul and Barnabas also 
gave full proof of the divine grace vouchsafed to the 
Gentiles. James, who seems to have been the stand- 
ing pastor of Jerusalem, confirmed the same argument, 
by the prophets of the Old Testament, agreeably to 
Peter's declaration of the mercy of God in visiting 
the Gentiles. He gave his opinion, that the Gentiles 
should no lohger be molested with sentiments subver- 
sive of the grace of God, and tending to teach them 
dependance on human works, instead of the merits of 
Christ for salvation. Only he recommended, that the 
council should direct them to abstain from pollutions 
of idols, and from fornication, and from things stran- 
gled, and from blood. For the Jews, dispersed through 
Gentile cities, and who heard Moses read every Sab* 
bath day, required these precautions. 

A letter was sent according to these views, nor does 
it appear there was one dissenting voice in the coun- 
cil. The result of this council among the Gentile 
converts, appears to have had a most salutary eflo<;t. 


The tenor of this result was, that none were required 
to live in Mosaic observances, as necessary to sal- 
vation: that dependance for salvation was to be pla- 
ced, solely on the atoning blood and justifying righ- 
teousness of Jesus Christ. From the Acts of the apos- 
tles, and from their epistles it appears, that they 
regulated their religious instructions and practices 
agreeably to this prudent and excellent result, where- 
ever they went. The inveteracy and self-righteous 
spirit of those who adhered to Mosaic observances, 
their opposition to the soul-humbling, apostolic doc- 
trine of justification by faith alone, and the zeal, faith- 
fulness and success of the apostles, we have stated 
in the Acts of the apostles, and in their epistles. Ta 
these the reader is referred for particular information. 
From the same source we learn too that the church 
at Jerusalem did not uniformly maintain its first love, 
but even in the apostles' day experienced a 
of declension, 


Judea, Galilee and Samaria. 

1 HE holy land was divided into three provinces, 
Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. ' In all these, Christian 
churches were early planted. These, most probably,, 
followed the example of the .parent church at Jerusa- 
lem, both in its first love and auspicious progress, and 
also in its unhappy declension. 

Samaria, though situated between Judea and Ga- 
lilee, was distinguished from them both in its polity 
and religion. Its inhabitants occupied a great part of 
the district which had belonged to the tribes, whom 
the kings of Assyria had carried into captivity. 
They mixed the worship of Jehovah with their idols, 
vainly boasted of their relation to Jacob, professed to 
regard the law of Moses, and depreciated the rest of 
the Old Testament. 


They were extremely corrupted in their religious 
views and practices. 

This people the divine Savior pitied, and visited 
them himself, when some sinners were converted. But 
the effusions of his kindness toward this unhappy peo- 
ple appeared most conspicuous, in blessing the minis- 
try of Philip to their spiritual good. Philip, one of the 
eleven, spoken of in the sixth chapter of Acts, driven 
from Jerusalem by persecution, was directed to go to 
Samaria. There he preached Christ, and the gospel 
entered the hearts of many, so that " there was great 
joy in that city." Though the inhabitants were a 
simple and ignorant people, yet when the spirit of 
God was greatly poured out upon them, under Phi- 
lip's preaching, none received the gospel with more 
cordial pleasure. Superstition and diabolical delu- 
sions vanished ; and numbers of both sexes were bap- 

Simon, the sorcerer, who had for a long time de- 
ceived this people with his sorceries, though a stran- 
ger to the nature and power of Christ's religion, was 
convinced that Christianity in general was true, be- 
came an historical believer and was baptized. 

The apostles, hearing of the happy success of the 
gospel at Samaria, sent thither Peter and John, who 
prayed that the Holy Ghost might be imparted 
through the imposition of hands. Their prayer was 
answered. The Spirit was communicated, not only 
in extraordinary gifts, but also in an effusion of the 
same holy graces, which had . appeared in Judea. 
By the former the attention of Simon was attracted. 
His avarice prompted him to attempt to purchase the 
power with money ; in expectation that if possessed 
of the supposed secret, he could soon acquire vast 
wealth. Peter, who at once saw his covetousness and 
ignorance, rebuking him in the severest manner, as- 
sured him his heart was altogether wrong, and that 
notwithstanding his baptism arid profession of Chris- 
tianity, his state was accursed, and exhorted him to 
repent and to seek divine forgiveness. Here we see 
how singularly remote the religion of Jesus is from all 

worldly plans and schemes, and what an awful differ- 
ence there ever is between a real and nominal Chris- 
tian. The conscience of Simon felt the reproof: he 
begged the apostle's prayers, but it does not appear 
he ever prayed for himself. 

Peter and John preaejied through many Samaritan 
villages, and then returned to Jerusalem. 

Thus, converted Jews and converted Samaritans, 
who, while unregenerated, had disagreed in rites, 
were now united in Jesus, and while each felt the 
game obligations to grace, learnt for the first time the, 
sweets and comforts of mutual charity. 



JL HE persecution which had driven many of the re* 
al friends of Christ from Jerusalem, wa's overruled to 
the furtherance of the gospel. After Philip had fin- 
ished his work at Samaria, he was, by an extraordi- 
nary commission, ordered to travel southward toward 
the desert. He soon learnt for what intent ; he fell in 
with an Ethiopian eunuch, a minister of Candace, 
queen of the Ethiopians, who had been worshipping 
at Jerusalem, and was returning home in his chariot, 
and reading the prophet Esaias. The adorable pro- 
vidence of God directed him, at that particular time, 
to the fifty-third chapter, which gives so clear a de- 
scription of Christ crucified. Philip asked him if he 
understood what he was reading. The man, confess- 
ing his ignorance, desired Philip to come and sit with 
him. The evangelist took the opportunity of expound- 
ing the gospel to him through the medium of the pas- 
sage he was then reading, which at once lays open 
the guilty and miserable state of man, his recovery 
only by the grace of Jesus Christ, the nature, end and 
efficacy of his death and resurrection, and justification 
before God, by the knowledge of hira. God gave ef~ 


ficacy to the truths explained, brought hifri to see and 
feel his guilt -::.r.d wickedness, to discover the remedy 
provided for divine acceptance, and as soon as he 
came to a certain water, he desired to be baptized. Phi^ 
Hp, assuring him there was no impediment, if he was* 
sincere in the faith of Christ, the humbled applicant 
professed that he believed that the Jesus of Nazareth, 
whom Philip had preached to him, was indeed the 
Son of God prophesied of in Isaiah, and answered 
the character of Savior there given him. Philip then 
baptized him. 

. Though Philip, by the spirit of the Lord, was im- 
mediately taken from him, yet he went on his way, 
to his own country rejoicing. This joy, had doubt- 
less^ a solid and powerful cause, arising from a spirit- 
ual, internal work, humbling him for sin, and com- 
forting him, in a view of the truths which he had just 
heard explained, with forgiveness by Christ. The 
Eunuch, thus enlightened and rejoicing in God, when 
he returned home, did probably use his influence to 
plant the gospel among his own countrymen. We 
have, however, no scripture light on this subject. 



V//ESAREA,-. situated in the confines of Syria and 
Judea, was the residence of the Roman Governor, a 
city of great importance. 

Philip, after he was caught away from the Eunuch, 
was found at Azotus : " and passing through he 
preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea." 
Here he was stationary many years. Toward the 
conclusion of the period of about thirty years, which 
takes in the history of the Acts, we find him still fix-^ 
ed in the same place, with four virgin daughters, 
where he entertained St. Paul in his last journey to 
Jerusalem. Here we may well suppose he did not 


gpend his time in idleness and inactivity, but with zeal 
and engagedness for the good of souls. 

In this city the grace of God was displayed in the 
conversion of Cornelius ; the history of whom, and 
the method taken by the grace of God for his in- 
struction, and the spiritual good of other Gentiles in 
that city, the reader may see at large in Acts, tenth 
chapter. In these instances of Gentile conversion, 
Christian Jews were taught that Jesus had a chosen 
people among the Gentiles, whom he had come to 
seek and to save, and that Gentile converts were to 
be by them received as fellow-heirs of the grace of 


Antioch ttnd some other Asiatic Churches, 

1 HE good effects which Providence brought out 
of Stephen's persecution were great. Many, who fled 
from persecution, disseminated the gospel in Gentile 
regions. Some travelled as far as Phenice, Cyprus 
and Antioch, still preaching only to Jews- At length, 
some Cypriot and Cyrenian Jew r s ventured to break 
through the pale of distinction, and at Antioch, the 
metropolis of Syria, preached the Lord Jesus to the 
Gentiles. These were called Grecians, because the 
Greek language here prevailed. The Lord, willing to 
overcome effectually the reluctances of self-righteous 
bigotry, caused the idolaters to feel the sanctifying 
power of divine grace accompanying the gospel, and 
great numbers to turn to him. The mother church, 
hearing of this, sent Barnabas, whose piety and charity 
w^ere renowned, to carry on and propagate a work, 
which required more labourers. Salvation, by the 
grace of Christ, thus exemplified on persons, whose 
Jives had hitherto been involved in Paganism, and ev- 
idenced in a manner hitherto unknown, cheered the 
benevolent heart of this devout missionary: with a 

most pleasing prospect of usefulness. Finding many 
converts, he exhorted them to perseverance, and the 
addition of believers was still so large, that he began 
to look out for a coadjutor. He sought for Saul, then 
laboring at Tarsus, perhaps with no great success ; 
" for a prophet is not honored in his own country," 
and brought him to Antioch. This populous city em- 
ployed them a whole year. Christian societies, con- 
sisting in a great measure of Gentiles, were here regu- 
larly formed. And here the followers of Christ were 
first called Christians. A name given them, probably, 
by their adversaries, by way of contempt. But a 
name now honorable to all who maintain the real 
character t)f disciples of their divine Master. 

That the faith of the Christians of Antioch was sig- 
nally operative, and that they rejoiced in the prospect 
of heavenly treasures, they manifested by contribut- 
ing cheerfully to the relief of their poor brethren of 
Jerusalem distressed by a famine. The Holy Ghost 
now called Barnabas arid Saul to other labors ; and 
Seleucia, in the neighborhood, was their first destina- 
tion. Thence they passed to the fertile and pleasant 
island of Cyprus. 

From Salamis, the eastern point of the island, 
to Paphos the western, they spread the glacl tidings 
of the gospel. In this last place they found Elymas, 
a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet, with Sergius 
Paulus, the Roman governor of the island. The 
governor being a man of sense and candor, sent for 
Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of 
God. The good effects of their labors, the sorcerer 
endeavored to prevent ; till Paul, full of holy indigna- 
tion at his diabolical malice, was enabled miraculous- 
ly to strike him blind for a season. Sergius was as- 
tonished " at the doctrine of the Lord," and com- 
menced a Christian from that hour. 

The two apostles sailed now to the adjoining con- 
tinent, and arrived at Perga in Pampriylia. John 
Mark, who had thus far attended them as minister^ 
here left them and returned to Jerusalem. 


Antioch in Pisidia was the next scene of their labors. 
There, on the Sabbath day, they attended the Jew- 
ish synagogue, and Paul, having been invited by the 
rulers to give a word of exhortation, addressed the au- 
dience with such instructions as tended to beget in 
them a conviction of sinfulness, and to give testimony 
to Jesus, concluding with a remarkably plain decla- 
ration 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 im- 
pressed with the news, desired to hear more of the 
subject the next Sabbath. Many Jews and proselytes 
were converted ; and almost the whole city came next 
Sabbath to hear. The envy of the infidel Jews Avas 
hereby excited against Paul, and was manifested in 
most decided and virulent opposition. The two apos- 
tles boldly assured them, that though it was their du- 
ty to carry the news of salvation to them first, yet as 
they despised God's gift of eternal life, they would 
now turn to the Gentiles. The Pagans, feeling that 
they had no righteousness to plead before God, thank- 
fully embraced the gospel, and believed, in great num- 

In Pisidia the apostles proceeded with vast success, 
till a persecution stirred up by the Jews, induced some 
self-righteous ladies, in conjunction with the magis- 
trates, to drive them out of their coasts. And they 
came to Iconium, the northern extremity of the coun- 
try. The disciples whom they left, though harrassed 
with persecution, "were filled with joy and with the 
Holy Ghost." The ministry of these two apostles at 
Iconium, where they continued a long time, was bles- 
sed to the conversion of a great multitude both of Jews 
and Gentiles. The unbelieving Jews, who were Uni- 
tarians in sentiment, exerted their usual malevolence 
and filled the Gentiles with the strongest prejudices 
against the Christians. They labored, notwithstand- 
ing all their knowledge of the law of Moses and the 
prophets, to prevent their Pagan neighbors from being 
instructed in airy thing whitsh deserved the name of 


religion, and persecuted with unceasing acrimony two 
of their own countrymen, who agreed with them in the 
profession of the worship of the one living and true 
God. They evidently preferred to have their Pagan 
neighbors remain buried in the depths of the most 
senseless idolatry in worship, and of vicious profliga- 
cy of life, rather than to have them brought over to 
the real Christian religion, the hearty renunciation of 
their own righteousness, and an humble dependance 
on the atoning blood and justifying righteousness of 
Jesus Christ. In this they exhibited the practical na- 
ture of real Unitarianism, as it stands unconnected 
with the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ. In this 
city, the preaching of Paul and Barnabas excited a 
variety of speculations. The Gentiles were divided, 
and part ranged themselves with the Jews, and part 
with the apostles. The former, for the present, had 
the advantage, because they had the arms of vio- 
lence and persecution, which Christian soldiers can- 
not use. 

The apostles aware of their designs, " fled unto 
Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lyeaonia, and into the re- 
gion that lieth round about : and there they preached 
the gospel." At Lystra, a poor cripple, who ne- 
ver had the use of his feet, with the most respectful 
attention heard Paul preach, and was brought to be- 
lieve there was virtue in the name of Jesus Christ to 
heal him. To confirm him in his infant views of the 
Christian religion, to attest the truth, and to convince 
men that Jesus was both mighty and benevolent, 
Paul was enabled by a word to restore the man to the 
full use of his limbs. Immediately these poor idola- 
ters 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 numerous fables of Hellenistic vanity, abound- 
ed. They had heard of Jupiter and Mercury, parti- 
cularly as visiting mankind ; and now Barnabas, whose 
figure of the two was the most majestic, must be Ju- 
piter, 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 would have done sacrifice with the people. 
It was a grievous circumstance ; but an opportunity 
was hereby given to the apostles to demonstrate the 
Spirit of real godliness. The humble teachers of the 
gospel, rent their clothes, ran in among the people, and 
expostulating with them on the absurdity of their con- 
duct, assured them they were no more than men like 
themselves, and that the object of their preaching to 
them \vas, to turn them from their idolatrous practices, 
to the worship of the living God, the maker of heaven 
and earth. Thus faithfully did they preach conviction 
of sin to the Lycaonians, and with difficulty prevented 
the actual performance of the sacrifice, which would 
have given them more pain than the persecution 
which followed. 

Jews, who came from Antioch and Iconium, soon 
persuaded the fickle multitude to harbor the worst 
opinion of Paul and Barnabas, and to persecute them. 
In a tumult Paul was stoned and dragged out of the 
city, as dead; but while the discipfes stood round 
about him, he rose up, miraculously restored, and 
came into the city, and next day departed with Bar- 
nabas to Derbe, There many were converted, and 
the persecuting spirit intermitting, they visited again, 
in circuit the regions of Pisidia, and Lycaonia, en- 
couraging the disciples to persevere in the faith of Je- 
sus in confidence of divine support, and in full expec- 
tation of the kingdom of heaven, into which real chris- 
tians must not expect to enter without much tribula- 

Having ordained some of the brethren to minister 
in every church, and having solemnly recommended 
pastors and flocks to the care of that gracious Lord, 
on whom they had believed, they returned through 
Pamphylia, preached again at Perga, and from Attalia 
sailed to the great Antioch, whence they had been, by 
the prayers of the church, recommended to the grace 
of God for the work which they had fulfilled. The 
Christians of Antioch now rested on Christ alone, and, 
manifested their faith and love by acts of filial obedi- 


ence. Here Paul and Barnabas spent some time, and 
were instrumental of great consolation to their Chris- 
tian brethren ; afterward they were about to visit again 
the Asiatic churches. Barnabas proposed to take 
Mark with them, but Paul, remembering his former 
desertion, thought him unfit for the work. The con- 
sequence was Paul and Barnabas separated ; Barna- 
bas with Mark sailed to Cyprus. Paul took Silas for 
his fellow laborer, and went through Syria and Silicia 
confirming the churches. 

In Lycaonia he found the pious Timothy, whom he 
took as an associate, and confirmed the Gentile con- 
verts every where in Christian liberty: thus were the 
churches established in the faith, and daily increased 
in number. 



-IN this country the grossest idolatry had reigned ; but 
here the grace of God accompanying the ministry of 
Paul among them had a wonderful effect, to turn great 
numbers of vile idolaters from their vanities to the 1 
love of the truth in Jesus Christ. And several church- 
es were planted among them, formed almost, if not 
entirely, of Gentiles. These understood and received 
the apostolic doctrine, that justification is attainable 
only by faith in Christ crucified. They received 
the spirit of adoption, by which they rejoiced in God 
as their Father, and cheerfully suffered much persecu- 
tion for the name of Christ. But on Paul's leaving 
them, with the most pleasing hopes of their spiritual 
growth and steadfastness in the great doctrines which 
he had taught them, certain Judaizing teachers sought 
to pervert them from the simplicity of the gospel way 
of life and salvation by faith in Christ's name, by urg- 
ing upon them circumcision and various other Mosaic 
rites, as necessary to their salvation. These teachers 
endeavored to alienate the 'affections of the Gentile 


converts of Galatia from Paul, and to foster among 
them a self-righteous spirit, by endeavoring to bring 
them not to depend on Christ alone for salvation. 
Paul having learned what was taking place at Gala- 
tia in his absence, addressed to them a very plain and 
affectionate letter, in which he warns them of their dan- 
ger from Judaizing teachers, and asserts that if they 
mixed circumcision, or any work of the law, with 
Christ, in the article of justification, Christ would be 
of no effect to them ; that Christ must be their whole 
Savior, if they were saved by him ; law and grace 
in this case being quite opposite. He urges that the 
doctrine they were embracing would but foster a self- 
righteous spirit, void of love to God and man, and 
make them no better, in their spiritual state, than 
they were while idolaters ; that if they cherished this 
spirit, they would not experience the liberty of the 
gospel, but be mere slaves in religion, still unconvert- 
ed, and merely self-righteous, and that the gospel is 
entirely distinct from any thing which mere man is 
apt to teach or ready to embrace. In the historical 
part of the epistle, he vindicates his own apostolic 
character, and with clear argument and strong dic- 
tion, inculcates the all important article of justifica- 
tion, and presses the necessity of continuing in it, to 
be benefitted by it. He appeals to their own experi- 
ence of the happy fruits of the gospel, which they 
had felt, and represents himself as travailing in birth 
for them, till Christ be formed in them. From their 
readiness to listen to Judaizing teachers, he had just 
reason to be doubtful of their state, and therefore he 
manifests his great desire to visit them, and give them, 
in their perilous condition, personal instruction. Their 
evil advisers were so mischievous to their souls, that 
he wishes them to be cut off, and assures them that 
the divine vengeance would overtake them. He in- 
forms them that the persecution, which he himself en- 
dured, was on account of this very doctrine, which 
he was defending; that this being lost, the gospel 
becomes a mere name, and Christianity is lost in the 
group of common religions. 


There is reason to hope that the best effects attend- 
ed this epistle ; for in his epistle to the Corinthians we 
find St. Paul exhorting his brethren of Corinth to use 
the same plan for the relief of the poor saints, 
which he had suggested to the Galatians. From 
this it appears that he still had influence in Ga- 
latia, and that the Judaical perversion was over- 



JL HIS city, though originally Macedonian, and nam- 
ed from Philip the father of Alexander, was then a 
Roman colony, inhabited by Roman citizens, and regu- 
lated by Roman laws and customs. Paul and Silas were 
determined, in their visit to this city, by a nightly vis- 
ion, in which there stood a man of Macedonia, before 
Paul, saying, " Come over into Macedonia and help 
us." Here, these two apostles spent a few days with 
little prospect of success. But on the Sabbath they 
went out of the city by a river-side, where prayer was 
wont to be made, and sat down, and spake unto the wo- 
men who resorted thither. One of them was Lydia, 
a person of some property. Her heart the Lord open- 
ed to attend to the things spoken of Paul. She was 
baptized, and her household, and with affectionate 
importunity prevailed on the apostle and his compan- 
ions to make her house their home in Philippi. Here 
we have the commencement of the Philippian church. 
Satan, vexed at the prospect, employed a girl posses- 
sed with a spirit of Python, a diabolical spirit, to 
bring, if possible, the gospel into contempt. She 
constantly followed the Christian preachers, and bore 
them the most honorable testimony, " saying, these 
men are the servants of the most high God, which 
shew unto us the way of salvation." Paul was griev- 
ed, being fully sensible of the ill effect, which a sup- 


posed union between Christ arid Python must 
sion in the minds of men ; and was enabled miracu- 
lously to eject the demon. The proprietors of the 
girl, who had made a traffic of her oracular powers, 
finding that she was dispossessed of the demon, 
wreaked their vengeance on Paul and Silas, and by 
slanderous accusations induced the magistrates to 
scourge them severely, and to commit them to prison* 
The jailer thrust them into the inner prison, and fas- 
tened their feet in the stocks. But the enemies of 
the truth cannot prevent the consolations of the Holy 
Ghost, from being communicated to the people of God 
united in affliction. " At midnight, Paul and Silas 
prayed and sang praises to God ;" and the Lord caus- 
ed a great earthquake, which opened all the doors of 
the prison, and loosed every one's bonds. The jailer 
" awaking out of sleep, and seeing the prison doors 
open, drew his sword, and would have killed himself, 
supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul 
cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm ; 
for we are all here.'* Struck with horror at the 
thought of the world to come, to which he had been 
hastening in all his guilt, he came trembling, and fell 
down before Paul and Silas, " brought them out, and 
said, sirs, what must 1 do to be saved." The answer 
was plain and direct, such, as in every like case of en- 
quiry, ought to be given: "Believe on 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 for- 
giveness by the blood of Christ. His conversion ap- 
pears to have been sound. His ready submission to 
baptism, his affectionate treatment of those who had 
just before been the objects of his severity, and his 
joy in the Lord, evinced that he was turned from Sa- 
tan to God. His whole family shared with him in the 
same blessings. 

In the morning, the magistrates sent an order for 
the dismission of the prisoners. But Paul thought it 
not inconsistent with Christian meekness, to demand 
from them an apology for their illegal behavior to 


Roman citizens ; for such it seems Silas was, as well 
as Paul. The magistrates, alarmed, came personally 
to make concessions, which were easily accepted* 
Being dismissed from prison, they entered into Ly- 
dia's house, comforted the brethren, and left Philippi 
for a season. 

Some years after, the apostle again visited this peo- 
ple, and found them still in a flourishing state. 

Such was the work of God at Philippi. A considera- 
ble number of persons, once worshippers of idols, de- 
voted to the basest lusts, and sunk in the grossest ig- 
norance, were brought to the knowledge and love of 
the true God, and to the hope of salvation by his Son 
Jesus. In this faith and hope, they persevered 
amidst a severe persecution, steadily brought forth 
the fruits of charity, and lived in the joyful expecta- 
tion of a blessed resurrection. 



OF Amphipolis and Apollonia, the next cities of Ma- 
cedonia through which St. Paul passed, nothing par- 
ticulars recorded. But at Thessalonica, a city re-built 
by Philip of Macedon, and deriving its name from 
his conquest of Thessaly, a church was formed inferi- 
or, in solid piety, to none in the primitive times. Here 
Paul followed his usual custom of preaching first to 
the Jews in their synagogue, and spent the first three 
Sabbaths in pointing out the evidences of Christianity. 
The custom of the Jews, in allowing any of their 
countrymen to exhort in their synagogues, gave the 
apostle an easy opportunity of preaching to this peo- 
ple, till their usual enmity began to exert itself. 
Some of the Jews were, however, converted ; and a 
great multitude of devout Gentiles, who used to attend 
the synagogue, " and of the chief women not a few." 


The restless, unconverted Jews were not ashamed 
to join with the most profligate Pagans in persecuting 
the new converts to Christianity, and decent hypo- 
crites and open sinners were now seen united in op- 
posing the church of God. They assaulted the house 
of Jason, by whom, Paul and his companions were 
entertained. Precautions having been used to secrete 
them, Jason and some other Christians were brought 
before the magistrates, and calumniated with the 
usual charge of sedition. The Roman governors 
were, however, content with exacting a security from 
Jason and his friends, for the peace of the state. 
But the apostle knew too well the malice of the Jews 
to trust to their moderation, and therefore was obliged 
abruptly to leave the infant church, which appears, 
however, not to have been without pastors, whom, he 
charges the brethren, in an epistle soon after address- 
ed to them, to honor and obey. 

The growth of this church in godliness was soon re- 
nowned through the Christian world. Their persecu- 
tion appears to have been grievious, and hence the 
comfort of God their Savior, and the prospect of the 
invisible world, became more and more precious to 
them. The apostle made two attempts to return to 
them, but was as often disappointed by the malice of 
Satan. To strengthen and comfort them, he sent 
Timothy to them. From him, on his return, he learnt 
the strength and constancy of their faith and love, 
and their unshaken attachment to him, and affection- 
ate remembrance of him. They appear to have felt 
the love of God in the strongest manner, and to have 
exercised it towards all around them. 

To them the apostle wrote two affectionate epistles, 
in which he gave them much important instruction. 
Afterward he visited them and gave them much ex- 

Berea and Athens. 

Jb ROM Thessalonica, Paul was conducted to Berea 
a city of Macedonia. Here also was a Jewish syna- 
gogue, and here the preaching of the cross was, for the 
first time candidly received by the Jews. " They re- 
ceived the word with all readiness of mind, and 
searched the scriptures daily, whether those things 
were so. Therefore many of them believed : also ho- 
norable women which were Greeks, and of men not a 
few." The rage of the Thessalonian Jews soon, 
however, disturbed this pleasing scene and stirred up 
a persecution, which obliged the Christians to use 
some art to secure the apostle's 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 Athens, a 
city of Greece, renowned for taste and science, the 
school in which the greatest Romans studied philoso- 
phy. Here, while waiting for the arrival of Silas and 
Timothy, he beheld the monuments of the city with 
other eyes than those of a scholar and a gentleman. 
He saw, that even the excess of learning brought men 
no nearer to God : that no place was more given to 
idolatry. In the midst of classical luxury, he saw his 
Maker disgraced, and souls perishing in sin. Com- 
passion for them, and indignation at their idolatry and 
refinement in sin, swallowed up all other emotions* 
He felt the worth of souls, and laid open the reasons of 
Christianity to Jews in their synagogue, and to Gen- 
tile worshippers who attended the synagogue, and 
daily to all persons whom he met in the forum. 
Among the Pagan philosophers,' the Epicureans and 
the Stoics, were two opposite sects. The former plac- 
ed the chief good in pleasure, the latter in virtue/ 
These were correspondent to the two chief sects among 
the Jews, the Sadducees and the Pharisees, and 


indeed to the dissipated and the self-righteous, who 
substitute their own reason and virtue in the room of 
Divine grace and influence. As these will in any age 
unite against the real friends of Jesus Christ, so it was 
here. To them the apostle appeared a mere babbler ; 
" a setter forth of strange Gods." Jesus and the res- 
iirrection, which he preached, were ideas from which 
their minds were so abhorrent, that they took them for 
new gods. 

It belonged to the court of Areopagus to take cog- 
nizance of things of this nature. This court had un- 
justly condemned to death the famous Socrates for 
his having honestly rebuked vice and improbity. St. 
Paul's escape from condemnation here, was owing to 
circumstances. This court, under the tolerating max- 
ims of its Roman superiors, seems now to have had 
only the privilege of examining tenets as a synod, 
without the penal power of magistracy. 

Paul, in his defence before this court, diplayed the 
native greatness of his mind, and the sanctified good- 
ness of his heart. In language and by arguments strict- 
ly classical, he reproved their idolatry and announced to 
them so much of the gospel as was adapted to their 
very, ignorant state. In this, though himself a prisoner 
at the bar, he labors to beget in the minds of the court 
a conviction of sin, and to prepare them to receive 
gospel mercy. A few believed in reality and with 
steadfastness, among whom was Dionysius, a member 
of the court, and a woman named Damaris. These, 
Paul having left to the care of that gracious God, who 
had opened their eyes, departed from a city as yet too 
haughty, too scornful, and too indifferent, concerning 
things of infinite moment, to receive the gospel. The 
little success at Athens evinces, that a spirit of literary 
trifling in religion, where all is mere theory, and the 
conscience is unconcerned, does effectually harden 
the heart. 




THIS was at that time the metropolis of Greece. 
Its situation on an isthmus rendered it remarkably 
convenient for trade. It was the residence of the Ro- 
man governor of Achaia, the name then given to all 
Greece, and it was full of opulence, learning, luxury, 
and sensuality. Hither the apostle came from Athens, 
and labored both among the Jews and the Gentiles. 
Here Providence gave him the acquaintance of 
Aquila and his wife Priscilla, two Jewish Christians, 
lately expelled from Italy, with other Jews, by an 
edict of the emperor Claudius. With them he wrought 
as a tent maker, being of the same occupation : for 
every Jew, whether rich or poor, was obliged to fol- 
low some trade. After the arrival of Silas and Timo- 
thy, the apostle, with much vehemence, preached to 
his countrymen ; but the only returns he met with, 
were opposition and abuse. The apostle was un- 
daunted. He shook his raiment, told them he was 
clear of their destruction, would leave them, and ap- 
ply himself to the Gentiles in the city. With this de- 
nunciation, he left the synagogue, and entered into the 
house of one Justus, a devout person, well affected to 
the gospel. Crispus also, the ruler of the synagogue, 
with his whole family, received the truth. Though 
we hear of no more Jewish converts made here, yet 
many Corinthians were converted. And a gra- 
cious vision from the Lord, informing that he 

much people in this city, encouraged the apostle- 
to stay here a year and a half. After his departure. 
Appollos, a zealous and eloquent Alexandrian Jew, 
came to Corinth, and was made a powerful instru- 
ment of building up this church, and of silencing the 
opposition of the Jews. We first hear of this man at 
Ephesus, speaking and teaching diligently the things 
of the, Lord, knowing no more of Christianity than 


what was contained in the system of John the Baptist, 
till instructed more perfectly in the way of life through 
Jesus Christ, by Aquila and Priscilla. From Ephe- 
sus he passed on to labor at Corinth; where "he 
mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shew- 
ing by the scriptures, that Jesus was Christ," 

St. Paul appears, so far as circumstances admitted, 
to have kept up a constant correspondence with the 
churches. The care of them, as he says, came daily 
upon him. The Corinthians wrote to him to ask his 
advice on some cases of conscience, by which he 
learnt that a variety of evils and abuses had crept in 
among them. Perhaps no church was more numer- 
ous, and none less holy in the apostolic age. They 
were proud of gifts, contentious, self-conceited, and 
warm partizans for Paul, Apollos and other teachers, 
and by the indulgence of this spirit, shewed how little 
they had learnt of true wisdom. The apostle wrote 
them two faithful and pungent epistles, in' which he 
endeavors by many weighty considerations to bring 
them to live and act in character as the affectionate 
friends and humble followers of Christ. 

Among the Corinthians, there was so much con- 
formity to the world, that they were very little expos- 
ed to persecution ; they were even invited by their idol- 
atrous neighbors, to partake of their idol-feasts, and 
there were some who complied. This wordly con- 
formity the apostle sharply rebukes. Among them 
were false apostles, who, by pretending to instruct 
gratis, sought to depreciate Paul as a mercenary per- 
,son. Hence, while he rebukes the evils of this peo- 
ple, he observes, that he labored among them freely, 
which the false apostles pretended to do. He pro- 
ceeds to correct an abuse which obtained in their as- 
semblies, in the article of decency of dress, and an- 
other much worse, the profanation of the Lord's sup- 
per. He insists also, on the correction of their abuse 
of spiritual gifts, particularly those of languages. It 
appears that love among the Corinthians was low, and 
that they, in some respects, prized gifts more highly 
than grace itself. There were some in this outwardly 


flourishing, but inwardly distempered, church, who 
even denied the resurrection of the body, which gave 
occasion to the apostle to illustrate that important ar- 
ticle of our holy religion. 

But notwithstanding all the corruptions which so 
much abounded in this church, the apostle mentions 
a very common effect which attended the faithful 
preaching of the gospel even at Corinth. If an igno- 
rant idolater came into their assemblies, he was so 
penetrated with the display of the truth as it is in Je- 
sus, that he could not but discover the very secrets of 
his soul, would prostrate himself in the worship of 
God, and report that God was in them of a truth. 

It appears that the two epistles which the apostle 
wrote them, had a happy effect ; that many of this 
church were truly recovered to a state of affection and 
practice worthy of Christianity. 



OUR first accounts of the Roman church are very 
imperfect. This church, however, at an early period, 
appears by no means insignificant, either for the num- 
ber, or the piety, of its converts. Their faith was spo- 
ken of throughout the whole world. The epistle, 
which St. Paul addressed to them, will, while the 
world endures, be the food of Christian minds, and 
the richest system of doctrine to scriptural theologi- 
ans. By the distinct directions which he gives for 
the maintenance of charity between Jews and Gen- 
tiles, it appears there must have been a considerable 
number of the former among them. Many of these, 
as persons of note, and eminent for real piety, in this 
epistle, he salutes by name, in the most kind and af- 
fectionate manner. 

Paul had long wished, and even projected a visit to 
this church. He did not f hawever, expect that his 


journey thither should at last be at Caesar's expense* 
He was confident it should be " in the fulness of the 
blessing of the gospel of Christ." And he entreats 
the prayers of the Romans, that he may be delivered 
from the infidel Jews, and be acceptable in his minis- 
try 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 re- 
freshed. Thus did Christians in those days entreat 
the prayers of their brethren throughout the world, and 
sympathize with one another. Their prayers were an- 
swered. Paul was saved from Jewish malice, was ac- 
ceptable to Jewish converts, " who had compassion 
on him in his bonds," and was conducted safe to Rome. 
His two years imprisonment at Rome, the apostle em- 
ployed in receiving and faithfully instructing, without 
molestation, all who came to him. On account of his 
imprisonment and examination, the nature of the gos- 
pel became a subject of enquiry in Nero's court, and 
some of the tyrant's family hopefully became chris- 
tians indeed. The indulgences granted to Paul as a 
Roman citizen, encouraged many preachers at Rome 
and its vicinity, to make greater exertions than before 
they had dared to do, for the good of souls. 



A HIS city of Phrygia was in the neighborhood of La- 
odicea and Hierapolis, and all three seem to have 
been converted by the ministry of Epaphras the Co- 
lossian, a companion and fellow-laborer of Paul, who 
attended him at Rome during his imprisonment there, 
and informed him of the sincerity and fruitfulness 
of their Christian profession. But the apostle, in his 
epistle to his brethren of Colosse, knowing some of 
the dangers of their station to which they were expos- 
ed, cautions them against philosophy and vain deceit, 


against Judaical dependancies and rites, and against il- 
legitimate humility and self-righteous austerities, as 
carrying the appearance of wisdom and goodness, but 
really leading only to extravagant self-estimation ; cal- 
culated to draw the mind from that simplicity of de- 
pendence on Christ, which is the true rest oT the soul, 
and the right frame of a Christian. For the entire 
beauty of this epistle the reader is referred to the epis- 
tle itself. 



The seven Churches of Asia. 

his departure from Corinth, Paul visited Ephe- 
sus, one of the seven churches of Asia, and first ad- 
dressed by St. John in the book of Revelation. His 
stay was short, but the impression made on his hearers 
must have been remarkably great, as they pressed his 
longer continuance among them. He left, however, 
Aquila and Priscilla with them, whose labors were 
afterwards assisted by Apollos. 

Paul himself, returning to Ephesus, baptized in the 
name of Jesus about twelve disciples, who had hither- 
to received only John's baptism. From this circum- 
stance we learn, that from the first preaching of the 
Baptist nothing had been done in vain. The imper- 
fect elements of that harbinger of Christ had paved 
the way for clearer discoveries, and a variety of prepa- 
ratory works had tended to ripen the Church of God 
into the fulness of light and holiness. 

Paul preached three months in the Jewish syna- 
ogue at Ephesus, till the usual perverseness of the 
ews induced him to desist, and to form the new con- 
verts into, a distinct church. One Tyrannus lent the 
apostle his school for two years, in which he daily 
ministered. And the whole region of Asia Proper had 
at different times an opportunity of hearing the gospel. 
The word of God wonderfully triumphed at .pphe- 
sus. The work of conversion there was deep, vigor- 



, and soul-transforming to a great degree. Many, 
Struck with horror at the recollection of former crimes^ 
made an open confession ; and many, who had dealt 
in the abominations of sorcery, now manifested their 
sincere detestation of them, by burning their books 
before all men, the price of which amounted to a large 
sum. " So mightily grew the word of God, and pre- 

The spiritual power of Jesus was never seen in a 
stronger light since the day of Pentecost ; and the venal 
priesthood of Diana, the celebrated goddess of Ephe- 
sus, apprehending the total ruin of their hierarchy, 
with their devotees, made a violent effort to support 
their sinking superstition, and set the whole city into 
an uproar. But the prudent and eloquent harangue 
of a magistrate, called the town- clerk, was the pro- 
vidential instrument of Paul's preservation and de- 
liverance. He calmed the spirit of the Ephesians, 
and silenced the uproar ; after which Paul affection- 
ately embraced the disciples, and left Ephesus. He 
left pastors to superintend that and the neighboring 
churches. But he foresaw with grief, as he afterward 
told these pastors in a very pathetic address, when he 
had sent for them to Miletus, that their present puritj 
would not continue unstained. Wolves would enter 
\mong them, to devour the flock, and among them- 
selV r es heretical perverseness would find countenance, 
and ^roduce a pernicious separation. To prevent 
these e v ^ s tne apostle exhorted them to the persever- 
ing dischv ar S e f a ^ the duties of a holy life and con- 

What the L ' os P e l really is, both as to doctrine, and 
duly, may be cc ~^ ecte d w ^ tn tne greatest certainty, in 
the excellent Enj ^ e wn * cn P au ^ wrote to this church, 
containing a most a >mirable S 7 stem of divinity, suit- 
ed to the instruction o> * every * church in eyer ^ a S G ' 

In PaulV absence fro* ' ^ ? UtC ^ Ti ^ th ^. a P~ 
pears to have been the cL paSt r * ^ rom 1 the dir f - 
tions which he smve Tim rffc concennng the regula- 
tion of public worsh^ a ? T ^aracter and conduct 
of chu^ o -clesiastical polity 


had taken a firm root in this church. From the vis- 
ion 1 which St. John received in the isle of Patmos 
from the Lord Jesus Christ, and the several charges 
there given him to be addressed to the seven church- 
es of Asia, descriptive of their spiritual state at that 
time, and giving suitable directions to each of them ? 
it appears, that the Ephesians were then still alive in 
the faith. This was near the close of the first century. 
They patiently bore the cross, ever attendant on the 
real faith of Jesus, and labored in good works with- 
out fainting. They had, however, declined from the 
intenseness of that love, which they had at first exhi- 
bited. Their hearts panted not after Christ with that: 
steady ardour with which they had formerly been an- 
imated. Though they had still the marks of health 
remaining, their vigor had much abated. In this they 
justly deserved blame. True zeal and true charity 
should ever grow, as the understanding has opportu- 
nity to improve. The ill effects of this decline, grad- 
ually paved the way, by the influence of their exam- 
ple on the rising generation, to unchurch this people, 
and for the desolation in which this very region now 
remains under Mahometan wickedness and ignorance. 

The church of Smyrna was next addressed. It was 
once in a state of great purity of doctrine, and holiness 
of heart and life. Though poor in wordly circum* 
stances, its members were rich in grace. Attempts 
were, however, now making to introduce Judaical cor- 
ruptions among them, by those who were of the syna- 
gogue of Satan. They were reminded that a severe 
persecution was soon coming upon them, which should 
last some time, and they were exhorted to continue 
faithful unto death, with the assurance that the crown 
of life should be the reward of their fidelity 

The church of Pergamus was approved. of in gene- 
ral. They lived in the midst of a very impious peo- 
ple, who in effect worshipped Satan himself, and did 
all in their power to support his, kirigdom. Yet was 
the zeal of this church firm and steady. They did 
not, however, pass without some blame. There 
were some among them, who acting like Balaam of 


old, were employed, by Satan, to entice some of this 
church to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to com- 
mit fornication ; two evils often closely connected. 
Some went even into the abomination of the Nicolai- 
tans. These are exhorted to repent, from the fear of 
divine vengeance. On the whole, with a few excep- 
tions, the church of Pergamus was pure and lively, 
and upheld the standard of truth, though encircled 
with the flames of martyrdom. One from their num- 
ber received the crown of martyrdom while adher- 
ing to the truth as it is in Jesus, Concerning this 
church Christ testifies ; " I know thy works, and 
where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is ; and 
thou boldest fast my name, and hast not denied my 
faith even in those days, wherein Antipas was my 
faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Sa- 
tan dwelleth." 

The church in Thyatira was also addressed, and re- 
presented in a thriving state. Charity, active services, 
patient dependance on God, and a steady reliance 
on the divine promises marked their works. Their last 
works are represented to be more than their first. But 
a few things are alleged against this church. They 
suffered an artful woman to seduce some into wicked 
practices. Her allegorical name was Jezebel, doubt- 
less from her near resemblance in practice to the wife 
of Ahab, who exerted all her influence to promote idol- 
atry in Israel. Our Lord informs them, that he gave 
her space to repent, but to no purpose, and there- 
fore now denounces severe threatenings against her 
and her associates, at the same time vindicating his 
claim to divine worship by the incommunicable title 
of Him who searches the hearts, and declaring that 
he would make himself known to be such in all the 
churches. On those, who had kept themselves unspot- 
ted from these evils, he declares he would put no 
other burden; only he exhorts them to hold fast 
what they already had to the day of judgment. 

The church of Sardis presents us with an unpleas- 
ant spectacle. They are spoken of as in a very droop- 
ing condition. They had neglected that course of 


prayer and watchfulness, which is necessary to pre 
serve the divine life in vigor ; and their works were now 
only faintly distinguishable from those of persons al- 
together dead in sin. Some good things however re- 
mained in them, which yet were ready to die ; but 
their lives brought no glory to God, nor benefit to the 
cause of Christ, and could scarce prevent its being 
scandalized in the world. A few names, indeed, there 
were in Sardis on whom Jesus looked with complacen- 
cy ; they had not defiled their garments ; but most of 
the Christians there were deeply stained by corrup^ 
tion, probably by uniting with the world in their wick^ 
ed practices. All here are called upon to live near 
to God, with the assurance that if they thus do they 
shall be crowned at last as the real friends of Christ. 

Philadelphia is highly extolled. They were a hum- 
ble, charitable, fervent people, deeply sensible of their 
weakness, and fearful of being seduced by Satan and 
their own hearts. To them, having a little strength, 
a promise of strong support is given, because they had 
maintained true patience in suffering. 

The religion of Christ bids us to be cool in our af- 
fections but only to worldly things ; the lukewarm state, 
therefore, of Laodicea is highly blamed. The Laodi- 
ceans were satisfied with themselves and desired no 
higher attainments. They had learnt to maintain, in 
easy indolence an orthodoxy of sentiment without 
any awakened and affectionate attention to the real 
activity of vital piety. 

Such was the situation of the seven churches o(* 
Asia. " He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spi- 
rit saith unto the churches." 


The remainder of the first Century. 

JL HE apostles in general appear not to have left Ja- 
dea, till after the first council held at Jerusalem. 
Probably the threatening appearances of its desola- 
tion by the Romans, hastened their departure into 
distant regions. Before the close of this century the 
power of the gospel appears to have been felt through- 
out the Roman empire. I shall divide this chapter 
into four parts, and review, first, the progress and per- 
secution of the church. Secondly, the lives, charac- 
ters, and deaths of the apostles. Thirdly, the heresies 
of this period. And, lastly, the general character of 
Christianity in this first age. 

It was about the year of our Lord 64, that the city 
of Rome suffered a general conflagration. The author 
of this appears to have been Nero. He, however, en- 
deavored, by every measure, to fix the odium of this 
horrid deed upon the Christians at Rome, and thereby 
to excite against them a spirit of persecution. They, 
though actuated by the purest benevolence, by call- 
ing upon their neighbors to repent and believe the 
gospel, and thus to flee from the wrath to come, had 
excited the bitter resentment of the opposers of the gos- 
pel. Thus the Christians at Rome, by their exertions 
lor the spiritual and eternal good of their heathen 
neighbors, had incurred the hatred of Nero and oth- 
ers inimical to a life of holiness. When the city was 
burnt, the Christians were charged by Nero with hav- 
ing been the incendiaries. The minds of the opposers 
of Christianity were hereby greatly exasperated against 
them, and a bitter persecution immediately ensued. 
The Christians were seized, were covered with skins of 
wild beasts and torn by dogs, were crucified, and set on 
fire, that they might serve for lights in the night time. 
Nero offered his garden for this spectacle, and exhibr 


itccl the games of the circus. It appears from weft 
authenticated history, that Nero ordered some of tha 
Christians to be covered with wax and other combus- 
tible materials; and that, after a sharp stake was put 
under their chin, to make them continue upright, they 
were burnt alive to give light to the spectators. It is 
probable that this persecution was not confined to 
Rome, but that it extended to other parts of the Ro- 
man empire. The church in Spain appears at this 
time to have had her martyrs. 

Three or four years were probably the utmost ex- 
tent of this tremendous persecution, as in the year 68 
the cruel tyrant was himself, by a dreadful exit, sum- 
moned before the Divine tribunal. He left the Ro- 
man world in a state of extreme confusion. Judea 
partook of it in an eminent degree. About forty years 
after our Lord's sufferings, wrath came on the body of 
the Jewish nation to the uttermost. But before the 
destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies, the 
Christian Jews, warned by a divine command, fled from 
that devoted city, to Pella, a village beyond Jordan ; 
where they were saved from the destruction which 
soon after overwhelmed their countrymen. 

The death of Nero, and the destruction of Jerusa- 
lem would naturally occasion some respite to the chris- 
tians from their sufferings ; and we hear no more of 
their persecuted state, till the reign of Domitian, the 
last of the Flavian family, who succeeded to the em- 
pire in the year 81. He does not appear to have ra- 
ged against the Christians, till the latter end of his 
reign. Indeed, in imitation of his father Vespasian, he 
made enquiry for such of the Jews as were descended 
from the royal line of David. His motives were evi- 
dently political. But there wanted not those who 
were glad of an opportunity of wreaking their malice 
on Christians. Some persons were charged with be- 
ing related to the royal family, who were brought be- 
fore the emperor. They appear to have been related 
to our Lord, grandsons of Jude the apostle, his cousin. 
Domitian asked them, if they were of the family of 
David,, which they acknowledged. He then enquired 


what possessions they had. They laid open their po- 
verty, and owned that they maintained themselves by 
their labor. The truth of their confession was eviden- 
ced by their hands, and their appearance in general. 
Domitian then interrogated them concerning Christ 
and his kingdom, when and where it should appear. 
They answered, like their Master, when questioned by 
Pilate, that his kingdom was not of this world, but 
heavenly ; that its glory should be at the consummation 
of the world, when he should judge the quick and the 
dead, and reward every man according to his works. 
Poverty is sometimes a defence against oppression, 
though it never shields from contempt. Domitian was 
satisfied, that his throne was in no danger from Chris- 
tian ambition, and the grandsons of Jude had the hon- 
or of being dismissed with the same sort of derision, 
with which their Savior had been by Herod. Thus 
had the son of God provided for his relations ; they 
were poor in worldly circumstances, but rich in faith, 
and heirs of his heavenly kingdom. 

As Domitian improved in cruelty, toward the end 
of his reign, he renewed the horrors of Nero's persecu- 
tion. He put to death many persons accused of athe- 
ism, the common charge against Christians, on account 
of their refusing to worship the Pagan gods. Among 
these was the consul Flavius Clemens, his cousin, who 
had espoused Flavia his relation. Some were spoil- 
ed of their goods, and Domitilla herself was banished 
into the island of Pandataria. These two noble per- 
sons, appear to have been genuine Christians, distin- 
guished for eminent piety, and for their contempt of 
secular ambition, and the vices of the imperial court. 

In the year 96, Domitian was slain, and Nerva, the 
succeeding emperor, published a pardon, for those 
who were condemned for impiety, recalled those who 
were banished, and forbad the accusing of any person 
tvn account of impiety or Judaism. Others, who were 
under accusation, or under sentence of condemnation, 
now escaped by the lenity of Nerva. Domitilla, how- 
ever, still continued in exile, probably because she 
was a relation of the late tyrant. Doubtless she was not 
forsaken of bar God and Savior. 


II. I am now to review the lives, characters and 
deaths of the apostles. 

The first of the twelve apostles, who suffered mar- 
tyrdom, we have seen, was James the son of Zebedee, 
who fell a sacrifice to Herod Agrippa's ambitious desire 
of popularity. I recall him to the reader's memory on 
account of a remarkable circumstance attending his 
death. The man, who had drawn him before the 
tribunal, when he saw the readiness with which he 
submitted to martrydom, was struck with remorse, 
and, by one of those sudden conversions, not infre- 
quent amidst the remarkable out-pourings of the Spi- 
rit, was himself turned from the power of Satan to 
God, and confessed Christ with great cheerfulness. 
They were both led to execution, and in the way the 
accuser requested the apostle's forgiveness, which he 
soon obtained. James turning to him answered, 
" Peace be to thee," and kissed him, and they were 
beheaded together. The efficacy of divine grace, and 
the blessed fruit of holy example, are both illustrated 
in this story, of which it were to be wished we knew 
more than the very scanty account which has been 

The other James was preserved in Judea to a 
much later period. His martyrdom took place about 
the year 62, and his Epistle was published a little be- 
fore his death. He always resided at Jerusalem. On 
account of his singular innocence and integrity, the 
name of Just was generally given him. Many Jews 
respected the man, and admired the fruits of the gos - 
pel in him. It appears from well authenticated hia- 
tory, that the Jews thought it a pitiable thing that so 
good a man should be a Christian. His firm adher- 
ence to Jesus Christ and to the doctrines of the cross, 
"was, however, their abhorrence. Paul's escape from 
their malice by appealing to Caesar had sharpened 
their spirits, and on James, who was merely a Jew, 
and could plead no Roman exemptions, they were 
determined to wreak their vengeance. Festus dying 
president of Judca, before his successor, Albinus, ar- 
rived, Ananias, the high-priest, a Saducee, and a mer* 


cilcss persecutor, holding, in the interior, the supreme 
power, called a council, before which he brought 
James, with some others, accusing him of breaking 
the law of Moses. But it was not easy to procure his 

The great were uneasy on account of the vast in- 
crease of Christian converts by his means, and endeav- 
ored to entangle him by persuading him to mount a 
pinnacle of the temple y and to speak to the people as- 
sembled at the time of the passover, against Christian- 
ity. James, being placed aloft, delivered a frank con- 
fession of Jesus, as then sitting at the right hand of 
power, and who should come in the clouds of heaven. 
Upon this Ananias and the rulers were highly incensed. 
To disgrace his character was their first intention. 
This had failed. To murder him was their next, and 
this attempt was of much more easy execution. Cry- 
ing out, that Justus himself was seduced, they threw 
him down and stoned him. The apostle had strength 
to fall on his knees, and to pray, " I beseech thee, Lord 
God and Father, for them ; for they know not what 
they do." One of the priests, moved with the scene, 
cried out, " Cease, what do you mean ? This just man 
is praying for you." A person present with a fuller's 
club beat out his brains, and completed his martyr- 

Simeon, the son of that Cleopas mentioned by St. 
Luke, as one of the two who went to Emmaus, and 
who was theibrother of Joseph, our Lord's reputed fa- 
ther, was appointed, in the room of James, a pastor of 
the church of Jerusalem, where he continued at the 
end of this century. 

Paul the apostle seems to have labored with un- 
wearied activity from about the year 36 to the year 
68, that is, from his conversion to the period in which 
St. Luke finishes his history. Within this period, he 
wrote fourteen Epistles, which will be the blessed 
means of feeding the souls of the faithful to the end of 
time. His pungent preaching at Rome, and his de- 
fence of the gospel before the Roman court, were at- 
tended with some fruits of saving conversion. A cup- 


bearer and a concubine of Nero, Chrysostom informs 
us, were, by means of Paul's preaching, and his de- 
fence before the Roman court, converted to the Chris- 
tian faith. This, it appears, excited Nero's resentment 
and rage ; and we are assured that Paul was event- 
ually slain with the sword by Nero's order. Before 
the conversion of Paul, we find him hurried, by his 
Pharisaic haughtiness and fiery temper, into a very 
sanguinary course of bitter persecution against the 
.church of Christ; after his conversion we see the 
work of divine grace wonderfully exemplified in him, 
for about 30 years ; we see him living the friend of 
mankind, continually returning good for evil, an ex- 
ample of patience and benevolence, though posses- 
sing a taste, <a spirit and genius which might have 
shone among the greatest statesmen and men of let- 
ters that ever lived, yet steadily attentive to heavenly 
things, devotedly engaged to build up the Redeem- 
er's kingdom in the world, and to bring souls to glory. 

Amidst the constant display of every godly and so- 
cial Virtue, we leani from his own account that he 
ever felt himself, " carnal, sold under sin, 1 ' and that 
sin dwelt in him continually. From his writings we 
learn what is the depth of human wickedness ; and not 
one of the apostles seems to have understood so much 
as he did, the riches of divine grace, and the peculiar 
glory of the Christian religion. The doctrines of elec- 
tion, justification, adoption, of the priesthood and of- 
fices of Christ, and of the internal \vork of the Holy 
Ghost, as well as the most perfect morality, founded on 
Christian principles, are most beautifully brought into 
view in his writings. 

It appears from well authenticated history, that, 
when Paul was put to death, under Nero, Peter suffer- 
ed with him by crucifixion with his head downward, a 
kind of death which he himself desired, most proba- 
bly, from an unfeigned humility, that he might not 
die in the same manner as his Lord had done. 

Peter's wife had been called to martyrdom a little 
before 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 with, "Re- 
member the Lord." Peter seems to have lived long in 
a state of matrimony, and by Clement's account, was 
industrious in the education of his children. San- 
guine in his attachments, he appears to have been a 
plain, honest, open hearted, active follower of Jesus 
Christ ; in grace and supernatural wisdom, made only 
inferior to Paul, and an instrument of the greatest good 
in the conversion of many precious souls. In early 
life he was remarkable for the forwardness of his tem- 
per, but afterward, by grace was made eminent for 
his unfeigned humility. He, who wrought effectual- 
ly in Paul, for the conversion of the Gentiles, was 
mighty in Peter, for the conversion of very many 
among the Jews. 

Mark was sister's son to Barnabas, the son of Mary, 
a pious woman of Jerusalem. He appears to have 
been instructed in Christian principles from early life. 
His views of religion seem to have been at first, faint, 
and his disposition naturally languid and indolent. 
We are told by Epiphanius, that Mark was one of 
those who was offended at the words of Christ re- 
corded in the 6th chapter of John, and that he then 
forsook him, but was afterward recovered by means of 

After our Lord's ascension, he attended his uncle 
Barnabas with Paul ; but soon left them and return- 
ed to Jerusalem. Barnabas afterward took him to 
Cyprus. Though languid at first, he at length be^ 
came more vigorous. Even Paul himself, who had 
been so much offended with him, declares, " He is 
profitable to me for the ministry." From the epis- 
tle to the Colossians it is evident that he was with 
the apostle Paul in hjs imprisonment at Rome. This 
was in the year 62. His gospel was written by the 
desire of the believers at Rome, about two years af- 
ter. 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. 
The society of Barnabas, Paul and Peter, at different 
iirrjes, was evidently very useful to him* His natural 


indolence needed such incentives. It was the grace 
of God which roused him to activity. 

Of the labors of eight apostles, nothing, important is 
recorded. Of John, a few valuable fragments may be 

About the year 50, he attended the council at Jeru- 
salem. Asia Minor was the great theatre of his min- 
istry, particularly Ephesus, the care of which church 
remained with him after the decease of the rest of the 
apostles. While resident at Ephesus, once going to 
bathe, and perceiving Cerinthus in the bath, he came 
out hastily. " Let us flee," says he, " lest the bath 
should fall , while Cerinthus, an enemy of truth, is with- 
in." Thus he showed his abhorrence of his corrupt 
ind heritical sentiments, by shunning his society in 
such a manner as to manifest his pointed disapproba- 
tion of error. 

The primitive Christians were indeed more careful 
to avoid the society of false professors than of open 
unbelievers. With the latter, they had at times some 
free intercourse ; with the former they refused even to 
eat. If we believe, those who labor to ruin souls by 
propagating antichristian views, to be exceedingly dan- 
gerous members of society, and not in the smallest 
degree to be countenanced, by any acts of familiarity, 
w ; e can easily perceive why St. John took the method 
which he did, to manifest his abhorrence of the cor- 
rupt and detestable errors of Cerinthus. 

Tertullian tells us, that by order of Domitian, John 
was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil, and came out 
without being hurt. This must have happened, most 
probably, during the latter part of his reign. This 
miracle, however, softened not the heart of Domitian, 
who probably supposed the apostle fortified himself by 
some magical incantations. The cruel persecutor 
banished him into the solitary isle of Patmos, where 
he was favored with the visions of the Apocalypse. 
After Domitian's death John returned from Patmos 
and governed the Asiatic churches. There he remain- 
ed till the time of Trajan. While on a tour of visiting- 
the churches, John, observing a remarkably handsome 


young man, warmly recommended him to the care of 
a particular pastor. The young man was baptized, 
and for a time lived as a Christian. But being gradu- 
ally corrupted by bad company, he grew idle, in- 
temperate, and at length so dishonest, as to become a 
captain of a band of robbers. Some time after, John 
had an occcasion to enquire of the pastor concerning 
the young man, who told him, that he was now dead to 
God, and inhabited a mountain over against his church. 
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," who beheld 
him coming. As soon as the young man knew the 
apostle, he was struck with shame and fled. The 
aged apostle following cried, "My son, why flyest 
thou from thy father unarmed and old ? Fear not, as 
yet there remaineth hope of salvation." Hearing this 
the young man stood still, trembled, and wept bit- 
terly. John prayed, exhorted, and brought him back 
to the society of Christians, nor did he leave him, till 
he found him fully restored by divine grace. 

Another story of St. John, short, but pleasing, is, 
that 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 no- 
thing else was needed. This story rests on the testi- 
mony of Jerom ; it shows the spirit of the age, and 
its truth" is allowed. 

John lived three or four years after his return to 
Asia, having been preserved to the age of an hundred 
years for the benefit of the church, a pattern of preem- 
inent chanty and goodness. 

Of the apostle Barnabas, nothing is known, except 
what is recorded in the Acts. Honorable mention is 
there made of his character, and a particular descrip- 
tion of his labors with St. Paul. It is a great injury 
to him, to suppose the Epistle, which goes by his 
name, to have been his. 

We have no ecclesiastical work, exclusive of the 
scriptures, except Clement's Epistle to the Corinthi- 


ans which does any peculiar honor to the first centu- 
ry. Clement is he whom Paul calls his fellow-la- 
borer, and whose name he declares to be 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 of 
the primitive churches, and was admired exceedingly 
by the ancients. From this Epistle it appears that St. 
Paul's two Epistles to the church of Corinth had been 
abundantly useful, and that the apostle had reason to 
rejoice in the confidence which he reposed in the sin- 
cerity that prevailed in many of them, notwithstand- 
ing the evils which he censured, as existing in that 
church. From the Epistle of Clement, it, however, ap- 
pears, that the Church of Corinth had, during this cen- 
tury, much trouble from restless and ambitious persons 
who endeavored to depreciate the real worth of their 
godly pastors, and to raise their own characters upon 
the ruin of the reputation of those who justly merited 
the highest estimation and confidence. These Cle- 
ment faithfully reproves. He exhorts Christ's flock to 
live in peace with all their pastors. 

III. The heresies of this century are now to be no- 
ticed. The reader will not expect that I should soli- 
citously register the names, and record the opinions 
and acts of those, who are commonly called heretics. 
I have only to view them in one single light, as they 
deviated from the spirit of the gospel. In this let us 
keep steadily in view what the gospel really is : that 
unfeigned faith in Christ, as the only Savior of sin- 
ners, and the effectual influence of the Holy Ghost, in 
recovering souls altogether depraved, are its leading 

When the out-pouring of the Spirit began, these 
things were taught with power, and no sentiments 
which militated against them, could be supported for a 
moment. As, through the prevalence of human cor- 
ruptions and the craft of Satan, the love of the truth 
was lessened, heresies and various abuses of the gospel 
appeared ; and in estimating them, we may form some 
idea, of the declension, which, towards the end of this 


century appeared in the church made up of Jews and 

The epistolary part of the New Testament affords 
but too ample proof of corruption. From these we 
learn how prone the human heart is to undervalue the 
mediation of Jesus, and the glory of divine grace, in 
the gospel plan of salvation, and to lean to the self-flat- 
tering schemes of a self-righteous spirit. 

The heresies which appeared in the apostolic times 
were two, the Docetse and the Ebionites. 

The Docetae, or Gnostics, as they are sometimes call- 
ed, held that the Son of God had no proper humanity, 
and that he died only in appearance on the cross. 

The Ebionites, for the most part, while they ac- 
knowledged the excellence of the character of Jesus 
Christ, considered him a mere man, descended from 
Mary and her husband Joseph. With such low ideas 
of the Redeemer's person, they denied the virtue of 
his atoning blood, and labored to establish justifica- 
tion by the works of the law. To be consistent with 
themselves, they rejected the divine authority of St 
Paul's Epistles and accused the apostle of being an 

These two heritical schemes, the one opposing the 
humanity of Christ, and the other denying his Divin- 
ity, were the inventions of men leaning to their own 
understandings, and unwilling to admit the great mys- 
tery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh. 

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 the New Testament, ever thought 
otherwise ; the proofs of both natures in one person, 
Christ Jesus, being, nearly, equally diffused through 
the sacred books. The fifth verse, in the ninth chap- 
ter to the Romans, expressing both, establishes this 
great fundamental doctrine of our most holy reli- 
gion. The only difficulty in this subject is, for man 
to be brought to believe, on divine authority, that 
doctrine, the ground of which he cannot comprehend. 
Proud men, uuacquianted with that internal misery 


and depravity of our nature, which renders a complete 
character, like that of Christ, so Divinely suitable to 
their wants, and so exactly proper to mediate between 
God and men, were soon willing to oppose the doc- 
trine of the incarnation of Jesus Christ : as there were 
two ways of doing this, by taking away one or other 
of the two natures, we see at once the origin of the 
two sects before us. The doctrine of the atonement 
was opposed by the Docetae, in their denial of the re- 
al Divinity of Jesus Christ, and by the Ebionites, in 
their denial of his Divine nature, which stamps an in- 
finite value on his sufferings. 

The memoirs of these heretics, inform us of some 
who professed an extraordinary degree of sanctity, to 
be abstracted altogether from the flesh, and to live in 
excessive abstemiousness. This shows that they deni- 
ed the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and 
grounded their hopes of eternal life on their own self 
righteous doings. Others, again, as if to support their 
Christian liberty, lived in sin with greediness, and in- 
dulged themselves in all the gratifications of sensuality. 
By these two heresies, toward the close of this century, 
the Jewish and the Gentile converts were considerably 
corrupted. Jerom informs us that John wrote his gos- 
pel by the desire of the pastors of the Asiatic churches 
with a particular design to counteract Cerinthus and 
Ebion, who were coadjutors in this heresy. The very 
beginning of his gospel is indeed expressive of the 
grand design of the whole. It is an authoritative dec- 
laration of the proper Deity of Jesus Christ. The par- 
ticular assurance which John gives us of the real death 
of his Master, and of the issuing of real blood and wa- 
ter from his side, evidently implies that he was zeal- 
ous to obviate the error of the Docetae. We are not 
to understand his laying so great a stress on Jesu 
Christ's having come in the flesh in any other light. 

While St. John lived, these heretics were much 
discountenanced ; and those who embraced their sen- 
.timents, were always considered as perfectly distinct 
from the Christian church. Doubtless they called 
themselves Christians, and so do all heretics, for olnr- 


reasons ; and for reasons as obvious, all, who are 
tender of the fundamental principles of the gospel^ 
should not own their right to the appellation. 

It does not appear from any evidence, which I can 
find, that these men were ever persecuted for their re- 
ligion. Their doctrines pleased the carnal mind too 
well to excite a spirit of persecution ; from which we 
infer that they were not according to the word of God, 
and real godliness. " They spake of the world, and the 
World heard them.'* 

IV. We are now to consider the general character 
of Christianity in this first age. 

The divinity of Christ, the atonement, justification 
by faith, regeneration by the Holy Ghost, and election^ 
were doctrines of the primitive church, in view and be- 
lief of which the grace of God was so richly and glo- 
riously displayed in the saving conversion of many 
souls in the first century. 

In this century, a revolution took place, in the hu- 
man mind and in human manners, the most astonish- 
ing that was ever seen in any age, and was effected 
against the united opposition of all the powers then in 
the world ; and this too, not in countries rude or un- 
civilized, but in the most humanized, the most learn- 
ed, and the most polished part of the globe, within the 
Roman empire ; no part of which was exempted from 
its effects. This empire, within the first century, seem* 
to have been the proper limit of Christian conquests. 

And what was the change ? It was from bad to good. 
The religious and moral principles of both Jews and 
Gentiles r were, before their conversion, grossly bad. 
The idolatries, abominations and ferocity of the Gen- 
tile world, must be allowed not to have been less than 
they are described in the first chapter to the Romans. 
The writings of Horace and Juvenal prove, that th& 
picture, painted by the apostle, is not overdrawn. The 
extreme wickedness of the Jews cannot be denied. 

In this revolution, are thousands of men, turned from 
sin to holiness, many in a very short space of time*, re- 
formed in understanding, in inclination, in affection ; 
knowing, loving, and confiding in God ; from a state of 
selfishness, converted into the purest philanthro- 


pists ; living only to please God, and to exercise kind* 
ness toward one another; recovering really, what phi- 
losophy only pretended to, the dominion of reason over 
passion, unfeignedly subject to their Maker, rejoicing 
in his favor amidst sufferings, and serenely waiting for 
their dismission, to a land of blissful immortality. Is 
not the hand of God visible in all this ? Nothing, sure- 
ly, Irat special and efficacious grace, in the effusion 
of the Holy Spirit, could have effected this glorious 
change and reformation. 

But the Christian church was not in possession of 
any external dignity or secular power. No one na- 
tion as yet was Christian, though thousands of individ- 
uals were so, but those chiefly of the middling and 
lower ranks. 

In doctrine, they all worshipped the one living and 
true God, who made himself known to them in three 
persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost ; each of these 
they were taught to worship by the very office of bap- 
tism performed in the name of the Father, the Son, 
and the Holy Ghost. And the whole economy of grace 
so constantly reminded them of their obligations to the 
Father who chose them to salvation ; to the Saviour 
who died for them, and to the Comforter who support- 
ed and sanctified them, and was so closely connected 
with their experience and practice, that they were 
perpetually incited to worship the Divine Three in One, 
They all agreed in feeling conviction of sin, of help- 
lessness, of a state of perdition ; in relying on the 
atoning blood, perfect righteousness, and prevalent in- 
tercession 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 wholly inclined to sin and vanity. 
Their community of goods, and their love-feasts, 
though discontinued at length, probably because 
found impracticable, demonstrated their superlative 
charity and heavenly-mindedness, Yet a gloomy 
cloud hung over the conclusion of this century. 

The first impressions, made by the out-pouring of 
the Spirit, are generally the strongest and the most 
decisively distinct from the spirit of the world* * 


Hence the disorders of schism and heresy, whose ten- 
dency is to counteract the pure work of God. 

The first Christians, with the purest benevolence to- 
ward the persons of heretics, gave their errors no quar- 
ter, and discountenanced them by every reasonable 
method. The heretics, on the contrary, endeavored 
to unite themselves with Christians. This they did, 
with a view, no doubt, to obtain a more extensive cir- 
culation of their errors, under the cloke of their being 
still in fellowship with those, whose real piety and 
soundness in the faith, could not be doubted.- 



The History of Christians during the Reign of Trajan 

L HE master of the Roman world, in the beginning 
of this century, was. the renowned Trajan. His pre- 
decessor Nerva had restored the Christian exiles, and 
granted a full toleration to the church. Hence the 
last of the apostles had recovered his station at Eph~ 
esus, and slept in the Lord, before the short interval 
)f tranquility was closed by the persecuting spirit of 
Trajan, who had a confirmed prejudice against chris- 
tians, and meditated the extinction of the name. 

During his reign, many Christians, in Bithynia, suf- 
fered martyrdom, merely because they would not ab- 
jure Christ and join with the idolatrous heathen in 
their idol worship. It appears from the letter of Pli- 
ny, governor of Bithynia to Trajan his master, in which 
he desires to be informed what course to take with 
Christians in that province, and from the answer to 
that letter, by Trajan, that, at that time, the Christians 
in that province were very numerous, and that they 
were most exemplarily pious, and inoffensive in their 
, Jives, and conversation : but that, notwithstanding all 


their peaceable demeanor, they were sorely persecu- 
ted, and many suffered death because they would 
not renounce Christ as their Savior, nor forsake the re- 
ligion of the gospel. This was about the year 106. 

In Asia, Arrins Antoninus persecuted with extreme 
fury. Concerning the peculiarly afflicted state of the 
Asiatic Christians, it is related by Tertullian, that the 
whole body of the brethren, wearied with constant 
hardships, presented themselves before his tribunal.* 
He ordered a few of them to execution, and said to 
the rest, " Miserable people, if you choose death, you 
may find precipices and halters enough." 

I am willing to believe, that the Christians hoped to 
disarm the persecutor by the sight of their numbers. 
- One of the most venerable characters at this time 
was Simeon, who had, after the death of St. James, 
been invested with the pastoral office over the church 
at. Jerusalem. Jerusalem indeed was no more, but 
the church still existed in some part of Judea. 
Some heretics accused Simeon as a Christian, before 
Atticus, the Roman governor. He was then 120 years 
old, and was scourged many days. The persecutor was 
astonished at his hardiness, not moved with pity for 
his sufferings ; at last he ordered him to be cruciiied. 

It was in the year 107, that Ignatius, bishop of An- 
tioch ? suffered death for the faith of Jesus. On the 
death of Euodius, about the year 70, he had been ap- 
pointed in his room by the apostles, who were then 
alive. He governed the church during this long peri- 
od. Nor was it a small indication, of the continued 
grace of God to that city, to have been blessed so 
long with such a luminary. Ignatius appears to have 
been of a spirit truly apostolic ; much given to prayer 
and fasting; by the steadfastness of his doctrine and 
labours opposed to the floods of the adversary ; faith- 
ful and clear in his exposition of the Holy Scriptures^ 
not counting his life clear to him for the testimony of 
Jesus : he even desired martyrdom for the name of his 
Redeemer. And by Trajan, when visiting Antioch, on 
his way to the Parthian war, he was ordered to Rome,, 
fiere to be thrown to the wild beasts for the entertain- 


jnent of the people, where he was speedily 

A few bones only were left, which were carefully prer 

served, and afterwards buried at Antioch. 


The History of Christians during the Reigns ofAdria/t 
and Antoninus Pius. 

ARAJAN died in the year 1 1 7. He did not live to 
return from his military expedition into the East. 
His successor Adrian, appears never to have issued 
any persecuting edicts. But the iniquity of his pre- 
descessor survived, and Adrian's silent acquiescence 
for a time, gave it sufficient scope to exert itself in 
acts of barbarity. 

In the mean time, the gospel spread more and more. 
A number of apostolical persons demonstrated by 
their conduct, that the spirit, which had influenced the 
apostles, rested upon them. Filled with divine chari- 
ty, they distributed their substance to the poor, and 
travelled into regions which as yet had not heard the 
sound of the gospel ; and having planted the faith, they 
ordained other persons as pastors, committing to them 
the culture of the new ground, and passed on to other 
countries. Hence numbers, through grace, embraced 
the doctrine of salvation, at the first hearing, with 
much alacrity. It is natural to admire here the pow- 
er of grace in the production of so pure and charitable 
a spirit, to contrast it with the illiberal selfishness- too 
prevalent even among the best in our days, and to re- 
gret how little is done for the propagation of the gos- 
pel through the world, by nations whose aids of com- 
merce and navigation are so much superior to those 
enjoyed by the ancients. One advantage indeed thes^ 
Christians possessed, which we do not. They were 
all one body, one .church, of one name, and cordially 
loved one another as brethren. There were indeed 
jnany heretics \ but real Christians did. Rot admit tfieuft 

into their communities. The line of distinction was 
drawn with sufficient precision, and a dislike of the 
person or offices of Christ, and of the real spirit of ho- 
liness, discriminated the heretics : and separation from 
them, while it was undoubtedly the best mark of be- 
nevolence to their souls, tended to preserve the faith 
and love of the true Christians in genuine purity. 

Among these holy men, Quadratus was much dis- 
tinguished. In the pastoral charge of the church at 
Athens, he succeeded Publius, who had, in this, or the 
foregoing reign, suffered martyrdom. He found the 
flock in a Dispersed and confused state, their public 
assemblies deserted, their zeal grown cold and languid, 
their lives and manners corrupted ; and they seemed 
likely to apostatize from Christianity. Quadratus la- 
bored to recover them with much zeal and with equal 
success. Order and discipline were restored, and with 
them the holy flame of godliness. 

In the sixth year of his reign, Adrian came to Athens, 
and was initiated in the Eleusmian mysteries. By 
this he manifested his fondness for Pagan institutions, 
and a spirit hostile to Christianity. The persecutor* 
proceeded with sanguinary vigor; when Quadratus 
presented to the emperor an apology for Christianity, de- 
fending it from the calumnies of its enemie^ ; in which 
he particularly took notice of our Savior's miracles, 
his curing diseases, and raising the dead 5 some in- 
stances of which, he says, were alive in his time. 

Aristides, a Christian writer, at that time, at Athens, 
apologized to the emperor on the same subject. The 
good sense of the emperor was at length roused t da 
justice to his innocent subjects. Also Serenius Gra- 
nianus, pro-consul of Asia, wrote to the emperor, stating 
that, to him it seemed unreasonable, the Christians 
should be put to death, merely to gratify the clamors 
of the people, without trial and without any crime prov- 
ed against them. This appears to be the first instance 
that any Roman governor dared publicly to advance 
ideas contrary to Trajan's iniquitous maxims, which 
inflicted death on Christians as such, abstracted 
guilt. This goes to provo, that the severe su 


ings of cliristians in Asia, which were very remarkable, 
were owing more to the active and sanguinary spirit 
of persecution itself, which from Trajan's example, 
had become very fashionable, than to any explicit re- 
gard to his edicts. We have Adrian's rescript addressed 
to Minucius Fundanus, the successor of Granianus, 
whose government had nearly closed 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 suc- 
" ceeded. To me then the affair seems by no means 
" fit to be slightly passed over, that men may not be 
44 disturbed without cause, and that sycophants may 
" not be encouraged in their jodious practices. If the 
" people of the province will appear publicly, and 
K make open charges against the Christians, so as to 
" give them an opportunity of answering for them- 
w selves, let them proceed in that manner only, and 
" not by rude demands and mere clamours. For it is 
" much more proper, if any will accuse them, that you 
" should take cognizance of these matters. If any then 
" accuse them, and shew that they commit any thing 
" against 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 
K the offence, and punish it as it deserves." 

This evidently shows, that it was the intention of 
the emperor to have prevented Christians as such from 
being punished : if they demeaned themselves peacea- 
bly and were obedient to the laws of the empire, they 
should not be punished merely for being Christians. 
But, though no persons were more innocent, peacea- 
ble, and well disposed than they, yet the enmity of 
men's minds against real godliness, so natural in all 
ages, laid them under extreme disadvantages, un- 
known to others, in vindicating themselves from un- 
just aspersions ; and this forms, indeed, one of the 
most painful crosses which good men endure ija this 


life. One of these disadvantages was, the many he* 
retics, who, wearing the name, did not live the lives 
of Christians, but were guilty of the most detesta- 
ble enormities. These enormities were indiscrimi- 
nately charged by the Pagans on Christians in gener- 
al* This circumstance, in addition to other still more 
important reasons, rendered them Careful in preserv- 
ing the line of separation distinct ; and by 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 the Christians as very numerous at Alexan- 
dria, and of Christian bishops, in a manner, as consid- 
erable as the priests of Serapis. Since St. Mark's 
time, it is evident, though we have scarce any partic- 
ular accounts, that the gospel must have flourished 
abundantly in Egypt. 

But the same equitable rule of government, which 
forbade Adrian to punish the Christians, led him to be 
very severe against the Jews; for now appeared Bar- 
chochebas, who pretended to be the star, prophesied of 
by Balaam. This miserable people, who had rejected 
the true Christ, received the imposter with open arms ; 
who led them into horrid crimes, and among the rest, 
into a cruel treatment of the Christians. The issue of 
the rebellion was the entire exclusion of the Jews from 
the city and territory of Jerusalem. 

Adrian, after a reign of 21 years, was succeeded by 
Antoninus Pius, who appears to have been, at least in 
his own personal character and intentions, always guilt- 
less of Christian blood. It was very difficult for the 
enemies of Christ to support their persecuting spirit, 
with any tolerably specious pretentious. The abom- 
inations of heretics, whom ignorance and malice will 
ever confound with real Christians, furnished them 
with some. These were, probably, much exaggera- 
ted. Whatever they were, the whole Christian church 
was accused of them. Incest and the devouring of 
infants were charged upon them, and thus a cloke was 
afforded for the barbarous treatment of the best of 
mankind, till time detected the slanders, and men 


fecame ashamed to believe what was in its own na^ 
ture improbable and supported by no evidence. At this 
time it pleased God to endow some Christians with 
the power of defending his truth by the manly arms 
of rational argumentation. Justin Martyr presented 
his first apology to the emperor Antoninus Pius, about 
the third year of his reign, A. D. 140. He was of that 
class of men who in those days were usually called 
philosophers. The information and arguments which 
this apology contained, were not in vain. Antoninus 
ivas a man of sense and humanity, open to conviction, 
and uneorrupted by the vain and chimerical philoso- 
phy of the times, and desirous of doing justice to all 

Asia, Propria was still the scene of vital Christianity 
and of cruel persecution. The Christians, of that coun- 
try, charged by their Pagan neighbors, with being the 
procuring cause of some late tremendous earthquakes, 
applied to Antoninus complaining of the many inju- 
ries which they sustained from the people of the coun- 
try. 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 which well deserves our 

The Emperor to the Common Council of Asia. 

" I am quite of opinion, that the gods will take care 
* to discover such persons. For it much more cori- 
" cerns them to punish those who refuse to worship 
" them than you, if they be able. But you harass and 
"vex thenij and accuse them of atheism and other 
"crimes, which you can by no means prove. To 
u them it appears an advantage to die for their religion, 
" and they gain their point, while they throw away 
" their lives, rather than comply with your injunctions. 
"As to the earthquakes, which have happened in past 
" times, or lately, is it not proper to remind you of 
" your own despondency when they happen, to desire 
:< you to compare your spirit witk theirs, and observe 
"how serenely they confide in God ? In such seasons 


seem to be ignorant of the gods, and neglect their 
" worship, and you live in the practical ignorance of 
4<: the Supreme God himself, and you harass and perse- 
"cute to death those who do worship him. Concerning 
"these men, some others of the provincial governors 
" wrote to our divine father (Adrian) to whom he return* 
" ed answer., that they should not be molested, unless 
" they appeared to attempt something against the Ro- 
" man government. Many also have signified to me 
" concerning these men, to whom I have returned an 
^answer, agreeably to the maxims of my father. 
"But if any will still accuse any of them as such 
" (as christians) let the accused be acquitted, though 
"" he appear to be a Christian, and let the accuser be 
" punished." 

This was set up at Ephesus in the common assem* 
bly of Asia. 

Eusebius informs us, that this was no empty edict, 
but was really put in execution. Nor did this empe- 
ror content himself merely with one edict. He wrote 
to the same purport to the Larisseans, the Thessaloni- 
ans, the Athenians, and all the Greeks. 

As this prince reigned 23 years, such vigorous meas- 
ures must have had their effect. And we may fairly 
conclude that during a great part of his reign the Chris- 
tians were permitted to worship God in peace. 


Justin Martyr* 

A HIS great man was born at Neapolis in Samaria, 
anciently called Sichem. His father was a Gentile, 
probably one of the Greeks, belonging to the colony 
transplanted thither, who gave his son a philosophical 
education. In his youth he travelled for the improve- 
ment of his understanding, and Alexandria afforded 
him all the entertainment which an inquisitive mind 
derive from the fashionable studies. He sought, 


happiness first in the manner prescribed by the stoics, 
but finding that he could learn nothing of God, nor ob- 
tain true happiness by those pursuits, he betook himself 
to a peripatetic, whose anxious desire of settling the 
price of his instructions, convinced Justin, that truth 
did not dwell with him. At length, having applied 
himself to a Platonic philosopher for instruction, with 
a plausible appearance of success, he gave himself up 
to retirement and meditation. Walking near the sea 
he was met by an aged person of a venerable appear- 
ance, whom he beheld with much attention. "Do 
you know me ?" says he ; when Justin answered in the 
negative, he asked him why he surveyed him with 
such attention ? " I wondered," says he " to find any 
person here." The stranger observed that he was 
waiting for some domestics ; " but what brought 
you here ?" says he. Justin professed his love of pri- 
vate meditation. The other hinted at the absurdity 
of mere speculation, abstracted from practice, pointed 
him to the unsatisfying nature of the Pythagorean and 
Platonic philosophy, recommended to him the study 
of the writings of the Hebrew prophets; gave him 
some views of Christianity, in its nature and evidences,, 
and added, " Above ail things, pray that the gates of 
light may be opened to thee ; for they are not discern- 
ible, nor to be understood by all, except God and 
his Christ give to a man to understand." " The man 
having spoken these things and much more, left me," 
says Justin, "directed me to pursue these things, and 
I saw him no more. Immediately a fire was kindled 
in my soul, and I had a strong affection for the proph- 
ets, and those men who are the friends of Christ, and 
weighing within myself his words, I found this to be 
the only sure philosophy." We have no more partic- 
ulars of the exercises of his soul in religion. His con- 
version took place some time in the reign of Adrian. 

Coming to Rome in the time of Antoninus Pius he 
there wrote a confutation 9!' the heretics. About the 
year 140, Justin published his excellent apology for 
the Christians, addressed to Antoninus Pius, which ap- 
pears to have had a considerable influence on the 


mind of that prudent emperor, with respect to the 
Christians. In this, he shows that the faults of any 
who bore the Christian name were not to be charged 
upon the whole body, and illustrates the real nature of 
Christianity, by showing the happy effects which it 
then had on mankind. He shows, that, though he- 
retics were fond of the Christian name, they were 
not persecuted, and there wns nothing in their spirit 
and conduct which provoked persecution. He shows 
that the small number of Jewish converts, compared 
with the whole body of the nation, was no objec- 
tion to the genuineness of Christianity, but strictly ac- 
cording to the prophecies of the Old Testament. 
He likewise describes the holy customs of the primi- 
tive Christians in public worship, and in the adminis- 
tration of the sacraments, to show the falsity of the 
charges generally urged against them. Justin pre- 
sented his second apology for Christianity to Marcus 
Antoninus Philosophus, the successor of Pius, a deter- 
mined enemy to Christians. He hoped to have soft- 
ened the mind of the emperor towards Christians, but 
in vain. Shortly after this Apology, which was re- 
plete with the great truths of the gospel, and expres- 
sive of an heroic spirit in the cause of Christ, he, hav- 
ing been apprehended, with six of his Christian com- 
panions, was brought before a Roman prefect, and 
examined as to his real sentiments. Justin frankly 
owned himself a Christian, and expressed his firm at- 
tachment (o Jesus Christ as his Savior, and his raised 
hopes of future blessedness through him, and his fixed 
determination not to sacrifice to idols. His compan- 
ions assented to the same, and showed themselves fix- 
ed and settled in the Christian faith. The prefect, see- 
ing Justin and his companions firm in their profession,, 
and resolutely determined not to renounce the Chris- 
tian religion, pronounced upon them the following sen- 
tence : " as to those who refuse to sacrifice to the gods,, 
and to obey the imperial edicts, let them be first scourg- 
ed, and then be beheaded according to the laws." 

The martyrs rejoiced and blessed God, and being 
led. back to prison were whipped and afterwards be- 


headed. Their dead bodies were decently interred by 
Christian friends. 

Thus slept in Jesus the Christian philosopher Justin, 
about the year 163; and about the third or fourth year 
of the reign of Marcus. 


The Emperor Marcus Antoninus and his Persecution o/ 
the Christians. 

MARCUS ANTONINUS succeeded Pius in the 
year 161, and soon after commenced the persecution 
against Christians, in which Justin and his friends were 
slain. Marcus was a prince in his general character, 
considerate, humane, and benificent to the rest of 
mankind, and yet during the whole of his reign, which 
continued 19 years, an implacable persecutor of chris- 
tians. But why ? It was not from an ignorance of their 
true character; but from settled opposition of heart 
to the holiness of the gospel, which in its nature is 
not only opposed to vice, in all its varieties, but ut- 
terly inconsistent with the religion of those philo- 
sophers, who form a system from natural and self- 
devised sources, in contempt of the revealed will of 
God, and the influence of his Holy Spirit. This re- 
ligion is pride, and self-importance ; it denies the fall- 
en state of man, the provision and efficacy of grace, 
and the glory of God and the Redeemer, and is ever 
opposed to Christianity. The enmity of this prince 
to Christians, was, in this way, grounded in opposition 
to true holiness. He fancied that he carried God 
within himself. To be good and virtuous was, ac- 
cording to his self-sufficient ideas, perfectly in the 
power of man. It was only to follow nature. With 
these views, he could not be humble, nor pray ear- 
nestly, uor feel his own internal wickedness and mis- 
ery, nor bear the idea of a Savior and Mediator. 
His philosophic pride was wounded by the cbctriflee 


6f the cross, and he sought revenge. This is the phi- 
losophy of which the apostle warns us to beware. 

The sufferings of the Christians, during the reign of 
this persecuting prince, were great. This appears 
from an address made to Marcus, by Melito of Sardis, 
published about the year 1 77. A part of this address 
deserves to be quoted on account of the justness of the 
sentiments, and the politeness with \vhich they are 
delivered. " Pious persons, aggrieved by new edicts, 
published throughout Asia, and never before practised, 
now suffer persecution. For audacious sycophants, 
and men who covet other persons' goods, take advan- 
tage of these proclamations openly to rob and spoil 
the innocent by night and by day. If this be done 
by your order, let it stand good ; for, a just emperor 
cannot act unjustly, and we will cheerfully carry away 
the honor of such a death ; this only we humbly crave 
of your majesty, that, after an impartial examination 
of us and our accusers, you would justly decide 
whether we deserve death and punishment, or life and 
protection. But if these proceedings be not yours, 
and the new edicts be not the effects of your personal 
judgment, edicts which ought not to be enacted against 
barbarian enemies, in that case we entreat you not to 
despise us, who are unjustly oppressed." He after- 
wards reminds him of the justice done to Christians 
by his tw r o immediate predecessors. 

From this account it appears, that the out-pouring 
of the spirit of God still continued to produce its ho- 
ly fruits; that Marcus, by new edicts, commenced the 
persecution, and carried it on with merciless barba- 
rity in those regions which had been relieved by 



Martyrdom of Poly carp. 

Jt OLYCARP had been familiarly conversant with 
the apostles, and had received the government of the 
church of Smyrna from those who had been eye-wit- 
nesses and ministers of our Lord, and taught continu- 
ally the doctrines which he had received from them. 
He appears to have presided over this church 74 years, 
and to have lived to an age extremely great. He cer- 
tainly long survived his friend Ignatius, arid was re- 
served to surfer by Marcus Antoninus. 

Some time before this he came to Rome, where all 
the errors of Marcion had taken deep root, and was 
successfully employed in reclaiming many from that 
heresy. 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 Poly carp to oppose it. Meeting him one 
day in the street, he called out to him, "Polycarp, own 
us." "I do own thee," answered the zealous Polycarp, 
" to be the first-born of Satan." An answer showing 
in what light he viewed the conduct of this arch-deni- 
er of the real Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

The holiness of Polycarp's life, and the firmness with 
which he withstood the soothing errors of his day. 
which suited and fed the pride of the human heart, 
roused the enemies of Christianity to persecute him 
unto death. 

When apprehended by his enemies, and before the 
Roman proconsul, every attempt which could be made 
to bring him to reproach Christ and to renounce his 
religion was used. To all this the suffering Polycarp re- 
plied, " 80 and 6 years have I served him," meaning 
Christ, " and he has never wronged me, and how can 
I blaspheme my King who hath saved me ?" By the 
vehement importunity of the infidel multitude, of 


Gentiles and Jews, who dwelt at Smyrna, demanding 
that he should be burnt alive, Poiycarp was condemn- 
ed to the flames. While the preparations for his aw- 
ful execution were making, he engaged in the most 
solemn and devout prayer, and with confidence and 
affection committed his soul to the care and keeping 
of Christ his Redeemer. The materials were placed 
around him, and when he had finished his prayer, and 
pronounced Amen aloud, the officers communicated 
the fatal fire. A great flame burst forth, formed an 
arch, and was as a wall round about the body of the 
martyr. This illustrious Christian stood in the midst, 
not as burning flesh, but as gold and silver well refined. 
One of the officers, enraged at the astonishing sight, 
thrust him with his sword and at once ended his life 
and sufferings. His body was afterwards burnt. The 
credit of this account rests on the particular testimony 
contained in an Epistle written in the name of Poly- 
carp's church at Smyrna. 


The Martyrs of Lyons and Vienne. 

V IENNE and Lyons were early visited with tlie light 
of the gospel. In each of these cities a church was 
early planted. Probably they were founded by some 
Asiatic Greeks. 

The flame of Antoninus' persecution, reached these 
cities. How much they had been blessed with evan- 
geliqal light and love, the accounts, which we have of 
their sufferings in the cause of Christ, fully evince. 
The calamities which they endured, and the manner 
they sustained them, appear by the following Epistle 
of the churches of Vienne and Lyons to the brethren 
in Asia and Phrygia. 

"The servants of Christ, sojourning in Vienne and 
Lyons in France, to the brethren in Asia Propria and 
Phrygia, who have the same faith and hope of re~ 


demption with us, peace, and grace, ancl glory from 
God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 

We are not competent to describe with accuracy, 
nor is it in our power to express the greatness of the 
affliction sustained here by the saints, the intense an- 
imosity of the heathen against them, and the compli- 
cated sufferings of the blessed martyrs. The grand 
enemy assaulted us with all his might, and by his first 
essays exhibited intentions of exercising malice with- 
out limits and without controul. He left no method 
untried to habituate his slaves to his bloody work, and 
to prepare them by previous exercises against the ser- 
vants of God. Christians were absolutely prohibited 
from appearing in any houses, except their own, in 
baths, in the market, or in any 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 
entered into the contest, sustaining every species of 
pain and reproach. What was heavy to others, to 
them was light, while they were hastening to Christ, 
evincing indeed, that the sufferings of this present time 
are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be 
revealed in us. The first trial was from the people at 
large; shouts, blows, the dragging of their bodies, the 
plundering of their goods, casting of stones, and the 
confining of them within their own houses, and all the 
indignities which may be expected from a fierce and 
outrageous multitude, these were magnanimously sus- 
tained. And now, being led into the forum by the 
tribune and the magistrates, they were examined be- 
fore all the people, whether they were Christians, and, 
on pleading guilty, were shut up in prison till the ar- 
rival of the governor. Before him they were at length 
brought, and he treated them with great savageness of 
manners. The spirit of Vettius Epagathus, one of the 
brethren, was roused ; a man full of charity both to 
God and man, whose conduct was so exemplary, 
though but a youth, that he might justly be compar- 
ed to old Zacharias ; for he walked in all the com- 


mandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless, a 
man ever unwearied in acts of beneficence to his 
neighbors, full of zeal towards God, and fervent in 
spirit. He could not bear to see so manifest a per- 
version of justice ; but, being moved with indigna- 
tion, he demanded to be heard in behalf of the breth- 
ren, and pledged himself to prove that there was noth- 
ing atheistical or impious among them, those about the 
tribunal shouting against him, for he was a man of 
quality, and the governor being impatient of so equit- 
able a demand, and only asking him if he were a Chris- 
tian, and he confessing in the most open manner, the 
consequence was, that he was ranked among the" mar- 
trys. He was called, indeed the advocate of the chris- 
tians ; but he had an advocate within, the Holy Spirit, 
more abundantly than Zacharias, which he demon- 
strated by the fulness of his charity, cheerfully 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 goeth. The rest began now 
to be distinguished. The capital martrys appeared 
indeed ready for the contest, and discharged their 
part with all alacrity of mind. Others appeared also 
unready, unexcercised, and as yet weak, unable to sus- 
tain the shock of such a contest : of these, ten in num- 
ber lapsed, whose case filled us with great grief and 
immeasurable sorrow 7 , and dejected the spirits of those 
who had not yet been apprehended, who, though they 
sustained all indignities, yet deserted not the martyrs 
in their distress. Then we were alt much alarmed, be- 
cause of the uncertain event of confession, not that we 
dreaded the torments with which we were threatened, 
but because we looked forward unto the end, and flar- 
ed the danger of apostacy. Persons were now appre- 
hended daily of such as were counted worthy to fill 
up the number of the lapsed, so that the most excel- 
lent were selected from the two churches, even those 
by whose labor they had been founded and establish- 
ed. There were seized at the same time some of our 
heathen servants, (for the governor had openly order- 
ed us all to be sought for) who by the impulse of Sa- 


tan, fearing the torments which they saw inflicted on 
the saints, on the suggestion of the soldiers, accused 
UB of eating human flesh, and of unnatural mixtures, 
and of things not fit even to he mentioned or imagined, 
and such as ought not to be believed of mankind*' 
These things being divulged, all were incensed even 
to madness against us ; so that if some were formerly 
more moderate on account of any connexions of blood, 
affinity, or friendship, they were then transported be- 
yond all bounds with indignation. Now it was that our 
Lord's word was fulfilled, " The time will come when who- 
soever killeth you will think that he doeth God service" 
The holy martyrs now sustained tortures which exceed 
the powers of description ; Satan labouring, by means 
of them, to extort something slanderous to christanity. 
The whole fury of the multitude, the governor, and the 
soldiers, was spent in a particular manner on Sanctus 
of Vienne, the deacon, and on Maturus, a late convert 
indeed, but a magnanimous wrestler, and on Attalus 
of Pergamus, a man who had ever been the pillar and 
support of our church, and onBlandina, through whom 
Christ shewed, that those things, that appear unsight- 
ly and contemptible among men, are most honorable 
in the presence of God, on account of love to his name 
exhibited in real energy, and not boasting in pompoua 
pretences. For while we all feared, and among the 
rest her mistress, according to the flesh, herself one of 
the noble army of martyrs, was afraid 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 worn out with 
fatigue, and owned themselves conquered and ex- 
hausted of their whole apparatus of tortures, and were 
amazed to see her still breathing, whilst her body was 
torn and laid open, and confessed that one species of 
torture had been sufficient to despatch her, much more 
so great a variety as had been applied. But the bles- 
sed woman, as a generous wrestler, recovered fresh 
vigor in the act of confession ; and it was an evident 
refreshment, support, and an annihilation of all ber 


pains to say "lam a Christian and no evil is committed 
" among us. 

"In the mean time Sanctus, having sustained, in a 
manner more than human, the most barbarous indig- 
nities, while the impious hoped to extort from him 
something injurious to the gospel, from the duration 
and intenseness of his sufferings, resisted with so much 
firmness, that he would neither tell his own name, nor 
that of his nation or state, nor whether he was a free- 
man or a slave ; but to every interrogatory he answer- 
ed in Latin, " I am a Christian." 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 indignation of the governor and 
the torturers was fiercely levelled against him, 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 scorched of course, and 
yet he remained upright and inflexible, firm in his con- 
fession, being bedewed and refreshed from the heav- 
enly fountain of the water of life. His body witnessed 
indeed the ghastly tortures which he had sustained, be- 
ing one continued wound and bruise, altogether con- 
tracted, and no longer retaining the form of a human 
creature ; in whom Christ suffering wrought great won- 
ders, confounding the adversary, and shewing, for the 
encouragement of the rest, that nothing is to be feared 
where the love of the Father is ; nothing painful where 
the glory of Christ is exhibited. For while the impious 
imagined, when after some days they renewed his tor- 
tures, that a fresh application of the same methods of 
punishment to his wounds, now swollen and inflamed, 
must either overcome his constancy, or, by despatching 
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 far from being the case, that contrary to all ex- 
pectation, his body recovered its natural position in 
the second course of torture ; he was restored to his 
former shape and the use of his limbs ; so that, by the 
grace of Christ, it proved not, a punishment, but a 

cure ! 5) 

Biblias, a woman, who had denied Christ, was led 
to the torture, and though at first she accused the chris- 
tians of horrid impieties, yet in the midst of her tor- 
tures, being admonished by a temporary punishment 
of the danger of eternal fire in hell, she recovered from 
her apostacy, professed herself a Christian, and wag 
added to the army of martyrs. 

Many Christians were thurst into the darkest and 
most noisome parts of the prison, where they suffered 
all the indignities which diabolical malice could inflict 
Many were suffocated. Others, though greatly afflict- 
ed, remained alive, strengthened by the Lord, and 
comforted and encouraged one another to constancy 
in the christain faith. 

Pothinas, bishop of Lyons, upwards of ninety years 
of age, very infirm and asthmatic, panting after mar- 
tyrdom, was called to suffer. After a great variety of 
abuse, both from the populace and the magistrates, he- 
was thrown into prison, and after two days expired. 

Those, who had denied Christ, were not by their de- 
nial of him exempt from persecution. But in their 
sufferings they had not the supports which others, who 
stood firm in the faith, experienced. They went to 
execution with guilt depicted in their countenances, 
dejected, spiritless and forlorn. The heathen insulted 
them as cowards and poltroons, and treated them as 
murderers : thus seeking to save their lives they lost 
them, and failed of receiving the consolations of the 
religion which they had renounced. 

The heathen denied the rites of interment to those 
who suffered martyrdom. After having treated them 
with many indignities, they burnt themto ashes, and 
to prevent their resurrection, and to deter others from 
the hope of a future life, cast their ashes into the river 
Rhone ; adding, " Now let us see if they will rise again, 
and if their God can help them and deliver them out 
of our hands." 

In all their great sufferings, those martyrs were 
humble, peaceable, meek and patient ; evincing that 
they felt the power of religion, and that they loved 
Savior, and had the special supports of his spirit.* 


The State of Christians under the reign of Commodus^ 
and the story of Pereginus. 

A HE reign of Commodus is remarkable for the 
peace granted to the church of Christ through the 
world. The means used by Divine Providence for this 
purpose are more marvellous. Marcia, a woman of low 
rank, was the favorite concubine of this emperor. She. 
had a predilection for the Christians, and employed 
her interest with Commodus in their favor. Though 
Commodus was extremely vicious and profligate, yet 
under his reign God gave his church a breathing time 
of twelve years. The gospel now flourished abundant- 
ly, and many of the nobility of Rome, with their whole 
families, embraced it. The envy of the great was 
hereby excited. The Roman senate felt its dignity 
defiled by innovations, in their view, extremely con- 
temptible, and to support their injured honor, had re- 
course to persecution. 

Apollonius, a person renowned for learning and 
philosophy, at that time in Rome, was a sincere chris- 
tian. He was accused by an informer before Peren- 
nis the judge, a person of considerable influence in 
the reign of Commodus. According to the law of An- 
toninus Pius, which had been revived by Commo- 
dus, requiring that the accusers of Christians should 
be put to death, Perennis, sentenced the accuser, and 
his legs were broken. In this, he obeyed the dictates 
of the law ; in what follows, he obeyed the dictates 
of his own malice, or rather that of the senate. 
The prisoner was required to give an account of his 
faith before the senate and the court. He complied, 
and delivered an apology for Christianity, and by a de- 
cree of the senate was beheaded. This is perhaps the 
only trial we read of in which both accuser and accu- 
sed suffered judicially. Eusebius observes, that the 
laws,, commanding Christians, who had been present- 


fcd before the tribunal, to be put to death, were still in 
force. But Adrian, or certainly Antoninus Pius, had 
abrogated this iniquitous edict of Trajan. Under 
Marcus it might have been revived, for he was very 
bitter in his feelings against religion. Now Commo- 
dus, by menacing persecutors with death, might have 
supposed, he had hereby sufficiently secured the live* 
of Christians. Yet, if a formal abrogation of the law 
against them had been neglected, one may see how 
Apollonius come to suffer, as well as his adversary. 
This distinguished man lost his life by vindicating that 
cause which is able to secure to him eternal life, and ad- 
hered to HIM who keeps by his power, through faith in 
his name, unto salvation, all who put their trust in him. 
There is a remarkable story of one Peregrinus, in 
the works of Lucian, which, as it falls in with this cen- 
tury, and shows the character of Christians, who then 
lived, deserves here to be introduced. " In his youth 
he fell into shameful crimes, for which he was near 
loosing his life in Armenia and Asia. I will not dwell 
on those crimes ; but I am persuaded that what I am 
about to say, is worthy of attention. There are none 
of you but know, that being chagrined that his father 
was still alive after being turned of sixty years of age, 
he strangled him. The rumor of so black a crime be- 
ing 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 Judea, he 
learnt the admirable doctrines of Christianity, by con- 
versing with pastors and teachers. In a little time 
he shewed them that they were but children com- 
pared with him ; for he became not only a proph- 
et, but the head of their congregation : in a word, he 
was every thing to them ; he explained their books 
and composed some himself; insomuch that they 
spoke of him as a god, and considered him as their 
law-giver and ruler. However, these people 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 

& Christian. This disgrace loaded him with honor , 
the very thing he ardently desired, made him more 
reputable among those of that persuasion, and furnish- 
ed him with a power of performing wonders. The 
Christians, grievously afflicted at his confinement, used 
their utmost endeavors to procure his liberty ; and as 
they saw they could not compass it, they provided 
abundantly for all his wants, and rendered him all im- 
aginable services. There was seen, by break of day, 
at the prison-gate, a company of old women, widows 
and orphans, some of whom, after having corrupted the 
guard with money, passed the night with him ; there 
they partook together of elegant repasts and entertain- 
ed one another with religious discourses. They cal- 
led that excellent man the new Socrates. There came 
Christians, deputed even from many cities of Asia, to 
converse with him, to comfort him, and to bring him 
supplies of money ; for thfe care and diligence which 
the Christians manifest in these junctures, are incredi- 
ble ; they spare nothing in these cases ; they sent 
therefore large sums to Peregrinus, and his confine- 
ment was to him an occasion of amassing great riches ; 
for these poor creatures are firmly persuaded they 
shall one day enjoy immortal life ; Therefore they dis- 
pise death with wonderful courage, and offer them- 
selves voluntarily to punishment. Their first Law- 
giver has put it into their heads that they are all breth- 
ren, since they separated from us, they persevere in 
rejecting the gods of the Grecians, and worshipping 
that Deceiver, who was crucified; they regulate their 
manners and conduct by his laws ; they despise, 
therefore, all earthly possessions, and enjoy them in 
common. Therefore if any magician or juggler, any 
cunning fellow who knows how to make his advan- 
tage 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 
people. However Peregrinus was set at liberty by the 
president of Syria, who was a lover of philosophers 
and its professors, and who, having perceived that this 
man courted death out of vanity and fondness for re- 


fiown, released him, despising him too much to have* 
a desire of inflicting capital punishment on him. Per- 
egrinus returned into his own country, and as some 
were inclined to prosecute him on account of his par- 
icide, he gave all his vvealthto his fellow citizens, who, 
being gained by this liberality, imposed silence on 
his accusers. He left his country a second time in 
order to travel, reckoning he should find every thing 
he wanted in the purses of the Christians, who were 
punctual in accompanying him wherever he went, 
and supplied him with all things in abundance. He 
subsisted in this manner for some time ; but having 
done something which the Christians abhor, (they saw 
him, I think, make use of some meats forbidden among 
them) he was abandoned by them ;. insomuch that 
having not any longer the means of support, he would 
fain have revoked the donation he had made to his 

The native place of this extraordinary man was Pa- 
rium in Mysia. After his renunciation of Christianity 
he assumed the character of a philosopher. In that 
light he is mentioned by several heathen authors; and 
this part he acted, till the time of his death, when, in 
his old age, he threw himself into the flames, probablj 
because suicide was honorable in the eyes of the Gen- 
tiles, and because Empedocles, a brother philosoph er f 
had thrown himself into the volcano at Mount ./Etna. 

A remark or two must be made on the write/, the 
hero, and the Christians of those times. 

It is to be remembered that the railleries, cavils 
and insinuations against them in this narrative, come- 
from a rancorous enemy; from Lucian, a learned hea- 
then, who manifested a malignant hatred against Chris- 
tians and their holy religion. 

Peregrinus is no uncommon character. His early 
life was nothing but evil, afterward he assumed, mere- 
ly for selfish purposes, something of the garb and 
appearance of Christianity, which he wore with con- 
summate address, and imposed on genuine chris- 
tians of undoubted discernment. The savage heart 
of Lucian seems to have rejoiced in the imposi- 


fions of Peregrinus, and particularly that he was able 
to deceive so long and so completely. He does not 
appear to have mourned over his superlative wicked- 
ness, but to have rejoiced in it. 

Peregrinus lived long enough to appear a complete 
impostor, and to be universally rejected by the breth- 
ren. He afterward became a professed philosopher. 
What is called philosophy is consistent with hypocrisy, 
and his dreadful end should be awfully instructive to 

Yet, what is there in all this account of the chris- 
tians, discolored as it is by the malignant author, which 
does not redound to their honor ? While Peregrinus 
made a creditable profession of religion, they received 
him with cordiality ; they did not pretend to infallibi- 
lity. Their conduct toward this base impostor, surely 
deserved high applause, rather than censure. Their 
liberality, zeal, compassion, brotherly love, fortitude, 
and heavenly-mindednes?, appear, from this narra- 
tive, to have been exceedingly great. It is also evi- 
dent that Christians were then in morals much superi- 
or to the rest of mankind ; and it is lamentable that 
Lucian, who could relate this, had not the wisdom 
to make a profitable use of it for himself, 


Some account of Christian Authors who flourished iv 
this Century. 

IT may throw some additional light on the history of 
Christian doctrine and manners in this century, to give 
a brief view of its eminent writers. Some of the most 
renowned have already been noticed ; a few more of 
great respectability shall be deferred to the next cen- 
tury, because they out-lived this, 

Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, lived under the reigu 
of Marcus Antoninus and his son Comraodus. He 
wrote to the Lacedemonians concerning the doctrine 
f the gospel 5 and an exhortation to peace and unity; 


also, to the Athenians ; by his testimony we learn 
Dionysius, the Areopagite, was the first bishop of Ath- 
ens. In his letter to the Christians in Crete he highly 
commends Philip the bishop, and guards them against 
errors. In his Epistle to the churches of Pontus, he 
directs that all penitents should be received who re- 
tijrned to the church, whatever their past crimes may 
have been, even if guilty of heresy itself. From 
these Epistles we infer that Corinth was singularly 
blessed with the labors of so faithful and zealous a 
pastor, and that gospel-discipline was as yet admin- 
istered with much strictness in the churches, and that 
purity of doctrine, as well as of life and manners, was 
still considered to be of high importance. 

From his Epistle to Pinytus, bishop of the Gnossians 
in Crete, advising him not to impose on the Christians 
the heavy burden of the obligation, to preserve their 
virginity, it appears that monastic austerities were be- 
ginning to appear in the churches, and that the best 
men, after the example of the apostles, endeavored to 
control them. Pinytus, in his reply, manifests his 
knowledge of true godliness by requesting Dion} sins 
to afford his people more solid nourishment, and to send 
frequent letters to him which might fill his cougrega- 
Jion, lest being always fed with milk, they should re- 
main in a state of infancy. 

In his letter to the Romans, addressed to Sotcr 
their bishop, he recommended to them a charitable 
custom, which, from their first plantation, they had 
always practised, which was to send relief to diverse 
churches throughout the world, and to assist particu- 
larly 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. 

Theophiius, of Antioch, was brought up a Gentile, 
was educated in all the knowledge then reputable in 
the world, and was a man of considerable parts ajid 
learning. His philosophic turn of mind long impeded 
his reception of the scriptural doctrine of the resurrec- 
tion, and consequently of the gospel itself. But the 
grace of God, while it convinced him, of fris i 


to dispel his own doubts, effectually instructed his un- 
derstanding. He was valiant against the fashionable 
heresies of the times in which he lived. After having 
been bishop of the church of Antioch 13 years, he died 
in peace about the second or third year of Commodus. 

Melito, bishop of Sardis, gives us a catalogue of the 
sacred books of the Old Testament. The most of his. 
writings are lost. In one extant, he declares, that 
the Christians do not adore insensible stones, but that 
they worship only one God, who is before ail things 
and in all things, and Jesus Christ who is God before 
all ages. Melito died and was buried at Sardis. 

Bardasanes, of Mesopotamia, was renowned for 
learning and eloquence. A remarkable passage from 
him, preserved by Eusebius, shows the great pro- 
gress and energy of Christianity, in this century. 

" In Parthia," says he, " polygamy is allowed and 
practised, but the Christians of Parthia practise it not. 
In Persia the same may be said with respect to incest 
In Bartria, and in Gaul the rights of matrimony are 
defiled with impunity. The Christians there act not 
thus. In truth, wherever they reside, they triumph, 
in their practice, over tr^e worst of laws and the worsi 
of customs." 

Miltiades distinguished himself by writing in de- 
fence of Christianity. He assures, us that the mirac- 
ulous influences of the Holy Spirit had not ceased at 
that time, but wer very common in the Christian 

Athenagoras, toward the latter end of this century^ 
wrote an apology for the Christian religion. His testi- 
mony to the doctrine of the Trinity, in this apology 
expresses something more than a speculative belief of 
it, and that he considered it to be essential to practical 
godliness. From his representation of the faith and 
practice^ of real Christians, in his day, it appears, that 
they found, in their view of the Father, Son, and Holy 
Ghost, and of the truths of the gospel, which are so 
closely interwoven with the doctrine of the Trinity, 
something which warmed their hearts, and raised, their 
Affections from earth tQ heaven,. 


The Heresies and Controversies of this Century review- 
ed, and some Account of the Progress of Christianity 
during the course of it. 

A HE first heretics of this century were those who 
opposed or corrupted the doctrine of the real and 
proper Divinity of Christ. Victor, bishop, or pastor, 
of the church of Rome, near the close of the cen- 
tury, excommunicated Theodotus, the father of 
this apostacy, who denied the Divinity of Christ, be- 
cause he first affirmed Christ to be only man. It ap- 
pears that a denial of the Deity of Christ could not 
find a patron, that was suffered to remain in the 
church, in the course of the first two hundred years.* 
Every Christian, of any eminence for judgrnent and pi- 
ety,^ unequivocally held an opposite language. 

This Theodotus was a citizen of Byzantium, a tan- 
ner, but a man of parts and learning. In his specula- 
tions, he felt himself important enough to dare to be 
singular, and revived the heresy of Ebion. He was- 
brought with some Christians before persecuting ma- 
gistrates. His campanions honestly confessed their 
Lord and suffered. He was the only man of the com- 
pany who denied him. In truth he had no principles 
strong enough to induce him to bear the cross. The- 
odotus lived still a denier of Christ, and being after- 
ward upbraided for denying his God, u INTo" says he, " I 
have not denied God, but man, for Christ is no more." 
His heresy hence obtained a new name, that of the 
God-denying apostacy. 

Toward the close of this century, the controversy 
concerning the proper time of the observation of Eas- 
ter, was unhappily revived. Synods were held con- 
cerning it, and uniformity was attempted in vain 
throughout the church. Victor, of Rome, with much 
arrogance and temerity, inveighed against the Asiatic 
churches, and pronounced the sentence of excojmnuni- 


cation. This contention was, however, with much dif- 
ficulty, ended by the prudent measures used by Tre- 
nseus, bishop of Lyons, who rebuked the uncharitable 
spirit of Victor, and pressed upon all concerned the 
great duty of Christian love and unity. 

That this controversy should appear to be a matter 
of such great moment, at this time, proves that the 
power of true godliness had already suffered consider- 
able declension. When faith and love are simple, 
strong, and active in an eminent degree, such subjects 
of debate are ever known to vanish as mists before the 

The Montanists, an heretical sect, gave the church 
of Christ much trouble. Their leader, Montanus> first 
began his frantic career in Phrygia. He pretended 
to prophecy, that he was the Paraclete, or Comforter, 
whom Christ, at his departure from earth, promised 
to send to his disciples to lead them into all truth. 
He declared himself sent with a divine commission to 
give to the moral precepts, delivered by Christ and his 
apostles, the finishing touch, which was to bring them 
to perfection. He urged many things not inculcated 
in the word of God, gave it as his opinion that whate- 
ver savored of polite literature, should be banished 
from the Christian church. The followers of Monta- 
nus took upon them to revile every church under hea- 
ven, which did not pay homage to their pretended 
inspirations. Few of the Phrygians were seduced. 
The faithful, throughout Asia, in frequent synods, ex- 
amined and condemned the heresy. 

The deceit of philosophy formed the last corruption 
0f this century. This appeared at Alexandria, which 
was then highly renowned for learning. There, cer- 
tain philosophers, who called themselves Eclectics^ ap- 
peared. They pretended to confine themselves to no 
particular set of rules, but to choose what they judged 
most agreeable to truth from different masters and 
sects. Their prominent sentiments were, that all reli- 
gions, vulgar and philosophical, Grecian and Barbari- 
an, Jewish and Gentile, virtually meant the same thing. 
The most famous of these philosophers was Ammonias 


Sacas, ah Alexandrian teacher. Plato was his 
cipal guide. Saccas was an ambiguous character, a 
kind of Pagano-christian. These philosophers appear 
to have complimented Christianity with some respect- 
ful attention, and yet studiously to have avoided the 
cross of Christ, and the precise peculiarities of the 
gospel, to preserve their credit with the world. 

Under the fostering hand of Ammonius and his fol- 
lowers, fictitious holiness was formed into a system, 
and generated the worst of evils under the form of em- 
inent sanctity. That man is altogether fallen, that he 
is to be justified wholly by the faith of Christ, that his 
atonement and mediation alone procure us access to 
God and eternal life, that holiness is the effect of Di- 
vine grace, and is the proper work of the Holy Spirit 
on the heart of man ; these, and if there are any other 
similar evangelical truths, as it was not possible to 
mix them with Platonisrn, faded gradually of them- 
selves in the church, and were at length partly denied, 
and partly forgotten, 

By the ambitious intrusions of self-righteousness, 
argumentative refinements, and Pharisaic pride, the 
Spirit of God was grieved, and godliness, in the pro- 
fessed friends of Christ, began in this century to decay. 
Yet the effects of the first out-pouring of the Spirit, and 
some rich communications of the same Spirit, will 
appear in the third century. 




.OEFOfiE we proceed with the orderly course of 
events in the third century, it may be convenient to 
continue the accounts of authors belonging to the last r 
whose deaths happened in this. We meet with four 


telebrated men of this description ; Irenseus, Tertulii- 
an, Pantaenus, and Clement of Alexandria. 

Irenseus, was instructed in Christianity by Papias, 
bishop of Hierapolis, and the renowned Poly carp, both 
disciples of St. John. After the death of Pothinus, 
he succeeded him in the pastoral charge of the church 
of Lyons. Never was any pastor more severely tried 
by a tempestuous scene. Violent persecution with- 
out, and subtle heresies within, called for the exertion, 
at once, of consummate dexterity and magnanimous 
resolution. Irenaeus was favored with a measure 
of both, and weathered the storm. But heresy prov- 
ed a more constant enemy than persecution. The 
multiplication of it, in endless refinements, induced 
him to write his book against heresies, which must 
have been at that time a very seasonable work. The 
beginning o r the third century was marked with per- 
secution under Septimius Severus, the successor of 
Julian. In this, we are informed, Irenseus was put to 
death, and with him, almost all the Christians of the 
populous city of Lyons. 

It is no small instance of charity and deep humility 
in this great man, that for the love of 3ouls, he labor- 
ed long among the Gauls while they were mere bar- 
barians, learned their rude dialect and conformed 
to their rustic manners, to bring them to a knowl- 
edge of salvation by Jesus Christ. His labors among 
diem were doubtless of the most solid utility. 

He agrees with all the primitive Christians in the 
doctrine of the Trinity, and makes use of the 45th 
Psalm particularly to prove the Deity of Jesus Christ. 
He is no less sound and clear in his views of the in- 
carnation; and in general, notwithstanding some phi- 
losophical adulterations, certainly maintained all the 
essentials of the gospel 




AHE Roman province of Asia, in the second centu- 
ry, abounded with Christians. Of the manner of the 
introduction of the gospel into that province, and of 
(he proceedings of its first planters, we have no ac- 
count. The famous Tertullian, the first Latin writer 
of the church, whose works have come down to us, 
flourished at Carthage, in the latter part of the second 
and in the beginning of the third century. In his day 
the subtle spirit of self-righteousness appears to have 
overspread the African church. But little matter of 
useful instruction is to be found in Tertullian's large 
collection of treatises, ail professedly on Christian sub- 
jects. Most of his precepts carried rather a stoical 
than a Christian appearance. He embraced the her- 
esy of the Montanists, joined them, wrote in their de- 
fence, and treated the body of Christians, from whom 
he separated, with much contempt. His views of the 
Trinity, were, however, very clear and sound. He 
speaks of the Trinity in Unity, " Father, Son, and Ho- 
ly Ghost, yet one God." He speaks of the Lord Je- 
sus Christ as both God and man, Son of man and Sore 
of God, and called Jesus Christ. He speaks also of 
the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Sanctifier of those 
who believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He 
testifies that this rule of faith had obtained from the 
beginning of the gospel. His Montanism lessens not 
the credibility of his testimony as to these things. 

Tertullian wrote an apology for Christianity, in 
which he gives a view of the manners and spirit of the 
Christians of his time. A few quotations may illus- 
trate the subject, and shew the nature and effect of re- 
al Christianity; - 

" We pray," says he, " for the safety of the emperor, 
Co the eternal God, the true, the living God, whom em- 

yerors would desire to be propitious to them above all 
others who are called gods. We, looking up to heaven 
with out-stretched hands, because they are harmless ; 
with naked heads, because we are not ashamed ; with- 
out a prompter, because we pray from the heart ; we 
constantly pray for all emperors, that they may have 
a long life, a secure empire, a safe house, strong ar- 
mies, a faithful senate, a well moralized people, a qui- 
et state of the world, whatever Caesar would wish for 
himself in his public and private capacity. I cannojt 
solicit these things from any other than from Him, 
from whom, I know,, I shall obtain them, because he 
alone can do these things, and I am he who may ex- 
pect them of him, being his servant, who worship him 
alone, and lose my life for his service. Thus then let 
the hoofs pierce us, while our hands are stretched out 
to God, let crosses suspend us, let fires consume us, 
let swords pierce our breasts, let wild beasts trample 
upon us. A praying Christian is in a frame for endur- 
ing any thing. Act in this manner, ye generous rulers ; 
kill the soul who supplicates God for the emperor. 
Were we disposed to return evil for evil, it were easy 
for us to e/eoge the injuries which we sustain. But, 
God forbid, that his people should vindicate them- 
selves by human fire, or be reluctant to endure that 
by which their sincerity is evinced. Were we dispos- 
ed to act the part, I will not say of secret assassins, 
but of open enemies, should we want forces and num- 
bers ? Are we not dispersed through the world ? It is 
true we are but of yesterday, and yet we have filled 
all your places, cities, islands, castles, boroughs, coun- 
cils, camps, courts, palaces, senate, forum. We leave 
you only your temples. To what war should we not 
be ready and well prepared, even though 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 ? Were we to make a general seces- 
sion from your dominions, you would be astonished 
at your solitude. We are dead to all ideas of hon- 
or and dignity ; nothing is more foreign to us thau 
political concerns. The whole world is our republic, 


We are a body united in one bond of religion, 
cipline and hope. We meet in our assemblies for 
prayer. We are compelled to have recourse to the Di- 
vine oracles for caution and recollection on all occa- 
sions. We nourish our faith by the word of God, 
we erect our hope, we fix our confidence, we strength- 
en our discipline by repeatedly inculcating precepts, 
exhortations, corrections, and excommunication^ when 
it is needful. This last, as being in the sight of God, 
is of great weight, and is a strong prejudice of the fu- 
ture judgment, if any behave in sa scandalous a man- 
ner as to be debarred from holy communion. Those 
who preside among us are elderly persons, not distin- 
guished for opulence, but worth of character. Every 
one pays into the public chest once a month, or when 
he pleases, and according to his ability and inclination ; 
for there is no compulsion. These are, as it were, the 
deposits of piety. Hence we relieve and bury the 
needy, support orphans and decripped persons, those 
who have suffered shipwreck, and those, who, for the 
word of God, are condemned to the mines, or impris^ 
onment. This very charity of ours has caused us to 
be noticed by some ; see, say they, how they love one 

Tertullian afterwards takes ijotice of the great rea- 
diness with which Christians paid the taxes to gov- 
ernment, 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, integrity, heavenly-mindedness, and passive- 
ness under injuries, for which the first Christians were 
so renowned* 



' Pant&nus.' 

A LEXANDRIA, the Metropolis of Egypt, piqued it- 
self on its superior erudition. From the days of St. 
Mark, who first planted the gospel in this city, a Chris- 
tian catechetical school appears to have been support- 
ed here. Pantaenus was the first master of it of whom 
we have any account. He had received by tradition 
the true doctrine, from the apostles, Peter, James, 
John, .and Paul ; but his religious views were unques- 
tionably clouded with the system of Ammonius Sac- 
cas, which embraced all sorts of sentiments, as virtu- 
ally meaning the same thing. For ten years he labo- 
riously discharged the office of catechist in this school, 
and freely taught all who desired him. 

Some Indian ambassadors,, from what part of India 
they came, it is not easy to determine, entreated Deme- 
trius, then bishop of Alexandria, to send them some wor- 
thy person to preach the faith in their country. Pantae- 
nus was fixed on as the person. He freely complied 
with this calk In the discharge of this mission, his 
hardships must have been great. His labors among ig- 
norant Indians, where neither fame, nor ease, norprofij, 
were attainable, clearly evinced that he was possessed 
of the spirit of the gospel. What success attended his 
mission, we are not informed. 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 among them. I mention this, but much 
doubt the truth of it He lived to return to Alexan- 
dria, and resumed his catechetical office. He died not 
long after the commencement of the third century*. 
He used to instruct more by word than by writing. 
Candor requires us to look upon him as a sincere Chris- 
tian, though his views appear to have been some what 
confused by that philosophy which had contaminated 
most of the learned at Alexandria. 



Clemens Alexandrinus* 

was of the Eleciic sect, a scholar of 
and of the same philosophical cast of mind. He aS'- 
cribed too much to the wisdom of this world, and did 
hot duly consider that "the world by wisdom knew 
not God." He succeeded his master Pantcsnus in the 
catechetical school, and under him were bred the fa- 
mous Origen, Alexander, bishop of Jerusalem, and 
other eminent men. 

Fancying that Gentile philosophy had first taught 
him true wisdom, he says, that as the husbandman 
first waters the soil and then casts in the seed, so the 
notions he derived from the writings of the Gentiles, 
served first to water and soften the earthy parts of the 
soul, that the spiritual seed might be cast in, and take 
vital root in the minds of men. This is however not 
a Christian dialect, but mere Gentilism. It is not 
grounding our religion on the truth of Divine revela- 
tion, but on that philosophy which feeds the pride of 
the depraved heart, and lulls it into security in self- 
righteousness, by the blandishments ofmere reason ; 
''vain man would be wise." 

Besides the office of catechist, Clemens was made 
presbyter in the church of Alexandria. During the 
persecution under Severus, he appears to have visited 
the East, and to have had some intimacy with Alexan- 
der, bishop of Jerusalem. From Jerusalem, he went 
to Antioch, and afterward returned to his charge at 
Alexandria. The time of his death is uncertain. The 
philosophy, to which he was so much addicted, must 
have darkened his views of some of the most precious 
truths of the gospel, particularly the doctrine of justifi- 
cation by faith in Jesus Christ. Amidst all his confu- 
sed ideas of Christian doctrines, he appears to have had 
some correct sentiments concerning the Redeemer, 
a,nd the way of life quid salvation through him. The 


danger of admitting the pestilent spirit of human self- 
sufficiency, to dictate to us what to believe and what 
to practise in the infinite concerns of religion, is awful-* 
Jy great. 


The affairs of the church during the reign of Severus 
and Caracaila. 

1 HE lives of the four persons, we have reviewed, 
seem proper to be prefixed to the general history of 
the third century, partly, because they were studious 
men, not very much connected with the public state 
of Christianity ; partly, because their views and taste 
in religion being known, may prepare the reader to 
expect that unhappy mixture of philosophical self- 
righteousness and superstition, which much clouded 
the light of the gospel in this century 

Severus, though in his younger days, a bitter perse- 
cutor of Christians at Lyons, \vas yet, through the in- 
fluence of the kindness he had received from Procu- 
lus, favorably disposed toward them. Proculus, a 
Christian, had cured him of a disorder by the use of 
oil. Severus felt the kindness, and kept him in his 
palace till his death. It was not till about the tenth 
year of his reign, which falls in with the year two hun- 
dred and two, that his native ferocity of temper broke 
out afresh, in kindling a very severe persecution against 
the Christians. Having just returned victorious, from 
the East, the pride of prosperity induced him to forbid 
the propagation of the gospel. Christians still thought 
it right to obey God rather than man. Severus would 
be obeyed, and exercised the usual cruelties. Perse- 
cution raged every where, particularly at Alexandria. 
Thither, the Christians were brought, from various 
parts of Egypt, to suffer, and expired in torments. Of 
this number was Leonidas, father of the famous Origen. 
He was beheaded and left his son very young. Great 
numbers now suffered martyrdom. * Young Origea 


panted for the honor and needlessly exposed himself 
to danger. His mother checked his imprudent zeal, 
at first, by earnest entreaties ; but perceiving him bent 
on suffering with his father, who was then closely con- 
fined, she very properly exercised her motherly author- 
ity by confining him to the house, and hiding from 
him all his apparel. Origen's vehement spirit now 
prompted him to address a letter to his father, in which 
he thus exhorts him, " Father, faint not, and do not be 
concerned on our account.' 5 This ardent youth had 
been carefully instructed in the scriptures by his pious 
father, who gave him daily, a task out of them to learn 
and repeat. While in this employment Origen. strove 
to investigate the abstruse sense of the holy word, and 
often asked his father questions beyond his ability to 
solve. The father checked his curiosity, reminded 
him of his imbecility, and admonished him to be con- 
tent with the plain, obvious and grammatical mean- 
ing ; but inwardly rejoiced that God had given him 
such a son. His rejoicing should have been, perhaps 
it was, with trembling ; and Origen's early loss of such 
a father, who was probably more simple in Christian 
faith and piety than he himself ever was, might have 
been an extreme disadvantage to him. 

Origen early possessed that presumptuous spirit 
which led him afterwards to philosophize so danger- 
ously in the Christian religion, as never to content him- 
self with plain truth, but to hunt after something sin- 
gular and extraordinary 5 though it must be acknowl- 
edged 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 a child of God from ear- 

At the age of seventeen he was left an orphan. 
His father's estate was, by the emperor, confiscated : 
But Providence gave him a friend, in a rich and godly 
matron, who also supported in her house a person no- 
ted for heresy. Her motives for this we cannot assign. 
Origen, though obliged to be in his company, could 
not be prevailed on to join with him in prayer. Hav- 
acquired all the learning; his master could 


give him, and finding that the business of catechizing 
was deserted at Alexandria, he undertook the work 
himself, and several Gentiles heard him and became 
his disciples. He was now in his eighteenth year, 
and in the heat of the persecution distinguished hirn- 
seJf by his attachment to the martyrs, not only those 
of his acquaintance, but in general those who suffered 
for Christianity* Such, as were fettered in deep dun- 
geons and close imprisonment, he visited, was present 
with them after their condemnation, boldly attended 
them to the place of execution, openly embracing and 
saluting them, at the great peril of his own life. He 
was frequently exposed to imminent danger, and sol- 
diers were commanded to watch about his house, be- 
cause of the multitudes that crowded thither for in- 
struction. As the persecution increased, he found his 
life in danger, could not pass the streets of Alexandria 
in safety, often changed his lodgings, and was every 
where pursued ; yet his instructions had great effect y 
and his zeal incited numbers to attend to Christianity. 

He now appropriated his school wholly to religious 
instruction, and maintained himself by the sale of the 
profane books which he had been wont to study. 
Thus he lived, many years, an amazing monument of 
industry and self-denial. Not only the day, but the 
greater part of the night was devoted to religious study, 
and he practised, with literal conscientiousness, our 
Lord's rules of not having two coats, nor shoes, nor 
providing for futurity* With cold, nakedness and pov- 
erty 5 he was familiar, offended many by his unwilling- 
ness to receive their gratuities, abstained from wine, 
lived many years without the use of shoes, and was 
so abstemious as to endanger his life. Many imitated 
his excessive austerities, and were honored with the 
name of philosophers, and some of his followers pa- 
tiently suffered even martyrdom. 

The judgment of these 'Alexandrian Christians ap- 
pears not to have been very solid. A strong spirit of 
self-righteousness, connected with a secret ambition, 
too subtle to be perceived by those who were the 
dupes of it, led to many austerities, which in their 



estimation appertained to religion, but were nothing 
more than will-worship^ the mere exuberances of a 
zeal which is not according to knowledge ; yet may 
we hope there was some real piety among them. 

An action performed about this time by Origert il- 
lustrates his character, in the strongest manner. 
Though much disposed to consider the scriptures as 
allegories, yet in one passage he followed the literal 
sense too closely. " There are some who have made 
themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake." 
Being much conversant among women as well as men, 
in his work of catechising and expounding the scrip- 
tures, he w r as thus desirous of preventing all tempta- 
tions, and avoiding the slanders of infidels. But though 
he practised this upon himself, he took all possible pains 
to conceal the fact from his familiar friends. 

One cannot but be astonished at the strong self-righ- 
teous maxims and views which were in the church ; but 
who, except those that are lost to all sense of goodness, 
will not revere the piety of his motives and the fervor of 
his zeal ? It could not, however, be concealed. De- 
metrius, his bishop, at first encouraged and commend- 
ed him ; afterwards, through the power of envy, on 
account of his growing popularity, he published the 
fact abroad with a view to calumniate him. Howev- 
er, the bishops of Csesarea and Jerusalem protected 
and supported him, and ordained him a presbyter in 
the church. Day and night he continued still to la- 
bor at Alexandria. But it is time to look into other 
parts of the Roman empire, and take a more general 
view of the effects of the persecution. 

Alexander, a bishop in Capadocia, confessed the 
faith of Christ, and sustained a variety of sufferings, 
and yet by the providence of God was delivered, and 
travelled afterwards to Jerusalem. 

In Africa too, persecution raged, during the time of 
Severus. Twelve persons were brought before Sater- 
ninus, the pro-consul, at Carthage, the chief of whom 
were Speratus, Narzal, and Cittin, and three wonaen, 
Donata, Secimda, and Vestina. The pro-consul said 
to, them all, "You may expect the emperor our mas- 


ter's pardon, if you return to your senses, and observe 
the ceremonies of our gods." To which Speratus 
replied, "We have never been guilty of any thing 
that is evil, nor been partakers of injustice. We 
have even prayed for those who persecute us unjust- 
ly ; in which we obey OUR EMPEROR,* who prescri- 
bed to us this rule of behavior. Saturninus an- 
swered, " We have also a religion that is simple, we 
swear by the genius of the emperors, and we offer up 
vows for their health, which you ought also to do." 
Speratus answered, " If you will hear me peaceably, I 
will declare unto you the mystery of Christian simpli- 
city." The pro-consul said, " Shall I hear you speak 
ill of our ceremonies? rather swear all of you, by the 
genius of the emperors our masters, that you may en- 
joy the pleasures of life." Speratus answered, " I 
know not the genius of the emperors. I serve God, 
who is in the heavens, whom no man hath seen, nor 
can see. I have never been guilty of any crime pun- 
ishable by the public laws ; if I buy any thing, I pay 
the duties to the collectors ; I acknowledge my God 
and Savior to be the Emperor of all nations; I have 
made no complaints against any person, and therefore 
they ought to make none against me." The pro-con- 
sul, turning to the rest, said, "Do not ye imitate the 
folly of this mad wretch, but rather fear our prince 
and obey his commands." Cittin answered, "We 
fear only the Lord our God, who is in heaven." The 
pro-consul then said, " Let them be carried to prison, 
and put in fetters till to-morrow," 

The next day, being seated on his tribunal, 
he caused them to be brought before him, and said 
to the women, " Honor our prince, and do sacrifice 
to the gods." Donata replied, " We honor Caesar as 
Caesar ; but to God we offer prayers and worship^" 
Vestina said, " I also am a Christian.*' Secunda said, 
" I also believe in my God, and will continue stead- 
fast to him ; and as for your gods, we will not serve and 
adore them." The pro-consul ordered them to be 
separated; then having called for the men, he said to 

* Christ, 


Speratus, " Perseveres! thou in being a Christian ?" 
Speratus answered, " Yes, I do persevere ; let all give 
ear ; I am a Christian ;" which being heard by the rest 
they said, " We also are Christians." The pro-con- 
sul said, " You will neither consider nor receive mer- 
cy." They replied, " Do what you please, we shall 
die joyfully for the sake of Jesus Christ." The pro- 
consul asked, " What books are those which you read 
and revere ?" Speratus replied, " The four gospels of 
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Epistles of the 
apostle St. Paul, and all the scripture that is inspired 
of God." The proconsul said, " I will give you three 
days to come to yourselves." Upon which Speratus 
answered, " 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 pro-consul seeing their resolution, pronounced 
sentence against them, that they should die by the 
hands of the executioner, in these terms ; " Speratus, 
&c. having acknowledged themselves to be Christians, 
and having refused to pay due honor to the emperor, 
I command their heads to be cut off." This having 
been read, Speratus and the rest said ; " We give thanks 
to God, who honoreth us this day, with being received 
as martyrs in heaven, for confessing his name." They 
were carried to the place of punishment, where they 
fell on their knees all together, and having again given 
thanks to Jesus Christ, they were beheaded." 

At Carthage four young catechumens were also sei- 
zed, Revocatus and Felicitas, slaves to the same mas- 
ter, with Secondulus, and also Vivia Perpetua, a lady 
of quality. She had a father, a mother, and t wo^broth- 
ers, of whom one was a catechumen ; she was mar- 
ried ; had a son at her breast, and was about 22 
years of age. To these five, Satur voluntarily joined 
himself by an excess of zeal too common at that time. 
While they were in the hands of their persecutors, the* 
father of Perpetua, himself a Pagan, but full of affec- 
tion to his favorite offspring, importuned her to fall 
from the faith. His entreaties were in vain. Her pi- 
ous constancy appeared to him an absurd obstinacy.. 


and in his rage he gave her rough treatment. While 
under guard, before they were confined in prison, these 
catechumens found means to procure baptism, and 
Perpetua's prayers were directed particularly for pa- 
tience under bodily pains. They were then put into 
a dark dungeon. Perpetua's concern for her infant 
was extreme, Tertius and Pomponius, two deacons 
of the church, obtained by money that they might go 
out of the dark dungeon, and for some hours, refresh 
themselves in a more commodious place, where Per- 
petua gave the breast to her infant, and then recom- 
mended him carefully to her mother. For some time 
her mind was devoured with concern for the distress 
she had brought on her family, though it was for the 
sake of a good conscience, but in time her spirit was 
more composed, and her prison became a palace. 

Her father, some time after, came to the prison, 
overwhelmed with grief, which, in all probability, was 
augmented by the reflections he made on his pas- 
sionate behavior to her at their last interview. " Have 
pity, my daughter," says he, a on my grey hairs; have 
pity on your father, if I were ever worthy of that name ; 
if I myself have brought you up to this age, if I have 
preferred you to all your brethren, make me not a re^ 
proach to mankind, respect your father and your aunt, 
(these, probably, were joined in the interests of pagan- 
ism, while the mother appears to have been a Chris- 
tian, otherwise his silence concerning her seems 
hardly to be accounted for ;) have "compassion on 
your son, who cannot survive you ; lay aside your 
obstinacy, lest you destroy us all for if you perish, 
we must all shut our mouths in disgrace." With 
much tenderness he kissed her hands, threw himself 
at her feet, weeping and calling her no longer his 
daughter, but his mistress. He was the only one in 
the family who did not rejoice at her martyrdom. Per- 
petua, though inwardly torn with filial affection, could 
offer no other comfort than to desire him to acquiesce 
in the Divine disposal. 

The next day, they were all brought before the court, 
and examined in the presence of vast crowds. There 


her unhappy father appeared with his little grand- 
son, 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 at- 
tempted to draw his daughter from the scaffold. Hi- 
larian ordered him to be beaten, and a blow, which 
he received with a staff, was felt by Perpetua very se- 

Hilarian ordered them to be exposed to the wild 
beasts. They then returned cheerfully to their prison. 
Perpetua sent tbe deacon, Pomponius, to demand her 
child of her father, which he refused to return. The 
health of the child, we are told, suffered not, nor did 
Perpetua feel any bodily inconvenience. 

Secondulus died in prison. Felicitas was eight 
months gone with child, and seeing the days of the 
public shews to be near, was afflicted lest her execu- 
tion should be deferred. Three days before the spec- 
tacles, her companions joined in prayer for her. 
Presently after, her pains came upon her, and she 
was delivered of a child, but with much difficulty. - 
One of the door-keepers, who perhaps expected to 
have found in her a stoical insensibility, arid 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 / that 
suffer now, but then there will be another with me, that 
will suffer for me, because I shall suffer for his sake." 
Her new born 'daughter was delivered to a Christian 
woman, who nursed it as her own. 

The tribune, believing a report of some, that the* 
prisoners would free themselves by magical practices^ 
treated them roughly. " Why did'nt you," says Per- 
petua, "give us some relief? Will it not be for your 
honor that we should appear well fed at the spec- 

This address had the desired effect, and procur- 
ed a very agreeable alteration in their treatment. 
The day before the shews, they gave them their last 
meal. The martyrs did their utmost to convert this into 
a love feast, they ate it irj public ; their brethren and 


others were allowed to visit them', and the keeper of 
the prison himself, by this time, was converted to the 
faith ; they talked to the people, warned them to flee 
from the wrath to come, pointed out to them their own 
happy lot, and smiled at the curiosity of those who 
ran to see them. "Observe well our faces," cries 
Satur, with much animation, " that ye may know them 
at the day of judgment." 

The Spirit of God was much with them on the day 
of trial ; joy, rather than fear, \vas painted on their 
looks. Perpetua, cherished by Jesus Christ, went on 
with a composed countenance and an easy pace, hold- 
ing down her eyes, lest the spectators might draw 
wrong conclusions from their vivacity. Some idola- 
trous habits were offered them : " We sacrifice our 
lives," say they, " to avoid this, and thus we have bar- 
gained with you." The tribune desisted from his de- 

Perpetua sang, as already victorious, and Revoca- 
{us, Saterninus, and Satur, endeavored to affect the 
people with the fear of the wrath to come. Being, 
come into Hilarian's presence, " Thou judgest us," 
say they, " and God shall judge thee." The mob was 
enraged, and insisted on their being scourged before 
they were exposed to the wild beasts. It was done, 
and the martyrs rejoiced in being conformed to their 
Savior's sufferings. After this they were exposed to 
the wild beasts, and having, with great fortitude and 
holy composure of soul, undergone a great variety of 
sufferings, they all fell asleep in Jesus. 

During the course of this dreadful persecution, the en- 
mity of the human heart, against the holy religion of Je- 
sus, raged to an awful degree ; and the grace of God, in 
the sudden and wonderful conversions of several per- 
sons who voluntarily suffered death for that doctrine 
which they before detested, was gloriously displayed. 

Lyons was once more dyed with the blood of the 
martyrs. It was at this time that Irenaeus perished 
and many with him. 

Some churches purchased their peace of the magis- 
trates, informers, and soldiers, wiio were appointed to 


Search them out, by paying them money. The pas- 
tors of the churches approved of this proceeding, be- 
cause it was only enduring the loss of their goods, and 
preferring that to the endangering of their souls. But 
God, to moderate the distress of his people, and not 
to suffer them to be tried by persecution at once very 
long, in the year two hundred and eleven, called the 
tyrant Severus to his bar, to give an account for his 
cruelties and opposition to his kingdom, after he had 
reigned eighteen years. Under his son and succes- 
sor Caracalla, though a monster of wickedness, the 
church found some repose and tranquility. During 
the seven years and six months, which he reigned, 
the Christians found in him friendship and protection. 
Indeed, for the space of thirty eight years, from the 
death of Severus to the reign of Decius, if we except 
the short, turbulent interval of Maximinus, the calm 
of the church continued. About the year two hun- 
dred and ten, Origen came to Rome, desirous of visiting 
that ancient church, but soon returned to Alexandria, 
and to his office of catechizing. Heretics and philo- 
sophers attended his lectures, and he took, no doubt, a 
very excellent method to win their regard to himself 
at least, by instructing them in civil and secular learn- 
ing. When philosophers pressed him with their opin- 
ions, he confuted them by arguments drawn from oth- 
er philosophers, and commented on their works with so 
much acuteness and sagacity, as to acquire among 
Gentiles a reputation for great learning and wisdom. 
He encouraged many to study the liberal arts, assuring 
them, that they would, by that means, be much better 
furnished for the contemplation of the holy scripture, 
and was entirely of opinion, that secular and philoso- 
phical institutes were very necessary and profitable 
for himself. But what can Origen mean by asserting 
the utility and even necessity of philosophy for himself 
as a Christian ? Are not the scriptures able to make a 
man wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ 
Jesus, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly 
furnished to every good ivork? To him the gospel 
seems to have triumphed over Gentilism, through the 

aid of heathen philosophy; but it appears to have been 
hereby corrupted, and many greatly departed from 
the simplicity of the gospel. An acquaintance with 
the classics and philosophers may furnish a person 
with strong arguments to prove the necessity and 
excellency of Divine revelation, and this deserves 
senousiy to be encouraged in all who are to instruct 
others, for their improvement in taste, language, elo- 
quence, and history. But if these are to dictate in 
religion, or are thought capable, even of adding to the 
stock of theological knowledge, the scriptures may 
seem to have been defectively written. Origen was 
laborious at his attempts to mix things, which the Ho- 
ly Ghost assures us, will not amalgamate ; for among 
his learned converts, we hear nothing of conviction of 
sin, a of conversion, of the influences of the Holy Spirit, 
or of the love of Christ. The allegorical and philo- 
sophical interpretations of the scriptures by Origen 
much clouded their true light. 
Macrinus succeeded Caracalla. 


Christian affairs during the Reign of Macrinus , Helioga- 
balm, Alexandrinus, Maximinus, Pupienus, Gordian y 
and Philip* . 

MACRINUS reigned not quite a year. Heliogaba- 
lus, whose follies and vices were infamous, succeeded 
him, and having swayed the sceptre three years and 
nine months, was slain at the age of 18. The church 
of God suffered nothing from him. His cousin, Alex- 
ander, in the 16th year of his age, succeeded him, and 
was one of the best moral characters in civil history. 
He did not persecute the Christians, but rather approv- 
ed and countenanced them* 

This emperor had a domestic chapel, where he, ev- 
ery morning, worshipped those princes who had been 


ranked among the gods, whose characters were most 
esteemed ; among whom he considered Apollonius of 
Tyana, Jesus Christ, Abraham, and Orpheus. 

It seems to have been his plan to encourage every 
thing that had the appearance of religion and virtue, 
and to discountenance whatever was openly immoral 
and profane. He appears to have learnt, in some meas- 
ure, the doctrine of the Unity of the Godhead, and by 
the help of the Electic philosophy, to have attempted 
to consolidate all religions in one mass. But things 
which accompany salvation, will not incorporate with 
this plan. 

At this time Noetus, of Smyrna, propagated in the 
east, the heresy, that there is no distinction between 
the Divine Persons in the Godhead. The pastors of 
the church of Ephesus, to which he belonged, sum- 
moned him before them y and asked whether he really 
maintained this opinion. At first he denied it; but 
afterwards, having formed a party, he became more 
bold, and publicly taught this heresy. Being again 
interrogated by the pastors, he said, " What harm have 
I done ? I glorify none but one God ; I know none be- 
sides him who hath been begotten, who suffered and 
died." In this way he evidently confounded the per- 
sons of the Father and the Son together; and being 
obstmata in his views, was ejected from the church, 
with his disciples. 

This proves that there were, at that time y zeal and 
faithfiuness among the primitive Christians, to support 
the fundamental articles of their religion. 

Origen was now sent for to Athens to assist the 
churches, who were there disturbed with several her- 
esies. Thence he went to Palestine. At Csesarea, 
Theoctistus, the bishop, and Alexander, bishop of Je- 
rusalem, ordained him a priest, at the age of 45, about 
the year 280. Demetrius, his own bishop was of- 
fended, and exposed his youthful indiscretion in his 
having mutilated himself, and on his return to Alex- 
andria, procured his ejection from the church, by a 
council of pastors, on account of some errors which 
4iad appeared in his works. Banished from Egypt, 


Origen repaired to Palestine to his friends who had 
ordained him, followed by many disciples. Here the 
famous Gregory Thaumaturgus attended his theolo- 
gical lectures, which were still delivered in Origen's 
usual manner. 

Demetrius, bishop of Alexandria, died, after having 
held that office 43 years. Heraclas succeeded him. 

In the year 235, the emperor Alexander was mur- 
dered, together with his mother, and Maximin the 
murderer obtained the empire. His malice against 
the house of Alexander disposed him to persecute the 
Christians, and he gave orders to put to death the pas- 
tors of churches. Others suffered with them. The 
flame extended even to Cappadocia. Origen was 
obliged to retire. The tyrant's reign continued only 
three years. 

Pupienus and Balbinus, the successors of Maximin, 
were slain in the year 238. Gordian reigned six 
years, and was succeeded by his murderer, Philip the 

That Origen's philosophy had not obliterated his 
Christianity, appears from a letter addressed to his 
scholar Thaumaturgus, in which he exhorts him to 
apply himself chiefly to the Holy Scripture, to read it 
very attentively, not to speak or judge of it lightly, 
but with unshaken faith and prayer, which, says he, 
is absolutely necessary for understanding it. 

Philip began to reign in the year two hundred and 
forty four. He appears to have professed the Chris- 
tian religion, but not to have been cordial in it ; for he 
conducted the secular games, which were full of idol- 
atry, and hereby manifested that he was unwilling to 
give up any thing for the sake of Christ. Philip's pro- 
fession merely shows that the progress of Christianity 
in the world was then very considerable ; but its origi- 
nal purity had greatly declined. 

Philip reigned five years, and was succeeded by 
Decius his murderer. A little before his death, in 
the year two hundred and forty eight, Cyprian was 
chosen bishop of Carthage. 


The Conversion of Cyprian. 

IjYPRIAN was a professpr of oratory in the city of 
Carthage, and a man of wealth, quality and dignity. 
Csecilius, a Carthagenian presbyter, had the felicity, 
under God, to conduct him to the knowledge of Christ, 
and in his gratitude Cyprian afterwards assumed the 
surname of Ca?cilius, His conversion was about the 
year two hundred and forty six. About thirteen years 
was the whole period of his Christian life. But God 
can do great things in a little time. He was, by the 
Holy Spirit, led on with vast rapidity, and in a great 
measure avoided the errors and delusions of false 
learning and self-conceit. Faith and love seem, in 
native simplicity, to have possessed him when an ear- 
ly convert. He saw with pity the poor of the flock, 
and knew no method so proper, of employing the un- 
righteous mammon, as to relieve their distress. He 
sold whole estates for their benefit. There appeared 
in Cyprian a spirit at once so simple, so zealous, and 
so intelligent, that in about two years after his conver- 
sion, he was chosen presbyter and then bishop of Car- 
thage. His virtue wa,s not feigned. The love of Christ 
evidently preponderated in him above all secular con- 
siderations; His wife opposed his Christian spirit of 
liberality in vain. The widow, the orphan, and the 
poor, found in hirn continually a sympathizing bene- 
factor. It was with much reluctance that he observ- 
ed thtJ designs of the people to choose him for their 
bishop. He, however, yielded to their importunate 
solicitations and accepted the painful pre-eminence. 
In him we see a man of business and of the world, ri- 
sing at once, a Phoenix in the church, no extraordina- 
ry theologian in point of accurate knowledge, yet a 
useful, practical divine, an accomplished pastor, flam- 
ing w;ith the love of God and of souls, and with unre- 
knitted activity, spending and being spent for Christ, 

Jesus. To all this excellence, he was raised by re* 
newing and sanctifying grace, and made a happy in- 
strument of guiding souls to that rest which remains 
for the people of Go<J. 


The Beginnings of the Persecution of .Decius, and Cyp- 
rians Government till his Retirement* 

JtlOW Cyprian conducted himself in his ministry, 
who is sufficient to relate ?" says Pontinus, his dea- 
con, and biographer. Some particular -account, how* 
ever, might have been expected from one who had 
such ample opportunity of information. One thing he 
notices of his external appearance. His looks had a 
due mixture of gravity and cheerfulness, so that it was 
doubtful whether he was more worthy of love or of 
reverence. His dress also was correspondent to his 
looks ; he had renounced the secular pomp to which 
his rank in life entitled him, yet he avoided affected 
penury. From a man of Cyprian's piety and good 
sense united, such a conduct might be expected. 

While Cyprian was laboring to recover that spirit 
of godliness among the Africans, which long peace 
had corrupted, Philip was slain and succeeded by 
Decius. His enmity to the former emperor conspired 
with his Pagan prejudices to bring on the most dread- 
ful persecution which the church had yet experienced. 
It was evident that nothing less than the destruction 
of the Christian name was intended. 

The eventful period of Cyprian's ministry extends 
from the year 248 to 260. Decius became emperor 
towards the beginning of this period. The persecu- 
tion raged with astonishing fury both in the east and 
in the west. The latter is the scene before us at pre- 
sent. And in a treatise of Cyprian concerning the 
lapsed, we have an affecting account of the declension 
from the spirit of Christianity, which had taken place 


before his conversion, which moved God to chastise 
his church. " If the cause of our miseries," says he, 
" be investigated, the cure of the wound is found. 
The Lord would have his family to be tried. And 
because the long peace had corrupted the discipline 
divinely revealed to us ; the heavenly chastisement 
hath raised up our faith which had lain almost dor- 
mant ; and when by our sins we had deserved to suf- 
fer still more, the merciful Lord so moderated all 
things, that the whole scene rather deserves the name 
of a trial than a persecution. Each was bent on im- 
proving his patrimony : forgetting what believers had 
done under the apostles, and what they ought always 
to do, they brooded over the arts of amassing wealth. 
The pastors and deacons equally forgat their duty, 
works of mercy were neglected, and discipline was at 
the lowest ebb. Luxury and effeminacy prevailed. Me- 
retricious arts in dress were cultivated. Fraud and de- 
ceit were practised among brethren. Christians could 
unite themselves in matrimony with unbelievers, could 
swear, not only without reverence, but even without 
veracity ; with haughty asperity they despised their 
ecclesiastical superiors ; could rail against one anoth- 
er with outrageous acrimony, and conduct quarrels 
with settled malice ; even many bishops, who ought 
to be guides and patterns to the rest, neglecting the 
peculiar duties of their stations, gave themselves up 
to secular pursuits ; deserting their places of residence 
and their flocks, they travelled through distant pro- 
vinces in quest of gain, gave no assistance to the needy 
brethren, were insatiable in their thirst of money, pos- 
^essed estates by fraud, and multiplied usury. What 
have we not deserved to suffer for such conduct ? 
Even the Divine Word hath foretold us what we might 
expect, " If his children forsake my law, and walk not in 
my judgments, I will visit their offences with the rod, and 
itieir sin with scourges." These things have been de- 
nounced and foretold, but in vain; our sins have 
brought our affairs to that pass, that while we despis- 
ed the Lord's directions we were obliged to undergo 
the correction of our evils and the trial of our faith by 
severe remedies." 


That a deep declension from Christian purity had 
taken place, not only in the East, where false philoso- 
phy aided its progress, but also in the West, where the 
common influence of prosperity on human depravity 
appears, is now completely evident, and it deserves to 
be remarked, that the first grand and general declen- 
sion, since the first out-pouring of the Divine Spirit, 
should be fixed about the middle of this century. 
For a time like this God raised up Cyprian, by a 
strong personal work of Divine grace on his own heart, 
and qualified him for great usefulness to the church 
under her deep afflictions. 

In the early part of this persecution, vast numbers, 
from among Cyprian's people, with whom avarice had 
taken such deep root, immediately lapsed into idola- 
try. Even before men were accused as Christians, 
many ran to the Forum and sacrificed to the gods as 
they were ordered, and the crowds of them were so 
large that the magistrates wished to defer a number of 
them till the next day, but were importuned by the 
wretched suppliants to allow them, that night, to provd 
themselves heathens. 

At Rome the persecution raged with unremitting 
violence. There Fabian the bishop suffered, and for 
some time it became impracticable to elect a succes- 
sor ; and yet it does not appear that the metropolis 
suffered more in proportion than many other places^ 
since we find that the flame of persecution had driven 
some bishops from distant provinces who fled for shel- 
ter to Rome. Cyprian, however, having been regular- 
ly informed by the Roman clergy of the martyrdom 
of their bishop, congratulated them on his glorious ex- 
it, and exulted on occasion of his uprightness and in- 
tegrity. He expresses the pleasure he experienced that 
his edifying example had so much penetrated their 
minds, and owns the energy which he felt to imitate 
the pattern. 

Moyses and Maximus, two Roman presbyters, with 
other confessors were also seized and imprisoned. 
Attempts were repeatedly made to persuade them to 
relinquish the faith, but in vain. Cyprian found 


Aieans to write to them also a letter full of benevo^ 
lence, and breathing the strongest pathos. He tells 
them his heart was with them continually, that he 
prayed for them in his public ministry, taid in pri- 
vate. 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 because their example would be a means 
of confirming many who were in a wavering state. 
But Carthage soon became an unsafe residence for Cy- 
prian himself. By repeated suffrages of the people at 
the theatre he was demanded to be taken and given 
to the lions ; and it behoved him immediately to retire 
into a place of safety, or to expect the crown of mar- 

Cyprian's spirit in interpreting scripture was more 
simple, and more accommodated to receive its plain 
and obvious sense, than that of men who had learnt to 
refine and subtilize. He knew the liberty which his 
Divine Master had given to his people of fleeing, when 
they were persecuted in one city, to another, and 
embraced it. Nay, he seems scarce to have thought 
it lawful to do otherwise. Even the last state of his 
martyrdom evinces this. His manner of enduring it, 
when it was providentially brought on him, sufficiently 
clears him of all suspicion of pusillanimity. To unite 
such seemirigly opposite qualities as discretion and 
fortitude, each in a very high degree, is a sure char- 
acteristic of greatness in a Christian ; it is grace in its 
highest exercise. Pontius thinks it was not without a 
particular Divine direction that he was moved to act 
in this manner for the benefit of the church. 

Behold him, now safe, under God, from the arm of 
persecution, through the love of his people, in some 
place of retreat, for the space of two years, and let us 
next see how this time was employed. 



The History of Cyprian and the Western Church during 
his Retirement of two years. 

CjYPRIAN was never more active than in his retreat. 
Nothing of moment occurred in ecclesiastical affairs, 
either in Africa or Italy, with which he was not ac- 
quainted ; and his counsels, under God) were of the 
greatest influence in both countries. 

The clergy at Rome, having learnt what were the 
sufferings of the clergy at Carthage, and the retreat of 
Cyprian, and fearing lest his departure from his people, 
when they were in such an afflicted condition, might be 
attended with pernicious consequences, provided the 
pastors of the churches at Carthage imitated his exam- 
ple in flight, took measures to express to them the deep 
sense 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 upon themselves the censure 
of faithless shepherds ; but rather to imitate their 
Lord, the Good Shepherjd, who laid down his own life 
for his flock, and who so earnestly and repeatedly 
charges Simon Peter, as a proof of his love to his Mas- 
ter, to feed his sheep. " We would not wish, dear 
brethren," say they, " to find you, mere mercenaries, 
but good shepherds, since you know it must be high- 
ly sinful in you not to exhort the brethren to stand 
immovable in the faith, lest the brethren be totally 
subverted by idolatry. Nor do we only in words thus 
exhort you, but, as you may learn from many who 
come from us to you, we have done, and still do, with 
the help of God, all these things, with all solicitude 
and at the hazard of our lives, having, before our eyes, 
the fear of God and perpetual punishment rather than 
the fear of men and a temporary calamity ; not deser- 
ting the brethren, but exhorting them to stand in the 
faith, and te be ready to follow their Lord when call- 


ed ; we have also done our utmost to recover those who 
had gone up to sacrifice to save their lives. Our 
church stands fast in the faith in general, though 
some, overcome by terror, either because they were 
persons in high life, or were moved by the fear of men, 
have lapsed, yet these, though separated from us, we 
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 ; lest, by relinquishing them, we make them 
still more incurable. 

" Thus, brethren, we would wish you also to do ; as 
much as in you lies, exhorting the lapsed, should they 
be seized, a second time to confess their Savior. 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 certainly 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 catechu- 
mens, to preserve from apostacy ; and those, whose 
duty it is to inter the dead, ought to consider the in- 
terment of the martyrs as matter of indespensable ob- 

" Certain we are, that those servants, who shall be 
found to have been thus faithful, in that which is least, 
will have authority over ten cities. May God> who 
does all things for those who hope in him, grant that 
we may be all found thus diligently employed ! The 
brethren in bonds, the clergy, and the whole church 
salute you, all of us, with earnest solicitude, watching 
for all who call on the name of the Lord. And we be- 
seech you, in return, to be mindful of us also in your 

This letter breathes the very spirit of the gospel 
The Christian tenderness, charity, meekness, zeal and 
prudence of Cyprian, toward the brethren of Carthage, 
in his exile from them, appear from the following let- 
ter which he sent to the clergy of that city. 

"Being hitherto preserved by the favor of God, I 
salute you, dearest brethren, rejoicing to hear of your 
safety. As present circumstances permit not my pres- 


unce among you, I beg you, by your faith and by the 
ties of religion, to discharge your office, in conjunction 
with mine also, that nothing be wanting either on the 
head of discipline or of diligence. I beg that nothing 
may be wanting to supply the necessities of those who 
are imprisoned, because of their glorious confession of 
God, or who labor under the pressures of indigence 
and poverty, since the whole ecclesiastical fund is in 
the hands of the clergy for this very purpose, that a 
number may have it in their power to relieve the wants 
of individuals. 

I beg further, that you would use evey prudential 
and cautious method to procure the peace of the 
church ; and if the brethren, through charity, wish to 
confer with and visit those pious confessors, whom the 
divine goodness hath thus far shone upon by such good 
beginnings, that they would however do this cautious- 
ly, not in crowds, nor in a multitude ; lest any odium 
should hence arise, and the liberty of admission be 
denied altogether ; and w r hile, through greediness, we 
aim at too much, w ; e lose all. Consult therefore and 
provide, that this may be done safely and with discre- 
tion ; 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 provide for the people. Most dearly be- 
loved and longed-for, I wish you all prosperity, and to 
remember us. Salute all the brethren ; Victor the 
deacon, and those that are with us, salute you." 

During this persecution many of the common peo- 
ple and some of the clergy renounced Christianity. 
This must have been a sore trial to so affectionate'and 
pious a pastor as was Cyprian. 

When Cyprian was in his retirement he wrote many 
letters to his afflicted brethren at Carthage, in which 
he warns and exhorts them to stand firm in the faith 
and religion of Jesus Christ. In these he enjoins sub- 
ordination of the people to their pastors, and that they 


should cultivate an humble, modest and peaceable de- 
meanor; that in all their sufferings they should con- 
tinue mild and humble. He points out to them the 
use of good discipline in the church of God, the ben- 
efits of orderly subjection in the members, the danger 
of pride and self-exaltation, and the deceitfulness of 
the human heart. Much did he warn them against 
contentions and strifes, and exhort and entreat them 
to live in peace among themselves, and as far as pos- 
sible with all mankind. 

Deeply sensible that his people had, before the per- 
secution, greatly provoked the Lord to wrath, he ur- 
ges upon them abundantly the duty of repentance. 
46 If the Lord see us humble and quiet, lovingly united, 
and corrected by the present tribulation he will deliv- 

er us." 

The persecution at Carthage was dreadful on ac- 
count of the great number of apostates ; but Christian 
faith, patience and magnanimity, in Cyprian, and a 
small remnant, were in strong and lively exercise. 
Discipline was at this time maintained with a good de^- 
gree of care and diligence in the church at Rome ; and 
the pastors of churches there carefully endeavored to 
strengthen the hands of the faithful in Carthage, to 
maintain the life, order and vigor of true piety in that 

It was a maxim of great importance, with all who 
loved the Lord Jesus Christ in truth and sincerity, to 
consider that there was but one church of Christ in 
the world ; and that this was diffused through various 
provinces, and that all ought to watch and strive to 
keep it as free from heresies as possible, and in a state 
of life and gospel vigor. It was this unity and uniform- 
ity of the Christian church which hitherto had preservr 
ed it, under God, from the baneful infection of here- 

The Roman clergy appear, at this time, to have 
been in general, men of real piety. Speaking of the 
importance of not being hasty to re-admit the lapsed 
into the church, without having first obtained ample 
satisfaction of their deep and genuine contrition, they 


express themselves in the following language ; -" Lei 
them knock at the doors, but not break them. Let 
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 which becomes those who 
remember they have been deserters. Let them arm 
themselves indeed with the weapons of humility, and 
resume that shield of faith which they dropped, through 
the fear of death ; but so that they may be armed 
against the devil, not against the church which grievei 
at their fall ." 

While Cyprian was absent from his church at Car- 
thage, he was active in his retirement to revive a spirit 
of true gospel discipline among the people of his pas- 
toral charge ; but Felicissimus, who had long been 
a secret enemy of the bishop, and a person of a very 
exceptionable character, by many artifices and blan- 
dishments, drew away a party, and encouraged many 
not to observe ecclesiastical discipline faithfully and 
modestly. This ambitious demagogue used his ut- 
most artifice to bring over to his views all the lapsed, 
to make his party sufficiently strong to prevent an ex- 
communication of himself from the church for the 
crime of adultery, of which he was guilty. Under this 
state of affairs, Cyprian writes to the lapsed and all 
leaning to a schismatic spirit, " There is one God, 
one Christ, one church. Depart, I pray you, far from 
these men, and avoid their discourse as a plague and 
pestilence. They hinder your prayers and tears by 
affording you false consolations. Acquiesce, I beseech 
you, in our counsel, who pray daily for you, and de- 
sire you to be restored to the church by the grace of 
the Lord. Join your prayers and tears with ours. But, 
if any, careless of repentance, shall betake himself to 
Felicissimus and his party, let him know that his after- 
feturn to the church will be impracticable." 

Novatus, a presbyter of Carthage, was the prin- 
cipal actor in these disagreeable scenes. He wa 
extremely scandalous and immoral. His domestic 
crimes had been so notorious as to render him not 
only no longer fit to be a minister, but even unworthy 


t6 be received into lay communion. The examina- 
tion of his conduct was just going to take place, when 
the persecution by Decius prevented it. The views of 
Felicissimus and his party, he cherished and supported, 
and did much mischief in the church. This dreadful 
persecution did not unite Christian professors in love. 
Novatus, either unwilling to face the bishop of Car- 
thage, or desirous to extend the mischiefs of schism, 
passed the sea and came to Rome. There he had the 
address to separate a priest named Novatian from the 
Roman church, and to bring him to associate with him- 
self. These jointly insisted that it is wrong to receive 
those into the church who once had lapsed, though they 
give the fullest evidence of sincere repentance. 

At this time, sixteen bishops happening to be at 
Rome, ordained Cornelius, bishop of Rome, as the 
successor of Fabian. He was very unwilling to ac- 
cept the office ; but the election of a bishop to with- 
stand the growing schism appeared necessary, and the 
people who were present approved of his ordination. 

Novatian procured himself to be ordained bishop 
in opposition, in a very irregular manner, and vented 
calumnies against Cornelius, whose life appears to 
have been worthy of the gospel. The Novatians sep- 
arated from the general church, not on grounds of doc- 
trine, but of discipline. Their leader appears to have 
been sound in the doctrine of the Trinity. Novatus, 
conscious of scandalous crimes, fled from Rome and 
became bishop of the Novatians in Africa. We are not 
to believe that all his followers were men void of the 
faith and love of Jesus : but to refuse the re-admission 
of true penitents was an instance of Pharisaical pride. 
In justice to Novatian, it ought to be mentioned that 
lie advised to exhort the lapsed to repentance, and 
then to leave them to the judgment of God. 

This denomination condemned second marriages, 
and denied communion, forever to such as, after bap- 
tism, married a second time. 

At length Cyprian ventured out of his retreat and 
returned to Carthage. In what manner he conducted 
himself shall be the subject of the next chapter. 


Cyprian's settlement of his Church after his return, and 
the History of the Western Church till the persecution 
under Gallus. 

OiN the return of Cyprian to Carthage, he had much 
to do. Decius had left Rome to repel the incursion of 
the Goths, and the church in this distraction of public 
affairs had a respite from persecution, but malice 
against Christianity had not ceased. 

A council was held at Carthage by Cyprian and the 
ether bishops of Africa. The ordination of Cornelius 
was recognized as legitimate : while that of Novatian 
was declared to be schismatical. Felicissimus was 
condemned. The case of the lapsed was determined. 
True penitents were to be restored ; doubtful charac- 
ters to be deferred, and yet every method of Christian 
charity to be used to facilitate their return and resto- 
ration. The Novatians remained a long time after, a 
distinct body of professing Christians. Though their 
secession could not be justified, the spirit of God ap- 
pears to have been with some of them, during their 
separation from the church. God is not confined to 
any particular modes of ecclesiastical government. 

Decius lost his life in battle, in the year two hundred 
and fifty one, after having reigned thirty months ; his 
successor was Gallus, who, for a little time, allowed 
peace to the church. 

Cyprian watched for the good of souls as one who 
must give an account to God of his ministry, and 
strove hard to have all the churches perfectly joined 
together in the same mind and in the same judg- 
ment. Union, among the professed friends of Christ 
at Rome, was as much on his heart, as union at Car- 
thage, because he considered Christ's body as one. 

The appearance of a new persecution from Gallus 
wow threatening the church, Cyprian, with the African 


Synod, wrote to Curnelius about hastening the time of 
receiving penitents, that they might be armed for the 
approaching storm. 


The Effects of the Persecution of Decius in the Eastern 


1 HOUGH the Eastern and Western churches were 
divided by the Greek and Roman language, yet were 
they cemented by the common bond of the Roman 
government, and much more so by the common bond 
of salvation* 

In this persecution, Alexander, bishop of the 
church at Jerusalem, was cast into prison, and finally 
breathed out his soul under confinement. The 
renowned Origen too also suffered extremely. 
Bonds, torments, a dungeon, the pressure of sin iron 
chair, the distension of his feet for many days, threats 
of burning, and other evils, were inflicted by his ene- 
mies, which he manfully endured. All these things 
ended, at last, in the preservation of his life, the judge 
solicitously taking care that his tortures should not kill 
him. This great man at last died in his seventieth 
year, about the same time as did the emperor Decius. 

At this time Dionysius was bishop of Alexandria, a 
person of great and deserved renown in the church ; 
for a few of his writings, we are obliged to Eusebius. 
In an Epistle to Germanus, Dionysius thus speaks : 
" Sabinus, the Roman governor, sent an officer to seek 
me during the persecution of Decius, and I remained 
four days at home, expecting his coming ; he made 
the most accurate search in the roads, the rivers, and 
the fields, where he suspected I might be hid. A con- 
fusion seems to have seized him, that he should not 
find my house 5 for he had no idea that a man in my 
circumstances should stay at home. At length after 
four clays, God ordered me to remove, and having 


opened me a Way, contrary to all expectation, I and 
my servants and many of the brethren went together. 
The event shewed the whole was the work of Divine 
Providence* About sun-set, being seized, together 
with my company, by the soldiers, I was led to Tapo- 
siris. But my friend, Timotheus, by the providence of 
God, was not present^ nor was he seized. But com- 
ing afterwards, he found my house forsaken, and min- 
isters guarding it, and that we were taken captive. 
How wonderful \vas the dispensation ! but it shall be 
related with truth. A countrymen met Timotheus, 
flying in confusion^ and asked the cause of his hurry ; 
he told him the truth ; the peasant hearing it, went 
away to a nuptial feast ; for in them the custom was 
to watch all night. He informed the guests of what 
lie had heard. At once they all rose up, as by a sig- 
nal, and ran quickly to us, and shouted ; our soldiers, 
struck with a panic, fled, and the invaders found us as 
we were, on naked beds* I first thought they must 
have been a company of robbers, and remaining on 
my bed in my linen, reached to them the rest of 'my 
apparel, which was just by. They ordered me to 
rise and go out quickly. At length understanding their 
real design, I cried out entreating them earnestly to 
depart, and let us alone. But if they really meant 
any kindness to us. I begged them to prevent my per- 
secutors and take off iny head* They compelled me 
to rise by plain violence, and I threw myself on the 
ground. They seized my hands and feet, pulled me 
out, by force ; I was set on an ass, and conducted from 
the place." In so remarkable a manner was his use- 
ful life preserved to the church. We shall see it was 
not in vain. 

At Alexandria, in Egypt, a most bloody persecution 
raged for a year before that of Decian commenced. 
There the Pagan Gentiles put the Christians to the 
greatest distress, and multitudes to the most painful 
and cruel deaths. Their design was to bring as ma- 
ny as they possibly could to renounce Christ, by sa- 
crificing to the heathen gods. But they stood firm, 
and God supported them under their sore conflicts. 


Those who suffered for Christ, had embraced him ai 
their Redeemer, and they manifested that they loved 
him better than they did even their own lives ; and he 
as their Savior granted them special tokens of his love, 
by peculiar supports in their expiring moments. 

In the Deeian persecution, the instruments of tor- 
ture, were swords, wild beasts, red-hot chains, wheels 
to stretch the bodies, and talons to tear them. The 
genius of men was never known to have had more 
employment in aiding the savageness of the heart. 
Life was prolonged in torture, that impatience in suf- 
fering might, at length, effect what surprize and terrof 
could riot. 

See two examples of Satanic artifice. A martyr 
having endured the rack and burning plates, the judge 
ordered him to be rubbed all over with honey, and 
then exposed him in the sun, which was very hot, ly- 
ing on his back with his hands tied behind him, that 
he 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 pleasant garden 
among flowers, near a pleasing rivulet surrouded with 
trees; here they laid him on a feather bed, bound him 
with silken cords, and left him alone* Then they 
brought thither a lewd woman, very handsome, who 
began to- embrace him and to court him with all pos- 
sible impudence. The martyr bit off his tongue, not 
knowing how to resist the assaults of sensuality any 
longer, and spit it in her face* Shocking as these 
things were, Christianity appeared what it really is, 
true holiness ; while its persecutors shewed that they 
were at enmity with all godliness-. 

Alexander, bishop of Comana, suffered martyrdom 
by fire. At Smyrna, Eudemon, the bishop, aposta- 
tized, and several unhappily followed his example. 
But all did not. Pionius, one of the presbyters, stood 
firm. In expectation of being seized, he put a chain 
upon his neck, and caused Sabina and Asclepiadcfc 
to do the same, to show their readiness to suffer. Po- 
lemon, keeper of the idol-temple, came to them with 
th> magistrate* : " Don't you know," says he, " that 


the emperor has ordered you to sacrifice ?" " We are 
riot ignorant of the commandments," says Pionius, 
" but they are those which command us to worship 
God." " Come to the market-place," says Polemon., 
" and see the truth of what I have said." " We obey 
the true God," said Sabina and Asclepiadcs. 

When the martyrs were in the midst of the multi- 
tude in the market-place, "you had better," says Po- 
lemon, " submit to avoid the* torture." Pionius 'began 
to speak : " Citizens of Smyrna, who please yourselves 
with the beauty of your walls and city, and value your- 
selves on account of your poet, Homer, and ye Jews, 
if there be any among you, hear me speak a few 
words : We find that Smyrna has been esteemed the 
finest city in the world, and was reckoned the chief of 
those which contended for the honor of Homer's birth. 
I am informed that you deride those who come of their 
own accord to sacrifice, or who do not refuse when ur- 
ged to it. But surely your teacher Homer should be 
attended to, who says, that we ought not to rejoice at 
the death of any man. And ye Jews ought to obey 
Moses, who tells you, "Thou shalt not see thy broth- 
er's ass or his ox fall down by the way, and hide thy- 
self from him ; thou shalt surely help him to lift them 
up again." And Solomon says, " Rejoice not when 
thine enemy falleth. For my part I had rather die, 
and undergo any sufferings, than contradict my princi- 
ples. Whence then proceed the laughter and scoffs of 
the .Jews, pointed not only against those who have sac- 
rificed, but against us. They insult us with a mali- 
cious pleasure to see our long peace interrupted. 
Though we were their enemies, still we are men. But 
what harm have we done them ? What have we made 
them suffer? Whom have we spoken against ? Whom 
have we persecuted ? Whom have we compelled to 
worship idols? Do they think themselves less culpable 
than those who suffer death from persecution ?" H 
then addressed the Jews on the grounds of their own 
scriptures, and solemnly placed before the Pagans the 
4ay of judgment, 


He spake long, Was very attentively heard, and ther*. 
is reason to hope it was not in vain. The people, who 
surrounded him, said with Polemon, " Believe us, Pi- 
onius, your probity and wisdom make us deem you 
worthy to live, and life is pleasant." Thus did con-? 
science and humanity operate in their, hearts, "I 
own," says the martyr, "life is pleasant, but I mean 
that which I aspire after. We will not, through a con- 
temptuous spirit, forsake these gifts ; but that which 
we prefer to them is infinitely better. I thank you for 
your expressions of kindness. I cannot, however, but 
suspect some stratagem in it." The people continued 
entreating him, and he still discoursed to them of an 
hereafter. The well known sincerity and unquestion- 
able virtues of the man, seem to have filled the Sinyr- 
neans with veneration, and his enemies began to fear 
an uproar in his favor. " It is impossible to persuade 
you then," said Polemon. " I would to G*od / could 
persuade you to be a Christian," says Pionius. 

Sabina had changed her name by the advice of Pio- 
nius, who was her brother, for fear of falling into the 
hands of her Pagan mistress, who, to compel her to re- 
nounce Christianity, had formerly put her in irons, and 
banished her to the mountains, where the brethren se- 
cretly nourished her. After this she called herself The- 
odota. " What god dost thou adore ?" says Polemon. 
" God Almighty," she answers, " who made all things, 
of which we are assured by his Word Jesus Christ." 
" And what dost thou adore ?" speaking to Asclepiades. 
"Jesus Christ," says he. "What! is there another 
God?" says Polemon. "No," says he, "this is the 
same whom we come here to confess." He who wor- 
ships the Trinity in Unity will find no difficulty in re- 
conciling these two confessions. Let him who does 
not so worship, attempt it- One person pitying Pioni- 
tis, said, " Why do you that, are so Learned so resolute- 
ly seek death ?" 

Being put into prison, they found there a presbyter 
named Lemnus, and a woman named Macedonia, and 
another called Eutychiana, a montauist. 


- The prisoners were placed all together, and employ* 
ed ihesnseives in praising God, and shewed every mark 
of paiience and cheerfulness. Many Pagans visited 
Piomus, and attempted to persuade him; his answers 
struck them with admiration. Some, who by compul- 
sion had sacrificed, visited them and intreated them 
with tears. " I now suffer afresh,'* says Pionius ; " me- 
thinks I am torn in pieces when I see the pearls of the 
church trod under foot by swine, and the stars of hea- 
ven cast to the earth by the tail of the dragon. But 
our sins have been the cause." 

The Jews, whose character for 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 Je- 
sus Christ died like other men by constraint. Was 
that man a common felon, whose disciples have cast 
out devils for so many years ? Could that man be forc- 
ed to die, for whose sake his disciples, and so many 
others, have voluntarily suffered the severest punish- 
ment ?" Having spoken a long time to them, he de-? 
sired that they would depart out of the prison. 

The continuance of miraculous dispensations in fa- 
vor of Christianity in the third century, is here attest- 
ed. Pionius affirms, that devils were ejected by chris- 
tians in the name of Christ,.'in the face of the apos- 
tates, who would have been glad of the shadow of an 
argument to justify their perfidy. 

The captain of the horse coming to the prison, or- 
dered Pionius to come to the idol-temple. " Youi- 
bishop Eudemon hath already sacrificed," says he. 
The martyr, knowing that nothing of this sort could be 
done legally till the arrival of the pro-consul, refused. 
The captain put a cord about his neck, and drag T 
ged him along with Sabina and others. They cried^ 
" we are Christians," and fell to the ground, lest they 
should enter the idol-temple. Pionius, after much 
resistance, was forced in and laid on the jround before 


the altar ; there stood the unhappy Eudemon, afte* 
having sacrificed. 

Lepidus, a judge, asks, " What god do you adore ?" 
* Him," says Pionius, "that made heaven and earth." 
" You mean him that was crucified ?" " I mean him 
whom God the Father sent for the salvation of men." 
" We must," said the judges one to another, " compel 
them to say what we desire." " Blush," answered 
Pionius, ki ye adorers of false gods ; have some respect 
for justice, and obey the laws ; they enjoin you not to 
do violence to us, but to put us to death." 

One Ruffinus said, " Forbear, Pionius, your thirst 
after vain glory." " Is this your eloquence ?" answer- 
ed the martyr. " Is this what you have read in your 
books ? Was not Socrates thus treated by the Atheni- 
ans ? According to your advice he sought after vain 
glory, because he applied himself to wisdom and vir- 
tue." A case thus apposite, and which doubtless 
bore some resemblance, as the philosopher's zeal for 
moral virtue exposed him to persecution, struck Ruffi- 
nus dumb. 

A certain person placed a crown on Pionus' head, 
which he tore, and the pieces lay before the altar. 
The Pagans, finding their persuasions vain, remanded 
them to prison. 

Afew days after, the pro-consul, Quintilian, returned 
to Smyrna and examined Pionius. He tried both tor- 
tures and persuasions in vain, and at length, enraged 
at his obstinacy, sentenced him to be burnt alive. 
Pionius went cheerfully to the place of execution, and 
thanked God who had preserved his body pure from 
idolatry.. Then he stretched himself out upon the 
wood, and delivered himself to a soldier to be nailed 
to the pile. After he was fastened, the executioner 
said to him, " Change your mind, and the nails shall 
be taken away." " I have felt them," answered he. 
After remaining thoughtful for a time, he said, " I has- 
ten, O Lord, that I may the sooner be raised up again." 
They then lifted him up, fastened to the wood, and af- 
terwards one Metrodorus, a Marcionite, was placed in 
the same manner. They weje turned toward the east. 


Pionius on the right hand and Metrodorus on the left. 
They heaped round them a great quantity of wood. 
Pionius remained some time motionless, with his eyes 
shut, absorbed in prayer, while the fire was consuming 
him. Then at length he opened his eyes, and looking 
cheerfully on the (ire, said, " Amen," and expired, say- 
ing, " Lord, receive my soul." Of the particular man- 
ner in which his companions suffered death, we have 
no account. 

In this narrative of the suffering of Pionius and his 
companions, we see the spirit of divine charity triumph- 
ing over all worldly and selfish considerations. The 
zeal of Pionius deserves to be commemorated while 
the world endures. What true religion is, in its sim- 
plicity, is exemplified in him abundantly, and to the 
very last. 

In Asia, one Maximus a merchant, was brought be- 
fore Optimus, the pro-consul, who enquired after his 
condition. " I was," says he, " born free, but I am 
the servant of Je^us Christ." "Of what profession 
are you ?" " A man of the world, who live by my 
dealings." " Are you a Christian ?" " Though a sin- 
ner, yet I am a Christian." The usual process was 
carried on of persuasions and tortures. These are not 
torments w r hich we suffer for the name of our Lord 
Jesus Christ; they are wholesome unctions." Such 
was the effect of the Holy Ghost shedding the love of 
God in Christ abroad in the human heart ! He was or- 
dered to be stoned to death. 

All this time the persecution raged in Egypt with 
unremitting" fury. In the low r er 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 
love of God. He had a married sister with whom he 
lived. Her husband was base enough to design an 
information against him, to obtain his estate. Paul, 
having notice of this, retired to the desert mountains, 
where he waited till the persecution ceased. Habit, 
at length, made solitude agreeable to him. He found 
9. pleasant retreat and lived there ninety years. At 

the time of his retirement he was twenty-three, and 
lived to be one hundred and thirteen years old. This 
is the first distinct account of an hermit in the Christian 
church. None should doubt the genuine piety of PauL 
but he carried his love for solitude too fan With the 
return of peace, the return of social duties should have 
taken place. 

By the Decian persecution the Lord meant to chast- 
en and to purify his ckurch, not to destroy it. This was 
not a local, but universal persecution, and must have 
transmitted great numbers to the regions Where sin and 
pain shall be no more. The peace of thirty years had 
corrupted the whole Christian atmosphere. The light- 
ning of the Decian rage refined and cleared it. No 
doubt the effects were salutary. Without such a 
scourge, external religion might have spread^ and in*- 
ternal have languished. The survivors had an op- 
portunity to learn what the gospel is, in the faithfulness 
of the martrys ; and men were taught again, that he 
alone who strengthens Christians to suffer, can make 
true Christians. Yet the storm proved fatal to a num- 
ber of individuals who apostatized, and Christianity 
was cleared of many false friends. The formation of 
schisms and of superstitious solitudes, had their date 
from the Decian persecution. 


The History of the Church during the reign of Gallus* 

IjtALLUS soon began to disturb the peace of the 
church, though not with the incessant fury of his pre- 
decessor. One Hyppolitus, a Roman presbyter, had 
been seduced into Novatianism ; but his mind had not 
been perverted from the faith and love of Jesus. He 
was now called on to suffer martyrdom, which he did 
with courage and fidelity. Being asked in the last 
scene of his sufferings, whether he still persisted in the 
communion of the. Novatians? He declared in the 


most explicit terms, that he now saw the affair in a new 
light, repented of his having encouraged the schism, 
and died in the communion of the general church. 

In this persecution the Roman christians suffered 
severely, and behaved themselves with exemplary for- 
titude. Like good soldiers they stood resolute, armed 
for the battle by watchings, fastings and prayers. Their 
bishop, Cornelius, was banished, by the emperor, to 
Civita Vecchia, where he died in exile. The faith- 
fulness of his sufferings for Christ, clearly evinces the 
sincerity of his profession. 

The daily reception of the Lord's supper appears to 
have been the practice of the African church at that 

Lucius was chosen bishop of Rome instead of Cor- 
nelius, but was immediately driven into exile by the 
authority ofGallus. Cyprian congratulated him both 
on his promotion and sufferings. His banishment 
must have been of short duration. In the year 252, 
he was permitted to return to Rome. Soon after which 
he suffered death and was succeeded by Stephen. 

During the reign of Callus, a dreadful pestilence ra- 
ged in Africa. The mortality was great. The pa- 
gans, alarmed beyond measure, neglected the burial of 
the dead through fear, and violated the duties of hu- 
manity. Many dead bodies lay in the streets of Car- 
thage. Cyprian assembled his people and expatiated 
on the subject of mercy. He pointed out to them, that 
if they did no more than others, the heathen and the 
publican, in shewing mercy to their own, there would 
be nothing worthy of their profession in that ; that Chris- 
tians 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 on 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 birth, and 
those who appear to be born of God, should not de- 
generate, but should be solicitous to prove the gen- 
uineness of their relation to God by the imitation of 
his goodness. 


The eloquent voice of Cyprian was attended to by 
the people with their usual alacrity. The Christians 
ranked themselves into classes to relieve the public 
calamity. The rich contributed largely, the poor did 
what they could. Their labor was attended with ex- 
treme hazard to their lives. The Pagans saw, with 
admiration, what the love of God in Christ can do, 
and beheld their own selfishness and inferiority. 

About this time, some Numidian Christians were 
carried into captivity, by an irruption of barbarians, 
who neither owned the Roman sway, nor had the least 
acquaintance with Christianity. The active benevo- 
lence of Cyprian would not surfer him to be at rest. 
He took measures to redeem them from captivity, 
wrote to them a most feeling, affectionate and sympa- 
thetic letter, and informed them ; " We have sent a 
hundred thousand sesterces,* the collection of our 
clergy and laity, of the charge of Carthage, which you 
will dispense according to your diligence. Heartily 
do we wish that no such thing may happen again, and 
that the Lord may protect our brethren from such ca- 
lamities. But if, to try our faith and love, such afflic- 
tions should again befal you, hesitate not to certify 
us, assuring yourselves of the hearty concurrence of 
our church with you in prayer and in cheerful contri- 

Soon after the appointment of Stephen to the office 
of bishop of the church of Rome, Callus was slain, af- 
ter a wretched reign of 18 months, in the year 253. 


The pacific Part of Valerian' } s Reign. 

1 N Valerian, the successor of Gallus, the people of 
God found a friend and protector, for upwards of three 
years. His house was full of Christians and he had a 
strong predilection in their favor. 

During 'this peace, a council was held in Africa by 
sixty-six bishops, with Cyprian at their head, to set- 

* About jg 3900. 


tie various matters relating to the church of Christ, 

We have an account of two points mentioned, 
which particularly called their attention. 

One Victor, a presbyter, had been received into 
the church without having undergone the legitimate 
time of trial, and without the concurrence and con- 
sent of the people. His bishop, Therapius, had done 
it arbitrarily and contrary to the institutes of the for- 
mer council for settling such matters. Cyprian, in the 
name of the council, contents himself with reprimand- 
ding Therapius ; but yet confirms what he had done, 
and warns him to take care of offending in future. 

We here see, that a strict and godly discipline, on 
the \vhole, now prevailed in the church, and that the 
wisest and most successful methods of recovering the 
lapsed, were used. The authority of bishops was firm, 
but not despotic ; and the share of the people, in mat- 
ters of discipline, appears worthy of notice. 

What the other point was which called the atten- 
tion of this council, we learn from what Cyprian writes 
to Fidus ; " As to the case of infants, of whom you 
said that they ought not to be baptized within the sec- 
ond or third day after their birth, and that the ancient 
law of circumcision should be so far repeated, that 
they should not be baptized till the eighth day, we 
were ail of a different opinion. The mercy and grace 
of God, we all judged, should be denied to none. For 
if the Lord says in his gospel, the son of man has not 
come to destroy merfs lives, but to save them, how ought 
we to do our utmost, as far as in us lies, that no soul 
be lost. Spiritual circumcision, should not be impe- 
ded by that which is carnal. If even to the foulest of- 
fenders, when they afterwards believe, remission of 
sins be granted, and none is prohibited from baptism 
and grace ; how much more should an infant be ad- 
mitted, who, just born, hath not sinned at all, except 
that being carnally born according to Adam, he hath 
contracted the contagion of ancient death in his first 
birth ; who approaches to remission of sins more easi- 
ly, because not his own actual guilt ? but that of anoth- 
er, is remitted." 


Here, in an assembly of sixty-six pastors, men of 
approved fidelity and gravity, who had stood the fiery 
trial of some of the severest persecutions ever known, 
and who had testified their love to the Lord Jesus 
Christ; who appear not to have been wanting in any of 
the essential characteristics of godliness ; a question is 
brought, not, whether infants should be baptized at all, 
none contradicted this, but, whether it is right to bap- 
tize them immediately, or on the eighth day. To a 
man, they all determined to baptize them immediate- 
ly. This transaction passed in the year 253. 

In what light the primitive christia^s viewed thea- 
trical entertainments, and stage players, may be seen 
by a letter from Cyprian to Eucratius his brother. As 
this shews the opinions and manners of the brethren 
of that age, the reader may be entertained and in- 
structed by a perusal. 

" Cyprian to Eucratius his Brother. Health. Your 
love and esteem have induced you, dearest brother, 
to consult me as to what I think of the case of the 
player among you ; who still continues in the same 
infamous art, and as a teacher of boys, not to be in- 
structed but to be ruined by him, instructs others in 
that which he himself hath miserably learnt. You 
ask whether he should be allowed the continuance of 
Christian communion ? I think it very inconsistent 
with the majesty of God, and the rules of his gospel, 
that the modesty and honor of the church should be 
defiled by so base and infamous a contagion. In the 
law, men are prohibited to wear female attire, and 
are pronounced accursed ; how much more criminal 
must it be, not only to put on woman's garments, but 
also to express lacivious, obscene, and effeminate 
gestures in a way of instructing others ! And let no 
man excuse himself as having left the theatre, while 
yet he undertakes to qualify others for the work. You 
cannot say that he had ceased from a business, who 
provides substitutes in his room, and instead of one 
only, furnishes the play-house with a number ; teach- 
ing them, contrary to the Divine ordinance, how the 
jnaje may be reduced into a female, and the sex bq 


changed by art ; and how Satan may be gratified by 
the defilement of the Divine workmanship. If the 
man makes poverty his excuse, his necessities may be 
relieved in the same manner as those of others, who 
are maintained by the alms of the church, provided 
he be content with frugal, but innocent food, and do 
not fancy that we are to hire him by a salary to cease 
from sin, since it is not our interest, but his own, that 
is concerned in this affair. But let his gains from the 
service of the play-house be ever so large, what sort of 
gain is that, which tears men from a participation in 
the banquet of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and leads 
them, miserably and ruinously, fattened in this world, 
to the punishments of eternal famine arid thirst ? 
Therefore, as much as you can, 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 parsi- 
monious, but salutary maintenance from the church. 
But if your church be insufficient to maintain its poor, 
he may transfer himself to us, and here receive what 
is necessary for food and raiment, and no longer teach 
pernicious things out of the church, but learn himself 
salutary things in the church. Dearest son, I wish 
you constant prosperity. 1 " 

What, surely, would Cyprian have said, to see large 
assemblies of Christians, so called, devoted to the im- 
purities of the theatre, zealously supporting them, and 
deriving from them their highest delight ? He would, 
at the same time, observe the same persons, as might 
be expected, perfect strangers to the joys of the Holy 

Among the primitive Christians, the clergy were 
looked upon as men wholly devoted to Divine things, 
and secular cares were taken but of their hands as 
much as possible : an instance of this we see in the 
decision of an African Synod, where Cyprian and his 
colleagues wrote to the church of Terna? a protest 
against the appointment of Faustinus, a presbyter, a 
guardian, by the will of one Germinius Victor. This 
shows the happy effects produced upon the minds of 
the church by the spirit of God. 


During this century the gospel had France 
and Spain to a great degree. In Spain, two bishops, 
Basilides and Martial, were deposed for their unfaith- 
fulness during the persecution. 

A question arose, whether persons returning from 
heresies into the church ought to be re-baptized. 
The active spirit of Cyprian was employed, partly by 
a council in Africa, and partly by his letters, in main- 
taining, that the baptism of heretics was null and void; 
that even Novatian baptism ought to be looked up- 
on in the same light. But Stephen, of Rome, main- 
tained, that if they were baptized in the name of the 
Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, it was sufficient 
to receive them into the church by imposition of 
hands ; and though nothing was at present decided, 
because no party had power to compel others, yet 
most Christians have long since agreed with Stephen. 

But the church, while in worldly ease and quiet, is 
too easily entangled in curious speculations, and loses 
the vigor of religious affection : but God, in infinite 
mercy, has a scourge for his froward children ; perse- 
cution lowers again with re-collected strength, and 
Christians are called on to forget their idle internal 
contentions, to humble themselves before him, and 
prepare for scenes of horror and desolation. 


The last Acts and Martyrdom of Cyprian. 

1 HE change in the disposition of Valerian toward 
the christians, which now took place, is one of the 
most memorable instances of the instability of human 
characters. More than all his predecessors he was at 
first disposed to kindness toward them. His palace 
was full of the friends of Jesus, and was looked on as a 
sanctuary. But, after he had reigned three years, he 
was induced by his favorite Macrianus, to treat them 
with the most vindictive cruelty. This man dealt 


largely in magical enchantments and abominable sac- 
rifices ; he slaughtered children, and scattered the en-' 
trails of new born babes. The persecution of chris- 
tians was an exploit worthy of a mind so facinated 
with diabolical wickedness and folly. In Valerian 
he found but too ready a disciple. It began in the 
year two hundred and fifty seven, and continued the 
remainder of his reign, three years and a half. Ste- 
phen, of Rome, appears to have died a natural death 
about the beginning of it. Sixtus was his successor. 

Cyprian, who had escaped two persecutions, was now 
made the victim of the third, though his sufferings were 
attended with circumstances of comparative lenity. 

He was seized by the servants of Paternus, the pro- 
consul of Carthage, and brought into his council cham- 
ber. "The sacred emperors, Valerian and Gallienus," 
says Paternus, " have done me the honor to direct let- 
ters to me, in which they have decreed, that all men 
ought to adore the gods whom the Romans adore, and 
on pain of being slain with the sword. I have heard 
that you despise the worship of the gods, whence I ad- 
vise you to consult for yourself and honor them." " I 
am a Christian," Cyprian replied, " and know no God 
but the one true God, who created heaven and earth, 
the sea, and all things in them. This God, we chris- 
tians serve ; to him we pray night and day for all men, 
and even for the emperors." " You shall die the 
death of a malefactor, if you persevere in this inclina- 
tion." Cyprian answered, " That is a good inclina- 
tion which fears God, and therefore must not be 
changed." " You must then, by the will of the prin- 
ces, be banished." "He is no exile," it was replied, 
" who has God in his heart, for the earth is the Lord's^ 
and the fulness thereof." Paternus said, " Before 
you go, tell me where are your presbyters, who are 
said to be in this city." With much presence of mind,. 
Cyprian reminded him of the edicts made by the. 
best Roman princes against the practice of informers. 
" They ought not therefore to be discovered by me ? 
but you may find them, and you yourselves do not 
approve of men offering themselves voluntarily to 


you." " I will make you discover them by tortures.- 1 
" By me," the intrepid Cyprian rejoined, " they shall 
not be discovered." " Our princes have ordered that 
Christians hold no conventicles, and whoever breaks 
this rule shall be put to death," " Do what you are 
ordered," Cyprian calmly replied. 

Paternus was, however, not disposed to hurt Cypri- 
an. He respected his character. Having, in vain, 
attempted to work on his fears, he banished him to 
Curubis, a little town 60 miles from Carthage, situ- 
ate by the sea, over against Sicily. The place was 
healthy, the air good, and by his own desire he had 
private lodgings. During the eleven months he resided 
there, the citizens of Curubis treated him with great 
kindness, and he was repeatedly visited by Christians. 
There he served his Divine Master in good works, and 
in the interim Paternus died. 

While he was there, nine bishops, all of whom had 
been present at the last council at Carthage, were 
seized, and a great number of the faithful, priests, 
deacons, virgins and children ; who, after having been 
beaten with sticks, were sent to work in the copper- 
mines in the mountains. 

To them Cyprian addressed a most affectionate let- 
ter, peculiarly calculated to support them under their 
sore trials ; an extract from this letter is in the follow- 
ing language : " Let malice and cruelty fetter you as 
they please, quickly you will come from earth arid its 
sorrows to the kingdom of heaven. In those mines 
the body is not refreshed by a bed, but Christ is its 
consolation and rest ; your limbs, fatigued with labors, 
lie on the ground ; but to lie down with Christ is no 
punishment. Filth and dirt defile your limbs, void of 
the cleansing bath ; but you are inwardly washed 
from all uncleanliness. Your allowance of bread is 
scanty ; but man doth not live by bread alone, but by 
the word of God. You have no proper clothes to 
fence you from the cold ; but he w r ho has put on Christ 
is clothed abundantly." 

In the year 260, Cyprian, returning by permission 
from exile, lived in a garden near Carthage, which 


Was now providentially restored to him, though he had 
sold it at his first conversion. His liberal spirit would 
have inclined him once more to sell it for the relief of 
the needy, had he not feared to attract the envy of the 
persecutors. Here he regulated the affairs of the 
church, and distributed to the poor what he had left. 
Here he understood that the persecution, after a little 
interval, had broken out afresh, and hearing various 
reports, he sent to Rome to gain certain information. 
He soon learnt, what he immediately communicated 
to the brethren, that Valerian had given orders, that 
bishops, presbyters and deacons should be put to death 
without delay ; that senators, noblemen, and knights 
should be degraded arid deprived of their property, and 
if they still persisted to be Christians, should lose their 
lives ; that women of quality should be deprived of 
their property and be banished ; that all Caesar's freed- 
men, who should have confessed, should be stripped of 
their goods, be chained and sent to work on his estates. 
These were Valerian's orders to the senate, and were 
sent to the governors of provinces* " These letters^" 
writes Cyprian, "we daily expect to arrive, stand- 
ing in the firmness of faith, in patient expectation of 
suffering, and hoping, from the Lord's help and kind- 
ness, the crown of eternal life." He mentions also the 
news he had heard of the martyrdom of Sixtusj the 
bishop of Rome, and the ferocity, with which the per- 
secution was there daily carried on in all its horrors. 
He begs that the intelligence may be circulated 
through Africa, "That we may all think of death, 
not more than immortality, and in the fulness of faith, 
may rather rejoice at, tkan fear, the event." Ga- 
lerius Maximus had succeeded Paternus in the pro- 
consulate, and Cyprian was daily expected to be sent 
for. In this awful crisis, a number of senators and 
others, considerable for their office or their quality, 
came to him. Ancient friendship melted the minds 
of some of them toward the man, and they offered to 
conceal him in country places, but his soul was now 
jithirst for martyrdom. He was conscientiously afraid 
of sinning against God by throwing away his life, by 


courting martyrdom ; but he was not afraid of being 
found in the discharge of duty. Still he continued at 
Carthage exhorting the faithful, desiring, that if called 
to suffer, death might find him thus employed for God. 

However, being informed that the pro-consul, then 
at Utica, had sent some soldiers to bring him thither, 
he was induced to comply^ for a season, with the ad- 
vice of his friends, to retire to some place of conceal- 
ment, that he might not suffer there ; but if his execu- 
tion was inevitable, he might finish his life among his 
own people at Carthage ; so he states the matter in the 
last of his letters to the clergy and people. "Here," 
says he,, " in this concealment, I wait for the return of 
the pro-consul to Carthage, ready to appear before 
him, and to say what shall be given me at that hour. 
Do you, dear brethren, do you, agreeably to the disci- 
pline you have always received, and to the instruc- 
tions you have learnt of me, continue still and quiet ; 
let none of you excite any tumult on account of the 
brethren, or offer himself voluntarily to the Gentiles. 
He who is seized and delivered up ought to speak ; the 
Lord in us will speak at that hour; and confession, 
rather than profession, is our duty. 

The pro-consul being returned to Carthage, and 
Cyprian to his garden, officers with soldiers came there 
to seize him. They carried him in a chariot between 
them to a place called Sextus, six miles from Car- 
thage,, by the sea side, where the pro-consul lodged 
in a state of ill health. His trial was deferred till the 
next day, when vast crowds, both of christians and 
infidels, who revered the virtue of the man, assembled. 
The chief of the officers guarded him, but in a cour- 
teous manner ; so that he ate with his friends, and had 
them about him as usuaL The Christians passed the 
night in the street before his lodgings, and the charity 
of Cyprian moved him to direct a particular attention 
to be paid to the young women who were among the 
crowd. The next day the pro-consul sent for Cypri- 
an, w T ho went to the Praetorium, attended by crowds of 
people. The pro-consul not yet appearing, Cyprian 
was ordered to wait for him in a private place, where 


he sat down. Being in a great perspiration, a soldier, 
who had professed Christianity, offered him fresh 
clothes. " Shall we," says Cyprian, " seek for a reme- 
dy for that which may last no longer than a day." 

He was at length brought into the judgment-hall^ 
^where the pro-consul sat. "Are you Thascius Cy- 
prian ?" " I am." " Are you he whom the christians 
call their bishop ?" " I am." " Our princes have or- 
dered y HI to worship their gods." " That 1 shall not 
do." " You will do better to consult your safety, arid 
not despise the gods." " My safety and virtue is Christ 
the Lord, whom I desire to serve forever." " I pity 
your case," says the pro-consul, " and could wish to 
consult for you." " I do not wish," replies Cyprian, 
" that things should be otherwise with me, than that, 
adoring my God, I may hasten to him with all the ar- 
dor of my soul ; for the afflictions of .this present time 
are not worthy to be compared with the glory which 
shall be revealed in us." The pro-consul, now redden- 
ing with anger, says, " You have lived sacrilegiously a 
long time, and have formed into a society men of an 
impious conspiracy, and have shewn yourself an ene- 
my to the gods and their religion, and have not hearken- 
ed unto the equitable counsels of our princes, but have 
ever been a father of the impious sect, and their ring- 
leader ; you shall therefore be an example to {he rest, 
and they shall learn their duty by your blood. Let 
Thascius Cyprian, who refuses to sacrifice to the gods, 
be put to death by the sword." " God be praised," said 
the martyr, and while they were leading him away, a 
multitude of people followed and cried, " Let us die 
with our holy bishop." 

A troop of soldiers attended, and the officers march- 
ed on each side of him. They led him into a plain 
surrounded with trees, and many climbed \ip to the 
top of them to see him at a distance. Cyprian took 
off his mantle, and fell on his knees and worshiped 
his God; then he put off his inner garment and re- 
mained in his shirt. The executioner being come, 
Cyprian ordered 25 golden denarii to be given him ; 
he himself bound the napkin over his eyes, and a pros- 


byter and deacon tied his hands for him, and the chris* 
tians laid before him napkins and hankerchiefs to rer 
ceive his blood. Then his head was cut off by the 

Thus, after an eventful and important period of 
about 12 years from his conversion, after a variety of 
toils and exercises among friends, and open foes, and 
nominal Christians, by a death more gentle than com- 
monly fell to the lot of martyrs, rested in Jesus, the 
magnanimous and charitable spirit of Cyprian of Car- 

Before Cyprian's time, Africa appears to have been 
in no very flourishing state with respect to Christianity. 
Within 12 years he was the instrument of most mater 
rial service in recovering many apostates, in reforming 
discipline, and in reviving the essence of godliness. 



Other Particulars of Valerian's Persecution. 

Y order of Valerian, Sixtus, bishop of Rome, and 
some others of the clergy were seized. While Sixtus 
was going to execution, Laurentius, his chief deacon, 
followed him weeping, and, said, " Whither goest thou, 
father, without thy son ?" Sixtus said, '* You shall fol- 
low me in three days." 

After Sixtus' death the prefect of Rome, moved by 
an idle report of the immense riches of the Roman 
church, sent for Laurentius, and ordered him to deliv- 
er them up. Laurentius, requested a little time to 
set every thing in order, and to take an account of 
each particular ; three days having been granted, he 
collected all the poor who were supported by the 
Roman church, and went to the prefect and said, 
" Come, behold the riches of our God ; you shall see a 
large court fhll of golden vessels." The prefect fol- 
lowed him, but seeing all the poor people, he turned 
to Laurentius with looks full of anger." " What arc 
you displeased at ?" said the martyr j '' the gold yoti 


o eagerly desire is but a vile metal taken out of the 
earth, and serves as an incitement to all sorts of 
crimes ; the true gold is that Light whose disciples 
these poor men are. The misery of their bodies is an 
advantage to their souls ; sin is the true disease ; the 
great ones of the earth are the truly poor and con- 
temptible. These are the treasures which I promis- 
ed you, to which I will add precious stones. Behold 
these virgins and widows ; they are the church's crown * 
make use of these riches for the advantage of Rome, 
of the emperor, and yourself." 

Doubtless, had the prefect's mind been at all dispos- 
ed to receive an instructive lesson, he would here have 
learned the nature of the liberality of Christians, who 
maintained a great number of objects, and who look-- 
ed for no recompense, but that which shall take place 
at the resurrection of the just. But as the persecu- 
tors would not hear the doctrines of Christ explain- 
ed, so neither would they patiently endure an exem- 
plification of his precepts. The prefect was cut to 
the quick ; " Do you m0ck me ?" said he, " I know you 
value yourselves for contemning death, and therefore 
you shall not die at once." He caused him to be 
stripped, extended, and fastened to a gridiron, and in 
that manner to be broiled to death by a slow fire. 
When he had continued a considerable time on one 
gide, he said to the prefect, " Let me be turned, I am 
sufficiently broiled on one side." And when they had 
turned him he said, " It is enough, ye may eat."-^ 
Then looking up to heaven, he prayed for the convex 
sion of Rome, and gave up the ghost! 

At Csesarea, in Cappadocia, a child named Cyril, 
shewed uncommon fortitude. Neither threats nor 
blows could prevent him from owning Christianity,^ 
He was driven from his home by his own father, ancj 
persecuted by many children of his owa age. He 
was brought before the judge, w 7 ho promised that he 
should be pardoned and be again received by his fa- 
ther. He replied, " I rejoice to bear your reproaches ; 
God will receive me ; I arn glad that I am expelled out 
of our house ; 1 shall have a better mansion ; I fear not 


death, because it will introduce me into a better life. 19 
The judge ordered him to be bound and led to the 
place of execution, with secret orders to bring him 
back, hoping that the sight of the fire might overcome 
his resolution. Cyril remained inflexible. The hu- 
rnanjty of the judge induced him still to continue his 
remonstrances. The young martyr stood firm ; " Your 
fire and your sword," said he, " are insignificant. I go 
to a better house and more excellent riches ; despatch 
me presently, that I may enjoy them." The specta- 
tors wept through compassion. " You should rather 
rejoice," said he, " in conducting me to my punish- 
ment. You know not what a city I am going to inhabit, 
nor what is my hope." Thus he went to his death, 
and was the admiration of the whole city. 

Many others suffered with great Christian meekness 
and fortitude. But after three years employed in per- 
secution, Valerian was taken prisoner by Sapor king of 
Persia, who detained him the rest of his life, and made 
use of his neck when he mounted his horse, and at 
length had him flayed and salted. Valerian had known 
and respected the Christians ; his persecution therefore 
must have been a sin against light, and it is common 
with Divine providence to punish such in a very ex- 
emplary manner. 

Gallienus, son to Valerian, succeeded him, and was 
an emperor friendly to the Christians ; he stopped the 
persecution by edicts, and gave the pastors of church- 
es licence to return to their respective charges. 


From the reign of Gallienus to the end of the Century. 

W E now behold Christians legally tolerated under a 
Pagan government for forty years. The example of 
Gallienus was followed by the successive emperors to 
the end of the century, and was violated only in one in- 
stance; the effect of which was presently dissipated by 
the, hand of Providence. This is not a season for the 


growth of grace and holiness ; genuine Christianity^ 
during this period, was very little manifested. 

Though Christianity, at this time was literally tol- 
erated, yet Christians were not entirely exempt from 
persecution. At Csesarea, in Palestine, there was one 
Marinus, a soldier of great bravery, of noble fam- 
ily, and very opulent. The office of centurion being 
vacant, Marinus was called to it. Another soldier 
came before the tribunal, and said, that by the laws 
Marinus was incapacitated, because he was a Chris- 
tian, and did not do sacrifice to the emperors ; but that 
he himself, as next in rank, ought to have it. Achaeus, 
the governor, asked Marinus what w r as his religion ; on 
which he confessed himself a Christian. The govern- 
or gave him three hours to deliberate. Upon this 
Theotecnes, bishop of Csesarea, calls Marinus from 
the tribunal, takes him by the hand, and leads him to 
the church, shows him a sword that hung by his side,, 
and a New Testament which he pulled out of his pock- 
et, and bids him choose which of the two he liked 
best. Marinus, stretching out his hand, takes the Ho- 
ly Scripture. " Hold fast then," said Theotecnes, 
" cleave to God, and what you have chosen you shall 
enjoy, being strengthened by him, and depart in 
peace." After he had returned thence he was, by the 
crier's voice, ordered to appear again at the bar, the 
time of three hours being expired. There he man- 
fully confessed the faith of Christ, heard the sentence 
of condemnation, and was beheaded. 

The greatest luminary in the church at this time, 
was Dionysius, of Alexandria. He took a decided 
stand against the Sabellian heresy, which confounded 
the persons of the Trinity. 

Paul, of Samosata, attempted, about the year 269, 
by many artful subtilties to depreciate, the real Divin- 
ity of Jesus Christ, and introduce into the church 
the doctrine of Socinianism. But he was, by the 
pastors, called to an account, deposed from office 
and excluded from Christian fellowship. The doc- 
trine usually called Trinitarian, was universal in these 


Aurelian succeeded Gallienus, and Tacitus, Aiireii- 
&n, who, after a short reign, left the empire to Probus, 
in whose second year A* D. 277, appeared the mon- 
strous heresy of Manes, whose fundamental principle 
was to account for the origin of moral evil, by the ad- 
mission of two first causes, independent of each other. 
This heresy continued long to infest the church; 

In the year two hundred and eighty four, Dioclesian 
became emperor, and for about eighteen years was ex- 
tremely indulgent to Christians. His wife, Prisca, and 
daughter Valeria, the eunuchs of his palace and many 
of his important officers, with their wives and families 
embraced the gospel and made a public profession of 
their faith. In various parts of the empire, vast crow r ds 
attended religious service, so that the houses of worship 
were found inadequate to their accommodation, and 
in all the cities^ large edifices were erected for their use. 
The number of nominal converts now increased, but 
Vital piety declined. The influence of philosophers, 
with whom they were connected, was one of the causes. 

Toward the end of this century, Dioclesian, practi- 
sing the superstitious rites of divination, attributed the 
ill success of his sacrifices to the presence of a Christian 
servant who made on his forehead the sign of the 
cross. He ordered all present and all in his palace to 
sacrifice, or, in case of refusal to be scourged with 
whips. He wrote also to the officers of his armies to 
constrain all the soldiers to sacrifice^ and to discharge 
from service those who should refuse to comply with 
this rite of heathen superstition. Many resigned ra- 
ther then submit to the impious direction. Christian 
truth was not yet lost, and though its influence was di- 
minished, it was not yet perceptible. Very few were 
put to death on account of their religious profession. 

But Marcel lus, the centurion, did not escape. At 
Tangier in Mauritania, while every one was employ- 
ed iq feasting and sacrifices, he took off his belt, threw 
down his vine branch and his arms, and added, " I will 
not fight any longer under the banner of your emperor, 
or serve your gods of wood and stone. If the condi- 
tion of a soldier is such that he is obliged to sacrifice 


to gods and emperors, I abandon the vine branch and 
the belt, and quit the service." Marcellus, having thus 
refused to partake in idolatrous worship, was ordered 
to be beheaded. 

These preliminaries to the persecution, with which 
the next century opens, did not affect the minds of 
Christians in general ; nor was the spirit of prayer ex- 
cited among them ; a certain sign of great declension 
in godliness. Justification by faith, hearty conviction 
of sin, and the Spirit's influences, are scarcely men- 
tioned all this season. 

God, who had exercised long suffering patience, de- 
clared at length in the course of his providence, " Be- 
cause I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, 
thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more, 
till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee." 

But this scene, which materially changed the condi- 
tion of the church, and was quickly followed by seve- 
ral surprising revolutions, belongs to the next century. 


Some Account of Gregory Thaumaturgus^ Theognostus, 
and Dionysius of Rome. 

fjrREGORY was born at Neacassarea, the metrop- 
olis of Cappadocia, and early educated in idolatry and 
the learning of the Gentile world. He travelled af- 
terwards to Alexandria, and put himself under the tu- 
ition of the renowned Origen, by whom he was per- 
suaded to study the Holy Scriptures. Origen spared 
no pains to ground him in a firm belief of Christianity, 
and exhorted him to apply his knowledge to its pro- 
motion, advising him withal to pray fervently and se- 
riously for the illumination of the Holy Spirit. 

On his return to his native city, which was very 
populous and full of idolatry, the very seat of Satan, 
he gave himself much to prayer and retirement, and 
was in secret prepared for the important work to which 
he was soon after called. 


In tnis idolatrous city, Gregory commenced his 
public labors, when the church consisted of not more 
than seventeen members ; but his preaching was soon 
attended with so great success that he had a nume- 
rous congregation. His ministry appears to have been 
accompanied with miraculous gifts, to prepare the way 
for the propagation of the gospel among his idolatrous 

Here he continued till the Decian persecution, which 
was most severe. Considering that his new converts 
would scarce be strong enough to stand their ground 
and be faithful, he advised them to flee, and to en- 
courage them in it, set the example.- Many of his 
people suffered, but God, at length, restored them to 
peace, and Gregory returned to exhilarate their minds 
with his pastoral labors. 

A little before his death, he made a strict inquiry, 
whether there were any in the city and neighborhood 
still strangers to Christianity, and being told there were 
about seventeen in all, he sighed, and lifting up his 
eyes to heaven, appealed to God how much it troubled 
him, that any of his fellow-townsmen should remain 
unacquainted with salvation, yet that his thankfulness 
Was due to God, that when at first he had found only 
seventeen Christians, he had left only seventeen idola- 
ters. Having prayed for the conversion of infidels and 
edification of the faithful, he peaceably gave up his 
soul to God. He Was a man eminently holy and 
most exemplary in his life and conversation. In wor- 
ship most devout, in conversation chaste, he never al- 
lowed himself to call his brother fool ; no anger or bit- 
terness proceeded from his mouth. Slander^ and cal- 
umny r as directly opposite to Christianity, he peculiar- 
ly hated and avoided. The wonderful success which 
attended his ministry, was owing to a marvellous out- 
pouring of the Holy Spirit. In no particular instance 
was the divine influence ever more apparent since the 
apostolic age, 

Theognostus and Dionysius, of Alexandria, were 
both firm in the great doctrine of the Trinity in Unity, 
During the first three hundred years, though this doe- 


trine was variously opposed, yet the whole Christian 
church constantly united in preserving and maintaining 
it, even from the apostles' days, as the proper sphere 
within which, all the truth, and holiness, and conso- 
lation of genuine Christianity lie, and exclusive of 
which, one may defy its boldest enemies to produce 
a single instance of any real progress in piety, made in 
any place, where the name of Christ was known. 


The further extension of the Gospel in this Century. 

AN the midst of the Decian persecution, about the year 
two hundred and fifty, the gospel, which had hitherto 
been chiefly confined to the neighborhood of Lyons 
and Vienne, was considerably extended in. France. 
Churches were founded at Toulouse, Tours, Aries, 
Narbonne, and Paris. France, in general, w^as blessed 
with the light of salvation. The bishops of Toulouse 
and Paris afterwards suffered for the faith of Christ. 

In the course of this century Germany, especially 
those parts nearest to France; also Great Britain and 
the adjacent isles, received the gospel. 

Many of the Goths, settled in Thrace, were, like 
wise, brought from a state perfectly savage, into the 
light and comfort of Christianity, through the instru- 
mentality of some teachers from Asia. 

The barbarians, who ravaged Asia, carried away 
with them into captivity several bishops, who healed 
diseases, expelled evil spirits in the name of Christ 
and preached Christianity. They were heard with 
respect and attention, and numbers were converted.* 
This is all that I can collect of the extension of the 
go spel among those savage nations. 



Remarks on the state of the Roman Empire, and the ef- 
fect which a belief of the doctrines of Christianity had 
during this century. 

J.N the Roman empire, luxury and every abominable 
vice which can be conceived, had for three centuries 
greatly increased. Civil broils and distractions con- 
tinually prevailed, and increased the quantity of vice^ 
and misery. During this period Christianity, in its be- 
nign efficacy and power, was exemplified in the lives of 
God's people. 

Those, who were truly converted to the Christian 
faith, believed heartily the truth of doctrines the most 
humiliating. They were poor in spirit, patient under 
the severest treatment and the most cruel injuries, not 
because they were not sufficiently numerous and pow- 
erful to have redressed the wrongs which they suffer- 
ed, but because they saw the sinfulness of their hearts, 
and were conscious that they deserved much greater 
evils than they experienced ; they were contented in 
the meanest circumstances, because they felt the 
beauty of his condescension, who, though he was rich, 
became poor for their sakes, and who has provided for 
them a sure and eternal inheritance. They were se- 
rene a,nd confident in God, because they viewed him 
as their Father, through the grace of Christ ; full of 
charity, because they knew the love of God in Christ ; 
in honor preferring others to themselves, because they 
were ever conscious of their own depravity; in fine, 
they gladly endured reproach for Christ's sake, be- 
cause they knew his kingdom was not of this world. 

The state of the empire was not deteriorated by 
the prevalence of Christianity within its limits, but the 
grace of God, in the gift of a Savior, was gloriously 
displayed, in the benign nature of true benevolence, 
as exemplified in the lives of the truly godly, as con- 
trasted with the real tendency of selfishness, fostering 


every passion which sets man at variance with man, 
and is in its very nature hgstile to national jfind indi-* 
vidual happiness. 



The persecution of Dlodesian. 

A HE fourth century opens with a persecution more 
systematically planned, and more artfully conduct- 
ed, than those which Christians had ever before known, 
and the reason why the church survived the storm 
and rose triumphant after her losses was, because her 
DEFENDER is invincible. 

The church had long fceen in a state of ease and 
prosperity, and had deeply declined from the purity 
and simplicity of the gospel. God, for her declension, 
visited her with a rod. Besides the martyrdom of Mar- 
cellus, in Africa, an attempt was made, in a general, 
covert manner, to corrupt the army. It was put to the 
choice of Christian officers to sacrifice and enjoy their 
dignity, or to refuse and be deprived. Many lost their 
preferments. Some few were put to death as a terror 
to the rest. Dioclesian had long favored the christiairs ? 
but he had now contracted a prejudice against them. 
He first used artifice rather than violence. 

This emperor had a partner called Maximian. Un- 
der them were two Caesars, Galerius and Constantius, 
Constantius had some probity and humanity. The 
other three were tyrants. The savageness of Gale- 
rius was the most ferocious. In the year 302 he 
met Dioclesian at Nicomedia, in the 19th year of hi? 
reign, and used every measure to instigate him to be 
more sanguinary and decisive against the Christians, 
and urged to a general persecution. Dioclesian was for 
confining it to the officers of the court and the soldiers. 


A council of a few judges and officers was called: it 
was determined that the oracle of Apollo, at Miletus, 
^hould be consulted ; the oracle answered in favor of 
a general persecution. 

The feast of the Terminalia was the day appointed 
to commence the operations against the church. 
Early in the morning an officer, with guards, came to 
the great church at Nicomedia, and bursting the doors, 
found the Scriptures and burnt them, and gave every 
thing up to plunder. The two emperors, looking at 
the scene from the palace, were long in doubt, wheth- 
er they should order the edifice to be burnt. Diocle- 
sian, fearing a general conflagration, advised (# its de- 
molition. The Praetorian sofdiers were therefore sent 
with axes and other tools, who, in a few hours levelled 
the building with the ground. 

The next day an edict appeared, depriving all men 
professing the Christian religion, of all honor and dig- 
nity, exposing them to torture, and debarring them 
from the benefit of the laws in all cases whatever. A 
Christian was found hardy enough, under the transports 
of indignation, to pull down and tear the edict. For 
his indiscretion he was burnt alive, and bore his suf- 
ferings with admirable patience. 

In Egypt many were beheaded, others were burnt. 
They suffered with the greatest faith and fortitude. 
To their last breath they employed themselves in 
psalms and thanksgiving. Phileas, a man of great 
eminence, suffered at Thebais; being asked how he 
was persuaded that Jesus Christ was God, he replied, 
" He made the blind to see, and the deaf to hear, 
cleansed the lepers, and raised the dead." When 
asked, " Is a crucified person a God ?" he answered, 
" He was crucified for our salvation." The governor 
fsaid, "You are rich, and able to maintain almost all 
the province, I spare you, and advise you to sacrifice.' 5 
It seems that Phileas was very liberal to the poor. 
The governor added, " Thy poor wife looks on thee. ?J 
Phileas answered, Jesus Christ is the Savior of all ouj* 
/spirits, he hath called me to the inheritance of his glo- 
ry, and he may call her to it." A little before his ex^ 


ecution, " My children," said he, " you that seek Gocf, 
watch over your hearts. My dear children, stick fast 
to the precepts of Jesus Christ." 

This persecuting governor who treated the Christians 
with the greatest cruelty and severity, added, " No 
care ought to be taken of these Christians ; let all treat 
them as unworthy of the name of men." Some expir- 
ed under the cruel tortures inflicted upon them. Oth- 
ers, having been recovered by methods taken to heal 
them, and being reduced to the alternative of sacri- 
ficing or dying, cheerfully preferred the latter. 

One city in Phrygia, being generally Christian, was 
besieged by armed men, and set on fire. The men 
with their wives and children were burnt to death, 
calling upon Christ, the God over all. All the inhabit- 
ants, magistrates and people, nobles and plebeians, 
professing Christianity, were ordered to sacrifice, and 
for refusing suffered in this manner. 

Some were slain by axes, as in Arabia 5 some by 
breaking their legs, as in Cappadocia; some, suspen- 
ded by the feet, with the head downward, over aslovV 
fire, were suffocated, as in Mesopotamia ; some were 
mutilated, and cut in pieces, as in Alexandria ; some 
were burnt to death, as in Antioch. Some despatched 
themselves, to prevent their falling into the hands of 
their enemies, by throwing themselves down from the 
tops of houses ; lamentable instances of impatience ! 
But the reader will remember that the decline had 
been very great from Christian purity ; and that so ma- 
ny should suffer like Christians, in such a season, can? 
scarce be accounted for, but on the idea of the Lord's 
reviving his work and ministering the Holy Spirit 
amidst their afflictions. 

The persecuting judges exercised ingenious malice 
in the daily invention of new punishments ; but wea- 
ried, at length, with murder, and affecting to praise the 
clemency of the emperors, as desirous to save life r 
contented themselves with plucking out eyes, arid cut- 
ting off one of the legs. The number of those who 
suffered in this way was very great ; and they were 
afterwards condemned to wurk hi the mines. 


At Antioch, Romanus, a deacon, of the church of 
Caesarea, was martyred. He, happening to enter An- 
tioch at the very time when the churches were demo- 
lished, saw many men and women, most probably apos- 
tates from christianty, with their little ones, crowding 
to the temples and sacrifices. The same spirit which 
moved Mattathias, the father of the Maccabees, on a 
like occasion, was felt by him, but exerted in a man- 
ner more agreeable to the Christian dispensation. 
He cried aloud, and rebuked their cowardice and per- 
fidy. But being seized immediately, and condemned 
to the flames, and fastened to the stake, while the ex- 
ecutioners expected the definitive order of the empe- 
ror then present, he asked cheerfully, " Where is the 
fire for me ?" Csesar, provoked at his boldness, or- 
dered his tongue to be cut out. This he put out with 
great readiness. After this punishment he was thrown 
into prison, and suffered there a considerable time- 
In the end he \vas dismissed from life by strangling. 

In the second year, when the persecution grew 
fiercer, imperial letters were sent into Palestine, com- 
manding all men, without exception, to sacrifice. At 
Gaza, Timotheus, after many sufferings, was consum- 
ed by a slow fire ; some were condemned to the wild 
beasts. While many apostatized to save their lives, 
six persons of Csesarea, with excessive forwardness^ 
ran to Urbanus, the judge, and offered themselves 
for martyrdom. They suffered, in conjunction with 
two others, whose spirit and circumstances in the man- 
ner of their departure out of life, were more conforma- 
ble 1o the rules of the gospel. 

The governors of the different provinces being now- 
authorized to punish the Christians freely, did it as 
their tempers dictated. Some, for fear of displeas- 
ing, did more than they were ordered ; others indulg- 
ed a natural savageness of disposition ; while others 
considered that to shed blood profusely was the high 
road to preferment. Some, determining to torment 
and not to kill, studied those arts of torture, which 
might keep life in being amid the keenest sensations 
of pain. Many efforts were made to recover the tor- 


lured, that they might be strengthened to endure fur- 
ther sufferings. A considerable part of Roman juris- 
prudence was then employed on this subject. 

There nerer before had been so systematic and la- 
bored an effort made to extinguish the gospel of Christ. 
Satan had great wrath ; and when we consider how 
fiercely the enemies of Christianity set upon its pro- 
fessors, we have cause to admire the grace of God, 
who raised such a noble army of martyrs, in a time 
of so great evangelical declension, and who more ef- 
fectually than ever baffled, in the end, the designs of 
the Prince of darkness. 

In France alone, and its neighborhood, the people 
of God found some shelter. Yet was the mild Con- 
stantius, to save appearances with his superior Maxi- 
mian, induced to persecute, not only by destroying 
the temples, but also, by ordering those of his house* 
hold to quit the service, who would not retract Chris- 
tianity. By this means were the Christians of his fam- 
ily tried. But the issue was contrary to their expecta- 
tions. Constantius retained the faithful, and dismis- 
sed the apostates, judging that those, who were un- 
faithful to their God, would also be so t6 their prince. 

It appears to have been the intention of the perse- 
cutors to have destroyed all records of Christianity. 
Felix of Tibiura, in Africa, being asked to deliver up 
the scriptures, answered, " I have them, but will not 
part with them." He was ordered to be beheaded. " I 
thank thee, O Lord," said the honest martyr, " that 
I have lived fifty six years, have kept my virginity, 
have preserved the gospel, and have preached faith 
and truth- O my Lord, Jesus Christ, the God of hea- 
ven and es^rth, I bow my head to be sacrificed to thee, 
who livest to all eternity." 

In Sicily, Euplius a martyr, being asked, " Why do 
you keep the scriptures forbidden by the emperors," 
answered, " because I am a Christian. Life eternal 
is in them ; he that gives them up, loses life eternal." 
He suffered in the same cause, and so also did many 
others in Italy. 


In the year three hundred and five, Diocleslan re- 
signed the empire, and Maximian followed his exam- 
pie. They were succeeded by Galerius in the East, 
who ruled in the room of Dioclesian, and put Maxi- 
tnin his nephew, in his own place, and in the West 
by Constantius. 

Maximin inherited the savageness and the prejudi- 
ces of his uncle ; and in Palestine and the more east- 
ern parts, over which Galerius had ruled, he still con- 
tinued the horrors of persecution. 

Apphian, a young man under twenty, who had re- 
ceived a very polite education at Berytus, and could 
not bear to live with his father and relations at Pagse 
in Lycia, because of their aversion to the gospel, left 
ail his secular employments and hopes for the love of 
Christ, and came to Caesarea; there he was so trans- 
ported with zeal as to run up to Urbanus the gover- 
nor, then making a libation, to seize him by the hand^ 
to stop his religious employment, and exhort him to 
forsake idolatry, and turn to the true God. The con- 
sequence was, he was arrested, ordered to sacrifice, 
and, after he had sustained most dreadful tortures, 
was thrown into the sea. His imprudence was great, 
and his zeal very irregular and extravagant ; but who 
will r^t admire the sincerity of that love of Christ, 
which carried this ardent youth through all hardships^ 
and prefer his disposition, with all his faults, to the 
cowardice and love of the world, which, in our times, 
prevents such numbers from daring to show due re- 
gard for the divine Savior? 

This Apphian had a brother called Edesius, who 
had' advanced farther in the philosophical studies than 
himself, and who likewise embraced the faith of 
Christ. Having endured, in Palestine, with great for- 
titude and patience, prisons, bonds, .and the drudgery 
of the mines, he, at length,, came to Alexandria, and 
there saw the judge raging with frantic fury against 
Christians, treating them with various abuses. Fired 
at the sight, he lost all patience, rebuked the magis- 
trate, and struck him. Upon which he was exposed 
to a variety of torture v and thrown into the sea. He 


seems to have possessed both the excellencies and 
the faults of his brother. A remark or two may be 
proper in this place, before we proceed, 

1. The persecution we are reviewing found the 
church in the lowest state in wisdom and piety. Con- 
cerning the behavior of Edesius, it should be observed, 
that amidst the great dearth of Christian instruction, 
it is not surprising that he should so imperfectly know 
his duty. The piety of Apphian and Edesius resem- 
bles that of Jeptha and of Samson ; sincere, but irre- 
gular and injudicious. They lived under similar cir- 
cumstances, in times of ignorance.' The Spirit' of 
God, when he creates a new heart, or a new spirit, 
and disposes men to obedience, supercedes not the 
use of pastoral instruction. Where this is, to a great de- 
gree wanting, even Divine love itself, though strong, 
is, comparatively speaking, blind, and will continually 
mistake the rule of duty* ' In vain we look for judi- 
cious and discreet pastors, and for clear and evangel- 
ical views in all this period. No Cyprian or Dionysius 
the appeared, to check, to regulate, or to control the 
spirits of Christians, and to discipline them by scrip- 
ture rules. The persecution found vast numbers per- 
fidious and cowardly ; some chosen spirits, were hum- 
ble and faithful to death ; but of these, many, it is to be 
feared, were partially informed of their duty, both to 
God and man, and mixed the intemperance and pre- 
cipitation of blind self-will, with the love of Christ. 

2. In the story of these two brothers, we see the 
prevalence of the monastic and philosophic spirit ; 
that they knew too little of Christianity, and though sin- 
cere enough to become martyrs for Christ, yet they 
were greatly destitute of Christian simplicity. The 
doctrines of Christ had ceased to be explicitly unfold- 
ed; and it was chiefly in suffering, endured with pa- 
tient faith and cheerful hope, that we can now see, 
Christ had then a church in the world. The bush 
was indeed burning in a fire the most dreadful, but 
not consumed. 

In the fourth year of the persecution, Maximin Cae- 
sar, exhibited spectacles in honor of his birth-day. 


Agapius, a Christian, and a slave who had murdered 
his master, were both produced at the same time and 
condemned to the wild beasts. The emperor, to dis- 
tinguish his birth-day by an act of generosity, pardon- 
ed and gave freedom to the murderer. The whole 
amphitheatre rang with acclamation in praise of his 
clemency. But he, disposed to punish the innocent 
and spare the guilty, asked Agapius if he would re- 
nounce Christianity, promising liberty on that condi- 
tion. The martyr expressed his cheerful readiness to 
undergo any punishment, not for any crime commit- 
ted by him, but for piety toward the Lord of the uni- 
verse. He was condemed to be torn by a bear, was 
then carried back to prison ; and, after he had lived a 
day, with weights hung to his feet, sunk in the sea. 

In the succeeding year a Tyrian virgin, Theodoeia, 
not quite 18 years old, was put to death for owning 
and countenancing some Christian prisoners. The 
judge, Urbanus, afterward condemned them to the 
mines of Palestine. Silvanus, with some others, were 
condemned to labor in the brass mines, the joints of 
their feet having been first weakened by the applicat- 
ion of hot iron. 

Few persecutors exceeded Urbanus in malice and 
activity. He doomed three to fight with each other ; 
Auxentius, a venerable saint, he condemned to the 
wild beasts. Some he sentenced to the mines, after 
he had made them eunuchs.. Others, after bitter tor-* 
inents, he threvy again into prison. This monster of 
savage ferocity J having been afterward convicted of 
crimes, was capitally punished in Caesarea, the scene 
of his cruelties, and by the same Maximin, of whose 
imperial savageness he had been the minister. 

In the sixth year of the persecution, near 100 were 
sent from Thebais to Palestine, and were adjudged by 
Fermilian, the successor of Urbanus, to be lamed in 
the left foot, and to lose the right eye, and in that state 
to he condemned to the mines. 

At Gaza, some were apprehended for meeting tor 
gether to hear the scriptures read, and were punished 
with the loss of a limb, and an eye, or in a still more 


fcruel manner. One Paul, being sentenced to lose his 
head, begged a short space of time to be allowed him, 
which having been granted, he prayed with a loud 
voice for the whole Christian world, that God would 
forgive them, remove the present heavy scourge of their 
iniquities, and restore them to peace and liberty; he 
then prayed for the Jews, that they might come to God, 
and find access to him through Jesus Christ. In the 
next place, that the same blessings might be vouchsaf- 
ed to the Samaritans. The Gentiles, who lived in error 
and ignorance of God, were the next objects of his char- 
itable petitions, that they might be brought to know 
God and to serve him : nor did he omit to mention 
the crowd about him, the judge who had sentenced 
him, the emperors and the executioner, and in the 
hearing of all he prayed that their sin might not be 
laid to their charge. The whole company was moved, 
and tears were shed. The martyr composed himself 
to suffer, and offering his neck to the sword was be- 
headed. Divine grace appeared in him, in a manner 
worthy of the apostolic age. Soon after 1 30 Egyptian 
chieftains, having suffe rod the same mutilations which 
have above been mentioned, were sentenced by Max- 
imin to the mines in Palestine and Celicia. 

Fermilian, after having trodden in the steps of Ur-- 
banus in shedding Christian blood abundantly, like 
him also suffered capitally by the sentence of the em- 

Toward the end of the seventh year, the multitude 
of confessors* in the mines of Palestine enjoyed some 
liberty, and even erected some places for public wor- 
ship. The president of the province envied them the 
smalt cessation of their miseries, and wrote to the em- 
peror to their prejudice. Afterward the master of the 
mines having come hither, divided the sufferers into 
classes. Some he ordered to dwell in Cyprus, others 
in Libanus ; the rest he dispersed and harrassed with 
various drudgeries in different parts of Palestine. Four, 
he singled out for the examination of the military com- 
mander, who burnt them to death. Silvanus, a bish- 
op of great piety, John, an Egyptian, and thirty seven* 


others, were, the same day, beheaded by the order of 

For eight years, the persecution in the East, con- 
tinued with little intermission. In the West, it abated 
after two years. The political changes in the em- 
pire account for the difference. Both in the East, 
and the West, Satan exerted his malice in the keen- 
est manner, in this last of the pagan persecutions. 
The Divine power and wisdom, in still preserving a 
real church on earth, were never more conspicuously 
displayed, since the days of the apostles. The time, 
for its external triumph, under Constantine, was then 
at hand. Those, who look at outward things alone 
may be tempted to think how much more glorious it 
would have appeared, without the previous desola- 
tions of Dioclesian's persecution ; but when it is con- 
sidered how much Christian doctrine had decayed, 
and how low holy practice had fallen, the necessity 
of so sharp a trial to purify the church, and fit it for 
a state of prosperity, is evident. Otherwise the dif- 
ference between Christians and pagans might have 
been little more than a name. 

Evangelical doctrines and practices, in their life 
and purity, had grievously declined from about the 
year 270. During this season of declension, Christ 
crucified, justification purely by faith, and the effec- 
tual influences of the Holy Spirit, together with 
humbling views of man's total apostacy and cor- 
ruption, were ideas very faintly impressed on Christian 
minds. But in this low state of the church, there was 
much more moral virtue, than could be found any 
where else; and the charitable spirit of many in suffer- 
ing, shewed the existence and nature of real religion. 

The persecution, which was carried on against thc^ 
Christians, designed their total destruction ; it must, 
however, injustice to them be acknowledged, that they 
were, with all their faults, the most loyal, peaceable, 
and. worthy citizens in the whole empire. 

God was then raising up a protector for his church. 
The emperor Constantius lying at the point of death, 
desired Galerius, his partner in the East, to send him 


his son Constantine. The eastern emperor, hav- 
ing delayed as long as possible, sent him at last, 
and the son arrived in Briton just in time to see his fa- 
ther alive, who was interred at Eboracum.* Con- 
stantine succeeding, gave the most perfect toleration 
to Christians, so far as his power extended. Pro- 
vidence was still with him, that, like another Cy- 
rus, he might give peace and liberty to the church. 
Rome and Italy were for some time under the power 
of Maxentius, the son of Dioclesian's colleague Maxi- 
mian. This prince, a tyrant of the basest character, 
attempted the chastity of a Roman matron, who by 
suicide, prevented his base design. Her impatience 
gives further proof of the prevailing taste in religion. 
Constantine having come from France into Italy, sub- 
verted the kingdom of Maxentius, and became sole 
master of the western world. Maximian, whose 
daughter Constantine had married, after various at- 
tempts to recover the power, which by the influence of 
Bioclesian he had resigned, was put to death by his 
son-in-law for attempting his destruction. 

Galerius, in the year 310, was smitten with an in- 
curable disease; all his lower parts were corrupt- 
ed : physicians and idols were applied to, in vain : an 
intolerable stench spread itself over the palace of Sar- 
dis, where he resided : he was devoured by worms ; 
and, in a situation the most dreadful, continued a whole 
year. Softened at length by his sufferings, in the year 
311, he published an edict, by which he took off the 
persecution from the Christians, allowed them to re- 
build their places of worship, and desired them to pray 
for his health. Thus did God himself subdue this- 
haughty tyrant. 

The prisoners were then released from the mines ancf 
the highways were full of Christians returning to their 
friendsj singmg psalms and hymns to God. Christen- 
dom wore a cheerful aspect. Even Pagans were 
melted ; and many, who had joined in the attempt to 
extinguish the Christian name, began to be convinced^ 
that a religion, which had sustained such repeated and 
formidable attacks,, was Divine and invincible. 

* Now York* 


Soon after the edict of Galerius, he expired, his 
body being altogether corrupted* Syria and Egypt, 
with their dependencies, remained still under Maxim- 
in. Here he renewed the persecution with much ma- 
levolence and artifice. Under certain pretences, he 
forbad Christians to assemble in their church-yards, 
and theri privately procured petitions from various 
cities, praying that they might not be encouraged in 
their precincts* Great efforts were made to revive 
declining Paganism, and sacrifices were offered with 
great assiduity. Persons of quality filled the highest 
offices of idolatry, and pains were taken to prevent 
Christians from building places of worship, or from 
practising the duties of their religion in public or pri- 
vate; and the former methods of compelling-them to 
sacrifice were renewed. Maximin, to render his idol- 
atrous priests more respectable, clothed them with 
white mantles, such as were worn by the ministers of 
the palace. Incited by the example of the tyrant, all 
the Pagans in his dominions strove to effect, impossible 
the ruin of the church, and human ingenuity was ex- 
erted to invent calumnies in support of the kingdom 
of darkness. 

Whenfalshood and slander are paid far by a govern- 
merit) they will not want propagators. 

Certain acts of Pilate and our Savior were forged, 
full of blasphemy, which, by Maximin's approbation, 
were circulated through his dominions, with orders to 
facilitate their publication in all places, and to direct 
school-masters to deliver them to the youth, that they 
might commit them to memory. A certain officer at 
Damascus, also engaged some infamous women to 
confess, that they had been Christians, and privy to 
the lascivious pactices which were committed on the 
Lord's day in their assemblies. These and other slan- 
ders were registered, copied, and sent to the emperor. 
as the authenticated confessions of these women, and 
he took measures to give them universal publicity. 
The officer who invented this calumny, destroyed 
himself sometime after by his ow^n hand. Maximin ? 
affecting still the praise of clemency, gave orders to 


the prefects, not to take away the lives of Christians^ 
but to punish them with loss of eyes, and various 
amputations. A few persons of high Christian renown 
were deprived of life, the rest were harrassed by oth- 
er kinds of suffering short of death, and no arts Were 
left unemployed to eradicate Christianity out of the 
mind and to educate the next generation in a con- 
firmed aversion to it. 

Never were Christians so dispirited and clouded, as 
during this period. Thus low did God suffer his 
church to fall, to try its faith, and to purify it, in the 
furnace. But man's extremity was the opportunity in 
which the truth and goodness of God appeared most 
conspicuous. A drought commenced, and an unex- 
pected famine oppressed the dominion of Maximin, 
followed by a dreadful plague and inflamed ulcers. 
The plague and famine raged in the most terrible 
manner, and multitudes lay unburied: numbers of 
Pagans were neglected by their own friends ; but 
Christians were every day employed in taking care of 
the sick, giving the rites of burial to the dead, and in 
distributing food to the famished poor. In this, they 
manifested the enlarged and disinterested philanthro- 
py, the pure characteristic and matchless benevolence 
of their holy religion. 

In the year three hundred and thirteen there was a 
war between Licinius and Maximin, who contended 
each for the complete sovereignty of the East. Before 
the decisive battle, Maximin vowed to Jupiter, that if 
he obtained the victory, he would abolish the Christian 
name. Licinius, in a dream, was directed to suppli- 
cate, with all his army, the Supreme God, in a solemn 
manner. He gave orders to his soldiers to do so, and 
they prayed in the field of battle, using the words 
which he had received in his dream. The contest, 
between Jehovah and Jupiter, was now at its height, 
and drawing to a crisis ; victory decided in favor of 
Licinius. Maximin published a cautious decree, in 
which he forbade the molestation of Christians, but 
did not allow them the liberty of public worship. Li- 
cinius published a complete toleration of christianty. 


Maximin, in the sad reverse of his affairs r slew many 
priests and prophets of his gods, by whose enchant- 
ments he had been seduced with false hopes of uni- 
versal empire in the East, and issued another edict 
granting full toleration to chistianity. So greatly were 
affairs now changed, that contending emperors court^ 
ed the favor of the poor persecuted -Christians. After 
this, Maximin, struck with a sudden plague, over his 
whole body, pined away with hunger, fell down from 
his bed, his flesh consumed and dropped off from his 
bones, his eyes leaped from their sockets ; and per- 
ceiving God thus executing judgment upon him, fran- 
tic with agony, he cried out ; " It was not I, but oth- 
ers who did it." At length, by the increasing force of 
torment, he owned his guilt, and every now and then 
implored Christ, that he would compassionate his mis- 
ery. He confessed himself vanquished, and gave up 
the ghost. 

Thus closed the most memorable of all the attacks 
of Satan on the Christian church. 

The arm of God was lifted up in this wonderful 
manner, to chastise and to purify the church, and to 
demonstrate to the proudest and fiercest of his ene- 
mies, that the gospel was divine, and must stand in 
the earth invincible ; that the MOST HIGH ruleth and 
will have a church in the world, which shall glorify 
him in spite of earth and hell united, and that this 
church contains in it all that deserves the name of 
true wisdom, of true virtue. 


A view of the State of the Christian Religion on its Es- 
tablishment under Constantine. 

J HIS emperor from early life had some predilection 
in favor of Christianity. Marching from France into 
Italy against Maxentius, on an expedition, which was* 
likely either to exalt or to ruin him, he was oppressed 


%ith deep anxiety. Some God he thought necessary 
to protect him. The God of the Christians he was 
most inclined to respect ; with his true character he 
was unacquainted, but desired to learn it. He pray- 
ed with much vehemence and importunity. God left 
him not unanswered. While he was marching with 
his forces, in the afternoon, the trophy of the cross 
appeared very luminous in the heavens, higher than 
the sun, with this inscription, " Conquer by this." 
He and his soldiers were astonished at the sight. At 
night Christ appeared to him when asleep, with the 
3ame sign of the cross, and directed him to make use 
of the symbol as his military ensign. Constantine 
obeyed, and the cross was henceforward displayed in 
his armies, 

Constanline asked the Christian pastors who this 
God was, and what was the meaning of the sign. 
They told him it was God, the only begotten Son of 
the only true Gocj, and that the sign was the trophy of 
the victory, which he, when on earth, had gained over 
death. At the same time, they explained to him the 
causes of his coming, and the doctrine of his incarna- 
tion. From that time Constantine firmly believed the 
truth of Christianity. After this he began to read the 
scriptures, and zealously patronized the pastors of the 
chqrch all his days, 

He succeeded in his warlike enterjorize, and be- 
came master of Rome. He now set himself to build 
churches, and shewed great beneficence to the poor. 
He encouraged the meeting of bishops in synods, hon- 
ored them with his presence and employed himself in 
continually aggrandizing the church. In the mean 
time Licinius began to persecute the church, prohib- 
ited Christian synods in his dominions, expelled belie- 
vers from his court, forbad the women to attend the 
public assemblies of men, and ordered them to fur- 
nish themselves with separate teachers of their own 
sex. He dismissed from his armies those who refus- 
ed to sacrifice, and forbad any supplies to be afford- 
ed them in their necessities. He murdered bishops 
and destroyed churches. He commenced a war with 


Constantine, and in the issue lost his empire and his 
life. The spirit of godliness was now low. The 
external appearance of the church was splendid. 
An emperor powerful, engaged for the support and 
propagation of Christianity, forbids sacrifices, erects 
churches, seeks with much zeal for the sepulchre of 
Christ at Jerusalem, and honors it with a most ex- 
pensive sacred edifice. His mother Helena fills the 
whole Roman world with her munificent acts, in 
support of religion, and after the erection of church- 
es and travelling from place to place to evince her 
zeal, dies at an advanced age, in the presence of her 
son. Nor is the Christian cause neglected even out 
of the bounds of the Roman empire. Constaniirie 
pleads zealously, in a letter to Sapor king of Persia, 
for the Christians of his dominions, he destroys idol 
temples, prohibits Pagan rites, puts an end to savage 
fights of gladiators, stands up with respectful silence 
to hear the sermon of Eusebius, bishop of Cscsarea, 
furnishes him with the volumes of the scriptures for 
the use of the churches, orders the festivals of the 
martyrs, has prayers and the reading of the scrip- 
tures at his court, dedicates churches with great so- 
lemnity, makes Christian orations himself, directs the 
sacred observation of the Lord's day, to which he adds 
that of Friday also, the day of Christ's crucifixion, and 
teaches the soldiers of his army to pray by a short form 
made for their use. At this period external piety 
flourished, monastic societies in some places were al- 
so growing, but faith, love, and heavenly mindedness, 
appear very rare. The doctrine of real conversion 
was very much lost, or external baptism was placed in 
its stead, and the true doctrine of justification by faith, 
and the true practical use of a crucified Savior for trou-* 
bled consciences, were scarce to be seen. There was 
much outward religion, but this could not make men 
saints in heart and life. True humility and charity 
were little known in the Christian world, while su- 
perstition and self-righteousness were making rapid 
progress, arid the real gospel of Christ was hid from 
ien who professed it. 


The schism of the Donatists arose from a contested 
election of a bishop at Carthage. Csecilian the dea- 
con had the suffrage of the whole church. Two dis- 
appointed persons who aspired to the office protested 
against the election, and were joined by Lucilla, a 
rich lady, who had been for a long time too haugh- 
ty to submit to discipline. One Donatus offered him- 
self as chief of the faction. A number of bishops co- 
operated with him, piqued that they had not been cal- 
led to the ordination of Cseeilian. Seventy bishops 
met at Carthage, to depose Czecilian, who had the 
hearts of the people, and against whom they could not 
object any crime, nor support the least material accu- 
sation. Yet they persevered, and ordained one Ma- 
jorinus a servant of the factious lady, who, to support 
the ordination, gave large sums of money, which the 
bishops divided among themselves. This shows how 
corrupt many of the pastors of the African church 
were at this period. 

Pure doctrinal truth was then too commonly mere 
speculation. Men were ripe for a perversion of doc- 
trine. A bold and open assault was made against the 
Deity of the Son of God, to the grief of all who loved 
HIM, and walked in his ways in godly simplicity. 


The Progress of the Arian Controversy till the death of 

JL ETER, bishop of Alexandria, had suffered martyr- 
dom under the Dioclesian persecution. At that time, 
numbers had recanted to save their lives, and among 
the rest, Meletus, an Egyptian bishop. This man was 
of a schismatical and enterprizing spirit, and having 
been deposed by Peter before his martyrdom, separat- 
ed himself, continued bishop on his own plan, and or- 
dained others, and thus became head of the Meleti- 
an party. This, however, was not the only person, 
who disturbed the peace of the church, and tried the 


patience of Peter. Arius of Alexandria espoused the 
cause of Meletus. Afterward he left this party, be- 
came reconciled to Peter, and was by him ordained 
deacon. Arius, having exhibited a restless and fac- 
tious spirit, was again expelled from the church. 

Peter having been called to his rest by martyrdom, 
Achillas succeeded him in the bishopric, and from 
him Arius, by submissions again obtained favor. Un- 
derstanding and capacity will command respect, and 
these were undoubtedly possessed by Arius in a great 
degree. He was by nature formed to deceive. In his 
behavior and manner of life he was severe and grave; 
in his person tall and venerable, and in his dress al- 
most monastic. In conversation, he was agreeable and 
captivating, w 7 ell skilled in logic and all the improve- 
ments of the human mind, then fashionable in the 

Such was the famous Arius, who gave name to one 
of the most powerful heresies which ever afflicted the 
church of Christ. 

Achillas advanced Arius to the office of presbyter. 
Alexander, the successor of Achillas, treated him with 
respect, and he appeared backward to censure him for 
his dangerous speculations in religion. Arius, through 
the pride of reasoning, asserted, that there was a time 
when the Son of God was not, that he was capable of 
virtue or of vice, and that he was a creature, and mil-* 
table as creatures are. While Arius was insinuating 
these things, the easiness of Alexander in tolerating 
such notions was found fault with in the church. Ne- 
cessity roused him at length, however unwilling, to 
contend, and in disputing before Arius and the rest of 
the clergy, he affirmed there was a union in the Trin- 
ity. Arius eagerly insisted, that " if the Father begat 
the Son, the begotten had a beginning of existence ; 
hence it was evident there was a time when he was 

Many persons of a grave cast, and able and elo- 
quent, like Arius, espoused and fostered the infant 
heresy. Arius preached diligently at his church, dif- 
fused his opinions in all companies, and gained over 


many of the common people ; and Alexander saw the 
ancient doctrine continually undermined. Lenient 
measures and argumentative methods having been tri- 
ed in vain, Alexander summoned a synod of bishops, 
who met at Alexandria, condemned Arms' doctrine, 
and expelled him from the church, with nine of his ad- 

Arius maintained that the Son was totally and es- 
sentially distinct from the Father ; that he was the 
first and noblest of those beings whom God the Father 
had created out of nothing, the instrument by whose 
subordinate operation the Almighty Father formed the 
universe, and therefore inferior to the Father both in 
nature and dignity. 

To all humble and charitable Christians, it appear- 
ed, that to persist in blaspheming God, was, at least, 
as practical an evil, as to persist in drunkenness and 
theft; and all who feared God, felt themselves obli- 
gated to join with Alexander against Arius. 

The Christian world was now the scene of animosi- 
ty and contention. The orthodox and the heretical did 
each, their utmost, to support their several pretensions: 
practical religion was too much forgotten by both. 
The Pagan world beheld and triumphed. On their 
theatres they ridiculed the contentions of christians ? 
to which, their long and grievous provocations of their 
God had exposed them. Alexander repeatedly, in let- 
ters and appeals, maintained his cause, so far as spec- 
ulative argumentation could do it, and proved his point 
from the scriptures, while Arius strengthened himself 
by forming alliances with various bishops ; particular- 
ly with Eusebius of Nicomedia, who supported Arian- 
ism with all his might. Near one hundred bishops in 
a second synod at Alexandria condemned Arius, who 
was then obliged to quit that place, and to try to gain 
supporters in other parts of the empire. 

Constantine sincerely strove to make up the breach. 
He wrote both to Alexander and Arius, blamed both ? 
expressed his desire for their agreement, and explain- 
ed nothing. He sent the letter by Hosius bishop of 
Corduba, one whose faith and piety had been distin- 

guished in the late persecution. Hosius endeavored 
to make up the breach ; but it was impossible. The 
two parties were formed, and were determined ; 
worldly motives were too prominent in both, to admit 
of an easy compromise; and it was not in the power 
of those who loved both truth and peace, to sacrifice 
the former for the latter, consistently with a good con- 
science, however sincerely desirous they must have 
been of promoting both. The object of contention 
was not a trifle, but an essential principle in religion. 

Constantine summoned the aid of the whole Chris- 
tian church ; and three hundred and eighteen bishops 
met at Nice, in Bithynia* According to Philostorgius, 
the Arian historian, twenty two espoused the cause of 
Arius ; other? make the minority still less. Many pres- 
byters were there besides the bishops ; it is not pro- 
bable, that the whole number of persons assembled in 
the council was less than six hundred. 

They met in the year three hundred and twenty 
five, being transported to Nice, and maintained there 
at the emperor's expense. 

Before they entered on the immediate business of 
the Synod, their attention was engaged by certain 
Gentile philosophers who appeared among them ; of 
these, some wished to satisfy their own curiosity con- 
cerning Christianity itself; others, to involve the chris- 
tians in a cloud of verbal subtleties, that they might 
enjoy the mutual contradictions of the followers 
of Christ. One of these distinguished himself by the 
pomp and arrogancy of his pretensions, and derided 
the clergy as ignorant and illiterate. On this occa- 
sion, an old Christian, who had suffered with magnan- 
imous constancy during the late persecution, though 
unacquainted with logical forms, undertook to con* 
tend with the philosopher: those who were more 
earnest to gratify curiosity than to investigate truth, 
endeavored to make mirth of him, while all the seri- 
ous were distressed to see a contest apparently so 
unequal. Respect for the man, however, induced 
them to permit him to engage* He immediately ad- 
dressed the philosopher in these terms: "Hear, philos- 


opher, in the name of Jesus Christ. There is one 
God the Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things 
Visible and invisible, who made all these things by the 
power of his Word, and confirmed them by the holi- 
ness of his Spirit. This WORD, whom we call the Son 
of God, compassionating the sons of men, involved in 
error and wickedness, chose to be born of a woman, 
to converse with men, and to die for them ; and he 
will come again, the Judge of all things which men 
have done in the body; that these things are so, we 
believe in simplicity ; do not then labor in vain, seek- 
ing to confute things which ought to be received by 
faith, and investigating the manner in which these 
things may or may not be : but if thou believest, an- 
swer me, now that I ask thee." Struck with this 
plain, authoritative address, the philosopher said, " I 
do believe ;" with pleasure owned himself vanquish- 
ed, confessed that he embraced the same sentiments 
with the old man, and advised the other philosophers 
to do the same, declaring that he was changed by a di- 
vine influence, and was moved by an energy he could 
not explain. 

Here it is evident that this successful espouser of 
the truth, stepped forth in its defence, in humble de- 
pendence on God to bless his own word with victori- 
ous energy ; and it was evident by the issue, that the 
faith of the vanquished stood not in the wisdom of 
men, but in the power of God. 

I fear we shall not find in the whole Nicene busi- 
ness so instructive a narrative. The emperor himself 
came to the synod, and exhorted them to peace and 
unanimity. A number of mutual accusations having 
been presented to him, he threw them all into the fire, 
protesting that he had not read one of them, and char- 
ged them to forbear and forgive one another. He 
then gave them leave to enter directly on the business 
of the synod. They canvassed the doctrine of Arius, 
extracted his propositions from his own writings, and 
argued the subject with great vehemence ; Constan- 
tine himself acting as moderator, and endeavoring to 
bring them to perfect agreement. But It soon ap- 


peared, that without some explanatory terms, decisive- 
ly pointing out what the scripture had revealed, it was 
impossible to guard against the subtilties of the Ari- 
ans. Did the Trinitarians assert, that Christ was 
God ? The Arians allowed it, but in the same sense 
that holy men and angels are stiled gods in scripture. 
Did they affirm that he was truly God ? the others al- 
lowed that he was made so by God. Did they affirm 
that the Son was naturally God ? it was granted : for 
even we, said they, are of God, of whom are all things. 
Was it affirmed, that the Son was the power, wisdom 
and image of the Father ? we admit it, replied the 
others, for we also are said to be the image and glory 
of God. What could the Trinitarians do in this situa- 
tion ? to leave the matter undecided was ta do noth- 
ing ; to confine themselves merely to scripture terms, 
was to suffer the Arians to explain the doctrine in 
their own way, and to reply nothing. Undoubtedly 
they had a right to comment according to their own 
judgment, as well as the Arians ; and they did so in 
the following manner. They collected together the 
passages of scripture, which represent the Divinity of 
the Son of God, and observed, that, taken together, 
they amounted to a proof of his being of the SAME 
SUBSTANCE WITH THE FATHER : That creatures' were 
indeed said to be of God, because not existing of 
themselves, they had their beginning from him, but 
that the Son was peculiarly of the Father, being of his 
substance, as begotten of him. 

The majority of the council was convinced that 
this was a fair explanation. The venerable Hosius, of 
Corduba was appointed to draw up a creed, which, 
in the main, is the same that is called the Nicene 
creed to this day. This soon received the sanction of 
the council, and of Constantine himself, who declar- 
ed that whoever refused to comply with the decree, 
should be banished. 

Here we have the testimony of nearly the whole 
Christian 'world, in favor of the doctrine of the proper 
Deity of the Son of God, a testimony free, unbiassed, 
and unrestrained. How can this be accounted for but 


hence, that they followed the plain sense of scripture 
and of the church in preceding ages ? 

Arius was deposed, excommunicated, and forbid- 
den to enter Alexandria. The minority at first refus- 
ed to subscribe, but being advised to yield, at length, 
by Constantia their patroness, the emperor's sister, 20 
of the 22 Arian bishops consented. But by the omis- 
sion of a single letter they reserved to themselves 
their own sense, subscribing not that the Son is the 
same, but only of the like essence with the Father.* 
Arias and his associates were banished into Illyricum. 

The Meletian controversy was also settled. Mele- 
tius was permitted to live in his own city, with the ti- 
tle of bishop, but without authority. His sect was in- 
dulged in some degree, and continued a long time af- 
ter in the church. 

The canons of this famous council forbid clergymen 
to make themselves eunuchs ; also the ordination of 
new converts ; and provided for the chastity of the 

These, with some other regulations for the govern- 
ment of the Christian church, shew that the fear of God 
was by no means extinct. Discipline, which had 
been relaxed toward the close of the last century, was 
revived, and the predominant spirit of superstition 
carried it, as formerly, into too great an extreme. 

Liberty was allowed to the Novatians also to re- 
turn to the communion of the general church, nor was 
it insisted on, that they should be re-baptized, since 
they held nothing contrary to the fundamental princi- 
ples of godliness. With respect to the followers of 
Paul of Samosata, called Paulianists, some of whom 
still subsisted, it was required, that if they were ad- 
mitted again into the church they should be re-bapti- 
zed, because they did not baptize in the name of the 
Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. So accurately 
did they distinguish between a heretic and a schis- 
matic, between essentials and circumstantials. Apos- 
tolical discernment and piety, in no contemptible de- 

* It Is remarkable, that this duplicity is recorded by Philostorgtus the 
4rian historian. 


gree, animated the spirits of the Nicene fathers, not- 
withstanding the decline of piety from the primitive 

Constantine, zealous for a pacific uniformity, having 
invited Acesius a Novatian bishop to the council, ask- 
ed him whether he assented to the decrees of the 
council concerning the faith. The council, said he, 
has decreed nothing new concerning these things. So 
I have always understood the church has received 
from the days of the apostles. Why then, said the 
emperor, do you separate yourself from our commun- 
ion? Because, replied Acesius, we think that to apos- 
tatize is the " sin unto death," and that those who 
are guilty of it ought never to be restored to the com- 
munion of the church, though they are to be invited 
to repentance, and to be left to God, who alone has 
the power of forgiving sins. Constantine, who saw 
that his views were impracticably severe, said, " Set 
up a ladder, Acesius, and climb up to heaven by your- 

From this testimony it appears that the church had, 
from the days of the apostles, been in the belief of 
the proper Divinity of Jesus Christ. 

Three months after the dissolution of the council of 
Nice, Eusebius of Nicomedia, and Theognis of Nice, 
were banished by the emperor's command, for at- 
tempting still to support the Arian cause. 

Alexander, in five months after his return home 
died : having desired that Athanasius might be ap- 
pointed his successor. Alexandria, in general, joined 
in the same request, and he was ordained as a succes- 
sor to the zealous Alexander. He was then not above 
twenty eight years of age, and held the see forty six 
years, exposed, with little intermission, to persecu- 
tion, on account of his zeal against Arian ism. In this 
he manifested great constancy and firmness in sup^ 
port of the truth, 

* Not a tew of these bore on their bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus. One, 
Debilitated by the application of hot iron to both his hands ; some, deprived of 
then- right eyes : others, deprived of their legs. A crowd of martyrs collected* 
& on.e body ! 


After the death of Helena, Constantine shewed pe- 
culiar kindness to Constantia his sister, who was in 
the Arian interest. She on her death-bed prevailed 
with her brother to do justice to these men. The 
emperor suffered himself to be imposed on by the 
Arian party, arid wrote in their favor to the churches. 
Eusebius and Theognis, by owning the Nicene faith in 
words were restored to '.heir sees. The former wrote 
to Athariasius, desiring him to receive Arius, now re- 
turning from banishment, to communion : but in vain^ 
Athanasius had principle, and could not sport with 
subscriptions and bonds, as his adversaries did. 

The Nicene creed had still all the sanction which 
church and state could give it. It was not then pos- 
sible, by all the artifice of ingenious and unprincipled 
men, to persuade the Christian world, that the scrip- 
ture held what it did not, or that their fathers had all 
alqng thought as Arius did. Even the chiefs of Arian- 
ism had been now restored, not as Arians, but as men 
well affected to the doctrine of the Trinity. And they 
attempted by subtilty and artifice to establish, at 
length, what was impossible to be done by fair argu- 
ment. Determined to ruin Athanasius, if possible, 
they united themselves closely with the Meletians, 
and infected them with their heresy. They procured 
the deposition of Eustathius of Antioch, an eloquent 
and learned professor, who was, on unjust pretences, 
banished from his see. This person, before his de- 
parture, exhorted his flock to be steadfast in the truth, 
and his words were of great weight with that flourish- 
ing church. He and several priests and deacons were 
banished. The good man bore the will of God with, 
meekness and patience, and died in exile at Philippu 
Thus while the truth was supported in form, its friends, 
by a variety of artifices, were persecuted, and its ene- 
mies triumphed. Men void of principle had every 
secular advantage, while those, who feared God, chosq 
rather to suffer than to sin. 

Among these, Athanasius was eminently distinguish- 
ed. Rebellion, oppression, rape and murder, were 
maliciously charged upon him. He was accused with 


having murdered Arsenius, a Meletian "bishop ; for 
proof of which the accusers produced a box, out of 
which they took a dead man's hand, dried and salted, 
affirming it to be the hand of Arsenius, preserved by 
Athanasius for magical purposes. The Meletians 
charged Arsenius to conceal himself till they should 
have effected their purpose. The party of Eusebius 
of Nicomedia, spread the report through the Christian 
world, that Arsenius had been privately murdered by 
the bishop of Alexandria, and Constantine himself, 
overcome by incessant importunities, was induced to 
order an enquiry to be made. 

Athanasius had learned by his own experience, that 
any accusation against himself, however improbable, 
was likely to find numerous and powerful supports. 
But Providence wonderfully confuted this attempt. 
Arsenius had privately conveyed himself to Tyre, in- 
tending to be secreted there during the session of 
the Synod. Some servants, belonging to Archelaus 
the governor, heard a rumor whispered, that Arsenius 
was in town. This they immediately told their mas- 
ter, who discovered his retreat, apprehended him, and 
gave notice to Athanasius. The Meletian tool, feeling 
the awkwardness of his situation, denied himself to be 
Arsenius. Paul, the bishop of Tyre knew the man, 
and deprived him of that refuge. The day of trial 
having come, the prosecutors boasted that they should 
give occular demonstration to the court of the guilt of 
Athanasius, and produced the hand. A shout of vic- 
tory rung through the synod. Silence having been 
made, Athanasius asked the judges, if any of them 
knew Arsenius ? Several having affirmed that they did, 
Athanasius directed the man to be brought into the 
court, and asked, " Is this the man whom I murdered 
and whose hand I cut off ?" Athanasius turned back 
the man's cloak and showed one of his hands ; after a 
little pause, he put back the other side of the cloak, 
and showed the other hand. " Gentlemen, you see," 
said he, " that Arsenius has both his hands : how the 
accusers came by the third hand, let them explain.'* 
Thus ended the plot to the shame of thq contrivers* 


Those, who were concerned in this villany, were op- 
posed to the real faith of Christ ; and enmity to the 
doctrine of the Trinity produced this shameful plot. 

Notwithstanding the clearest proofs of Athanasius 9 
innocence, and though the whole course of his life 
was extremely opposite to such crimes as he was 
charged with r yet his enemies so far prevailed, that 
commissioners were despatched into Egypt to examine 
the matters of which he was accused. Yet John the 
Melitian bishop, the chief contriver of the plot, confes- 
sed his fault to Athanasius, and begged his forgive- 
ness. And Arsenius himself renounced his former 
connexions, and desired to be received into commun- 
ion with Athanasius. 

The Arian commissioners having arrived at Alexan- 
dria, endeavored to extort evidence against the accu- 
sed by drawn swords, whips, clubs, and all engines of 
cruelty. The Alexandrian clergy desired to give evi- 
dence in favor of Athanasius, but were refused. They 
remonstrated to no purpose. The commissioners hav- 
ing returned with extorted evidence to Tyre, whither 
the accused, who saw no justice was to be obtained > 
had fled, passed sentence, and deposed him from his 

Athanasius came to Constantinople, and desired jus- 
tice from the emperor, and a fair trial. Constantino 
ordered the bishops of the synod to appear before him, 
and to give an account of what they had done. The 
greatest part of them returned home. But Eusebius 
of Nicomedia, sticking at no fraud, and ashamed of no 
villany, with a few of the synod, went to Constantino- 
ple, and waving the old accusations, brought a fresh 
one, alleging that Athanasius had threatened to stop 
the fleet that brought corn from Alexandria to Con- 
stantinople. Constantine was credulous enough to be 
moved by the report: the Arian arts prevailed at 
court : those, who used no arms but truth and hones- 
ty, were, for the present, foiled, and Athanasius was 
banished to Treves in Gaul. 

Arius, flushed with the success of his party, return- 
ed to Alexandria, and strengthened the hands of 


heretics, who had long languished for want of his abil- 
ities. The city being torn with intestine divisions, the 
emperor ordered the heresiarch to come to Constanti- 
nople, and then to give an account of his conduct. 
That imperial city had now become the chief seat of 
contention, and Providence had given her a bishop not 
unequal to the contest. This was Alexander of Con- 
stantinople, a man of eminent piety and integrity. 
Eusebius of Nicomedia menaced him with deposition 
andexile, unless he consented to receive Arius into the 
church. He could not consent to admit a wolf among 
the sheep, who could agree in form to the Nicene faith, 
and yet gradually insinuate his poison into the church. 
Alexander betook himself to prayer, and spent several 
days and nights in his church, in earnest cries to God 
for help. The faithful followed his example, and 
prayer was made by the church without ceasing, that 
God would interfere on this occasion. 

Constantine himself was not to be prevailed on to 
admit Arius into the church, unless he were convinced 
of his orthodoxy. He sent for him to the palace, and 
asked him plainly, whether he agreed to the Nicene 
decrees. The heresiarch, without hesitation, subscrib- 
ed : the emperor ordered him to swear : he assented to 
this also. Constantine, whose scruples were now 
overcome, ordered Alexander to receive him into the 
church the next day. Alexander had giren himself to 
fasting and prayer, and renewed his supplications that 
day with great fervor, prostrate before the altar, at- 
tended only by Macarius a presbyter belonging to 
Athinasius. He begged, that if Arius was in the right, 
he himself might not live to see the day of contest ; 
but if the faith which he professed was true, that Ari- 
us, the author of all the evils, might suffer the punish- 
inent of his impiety. The next day seemed to be a 
triumphant one to the Arians : the heads of the party 
paraded through the city with Arius in the midst, and 
drew the attention of all toward them. When they 
came nigh to the forum of Constantine, a sudden ter- 
ror, with a disorder of the bowels, seized Arius. He 
asked for a place> where he might retire and ea^e him- 


self, and being told there was one behind the forum, 
he hasted thither, and fainted ; and his bowels were 
poured out with a vast effusion of blood. Such was 
the exit of the famous Arius. Thus God heard the 
prayers of his church and sent them deliverance, and 
confounded the adversaries of Zion. 

What effect this event had on Constantine, is not 
known. He died soon after, in the 65th year of his 
age, having first received baptism from Eusebius of 


The progress of the Arian Controversy during the Reign 
of Constantius. 

L HE great Constantine was succeeded by three sons, 
Constantine, Constantius, and Constans. The first ru- 
led in Spain and Gaul, the second in the East, the 
third in Italy and Africa. The other relations of the 
late emperor were put to death by the soldiers. Two 
sons alone of Julias his brother survived, Gallus and 
Julian. These were spared, priv r atelv educated, pla- 
ced among the clergy, and appointe'd readers in the 
church. The latter was born at Constantinople, was 
only eight years old at the time of his uncle's death, 
and was reserved to be a scourge to degenerate Chris- 
tendom, and a memorable instrument of Divine Pro- 

By Constantine the eldest, Athanasius was recall^ 
ed from banishment, to his church at Alexandria, 
where he was received with general acclamations. 
Constantine was afterwards slain by the troops of his 
brother Constans. 

Constantius, with the empress his wife, was infect- 
ed with the Arian heresy, and did much to support 
the Arian interest. 

In the year three hundred and forty, died the famous 
Eusebius of Cresarea. He was the most learned of 



all the Christians ; but a man of courtly manners, and 
one who associated with Arius in the condemnation 
of Athanasius. His case is one of the many which 
shew that learning and philosophy, unless duly subor- 
dinated to the revealed will of God, are unfriendly to 
Christian simplicity. 

Alexander of Constantinople, the great and able op- 
poser of Arianism, died at this time, and was succeed- 
ed by Paul, a young man discreet and pious. Con- 
stantius was displeased at the election of Paul, encour- 
aged an Arian council, directed its resolves, and Euse- 
bius of Nicomedia was translated to Constantinople, 
where, from this time, Arian government continued 
forty years. Thus the ancient usages in choosing 
bishops were altered, and a precedent was set of fixing 
in the hands of princes the government of churches in 
capital cities. A council, of 100 bishops of Egypt, 
with Athanasius at their head, protested to the Chris- 
tian world against these proceedings. 

Another council, convened at Antioch, and support- 
by the presence of the emperor, undertook to depose 
Athanasius, and ordain Gregory in his room. They 
prevailed on Constantius to direct Philagrius, the pre- 
fect of Egypt, to support their proceedings by an arm- 
ed force. Gregory commenced a violent persecution 
against the friends of Athanasius, a number of whom 
he caused to be scourged and imprisoned. Athana- 
sius himself fled from the storm, and made his escape 
to Rome. 

The church now found herself not free from perse- 
cution, even when Pagans had ceased to reign. 
Gregory would not even suffer the Athanasians to pray 
in their own houses, who in great numbers still refused 
to own the Arian domination. He visited Egypt in 
company with Philagrius, and inflicted on those bish- 
ops who had been zealous for the Nicene faith, the 
greatest severities. 

The means of defence which Athanasius used were 
solid arguments, patience and fervent prayers to God* 

The Arians must beaivthe infamy of being the first 
who secularized the discipline of the church. 


Athanasius continued an exile at Rome 18 months, 
under the protection of Julius the bishop. Eusebius, 
of Constantinople, one of the most memorable villians 
in history, died soon after in the fulness of that pros- 
perity, which his iniquity and oppression had procured 
him. A double election followed his death, that of 
Paul, and that of Macedonius. Hermogenes, master 
of the militia, was ordered by the emperor to banish 
Paul. He did so, and Paul's friends exasperated by 
persecution, forgot the character of Christians and kill- 
ed Hermogenes. This happened in the year 342. Paul, 
however, was then banished the city, and his holy 
character exempted him from all suspicion of being 
concerned in the outrage. 

In the year 349 died Gregory, the secular bishop of 
Alexandria. Then it was that Constantins, intimida- 
ted by the threats of his brother Constant, wrote re- 
peatedly to Athanasius to return into the East, and as- 
sured him of his favor and protection. Complying at 
length, with the request, he travelled to Antioch and 
was graciously received by Constantius, who assured 
him with oaths, that he would for the future, receive 
no calumnies against him. While at Antioch, Athan- 
asius communicated with the Eustathians, who under 
the direction of Flavian, held a conventicle there. This 
Flavian was the first who invented the doxology, Glo- 
ry be to the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. This is 
agreeable to the Nicene faith. 

Sabellians and Arians, at that time, opposed each 
other, and assaulted the truth which was at variance 
from what they both embraced. While those who 
were taught of God, sincerely worshipped the Trinity 
in Unity, and mourned over the abominations of the 

After the death of Constans, Constantius having be- 
come sole master of the empire, revived the persecu- 
tion. Paul, of Constantinople, was sent into Mesopo- 
tamia loaded with irons, and at length to Cucasus, on 
the confines of Cappadocia, where, after having suf- 
fered cruel hardships, he was strangled. Macedonius 
succeeded him, in Constantinople, by an armed force, 
with much effusion of blood. 


The weak mind of Constantius was again prejudic- 
ed, by calumnies against Athanasius, and he joined 
with the Arians to effect his ruin, and to give ascen- 
dency as far as possible to Arianism ; he even attempt- 
ed to impose an Arian creed upon a council convened 
at Milan in the year three hundred and fifty five, from 
the consideration that God had declared in his favor 
by his victories. The people, attached to the doctrine 
of the Trinity, because they read it in their bibles, re- 
jected the creed of Constantius, and it was pressed no 
further. The condemnation of Athanasius, was, how- 
ever, insisted on, and Dionysius, bishop of Milan and 
some others, were most unreasonably required to sub- 
scribe to it. " Obey, or be banished," was the impe- 
rial mandate. The bish6ps lifted up their hands to 
heaven, and told Constantius, that the empire was not 
his but God's, and reminded him of the day of judg- 
ment. He drew his sword on them in a rage, but con- 
tented himself with their banishment. The greatest 
part of the bishops, however, subscribed to the con- 
demnation of Athanasius : a few only testified that the 
grace of God was still as powerful as ever in support- 
ing his people, and in causing them to suffer gladly, 
rather than to sin. Those who did not subscribe were 
banished. The venerable Hosius, of Corduba, then 
one hundred years old, who had been a confessor un- 
der the Dioclesian persecution, who had presided six- 
ty years in the church, and also in the Nicene coun- 
cil, was unsubdued. Flattery and menaces were both 
employed to prevail on him to condemn Athanasius : 
but he stood firm, and sharply rebuked Constantius, 
for his* unreasonable conduct toward him, and remind- 
ed him of his accountability at the day of judgment 
for what he was then endeavoring to effect. 

This persecution raged so violently, that Arianism 
seemed well nigh to have avenged the cause of fallen 
idolatry. Supported by the secular power, it then 
reigned and glutted itself in blood. The pagans took 
courage and assisted the heretics in the persecution, 
saying, the Arians have embraced our religion. A 
Ibishop was found base enough to support those pro- 


*eedings. It was George of Cappadocia, who began 
his usurpation in the year three hundred and fifty six. 
Through his influence, supported by the secular arm, 
the friends of the Nicene faith were cruelly beaten, and 
some died under the anguish. The greatest cruelties 
were exercised by that monster of the Arian faith. 

Constantius, in a letter to the people of Alexandria, 
represents this same George as one very capable of 
instructing others in heavenly things. Athanasius, hav- 
ing seen this letter, was deterred from his intended 
journey to the emperor, betook himself to the deserts, 
and visited the monks. Those were his most faithful 
adherents, who refused to discover him to his adver- 
saries, and who offered their throats to the sword with 
a readiness to die for the Nicene faith. 

The contest was evidently between truth and error. 
The opposing sects manifested, in their lives, the con- 
trary influence and tendency of the adverse doctrines 
which they respectively embraced. It must, however, 
be acknowledged that the Trinitarians did not attend, 
in the degree which they ought to have done, to the 
connexion which subsists between doctrine and prac- 
tice. Christian godliness continued very low in all this 

The persecution reached even to Gaul, which had 
yet happily preserved the simplicity of the apostolic J 
confession unmolested. Hosius, above one hundred 
years old, having suffered scourges and tortures, sub- 
mitted, at length, to subscribe an Arian creed. He 
lived, however, to retract, protesting against the vio- 
lence with which he had been treated, and with his 
last breath exhorted all men to reject the heresy of 
Arius. Hosius remained in his heart true to his God, 
and proved that the Lord faileth not them that are his. 
The Arians made creeds upon creeds, expressed in 
artful ambiguities, to impose on the unwary : but the 
power of divine grace was displayed in preserving a 
remnant in this disastrous season. Athanasius, and a 
few faithful brethren stood firm. 

Constantius liberally supported the most expensive 
forms and ornaments of Christian worship while he was 


laboring with all his might to eradicate Christian doc- 

The Arians, then victorious, began to shew them- 
selves disunited, and separated into two parties. In 
these confusions, Macedonius lost the see of Constan- 
tinople, which was given to Eudoxius, who was trans- 
lated from Antioch in the year three hundred and six- 
ty. Eudoxius denied the Divinity of the Holy Ghost. 
The adherents to this sentiment, by the advantage of 
sober manners, spread themselves among the monas- 
teries and increased the corruption which then perva- 
ded the Christian world. To this error Athanasius 
showed himself a faithful and vigilant opposer. 

In the year three hundred and sixty one, Constan- 
tius died of a fever, having received baptism a little 
before he expired. He was a weak man, armed with 
despotic power, capable of doing incredible mischief 
in the church of Christ, and died, as he lived, an Arian, 


A View of Monasticism and other Micellaneous Circum- 
stances from the establishment of Christianity under 
Constantine to the death of Constantius. 

?V E are not to form an idea of ancient monks from 
modern ones. It was wrong in holy men of old to 
retire altogether from the world. But there is every 
reason to believe this practice originated in piety. 
The enormous evils of rnonasticism are to be ascrib- 
ed to its degeneracy in after-times, not to its first in- 
stitution. What could be better intended than the 
determination of Anthony to follow literally our Lord's 
directions ; " Sell what thou hast and give to the 
poor ?" Was he ignorant, and superstitious ? He was 
both. But he persevered to the age of 105 years in 
voluntary poverty with admirable consistency. 

It \vas a great disadvantage to Anthony's judgment, 
that he was unwilling to be instructed in literature. 
.He pushed the desire of solitude to rigors before un- 


known: Though his faith in Christ Was obscure, yet 
was his sincerity evident, and his love to Divine things 
ardent. He preached well by his life, and temper, and 
spirit, however much he failed in doctrinal knowledge. 

During the Dioclesian persecution, Anthony left his 
beloved solitude, came to Alexandria and strengthen- 
ed the minds of Christian sufferers, exposing himself 
to danger for his love of the brethren, and yet was not 
guilty of delivering himself up to martyrdom. Thus, 
on some occasions, he appeared in the world. 

While the Arian heresy raged, he entered Alexan- 
dria, and protested against its impiety, observing, it 
was of a piece with heathenism itself, "Be assured,' 7 
said he, " all nature is moved with indignation against 
those, who reckon the creator of all things to be a crea- 
ture." In conversing with pagan philosophers, Antho- 
ny observed, that Christianity held the mystery, not 
in the wisdom of Grsecian reasoning, but in the power 
of faith supplied to them from God by Jesus Christ. 
He exhorted them to believe and know that the chris- 
tian art is not merely verbal, but of faith which work- 
eth by love. 

Anthony, however, sullied all his evangelical piety ? 
by a foolish attempt to make mankind believe that 
he lived without food, while he ate in secret, and by a 
vain parade concerning temperance, which savored 
more of Pythagorean fanaticism than of Christian pie- 
ty. In his extreme old age he gave particular direc- 
tions, that his body should be interred, not preserved in 
a house, after the Egyptian manner of honoring deceas- 
ed saints and martyrs, and charged his two attendants 
to let no man know the place of his burial. " At the 
resurrection of the dead, I shall receive my body," said 
he, "from the Savior, incorruptible.' 2 He expired with 

The ancient heresies w r ere now in a declining state. 
Imperial favors were extended to heretics, in pro- 
portion to the cordiality and ardor with which they 
embraced erroneous sentiments. The church of the 
holy sepulchre^ at Jerusalem, was about this time, built 
with singular magnificence, and dedicated to Ariacr 


purposes with much pomp and ceremony. Splendor, 
however, excluded sincerity, and formality usurped the 
place of spiritual understanding. Thus that scripture 
was fulfilled Concerning the hypocrisy of professors in 
the Christian times, " your brethren, that hated yon, and 
cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the Lord be 


The Extension of the Gospel from the Beginning of the 
Centurv to the Death of Constantius. 


x HIS period is far more fruitful in ecclesiastical con- 
tentions, than it is remarkable for the extension of Chris- 
tianity. Abyssinia appears to have received the gos- 
pel and to have erected many churches in this century. 
The Iberians too, a people bordering on the Black 
Sea, received the gospel, about this time, through the 
exemplary life and conversation of a Christian woman, 
whom they had, in a military excursion, taken prisoner. 
She is said to have wrought miracles among them. 
I shall mention only those, which may seem worthy of 
some credit. A child of the king's was sent to the 
women of the country to be cured, if any of them 
knew a proper method of treating it a well known 
ancient custom. The cause baffled their united skill, 
and the child was delivered to the captive woman. 
" Christ," said she, " who healed many, will also 
heal this infant." She "prayed, and it recovered. 
In the same manner the queen herself was healed of 
a distemper some time after. " It is not my work," 
said the captive woman, " but that of Christ the Son 
of God, the Maker of the w r orld." The king sent the 
captive presents in token of his gratitude. But she 
sent them back, assuring him, that " godliness washer 
riches, and that she would look on it, as the noblest 
present, if he would worship the God whom she ador- 
ed." The next day the king, while hunting, was lost in 
a thick mist, and implored in vain the aid'of his gods, 
In his distress, recollecting the words of the woman. 


he prayed to the God whom she worshipped. The 
mist was instantly dispersed, and the king found his 
way home. In consequence of this event, and of fu- 
ture conferences with the captive, both the king and 
queen embraced the gospel, and exhorted their sub- 
jects to receive it. An embassy was sent to Constan- 
tine, to desire that pastors might be commissioned to 
instruct them. The emperor gave the ambassadors a 
very gracious reception. 

The gospel was introduced about this time into Ara- 
bia Felix. Probably it also flourished in humble obscu- 
rity in Britain, PUB France. The nations bordering on 
the Rhine, were now Christian ; and the Goths near the 
Danube, about 60 years before, had been civilized at 
least by the bishops whom they had carried captive 
under Gallienus : and most probably the Spirit of God 
attended their labors. Armenia had likewise embrac- 
ed Christianity, and by means of commerce conveyed 
it into Persia, where converts began to be numerous. 

There, because the Christians would not pollute 
themselves with the worship of the sun, they under- 
went a very grievous persecution. In this the Magi 
and the Jews were peculiarly instrumental ; and the 
people of God suffered with so much sincerity and 
fortitude, as to evince that the Lord had many people 
belonging to himself in Persia. 


The Decline of Idolatry in this Century to the Death of 

JL HE first measures of Constantine, after his success 
in Italy, were to place Christianity on an equal footing 
with paganism by the laws, while he gradually pat- 
ronized the church more and more. He abolished the 
barbarous punishment of crucifixion. After he had 
become sole master of the empire, he forbad the pri- 
vate exercise of divination, the great bulwark of false 
religion. But he still allowed the public use of it at 


the altars and temples. Some time after, he prohib- 
ited the worst branches of sorcery and magic. He 
took particular care to secure the observation of the 
Lord's day, and ordered it to be set apart for prayer 
and holy exercises. He publicly declared, that he 
would not oblige men, to be Christians though he ear- 
nestly desired they would be, nor did he abolish the 
rites of the temples. Finding, however, the pagans 
extremely obstinate in the preservation of their super- 
stitions, he publicly exposed the mysteries, which had 
hitherto been kept secret, melted down the golden 
statues, and caused brazen ones to be drawn by 
ropes through the streets of Constantinople. And 
some of the temples, which had been scenes of horri- 
ble wickedness, he destroyed. 

In Egypt, the famous cubit, with which the idolatrous 
priests were wont to measure the height of the Nile, 
was kept in the temple of Serapis. This, by Constan- 
tine's order, was removed to the church at Alexandria. 
The pagans beheld the removal with indignation, 
and ventured to predict, that the Nile would no longer 
overflow its banks. Divine Providence, however, 
smiled on the schemes of Constantine, and the Nile 
the next year overflowed the country in an uncommon 
degree. In this gradual manner was paganism over- 
turned 5 sacrifices in a partial manner still continued, 
but the entire destruction of idolatry seemed to be at 
hand. The temples for the most part stood, though 
much defaced, and deprived of their former dignity 
and importance. The sons of Constantine followed 
his example in aiding the progress of Christianity. - 
They made an express edict for the abolition of the 

Constantius at Rome, solemnly prohibited magic 
in all its various forms, took away the altar and image 
of victory which stood in the portico of the capital, 
and manifested great zeal against idolatry. 

Such was the state of paganism at the death of Con- 
stantius. Pagans were, however, exceedingly riumej- 
ous, and enjoyed with silent pleasure the long and 
Shameful scenes of Arian controversy in the church. 


Nor were they hopeless. The eyes of the votaries of 
the gods were all directed to his successor, the warlike, 
the zealous Julian, a determined foe of the gospel. 
Great things had been done for the church ; but its 
rulers of the house of Constantine were weak and void 
of true piety. In the warm imaginations of many de- 
votees, even Jupiter himself seemed likely to grow ter- 
rible again^ and be again adored. This last struggle of 
expiring paganism, marked as it is with signal instan- 
ces of Providence, deserves particular attention. 


Julianas attempt to restore Paganism. 

JL HE world in no age ever saw a greater zealot for 
paganism than Julian. Temper, talents, power and 
resentment, all conspired to cherish his superstitious 
attachments. He had seen nothing agreeable in the 
effects of the gospel on his uncle and his cousins. He 
had seen the Christian world torn with factions and de- 
formed by ambition. He had experienced many fam- 
ily wrongs from those who professed religion. Though 
he affected a zeal for the cause during (he reign of 
Constantius, yet it appears that he had not read the 
New-Testament with that close attention, which led 
him to see that the doctrines there inculcated, requir- 
ed a life very different from what he saw in the leaders 
of the Christian world, both civil and ecclesiastical. 

He was a man of uncommon genius and capacity, 
and came into power under the full influence of a car- 
nal mind, which is enmity against God. All that the 
wit and prudence of man could do, he attempted, to 
subvert Christianity and to restore paganism. If he 
failed in his attempts, it was because his arms were 
levelled against heaven. 

From a youth, Julian practised dissimulation with 
consummate artifice. No person was ever more ad- 
mirably qualified to act the part which he did when 
be succeeded Constantius. 


This happened in the year three hundred and sixty 
one. He ordered the temples to be set open, those 
that were decayed to be repaired, and new ones to be 
built, where he deemed it necessary. He fined the 
persons who had made use of the materials of such 
as had been demolished, and set apart the money, in 
this way collected, to erect new ones. Altars were uni- 
versally set up, and all the rituals of pagan worship 
brought into use. Altars and fires, blood, perfumes and 
priests attending their sacrifices, were general, and the 
imperial palace itself had its temple and furniture. The 
first thing he did, every morning, was to sacrifice, and 
by his presence and example, he encouraged the prac- 
tice among all his subjects. Heathens exulted and 
Christians were treated with contumely. He repealed 
the laws made against idolatry, and confirmed its an- 
cient honor and privileges. 

To reform paganism itself was his first object, and 
he issued precepts for its support. To maintain it on 
the old system of popular belief, Julian saw was im- 
possible. Christian light had now rendered pagan 
darkness visible, its deformity digustful, and its absur- 
dity contemptible. With great importunity he ex- 
horted magistrates to correct the vices of men, and to 
relieve their miseries, assuring them that the gods 
would reward^them for their charitable acts : that it is 
our duty to do good to all, even to the worst of men 
and our bitterest enemies ; and that public religion 
should be supported by a reverential adoration of the 
images of the gods, which were to be looked on as 
the symbols of the gods themselves. Priests, he said, 
should so live, as to be copies of what they preached 
by their own lives, and dissolute ones should be ex- 
pelled from their offices. Not only wicked actions, 
but obscene and indecent language should be avoided 
by them. No idle books and wanton plays, but divine 
philosophy, should be the object of their serious study ; 
they should learn sacred hymns by heart, should pray 
thrice or at least twice every day ; and when in their 
turn called on to attend the temple, they should never 
depart from it, but give up themselves to their office,-. 


At other times, they should not frequent the forum, 
nor approach the houses of the great, unless with a 
view of procuring relief for the indigent, or to dis- 
charge some part of their office ; that in no case they 
should frequent the theatres, nor ever be seen in the 
company of a charioteer, player or dancer. In every 
city the most pious and virtuous should be ordain- 
ed, without any consideration of their circumstances. 
The godly training of their own families, and their 
compassionate care for the indigent, would be their 
best recommendation. The impious Galilseans, he 
observed, by their singular benevolence had strength- 
ened their party, and heathenism had suffered by the 
want of attention to these things. 

Such was the fire which the apostate stole from 
heaven, and such his artifice in managing it ! These 
rules he must have derived from the sacred scriptures, 
for they are not to be found in any of the heathen 
writers which he studied and admired. They are 
rules which well deserve the attention of Christian pastors 
in all ages. In imitation of Christians he established 
schools for the education of youth. He appointed lec- 
tures of religion, stated times of prayers, monasteries 
for devout persons, hospitals and alms-houses for the 
poor and diseased, and for strangers. These things he 
particularly recommended in a letter to Arsacius, the 
chief priest of Galatia. In this he tells him what it was 
that advanced the impious religion of the Christians ; 
that it was their kindness to strangers, their care in bu- 
rying the dead, and their affected gravity. He bids 
him warn the priests to avoid play-houses and taverns, 
and sordid employments. Hospitals should be erected 
in every city for the reception of all sorts of indigent 
persons. The Galilaeans, he observes, relieve both their 
poor and ours. He certainly learnt this language from 
Christianity, which he ungratefully labored to destroy, 
It was not, however, in Julian's power to infuse that 
spirit into his partizans, which alone can produce such 
excellent fruits. It is in vain to think of destroying 
Christian principles, and at the same time of preser- 
ving Christian practice. But here is an additional 


testimony to the virtues of Christians, from their most 
determined and bitter enemy ; and a powerful illus- 
tration of the work of God in those ages. It must be 
confessed, at the same time, that the good sense and 
penetration of the emperor, are as conspicuous as are 
his malice and impiety. 

The arch-apostate knew that ridicule is a powerful 
engine with which to assail Christianity, and did not 
neglect to use this to render it odious, impossible, in the 
view of his subjects. The son of Mary, or the Galilaean^ 
were the opprobrious titles which he gave to the bless- 
ed Jesus, and he ordered christians to be called Gali- 
Iseans. To render unpopular the truly godly, and to 
bring Christianity into disrepute, he made an act of 
sacrificing, the condition of preserving places of honor 
and authority. He used many methods to impoverish 
opulent christians, and otherwise to injure them, and 
when they complained, he sarcastically said to them ; 
" You know what directions of passiveness under in- 
juries your Christ has given you !" To this he added 
an affected encouragement of heretics and sectaries, 
and thus artfully embroiled the Christian world with 
factions, by a toleration othem all, but a real want of 
affection for any. 

Julian had the sagacity, in a way of refined policy 
to abstain from open persecution himself, while he 
connived at it in others, who knew what was agreea- 
ble to their master. A number suffered for the gospel 
under his reign, though not by the forms of avowed 

If the gospel be indeed the light of heaven, which 
alone leads men to a holiness that fallen nature ab- 
hors, we see, why the public teachers of Christianity 
are abhorred by the proud and the mighty. These, 
Julian charged with sedition, seized their incomes, ab- 
rogated their immunities, exposed them to civil bur- 
dens and offices, and occasionally expelled them by 
fraud and violence. At Antioch, the treasures of the 
church were seized, the clergy obliged to flee, and the 
churches shut. In other places he found pretepces for 
imprisoning and torturing the pastors. 


This vigilant emperor must have hated and despised 
the Jews: but seeing, that to encourage and advance 
them in their secular concerns, was an obvious means 
of depreciating Christianity ; he spake of them with 
compassion, begged their prayers for his success in the 
Persian wars, and pressed them to rebuild their tem- 
ple, and restore their worship. He himself promis- 
ed to defray the expense out of the exchequer, and 
appointed an officer to superintend the work. To 
strengthen the hands of such determined enemies of 
Christianity, and to invalidate the Christian prophecies 
concerning the desolation of the Jews, were objects 
highly desirable in the mind of Julian. But the enter- 
prise was suddenly baffled, and the workmen were 
obliged to desist : horrible balls of fire, breaking out 
near the foundations, with repeated attacks, rendered 
the place inaccessible to the scorched workmen from 
time to time, and the element resolutely driving them 
to a distance, the enterprize Was dropped. No histor- 
ical fact, since the days of the apostles, seems better 
attested by credible writers than this. 

To keep the church in ignorance of the arts of reas- 
oning and philosophy, Julian suppressed learning 
among the Christians, forbid Christian school-masters 
to teach Gentile learning, lest being furnished, says he, 
with our armor, they make war upon us with our own 
weapons. By this deep-laid plan, he designed to ef- 
fect ultimately, an entire extinction of Christianity. 
To this end philosophers were liberally paid by him 
for their invectives against the gospel. 

He used ensnaring artifices to draw unwary chris- 
tians into compliance with pagan superstitions. He- 
was wont to place the images of the heathen gods 
near his own statues, that those who bowed to the lat- 
ter, might seem to adore also the former. Those who 
seemed to comply, he endeavored to persuade into 
greater compliances ; those who refused, he charged 
with treason, and proceeded against them as delin- 
quents. He ordered the soldiers when they received 
their donatives, to throw a piece of frankincense into 
the fire in honor to the gods. Some few Christians' 


who had been surprized into the practice, returned t6 
the emperor, threw back their donatives, and profes- 
sed their readiness to die for their religion. Disgrace, 
poverty, contempt, a moderate degree of severity, 
checked and disciplined by dissimulation, and every 
method of undermining the human spirit, were inces- 
santly employed to subvert Christianity. One cannot 
see how his schemes for this purpose could have failed, 
had Providence permitted this artful and subtile geni- 
us to have proceeded many years in this course : but 
what a worm is man, when he sets himself to oppose 
his Maker ! 


The Church under Julian. 

A.T this time the people of God were faint and lan- 
guid in Divine things. Arianism was baneful to ex- 
perimental piety and fostered pride and bitter animos- 
ity toward the truly godly. The pastors of churches 
were far from being intelligent or zealous, and were 
menaced with a most artful and malicious persecution. 

However low the state of Christianity was, yet we 
have grounds to believe there were then many real 
Christians in the church amid all its corruptions ; for 
the most of the public teachers and professors of Chris- 
tianity chose to quit their offices, rather than to forsake 
their religion. J ulian's partiality and prejudices in fa- 
vor of paganism urged him to adopt measures which 
filled the whole empire with confusion. 

At Merum, a city of Phrygia, Arnachius, the govern- 
or of the province, ordered the temple to be opened 
and the idols to be cleansed. Three Christians, infla- 
med with an ardent love of virtue, rushed by night in- 
to the temples, and broke all the images. The gov- 
ernor, in his wrath being about to chastise many inno- 
cent persons, the culprits very generously offered 
themselves to punishment. He gave them the alter- 
native, to sacrifice or die. They preferred the latter. 


&rid suffered death with excruciating tortures, more 
admirable in their behavior for fortitude than meek- 

At Pessinus, in Galatia, two young men suffered 
death in the presence of Julian. I wish I could say 
it was for professing the faith of Christ. But one of 
them had overturned an idol. The emperor put him 
to death in a cruel manner with his companion, their 
mother, and the bishop of the city. 

At Ancyra, Basil, a priest, had in the former reign, 
opposed Arianism, and now with equal sincerity re- 
sisted idolatry. He went through the city, publicly 
exhorting the people to avoid polluting themselves 
with sacrifices. Once observing the Gentiles employ- 
ed in their religious rites, he sighed, and besought 
God, that no Christian might be guilty of such enor- 
mity. The governor upon this apprehended him, 
charging him with sedition, and having tortured him 
kept him in prison. Julian himself coming to Ancyra, 
sent for Basil, who reproached him for his apostacy. 
Julian said, he had intended to dismiss him, but was 
obliged to treat him severely on account of his impu- 
dence. In the end Basil suffered death by torture. It 
would be tedious to recite all the accounts of those 
who suffered from the insolent cruelty of pagans un- 
der the politic connivance and partiality of Julian du- 
ring his short reign. 

In the year three hundred and sixty two, George of 
Alexandria, the persecuting Arian, was murdered by 
the pagans of that city, to whom he had made him- 
self obnoxious, by exposing their ridiculous rites. 

All this time Athanasius was in concealment. Af- 
ter the death of George, he returned openly to his bish- 
opric. Athanasius treated his enemies with mildness, 
relieved the distressed without respect of persons, re- 
stored the custom of preaching on the Trinity, remov- 
ed from the sanctuary those who had made a traffic of 
holy things, and thus gained the affections of the peo- 
ple ; but he was not allowed to enjoy long the s\veets 
of liberty. The Gentile Alexandrians represented to 
the emperor, that he corrupted the city ajid ail 


and that if he continued there, not a pagan would De- 
left. The consequence was, Julian Ordered him to* 
be expelled the city. 

Athanasius was obliged once more to seek safety 
by flight. All the faithful at his departure gathered 
around him weeping. " We must retire a little time, 
friends," says he ; "it is a cloud that will soon fly over." 
He took his leave of them, and began hier flight for the 
obscure parts of Egypt ; but finding his life in immi- 
nent danger, from the persecutors who were following 
him, he directed his companions to return to Alexan- 
dria, and to meet his enemies. The pursuers asked 
them earnestly, "Have you seen Athanasius ?" " He 
is near," say they, * make haste and you will soon over- 
take him/' They hasted. Athanasius secreted him- 
self, and soon returned privately to Alexandria, where 
he fay concealed till the end of the persecution. 

The active spirit of Julian was now bent on the dis- 
tinction of the Persian monarchy ; but Divine Prov- 
idence was hastening his- end. Toward the Christian 
part of his subjects, Julian was a tyrant. He persecu- 
ted numbers at Antioch ; there, as he passed by, he 
was provoked by the psalmody of the Christians, par- 
ticularly by the chorus which they used ; " Confound- 
" ed be all they that worship graven images." He order- 
ed them to be punished. Publia r too, a widow of 
great reputation, with a number of virgins over whom 
she presided, sang and praised God as he passed by. 
In particular they sung such parts of the Psalms as 
exposed the wickedness and folly of idolatry. Julian 
.ordered them to hold their peace r till he had passed 
them. On another occasion Publia encouraged them 
to sing as he passed, " Let God arise, and let his ene- 
mies be scattered." Julian, in a rage ? ordered her to 
be brought before him, and to be buffetted orr each 
side of her face. The effects of passion seem but too 
visible both in the emperor and the woman ; there Is, 
however, this difference ; the one had a zeal for God^ 
the other a contempt. 

God vouchsafed to his church a remarkable deliv- 
eraace; for Julian, in a skirmish, was wounded mortal- 

)y by a Persian lance ; when, having filled his 
with blood, he cast it toward heaven, exclaiming, " O 
wound but a short time, and died after a reign of one 
year and eight months, in the 32nd year of his age. 

The interposition of Divine Providence is ever to be 
acknowledged in hastening the death of so formidable 
an enemy to his people, whose schemes seemed only to 
require length of time to effect the ruin of the church. 
But he was left to aim at too many objects at once, 
the restoration of idolatry, the ruin of Christianity, 
the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and the conquest of Per- 
sia. That he should have pursued this last with such 
avidity, is an instance of the opposition of two parties 
to each other, both equally bent on the ruin of the 
church, a thing very common in history, by which the 
Lord frequently saves his people. How much more 
prudent had it been in Julian to have made an alliance 
with the Persian monarch, who would gladly have ac- 
cepted it, #nd to have united with him in the destruc- 
tion of Christianity, against which they were both 
equally incensed. Thus does God infatuate the coun- 
sels of his enemies, and lead them to quarrel with one 
another for the good of his church, rather than to unite 
for its ruin. 


The Church under Jovian. 

1 HIS prince succeeded Julian in the year 363, aged 
about 33 years. His reign was terminated by sudden 
death after a little more than seven months. 

In this short reign he manifested a strong attach- 
ment to Christianity, showed that in his conduct he 
was governed by Christian principles, and a man of 
strict integrity. 

Convinced that conscience cannot be forced, and 
that a voluntary religion only is acceptable to God, he 
made a law, by which h permitted the pagans to rev 


6pen their temples and freely to enjoy their own mode 
of Worship. Yet he peremptorily forbad witchcraft and 
impostures. He suffered the public sacrifices, but put 
a stop to the overflowings of magic and enchantments^ 
with which Julian had filled the empire ; in line, he 
granted the pagans more than Constantius had allow- 
ed, and placed them in the same state> in which they 
had been left by the great Constantine. In the former 
reign Christians found themselves only nominally free j 
in the latter, pagans were realty so. They were treats 
ed with mildness, though not with confidence. 

Jovian declared Christianity to be the established 
religion, and replaced in the standard the figure of the 
cross, which Julian had taken away. He ordered the 
Christians to be restored to their churches, recalled 
their exiles, and reinstated them in their privileges. 

Thus did Jovian prove himself the defender of 
Christianity as the established religion, and of tolera- 
tion at the same time. 

Athanasius had no sooner heard of the death of Juli- 
an, than he suddenly appeared again at Alexandria, ta 
the agreeable surprise of his people. Jovian, by letter^ 
confirmed him in his office in the most ample manner. 

When the Arians of Alexandria attempted to influ- 
ence him to set over them an Arian bishop, in opposi- 
tion to the claims of Athanasius, Jovian rejected their 
application, assuring them that Athanasius taught 
sound doctrine. This shows that in faith, Jovian was 
a Trinitarian. The care which he took of Christian; 
doctrine and piety> his integrity, and strict conscien- 
tiousness, nianifested him to be a man of a sound un- 
derstanding, and promised the world a wise and pi- 
ous government. He seems to have been a character 
of the solid, not of the shining kind; the wickedness 
of the times was unworthy of him. He was soon re- 
moved, and so suddenly, that it was suspected, he had 
not died a natural death. The Christians sincerely 
wept, the pagans in general spake well of him the 
Arians soon endeavored to take advantage of his de- 
cease, and the church was once more involved in per-, 



The Church under Valens; the Death , Character, 
Writins o 

J OVI AN was succeeded by two brothers, Valentinian 
arid Valens; the former governed in the West, the 
latter in the East. Valentinian followed the plan of 
Jovian in the affairs of the church, Valens, a man of 
weak capacity, favored Arianism, and ordered all the 
adherents to the Nicene faith to be expelled from Con- 
stantinople, and their churches to be shut. 

Athanasius ^vas again attacked by the enemies of 
Christian piety. Tatian, the governor of Alexandria^ 
by an order from Valens, attempted to drive Athana- 
ius from that city. The good bishop stood high in 
the affections of his people. The governor, for some 
time dared not to execute his orders. But by night 
he broke into his church with an armed force, where 
Athanasius generally lodged, and sought for him in 
vain. Athanasius had retired, and remained four 
months concealed in his father's sepulchre. Valens 
at length recalled him, and gave him no further dis- 
turbance. About this time, Valens received baptism 
from an Arian bishop who prevailed with him to swear 
that he would never depart from the Arian creed. 

Valens, being at a city of Scythia > near the mouth of 
the Danube, ordered Brettannio the bishop, to meet 
and communicate with him and his Arian attendant^ 
who had come to the bishop's church for that purpose* 
Brettannio firmly refused, professing his regard for the 
Nicene faith, and leaving the emperor, he went to an- 
other church, and all his congregation followed him,, 
Valens, with his attendants being left alone x was so en-* 
raged that he ordered the bishop to be banished. The. 
Scythians were indignant at this, as he was a man re- 
nowned among them for piety and integrity, and Va- 
lens dreading their revolt, permitted him to return. 

Eudoxius, the Arian bishop of Constantinople, be- 
ing dead, the Arians chose Demophilus to succeed 


him, and Valens approved of the election. The o& 
thodox elected, at the same time, Evagrius bishop of 
Constantinople. Valens, incensed, banished both him 
and the bishop who dared to ordain him. On this oc- 
casion eighty ecclesiastics were sent to the Emperor 
at Nicomedia to complain of his conduct Enraged 
at their presumption, and jet afraid of a sedition, he 
gave private orders to Modestus his prefect, to murder 
them secretly. The execution of this order deserves 
"to be known to all ages. The prefect pretended that 
he would send them into banishment, with which they 
cheerfully acquiesced. But he directed the mariners 
to set the ship on fire, as soon as they were gone to 
cea. The mariners did so, and getting into a boat 
which followed them, escaped. The "burning vessel 
\vas driven by a strong west wind into the haven of 
Dacidizus, on the coast of Bithynia, where it was con- 
sumed, with the ministers. The intention of conceal- 
ing what was done was frustrated ; and the wicked- 
ness and inhumanity of the murder appeared more 
dious, by the meanness with which it was contrived, 

Athanasius died in the year three hundred and 
seventy three, after he had been bishop forty six years, 
and having been desired to nominate a successor, he 
mentioned Peter, an aged saint, and the faithful com- 
panion of his labors. Let us pause a little to view 
the writings and character of this great man. 

As a writer, Athanasius is nervous, clear, argument- 
ative, and every where discovers the man of sense, 
except in the life of Anthony the monk, and other 
monastic pieces ; the superstitions and follies of which 
unhappy perversion of piety, received but too liberal 
a support from his influence. But the true nature of 
the gospel was then greatly misunderstood. 

Opposition to Arianism absorbed his whole soul, and 
he keeps it constantly in view throughout the most of 
his writings. He represents Arianism, as the unpar- 
donable sin. 

The incarnation of the Son of God, he describes as 
essential to the recovery of fallen man, and speaks of 
the propriety of man's being^ taught by HIM wiio h 


(he Wisdom of the Father. Redemption by 
cross he speaks of in a' manner perfectly scriptural ; 
but little, however, is to be found in him of the expe- 
rience of these doctrines, and their application to the 
heart and conscience ; nor does he dwell much on the 
virtues and graces of the Holy Spirit. Real virtue, was 
however, the attendant of orthodox sentiments alone. 

In his defence of the doctrine of the Trinity, he 
guards it on all sides with great exactness, is not soli- 
citous to remove its mystery, and leaves it clear and 
exact only so far as the scripture has explained it. He 
asserts invaribly the Trinity in Unity. 

In his life, his conduct uniformly appears consis- 
tent and upright, sharpened too much by long and 
cruel opposition, yet never governed by malice, al- 
ways influenced by the fear of God. Though greatly 
persecuted himself, yet he never inflicted persecution 
on others. 

Peter was chosen as successor to Athanasius at Al- 
exandria, by the whole church ; but not without op- 
position from the Arians. Imperial violence prevail- 
ed ; and many who would not subscribe to Arian sen- 
timents, were, for their refusal, banished. Many of- 
fered their necks to the sword, rather than quit the Ni~ 
cene profession. Numbers of godly men among tile 
Goths, were murdered for the sake of their Redeemer, 
by the cruelty of their king Athanaric, who appears 
to have been an Arian. 

Valens perished in a battle with the Goths in the 
year three hundred and seventy eight, after having- 
reigned fourteen years. 


7%e Church under Vakntinian The beginnings of 


JuET us turn our eyes to a more cheering prospect in 
the West ; in the East the only comfortable circum- 
stance has been, that God left himself not without wiN 
^ but marked his real church by a number of faith- 


Ful sufferers. Valentinian, in the beginning of hi? reigfu 
passed a law that no man should be constrained in re- 
ligion. He was very indulgent toward the pagans, and 
Created them with lenity. 

The x\rians were still ambitious to make proselytes 
to their faith, and were indefatigable in their opposi- 
tion to all who advocated the Divinity of Jesus, and 
they sought to support their creed by military and im- 
perial power ; but Providence, during the reign of 
Valentinian, raised up p,n able and successful opposer 
of this heresy. 

This illustrious character was Ambrose, who was 
born about the year three hundred and thirty three, 
and was first distinguished for pleading causes in the 
civil law. He Was appointed a judge at Milan, where 
he resided for five years, and was renowned for pru- 
dence and justice. 

On the death of the bishop of Milan, who was an 
Arian, the bishops of the province met to choose a suc- 
cessor. The city was divided, the Arians labored 
vigorously to have one of their sentiment elected ; the 
contest was warm, every thing tended toward a tu- 
mult ; the bishops were consulting, and Ambrose on 
hearing these things hastened to the church of Milan, 
and exhorted the people to peace and submission to 
the laws. His speech being finished, an infant's voice 
was heard in the crowd, " Ambrose is bishop." The 
hint was taken at once, the whole assembly cried out, 
" Ambrose shall be the man." The factions agreed 
immediately, and he whom secular pursuits had seem- 
ed to preclude from the notice of either party, was 
suddenly elected by universal consent. 

Ambrose was astonished, and peremptorily refus- 
ed ; nor was any person ever more desirous to obtain 
the office of bishop, than he was to avoid it. He even 
took unjustifiable measures to bring his moral charac- 
ter into suspicion his design in this was easily detect- 
ed. Finding himself unable to resist their urgent im- 
portunity, he stole out of Milan at midnight, but mis- 
sing his way, wandered till morning and then found 
himself at the gate of Milan. A guard was placed 


Stbout his person till the emperor's pleasure should be 
known because his consent was necessary to part with 
a subject in office. Valentinian sincerely consented ; 
and the consent of Ambrose alone was wanting. Again 
he made his escape and hid himself in the country- 
house of a friend. A menacing edict of the emperor 
brought him again to Milan, because he dared not 
expose his friend to imperial resentment. Ambrose 
yielded at length, and Valentinian gave thanks to God 
and our Savior that it had pleased him, to make 
choice of the very person to take care of men's souls, 
whom he had himself before appointed to preside 
over their temporal concerns. Valentinian received 
the general admonitions of Ambrose with reverence ; 
and in particular hearing him represent the faults of 
some in authority with great plainness ; " I knew," 
said the emperor, "the honesty of your character 
before this time, yet I consented to your ordination ; 
follow the Divine rules, and cure the maladies into 
which we are prone to fall." 

Ambrose was then about thirty four years old. Im- 
mediately he gave to the church and to the poor, all 
the gold and silver which he had. He gave also his 
lands to the church, reserving the income of them to 
his sister. His family he committed to the care of 
his brother. Thus disengaged from temporal concerns, 
he gave himself wholly to the ministry. Having read 
little else than civil authors, he first applied himself to 
the study of the scriptures. Whatever time he could 
spare from business, he devoted to reading ; and this 
he continued to do after he had attained a good de- 
gree of knowledge. His public labors went hand in 
hand with his studies. He preached every Lord's day. 
By his labors Arianism was expelled from Italy. 
Simplician, a presbyter from Rome, eminent for learn- 
ing and piety, instructed him in theology. By this 
presbyter, it pleased God, to convey to Ambrose that 
fire of Divine love and genuine simplicity in religion, 
which had very much decayed since the days of Cy- 
prian, and in this slow and effectual method, the Lord 
was preparing the way for another great effusion of 

iiis spirit. Ambrose now gave himself wholly to the 
Lord, and restored purity of doctrine and discipline. 

Valentinian died in 375, after a reign of eleven years ? 
and was succeeded by his brother Valens, who surviv- 
ed him about three years. Valentinian was fierce and 
savage by nature, though possessed of an excellent 
understanding, and when cool, of the soundest judg- 
ment ; a fit of passion, at length cost him his life. The 
best use to be made of his character is, to prove how 
very beneficial it is to human society, that princes 
should be men of religion. Without this check, Va- 
lentinian might have been one of the worst of tyrants, 
but by the influence of religion, he passes for one of 
the better sort of princes. 


The Church of Christ under Gratian and Theodosius, 
till the death of the former. 

fjr RATTAN, the elder son of Valentinian, succeeded 
him in Gaul, Spain, and Britain. His younger sou,, 
an infant, succeeded in Italy, and the rest of the wes- 
tern world. And some time after, Gratian chose The- 
odosius as his colleague, who reigned in the East. 

Gratian, from his early years, appears to have been 
truly pious. One of his first actions demonstrates it. 
The title of high-priest always belonged to the Roman 
princes. This he considered to be wholly idolatrous, 
unbecoming a Christian to assume, and refused the 
habit, though the pagans still gave him the title. 

Gratian wrote affectionately to Ambrose, request- 
ing him to come and afford him religious instruc- 
tion, in which he thus expresses himself, " He will 
teach me, whom T do not deny, whom I own as my 
Lord and my God. I would not conceive so meanly 
of him as to make him a mere creature like myself, 

who own that I can add nothing to Christ. And yet 
while I seek to please the Father, in celebrating the 
Son, I do not fear lest the Father should envy the hon- 


ors ascribed to the Son, nor do I think so highly of my 
powers of commendation, as to think I can increase 
the Divinity by my words. I extol him as I can, not 
as the Divinity deserves. With respect to that trea- 
tise which you gave me, I beg you would make addi- 
tions to it by scriptural arguments, to prove the proper 
Deity of the Holy Ghost." Ambrose with great sat- 
isfaction replied most respectfully, reminds Gratian 
that his arguments for the Divinity of the Son, are 
equally conclusive in pooof of the divinity of the Holy 
Ghost, whom we ought not to think the Father to en- 
vy, nor ourselves who are mere creatures, to be equal 
with him. ' 

Ambrose, with ail his piety, while teaching with 
soundness the essentials of faith and love, was not 
free from superstition, and abounded in his encomi- 
ums on virginity. His ignorance of the scriptures be- 
fore his ordination, and the influence of his sister, a 
zealous devotee, will account for this. 

Other parts of the conduct of Ambrose, were more 
worthy of his understanding. He applied the vessels 
of the church for the redemption of captives, and was 
indefatigable in the instruction of catechumens. 

In the year three hundred and seventy nine, Am- 
brose was sent for to attend the election of a new bish- 
op at Senmurn, where their former bishop, an Arian, 
had caused a wide departure from the faith. The em- 
press Justina, mother of young Valentinian, was there, 
and being in favor of Arianism, endeavored by her 
authority and influence to expel Ambrose from the 
church : though insulted by the mob, Ambrose stood 
firm in his tribunal, and when an Arian woman laid 
hold on his habit, with a view to drag him out of the 
church, he resolutely said to her, "Though 1 am un- 
worthy of the priesthood, it does not become you to 
lay hands on a pastor, you ought to fear the judgment 
of God." It is remarkable that she died the next day. 
They were struck with awe, and Artemius, an ortho- 
dox minister, was elected without molestation. The 
enmity of Justina afterward broke out against Ambrose 
in a remarkable manner. 


Constantinople had now for forty years been sub- 
ject to Arian impiety and tyranny. In this great city 
few remained who understood the religion of the gos- 
pel : truth and godliness had fled. Gregory, of Nazi- 
anzum was appointed to recover this wretched city, if 
possible, to the purity of the gospel. Theodosius co- 
operated with Gregory, and other zealous pastors for 
the revival of Christianity in the East, in the year three 
hundred and eighty. He published a law reprobating 
the Arian heresy, and warmly approbating the Nicene 
faith. He gave notice to Demophilus, the Arian bishop 
of Constantinople, to embrace the Nicene creed, to 
unite the people, and live in peace. Demophilus reject- 
ing the proposal, the emperor ordered him to give up 
the churches. The heresiarch struggled to support his 
cause, but finding himself unsuccessful, retired to Be- 
raea, where he died six years after, 

Gregory being now confirmed at Constantinople, 
at the call of the emperor, three hundred and fifty bish- 
ops came thither, to settle the distracted state of the 
Eastern church. The council was very disorderly 
and confused, little was done, except defining very 
accurately the doctrine of the Trinity, and enlarging 
a little on the Nicene creed. 

In the year 383, Amphilochus, bishop of Iconium, 
coming to court with other bishops, paid the usual 
respects to the emperor, but took no notice of his son 
Arcadius, about six years old, who was near his father,. 
Tlaeodosius bad him salute his son. Amphilochus 
drew near and laying his hand upon him, said, " Save 
you my child." The emperor in anger ordered the 
old man to be driven from court ; who with a loud 
voice declared, you cannot bear to have your son con- 
temned ; be assured, that God in like manner is of- 
fended with those who honor not his Son as himself. 
The emperor was struck with the justness of the re? 
mark, and immediately made a law to prohibit the 
assemblies of the heretics. 

In the same year Gratian fell by murder in the 24th 
year of his age. Chaste, temperate, benevolent, con- 
scientious., he shines in the church of Christ ; but tal- 


ents for governing he seems not to have possessed. 
Divine Providence gives in him a lesson that Christ's 
kingdom is not of this world ; even a prince of unques- 
tionable piety is denied the common advantage of a 
natural death. When dying he bemoaned the ab- 
sence of Ambrose, and often spake of him. Those, 
who have received spiritual benefit from a pastor have 
often an affection for him, of which the world has no 
knowledge. In his last moments, the mind of Gratian 
was absorbed in Divine things, compared with which, 
the loss of empire weighed as nothing. 


The Heresy of Priscillian The conduct of Martin' 
the Progress of Superstition. 

VERY little of the spirit of Christianity, during this 
period, is to be found. Evangelical purity had great- 
ly declined. The Priscillianists, an heretical sect, 
who seem to have combined all the most pernicious 
heresies of former times, had already appeared in the 
time of Gratian, and infected the greatest part of Spain, 
Their leader, Priscillian, was exactly fitted for the 
office which he filled : learned, factious, acute, of 
great powers both of body and mind, and by a spuri- 
ous modesty and gravity of manners, extremely well 
qualified to maintain an ascendancy over weak and 
credulous spirits. Idacius and Ithacius, applied to 
the secular power to procure, by the decrees of the 
magistrates, an expulsion of the heretics from the cit- 
ies. The Priscillianists endeavored to gain friends in 
Italy ; but their corruptions were too glaring to pro- 
cure them any countenance either from Damasus of 
Rome, or from Ambrose of Milan. 

On the death of Gratian, Maximus the usurper, 
who had rebelled against Gratian, entered victorious 
into Treves. While Ithacius earnestly pressed him, 
against the Priscillianists, the heresiarch appealed to 
Maximus, who undertook the office of deciding. Both 


parties were highly culpable ; the heretics in spread- 
ing sentiments entirely subversive of Christianity, and 
their accusers in subserving their own factious and 
selfish views. 

In the mean time, Martin, of Tours, blamed Ithacius 
for bringing the heretics as criminals before the empe- 
or; and entreated Maximus to abstain from the blood 
of the unhappy men ; he said, it was abundantly suffi- 
cient, that they, having been judged heretics by the 
sentence of the bishops, were expelled from the 
churches, and that it was a new and unheard evil, for 
a secular judge to interfere in matters purely ecclesi- 
astical. To punish heretics with death, because they 
are seen walking in the broad road to eternal destruc- 
tion, and thus prevent their conversion by shortening 
their days, is surely contrary to the spirit of HIM, who 
carne not to destroy men's lives but to save them ! 
Yet there were men found at this time capable of such 
enormity, and it marks the degeneracy of the age. 
But Christ had still a church in the West, and Martin 
persevered with such zeal in opposing the horrid in- 
novation, and was himself so much respected for his 
piety and integrity, that he at first prevailed, and the 
usurper promised not to proceed to blood against the 
heretics. Afterward, however, he changed his pur- 
pose, and Priscillian was put to death, with four other 
leaders of his sect. A few more were condemned to 
die, or to be banished. Christianity never received a 
greater scandal ; but the men, who feared God, and 
loved moderation and charity, wept and prayed in se- 
cret, despised and disregarded by the two parties, who 
trampled on all the rules of godliness, In the mean 
time worldly passions prevailed in Spain, and though 
the form of orthodoxy existed, it was evident, that 
its power was greatly weakened. 

Let us here endeavor to find the true church, if we 
can. We see it in Ambrose, who, coming to Maxi- 
mus on an embassy from the younger Valentinian, re- 
fused to hold communion with his bishops, who had 
been concerned in the death of the heretics. Maxi- 
j enraged, ordered him to withdraw. Ambrose 


entered on his journey very readily, having applied 
in vain to some of the courtiers to furnish him with 
conveniences. Several holy men who protested 
against these barbarities, were charged with heresy, 
and among the rest Martin of Tours. Thus, while 
there were some in Gaul and Spain, who bore the 
Christian name, to disgrace it with a complication 
of heresies, and formal orthodoxy, or who dishon- 
ored the gospel by a life of avarice, faction and am- 
bition, there were some who feared God and served 
him in the gospel of his Son. 

Martin, in his youth, had, against his will, served in 
the army under Constantius and Julius. His father, by 
profession a soldier, had compelled him. At ten years 
old, he went to the church and gave in his name as a 
catechumen. At twelve he had a desire to lead a mo- 
nastic life. But being devoted to military service he 
avoided its vices, and was liberal to the poor, reserv- 
ing nothing to himself out of the pay which he re- 
ceived, except what was necessary for daily food. 
At 18 he was baptized, and at 20 left the army. 
Sometime after, falling into the hands of robbers 
among the Alps, he was delivered bound to one of 
them, to be plundered ; who leading him to a retired 
place, asked him, who he was. He answered, " I am 
a Christian." " Are not you afraid ?" I never was 
more at ease, because I know the mercy of the Lord 
to be most present in trials ; I am more concerned for 
you, who, by your course of life, render yourself unfit 
to partake of the mercy of Christ. Entering into the 
arguments of religion, he preached the gospel to the 
robber. The man believed, attended his instructor to 
the road, and begged his prayers. The new convert 
persevered in godliness, and this relation was taken 
from his account. 

It was with difficulty that Martin was at length 
prevailed on to quit his monastery, and become 
bishop of Tours, to which office the universal voice 
of the people called him. He, however, still pre- 
served his monastic taste, and had a monastery two 
miles out of the city. There, with eighty disciples- 


who followed his example, he lived with extreme aus- 
terity. The celebrity of his supposed miracles had a 
mighty effect on the ignorant Gauls; every common 
action of his was magnified into a prodigy : heathen 
temples were destroyed, and churches and monaste- 
ries arose in their stead. That Martin was pious, is 
unquestionable, but, that his piety was disfigured 
with monastic superstition, is evident This was not 
a fault of true religion, but of the times. Europe and 
Asia, then vied with each other in the promotion of 
false humility* 


The Conduct of Ambrose^ under the Emperor Valenti-' 
man, and the persecution which he endured from the 
emperor's mother^ Justina* 

JlJSTINA, the empress, a decided patroness of Ari- 
anism, after the death of her husband, began openly to 
imbue her son with her doctrine, and to induce him to 
menace the bishop of Milan. Ambrose exhorted him 
to support the doctrine received from the apostles. 
The young emperor, in a rage, ordered his guards to 
surround the church, and commanded Ambrose to 
come out of it. Ambrose resolutely replied, " I shall 
not willingly give up the sheep of Christ to be devour- 
ed by wolves. You may use your swords and spears 
against me ; such a death I shall freely undergo. 5 ' 
Justina, knowing his influence in the city to be great> 
and fearing the people, had recourse to vexatious 
frauds and artifices, and exercised his mind with a 
series of trials. 

The Arians were not the only adversaries of the 
church. The Gentiles, taking advantage of the mi- 
nority of Valentinian, and scorning the innovations of 
Christianity, endeavored to recover their ancient estab- 
lishments, but were foiled in their attempts by the el- 
oquence and influence of Ambrose. 


In the year 386 Justina procured a law to be passed 
to enable the Arian congregations at Milan to assem- 
ble without interruption, and an Arian bishop was in- 
troduced under her protection into the city. At his 
request soldiers were sent to procure for himself the 
possession of the church called Basilica, and tribunes 
came to demand it, with the plate and vessels belong- 
ing to it, and all this under the specious idea that it 
was unreasonable the emperor should not be allowed 
to have one place of worship, in the city, agreeable to 
his conscience. Ambrose calmly answered the offi- 
cers, that if the emperor had sent to demand his house 
or land, money or goods, he would have freely resign^ 
ed them, but that he could not deliver that which was 
committed to his care. He told his people, he would 
not willingly desert his right, that if compelled he 
knew how to resist. " I can," says he, " grieve, I can 
weep, I can groan. Against arms and soldiers, tears 
are my arms. Such are the fortifications of a. pastor. 
I neither can nor ought to resist in any other manner. 
Our Lord Jesus is Almighty ; what he commands to be 
done shall be fulfilled, nor does it become you to resist 
the Divine sentence." 

During the suspension of this affair, Ambrose em- 
ployed the people in singing Divine hymns and psalms, 
at the end of which there was a solemn doxology to 
the honor of the Trinity. The method of responsive 
singing had been generally practised in the East, and 
was introduced by Ambrose into Milan, whence it was 
propagated into all the churches. The people were 
much delighted, their zeal for the doctrine of the Trin- 
ity was inflamed, and one of the best judges in the 
world, then living, owns that his own soul was melted 
into Divine affection on these occasions. 

The demands of the court were now increased : not 
only the Portian church which stood without the wall, 
but also the great church newly built within the city, 
were required to be given up. On the Lord's day af* 
ter sermon, the chatechurnens being dismissed, Am- 
brose went to baptize those who were prepared for 
hat ordinance, when he was told that officers were 


sent from the court to the Portian church ; he went oa, 
however, unmoved in the service, till he was told, that 
the people, having met with Catulus, an Arian presbyt- 
er, in the streets, had laid hands on him. Then with 
prayers and tears he besought God, that no man's 
blood might be shed but rather his own, not only for 
the pious people, but also for the wicked. And hav- 
ing sent immediately some presbyters and deacons, 
Catulus was recovered from the tumult. The court % 
enraged, sent warrants to apprehend several merchants 
and tradesmen ; some were put in chains, and vast 
sums of money were required to be paid in a little 
time, which many professed they would pay cheerful- 
ly, if they could enjoy the profession of their faith un- 
molested. The prisons were by this time full of trades- 
men, and the magistrates and men of rank were se- 
verely threatened ; while the courtiers urged Ambrose 
with the imperial authority 5 whom he answered with 
the same loyalty and firmness as before. The Holy- 
Spirit, said he, in his exhortation to the people, has 
spoken in you this day, to this effect: EMPEROR, WE 
INTREAT, BUT WE DO NOT FIGHT. The Arians, having 
few friends among the people, kept themselves with- 
in doors. Wearied and overcome at length with his 
resolution, the court, who meant to extort his consent, 
rather than to exercise violence, ordered the guards to 
leave tho church, where Ambrose had lodged all night, 
the soldiers having guarded it so close, that none had 
been suffered to go out. The people confined there 
spent the night in singing psalms. The sums exact- 
ed of the tradesmen also were restored. 

The spirit of devotion was kept up all this time 
among the people, and Ambrose was indefatigable 
both in praying and preaching. But notwithstanding 
his great piety, and though it is evident that he loved 
the Lord Jesus Christ supremely, and trusted in him 
for salvation, yet was he inclined, in some degree, to 
superstition ; 'for being called upon by the people to 
consecrate a new church, he told them he would, if 
he could find any relics of martyrs there. By this he 
encouraged the introduction of other intercessors be- 
side Jesus Christ, and the growth of superstition. 



The Church under Theodosius. 

AFTER the exaltation of this prince to the empire 
from a private life by the generous and patriotic choice 
Gratian, he reigned in the East, more vigorously sup- 
porting Christianity, according to his ideas of it, than 
any emperor before him. His sense of justice deter- 
mined him to order some Christians to rebuild, at their 
own expense, a Jewish synagogue, which they had 
pulled down. This sentence Ambrose prevailed on 
him to set aside, from a mistaken notion of piety, that 
Christianity should not be obliged to contribute to the 
erection of a Jewish synagogue. But, if the Jews 
were tolerated at all in the empire, the transaction 
ought certainly to have been looked on as a civil one. 
This is the first instance I recollect in which a good 
man was induced, by superstitious motives, to violate 
the essential rules of justice ; and it marks the growth 
of superstition. 

Theodosius was of a passionate temper, and on a 
particular occasion was led by it to commit a barbar- 
ous action; the circumstances of the story will be the 
best comment on the character of this emperor, of Am- 
brose, and of the times. At Thessalonica a tumult 
was made by the populace, and the emperor's officer 
was murdered. The news was calculated to try the, 
temper of Theodosius, who ordered the sword to be 
let loose upon them. Ambrose interceded, and the 
emperor promised to forgive. But the great officers 
of the court persuaded him to retract, and to sign a 
warrant for military execution. Seven hundred were 
put to death in three hours with great cruelty, without 
trial, and without distinction. 

Ambrose wrote him a faithful letter, reminding him 
of the charge in the prophet, that if the priest does not 
warn the wicked he shall be answerable for it. " You 
dicover a zeal," says he, "for the faith and fear of God, 
I own : but your temper is warm, soon to be appeased 
ittdecd ; if endeavors are used to calm it ; but if not re- 

gulatecj, it bears down all before it." He urges the 
example of David, and shews the impropriety of com- 
municating with him at present. " I love you," says 
he "I cherish you, I pray for you; but blame not me, 
if I give the preference to God." On these principles 
Ambrose refused to admit Theodosius into the church 
of Milan. The emperor plead the case of David. "Im- 
itate him," said the zealous Ambrose, " in his repen- 
tance as well as in his sin." Theodosius submitted 
and kept from the church eight months. On the feast 
of the nativity, he expressed his sorrow with sighs and 
tears in the presence of Ruffinus the master of the of- 
ficers. " I weep," said he, " that the temple of God, 
and consequently heaven, is shut from me, which is 
open to slaves and beggars." Ruffinus undertook to 
persuade the emperor. Ambrose urged the impro- 
priety of his rude interference, because Ruffinus, by 
his evil counsels, had been the author of the massa- 
cre. Ruffinus telling him that the emperor was coming, 
" I will hinder him," says he, " from entering the vesti- 
bule ; yet if he will play the king, I shall offer my 
throat." Ruffinus returning, informed the emperor r 
" I will go and receive the refusal which I desire," 
said he ; and as he approached the bishop, he added> 
" I come to offer myself to submit to what you pre- 
scribe." Ambrose enjoined him to do public penance, 
and to suspend the execution of capital warrants for 
thirty days in future, that the ill effects of intemper- 
ate anger might be prevented. The emperor, pulling 
off his imperial robes, prayed prostrate on the pave- 
ment; nor did he put on those robes, till the time of 
his penance had expired. "My soul cleaveth to the 
dust," said he, " quicken thou me, according to thy 
word." The people prayed and wept with him, and he 
not only complied with the rules of penance, but re- 
tained visible marks of compunction and sadness dur- 
ing the rest of his life. The discipline thus magnani- 
mously exercised by Ambrose, and humbly submitted 
to by Theodosius, appears to have been salutary. 

At Alexandria the votaries of the renowned temple 
f Serapis made an insurrection, and murdered a nunv 


her of Christians. The emperor, being informed of 
this, declared that he would not suffer the glory of 
their martyrdom to be stained with any executions, and 
that he was determined to pardon the murderers in 
hopes of their conversion, but that the temples, the 
cause of so much mischief, should be destroyed. In 
one of them was a remarkable image of Serapis, 
of which it had been confidently given out, that if any 
man touched it, the earth would open, the heaven be 
dissolved, and all things run back into a general cha- 
os. A soldier was hardy enough to make the experi- 
ment. With an axe he cleft him down the jaws, an 
army of mice fled out at the breach he made, and 
Serapis was hacked in pieces. On the destruction of 
idolatry in Egypt, it happened that the Nile did not 
overflow so plentifully, as it had been wont to do. " It 
is," said the pagans, " because it is affronted at the 
prevailing impiety : it has not been worshipped with 
sacrifices, as it used to be." Theodosius, being infor- 
med of this, declared, like a man who believed in God, 
and preferred heavenly things to earthly, " We ought 
to prefer our duty to God, to the streams of the Nile, 
and the cause of piety to the fertility of the country ; 
let the Nile never flow again, rather than idolatry be 
encouraged." The event afforded a fine comment on 
our Savior's words, " seek ye first the kingdom of God, 
and all these things shall be added unto you." The 
Nile returned to its course, and rose above the highest 
mark, which at other times it seldom reached. The 
pagans made use of ridicule ; others, however, made a 
serious use of the remarkable Providence, and Egypt 
forsook the superstition, in which for so many ages it 
had been involved. Thus the country which had 
nourished idolatry more early and passionately than 
any others, was made the special scene of the triumphs 
of God and his Christ. 

Coming to Rome the zealous emperor in a deliber- 
ate speech endeavored to persuade the senate, very 
many of whom still patronized idolatry, to embrace 
the Christian faith, as the only religion, which * ft 
men how to obtain pardon of sin, and holiness 01 iiie. 


The Gentile part of them declared, that they would 
hot give up a religion under which Rome had prosper- 
ed near twelve hundred years. Theodosius told them, 
that he saw no reason, why he should maintain their 
religion, and that he would not only cease to furnish 
the expense out of the exchequer, but would abolish 
the sacrifices themselves* The senators complained, 
that the neglect of the rites was the grand cause, why 
the empire declined so much : a specious argument, 
well calculated to gain upon worldly minds, and which, 
at that time, had great effect on many pagans. Theo- 
dosius was determined, and made it a capital crime to 
sacrifice, or attend the pagan rites ; he made it treason- 
able to offer sacrifice, or to consult the entrails of beasts. 
He also forbade incense and perfumes. Paganism 
never after this lifted up its head. 

This great prince expired at Milan in 395, about 
60 years of age, having reigned 16 years. And the 
century before us nearly closes with the full estab- 
lishment of Christianity in the Roman empire. The 
religion which was of God made its way through all 
opposition ; that which was of man, supported only by 
power and custom, failed to thrive, as soon as it lost 
the ascendant, and within a generation it ceased al- 
most universally to exist. 

Theodosius possessed a noble character. His cle- 
mency, liberality and generosity, were admirable. 
He was brave and successful in war: but his wars 
were forced upon him. While an enemy to drunken- 
ness he was a model of gravity, temperance and chas- 
tity in private life. Excess of anger was his predom- 
inant evil ; but he was taught, by having done great 
evil by yielding to this,the importance of governing hi* 
temper and of studying to be humble. 


The private Life and Works of Ambrose. 

A HIS illustrious man died about the year 397, admi- 
red, regretted, and lamented by the whole Christian 


world. His life not improbably had been shortened' 
by the incessant activity of his mind, and by the mul- 
tiplicity -of his employments ; for he was only 57 years 
old, and had been appointed bishop of Milan at the 
age of 34. 

Ills spirit was remarkably kind and sympathetic ; 
his benevolence extended to all, especially to the 
household of failh. His labors were immense. His 
temper was heroic and strong, and no dignity or au- 
thority could shelter offenders from his rebukes, where 
he deemed it his duty to reprehend. The time he 
could spare from pastoral and charitable engagements, 
was devoted to study and meditation. 

Though Ambrose was called to teach before he 
himself had learned, yet was he a man of so much in- 
dustry in the acquisition of knowledge, and of so much 
real good sense, that his writings contain various 
things of solid utility. But he might have both 
preached arid written better, had he always attended 
to the simple word of God, arid exercised his own na- 
tural good sense in humble dependance on DIVINE 
GRACE, and paid less regard to the fanciful writings of 
Origen, which exceedingly corrupted his understand- 
ing. Less of this, however, appears in his moral, than 
in his theological pieces. 


The Propagation of the Gospel among Barbarians-* 
Heresies and Errors. 

JLHE Saracens were at war with the Romans, under 
the conduct of their queen Maovia, who was a Chris- 
tian. The emperor Valens made peace with her, one 
condition of which was, that Moses, a monk, who lived 
in the desert between Egypt and Palestine, should 
be appointed bishop of her nation. Valens ordered 
him to be earned to Alexandria, there to be ordain- 
ed by Lucius. Moses, who knew him to be an 
Arian, said before him and the magistrates, and all the 


people, stay, I am not worthy to be called a bishop ; 
but if I am called to this office, unworthy as I am, for 
the good of souls, I take the Creator of all things to 
witness, that I will not receive the imposition of your 
hands, which are defiled with the blood of so many 
holy men. If you know not my faith, replied Lucius, 
learn it from my mouth, and judge not by reports. Mo- 
ses, however, was aware of the Arian subtilies, and 
chose to stand by the evidence of, works. I know 
your faith, said he, the pastors exiled among infidels, 
condemned to the mines, thrown to the wild beasts, 
or destroyed by fire, testify your creed; the eyes speak 
more strongly than the ears. Lucius was obliged to 
dissemble his resentment, on account of the situation 
of Valens, his master, and permit Moses to receive or- 
dination from the exiled bishops. His labors among 
the Saracens were crowned with success. The na- 
tion before his time, was chiefly idolatrous : that his 
work w r as blessed among them appears from his keep- 
ing them at peace with the Romans. But this is all 
'the account we have of the fruits. 

Among the Goths, some captive bishops, during 
this century, labored with good success. And the 
work was of an abiding nature. This people, for some 
time, held the Nicene faith. In the time of Valens, 
many of them suffered death from an idolatrous per- 
secuting prince of their own. By the subtilties of the 
Arians, however, the whole church of the Goths came 
by degrees into Arianism ; the consequences of which 
will be seen in the course of this history. 

Heresies, chiefly through the various ramifications 
ef Arianism, multiplied in this century. Moriasticism 
f pminued to make rapid progress. 


Of Christian Authors in this Century, 

AMID the thick mists of superstition which greatly 
abounded in this century, some cheering rays of Di- 


vine truth beamed upon the church to guide the truly 
pious in their way to heaven. 

Didymus, of Alexandria, though he lost his sight at 
the age of five years, became so vigorous and success- 
ful a student, that he was renowned for his skill in phi- 
losophy, rhetoric, and geometry. He filled the chair 
of the famous school of Alexandria with vast applause. 
Though Origenism was his favorite system, yet as far 
as appears, he continued always souad, humble and 
holy, in Christian doctrine. His treatise on the Holy 
Spirit, which has come down to us, is perhaps th^ 
best, the Christian world ever saw on the subject. 
Indeed, what has been said, since that time, in de- 
fence of the divinity and personality of the Holy 
Ghost, seems, in substance, to be found in that book- 
Gregory Nyssen, bishop of Nyssa, wrote in defence 
of the incarnation of God. In this he shews that man 
is fallen, and corrupted, and can be recovered only by 
his Creator ; and hence, that the Word, who created 
him came himself to raise him again. He shews also, 
that to be born of a virgin, to eat, to drink, to die, 
and to be buried, are things not unbecoming the holy 
nature of God, because there is no sin in them ; and 
that the Divinity, united to man, lost not its perfec- 
tions, any more than the soul loses its properties by 
its union with the body. 

Ephraim, the Syrian, was born of christain parents, 
and was educated with great care from his infancy. 
His mind, from childhood, was devout, contempla- 
tive and studious, to an extreme degree. Though 
fond of solitude, he was, at length, induced to live in 
the great city of Edessa, for the sake of enjoying the 
benefit of Christian assemblies, and of rendering him- 
self useful to his fellow men. He wrote much on the 
scriptures, and various devotional pieces, which were 
much admired by all the eastern churches. He nev- 
er was advanced farther than the office of deacon. 
Once, to avoid being preferred to the office of bishop, 
he feigned madness and escaped. In his day, the 
pastoral character appeared to good men, awful be- 
yond measure, requiring little less than angelical virtue. 

Love of gain was not the principal motive, and mere 
decency of character was not the principal qualification. 

Ephraim, strictly sound in the essential requisites of 
(he Christian faith, composed Christian hymns for the 
use of the Syrians, which were sung in tunes, that 
Harmonius, an Arian, had composed with a design to 
propagate Arianism among them. He wrote also a 
discourse on the utility of psalmody, and exploded 
idle songs and dancing. Let this be regarded as a proof 
of his zeal and industry. 

Ephraim' appears, by his writings, to have been a 
man of undoubted piety, and true humility, evangels 
zed both in the head, and heart not trifling with the 
light which he had, nor living in sin, because he con- 
ceived grace to abound. I shall dismiss this saint, 
after having given a sketch of the character of Abra- 
ham, one of his companions : he, for fifty years, lived an 
Asceiic, in the strictest observation of monastic rules, 
and confined himself principally to his cell : but he 
truly acted like a Christian in those intervals when he 
left it ; in one of which, his zeal and piety were great- 
ly distinguished. Many presbyters and deacons had 
been sent to the idolatrous pagans in the vicinity of 
his retreat ; but being unable to bear persecution had 
returned unsuccessful. One day the bishop observed 
among his clergy, that he knew of no person so devoted 
to God as Abraham, and therefore he would ordain him 
as an evangelist of these pagans. At first he entreat- 
ed him, but in vain ; Abraham begged to be permitted 
to bemoan his own evils. The bishop, however, in- 
sisting on the obedience which he owed to authority, 
and how much better it was to be employed in the 
salvation of many, than of one soul only, Abraham at 
length submitted. He began his work with fervent 
prayer for the Divine blessing, and having erected a 
church, he supplicated in it the conversion of the 
people. His next step appears not to have been so 
proper ; he threw down the idols and altars of the 
pagans ; the consequence of which was, that, with 
much ill usage, he was expelled from the country. 
He returned, however, and resumed his work of pray- 


r in the church, to the astonishment of the pagans i- 
whom, as they from time to time came to him, he ex- 
horted to turn from idols to the living God, on which 
he was worse treated than before. For three years, 
he bore* their insults, and a constant series of perse- 
cution. His patience and meekness were admirable, 
and at length the pagans began to be softened : and 
comparing Ms preaching with his practice, they con- 
cluded that God must be with him, and offered them- 
selves to receive his doctrine. Abraham, rejoicing at 
the event, desired them to give glory to God, who had 
enlightened their eyes to know him. In fine he gath- 
ered them into a church, daily opening to them the 
scriptures. At length^ when he saw them confirmed 
in the faith of the gospel, and bringing forth the fruits 
of it with steadiness, he abruptly retired from them 
to his former solitude. The work remained firm and 
strong; and the bishop visited and exhorted them, 
from the word of God, and ordained pastors from, 
among themselves. 

How much better would it have been had Abra- 
ham thus employed the 50 years of his solitude? but 
such were the times. While the world proceeded in its 
usual wickedness, those, who were the best calculated 
to reform it, had a strong tendency to live a recluse 
life ; and false fear and bondage kept many from the 
pastoral office, who might have been its brightest or- 
naments. The mischief of this was inexpressible ; 
the extension of the gospel was checked ; and every 
circumstance shewed, that the spirit of God was no- 
longer poured out, in its fullness among men. 

Hilary was born at Poictiers in France, was de- 
scended from a very noble family, and was distinguish- 
ed by a liberal education. He seriously considered 
the folly and vanity of idolatry, and was led to con* 
elude, that its professors could not possibly be com- 
petent to lead men to happiness, From the visible 
frame of things he inferred an Omnipotent, Eternal 
Being, as their Maker and Preserver. He observed^ 
that happiness consists not in any external things, nor 
n the bare knowledge of the first principles of good 

and evil, but In the knowledge of the true God. By 
reading the books of Moses and the Prophets, he 
found his mind enlightened and his judgment con- 
firmed in these ideas. The short, but comprehensive 
account of God, in the book of Exodus, " I am that I 
am," affected him with admiration. When he was 
carried forward to the New Testament, there he 
Jearnt, that there is an eternal world, the Son of God 
made man, who came into the world, to communi- 
cate to it the fulness of grace. His hope of happiness 
was now enlarged : u Since the Son of God was made 
man, men may become the sons of God. A man 
who with gladness receives this doctrine, renews his 
spirit by faith, and conceives a hope full of immortal- 
ity. Having once learned to believe, rejects the 
captious difficulties, and no longer judges after the 
maxims of the world. He neither fears death, nor 
is weary of life ,and presses forward to a state of a 
blessed immortality." In such a manner does Hila- 
ry give us the history of his own mind in religion. 
And his life was afterward according to such principles. 
His views of the three Persons in the Trinity are re- 
markably perspicuous and scriptural. In speaking of 
the Holy Spirit, he says, that he enlightens our under- 
standings, and warms our hearts ; that he is the author 
of all grace, and will be with us to the end of the 
world ; that he is our Comforter here while we live in 
expectation of a future life, the earnest of our hopes, 
the light of our minds, and the warmth of our souls. 
He directs us to pray for this Holy Spirit, to cause us 
to do good, and to persevere in faith and obedience. 
From his conversion till his death, Hilary was a man of 
the most exemplary piety, and gave no countenance 
to the fashionable heresies, He died at Poicters 
about the year 368. 

Basil, of Csesarea flourished, as one of the distin- 
guished characters of this century. He was surnam- 
ed the Great on account of his piety and learning. 
His Christian ancestors suffered much during the Dio- 
clesian persecution. His grandmother Macrina, a 
confessor of the faith of Christ, and disciple of Grego- 


*y Thaumattirgas, was eminently useful to him, in su- 
perintending his education, and fixing his principles. 
After a course of instruction in Cappadocia, his na- 
tive country, he travelled for improvement in knowl- 
edge. It is certain, that he was possessed of all the 
secular learning of the age, and if he had chosen to 
give himself wholly to \hc world, he might have 
shown as much as superior parts, strong understand- 
ing, and indefatigable industry, united, can effect. 
But his mind was under a spiritual influence ; he 
found an emptiness in the most refined enjoyments of 
literature. He was led to seek for food to his soul, 
and bent his studies to obtain that most desirable ob- 

In his travels into Egypt, Basil conversed witk 
monks and hermits, and contracted that excessive at- 
tachment to the spirit of Ascetics, which afterward' 
made him the great supporter and eacourager of those 

After some time, he lived in retirement at Neocaesa- 
rea in Pontus, and by his example, concurring with the 
spirit of the times, he not only drew over his friend Gre- 
gory, but also great numbers, to embrace a retired life, 
and to employ themselves in prayer, singing of psalms, 
and devotional exercises. And here, these two friends 
formed the rules of monastic discipline, which were 
the basis of all those superstitious institutions, which 
afterward overran the church. The want of a more 
evangelical view of doctrine, and of course, of that 
lively faith which would animate the Christian to live 
above the world, though in the midst of it, was, 
doubtless the principal cause of the overflowing of 
this spirit among real good men in those times. To 
flee from society seemed to them the only possible 
way to escape the pollutions of the world, which they 
sincerely abhorred. Self-righteousness and ignorance 
fomented the evil, which, at length, became a vapid 
system of formality, and degenerated gradually into a 
sink of secret wickedness. But he who should, in 
these times, suspect the generality of monks of hy- 
pocrisy and profligacy, would injure them much. On 

the contrary, the flower of the flock of Christ, is to be- 
looked for among them. 

Basil was charitable in his attempts to relieve the 
poor and caused hospitals to be erected for that pur- 

After he was appointed bishop of Caesarek, he took 
a firm and determined stand against the Arian heresy ; 
and though in the utmost danger of banishment, yet he 
remained immoveable in the profession of the faith. 

Discipline in the church of Cassarea, had, before hi* 
time, been scandalously neglected. Church-officers, 
who were a disgrace to religion, ministered. He set 
himself to produce a thorough reformation, and took 
great care to examine the lives and manners of the 
persons to be ordained. Having governed the church 
ojf Czesareaa little more than eight years, and being 
enfeebled with bodily disorders, he ordained some of 
his followers, and then was obliged to take to his bed. 

The people flocked about his house, sensible of the 
worth of such a pastor. He discoursed, for a time, pi- 
ously to those who were about him, and sealed his last 
breath with the ejaculation, " Into thine hands I com- 
mend my spirit." His excessive austerities broke his 
constitution, and left him for years in a very imperfect 
state of health. He died in the year 379. 

Epiphanius, bishop of Cyprus, was not inferior to 
many in this century for unfeigned purity of faith and 
manners. It is proper to mention his zeal, in tearing 
a painted curtain which he saw in a place of public 
worship, in proof of his detestation of images and pic- 
tures in religion, and also of the weak beginnings of 
that superstition in the fourth century. His benefi- 
cence too was truly laudable. Numbers from all parts 
sent him large sums to distribute to the needy, in con- 
fidence of his charity and integrity. His steward one 
day informed him that his stock was nearly exhausted, 
and blamed his profuse liberality ; but he still contin- 
ued as liberal as before, till all was gone ; when sud- 
denly he received from a stranger a large bag of gold. 
Another story, extremely well authenticated, deserves 
to be recorded as an awful warning. Tw0 beggars 


agreeing to impose on him, one feigned himself dead, 
while the other begged of Epiphanius to, supply the ex- 
penses of his companion's funeral. Epiphanius grant- 
ed the request. The beggar, on the departure of 
the bishop, desired his companion to rise : but the 
man was really dead. To sport with the servants of 
God, and to abuse their kindness, is to provoke God 
himself, as the bishop told the survivor. 



John Chrysostom. 

JL HIS renowned man was born at Antioch about the 
year 354. His father having died soon after his birth, his 
education devolved upon his mother, who attended to 
it with great care and diligence. By her means he had 
the advantage that his early impressions were in favor 
of Christianity. Yet, being naturally studious of elo- 
quence, he devoted himself to the care of that great 
master, Libanius of Antioch, who being one day ask- 
ed, who would be capable of succeeding him in his 
school ? " John, 7 ' said he, if the Christians had not sto- 
len him from us." So great was the idea he Jmd form- 
ad of his powers of eloquence . r 

He predicted right. Having pleaded a little time 
in the Forum, Chrysostom began to find a vacan- 
cy in his mind, not to be supplied by secular arts and 
studies. The spirit of God seems from that time, to 
have drawn him to the study of the scriptures. By 
his master Diodorus, who was afterward bishop of 
Tarsus, he was taught to forsake the popular whims 
of Origen, and to investigate the literal and historical 
sojise of the Divine word ; a practice, in which he 
differed from most of the fathers of his times. 

For some time he lived in monastic austerities ; af- 
ter which Flavian, bishop of Antioch, promoted him 

to the office of presbyter. About the year 379, a sedi- 
tion broke out at Antioch, on account of taxes, and 
the people dragged about the streets the statues of 
Theodosius, and of his excellent lady Flaccilla, and of 
their two sons, in contempt. But on finding the dan- 
ger of the emperor's resentment, this inconsistent and 
turbulent people were in great distress. Godliness 
among the Christians of that city appears then to have 
been low. Chrysostom exhorted them to repentance, 
and made the awful suspense they then were in, an 
instructive emblem of our expectation of the day of 
judgment. Hymns and litanies were composed to so- 
licit God to move the heart of the emperor to pity, and 
many who had never attended the house of God, but 
had spent their whole time in the theatre, then joined 
in Divine worship with much earnestness and assidui- 
ty. Flavian, the bishop, though aged and infirm, un- 
dertook a journey to Constantinople to depricate the 
wrath of the emperor. Libanius the sophist did the 
same : but the generality of the philosophers hid them- 
selves in holes and corners, and did nothing for their 
country in danger ; while the monks left their cells, 
flocked into the city, and entreated the magistrates and 
judges to behave with lenity. Thus, even monks, who 
exhibited Christianity in a degenerate form, exceeded 
in benevolence and active virtue the boasted and boas- 
ting sons of philosophers ! 

Chrysostom, while observing the severe proceedings 
of the courts, and the vain intercessions of relations for 
husbands and fathers, was led to reflect, how awful 
the day of judgment will be, when not a mother, sis- 
ter, or father can arrest the course of Divine justice, 
or give the least relief to nearest relations, and with 
much eloquence and pity pressed these considera- 
tions on a giddy, unthinking people. Pastors may 
hence take the hint to improve temporal scenes to the 
spiritual benefit of their audiences. 

The generous and good-natured Theodosius expos- 
tulated with Flavian on the unreasonableness and 
ingratitude of the citizens of Antioch to himself, who 
bad ever been as a parent and benefactor to them-. 


Flavian, admitting the truth of his observations, and 
confessing the aggravated guilt of the city, pressed 
him with the Divine rule, if ye forgive men their tres-^ 
passes, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 
And his pathetic and pious admonitions prevailed. 
Theodosius owned, that if the great Lord of the world, 
for our sake, became a servant, and prayed for his 
murderers, it highly became himself to forgive his fel- 
low-servants ; and with great tenderness he solicited 
the bishop to hasten his return, to deliver the citizens 
from their fears. Flavian returned with the joyful 
news that the city was fully restored to the emperor's 
favor. These are some of the triumphs of the gospeL 
Its mild influence on society, in the suppression of the 
fights of gladiators and other savage practices, and in 
the kind and liberal behavior of emperors toward their 
subjects, even in times when true religion was low. 
demonstrate, not only, that states do act unwisely, 
when they venture to reject Christianity altogether, 
and substitute mere ethics in its stead ; but also that 
it is the duty of governors and legislators, as much as in 
them lies, by positive institutions to promote the 
knowledge and influence of that Divine religion. 

In the year 398, Chrysostom was appointed, by the 
emperor Arcadius, bishop of Constantinople* On his 
appointment to this important station, he set himself 
to reform the clergy, censured their covetousness and 
luxury, retrenched the expenses of the bishop's table, 
and applied the surplus to the needy, built a large hos- 
pital for the infirm, and put it under the most salutary 
regulations. Such ministers as refused to reform their 
lives, he suspended from office, and the widows who 
were maintained by the church, were admonished 
to abstain from their gay manner of living, or else to 
marry. Also he pressed the laity, whose employ- 
ments filled up the clay, to attend Divine worship in 
the evening. The common people heard Chrysos- 
tom gladly, as, for a time at least, they generally will 
hear, a preacher who speaks to the conscience, though 
he rebuke them severely, if he manifest in his whole 
manner, an earnest desire to do them good. The cler- 

gy, indolent arid corrupt as they wete, opposed him 
vehemently, and watched opportunities against him. 
The wealthy and the great, offended at his plain re- 
proofs, were as ill-disposed as the clergy. By theses 
things, however, he was not dismayed, but persevered ; 
nor did he confine his cares to Constantinople. To 
overcome the Arianism of the Goths, he ordained 
some persons of their country, and assigned them a 
church within the city, by whose industry he reclaim- 
ed many, and he himself often preached there ; and 
prevailed on many of the clergy to do the same. He 
made liberal and active attempts to spread the gospel 
among the barbarous nations, though the troubles, 
which afterwards befel him, must have checked both 
these and other Christian designs. His qualities and 
labors excited enemies who strove to effect his destruc- 

A synod, at length, held and managed by Theoph- 
ilus, bishop of Alexandria, his determined foe, and one 
of the worst ecclesiastical characters in history, sup- 
ported by the influence of the proud Eudoxia, the em- 
press, deposed him, and he was condemned, with ex- 
treme injustice, to be banished to a port in the Black 
Sea. No sooner was it known that Chrysostom was* 
gone than the whole city was in an uproar ; many bla- 
med the emperor, who, in so weak a manner, had giv- 
en up the most upright of men to the malice of his 
wife and of Theophilus. The tumult even became 
so violent that Eudoxia herself, alarmed at the danger, 
pressed her husband to recall him, and even wrote to 
Chrysostom a letter full of protestations of sorrow and 
respect. Chrysostom was therefore recalled and re- 
stored ; but the calm was not of long continuance. A 
silver statue of the empress was solemnly erected in 
the street just before the great church of St. Sophia. 
It was dedicated with many heathenish extravagan- 
cies, and the people used to meet there in sports and 
pastimes, to the destraction of the congregation. 
Chrysostom, impatient of these things, blamed them 
from the pulpit, and with great imprudence began his 
sermon after this manner ; " Now again Herodiaa 


raves and is vexed, again she dances, again she de- 
sires John's head in a charger." 

The enemies of the bishop could not desire a great- 
er advantage. And they improved it to the utmost. 
Numbers were ready to gratify the resentment of Eu~ 
doxia. And Arcaduis, overcome by importunity, or- 
dered again his deposition. He was suspended and 
confined : his friends and followers were dispersed, ri- 
fled, killed, or imprisoned. Edicts were issued, severe^ 
ly threatening all that refused to renounce commun- 
ion with Chrysostom, It was the season when the 
chatechumens, who had been instructed, were to re- 
ceive baptism. The friends of Chrysostom fled into 
the fields, to keep the festival. The emperor himself 
went out that day into a meadow adjoining the city, 
and espied a field covered with white. These were 
the chatechumens, who had been baptized the night 
before, and had then their white garments upon them, 
being near 3000 in number. The emperor, having 
been told they were a conventicle of heretics, ordered 
a party of soldiers to disperse them. Several women 
of quality were very rudely treated on this occasion, 
and numbers were imprisoned and scourged. Receiv- 
ing at length a warrant signed by the emperor to de- 
part, Chrysostom exhorted the deaconesses to contin- 
ue their care of the church, and to communicate with 
the bishop, who should be chosen by common consent, 
in his room, and once more retired, in the year 404. 

To Arsacius, the bishop appointed in his stead, the 
friends of Chrysostom refused to submit. They form^ 
ed separate assemblies, and were severely persecuted. 
Among these was Olympias, an opulent lady, who had 
honored him abundantly, and had profitted much by 
his ministry. She had acted in the church as a dea- 
coness, and was now banished to Nicomedia, whence 
she supplied the exiled Chrysostom with money. 
There she lived many years an example of piety. Her 
beloved pastor was conveyed to Caucusus, a cold, bar- 
ren region, infested with robbers. There he preached 
frequently to a people, who generously treated and 
heard him gladly. In a time of grievous famine, which 


afflicted those parts, by the liberality of Olympias, he 
relieved the poor ; and also redeemed many captives 
from the Isaurian robbers. 

In the third year of his banishment, the sufferings 
of Chrysostom, from famine, pestilence and war, 
were great. His enemies, beholding him every where 
treated with respect, procured an order for his being 
removed even to the shore of the Black Sea. This 
order they set themselves to accomplish, but this 
faithful servant of Christ became so exhausted, that, 
before they had proceeded on their way four miles, he 
was extremely ill 3 and they were obliged to return with 
him. There, having received the Lord's supper, he 
made his last prayer before them all; and having con- 
cluded with his usual doxoloey, " glory be to God for 
all events/' he breathed out his soul in the 53d year 
of his age, in the year 407, of the Christian era. 

Behold, the Roman empire become Christian ; idol- 
atry, with all the rites of heathenism, subjected to le- 
gal penalties ; the profession of the gospel exceeding- 
ly honorable ; and the externals of religion supported 
by the munificence of emperors, and by the fashion of 
the age, even with excessive sumptuousness ! And ask, 
why it was that the learned Chrysostom, eloquent be- 
yond measure, of talents the most popular, of a gen- 
ius the most exuberant, and of understanding the most 
solid and profound, magnanimous and generous in his 
disposition, of great liberality, sympathising with dis- 
tress of every kind ; of temper frank, open, ingenuous, 
and remarkably conciliatory, yet why was he persecut- 
ed with relentless hostility ? The answer is at hand. 
He was a determined enemy of vice, and his exem- 
plary piety and bold and pungent condemnation of 
iniquity, excited the hatred of the carnal mind. 


Augustine's Confessions abridged. 

the latter end of the third century to the for- 
part of the fifth, we have seen a gradual 


sion of godliness ; and when we view, in the West, the 
increase of monastic darkness and superstition ; in the 
East, the same evils to a still greater degree, attended 
with such an augmentation of iniquity, that even where 
all the formalities of godliness are preserved, the power 
of it is hated and persecuted in the same manner as by 
pagans; in fine, when the vestiges of Christian truth 
are scarce discernible, we shall not be far amiss in 
pronouncing, that, in such a state of religion, the 
wholesome effects of the first effusion of the spirit of 
God are brought to a close. 

It is evident, that real Christianity, notwithstanding 
its nominal increase under Christian emperors, must 
soon have been extinct, if Gojd had not interposed with 
a second great effusion of his spirit. He did so in the 
course of the fifth century, and the church arose again 
from its ruins in one part at least of the empire.* 

It behoves us to attend to this gracious display of 
divine goodness ; and for this purpose, we must look 
back into the last century, to trace the secret springs 
of this dispensation. They particularly involve the 
private life of Augustine, bishop of Hippo. He was 
the great instrument of reviving the knowledge of 
evangelical truth. By a very remarkable work of di- 
vine grace on his own soul, he was qualified to contend 
with the growing corruptions. It is a happy circum- 
stance, that we have, in his confessions, a large and 
distinct account of his own conversion. And who 
could relate it like himself ? I proceed to give an ac- 
count of these confessions : : the propriety and impor- 
tance of so long a detail will afterwards appear, f 

*The western, as will appear in the course of the narrative. 

t The life of this great man was written by Possidius, sometimes called Possi- 
donius, a pious presbyter ot his diocese, afterwards bishop of Calama. Though 
poorly written, yet it deserves to be mentioned, as it confirms the authenticity of 
the historical parts of the Confessions. Augustine was born in the city of Tagas- 
ta, in Numidia, of creditable parents. His father, Patricius, continued a pagan 
till near his death; his mother, Monica, was renowned for Christian piety. At 
the time of his full conversion to %he gospel he was upwards of thirty years 


THOU art great, O Lord, and most worthy to be prais- 
ed ; great is thy power, and of thy wisdom there is no 
end. A man, a portion of thy creation, wishes to 
praise th^e, a man too, carrying about him his mortal- 
ity, carrying about him the evidences of his sin, and a 
testimony, that thou resistest the proud ; yet, even such 
a man wishes to praise thee. Thou excitest him, that 
he should delight to praise thee, For thou hast made us 
for thyself, and our heart is restless, till it rest in thee. 

Who shall give me to rest in thee ? who shall give 
me, that thou mayest come into my heart, and inebri- 
ate it, that I may forget my own evils, and embrace 
thee, my only good ? What art thou to me ? Pity me, 
that I may speak. What am I to thee, that thou 
shouldest command me to love thee, and be angry at 
me, if I do not, and threaten me with the greatest mis- 
eries? Is that itself a small misery, to be destitute of 
the love of thee ? Alas ! alas ! tell me by thy compas- 
sion, O Lord my God, what thou art to me ? SAY UN- 
ro MY SOUL, I AM THY SALVATION. So speak, that F 
may hear. Behokl ! the ears of my heart are be- 
fore thee, O Lord ; open them, and SAY UNTO MY 
SOUL, I AM THY SALVATION. May I run after this 
voice, and apprehend thee. HIDE NOT THY FACE FROM 
ME. May I die,* that I may see it, lest I die indeed, 
The room of my soul is narrow, too narrow for thy en- 
trance. Oh ! do thou enlarge it. It is ruinous : O do 
thou repair it. It has what must offend thine eyes, I 
know and must confess. But who shall cleanse it? or 
to whom shall I cry but to thee ? CLEANSE ME FROM 


thou knowest. Have not I confessed to thee my sins, 
and hast not thou pardoned the iniquity of my heart ? 
I will not contend in judgment with thee, who art truth 
itself ; for I would not deceive myself, lest my iniquity 

*He seems to wish to undergo any mortification, even loss of life itself rath- 
er than loose the enjoyment of hfs 


He against itself. I will not contend in judgment tvith 
thee, for if thou, Lord, should mark iniquities, who can 
stand ?* 

But do thou suffer me to speak before thy mercy ; 
me, who am dust and ashes. Suffer me to speak, be- 
cause I address thy mercy, and not the scornfulness of 
proud men. Perhaps thou deridest the simplicity of 
my thoughts, yet wilt thou turn and exercise compas^ 
sion upon me. What else would I say, O Lord, my 
God, than that I know not whence I came hither into 
this, shall I call it mortal life, or vital death ? Thy 
compassionate consolations however received me, and 
and thou gavest me the aliment of infancy. 

Hear me, O God. Woe to the sins of men! And 
a man says these things, and thou pitiest him, because 
thou hast made him, and madest not sin in him. Who 
shall inform me of the sia of my infancy ? For none 
is clear from sin in thy sight, not even the infant, whose 
life is one day. Could it be a good thing, with tears 
to beg, what it would be noxious to receive, to express 
vehement indignation against my elders and betters, if 
they did not comply with my will, and to endeavor, 
though with feeble blows, to revenge myself of them? 
The imbecility of my infant-limbs was innocent, not 
So the spirit of the infant. I have seen and observed 
an infant full of envy, who could not yet speak t pale 
with anger he looked at his fellow-suckling with bit- 
terness in his countenance. But as I' was conceived 
in iniquity, and my mother nourished me in her womb 
in sin, where, Lord, where, or when was I innocent ? 
But I pass by this whole time. For, what can I say 
of that, no traces of which I recollect rf 

What miseries, Lord, did I experience, when I was 
directed, in the plan of my education, to obey my 
teachers, in order to the acquisition of that knowledge, 

* It is obvious to observe, how a mind like Augustine's, altogether resting- 
on grace, and free justification, is freed from the solicitude of self-vindication 
in any part of his conduct : whereus, those who rest for salvation, in any degree, 
on themselves, are ever-tempted 10 extenuate their sins. 

f The serious reader will not be inclined to pass over, in levity, these strik- 
ifg proofs of the sinful propensity of nature exerting itself* antecedent to the 
growth of reason or the power of habit. 


Which might be subservient to the attainment of fals 
riches and honor? Yet, I sinned; O Lord, who or- 
dainest all things, except our sins ; I sinned in rebell- 
ing against the orders of parents and masters. That 
literature, which they wished me to acquire, with 
whatever intention, was yet capable of being applied 
to a good use* My disobedience arose, not from the 
love of better things, but from the love of play and a 
fondness for games and shows. Behold, Lord, these 
things with an eye of mercy, and deliver us who now 
call on thee ; deliver also those, who do not call on 
thee as yet, that they may call on thee, and experience, 
thy deliverance. 

I had heard from childhood of the eternal life prom- 
ised unto us through the humility of the Lord our God, 
condescending to our pride. Thou sawest, when 1 
was yet a boy, and seemed to be on the brink of death, 
through a sudden and violent pain of the stomach, with 
what eagerness I begged Christian baptism from the 
charity of my mother and of the church. My mother, 
who travelled in birth for my eternal salvation, herself 
possessed of very lively faith and hope in thee, was 
hastening to comply with my desires, that 1 might wash 
away my sins, confessing thee ? O Lord Jesus, when I 
was suddenly recovered to health. A relapse into pre- 
sumptuous sin, after baptism, being judged more dan- 
gerous, and the prospect of life admitting too great a 
probability of such relapse, my baptism was deferred. 
Thus did I at that time believe in Christ, my father 
being the only infidel in our family. My mother was 
sedulous, that thou shouldestbe my Father, rather than 
he, and in this she was favored with thy help : obedi- 
ent as she was to her husband by thy command, in this 
point she prevailed over him. Was the delay of my 
baptism for my benefit ? What is the cause, that we 
hear every where such sounds as these, LET HIM DO 


better for me, had I been, in more early life, initiated 
into the fold of Christ ?* 

* The narrative, bvfore vis may j'istly be'called a history of the usual opera- 
tk/ns of the Sp.nt of God on his people. Convictions in early Li"c t on 


Yet, in childhood itself, though little dreaded by my 
mother, in comparison of the dangers of youth, I was 
indolent, and improved in learning only through ne- 
cessity. A false secular ambition was the only motive 
laid before me by my teachers; but thou, who num- 
berest the hairs of our heads, irnprovedst their error 
to my advantage, whilst thou justly punishedst the 
great sins of so young an offender by their corrections. 
The learning, which with no holy intention they taught 
me, was sanctified by thee, and my guilty laziness was 
scourged. So hast thou ordained, that a mind disor- 
dered by c in, should be its own punishment. 

But why I hated Greek literature, in which I was 
instructed when very young, I do not even yet suffi- 
ciently understand. For I was fond of Latin learning, 
not indeed the first rudiments, but those things which 
classical masters teach. To read, and write, and learn 
arithmetic, would have been as severe drudgery to my 
spirit, as all the Greek literature. I lay this also to the 
account of my native depravity, which prefers the 
worse, and rejects the better. The uses of reading, 
writing, and arithmetic are obvious ; not so, the study 
of the wanderings of yEneas, which I attended to, 
while I forgat my own : and of what use was it to 
deplore the self-murdering Dido ? while yet I could 
bear unmoved the death of my own soul alienated 
from thee in these pursuits, from thee, my God, my 
life. O thou light of my heart, and bread of my in- 
ward man, and true husband of my soul, I loved thee 
not, I committed fornication against thee, and (such 
the spirit of the world) I was applauded with " well 
done" on all sides, and I should have been asham- 
ed to have been found otherwise disposed. Yet the 
friendship of the world is fornication against thee. 
This is the kind of literature, which has arrogated to 
itself the name of polite and liberal. Learning of re- 

ble occasions, are common among these, and usually wear away, as in the case of 
Augustine. The examples of Constantine and Constantius deterring their bap- 
tism seem to have made the practice fashionable, not from any idea of the un- 
lawfulness of infant baptism, but from the selfish and pernicious notions, which 
he has stated. No wonder, that he, who justly thought that his own soul had 
suffered much by the delay, was afterwards a strenuous asserter of the expedi. 
ency of more early baptism. 
2 F 

a! utility is looked on as low and vulgar. Thus, in 
my childhood did I sin by a vicious preference. Two 
and two make four, was to me an odious sing-song; 
but the wooden horse, the burning of Troy, and the 
ghost of Creusa, were most enchanting spectacles of 
vanity. Yet why did I hate Greek literature, when 
employed on the same sort of objects ? Homer is most 
agreeably trifling ; to me, however, when a boy, he was 
by no means agreeable. I suppose Virgil would be 
the same to Grecian youths, on account of the difficul- 
ties of learning a foreign language. Discipline is need- 
ful to overcome our puerile sloth, and this also is a 
part of thy government of thy creatures, O God, for 
the purpose of restraining our sinful impetuosity. - 
From the ferulas of masters to the trials of martyrs 
thy wholesome severities may be traced, which tend 
to recal us to thee from that pernicious voluptuous- 
ness, by which we departed from thee. 

Hear, O Lord, my prayer, let not my soul faint under 
thy discipline, and let me not faint in confessing to thee 
thy mercies, by which thou hast delivered me from all 
my own evil ways, that thou mayest endear thyself to 
me, above all the blandishments, which 1 was follow- 
ing, arid that I may love thee most ardently, and em- 
b a e thy hand with all my heart, that thou mayest 
free me from all temptation even to the end. For lo ! 
my King and my God ; , may whatever useful thing I 
L/arnt when a bqv, serve thee, may what I speak and 
read and number, serve thee, because while I was 
learning vain things, thou gavest me thy discipline, and 
in those vain things forgavest the sins of my delights, 
For in them I learnt many useful words, though they 
might have been learned, abstracted from this con- 
nexioM with vanity. 

Alas! the torrent of human custom! who shall resist 
thee ? How long will it be, ere thou be dried up : how 
long wilt thou roll the sons of Eve into a great and tem- 
pestuous sea, which even they, who have fled for re- 
fuge to the cross can scarce escape ? Have not I read 
in thee of Jove, at once the thunderer and the adulter- 
er ? What is this, but to teach men to call their crimes 


no crimes, while they have the sanction of gods, whom 
they imitate ? Terence introduces a profligate young 
man justifying his lewdness by the example of Jove, 
while he beholds a picture on the wall of Jupiter and 
Danae,* and excites himself to lust, as by divine tui- 
TAL, DO THE SAME ? Yet I, my God, now indulged by 
thy grace, to behold thee in peace, learnt these things 
with pleasure, was delighted with them, and was call- 
ed a boy of promising genius. The motives of praise 
and disgrace then spurred on my restless heart to liter- 
ary exertions. What acclamations were made to a 
puerile exercise of mine on a particular occasion ! 
Were not ail these things smoke and wind? Was there 
not another way of exercising my talents, in cele- 
brating thy praise ? But, what wonder, that I departed 
from thee, my God, when men were proposed to me 
as objects of imitation, who would blush to be de- 
tected in a barbarism or solecism, in reciting their 
own actions though innocent, and at the same time 
might recite the story of their own lewdness, not on- 
ly with impunity, but even with commendation, pro- 
vided they did so with a copious and elegant flow of 
diction ? O thou God of long suffering, who permittest 
men thus to affront thee ! Wilt thou not deliver, from 
this horrible pit, the soul that seeks thee, that thirsts 
after thy delights, and says, THY FACE, LORD, WILL I 
SEEK ? It was by the darkness of libidinous affection, 
that the younger sonf went to a great distance from 
thee, a gracious Father in bestowing on him thy gifts; 
and still more gracious to him, when returning in indi- 
gence. How studiously exact are men in observing 
the rules of letters and of syllables, while they neglect 
the rules of eternal salvation ! Thou dwellest on high 
in inaccessible light, and scatterest penal blindness on 
unbridled lusts. A man shall seek the fame of elo- 
quence, while, before the crowded audience, he guards 
against the least false pronunciation, and guards not 
at all against the fiercest malevolence of his own heart 
raging against his fellow creatures. 

-fT.nkf 31 XV. 


In this school did I wretchedly live. To please 
men was then to me the height of virtue, whilst I 
saw not the whirlpool of baseness, in which I was cast 
from thine eyes. For what more filthy than I, all this 
time, deceiving by innumerable falshoods both mas- 
ters and parents through the love of play, and amuse- 
ments ? I even robbed the storehouses of my parents, 
either from the spirit of gluttony," or to bestow things 
agreeable to my play-fellows. In my plays, I often 
sought to obtain fraudulent victories, overcome by the 
desire of vain excellence. Yet, what should I dread 
so much to suffer, or be so ready to accuse in another, 
if detected, as that very thing, which I did to others ; 
in which, however, if I myself was detected, I was 
more disposed to rage than to submit ? Is this puerile 
innocence ? far from it, O Lord. Change the scene, 
only from pedagogues and masters, from nuts and 
balls, and sparrows, to prefects, kings, gold, and es- 
tates, and you see the vices of men, just as heavier 
punishments succeed to ferulas. 

Still, O Lord, in my childhood, I have much to 
praise thee for. Many, many were thy gifts ; the sin 
was mine, that I sought pleasure, truth, and happiness, 
not in thee, but in the creatures, and thence rushed 
into pains, cpnfusions, and errors. I thank thee, O my 
pelight and Confidence, for thy gifts ; but do thou pre- 
serve them for me, and the things which thou hast 
given me shall be increased and perfected, and I shall 
be with thee, because thou hast given me to be so*. 

* It is a very unjust surmise of Mr. Gibbon, to infer from Augustine's unwil- 
lingness to learn Greek, that he never attained the knowledge of that language ; 
when he tells us, that he was doubtless a person of uncommon quickness of 
parts. His sloth and other vicious practices in childhood were, I suppose, 
such as are common to children. But few are disposed to look on them as seri* 
ous evils. To Augustine's mind they appeared what they were, the marks of an 
apostate nature. Though, since the destruction of pagan idolatry, there is by no 
means the same danger of reading classic authors, yet how justly blamable is the 
practice of leading boys so much to lewd poets, instead of acquainting- them 
with the more solid excellencies of many prose authors! A just selection of the 
most innocent and useful authors, and an insidious comparison of their senti- 
ments with those of Christianity all along, will not only guard against the poison 
of the classics, but instruct youth in the necessity and importance of revelation ; 
and school-musters, as well as children, may learn, in what we have seen, just 
matter of rebuke for exalting literary above moral excellence. 



I AM willing to record the scene of baseness and 
carnal corruption, which I passed through in my youth, 
not that I may love them, but that I may love thee, my 
God. I do it with the love of thy love, recollecting 
my own very evil ways in the bitterness of memory, 
that thou mayest be endeared to me, O Delight that 
never deceives, Delight happy and secure, thou which 
collectest and bindest together the dispersed parts of 
my broken soul : while averse from thee, the only 
God, I vanished into variety of vanities !f For I was 
inflamed in my youth to be satiated with infernal fires, 
and became as rottenness in thy sight, while 1 pleased 
myself, and desired to please the eyes of men. 

Love was my object ; but, by the excess of passion, 
the serenity of affection was lost in the darkness of 
lust. My weak age was hurried along through the 
whirlpool of flagitiousness. Thy displeasure was all 
the time embittering my soul, and I knew it not. The 
noise of my carnal chains, and the punishment of my 
pride rendered me deaf to thy voice; I w^ent far from 
thee ; thou sufferedst it : I was tossed and agitated, 
and I overflowed with the ebullitions of levvdness, and 
thou wast silent, O my too tardy joy ! At that time 
thou wast silent, and I wandered deeply from thee 
among the barren seeds of woes, in a state of proud 
degradation, and restless weariness. Thy Omnipo- 
tence is not far from us, even when we are very far 
from thee ; I might have heard thy voice, recommend- 
ing a single life devoted to God, allowing indeed mat- 
rimony, and frowning on lewdness.* But I burst all 
legal bonds, yet escaped not thy scourges ; who of 
mortals can ? For thou wast always present, severely 
merciful, mixing all my unlawful delights wdth bitter 
alloys, that I might seek for pleasure without alloy or 
obstacle, and not be able to find the possibility of this, 

fThe beautiful thought, thus diffusively expressed in our author's usual 
manner, is happily painted in a single word by the Psalmist, TJUTE my heart te 
fear thy name. Ps. Ixxxvi. U. 

* 1 Cor. vii. 


but in thee, thee I say, O Lord, who connectest pain 
with the breach of thy laws, and smitest that thou 
mayest heal, and slayest us, that we may not die from 
thee. Where was I, and how long did I live in ex- 
ile from thy house, in that sixteenth year of my age, 
when the madness of lust seized rne altogether, and 
I willingly suffered the reins to be struck out of my 
hands ? To the disgrace of our nature, this species of 
lust is every where tolerated, though forbidden by thy 
laws.f My friends took no pains to bridle me by the 
wholesome restraint of marriage ; their anxiety was, 
that I should acquire the arts and graces of eloquence. 
That year I had vacation from my studies, being 
returned from Madaura, a neighboring city, where 
I had begun to learn oratory, at my father's house 
at Tagasta. He, with a spirit above his circumstan- 
ces, for he was but a poor freeman of the town just 
mentioned, determined to send me to Carthage, that 
I might have the greatest advantages for proficien- 
cy. Why do 1 relate these things before thee, my 
God, to my fellow creatures, the few of them, who 
may read these lines ? That both I and they may 
consider, out of how great a depth it behoves us to 
cry to thee. And what is nearer than thine ears, if 
the heart confide in thee, and the life flow from faith ? 
Who did not then extol the noble spirit of my father, 
laying out so much money on the education of his son ; 
a spirit, so much superior to that of many much rich- 
er citizens, who had not the heart, to send their sons 
to Carthage ? While yet he had no concern in what 
manner 1 grew up to thee. Whether I was chaste or 
not, cost him no thought, provided I was eloquent. 
In this year of vacation my passions were rampant 
without controul. This pleased my father, who, intox- 
icated with liquor, expressed his pleasure on the occa- 
sion to my mother. She had lately begun to feel thy 
holy love, and had been washed in the laver of regen- 

f Would to God, that this were not the case in the Christian countries, as 
well as pag-an ! If he reader ft- el himself inclined to treat with levity the ser.ous 
manner in wlvch juvenile vices are treated by the author, he will, when better 
informed of the malignity of sin, condemn his own taste, not that of Augustine 
The same contrast may be extended to the case of his theft which follows. 


eration. He was a catechumen in profession, In- 
stantly, she conceived a pious trepidation on my ac- 
count. My God, thou spakest to me by her, and 
warnedst rne strongly against the ways of vice. Thy 
voice in her I despised, and thought it to be only the 
voice of a woman, which made not the least impres- 
sion on my mind. So blinded was I, that I should 
have blushed to be thought less wicked than my com- 
panions, and even invented false stories of my sinful 
exploits, to obtain their commendation. My pious 
parent was prevented from encouraging me to marry 3 
because she thought the usual studies, which I was 
now to enter upon, might be serviceable to promote 
in me the work of true religion. My father thought 
little of thee, much of his son, in vain expectations* 
Thus while they both were too anxious for my litera- 
rary improvements, I made progress in vice, and shut 
myself up in the darkness of sin,so as to bar up, against 
myself, the admission of thy truth as much as possible, 
Thy law certainly punishes theft, O Lord, and so 
does the law* written in the hearts of men. For what 
thief can bear another? Yet compelled by no want, I 
deliberately committed theft ; through the wantonness 
of iniquity and the contempt of justice. It was not 
the effect of the theft, but the sin itself which I wish- 
ed to enjoy. There was a pair-tree in the neighbor- 
hood of my father's vineyard, loaded with fruit, though 
not of the most tempting kind. At dead of night, in 
company with some profligate youths, I plundered 
the tree ; the spoil was principally thrown to the hogs; 
for I had abundance of better fruit at home. Behold 
my heart, my God, behold my heart, which thou hast 
pitied in its deep abyss of sin. What did I mean, 
that I should be gratuitously wicked? I loved de- 
struction itself. In the common course of wicked- 
ness men have some end in view. Even Cataline him- 
self loved not his crimes, but something else, for the 
sake of which he perpetrated them. We are deceived 
by appearances of good, embracing the shadows, while 
we follow our own lusts, instead of seeking the sub- 

* He means the voice of natural conscience. See Rooi. ii. 15, 


stance, which is only in thee. Thus the soul commits 
fornication, when it is turned from thee, and seeks out 
of thee, that pleasure, honour, power, wealth, or wis- 
dom, which it never will find in its genuine purity, till 
it return to thee. All, who remove themselves far 
from thee, and set up themselves in opposition, per- 
versely imitate some attribute of God ; though even 
by such imitation they own thee to be the Creator of 
the universe. This is the general nature of sin. It 
deceives by some fictitious shadow of that good, which 
in God alone is to be found. But what vicious or 
perverse imitation of my Lord, was there in my theft ? 
I can conceive none, unless it be the pleasure of act- 
ing arbitrarily and with impunity against law; a dark 
similitude of Omnipotence. O rottenness ! O mon- 
ster of life, and profundity of death ! Could I delight 
in what was not lawful, merely on that account, be- 
cause it was not lawful ? What reward shall I give to 
the Lord, that I can now recollect these things without 
fear of damnation ? will I love and bless thee, Lord, 
because thou hast pardoned such horrible evils. I im- 
pute it to thy grace that thou hast melted my sins as 
ice is melted. I impute also to thy grace my exemp- 
tion from those evils, which I have not committed. 
For of what was I not capable, who loved even gratu- 
itous wickedness? I am sensible, that all is forgiven, 
not only the evils which I have actually committed, 
but also those evils which by thy guidance I have been 
kept from committing. He who, called by thee, hath 
avoided the evils which he hears me confessing, should 
not deride me a poor patient healed by the physician, 
since he himself is indebted to the same Benefactor 
for his health, or to speak more properly, for his being 
afflicted with a less degree of sickness. 

O the unsearchable seduction of pernicious friend- 
ship, the avidity of doing mischief from sport, the 
pleasure of making others suffer, and this without any 
distinct workings either of avarice or of revenge ! Let 
us go, let us do it, and we are ashamed to appear de- 
fective in impudence* Who can unfold to me the in- 


tricacies of this knot of wickedness ? It is filthy, I will 
pry no mre into it, I will not see it. Thee will I 
chuse, O righteousness and innocence, light honorable 
indeed, and satiety insatiable! With thee is perfect 
rest, and life without perturbation. He who enters 
into thee, enters into the joy of his Lord, and shall 
not fear, and shall be in the best situation in thee, the 
best. I departed from thee, and erred, my God, too 
devious from thy stability in youth, and became to 
myself a region of desolation. 


I CAME to Carthage surrounded by flagitious lusts. 
After ,thee, O my God, the true bread of life, I hungered 
not ; and though famished with real indigence, and 
longing after that which satisfieth not, I had no desire 
for incorruptible aliment, not because I was full of it; 
for the more empty I was, the more fastidious I 
grew. My mind was sickly; having no resources 
within, she threw herself out of herself to be carried 
away by intemperate appetite. My sordid passions, 
however, were gilded over with the decent and plau- 
sible appearances of love and friendship. Foul and 
base as I was, I affected the reputation of liberal 
and polite humanity. I rushed into the lusts with 
which I desired to be captivated. My God, my mer- 
cy, with how great bitterness, and yet how kindly, 
didst thou mix that sweetness, by which I was miser- 
ably enslaved and beaten with all the iron rods of en- 
vy, suspicion, fear, indignation, and quarrelling. The 
spectacles of the theatre now hurried rne away, full 
of the images of my miseries, and fomentations of 
my fire. 

'The arts of the Forum now engaged my ambition ; 
the more fraudulent, the more laudable. Pride and 
arrogance now elated my soul, though I was far from 
approving the frantic proceedings of the men called 
EVERSORES, who made a practice of disturbing modest 
pleaders, and confounding their minds by riots. 


Amidst these things, in that imbecility of judgment 
which attends youth, I studied the books of eloquence 
with the most ardent desire of vain glory, and in the 
course of my reading dipped into the Hortensius of 
Cicero, which contains an exhortation to the study of 
philosophy. This book was the instrument of effect- 
ing a remarkable change in my views. I suddenly 
gave up the fantastic hope of reputation by eloquence, 
and felt a most ardent thirst after wisdom. In the 
mean time I was maintained at Carthage at my moth- 
er's expense, being in the nineteenth year of my age, 
my father being dead two years before. How did I 
long, my God, to fly from earthly things to thee, and 
I knew not what thou w r ert doing with me. And at 
that time, O light of my heart, thou knowest,. though 
I was unacquainted with the apostolical ad-motion,-. 

LOSOPHY AND VAIN DECEIT ;* that this was the sole ob 4 - 
ject of my delight in the Ciceronian volume, that I was 
vehemently excited by it to seek for wisdom, not in 
this or that sect, but wherever it was to be found.- 
And the only thing which damped my zeal was, that 
the name of Christ was not there, that precious name, 
which from my mothers milk I had learned to rever- 
ence. And, whatever was without this name, howev- 
er just, and learned, and polite, could not wholly carry 
away my heart. I determined, therefore, to apply 
my mind to the holy scriptures to see what they 
were ; and now I see the whole subject was impene- 
trable to the proud, low in appearance, sublime in 
substance, and veiled with mysteries ; and my frame 
of heart was such as to exclude me from it, nor could 
I stoop to take its yoke upon me. I had not these 
sensations when I attended to the scriptures, but they 
appeared to me unworthy to be compared with the 
dignity of Cicero. My pride was disgusted with their 
manner, and my penetration could not enter into their 
meaning/)* It is true, those, who are content to be little 

* Coloss, ii. 

f An excellent description of the usual effect of a little scriptural study on 3 
proud mind, which, by the just judgment of God, is given up to judicial infatua- 
tion and specious cielusiou in some way or other. 


children, find by degrees an illumination of their soul s^ 
but I disdained to be a child, and, elated with pride, 
imagined myself to be possessed of manly wisdom. 

In this situation I fell in with the Alanichees, men, 
who had in their mouths the mere sound of Father, 
Son, and Holy Ghost, and were always talking of THE 
TRUTH, THE TRUTH, and yet formed the most absurd 
opinions of the works of nature, on which subjects the 
heathen philosophers far excelled them. O truth, how 
eagerly did I pant after thee, which they repeated con- 
tinually with their mouths, and in many huge vol- 
umes ! But they taught me to look for my God in the 
Sun and Moon, and also in a number of splendid 
phantasies of their own creation.f I endeavored to 
feed on these vanities, but they being not my God 
though I supposed so, I was not nourished, but ex- 
hausted How far did I wander then from thee, ex- 
EAT ! For, the fables of the poets, which I did not be- 
lieve, though I was entertained with them, were pre- 
ferable to the absurdities of these lovers of truth. Alas ! 
alas ! by what steps was I led to the depths of hell ! 
Panting after truth, I sought thee, my God, not in in- 
tellectual, but in carnal speculation ; but I confess to 
thee, who didst compassionate my misery, even while 
I was hardened against thee. The Manichees sedu- 
ced me, partly with their subtile and captious ques- 
tions concerning the origin of evil, partly with their 
blasphemies against the Old Testament saints.* I 

f The Manichees, so called from Manes tbeir founder, had existed about an 
hundred years. Tt would not be worth while to notice them at all, were it not 
for their connexion with the life of Augustinp. Like most of the ancient here- 
tics, they abounded in senseless whims not worthy of any solicit ions explanation. 
This they had in common with the 'pagan philosophers, that they supposed the 
Supreme Being to be material, and to penetrate all nature. Their grand peculiar- 
ity was to admit of two independent principles, a good and evil one, in order to 
solve the arduous question concerning the origin of evil. Like all heretics, they 
made a great parade of seeking truth with liberal impartiality, and were thus qua- 
lified to deceive unwary spirits, who, suspecting their own imbecility of judg- 
ment the last thing in the world, and regardless of the word of God and heart)' 
prayer, have no idea of attaining religious knowledge by any other method' 
than by natural reason. 

*The Manichees objected to the characters of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, 
David, &.c. on account of various actions allowed under the dispensation of their 
tunes, but forbidden under the New-Testament, and thence formed an argument 
against the divinity of the Old Testament. 


did not then understand, that, though the divine rule 
of right and wrong be immutable in the abstract, and 
the love of God and our neighbor be ever indispensa- 
bly necessary, yet that there were particular acts of du- 
ty adapted to the times and seasons and circumstan- 
ces in which they were placed, which, abstracted from 
such considerations, would be unlawful. In much ig- 
norance I, at that time, derided thy holy servants, and 
was justly exposed to believe most ridiculous absurd- 
ities. And thou sentest thy hand from above, and 
freedst me from this depth of evil, while my mother 
prayed for me, more solicitous on account of the 
death of my soul, than other parents for the death of 
the body. She was favored with a dream, by which 
thou comfortest her soul with hope of my recovery. 
She saw herself standing on A WOODEN RULE, and a 
person coming to her, who asked her the cause of her 
affliction, and on being answered, that it was on my 
account, he charged her to be confident, that where 
she was, there also I should be. On which she be- 
held me standing by her on the same wooden rule. 
Whence was this but from thee, gracious Omnipo- 
tent ! who takest care of each and all of us, as of sin- 
gle persons ? When she related this to me, I endeav- 
ored to evade the force of it, by observing that it 
might mean to exhort her to be what I was ; without 
hesitation she replied, it was not said, where he is, there 
thou shalt be, but where thou art, there he shall be. 
Her prompt answer made a stronger impression on my 
mind than the dream itself. For nine years, while I 
was rolling in the slime of sin, often attempting to rise, 
and still sinking deeper, did she in vigorous hope per- 
sist in incessant prayer. I remember also, that she 
intreated a certain bishop to undertake to reason me 
out of my errors. He was a person not backward to 
attempt this where he found a docile subject. "But 
your son," says he, "is too much elated at present, 
and carried away with the pleasing novelty of his er- 
ror, to regard any arguments, as appears by the pleas- 
ure he takes in puzzling many ignorant persons with 
bis captious questions. Let him alone ; only continue 


praying to the Lord for him ; he will, in the course of 
his study, discover his error. I myself, perverted by 
my mother, was onee a Manichee, and read almost all 
their books, and yet at length was convinced of my er- 
ror, without the help of any disputant." All this sat- 
isfied not my anxious parent ; with floods of tears she 
persisted in her request, when at last he, a little out 
of temper on account of her importunity, said, " Be 
gone, good woman ; it is not possible, that a child of 
such tears should perish." She has often told me 
since, that this answer impressed her mind like a 
Voice from heaven. 


FOR the space of nine years, from the nineteenth to 
the twenty-eigth year of my age, 1 lived deceived and 
deceiving others, seducing men into various lusts, 
openly, by what are called the liberal arts, and secret- 
ly, by a false religion ; in the former, proud, in the 
latter, superstitious, in all things, seeking vain glory, 
even to theatrical applauses and contentious contests ; 
and, to complete the dismal picture, a slave to the 
lusts of the flesh. So infatuated was 1 with the Ma - 
nichean follies, that 1 drew my friends into them, and 
with them practised the impieties of the sect. The 
arrogant may despise me, and all who have never felt 
a salutary work of self-humiliation from thee, my God. 
But 1 would confess to thee my own disgraces for thy 
glory. What am 1, left to myself, but a guide rashly 
conducting others down a precjpice ? and when I am 
in a better state, what am 1 but an infant sucking thy 
milk, and enjoying thee, the bread that perishetii not ? 
and what is any man, since he is flesh ? Let the proud 
and strong despise us ; but we, weak and poor, would 
confess to thee. 

At this time 1 maintained myself by teaching rheto- 
ric ; and without fraud 1 taught my scholars, not how 
to oppress the innocent, but sometimes how to .vindi- 
cate the guilty. I lived also with one woman, but 


without matrimony. At this time I ceased not also 
to consult astrologers, nor could I be induced by the 
arguments of a very sensible physician, nor by the 
admonitions of my excellent friend Nebridius, to re- 
ject these follies. 

While I was teaching rhetoric in this manner in my 
native town, I enjoyed the friendship of a young man of 
my own age, a schocJ-fellow and companion from in- 
fancy. Indeed there is no true friendship, except thou 
cement it among those who cleave to thee, through 
the love shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, 
which is given to us. But it was a friendship too 
sweet, inflamed by the fervor of similar studies. For 
I had drawn him aside from the true faith, which he 
held not in a deep and genuine manner, into the Ma- 
nichean follies, on account of which my mother be- 
wailed me. And lo ! thou who pursuest thy fugitives, 
O God of vengeance and source of mercies, and con- 
vertest us to thyself by wonderful methods, lo ! thou 
removedst him from this life, when I had scarce enjoy- 
ed his friendship a year, after my return to Tagasta. 
While he lay a long time senseless in a fever, and his 
life was despaired of, he was baptized without his own 
knowledge, a thing which I regarded with great in- 
difference, as not doubting but he would retain my in- 
structions which had been instilled into his mind 
rather than that which had been applied to his body, 
when he was ignorant of the matter. However, against 
all expectation, he recovered. As soon as I had an 
opportunity of conversing with him, I attempted to 
turn into ridicule his late baptism, in which I expected 
his concurrence. But he dreaded me as an enemy, 
arid with wonderful freedom suddenly admonished 
me, that if I would be his friend, I should drop the 
subject. Confounded at this unexpected behavior, I 
deferred the conversation, till he should be thoroughly 
recovered. But he was removed from my madness, 
that he might be saved with thee to my consolation ; 
after a few days the fever returned and he died. How 
miserable was my life ! my country was a punishment, 
my father's house a wonderful infelicity, and whatever 


I had enjoyed in common with him, without him 
torment itself. I found I could now no longer say, 
He will come shortly, as I was wont to do. If I said, 
hope in God, my soul refused; for the man whom I 
had lost was an object preferable to the phantasm,* on 
which I was bid to fix my hopes. Weeping alone was 
sweet to me, and supplied the absence of my friend. 

Wretched I now was, and wretched is every soul 
that is bound by the friendship of mortal things. Be- 
hold my heart, my God; O my hope, who cleansest 
me from the contagion of such affections, and directest 
my eyes to thee, and pluckest my feet out of the net. 
O madness ! riot knowing how to love men as men ! 

foolish man ! bearing with no moderation the lot of 
humanity! The load of misery burdened me, which 

1 knew thoti alone couldst cure ; but I was unwilling 
and impotent, because when I thought of thee, I had 
only a shadowy idol before me. If I attempted to 
throw my burden on thee, it returned upon myself, as 
I found nothing that would support it. I lied however 
from my country, and came to Carthage. 

Time, other objects, and other friendships, gradually 
lessened my sorrow. But happy is he who loves thee, 
and his friend in thee, and his enemy for thy sake. 
For, he alone loses no friend, to whom all are clear in 
him who is never lost, and who is he but our God, 
who made and fills heaven and earth ? None loses 
thee, but he who lets thee go ; and he who dismisses 
thee, whither does he fly, but from thee PROPITIOUS, 
to thee AVERSE ? God of power ! turn us, and shew thy 
face, and we shall be saved. For, wherever the soul 
of man turns itself, it fixes upon sorrow, except in 
thee. Be not vain, my soul, and deaf in the ear of 
the heart through the tumult of vanity. The word 
cries, that thou shouldst return, and there is rest. 
There with God fix thy mansion, there intrust what- 
ever thou hast, my soul, at least when fatigued with 
fallacies. If souls please thee, love them in God, and 
carry them with thee to him as many as thou canst, 

* He roeaus the fcintastic idea of God, which as a Man rhee le had em- 


#hd say to them, let us love him, he made these things, 
and he is not far off. The good ye love is from him, 
but it will deservedly be bitter, if ye love it unjustly, 
deserting him. Ye seek a happy life: our life de- 
scended hither, and bore our death, and destroyed it 
from the abundance of his own life. After his descent 
will ye not ascend and live ? But why ascend, since 
ye are too high already ? Come down that ye may as- 
cend to God. For by rising up against him ye have 
fallen. Tell them these things, that they may weep, 
and so take them with thee to God, because thou say- 
est these things, from his spirit, if the fire of his love 
burn in thee. 

I made approaches to thee, and thou repelledst me, 
because thou resistest the proud ; and what was proud- 
er than to assert, that I was naturally what thou art ?* 
Alas ! of what avail was it, that I understood the logic 
of Aristotle and what are called the liberal arts, while 
I had my back to the light, and to those things which 
really illuminate the face ? I had, it is true, a facility 
of comprehension, and acuteness in argumentation, 
thy gift, but I sacrificed not thence to thee. Hence 
they were to me a curse and not a blessing. Yet, all 
this time, I looked on thee as an immense lucid body, 
of which I myself was a fragment. How much better 
was it with thy children of more tardy genius, who 
did not recede from thy nest, but were fledged and 
grew up in safety in thy church, and nourished the 
wing of love with the aliment of sound faith ! O Lord 
our God, let us trust in the shadow of thy wings. "Do 
thou carry us to hoary hairs."* When thou art our 
strength, we have strength ; our own is weakness. 


RECEIVE the sacrifice of my confessions, and heal 
all my bones, that they may say, Lord, who is like 

* In this blasphemy the Manichees followed the pagan philosophers. They 
had no idea, also, that God was a spirit. Hence onr author's long conflict, be- 
fore be could form a spiritual idea of God. 

j- Isaiah xlvi, 4, 


unto thee ? The heart, that is shut against thee, ex- 
cludes not thine eye, nor does the hardness of men's 
hearts repel thine hand, but thou dissolvest it when 
thou pleasest, in compassion or in vengeance, and none 
can hide himself from thy flame* But may my soul 
praise thee, that it may love thee, and confess to thee 
thy compassions, that it may praise thee ! Let men be 
converted and seek thee, and behold, thou art there 
in the heart of those who confess to thee, and cast 
themselves upon thee, and in thy bosom deplore their 
evil ways ; and thou in mercy wilt wipe their tears, 
that they may deplore still more, and rejoice in tears, 
because thou, Lord, refreshest and comfortest them. 

In the sight of my God I will give an account of the 
twenty-ninth year of my age. A Manichee bishop 
named Faustus, had now come to Carthage, a great 
snare of the Devil, and many were enchanted by his 
eloquence, which though I could not but commend, I 
yet distinguished from truth. Report had represented 
him as a very liberal and accomplished scholar. And 
as I had read many things of the philosophers, I com- 
pared them with the tedious fables of the Manichees, 
and found the former more probable. Thou regard- 
est, Lord, the humble; the proud thou beholdest afar 
off. No doubt the foretelling of eclipses, and other 
things that might be mentioned, demonstrate the truth 
of the philosophical sciences in secular things, though 
in their pride they departed far from thee. Unhappy 
is that man who knows all these things, and knows not 
thee; but blessed is he who knows thee, though he 
knows not all these things. But he, who knows both 
thee and them, is not happier on their account, but on 
account of thee alone is happy, if knewing thee he 
glorify thee as God, and be thankful, and be not vain 
in his imaginations. For, as he is in a better situation, 
who knows how to possess a tree, and is thankful to 
thee for the use of it, though he know 7 ? neither its 
height nor breadth, than he who measures it, and 
counts all its branches, and neither possesses it, nor 
knows nor has learned his Creator ; so the believer, 
whose property all the riches of the world arej 



by cleaving to thee, whom all things serve, is indispu- 
tably better than the most knowing natural philoso- 
pher upon earth, who lives in the neglect of thee.* 

Yet the rashness of the Manichee writer, who under- 
took to w r rite of astronomy, though completely ignor- 
ant of the science, is inexcusable, especially as he 
pretended that the Holy Ghost resided personally in 
him. The ignorance of a believer, in such subjects is 
very excusable ; even if he fancy his mistaken notions 
in natural philosophy to be branches of religion. But 
who can bear to hear a pretender to infallible inspira- 
tion venting absurdities on the works of nature ? Here 
then I had my doubts concerning the divinity of Ma- 
nicheism, and in vain proposed them to those of the 
sect whom 1 met with. " You must wait till the ail- 
accomplished Faustus comes to Carthage," was all 
the answer I received. On his arrival I found him 
an agreeable speaker, and one who could deliver their 
dotages in a more persuasive tone. But by this time 
I was surfeited with these subjects, and I had been 
taught by thee, my God, who hast instructed me mar- 
vellously, but secretly, that style and manner, however 
excellent, were not the same things as sound argu- 
ment. The address, indeed, the pathos, the propriety 
of language, and facility of expression in clothing his 
sentiments delighted me ; but my mind was unsatis- 
fied. The proofs of ignorance in science, which I saw 
in Manicheisin, connected with pretensions to infalli- 
bility, staggered my mind with respect to their whole 
system. On freely conversing with him, I found him 
possessed of all ingenuous frankness, more valuable, 
than all the subjects of my investigation. He owned 
his ignorance in ail philosophy, and left me convinced 
of it. Grammar alone, and some Ciceronian and other 
classical furniture, made up his stock of knowledge, 
and supplied him with a copiousness of diction, which 
received additional ornament from his natural vivacity 

* An excellent comparison between the state of an illiterate believer, who 
fef-d" OM Christ by faith, and that of an accomplished man of science, even of one 
skilled in speculative theology among other branches of knowledge, but destitute 
of spiritual lite. 


f imagination. My hope of discovering truth was 
now at an end. I remained still a Manichee, because 
I despaired of succeeding better on any other plan. 
Thus that same Faustus, who had been the snare of 
death to many, was the first who relaxed my fetters, 
though contrary to his own intention. Thy hands, 
my God, in the secret of thy providence, forsook not 
my soul : day and night the prayers of my mother 
came up before thee, and them wroughtest upon me 
in ways marvellous indeed, but secret. Thou didst 
LORD , and who affords salvation but thy hand, which 
restores what thou hast made ? It was from thy influ- 
ence, that I was persuaded to go to Rome to teach, 
instead of Carthage. The deep recesses of thy wis- 
dom and mercy must be confessed by me in this dis- 
pensation. I understood, that at Rome a teacher was 
not exposed to those turbulent proceedings, which 
were so common at Carthage. Thus the madness of 
one set of men, and the friendship of others promising 
me vain things, were thy means of introducing me into 
the way of life and peace, and in secret thou madest 
use of their perverseness and my own. Here I detest- 
ed real misery, there sought false felicity. But the 
true cause of this removal was at that time hidden 
both from me and my mother, who bewailed me going 
away, and followed me to the sea ; but I deceived her r 
who held me close, with a view either to call me back, 
or to go along with me. I pretended, that I only meant 
to keep company with a friend, till he set sail* ; and 
with difficulty persuaded her to remain that night in a 
place dedicated to the memory of Cyprian. But that 
night I departed privily ; she continued weeping and 
praying. Thus did I deceive my mother, and SUCH 
a mother ; yet was I preserved from the dangers of 
the sea, foul as I was in all the mire of sin, and a time 
was coining when thou wipedst away rny mother's 
tears, with which she watered the earth, and even this 
base undutifulness thou hast forgiven me. And what 
did she beg of thee, my God, at that time, but that I 
should be hindered from sailing ? THOU, consulting 


in profound wisdom, and regarding the HINGE of her 
desire, neglectedst the particular object of her present 
prayers, that thou mighest gratify the general objects 
of her devotions. The wind favored us, and carried 
us out of sight of the shore, when in the morning she 
was distracted with grief, and filled thine ears with 
groans and complaints ; whilst thou in contempt of 
her violent agonies, hurriedst me along by my lusts to 
complete their desires, and punishedst her carnal de- 
sire with the just scourge of immoderate griefs.* She 
loved my presence with her, as is natural to mothers, 
though in her the affection was uncommonly strong, 
and she knew not what joy thou wast preparing for her 
from my absence. She knew not ; therefore she wept 
and wailed. Yet after she had wearied herself in ac- 
cusing my perfidy and cruelty, she returned to her for- 
mer employment of praying for me, and went home, 
while I went to Rome. 

And there I was punished with the scourge of bodi- 
ly sickness, and I drew nigh to hell, carrying the load 
of all my sins, original and actual. For Christ had 
not freed me from them by the body of his flesh through 
death. For how could a fantastic death, such as I 
then believed his to be, as a Manichee, deliver my 
soul ? Whither must I have gone, had I at that time 
departed hence, but to the fire and torments worthy of 
my deeds according to the truth of thy appointment ?t 
She was ignorant of this, and yet prayed for me ab- 
sent. But thou, every where present, heardest her 
where she was and pitiedst me where I was. Still in 
the crisis of my danger, I desired not thy baptism, as 
I had done when a boy : I had grown up to my own 
disgrace and madly derided thy medicine of human 

* It requires a mind well seasoned with Christian discernment and humili- 
ty, to admire in all this the Providence of God bringing good out of evil, to sep- 
arate what is truly holy and humble in the affection of our author's mother from 
what was really carnal and earthly, and hence to discover the justness of his re- 

f Does the reader think this harsh ? let him consider whether it can be any 
iliing else than the want of a firm belief of the word of God, and a contempt of 
feis holiness and authority, that can make him think so, and he will do well tf 
*PPV * ue awful case to his own conscience! 


Biisery. How my mother, whose affection, both nat- 
ural and spiritual towards me was inexpressible, would 
have borne such a stroke, I cannot conceive. Morning 
and evening she frequented the church, to hear thy 
word and to pray, and the salvation of her son was the 
constant burden of her supplications. Thou heardest 
her, O Lord, and perform edst in due season, what thou 
hadst predestinated. Thou recoveredst me from the 
fever, that at length I might obtain also a recovery 
of still greater importance. 

The Manichees are divided into two bodies, auditors 
and elect. He, in whose house I lodged, was of the 
former sort. I myself was ranked among the latter. 
With them I fancied myself perfectly sinless, and laid 
the blame of the evils I committed on another nature, 
that sinned within me,* and my pride was highly 
gratified with the conception* My attachment to this 
sect, however, grew more lax, as I found the impossi- 
bility of discovering truth, and felt a secret predilec- 
tion in favor of the academic philosophy, which com- 
mends a state of doubt and uncertainty.! My land- 
lord, who had not so much experience as I of the sect, 
was elevated with their fancies. I checked his san- 
guine views, and though the intimacy I had contracted 
with this people, (for a number of them live at Rome) 
made be backward to seek elsewhere for truth, I was, 
however, little solicitous to defend the reputation of 
their tenets. It was a deplorable evil with me, that 
my prejudice was so strong against the Christian faith. 
When I thought of thee, my God, I could not conceive 
any thing but what was corporeal, though of the most 
exquisite subtilty: but what was immaterial, appear- 
ed to be nothing. And here I seemed incurable in 

* Every human soul was supposed by the Manichees ^to have in it a mixture 
of the good and the evil principle. 

\ A very natural and common effect of reasoning pride. When a man at- 
tempts to discover and adjust religious truth by leaning to his own understan- 

and a spiritual understanding- from above. It' the errors of Manicheism appear 
very absurd, there are other modes of deviat >on from scripture truth, which 
Would appeal' no less so, were they as uni'asluonable in our times. 


error. I did not conceive it possible, that a good Be- 
ing should create an evil one, and therefore, chose to 
admit limits to the infinite Author of nature, by sup- 
posing him to be controuled by an independent evil 
principle. Yet, though my ideas were material, I 
could not bear to think of God being flesh. That was 
too gross and low in my apprehensions. Thy only 
begotten Son appeared to me as the most lucid part 
of thee afforded for our salvation. I concluded that 
such a nature could not be born of the Virgin Mary 
without partaking of human flesh, which I thought 
must pollute it. Hence arose my fantastic ideas of 
Jesus,t so destructive of all piety. Thy spiritual chil- 
dren may smile at me with charitable sympathy, if 
they read these my confessions ; such, however, were 
my views. Indeed, while I was at Carthage, the dis- 
course of one Helpidius had moved me in some de- 
gree, who produced from the New-Testament several 
arguments against their positions, which appeared in- 
vincible ; and their answer appeared to me to be weak, 
which yet they did not deliver openly, but in secret ; 
namely, that the scriptures of the New-Testament had 
been falsified by some, who desired to insert Judaism 
into Christianity, while they themselves produced no 
uncorrupted copies.* Still did I pant under those 
masses of materialism, and was prevented from breath- 
ing the simple and pure air of thy truth. 

Some unexpected disadvantages in the way of my 
profession laid me open to any probable offer of em- 
ploy in other parts of Italy. From Milan a requisi- 
tion was made to Symmachus, prefect of Rome, to send 
a professor of rhetoric to that city. By the interest of 
my Manichean friends, I obtained the honor, and 

f The Manichees, like all other heretics, could not stand before the scrip- 
tures. They professedly rejected the Old Testament, as belonging to the ma- 
lignant principle ; and when they were pressed with the authority of the New, 
as corroborating the old, they pretended the New was adulterated. Is there any 
new thing under the sun ? Did not Lord Bollingbroke set up the authority of 
St John against Paul ? Have we not heard of some parts of the gospels as not 
genuine, because they suit not Socinian views ? Genuine Christian principles 
alone will bear the test, nor fear the scrutiny of the whole word of God. 

* It is evident that this sect comprehended in it the fundamental erropg of 
the Docites. 


came to Milan. There I waited on Ambrose, the 
bishop, a man renowned for piety through the world, 
and who then ministered the bread of life to thy peo- 
ple with much zeal and eloquence. The man of God 
received me like a father, and I conceived an affection 
for him, not as a teacher of truth, which I had no idea 
of discovering in thy church, but as a man kind to me ; 
and I studiously attended his lectures, only with a cu- 
rious desire of discovering whether fame had done 
justice to his eloquence or not. I stood indifferent 
and fastidious with respect to his matter, and at the 
same time was delighted with the sweetness of his 
language, more learned indeed, but less soothing and 
agreeable than that of Faustus. In their thoughts there 
was no comparison; the latter erred in Manichean 
fallacies, the former taught salvation in the most sal- 
utary manner. But salvation is far from sinners, such 
as I then was, and yet I was gradually approaching to 
it and knew not. As I now despaired of finding the 
way to God, t had no concern with sentiments ; lan- 
guage alone I chose to regard. But the ideas which 
I neglected came into my mind, together with the 
words with which I was pleased. I gradually was 
brought to attend to the doctrine of the bishop. I found 
reason to rebuke myself for the hasty conclusions I had 
ormed of the perfe ctly indefensible nature of the law 
and the prophets. A number of difficulties, started 
tipon them by the Manichees, found in the expositions 
of Ambrose a satisfactory solution. The possibility 
of finding truth in the church of Christ appeared; and 
I began to consider by what arguments I might con- 
yict Manicheism of falshood. Could I have formed 
an idea of a spiritual substance, their whole fabric had 
been overturned, but I could not. Moreover I found 
the philosophers in general explained the system of 
nature better than the Manichees. It seemed shame- 
ful to continue in connexion with a sect replete with 
such evident absurdities, that -I could not but prefer 
the pagan philosophers to them, though I dared not 
trust these with the healing of my soul, because they 
were without the saving name of Christ, In conclu- 


aion, I determined to remain a catechumen in the 
church recommended to me by my parents, till I saw 
my way more clearly* 


O THOU! my hope from my youth, where wast 
thon ? thou madest me wiser than the fowls of heaven 5 
yet I walked through darkness and slippery places. 
My mother was now come to me, courageous through 
piety, following me by land and sea, and secure of thy 
favor in all dangers. She found me very hopeless 
with respect to the discovery of truth. However, 
when I told her my present situation, she answered, 
that she believed in Christ, that before she left this 
world, she should see me a sound believer. To thee 
her prayers and tears were still more copious, that 
thou wouldst perfect what thou hadst begun, and with 
much zeal and affection she attended the ministry of 
Ambrose. Him she loved as an angel of God, because 
she understood that I had broken off from Manichean 
connexions through his means, and she confidently 
expected me to pass from sickness to health, though 
with a critical danger in the interval. 

She had been used to bring bread and wine for the 
commemoration of the saints ; and still retaining the 
African custom, she was prohibited by the door-keep- 
er, understanding that the bishop had forbidden the 
practice. Another person would not soon have been 
obeyed, but Ambrose was her favorite, and was him- 
self amazed at the promptitude of her obedience. The 
reasons of the prohibition were, the fear of excess, and 
the danger of superstition, the practice itself being 
very similar to those of the pagans.* Instead there- 
fore of a canister full of the fruits of the earth, she 
henceforward, on the commemoration-days of the mar- 

* Here is a striking instance of the growth of pagan superstition in the 
church. The torrent was strong 1 , and notwithstanding occasional checks which 
it received, it at leg-nth overspread all Christendom,, and quite obscured th 
KgUt of the gospel- 


tyrs, gave alms, according to her ability, to the poor, 
and received the Lord's supper, if it was celebrated on 
those occasions. Ambrose himself was charmed with 
the fervor of her piety, and the amiableness of her 
good works, and often brake out in his preaching, 
when he saw me, congratulating me that I had such a 
mother, little knowing what sort of a son she had, who 
doubted of all these things, and even apprehended the 
way of life to be impervious to man. Nor did I groan 
to thee in prayer for help, intent only on study, and 
restless in discussion and investigations. In a secular 
view Ambrose himself appeared to be an happy man, 
revered as he was by the imperial court ; only his ce- 
libacy appeared to me in a melancholy light. But 
what hope he bore within, what struggles he had 
against the temptations of grandeur, what was his real 
comfort in adversity, his hidden strength and joy de- 
rived from the bread of life, of these things I could 
form no idea ; for I had no experience ; nor did he 
know the fluctuations of my soul, nor the dangerous 
pit in which I was enslaved. It was out of my power 
to consult him as I could wish, surrounded as he was 
with crouds of persons, whose necessities he relieved. 
During the little time in which he was from them, (and 
the time was but little,) he either refreshed his body 
with food, or his mind with reading. Hence I had no 
opportunity to unbosom myself to him. A few words 
of conversation sufficed not. I expected in vain to 
find him at leisure for a long conversation.* I profit- 
ed however by his sermons. Every Lord's Day I 
heard him instructing the people, and I was more and 
more convinced of the falsity of the calumnies which 
those deceivers had invented against the divine books. 
And when I found, that the Mosaic expression of man 
made after the image of God was understood by no 
believer to imply, that God was in human form, 
though I still could form no idea of a spiritual sub- 
stance, I was glad and blushed to think how many 

* Doubtless, could the modesty of Augustine have prevailed on him to de- 
sire such a conference, he might have obtained it. And what a bishop then was 
in the church of Christ may be seen in Ambrose. 

I had falsely accused the church, instead of lear- 
ning by careful enquiry.* 

The state of my mind was now something altered , 
ashamed of past miscarriages and delusions, and ^ hence 
the more anxious to be guided right for the time to 
come. I was completely convinced of the falshood 
of the many things I had once uttered with so much 
confidence. I was pleased to find, that the church of 
Christ \vas plainly free from the monstrous absurdity 
of which I had accused her. I found too, that thy 
holy men of old held not those sentiments with which 
they were charged. And I was pleased to find Am- 
brose very diligently commending a rule to his people, 
the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life ;"f when 
the bishop, removing the mystic veil, opened to us 
those things, which according to the letter might seem 
to teach perverseness : what he said was agreeable to 
me, though I was far from being convinced of its 
truth. t My former mistakes and blameable rashness 
rendered me now exceedingly skeptical, and I wanted 
the fullest intuitive evidence. By faith, indeed, I might 
have ' been healed. But having experieraced a bad 
physician, I now dreaded a good one. By believing 
alone could I be cured ; yet for fear of believing false 
things I refused to be healed, resisting thy hands, who 
hast made for us the medicines of faith, and hast sprin- 
kled them over the diseases of the world, and hast at- 
tributed so great authority to them. 

I could not, however, but prefer the general doctrine 
of the church, and think it was more reasonable to en- 
join^ faith in subjects incapable of demonstration, than 

* A remarkable instance of partiality attended with a remarkable frankness 
of confession. Augustine for nine years believed that the general church held 
the corporeal form of the Supreme Being, though he might with ease have learn- 
ed the contrary at any time. Bat heresy in all ages acts in the same disingen- 
uous spirit. 

f An important observation surely ! abused much by Origen and many of his 
followers, to fanciful and capricious purposes. In Augustine, however, the dis- 
tinction between letter and spirit was generally made commensurate with that 
between flesh and spirit, and in effect distinguished self-righteous from evangel- 
ical religion. 

t It would be well, if many who stumble at the Old Testament, were more 
convinced of their own ignorance and incompetency, for want of a just and soli4 
acquaintance with its typical nature and the laws of interpreting it. 


to require the belief of most absurd fables, after pre- 
tending to promise us knowledge. By degrees, thou 
Lord, with a mild and merciful hand regulating and 
composing my heart, enabledst me to consider how 
many things I believed which I had never seen, what 
credit I give to friends, jto physicians, to many others, 
without which the common affairs of life could never 
be transacted ; also how firmly I believed who were 
iny parents, though I could not possibly have any de- 
monstration concerning the matter. Thus thou per- 
suadest me, that those who believed thy books were 
not to be condemned of credulity, but those w r ho dis- 
believe them were to be condemned for unreasonable 
obstinacy, especially as their credibility was estab- 
lished by the great authority which they had obtain- 
ed throughout the world. " How do you know that 
those books were divinely inspired ?" appeared to me 
now a question implying a doubt not worthy to be at- 
tended to. For amidst all the contentiousness of phi- 
losophers which had so much agitated my mind, 1 
had ever preserved the belief of thy existence and di- 
vine Providence. Sometimes, indeed, this belief was 
stronger, sometimes weaker, yet it never left me, not- 
withstanding my great perplexity concerning thy na- 
ture, or the way of approaching thee. As we are then 
too infirm to discover truth by abstract reasoning, and 
therefore need the authority of Divine revelation, I 
apprehended, that thou wouldest never have attributed 
such high authority and influence to the scriptures 
through the world, unless this had been the appointed 
means of our knowing thee and seeking thy will ; and 
now the absurdities, which the literal interpretation of 
many things seemed to involve, after I had heard a 
probable exposition of several of them, I referred to the 
depth of mysteries ; and hence the authority of the 
books appeared more venerable and more credible, as 
they in fact lay open, to every one's view and yet re- 
served the dignity of their secret by the most pro- 
found sentiments, offering themselves to all in a lan- 
guage the most open and the most humble, and exer- 
cising the attention pf serious souls ; so that they re- 


delved all in their popular bosom, and through narrow 
holes transmitted only a few to thee. though many 
more in number, than they would do, if they were not 
recommended by such high authority, and did not 
draw in the multitude by the garb of sacred humility. 
I considered these things, and thoti wast present with 
me ; I sighed, and thou heardest me ; I fluctuated, 
and thou directedst my course ; I went along the 
broad way of the world, and thou didst not desert 


My heart was thirsting after honors, profits, and 
marriage, and thou deridest me. In these lusts I suf- 
fered the bitterest difficulties ; thou being so much 
the more propitious, the less thou sufferedst any thing 
to be pleasant to me which was not thyself. See, 
Lord, my heart. Now let it stick close to thee, which 
thou feast freed from the tenacious glue of death. How 
miserable was I, and how didst thou cause me to feel 
my misery on that day, when I was preparing to recite 
a panegyric to the emperor, in which there were many 
falshoods, and I expected applause, even from those 
who knew them to be falshoods, when my heart 
brooded over its anxieties, and passing through a cer- 
tain street of Milan, I saw a poor beggar, I suppose at 
that time with a full belly, jocund and merry ! I sigh- 
ed, and spake to my friends who were with me, of the 
many pains of our madness, because from all the toils, 
which with so much labor and vexation we under- 
went, we expected only that same rest and security, 
which that beggar had already attained, though we 
were uncertain, whether we should ever reach it. In 
truth, he was not possessed of true joy, but I, by the 

* We have seen here the close thoughts of an original thinker, who had once 
as strong a prejudice as any against scripture truth, owning his rashness in con- 
demning what he had not understood, convinced of the rationality of the scrip- 
tures, after bj2 had in some measure discovered the true key to their meaning, 
persuaded of th?ir divinity from their providential propagation in the world, 
owning the unreasonableness of expecting demonstration, and of refusing assent 
to grounds of faith such as determine us in common life, spying a divine beauty 
in the plainness and simplicity of their language, adapted to all capacities, and 
comprehending at length the necessity of a serious mind, to render them ef- 
fectual to saving purposes. Skeptics and infidels would do well to follow him in 
this train of thought : they need not be ashamed to imitate a person so acute 


Ambiguous windings of art, sought it in a more deluso- 
ry way. He, however, was evidently merry, I full of 
anxiety ; he at his ease, I full of fear. Were I asked, 
whether frame of mind I should prefer, I should with- 
out hesitation choose his. Yet if I were asked, wheth- 
er I would be Augustine, or the beggar, I should say 
the former. How perverse was this ? Much to this 
purpose did I say to my friends, and often observed 
how things were with me, and I found myself misera- 
ble, and I grieved, and doubled that misery. And if 
any thing prosperous smiled upon me, I was backward 
to lay hold of it, because it flew away almost before I 
could lay hold of it.* 

My most intimate conversations on these subjects 
were with Alypius and Nebridius. The former, my 
townsman, had studied under me both at Tagasta and 
at Carthage, and we were very dear to each other. The 
torrent of fashion at the latter place, hurried him into 
the Circensian games, of which he became extrava- 
gantly fond. I was vexed to see him give into a taste 
so destructive of all sobriety and prudence in youth, 
and cannot but take notice of the providential manner, 
in which he was delivered. While I was one day ex- 
pounding in my school at Carthage, an allusion to 
the Circensian games occurred as proper to illustrate 
my subject, on which occasion I severely censured 
those who were fond of that madness. I meant noth- 
ing for Alypius ; but thou, Lord, who hadst designed 
him for a minister of thy word, and who wouldest make 
it manifest, that his correction should be thy own 
work, infixedst a deep sting of conviction into his 
heart; he believed that I spake it on his account, lov- 
ed me the more for it, and shook off the Circensian 
follies. But he was afterwards involved in Manicheism 
with me, deceived by the Appearance of good. After- 
wards he came to Rome, to learn the law, and there* 
was ensnared with a new evil, a fondness for the bar- 
barous sports of gladiators, to which he had had a 

* A lively picture of human vanity, perfectly agreeable to the whole tenor of 
ECCLKSIASTES, and evidencing the distress of those in high life to b equal to 
that of those in low at least ! Ambition receives HO cure from^the_ review, tlfl 
Jfye man knows what is better- 


strong aversion, Some friends of his carried him to 
them by force, while he declared with great confi- 
dence, that his mind and eyes should still be alienated 
from those spectacles. For a while he closed his 
eyes with great resolution, till on a certain occasion, 
when the whole house rang with shouting, overcome 
by curiosity, he opened his eyes to see what was the 
matter. Beholding a gladiator wounded, on the sight 
of the blood, he was inebriated with the sanguinary 
pleasure. He gazed, he shouted, he was inflamed, he 
carried away with him the madness, which stimulated 
him to repeat his visits ; he became enamoured of the 
sports, even more than those, who had dragged him 
thither against his will, and seduced others. Thence 
thou with a strong and merciful hand recoveredst him 
at length, but long after, and taughtest him to put his 
confidence not in himself, but in thee.* On another 
occasion, Alypius was apprehended ae a thief, and cir- 
cumstances seemed to tell so much against him, that 
it was by a particular providence his innocence was 
cleared. But he was to be a dispenser of thy word, 
an examiner of many causes in thy church, and he 
learnt caution and wisdom from this event. Him I 
found at Rome, and he removed with me to Milan, 
and practised in the law with uncommon uprightness 
and integrity. With me he was uncertain, with res- 
pect to his plan of religion and the way of happiness. 
My friend Nebridius also left a good paternal estate 
in the neighborhood of Carthage, for the sake of en- 
joying my company ; and we three were panting after 
happiness, till thou shouldest give us meat in due sea- 
son ; and amidst all the bitterness which attended our 
w r orldly concerns, while we were wishing to see the 
end of these things, we found ourselves in darkness, 
and we said with sighs, how long ? yet we still follow- 
ed objects with which we were dissatisfied, because 
we knew nothing better to substitute in their room. 

*It is obvious to observe hence the folly of self-confidence, and the bewitching 
power of temptation over so weak and corrupt a creature as man. Many who 
would deem it impossible that they should enter with spirit into the obscenity 
of the stage, or the cruelties of the slave-trade, by a little indulgence may BOOH 
become what beforehand they would abhor. 


As to myself in particular, I reviewed attentively 
how long I had been in pursuit of the true wisdom, 
with a determination to give up secular pursuits in case 
of success. I had begun at nineteen, and Iwas now 
in my thirtieth year, still miserable, anxious, procras- 
tinating, fed with tantalizing hopes, solicited in my 
conscience to set apart a portion of time each day for 
the care of my soul. " Your mornings are for your 
pupils : why do not you employ to serious purpose the 
afternoons: but then what time shall I have to attend 
the levees of the great, and to unbend my mind with 
necessary relaxation ? What then, if death should sud- 
denly seize you, and judgment overtake you unpre- 
pared ? Yet, on the other side, what if death itself be 
the extinction of my being? But far be from my soul 
the idea. God would never have given such high 

E roofs of credibility to Christianity, nor have shewn 
imself so marvellously among men, if the life of the 
soul be consumed with the death of the body. Why- 
then do not I give myself wholly to God? But do not 
be in too great a hurry. You have friends of conse- 
quence, by whom you may rise in the world !" 

In such an agitation of mind as this did I live, seek- 
ing happiness, and yet flying from it To be divorc- 
ed from the enjoyments of the world 1 could not bear, 
particularly from female society ; and as I had no idea 
of acquiring continericy but by my own strength, I 
was a stranger to the way of prayer and divine supply 
of grace. Thou, Lord, wilt give, if we solicit thine 
ears with internal groaning, and in solid faith cast our 
care on thee. My mother was solicitous and impor- 
tunate for my being married, that I might in that state 
receive baptism. And I agreed to marry a young per- 
son, who was at present too young ; as she was agree- 
able to me, I consented to wait almost two years. 
During this interval a number of us, about ten in all, 
formed a scheme of living in. common in a society 
separate from the world, in which a townsman of mine 
Romanianus, a man of considerable opulence was par- 
ticularly earnest. But some of us being married men, 
and others desirous of becoming so, the scheme came 


io nothing. Thou deridest our plans, and preparedst 
thy own, meaning to give us food in due season, and 
to open thine hand, and fill our souls with blessedness. 
In the mean time my sins were multiplied, and the 
woman with whom I had cohabited, returning into 
Africa under a vow of never more being acquainted 
with our sex, and leaving with me a natural son which 
I had by her, I, impatient of the delay, took another 
woman in her room. Praise and glory be to thee, O 
Fountain of mercies, I became more miserable, and 
thou approachedst nearer. Thou wast going to snatch 
me out of the mire of pollution, and I knew it not. 
The fear of death and future judgment was the check 
which restrained me. This had never left me amidst 
the variety of opinions with which I was agitated, and 
I owned to Alypius and Nebridius, that the Epicurean 
doctrine would have had the preference in my judg- 
ment, could I have fallen in with Epicurus' idea of the 
annihilation of the man at death ; and I inquired why 
we might not be happy, if we were immortal, and lived 
in a perpetual state of voluptuousness without any fear 
of losing it, ignorant as I was of the misery of being 
so drenched in carnality, as not to see the excellency 
of embracing goodness itself for its own sake. I did 
not consider, that I conferred on these base topics 
with friends whom I loved, and was incapable of tast- 
ing pleasure, even according to the carnal ideas I then 
had of pleasure without friends.* 

O my serpentine ways ! Wo to the soul which 
presumed, if it departed from thee, that it should find 
any thing better. I turned backward and forward on 
my sides, my back, and my belly ; and all things were 
hard, and thou alone my rest, and lo ! thou comest and 
freest us from our miserable delusions, and placest us 
in thy way, and comfortest us, and sayest, " Run, and 
I will bear you, 1 will carry you through, and bear you 

* A strong- intimation, that happiness consists in love, or friendship. Whence 
the pleasure of frV.>J;;hip with Jesus, an Almighty, all-suffrcient frienclj made 
ma,- f or us, and sympathizing with us, appears to give us the just and adequate 
idea of bliss. 



AND now the older I grew, the more defiled was I 
with vanity, still destitute of the spiritual idea of God ; 
not conceiving however of thee, O Lord, as existing 
in human form, an error of which I now saw, T had 
unjustly accused the catholic church, but still viewing 
thee as an object of sense however refined ; and when 
I removed the ideas of space and quantity, thou seem- 
edst to be nothing at all. For thou hadst not yet illu- 
minated my darkness. The arguments of my friend 
Nebridius, appeared to me conclusive against the Ma- 
nichean idea of an independent evil principle in nature. 
I was grown firm in the belief, that in the Lord is 
nothing corruptible, mutable, tir in any sense imper- 
fect ; that evil must not be imputed to him, in order 
that we may clear ourselves of blame with the Mani- 
chees. Still, however, a question distressed me, how 
came evil into being at all ? admitting that it lies in 
the will of man, trtat the distinction between a natural 
and moral inability is real and just, and that the for- 
mer is not the proper subject of blame as the latter is, 
still I inquired, who inserted in me this bitter plant, 
when I was made by my God of infinite sweetness ? I 
inquired, whence came evil, and I saw not the evil 
which was in my investigations. I stated the great dif- 
ficulty in various lights, and it still appeared as inex- 
plicable as ever. The faith, however, of Christ our 
Lord and Savior remained firm with me, rude and un- 
formed indeed ; yet my mind forsook it not, and was 
imbibing it daily more and more.* 

From the vain science of astrology also, which I had 
cultivated with obstinacy, I was delivered, partly by 
the reasonings of my excellent friend Nebridius, and 

* I have endeavored to compress the author's accounts of his difficulties it* 
two questions, of the substance of God and of the origin of evil, into a small 
compass, not thinking it needful to translate them at large. Manicheism was 
the cause of his' trouble in regard to the former. The latter is in all ages a nat- 
ural temptation to our proud minds, and we are slow to learn to answer it witk 
St. Paul, " Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God ?" Rom. ix- 
Humility will end the subject there ; and pride is not to be /satisfied by any in- 
-yes fixations. 


partly by a story which I heard of a master and slave 
born at the same point of time, whose different for* 
tunes in life appeared to be a sufficient confutation of 
all predictions by the stars ;f and the case of Esau and 
Jacob in holy writ illustrated the same thing. Bui it 
was thou, and thou only, who recalledst me from the 
death of all error, O thou Life that knowest not death, 
and thou Wisdom who illuminatest indigent minds. 
Thou brakest this bond for me ; still was I seeking 
whence comes evil ? Yet, by all the fluctuations of 
thought thou didst not suffer me to be seduced 
from the faith of thy existence, of thy perfections, of 
thy providence, or to doubt that in Christ thy Son 
and in the scriptures thou hast laid down the way of 
human salvation. What were the groanings, the la- 
bors of my heart! While I silently enquired, distressed 
and confounded, thou knewest the whole, thou kncw- 
est what I suffered, and no man whatever, not my 
most intimate friends, could know, by any relation 
which I could give, the bitterness of my soul. IVly 
folly was, to look for a local, extern&l happiness. No 
such was found to receive me. By the original digni- 
ty of my nature, I was above all sensual objects, infe- 
rior to thee, and thou, my true joy, madest me subject 
to thyself, and subjectedst to me the works of thy 
hands. This was the middle region of health, in 
which I might serve thee and rule the body. But 
I proudly rose up against thee, and was justly pun- 
ished, by being enslaved to those things which should 
have been my subjects ; they gave me no respite 
nor rest. My pride separated me from thee, and 
closed my eyes with its own tumor. But thou, Lord, 
remainest for ever, and retaincst not anger for ever, 
thou pitiest us and rememberest that we are dust and 
ashes. It pleased thee to remove my deformities, and 
by internal incentives thou agitateds.t me that I might 
be impatient till thou madest thyself assuredly known 

f Few men have candor enough to put themselves in the places and scenes 
*f others. Nothing is more certain than this, that Augustine and Melancthon 
were men of extraordinary understanding ; both however were addicted to as- 
trology and absurdity, which even the weakest in our age escape* Such is th 
i:fferene of the times ! 


to me by internal illumination. The morbid tumors 
of my mind were gradually lessening under thy secret 
medicinal hand, and the eyes of my understanding, 
darkened and confounded as they were, by the sharp 
eye-salve of salutary pains were healing day by day. 

And first, as thou wouldest shew me how thou re- 
sistest the proud, and givest grace to the humble ; and 
how great thy mercy is shewn to be in the way of hu 
mility ; thou procuredst for me, by means of a person 
highly inflated with philosophical pride, some of the 
books of Plato translated into Latin, in which I read 
passages concerning the Divine Word, similar to those 
in the first chapter of St. John's gospel ; in which his 
eternal Divinity was exhibited, but not his incarnation, 
his atonement, his humiliation, and glorification of his 
human nature. For thou hast hid these things from 
the wise and prudent, and revealed them to babes ; 
that men might come to thee weary and heavy laden, 
and that thou mightest refresh them; thou who art 
meek and lowly in heart, who directest the meek in 
judgment, and teachest the gentle thy ways, seeing our 
low estate and forgiving all our sins. This is a knowl- 
edge not to be obtained, while men are lifted up by 
the pomp and grandeur of what appears to them a 
snblimer doctrine. Thus did I begin to form better 
views of the divine nature, even from Plato's wri- 
tings, as thy people of old spoiled the Egyptians of 
their gold, liecause, whatever good there is in any 
thing, is all thy own, and at the same time I was ena- 
bled to escape the evil which was in those books, and 
not to attend to the idols of Egypt. 

However, I was hence admonished to retire into 
myself under thy guidance, and I was enabled to do it, 
because thou art my helper. I entered and saw with 
the eye of my mind the immutable light of the Lord, 
perfectly distinct from sensible light, not only in de- 
gree, but in kind. Nor was it in the same manner 
above my mind, that oil is above water, or as heaven 
is above earth, but superior, because he made me. and 

J \Vas inferior, because made by him.*' He wh 
knows truth, knows this light, and he who knows it. 
knows eternity. Love knows it. O ^eternal Truth, 
true Love, and loving Eternity ! Thou art my God, 
I pant after thee day and night. And when I first 
knew thee, thou tookest me that I might see that "to 
be" which I saw, and that I who saw, " as yet was 
not." Thou impressedst repeatedly my infirm sight', 
thou shinedst on me vehemently, and I trembled with 
love and horror, and I found that I was far from thee 
in a region of dissimilitude, as if I heard thy voice 
from on high, " I am the food of those that are full of 
age, grow and thou shalt eat me. 3 " Nor shalt thou 
change me into thyself but shalt thyself be changed 
into me. And I said, can God be nothing, since he 
is neither diffused through finite nor infinite space ? 
And thou criedst from afar, " I am, that I am,"t and 
I heard with my heart and could not doubt. Nay, I 
should sooner doubt my own existence, than that that 
is not truth which is understood by the things that 
were made. 

I now began to understand, that every creature of 
thine hand is in its nature good, and that universal na- 
ture is justly called upon to praise the Lord for his 
goodness.* The evil which I sought after has no pos- 
itive existence ; were it a substance, it would be good, 
because every thing individually, as well as all things 
collectively, are good. Evil appeared to be a want of 
agreement in some parts to others. My opinion of 
the two independent principles, in order to account 
for the origin of evil, was without foundation. Evil is 
not a thing to be created ; let good things only forsake 
their just place, office, and order ; and then, though 
all be good in their nature, evil, which is only a pri- 
vative, abounds, and produces positive misery. I as- 

* He had been long corrupted by the atheistic views which he had learned 
from the Manichees, and no wonder that he now found it so difficult to conceive 
aright of God. There appears something divinely spiritual in the manner of hi* 
deliverance. That the Platonic books also should give the first occasion is very 
remarkable; though I apprehend the Latin translation which he saw, had im- 
proved on Plato, by the mixture of something scriptural, according to the mau- 
ler o* the Ammonian philosophers. 

t Exodus ill * Psalm cxlviii. 


ked what was iniquity, and I found it to be no s 
stance, but a perversity of the will which declines 
from thee, the Supreme Substance, to lower things, 
and casts away its internal excellencies, and swells- 
with pride externally.f 

And I wondered that I now began to have a desire 
after thee, and no longer took a fantasm for thee. I was 
not urgent to enjoy thee, my God, for though I was 
hurried toward thee by thy beauty, I was presently 
carried downward from thee by my own weight, and 
I could no longer sin without groaning; the weight 
was carnal habit. The memory of thee was with me, 
and I did not doubt of the reality of that divine essence 
to which I should adhere, but of myself being ever 
brought into a state of spiritual existence. I saw thy 
invisible things by the things which were made, but 
I could not fix my attention to thee ; my corruption 
exerting itself, I returned to my usual habits, but I 
could not shake off the fragrance of memory, smelling 
the true good, regretting the loss, and impotent to taste 
and enjoy. J 

I now sought the way of obtaining strength to enjoy 
thee, and found it not, till I embraced the Mediator 
between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, WHO is 
ABOVE ALL, GOD BLESSED FOR EVER,* calling and say- 
ing I am the way, the truth, and the life. For the 
word was made flesh, that thy wisdom might suckle 
our infancy. But I did not yet in humility hold the 
humble Jesus my Lord, nor know the mysterious pow- 
er of his weakness, that he might humble, nourish, and 
at length exalt heavy laden souls. Far other thoughts 
had I conceived of Christ, I had viewed him only as a 

f Perhaps a more just account of the manner in which evil is produced can 
scarce be given ; it is certainly well calculated to confute the principles of Man- 

t In many true converts this was their state exactly, while God was turning 
them from darkness to light. Such a sense of God, as never before was known, 
is attained, sufficient to conquer the false and injurious thoughts of him which 
had been before imbibed, be they what they may. But the man feels his impo- 
tence with respect to good, and he must, with Augustine, struggle and endure 
for a time, till the strength of Jesus is perfected in his weakness. 

* Here is a clear testimony to the authenticity and genuine interpretation of 
that remarkable text, Rom. ix. 5, the light of which has been so peculiarly of- 
fensive to those, whom, fashionable heresies in our age have darkened. 


man of unequalled wisdom. But, of the mystery of 
the word made flesh, I had not formed the least sus- 
picion. Only I concluded from the things written of 
him, that he must have had a human soul. Alypius 
indeed had conceived, that the catholic faith denied 
him the spirit of a man, and was a longer time preju- 
diced against the truth, because he confounded the 
church with the Apollinarian heresy. As to myself, 
I was not till sometime after taught to distinguish the 
truth from the opinion of Photirms;t but there must 
be heresies, that they who are of the truth may be 
made manifest. 

But when by reading the Platonic books, I began to 
conceive of the immaterial, infinite Supreme, 1 talked 
of these things like a person of experience, but was 
perishing, because void of Christ. I desired to appear 
wise, was puffed up with knowledge, and wept not. 
Love, on the foundation of humility, which is Christ 
Jesus, was to me unknown. The books of Plato knew 
not this; still would I remark the providence of my 
God in leading rne to study them, before I searched 
the scriptures, that I might remember, how I had been 
affected by them, and when afterwards my wounds 
should be healed by thy hand through the scriptures, 
I might distinguish the difference between presump- 
tion and confession, between those who see whither 
we ought to go, without knowing the means, and those 
who see the way itself leading to the actual inheri- 
tance. Had I been informed at first by thy scriptures, 
and thou hadst endeared thyself to me in their famil- 
iarity, an after-acquaintance with Plato might either 
have shaken my faith, or raised in me an undue esti- 
mation of the worth of his writings. 

With eagerness, therefore, I took up the volume of 
inspiration,* and particularly the apostle Paul, and 
those questions in which he once had seemed incon- 
sistent with himself, and the law, and the prophets, 

f Wh'ch seems to have been the same with Sabellianism. 

* It may be remarked here, how depraved the taste of man is, and "how much 
and IICAV lc,ng he will suffer before he give himself simply to the instruction ol" 
God's own words. 


were now no more. There now appeared one uniform 
tenor of godliness, and I learnt to rejoice with trem- 
bling, and I took up the book, and found whatever 
truth I had read there, is said with this recommenda- 
tion of thy grace, that lie who sees should not so GLO- 
RY AS IF HE HAD NOT RECEIVED, not only that which 
he sees, but the power of seeing itself, f For what hath 
he, which tie hath not received ? And he who cannot 
see afar, should however walk in the way, by which 
he may come, see, and lay hold. For though he be 


WHICH is IN HIS MEMBERS ?J Fp,r thou, Lord, art just, 
but we have sinned and dealt wickedly, and thy hand 
is heavy upon us, and we are justly delivered up to 
the power of the old sinner who has the power of 
death, because he persuaded us to follow his will, by 
which he did not stand in the truth. Who shall de- 
liver us from the body of this death, but thy grace 
through Jesus Christ our Lord, in whom the prince 
of this world could find nothing worthy of death, and 
who by his death blotted out the hand writing that 
was against us ? The Platonic books had nothing of 
this, nor the face of piety, the tears of confession, the 
sacrifice of a troubled spirit, a broken and contrite 
heart, salvation, the spouse, the holy city, the earnest 
of the Holy Spirit, the cup of our redemption. None 
there hear, "Come unto me all that labor and are 
heavy laden, and I will give you rest." It is one thing 
to see a land of peace at a distance, with no practica- 
bility of attaining it, and another to pursue the right 
road towards it under the care of the heavenly Com- 
mander, who made the road for your use. I was won-r 
derfully affected with these views, while I read THE 
LEAST OF THINE APOSTLES, and I considered thy works 
and trembled. 

f He means the inestimable privilege of spiritual understanding, through his 
want of which St. Paul had long appeared to him contradictor)', confused, and 
disgusting. He is well qualified to recommend to others the value of divine 
teaching, who like Augustine, is experiencing it in himself. > T otlvngteachp" 
humility like such experience. 

t Rom. v'i/. 




TO THEE ? thou hast broken my bonds in sunder. How 
thou brakest them, I will relate, and all who worship 
thee, when they hear these things, shall bless the Lord. 
Though now confirmed in my doctrinal views, my 
heart was yet uncleansed; I approved of the Savior, 
but liked not his narrow way, and thou inspiredst me 
with a desire of going to Simplician, an aged, experi- 
enced Christian even from his youth, who seemed ca- 
pable of instructing me in my present fluctuations. 
My desires no longer being inflamed with the hope of 
honor and money, I was displeased with the servitude 
of the world in which I lived. Thy sweetness was 
now more agreeable in mine eyes ; but another tie 
still detained me in which I had permission indeed in 
a legal way, though exhorted to the higher and nobler 
practice of celibacy.* I had heard from the mouth 
of truth, that there are eunuchs, WHO HAVE MADE 


I went then to Simplician, the spiritual father of 
bishop Ambrose himself, who loved him as his father. 
I explained to him my religious situation. When I 
was relating, that I had read some Platonic boeks 
translated by Victorinus a Roman rhetorician, who 
had died a Christian, he congratulated me on having 
met with that philosopher rather than any of the rest ; 
because when they are full of fallacy, in him intima- 
tions are given of God and of his word.f Then for 
my practical instruction, he gave me the narrative of 
the conversion of Victorinus, with whom he had been 
intimate at Rome, Thy grace was indeed admirable 
in that convert. He was a man of great learning, far 
advanced in life, well skilled in all liberal knowledge ; 

* Corinthians vii. 

f Here I apprehend is a proof of the decay of Christian taste in the church 
at that time, the consequence of Ammonianism and Origenism, namely, a dispo- 
sition to find in Plato what he has not. What communication hatb the temple 
Of God with idols * 


he had read, criticised, and illustrated many philoso- 
phers ; he had taught many illustrious senators ; had 
been honored by a statue erected in the Roman fo- 
rum, as a reward of his magisterial labors ; and even 
to his old age was a worshipper of idols, and a partaker 
of all the rites, to which almost the whole Rojman nobi- 
lity at that time were addicted ; moreover he had, ma- 
ny years, defended the monstrous and absurd objects 
of worship, to which the common people had been ac- 
customed. But now he was not ashamed to become 
a child of thy Christ, an infant of thy fountain, with 
his neck subjected to the yoke of humility, and his for- 
head subdued to the reproach of the cross. O Lord, 
thou, who bowedst the heavens and camedst down, 
who touchedsl the mountains, and they smoked, by 
what means didst thou insinuate thyself into his heart! 
He read, as Simplician told me, the holy Scriptures, 
and studiously investigated all Christian literature, and 
told my instructor, not openly but in secrecy, as to a 
friend, " Know that I am already a Christian." He 
answered, " I shall not believe it, nor rank you among 
Christians, till I see you in the church of Christ." But 
he smiling answered, "Do walls then make chris- 
tians?" This kind of dialogue was frequently repeat- 
ed between them. For Victorinus feared to offend his 
friends, men of rank and dignity, and he dreaded the 
loss of reputation. But after that by further study- 
ing of the word and by secret prayer he had acquired 
more strength, and feared to be denied by Christ be- 
fore the angels, if he denied him before men, and felt 
himself condemned for being ashamed of Christian sa- 
craments, though he had not been ashamed of demon- 
worship, he blushed at his false modesty ; and sudden- 
ly said to Simplician, " Let us go to the church, I wish 
to be made a Christian." The venerable old saint, un- 
able to contain his joy, went with him, when he was 
imbued with the first sacraments of instruction. Not 
long after he gave in his name, that he might have the 
benefit of Christian baptism. Rome was astonished; 
the church rejoiced. The proud saw and were indig- 
nant, and gnashed with their teeth and pined away ; 


but, the Lord his God was the hope of thy servant, and 
he no longer regarded lying vanities. At length, when 
the season came on of professing his belief, which pro- 
fession is usually delivered at Rome from a high place 
in the sight of the faithful, in a certain form of words 
gotten by heart, by those who are to partake of thy 
grace in baptism, an offer was made by the presbyters 
to Victorinus, that he should repeat them more secret- 
ly, as was the custom for some who were likely to be 
disturbed through bashfulness. But he chose rather 
to profess his salvation in the sight of the holy multi- 
tude ; for there was no salvation in rhetoric, and yet 
he had publicly professed it. When he mounted the 
pulpit to repeat, with a noise of congratulation, as ma- 
ny as knew him, resounded his name ; and who did 
not know him ? Amidst the general joy, the sound, 
though checked with decent reverence, went around, 
" Victorinus, Victorinus." They exulted at the sud- 
den sight of him , and were as suddenly silent, that 
they might hear him. He pronounced the form of 
words with an excellent confidence, and all wished to 
hold him in their bosom, and they actually did so in 
love and joy.* 

O good God! what is the cause that men more re- 
joice in the salvation of a soul despaired of, than if it 
had always been in a state of security! For even thou, 
merciful Father, rejoicest more over one penitent, than 
over ninety and nine just persons that need no repen- 
tance, and we hear with peculiar pleasure the recov- 
ery of thy prodigal son. Now what is the reason, that 
the mind is more delighted with things recovered, 
than with things never lost ? Human life is full of 
such instances. Is this the law of human happiness? 
How high art thou in the highest, and how inscrutable 
in the deepest. Thou never recedest from us, and 
with reluctance we return to thee ? Awake, O Lord, 

* I thought a careful translation of this story was proper It is an instance 
oY victorious grace, something like that which we have more at large related by 
Augustine concerning himself. It shews how disreputable real Christianity was 
. among the great, even in countries, where it was the established religion, as was 
then ilie case at Rome, and what grace is neeeful to cause men to be willing to 
bear the cross of Christ, and it illustrates also some Christian customs and dia 
pipline at that time. 

and do, quicken and recall us, inflame and carry uy 
along ; burn, be sweet to our taste, and let us now love 
and run* The joy of Victorinus' conversion indeed 
was great, because his influence and authority, it Avas 
hoped might be useful to the salvation of many. For 
far be it from thee, that in thine house there should be 
respect of persons, since thou RATHER HAST CHOSEN 


things which are not, to bring to nought things that 
are. What a treasure had the heart and tongue of 
Victorinus been to Satan ! well did it become thy sons 
to exult, because our king had bound the strong man, 
and they saw his goods to be taken from him, and 
cleansed, and fitted for thy honour, and to every good 

Hearing these things from Simplician, I was infla- 
med with a desire of imitation. But after he had 
informed me father, that Victorinus, on occasion of 
Julian's prohibitory law, had given up his professor- 
ship, I found an inclination to imitate him, bound as I 
was to the same calling, not by a foreign chain, but my 
own iron will. The enemy held my will, thence form- 
ed my chain, and held me fast. From a perverse will 
was formed lust, from the indulgence of lust was form- 
ed habit, and habit unresisted became necessity. Of 
such links w r as my chain of slavery composed; and 
the new will, which was beginning in me, to worship 
thee freely, and enjoy thee my sole certain pleasure, 
was not yet strong enough to overcome the old one, 
hardened by custom. Thus two wills, the old and the 
new, the flesh and the spirit contended within me, and 
between them tore my very soul.* Thus did I under- 
stand by my own experience what I had read, that the 
flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against 
the flesh.f I indeed was actuated by both, but more 

* Excellent comment pn Rom. vii. a description only to be understood by 
experienced Christians. 

f- Gulat. v. where the same subject is more briefly handled : the conflict 5s 
well known'to true Christians all their days, though it most strikes their minds 
at first. In the unconverted, it can have no existence, because the will is inclin- 
ed only one way, and it is therefore quite a different thing 1 from the conflict be- 
tween reason and passion, with which it has been Confounded. 


by that which I approved, than by that which I cTi- 
approved. I had now, no just excuse; truth was cer 
tain to me, yet I was loth to serve thee, and was as 
afraid to be rid of my impediments, as I ought to have 
been of contracting them. My meditations on thee 7 
were like the attempts of men desirous of awaking, 
but sinking again into sleep. I had not an heart to 


By and by shortly let me alone a little these were 
the answers of my heart. But, by and by had na 
bounds, and let me alone a little, went to a great 
length. In vain was I delighted with thy law in the 
inner man, when another law in my members warred 
against the law of my mind. AVretched man that I 
am ! who shall deliver me from the body of this death,, 
but thy grace through Jesus Christ our Lord ? 

My anxiety increasing, I daily groaned to thee ; 
frequented thy church as often as I had leasure from 
those employments, under the weight of which I groan- 
ed. Arypius was with me during his vacation front 
the law, which was his practice, as rhetoric was mine. 
Our other friend Nebridius was gone to assist Vere- 
cundus at Milan in teaching grammar, who studiously 
avoided attendance upon the great, that he might com- 
mand leisure to improve his mind. On a certain day r 
Politian, an African, one of our townsmen, came to 
visit me and Alypius. We sat down to converse, and 
upon the play- table which was before us, he saw a 
book, opened it, and found it to be the apostle PauL, 
to his great surprise ; for he supposed it to have been 
a book relating to my profession. He, though a sol- 
dier at court, was a devout person, and congratulated 
me on my taste. On my informing him how earnest- 
ly I studied those epistles, he gave me an account of 
Antony the Egyptian monk, a character to that hour 
unknown to us ; he informed us also of a number of 
monasteries, of which we knew nothing. There was 
a monastery at Milan under the care of Ambrose 

Epttesians v- 


at that time, of which we had not heard.* When he 
had given a narration also of two of his companions, 
who suddenly gave themselves up to God in the same 
way, and forsook the world, I felt myself confounded. 
About twelve years had now elapsed from the nine- 
teenth year of my life, when I read Cicero's Horten- 
sius, to this time, since I had begun to seek wisdom, 
and I was yet at a distance from joy. In the entrance 
on youth, I had prayed for chastity, and had said, 
" Give me chastity and continence, but grant not my 
request immediately." For I was afraid, lest thou 
shouldest quickly hear my prayer, and heal this dis- 
temper of concupiscence, which I wished rather to be 
fully gratified than extinguished. And I had gone on 
perversely in depraved superstition, with a heart at en- 
mity against thy truth, and had deferred from day to 
day to devote myself to thee, under the pretence that 
I was uncertain where the truth lay. Now that it was 
certain, I was still a slave, and "I hear of others, who 
have not studied ten or twelve years, as I have done, 
and who, notwithstanding have given themselves up 
to God." Such were my thoughts. What pains did I 
not take to spur my reluctant spirit ! my arguments 
were spent, a silent trepidation remained, and I dread- 
ed deliverance itself as death. " What is this, said I 
to Alypius, which you have heard? Illiterate men rise 
and seize Heaven, while we with all our learning, are 
rolling in the filth of sin. In the agitation of my spirit 
I retired into the garden belonging to the house, know- 
ing how evil I was, but ignorant of the good thou hadst 
in store for me. Alypius followed me, and we sat re- 
mote from the house, and with vehement indignation 
I rebuked my sinful spirit, because it would not give 
itself up to God. I found I wanted a will. Still was 
I held, and thou, in secret, wast urgent upon me with 
severe mercy. Vanities of vanities, my old friends, 
shook my vesture of flesh, and whispered, are we to 

* Should the serious reader find himself inclined to blame this monastic tast , 
I agree with him ; but let the principle have its just praise; it originated in a 
desire of freedom from the temptations of the world ; and let professors of god- 
liness observe, how much the excessive indulgence of Uncommercial spirit 
Tents their o\vn progress ia our times. 


part ? and for ever? The evil suggestions which I felt, 
may thy mercy avert from the soul of thy servant ! 
Canst thou live without us ? it was said ; but with less 
and less power? Canst not thou, on the other hand, 
it was suggested, do what those and these have done, 
not in themselves, but in the strength of the Lord ? 
Throw thyself on him, fear not, he will not suffer thee 
to fall. Turn a deaf ear to the suggestions of the flesh ; 
they speak of pleasure, but not as the law of thy God. 
Such was my internal controversy. When deep med- 
itation had collected all my misery into the view of 
my heart, a great storm arose producing a large show- 
er of tears. To give it vent, I rose up hastily from 
Alypius. The sound of my voice appeared pregnant 
with weeping, and he remained motionless in the 
same place. 1 prostrated myself under a fig-tree, and 
with tears bursting out, I spake to this effect : How 
long, Lord, wilt thou be angry? for ever? remember 
not my old iniquities. For I perceived myself entan- 
gled by them. How long shall I say to-morrow? why 
should not this hour put an end to my slavery ? Thus I 
spake and wept in the bitterness of my soul, and I heard 
a voice as from a neighboring house of one repeat- 
ing frequently, " take up and read, take up and read." 
I paused, and began to think, whether I ever had 
heard boys use such a speech in any play, and could 
recollect nothing like it. I then concluded, that I was 
ordered from heaven, to take up the book, and read 
the first sentence I cast mine eyes upon. I returned 
hastily to the place, where Alypius was sitting; for 
there I had placed the book of St. Paul's Epistles. I 
seized it, opened, and read what first struck my eyes : 
"not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering 
and wantonness, not in strife and envying ; but put ye 
on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for 
tbe flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." Nor did I choose 
to read any thing more, nor had I occasion. Imme- 
diately at the end of this sentence, all my doubts van- 
ished. I closed the book, and wiih a tranquil coun- 
tenance gave it to Alypius. He begged to see what I 


had read, I showed him it, and he read still further.* 
Him that is weak in the faith receive ye ; which he 
applied to himself, as he told me. With a placid se- 
renity and composure suitable to his character, in 
which he far excelled me, he joined with me in going 
to my mother, who now triumphed in the abundant 
answers given to her petitions. Thus didst thou turn 
her mourning into joy. 


O LORD, I am thy servant, and the son of thine 
handmaid, thou hast broken my bonds in sunder. 
Let my heart and tongue, and all my bones say, Lord, 
who is like unto thee ? and do thou answer me, and 
say to my soul, 1 am thy salvation. Who and what 
am I ? what evil am I not ? Was it my will, or words, 
or deeds, that have done it? No ; but thou Lord, good 
and merciful, and thy right hand looking at the depth 
of my death, and exhausting the abyss of corruption 
from the bottom of my heart. The whole of my evil 
lay in a will, stubbornly set in opposition to thine. 
But where lay of old time, and from what deep secret 
was my free-will called out in a moment, by which I 
bowed my neck to thy easy yoke, and my shoulders 
to thy light burden, Christ Jesus, my helper and Re- 
deemer ? How sweet was it in a moment to be free 
from those delightful vanities, to lose which had been 
my dread, to part with which w r as now my joy ! Thou 
ejectedst them, O my true and consummate Delight, 
and thou enteredst in their room, O sweeter than all 
pleasure, but not to flesh and blood ; clearer than all 
light, but to the inner man : higher than all honour, 
but not to those who are high in their own eyes. * 
Now was my mind set free from the corroding cares of 
avarice, and ambition, and lust, and I communed in 
playful ease with thee, my Light, my Riches, my 
Saviour, and my God. 

* Rom. xiii, and xiv. beginning. 


I determined in thy sight to give up my employ- 
ments not abruptly, but gradually.* And opportunely 
the vintage vacation being at hand, I resolved to con- 
tinue in my employment till that time. I was glad al- 
so, that I had an opportunity of saying to my scholars, 
what was true, that the care of my health, which had 
suffered much from fatigue, obliged me to cease from 
the laborious office of teaching. And to have given 
up the work before the vacation might have appear- 
ed arrogant and exposed me to the censure of vanity. 
But should any of thy servants think, that I did wrong 
in remaining in the chair of deceit a day longer, I will 
not contend. But hast not thou, most merciful Lord, 
washed away this, with all my other deadly sins, in 
the laver of regeneration ? 

Our friend Verecundus was seized wdth a distem- 
per, and receiving baptism in the midst of it, departed 
this life in thy faith and fear. Not long after my con- 
version, my friend Nebridius also, though he had sunk 
into the error which takes away the proper manhood 
of thy Son, was recovered; and becoming a faithful 
Christian, in Africa his own country, quitted this taber- 
nacle of clay, and now lives in Abraham's bosom. He 
no more puts his ear to my mouth, but his spiritual 
mouth to thy fountain to receive as much wisdom as 
he is capable of happy without end. 

* I would suggest four particular remarks on the narrative of our author's 
ffwversion. 1. That it does please God in every age to distinguish some of the 
ivories of his Holy Spirit by extraordinary circumstances. It is oflittle cnnse-r 
quence, to debate whether the voice heard in the garden was miraculous or not, 
whether literally true, or an impression on his mind. Either way it was equal- 
ly from God, and sheds a lustre on the conversion of a great and eminently holy 
personage, who was called to testify remarkably for God in his day. 2. There is 
generally some master-sin, which impedes the work of God in all his people-; 
Augustine's was sensuality, and in the mortification of that master-sin the grace 
of God is peculiarly illustrated. 3. The great medium of deliverance always is, 
the written word of God testifying of Jesus, and salvation only by putting him 
on through filth. 4. Man's extremity is God's opportunity. In our weakness 
thoroughly felt God appears. Ts it to be wondered, that the saint before us 
proved so strong and zealous a champion of the effectual grace of God, and was 
made use ot to revive the clear doctrine of it in the church, and was trained up 
by his own experience to defend it against the subtilties of Pelagius ? He who 
foresaw what Pelagius would introduce, in his adorable wisdom thus provided an 
experienced pastor of his church, who in due time should withstand his corrup- 
tions. But of this more hereafter. 


It is pleasant to me to remember and confess how 
thou didst teach me and my friend Alypius, in the 
country, where we enjoyed the affectionate and sedu- 
lous care of my mother. We were both in the capa- 
city of catechumens, and I read with pleasure the 
Psalms of David. With what mingled pity and indig- 
nation did I look on the Manichees, who madly reject- 
ed the antidote of life. O that they saw the internal 
eternal life, which because I had tasted, I grieved, 
that I could not shew it to them. 

The holidays being finibhed, 1 signified to my schol- 
ars, that they must provide themselves another teach- 
er. And I wrote to Ambrose an account of my errors, 
and of my present desire; and begged him to recom- 
mend some part of thy word more particularly to my 
attention, as a proper preparative for baptism. He 
pointed out to me the prophet Isaiah, I apprehend, on 
account of his superior perspicuity in opening the gos- 
pel. However, finding the first part of this prophet 
more obscure, and apprehending the rest to be simi- 
lar, I deferred the reading of him, till I was more ex- 
perienced in the Scriptures. The time approaching 
in which I must give in my name, I left the country 
and returned to Milan. There I received baptism with 
Alypius and the boy Adeodatus, the fruit of my sin. 
He was almost fifteen years old, and, in understand- 
ing, he exceeded many learned men. I glorify thee 
for thy gifts, my God; for I had nothing in the boy but 
sin. For that I brought hirn up in thy religion, thou, 
and thou only inspiredst me. 1 looked with trembling 
at his prodigious genius. But thou soon rernovedst 
him from the earth, and I remember him with great- 
er satisfaction, as I have now no anxiety for his child- 
hood, his youth, or his manhood. Nor could I at that 
time be satisfied with contemplating the mystery of 
redemption. The hymns and songs of thy church 
moved my soul intensely; thy truth was distilled by 
them into my heart ; the flame of piety was kindled, 
and my tears flowed for joy. This practice of singing 
had been of no long standing at Milan. It began 
about the year when Justina persecuted Ambrose. 



The pious people watched in the church, prepared t 
die with their pastor. There my mother sustained an 
eminent part in watching and praying. Then hymns 
and psalms after the manner of the east, were sung, 
with'a view of preserving the people from weariness ; 
and thence the custom has spread through Christian 

Thou, who makes! men to be of one mind in an 
house, unitedst to us one of our young townsmen, Eu- 
odius, who had served in the army, and was now re- 
generated. We determined to return to Africa, and 
when we were at the mouth of the Tiber, my mother 
departed this life. I must not pass by the conceptions 
of my soul concerning her, who endured labor for my 
temporal birth, and labored in heart for my spirit- 
ual birth. She had been brought up in a Christian 
family, but did not so much commend her mother's 
care, as that of a decrepid old servant of the house, 
who had nursed her father, whose years and charac- 
ter were highly respected, and who superintended the 
education of her master's daughters. She never suf- 
fered them to drink even water, except -at meals, tell- 
ing them, that if ever they became mistresses, the 
custom of drinking would remain, but they would 
then indulge it in wine, not water. Yet my mother 
Monica, notwithstanding the care of this provident 
governess, when young had learned by degrees to 
drink wine, having been sent to draw it for the use of 
the family. By what method was she delivered from 
this snare ? Thou providest for her a malignant re- 
proach from a maid of the house, who, in a passion, 
called her drunkard. From that moment she gave 
up the practice for ever. Thus didst thou prepare a 
cure for her evil practice, by the malevolent railing of 
another, that no man may attribute it to his own pow- 
er, if his admonitions of another be attended with sal- 
utary effect* 

* I cowld not prevail with myself to pass over altogether this, anxl a few more 
circumstances of domestic life, which follow. Let the piety and prudence, 
which they breathe, compensate for their simplicity. To a serious mind they 
wll! perhaps appear, not only not contemptible., but even also instructive. 


After her marriage with my father Patricius, she en- 
deavored to win him over to thy service by the amia- 
bleness of her manners, and patiently bore the injuries 
of his unfaithfulness. She still looked for thy mercy, 
that, learning to believe in thee, he might become 
chaste. His temper was passionate^ but his spirit be- 
nevolent. She knew how to bear with him when an- 
gry, by a perfect silence and composure; and when 
she saw him cool, would meekly expostulate with 
him. Many matrons in her company would complain 
of the blows and harsh treatment they received from 
their husbands, whose tempers were yet milder than 
that of Patricias: whom she would exhort to govern 
their tongues, and remember the inferiority of their 
condition. And when they expressed their astonish- 
ment that it was never heard that Patricius, a man of 
so violent a temper, had beaten his wife, or that they 
ever were at variance a single day, she informed them 
of her plan. Those, who followed it, thanked her for 
the good success of it ; those who did not, experienced 
vexation. Her mother-in-law, at first was irritated 
against her by the whispers of servants. But she over- 
came her by mild obsequiousness, insomuch that she 
at length informed her son of the slanders of those 
backbiters, and desired that they might be restrained. 
Thus she and her mother-in-law lived in perfect har- 
mony. It was a great gift, which, O my God, thou 
gavest to her, that she never repeated any of the fierce 
things, which she heard from persons who were at va- 
riance with one another, and was conscientiously ex- 
act, in saying nothing but what might tend to heal and 
to reconcile* 

I might have been tempted to think this a small 
good, had I not known by grievous experience the in- 
numerable evils resulting to society from the contrary 
spirit by which men extend mischief like a pestilence, 
not only repeating the words of angry enemies, to 
angry enemies, but also adding what never had been 
sn id; whereas the human mind should not be content 
with negative goodness in such cases, but should en- 
deavor to promote peace by speaking what is good. 


as my amiable mother did, through the effectual 
teaching of thy Spirit. At length, in the extremity of 
life, she gained her husband to thee, and he died in the 
faith of Christ. 

It was through thy secret appointment, that she 
and I stood alone at a window facing the east, in a 
house at the mouth of the Tiber, where we were pre- 
paring ourselves for our voyage. Our discourse was 
highly agreeable, and forgetting the past, we endeav- 
ored to conceive aright the nature of the eternal life of 
the saints. It was evident to us, that no carnal delights 
deserve to be named on this subject ; erecting our 
spirits more ardently, we ascended above the noblest 
parts of the material creation to the consideration of 
our own minds, and passing above them, we attempt- 
ed to reach heaven itself, to come to thee, by whom all 
things were made. There our hearts were enamored, 
and there we held fast the first fruits of the Spirit, and 
returned to the sound of our own voice, which gave 
us an emblem of the divine Word. We said, if a 
man should find the flesh, the imagination, and every 
tongue to be silent, all having confessed their Maker, 
and afterwards holding their peace, and if he should 
now apply his ear to him who made them, and God 
alone should speak, not by any emblems or created 
things, but by himself, so that we could hear his word, 
should this be continued, and other visions be with- 
drawn, and this alone ? seize and absorb the spectator 
forever, is not this the meaning of, "Enter thou into 
the joy of thy Lord ?"* At that moment the world ap- 
peared to us of no value: and she said, Son, I have 
now no delight in life. What I should do here and 
why I am here I know not, the hope of this life being 
quite spent. One thing only, your conversion, was 
an object for which I wished to live. My God has giv- 
en rne this in larger measure. What do I here ? 
Scarce five days after, she fell into a fever. A brother 
of mine who was with us lamented, that she was like- 
ly to die in a foreign land. She looked at him with 

* Matthew xxv. In Rev. xxi. 23, the same sublime thought is described under 
th? medium of sight which here is conveyed under the medium of hearing-. 


anxiety to sec him so groveling in his conceptions, 
and then looking at me, said, Place this body any 
where; do not distress yourselves concerning it. I 
could not but rejoice and give thee thanks, that she 
was delivered from that anxiety, with which I knew 
she always had been agitated in regard to* a sepulchre 
which she had provided for herself, and prepared near 
the body of her husband. I knew not the time, when 
by the fulness of thy grace, she had been rid of this 
emptiness, but I rejoiced to find this evidence of it. 
I heard afterwards, that while we were at Ostia she 
had discoursed with some friends in my absence con- 
cerning the contempt of life, and they, expressing their 
surprise that she did not fear to leave her body so far 
from her own country ; nothing, said she, is far to 
God, and I do not fear, that he should not know where 
to find me at the resurrection. She departed this 
life on the ninth day of her illness, in the fifty-sixth 
year of her age, and the thirty-third of mine.* 


Now Lord, my groaning testifies that I am displeas- 
ed with myself; but thou art light and pleasure, and 
art loved and desired, that I may blush for myself, and 
throw away myself, and choose thee ; and neither at- 
tempt to please thee, nor myself, but by depending on 
thee. For when I am wicked, this is nothing else, but 
to confess that I am displeased with myself; and when 
godly, this is nothing else, but to confess that thou af- 
fordest that gift to me. The confessions of my past 
evils, which thou hast forgiven, changing my mind by 
faith and thy baptism, when they are read and heard, 
excite the heart, that it sink not in despair, but may 
watch in the love of thy mercy, and the sweetness of 

* In what follows to the end of this book, the author gives a very amiable 
picture of the filial affections, tempered by piety und resignation, which he felt 
on this occasion, not indeed Wtthout a mixture of the superstition of praying for 
the dead, which was growing in this century. In him the evangelical spirit, 
however, predominates extremely, even while he is indulging the superstitious. 
.But let. ii> suffice to have given this general accounti 


ihy grace, by which the weak is made strong, who, by 
it, is brought to feel his own weakness. But what ad-'- 
vantage will result from my confessing, as I now pro- 
pose, not what I was, but what I now am ? I will dis- 
cover myself to such as will rejoice over me for what is 
good, and will pray for and sympathize with me in re- 
gard to what is evil, more secure as I am, through thy 
mercy than my innocence. I am a little child, but 
my father always lives, and is my sufficient guardian. 
What temptations I can or cannot resist, I know not. 
But my hope is this, that thou art faithful, that thou 
dost not suffer us to be tempted, above that we are 
able, but with the temptation also makest a way to es- 
cape; that we may be able to bear it.* Lord, I love 
thee ; thou hast smitten my heart with thy word, and I 
have loved thee. But what do I love, when I love 
thee ? not the heavens and the earth, nor any created 
beauty. They cry aloud, we are not God, he made us. 
Where shall I find thee, but in thyself above me ? 
Too late did I love thee, thou PRIMEVAL Beauty. 
Thou calledst aloud, and overcamest my deafness, 
Thou shonest and dispelledst my darkness. Thou 
wast fragrant, and I panted after thee. I tasted, and 
hungered and thirsted after thee : thou touchedst me, 
and I was inflamed mto thy peace. When I shall stick 
wholly to thee, I shall no more have pain and fatigue, 
and my whole life shall live full of thee. But now be- 
cause thou supportest him whom thou fillest, because 
I am not full of thee, I am a burden to myself. My 
wholesome griefs and pernicious pleasures contend 
together, and I know not on which side the victory 
stands. Woe is me ! Thou art my physician, I am sick* 
Thou art merciful, I am wretched. All my hope lies 
in thy immense mercy. Give what thou commandest, 
and command what thou wilt. Thou commandest us to 
keep from the lust of the flesh, from the lust of the eyes, 
and from the pride of life. And what thou command- 
est, thou hast given me. Yet there still live in my me- 
mory the images of evils, to which I had been habit- 
uated, and they occur to me even in sleep. Is not thy 

1 Cor. x. 


hand, O God, able to heal all the diseases of my soul, 
and to sanctify even the hours of rest ?f I would rejoice 
with trembling in what thouhast given me, and mourn 
over that which is imperfect, and hope that thou will 
perfect thy mercies, when death shall be swallowed up 
in victory. 

There is another evil of the day, and I wish the day 
may be sufficient for it. We refresh the continual ru- 
ins of the body by food, till this corruptible shall put 
on incorruption. Thou hast taught me to use aliment 
as medicine. But while I am passing from the unea- 
siness of hunger to the rest of satiety ; in the very pas- 
sage the snare of concupiscence is laid for me ; and 
the bounds of innocence are not easily defined, and a 
pretence for indulgence is made on that very account. 
These temptations 1 daily endeavor to resist, and I call 
on thy right hand for my salvation, and make known to 
thce my agitations of soul, because I am not yet clear 
on this subject. I hear my God, " let not your heart 
be overcharged with surfeiting and drunken ness. >? * 
The latter is far from me, let it not approach me ; the 
former sometimes steals upon me, keep it at a distance 
from me. Who is there, Lord, that is perfectly tempe- 
rate ? Whoever he be, let him magnify thy name. 
But I am not he, I am a sinful man. However I mag- 
nify thy name, and he who overcame the world, and 
numbers me among the weak members of his body 
intercedes for my sins. 

In regard to the enticement of smells, I am not so- 
licitous. When they are absent, I want them not; 
when present I c}o not refuse them, content to be with- 
out them entirely. So I think ; but such is my miser- 
able darkness, that I must not easily credit myself be- 
cause, what is within, geaerally lies hid, till experience 
evidence it. The only hope, the only confidence, the 
only firm promise is thy mercy. 

The pleasures of the ear have deeper hold on me. 
I find, even while I am charmed with sacred melody, I 
am led astray at times by the luxury of sensations, and 

| The Christian desires his hours of sleep to be all devoted to the glory of Gofi 
* Luke xxj. 


offend, not knowing at the -time, but afterwards I dis- 
cover it. Sometimes guarding against this fallacy, I err 
in the other extreme, and could wish all the melody of 
David's psalms were removed from my ears and those 
of the church, and think it safer to imitate the plan of 
Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, who directed a meth- 
od of repeating the Psalms, more resembling pronun- 
ciation than music. But when I remember my tears 
of affection at my conversion under the melody 
of thy church, with which I am still affected, I again 
acknowledge the utility of the custom. Thus do I 
fluctuate between the danger of pleasure, and the ex- 
perience of utility, and am more induced, though with 
a wavering assent, to own that the infirmity of nature 
maybe assisted in devotion by psalmody. Yet when 
the tune has moved me more than the subject, I feel 
guilty and am ready to wish 1 had not heard the mu- 
sic.* See where I am, and mourn with me, ye who 
are conscious of any inward feelings of godliness. I 
cannot expect the sympathy of those who are not. 
Thou, Lord my God, hear, and pity x and heal me. 

The pleasures of the eye I find to entangle me from 
time to time. But thou deliverest me, sometimes 
without pain, because I fall into them gently ; at oth- 
er times with pain, because I stick in them. 

Another form of manifold danger is added, a curi- 
ous spirit, palliated by the name of knowledge. Sur- 
rounded as we are with objects, when can J say I am 
freed from this ? What vehement temptations have I 
had from the enemy to ask of thee a sign ? But I be- 
seech thee by our king Jesus Christ, that, as I am far 
from consenting to it, so I may be farther and farther. 
What a trifle diverts me from a thought of great im- 
portance, and unless thou quickly admonish me by 
the conviction of my infirmity, either to divert the 
thought by some serious meditation, or to despise it al- 
together, I should become absolutely dull. My life is 
full of these evils, and even my prayers are often dis- 

* All who attend to sacred psalmody, may learn from this, the importance of 
watching- their hearts, and of attending clpsely to the truths brought into view 
in the sacred song. 


turbed, and while I apply my heart to thirje ears, I am 
overborne by a torrent of vanities. 

What can give hope except thy mercy, by which 
thou hast begun to renew us? And thou knowest 
how much thou hast done for me already. I carry thy 
yoke, and find it easy, as thou hast promised. It al- 
ways was so, but I did not believe it, when I was 
afraid to take it upon me : but can I, O Lord, who alone 
rulest without pride because thou hast no superior, 
can I in this life be exempt from pride ? Well done, 
well done, I find scattered in the nets by the enemy 
every where. Daily, Lord, we feel these temptations. 
Thou knowest on this head, the groans of my heart, 
and the floods of mine eyes. Nor can I easily see, that 
I grow more free from this pest of pride ; and I much 
fear my secret evils, which thou knowest. I am poor 
and needy, and my best method is to seek thy mercy 
in secret groans and self abhorrence, till thou perfect 
that which concerneth me. 

There is another internal evil, by which a man, 
without seeking to please others, pleases himself with 
thy good things, as if they were his own ; or if he al- 
lows them to be thine, yet he is apt to fancy them be- 
stowed upon him for his own merits ; or he pleases him- 
self with indulging an invidious spirit against others. 
In all these dangers thou seest the trembling of my 
heart; I feel my wounds healed every now and then 
by thee ; but I feel not an exemption from them. 
Sometimes thou introducest me into an uncommon 
affection, into a sweetness past the power of descrip- 
tion, which, were it perfected in me, I should not see 
what life would want to complete its felicity. But I 
sink back by the weight of misery, and am held en- 

Whom shall I look to as my mediator ? Shall I go 
to angels ? Many have tried this, and have been fond 
of visions, and have deserved to be the sport of the il- 
lusions which they loved. A mediator between God 
and man must have the nature of both. The true me- 
diator, whom in thy secret mercy thou hast shewn to 
the humble, and hast sent, that by his example they 


might also learn humility, the man Christ Jesus hath 
appeared a mediator between mortal sinners and the 
immortal Holy One, that, because the wages of right- 
eousness is life and peace ; by his divine righteous- 
ness he might justify the ungodly, and deliver them 
from death. He was shewn to ancient saints, that 
they might be saved by faith in his future sufferings 
as we by faith in the same sufferings already past. 
How hast thou loved us, Father, delivering up thy on- 
ly Son for us ungodly ? For whom he, our priest and 
sacrifice, who thought it no robbery to be equal with 
thee, was subjected to death. Well may my hope be 
strong through such an Intercessor ; else, I should des- 
pair. Many and great are my diseases, thy medicine 
larger still. Were he not made flesh for us, we could 
not dream of having any union with him. Terrified 
with my sins arid the weight of my misery, I was des- 
ponding, but thou encouragedst me, saying, Christ di- 
ed for all, that they which live should not live to 
themselves, but to him that died for them.* Lo, I 
cast all my care on thee, Lord, that I may live. Thou 
knowest my weakness and ignorance, teach and heal 
me. He hath redeemed me with his blood, in whom 
are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 
Let not the proud calumniate me, if with the poor I 
desire to eat and be satisfied, and to praise the Lord.f 

Augustine, after his conversion, returned with some 
friends into Africa, and lived upon his own estate for 
almost three years, retired from the world. A desire 
to oblige a person of some consequence in Hippo, 
who requested his instructions, brought him at length 

* 2 Corinthians v. 

$ Psalm xxii. 26. We see in this last book the author's description of the 
conflict between flesh and spirit after his conversion, and the repose of his soul 
for peace and happiness only on the Lord Jesus as his righteousness and strength. 
I shall make no farther remarks than to repeat his own observation in his retrac- 
tions. " These Confessions praise the God of righteousness and goodness, and 
excite the human understanding and affection toward him. Tney dxl this in me 
while I was writing them, and they do it still when I read them. What others 
may think of th.em let them judge ; but I know they Imve much pleased and da 
please many of the brethren," 


to that city, where Valerius was bishop, a person of 
great piety ; but, on account of his slender acquaint- 
ance with the Latin tongue, scarce adequate to the 
office of pastor in that place. Augustine, through the 
strong and urgent desires of the people, was ordained 
presbyter to Valerius ; but wept on the occasion from 
the genuine sense which he had of the importance of 
the office. He told Possidius that his tears were by 
some misconstrued,* as if he regretted that he had 
not been chosen bishop. Such poor judges are ma- 
ny, of the views and sensations of godly men ! Vale- 
rius rejoiced that God bad heard his prayers, and that 
the people would now be supplied with such a pastor. 
He gave him licence to preach in the presence of the 
bishop, a thing before unknown in Africa ; but which, 
from the good effects of this precedent, afterwards grew 
common. Here his ministry was useful in the instruc- 
tion and edification of the brethren, and also in the 
defeat of various heresies. Divine truth, which had 
been almost buried amidst many schisms and distrac- 
tions in Africa, now raised up its head again ; and 
Fortunatus, the great leader of the Manichees, was 
obliged, in confusion, to leave Hippo, when he found 
himself, by the confession of the hearers, vanquished 
in a conference with Augustine. 

Heretics vied with the members of the general 
church in their attention to the pastoral labors of Au- 
gustine, whose fame began gradually to spread through- 
out the western world. Valerius rejoiced and gave 
thanks on the account, and being solicitous to preserve 
such a treasure to his church, he took care to get Au- 
gustine elected bishop of Hippo, in conjunction with 
himself. Age and infirmities rendered Valerius very 
inadequate to the work ; and every true Christian will 
doubt which more to admire, the godly zeal of Augus- 
tine, tempered with modesty and chanty, or the un- 
feigned humility of Valerius, Augustine, after he had 
strongly resisted the inclinations of the bishop and all 
the church, at length accepted the office ; the duties 
of which he continued to discharge after the cteceas** 

Possid. Life of Aug 1 , 

of Valerius. His zeal and assiduity increased with 
his authority. The monastery of his institution be- 
came renowned in Africa ; and about ten bishops, 
of undoubted piety, known to our author,* came from 
this seminary. These instituted monasteries after the 
same pattern, and from them other churches were 
supplied with pastors; and the doctrines of faith, 
hope, and charity, by these means, and also by Augus- 
tine's writings, which were translated into the Greek 
tongue, were diffused and enforced with increasing 
vigor through the Christian world. His writings, how- 
ever, never seem to have had any permanent influence 
in the eastern church. 


The Pelagian Controversy. 

A.T a time when the influence of the Holy Spirit was 
faintly experienced, and superstition and licentious- 
ness were rapidly increasing, satan felt himself embol- 
dened to raise a new heresy, which should pretend to 
purity, in perfection, resulting from the excellence of 
MERE HUMAN NATURE, without the agency of divine 
grace. This was Pelagianism : an heresy which de- 
rived its name from Pelagius, a monk, who decried 
the doctrine of the original corruption of human nature, 
and the necessity of Divine grace to enlighten the under- 
standing and purify the heart, because they were pre- 
judicial to the progress of holiness and virtue, and ten- 
ding to establish mankind in a presumptuous and fatal 
security. He taught that we derive no corruption 
from the fall of om first parents, but are born as pure 
and unspotted as Adam came from the forming hand 
of his Creator ; that mankind are capable of repen- 
tance and amendment, and of arriving at the highest 
degrees of piety and virtue by the use of their natural 
powers and faculties ; that indeed external grace is ne- 
cessary to excite their endeavors, but tkat they have 



no need of the internal succours of the Divine Spirit ; 
that Adam was by nature mortal ; and certainly 
would have died, if he had not sinned ; that the grace 
of God is given in proportion to our merits; that man- 
kind may arrive at a state of perfection in this life ; 
and that the law qualified men for the kingdom of 
heaven, and was founded upon equal promises with 
the gospel. 

Pelagius was born in Britain. His companion, and 
coadjutor in heresy, was Ccelestius an Irishman.- 
They were both laymen, and as far as appears, always 
maintained characters of fair and decent morals. 
They were both men of genius and capacity of the first 
rank. The heretical opinions of Pelagius did not ap- 
pear till he was far advanced in life ; before that time, 
his reputation for serious piety was great in the Chris- 
tian world. Those who know the difference between 
real holiness and the semblance of it in mere morality 
will not be surprized at this. 

To counteract this heresy, Augustine, of Hippo, had 
been trained up under the Lord's wholesome disci- 
pline, by an extraordinary conversion. In this way 
God made use of this heresy as an occasion of intro- 
ducing more just views of gospel grace, than had for a 
long time obtained in the church, and of reviving 
Christian truth, humility and piety. 

Pelagius used to deliver his heretical principles un- 
der the modest appearance of queries, started against 
the doctrines of the church, and those as not invented 
by himself but by others. This was an artful and pow- 
erful method to poison the minds of men. Also with 
consummate artifice he insinuated himself into the fa- 
vor of women of some rank, of weak minds, and unac- 
quainted with the spirit of the gospel, though profess- 
ing religion ; and by their means, he diffused his te- 
nets with much success. Ccelestius, more daring and 
open in speech, pursued a method not so replete witji 
deceit, and was therefore exposed to detection more 
easily than his master. He was condemned, by a 
synod, at Carthage, as an heretic, in the year 412, and 
his hopes of rising in the church ? were hereby cjisap- 


pointed. At this synod, when Ccelestius was asked 
whether he had not asserted, that infants are born in 
the state in which Adam was before transgression ; all 
that could be obtained from him was, " that infants 
needed baptism, and ought to be baptized." 

The Pelagian controversy was a dispute between 
holy men and mere men of the world ; between grace 
and human merit, between the spirit and doctrine of 
an humble publican, and that of a self-righteous phar- 

It appears, from well authenticated facts, that after 
Pelagius had travelled through the Roman empire, and 
had, in vain, attempted to overturn the doctrines of 
grace, he retired to his own native country. But 
nothing certain is to be known further either concern- 
ing him or Ccelestius. 


Augustine's Conduct toward the Donatists His death. 

i HE active spirit of the bishop of Hippo found 
much employment in his long course of private and 
public labors against the Pelagians, the Manichees and 
the Donatists, besides the general care of the African 
churches, and the peculiar inspection of his own dio- 
cese. The two former sects he in a manner eradica- 
ted. The last he opposed with much success. 

Some of the Donatists were, comparatively speak- 
ing, a mild and peaceable people ; but this was not the 
case with those who were called Circumcelliones. 
These were a mere banditti, sons of violence and 
bloodshed, who neither valued their own lives nor 
those of their neighbors, and frequently were remark- 
able for committing suicide in a fit of frenzy. They 
had a peculiar malice against the pastors of the gen- 
eral church, and from time to time, way-laid them, at- 
tacked them with armed force, and mutilated, or even 
killed them. Th^y burnt the houses of those who 


ifrould not comply with their sentiments, and were 
guilty of many detestable enormities. By these mis- 
erable men, Augustine was, several times, way-laid, 
and narrowly escaped. By him many of this banditti, 
were, however, brought, with much humility and joy 
to confess their error, and to return to the bosom of 
the church with every mark of serious repentance. 

After a life of great activity for the good of souls, 
and many sore trials, Augustine was seized with a fe- 
ver, which ended in his dissolution, in the year 430. 
He lived 76 years, 40 of which he had been a presby- 
ter or bishop. He used to say, that a Christian should 
never cease to repent, even to the hour 6f his death. 
He had David's penitential Psalms inscribed on the 
wall in his last sickness, and he read and wept abun- 
dantly. For ten days before he expired, he desired to 
be uninterrupted, that he might give himself wholly to 
devotion, except at certain intervals. He had preach- 
ed the word of God constantly, till his last sickness. 
He left no will, having neither money norlands to be- 
queath. His library he left to the church. Of his* 
f>wn relations, he had previously taken adequate care* 


The Theology of Augustine* 

the irruption of the Vandals, the Roman empire 
was on all sides dissolving, at the time of Augustine's 
death ; and its fairest provinces in Africa, fell into 
the hands of the barbarians But the light which, 
through his means, had been kindled, was not extinct ; 
for, as it depended not on the grandeur of the Roman 
empire, so neither was it extinguished by its decline. 
For more than a thousand years the light of Divine 
truth, which here and there shone in individuals, dur- 
ing the dreary night of superstition, was nourished by 
the writings of Augustine, which next to the sacred 
scriptures, were the guides of men who feared God. 


The doctrine of justification, however, he did not 
clearly understand, and a precise and clear exhibition 
of it is not to be found in his writings. Still he knew 
what faith in the Redeemer meant : and those parts 
of the scripture, which speak of the forgiveness of sins, 
he understood, felt and loved. 

While, to trust in ourselves, was the avowed boast 
of all the philosophers, and they were expecting vir- 
tue and every internal excellence, only from them- 
selves ; Augustine, by his own experience, felt human 
insufficiency completely, and knew that in himself 
dwelt no good thing. Hence was he admirably pre- 
pared to describe the total depravity and apostacy of 
human nature, and what he knew to be true he faith- 
fully describes. Feeling himself to have been changed 
entirely by effectual grace^ he came fully to acquiesce 
in St. Paul's views of predestination. This, with him, 
was a doctrine, which followed experimental religion^ 
as a shadow follows the substance. 

His theology was practical. He preached the doc- 
trines of grace with design to exalt God and humble 
the creature. He taught men what it is to be humble 
before God. Practical godliness was his theme, and 
he constantly connected all his views of grace with hu- 
mility. He taught in opposition to the Pelagian notion 
of sinless perfection, that the most humble and the 
most holy, have, through life, to combat with indwell- 
ing sin. He greatly delighted in the practical subjects 
of charity and heavenly-mindedness. These, from his 
first conversion, influenced all his conduct. In his 
writings, no pride, no self-conceit, no bitterness, ever 
discovered themselves in any expression. 

Finally, in ethics he is superior. On the subject of 
veracity and faithfulness ^to oaths, and in general, in 
the practice of justice, in the love of mercy, and in 
walking humbly with God, as he wrote most admira- 
bly, so he practised most sincerely 5 and by his wri- 
tings and practice, he exhorted others to be of the 
same judgment and of the same practice- with himself, 
as to the great things of religion. 




HIS renowned monk waB born at Stridon, near 
Dalmatia, under the emperor Constantine, in the year 
331. Great care was early taken to give him a good 
education. He Was brought up under religious in- 
struction from his infancy* After his baptism, at 
Rome, he travelled into France, and examined libra- 
ries, collecting information from all quarters. On his 
return to his own country, he determined to follow the 
profession of a monk, a term then implying a private 
recluse Christian, a life suited to gratify his studious 
disposition. He was, however, made a presbyter of 
the church, but never would proceed any further in 
ecclesiastical dignity. He spent four years in the de- 
serts of Syria, reading and studying with immense in- 
dustry. Here, by the assistance of a Jew, who visited 
him, Nicodemus-like, in the evenings,, lest he should 
give umbrage to his brethren, he acquired the knowl- 
edge of the Hebrew tongue, and with indefatigable 
labor, studied also the Chaldee and the Syriac. After 
this he visited Rome, where he encouraged a monas- 
tic life, and had many admirers. But unjust asper- 
sions having been cast on his character, with disgust 
he left Rorrie, and went into the East. Several of his 
admirers followed him* Having chosen Bethlehem 
as the seat of his old age, and having erected four 
monasteries, three for women, and one for men, he 
there spent the rest of his life, enjoying at times the 
society of his learned friends. In the year 42, ho 
died in the ninety first year of his age. His knowl- 
edge of theology was limited. He did not under- 
stand the true gospel-mystery of mortifying sin, and 
by his voluntary humility, and neglect of the body, 
and by the splendor of his ill-digested learning, con- 
tributed more than any other person of antiquity to 
the growth of superstition. But notwithstanding this 
he appears to have had some devout and just views of 
the character and offices of the Lord Jesus Christ. 



The Church of Christ in the West. 

JLT is time to resume the connected thread of history. 
But the reader must not expect a successive detail of 
the proceedings of the Roman princes. 

After the death of Theodosius, the empire was torn 
by various convulsions, tending particularly in the 
West, to its destruction. Let us regard only the real 
church amid these scenes. She lived, while the sec- 
ular glory of Rome was destroyed. Honorius, the 
son of Theodosius, reigned there, while his brother 
Arcadius governed at Constantinople. 

Honorius, being a weak prince, governed by his 
ministers, protected the external state of the church, 
extirpated the remains of idolatry, and supported or- 
thodoxy. The superior advantages of a Christian, 
above a pagan establishment, even in times of great 
religious declension appear in the humanity of a num- 
ber of laws, and edicts, by which idolatrous impurities 
and savage games were abolished, and in the care ta- 
ken of the needy and miserable. In what, for instance, 
but. a Christian government, shall we find so humane a 
law as that of Honorius, by which judges are directed 
to take prisoners out of prison every Sunday, and to 
enquire if they be provided with necessaries, and to 
see that they are properly accommodated in all 
things ? 

Germanus, bishop of Auxerre, was one of the 
greatest ornaments of Gaul in this century. He was 
u person of quality, and exercised the profession of a 
counsellor in the former part of his life. Amator, his 
predecessor in the see, perceived some evidences of 
piety in him, and ordained him deacon. A month af- 
ter the decease of Amator, Germanus was unanimous- 
ly elected bishop by the clergy, nobility, citizens, and 
peasants, and was forced, notwithstanding he manifest- 
ed the greatest reluctance, to accept the office. He 
employed himself in founding monasteries, and in en- 


ncliing the church, while he impoverished himself, 
and for 30 years, from his ordination to his death, liv- 
ed in extreme austerity. 

About the year 430, Gcrmanus visited the island of 
Great Britain, to oppose Agricola, who was there prop- 
agating the Pelagian heresy among the churches in 
that country. Lupus, bishop of Troyes, accompanied 
Germanus in this mission, which was undertaken at 
the request of a numerous council in Gaul. Lupus; 
governed his church -52 years, and was highly renown- 
ed for sanctity. These two bishops, on their arrival, 
preached not only in the churches, but also in the 
highways, and in the open country, and vast crowds 
attended their ministry. The Pelagians came to a 
conference. The bishops supported the doctrines of 
grace, by express passages of scripture, and Pelagi- 
anism was reduced to silence. 

At this time, the Picts, a race of barbarians who in- 
habited the North, and the Saxons, a German nation, 
called in by the Britons, as it is well known, to assist 
them against the Picts, united their forces against the 
natives. The latter terrified at the approach of the 
enemy, had recourse to Germanus and Lupus. Many, 
having been instructed by them, desired baptism, 
and a great part of the army received it, in a church 
made of boughs of trees twisted together. When this 
was done, they marched against the enemy, with 
Germanus at their head. He, having posted his men 
in a valley where the enemy were to pass, surprised 
and defeated them. After this, the two bishops re- 
turned to the continent. Palladius having been ordain- 
ed bishop of Scotland, arrived there in the year 431. 
Scotland had never before seen a bishop, and was in 
a state of extreme barbarism. 

While the doctrines of grace were defended in Bri- 
tain with some hopeful, saving efficacy, the doctrine 
of semi-pelagianism in Gaul still maintained its ground, 
and Prosper and Hilary stood in defence of th<3 ortho- 
dox principles, Ccelestine of Rome, where the spark 
of truth was still alive, amidst the mass of corruption 
which infested the western church vigorously support- 


efl the same cause. Coelestine, in contending for the 
faith once delivered to the saints, labored to prove, 
that all men are by nature, under the power of sin, by- 
reason of the fall, from which nothing but grace can 
deliver any man that man is not good of himself; he 
needs a communication to him from God nor can 
a man, though renewed, overcome the flesh and the 
devil, except he receive daily assistance that God so 
worketh upon the hearts of men, that holy thoughts, 
pious intentions, and the least motion toward a good 
intention, proceed from God. The grace of God does 
not take away free-will, but delivers, enlightens, rec- 
tifies and heals it. Thus was the truth supported at 
Rome, amidst the abounding superstitions. 

Palladius, the pastor of Scotland, being dead, Coe- 
lestine sent Patrick, a native of that country, in his 
stead. Patrick, having been carried captive into Ire- 
land, where he learnt the customs of the country, was 
by some pirates afterward carried into Gaul ; but after 
various adventures, he returned, a volunteeranto Ire- 
land, to attempt the conversion of the barbarous na- 
tives, who seem, till that time, to have been without 
any acquaintance with Christianity. The uncivilized 
Irish refused at firbt to hear him. He went to Gaul, 
had an interview with Germanus, of Auxerre, and bis 
mind was enflamed with fresh zeal He then visited 
Rome, had an interview with Co3lestine, from whom 
he received such support and assistance that he re-r 
visited Ireland, where his success ^was, at length, so 
great, that to this day, he is looked on as the apostle 
of the Irish. By him they were first taught the use of 
letters ; and from him they unquestionably recieved 
much instruction, both with respect to the duties of 
this life, and the preparations necessary for happiness 
in a future existence. Patrick died about the year 
460, at an advanced age. 

Semi-pelagianism strongly recommends itself to the 
depraved hearts of mankind ; it divides the work of sal- 
vation between free grace and human ability in such 
a manner that it both retains a specious appearance of 
humility toward God, and at the same time flatters the 


pride of the human heart. The clergy of Marseilles, 
with Cassian at their head, very warmly supported 
this doctrine. Prosper, and Marius Mercator, with the 
arms of scripture did their utmost to withstand and 
prevent the spread of this doctrine, so pleasing to the 
carnal mind. Gaul, and the neighboring countries, 
no doubt received great benefit from their endeavors. 
Semi-pelagianism was so far checked, that during the 
dark ages, after this time, the doctrines of grace were 
cordially received by godly persons, particularly in 
the monasteries. All who were thoroughly humbled, 
and contrite, found the comfort of them ; while Ihose 
monks, whose religion was pharisaic, found the Semi* 
pelagian scheme to suit their self-righteous pride, and 
as the times grew more corrupt, semi-peiagianism 
gained the ascendency. 

About the year 439, Genseric, king of the Vandals, 
an Arian by profession, surprized Carthage, in the 
midst of peace, and used his victory with great cruel- 
ty. The same unprincipled wickedness, winch had 
ever characterized the Arian party, shewed itself in 
Genseric, especially in his malice toward the clergy ; 
a number of these he drove from the churches, and 
put to death many of them. 

The abominations of the times seemed to call for 
such a scourge. But the light of Divine grace reviv* 
ed in the West, purified many souls, and fitted them 
for sufferings. It was not so with all. With the ma- 
jority, both superstition and practical wickedness in- 
creased. Carthage itself was sunk in vice ; lewdness 
was amazingly predominant. So deplorable a thing 
it is for men to depart from the simplicity of Christian 
faith! The superstition now increasing daily, only for- 
tified them the more in self-righteousness; and nat- 
ural depravity was exhibited in deeds of the boldest 
and most atrocious wickedness. Oppression and 
cruelty domineered at Carthage ; and the poor, in the 
anguish of their misery, were induced to beseech God 
to deliver the city to the barbarians. But these were 
only Christians in name. They were in reality very 
idolatrous in their practices, and even amidst the hor- 


rorsofwar and public calamities, continued impure 
and voluptuous. Oppression and injustice were so 
grievous, that the dominion of the barbarians was re- 
ally more tolerable than that of the Romans. By this 
we see the adorable providence of God, in punishing 
the wickedness of nominal Christians, not only at Car- 
thage, but in general in this century through the Wes- 
tern empire. What happened to the ancient Jewish 
church, when grown wicked and idolatrous, and re- 
taining only the form of religion, happens also to 
Christian nations. God is glorified by taking the 
power out of their hand, that they may no longer pro- 
fane his holy name. 

Genseric expelled the bishops from their sees, and 
where they made any resistance, he made them slaves 
for life. Arians were then put in possession of the va- 
cant sees. Some who were expelled, and still remain- 
ed in the provinces, presented themselves before 
Genseric, and entreated, that as they had lost their 
churches and their wealth, they might, at least, be al- 
lowed to remain without molestation in Africa, for the 
comfort and support of the people of God. The stern 
barbarian replied, " I have resolved to leave none of 
your name or nation." It was with difficulty, he was 
withheld by the entreaties of those about him, from 
ordering them to be thrown into the sea. 

In the year 443, Genseric passed over into Sicily, 
>and so far as his arms prevailed, extended the perse- 
cution of the church into that island,, 

In the year 446, German us of Auxerre, was called 
to Great Britain, a second time, to withstand the Pela- 
gian heresy, which was there again spreading its 
baneful influence. In this way God baffled the at- 
tempts of those who disturbed the faith of the Britons, 
Germ anus died in the year 448, having held the see of 
Auxerre 30 years. 

In the year 454, Genseric, with his Vandals, arrived 
at Rome, which he found defenceless : Leo went out 
to meet him, and persuaded him to be content with 
the pillage, and to abstain from burnings and murders. 
Genseric returned into Africa with many thousand 


captives. This circumstance gave? occasion to an ex- 
ercise of the Christian grace of charity, in Deogratias, 
bishop of Carthage, who undertook to redeem those 
captives by the sale of all the vessels of gold and silver 
belonging to the churches under his care. He placed 
the captives in two great churches, which he furnished 
with beds of straw, giving orders for their daily accom- 
modation with all necessaries. He appointed physi- 
cians to attend the sick, and had nourishment distrib- 
uted to them in his presence, by their directions. In 
the night he visited all their beds, giving himself up to 
this work, notwithstanding his age and infirmities. 
Deogratias lived only three years in his bishopric 7 was 
endeared to the memory of the faithful by his virtues; 
and while Arians performed military exploits, and 
dealt in blood, he honored the real doctrines of the 
gospel by acts of meekness and charity. In this we 
trace the real church, and see the connexion of faith 
and practice in the followers of the Lamb. So much 
goodness was offensive to Genseric., who took care to 
suffer no more such bishops. The orthodox bishops 
in Africa were in process of time reduced to three. 

Several godly persons, after a variety of hardships, 
came into the hands of Capsur, a Moorish king, 
a relation of Genseric. These being arrived at the 
desert where he lived, and having seen there a num- 
ber of profane sacrifices, began by their discourse and 
manner of life to bring over the barbarians to the 
knowledge of God, and gained a great multitude in a 
country, where the name of Jesus had not yet been 
heard. Desirous to establish the gospel there, they 
sent deputies across the desert to a Roman city where 
there was a bishop. To them, the bishop sent minis- 
ters, who built a church, and baptized a great number 
of barbarians. When Genseric heard of these trans- 
actions he was greatly incensed at the zeal of these pi- 
ous men and condemned them to death. The con- 
verted Moors bewailed themselves. To each of them 
the martyrs said, as they passed by to execution. 
" Brother pray for me. God has accomplished my 
desire; this is the way to Ihe heavenly kingdom." 


Genseric was a cruel tyrant, and a confirmed Ari- 
an. By his order, Valerian, bishop of Abbenza, above 
80 years old^ was driven alone from the city, and all 
persons were prohibited from lodging him in their 
houses. He lay naked a long time in the public road, 
exposed to the weather, and thus expired for the faith 
of the gospel, 

Genseric afterwards ordered the great church of 
Carthage to be shut, and banished the ministers ; and 
wherever his arms prevailed, he made the people of 
God feel his fury. At this time the northern barbari- 
ans had extended their victorious arms far and wide; 
Africa bowed under the yoke of the Vandals* Spain, 
with a great part of Gaul, was in subjection to the 
Goths. The Franks subjugated the other part of Gaul. 
The southern part of Great Britain was overpowered 
by the Saxons. These were idolaters, and the small 
remains of ancient Britons, chiistians by profession, re- 
tired into the inaccessible mountains of Wales. The 
poverty of the northern parts of the island, was their 
security. The Franks also were idolaters. The bar- 
barians who ruled in other parts were Arians. Evaric^ 
king of the Goths in Spain, forbad the ordination of 
bishops in the place of those deceased, and sent oth- 
ers into banishment. The churches fell into decay, 
and congregations seldom assembled* With the Wes- 
tern church in general, it was, indeed, a most gloomy 
time. The wrath of God was evidently poured on 
them for their long abuse of mercies enjoyed. But 
the church was not extinct. Some Christians, through 
grace, possessed their souls in patience, and evinced 
that real religion though low and depressed still existed. 

Genseric died in the year 477, and was succeeded 
by his eldest son Huneric. He began his reign with 
a rnild aspect toward the faithful, and after an interval 
of 24 years, permitted them to ordain a bishop at Car- 
thage, but under this condition, that the Arians at 
Constantinople should have the same liberty, which 
those of the general church had at Carthage. The 
people protested against the condition, and with good 
reason, because the power was out of their hands, and 


Said, " we will not accept a bishop on such terms* 
Jesus Christ will govern the church, as he hath done 
hitherto." But Huneric disregarded the protestation; 
and Eugenius was elected bishop of Carthage. 

All mankind soon bore witness to his virtues. 
Though the revenues of the church were in the hands 
of the Arians, yet large sums were every day brought 
to Eugenius, all which he faithfully distributed to the 
needy, reserving no more to himself than daily bread* 
The Arian bishops soon murmured, represented him 
as a dangerous preacher, and expostulated with Eu- 
genius himself for suffering persons to hear him, who 
wore the Vandal habit, which at that time, appears to 
have been perfectly distinct from the Roman. " God's 
house,' 1 he replied, " is open to all, without respect to 

Huneric fearing that he should lose his Vandals, if 
they attended the preaching of Eugenius, and to please 
the court of Constantinople, began to show the feroci- 
ty of his disposition. He ordered guards to watch at 
the doors of the church, who, when they saw a man or 
woman in a Vandal habit, struck such persons with 
short staves, jagged and indented, which being twisted 
into the hair and drawn back with sudden violence, 
tore off both the hair and skin. By this means, many 
suffered severely 5 women, who had been thus treated, 
were led through the streets, with a crier going before, 
to exhibit them to the people. The faithful remained 
firm. Those who belonged to Huneric's court could 
riot be induced to receive Arianism. Them he de- 
prived of their pensions, and sent to reap corn in the 
country. Having been educated like gentlemen, they 
saw their punishment was severe and reproachful, but 
bore the cross for the sake of HIM who gave himself 
for them. 

Huneric, at first, ordered, that no one should hold 
any office, who was not an Arian. Afterward, he con- 
fiscated the possessions of the rejected orthodox, and 
banished their persons into Sicily and Sardinia. 

Pastors and people, to the amount %f 497(5, were 
banished into the desert. Felix had been bfehop 44 


years, and by the palsy had lost his speech and ever* 
his understanding. The faithful implored Huneric 
that the old man might be allowed to end his days 
quietly at Carthage. Huneric, as if ambitious to out- 
strip the pagan emperors in persecution, said, " Let 
him be tied to wild oxen, and be so carried where I 
ordered." On which, they tied him across a mule 
like a stick of timber. These Christian heroes were 
conducted to the two cities of Sicca and Lares, where 
the Moors were directed to receive and conduct them 
to the desert. They were at first confined in a prison, 
where their brethren were allowed to have access to 
them, to preach, and to administer the Lord's supper. 
Some young children were of the number, several of 
whom were tempted to receive Arian baptism ; but 
out of the mouth of babes and sucklings strength icas or- 
dained, and they continued firm. 

While in prison they underwent the severest trials 
from their close and crouded confinement ; but true 
grace disposed them patiently to endure, rather than 
free themselves by unfaithfulness. The Moors at 
length ordered them to march. They went out on 
the Lord's day, their clothes, their heads, and their fa- 
ces covered all over with filth, and as they went, sang; 
" Such honor have all his saints." Cyprian, bishop of 
Uniziba, comforted them, and gave them all he had. 
wishing for the honor of being carried with them. 
This was not then granted him* Afterward he was 
confined, suffered much, and was sent into banish- 
ment. There is a voice in man which speaks loudly in 
favor of suffering innocence. The whole country re- 
sounded with the cries and groans of the people flock- 
ing to behold them, and throwing their children at their 
feet. " Alas," said they, " to whom do you leave us ? 
who shall baptise these children ? who shall adminis- 
ter the Lord's supper to us ? why are not we permitted 
to go with you ?" Among the rest, a woman was ob- 
served leading a child by the hand. " Run, my boy," 
said she, " observe what haste these holy men make 
to receive the crown." Being reproved for desiring 
to go with them,, " I am," she replied, " the daughter 



f the late bishop of Zurita, and I am carrying this 
child, who is my grandson, lest he be alone, and the 
enemy draw him into the snares of death." The 
bishops, with tears in their eyes, could only say, 
" God's will be done." As they travelled, when the 
aged or the young, who wanted strength, were not 
able to advance, the Moors pricked them forward with 
their javelins, or threw stones at them. Such as were 
not able to walk were tied by the feet, and dragged 
along. Many died in the march ; the rest arrived at 
the desert, and were fed with barley, nor were even 
allowed this after a season. 

In the year 483, Huneric sent an edict to Ewgenius 
with orders to read it in the church, and despatched 
couriers with copies of it throughout Africa. The 
purport of this edict was, after upbraiding the faithful 
bishops for their zeal in spreading their doctrines, to 
command them all to appear at Carthage, to dispute 
with the Arian bishops on a certain day, and to prove 
their faith, if they could, by the Scripture. 

The most alarming words were, " resolving not to 
suffer any scandal in our provinces." The bishops in- 
terpreted these to mean, that he would not suffer any 
who professed the doctrine of the Trinity to remain in 
his dominions. They therefore drew up a remon- 
strance, containing in substance a petition, that Hune- 
ric would send for the bishops who were beyond the 
seas. Huneric, regardless of the remonstrance, perse- 
cuted the most learned bishops under various preten- 
ces. He banished the bishop Donatian after giving 
him one hundred and fifty bastinadoes. Others also 
he treated with great cruelty, and forbad any of his 
sect to eat with the faithful. 

On the first of February, the day appointed for the 
conference, the bishops resorted to Carthage from 
every part of Africa, and from all the islands subject 
to the Vandals. Huneric made no mention of the con- 
ference, for many days, and separated those of the 
greatest abilities from the rest, that he might, on false 
pretences, put them to death. One of the most learn^ 
$d ? named Lsctus he burnt alive, to intimidate others. 


AtJength, when the conference was opened, the ortho- 
dox chose ten of their own number, to answer for the 
rest. Cirila, the chief of the Arian bishops, was seat- 
ed on a magnificent throne, with his partizans sitting 
in an exalted station, while the orthodox continued 
standing below. The latter saw what a mock confer- 
ence it was likely to prove and remonstrated : the Ari- 
ans ordered one hundred bastonadoes to be given to 
each of them. " God look down upon the violence 
offered us," said Eugenius. Cirila finding them better 
prepared than he imagined, made use of several ca- 
vils to avoid the conference. The orthodox, foresee- 
ing this, had prepared a confession of faith, in which 
the Trinitarian doctrine is very explicitly declared, 
and which concludes thus : " this is our faith, support- 
ed by the authority of the evangelists and apostles, 
and founded upon the society of all the general chur- 
ches through the world, in which, by the grace of God 
Almighty we hope to persevere till death." 

The Arians, incensed at this doctrine, reported to 
the king, that the orthodox had raised a clamor to 
avoid the conference. The tyrant had taken his meas- 
ures ; orders were sent through the provinces, by vir- 
tue of which the churches were all shut in one day, 
and their revenues given to the Arians. Huneric al- 
lowed the orthodox till the first of June in the same 
year, that is, 48 i, to consider whether they would 
merit pardon by retraction. 

Such were the measures used to obliterate the doc- 
trines of Divine grace in Africa, where they had been 
so gloriously revived by Augustine, Huneric ordered 
the bishops to be expelled from Carthage, stripped 
them of horses and change of raiment, and forbad, un- 
der terrible penalties, any one to give them victuals 
or lodgings. The bishops remained without the walls 
of the city, exposed to the weather ; and providential 
ly meeting with the king, they all came to him.- 
" Why" say they, " are we treated thus ?" Huneric 
looked with fury, and ordered some horsemen to ride 
in among them, who wounded many. He then order- 
ed them to repair to the temple of Memory, where a 


paper rolled up, was presented to them, and they were 
required to swear to its contents. They firmly refus- 
ed to swear to it without knowing what it contained. 
In the issue, of the 446 bishops, who came to the con- 
ference, 48 died, many of them, probably, through 
hard usage ; 46 were banished 1 into Corsica, 302 into 
other places, and most of the rest made their escape. 

Huneric now pursued his sanguinary designs with 
vigor. Among the laity he sent executioners, who 
whipped, hanged, and burned alive the faithful. Do- 
nysia, while she was scourged, and t he blood was 
streaming from her body, said, "Ministers of the dev- 
il, what you now do to confound me with shame," (for 
they had stripped her naked,) "is my glory ;" arid she 
exhorted the rest to suffer martyrdom. Looking se- 
verely at her son, whom she saw dreading the torture, 
"Remember son,' 1 said she, "that we have been bap- 
tized in the name of the Trinity. Let us not lose the 
garment of salvation, lest the Master should say, cast 
them into outer darkness." The young man upon, 
this suffered death with constancy : and she thanked 
God with a loud voice, embracing his body. Many 
suffered with her, strengthened by her exhortations. 

Victorian, the wealthiest man in Africa, was at that 
time governor of Carthage. Huneric, assured him of 
his peculiar favor, if he would submit to be re-bapti- 
zed, and renounce the Trinitarian creed. "Tell the 
king" said he, "if there were no other life after this, 
I would not, for a little temporal honor, be ungrateful 
to my God." The king, incensed at an answer so 
truly Christian, tormented him grievously ; and thus he 
slept in Jesus. 

At Tambaia, two brothers continued a whole day> 
suspended, with large stones fastened to their feet. 
One of them, overcome with the torture, at length de- 
sired to recant, and to be taken down. " No, no," said 
the other, " this, brother, is not what we swore to Je- 
sus Christ. I will testify against you, when we come 
before his awful throne, that we swore by his body 
and blood, that we would suffer for his sake." He 
said much more to rouse and encourage him. At 


length his fellow-sufferer cried out, " Torment as you 
please, I will follow my brother's example." The 
executioners were quite fatigued with torturing them 
by hot irons and hooks, and at length dismissed them, 
remarking, that every one appeared ready to follow 
the example of the two brothers, and that none were 
brought over to Arianism. Here we see the marks 
of the true church, patiently suffering for the truth's 
sake, and victorious in the midst of calamities. 

At Typasa, the secretary of Cirila was ordained 
bishop by the Arians: the inhabitants seeing this, 
transported themselves into Spain, as the distance was 
but small. Some, who could obtain no vessels, re- 
mained in Africa. The new Arian bishop labored by 
courtesy to win their favor ; but they, in contempt of his 
ministry, assembled themselves in a private house for 
worship. Huneric, having heard of this, ordered their 
tongues to be cut out, and their right hands to be cut 
off in the public market-place. This he seems to have 
done to prevent their open confession of the Trinity. 
A miracle followed worthy of God, whose majesty had 
been so daringly insulted, which must, at that time, 
have greatly strengthened the hearts of the faithful, 
who peculiarly need consolation amid such scenes of 
horrid persecutions. 

The miracle is well attested; that though their 
tongues were cut out to the roots, they spake as well 
as before : without any impediment and without feel- 
ing any inconvenience from what they had suffered. 

Numbers of Trinitarians were maimed in various 
ways by the Arians. Some lost their hands, some 
their feet, others their eyes, their noses, or ears. The 
whale clergy of Carthage, after having been almost 
starved with hunger, were exiled. Two Vandals, 
r/ho loved the faith, accompanied by their mother, for^ 
sook their wealth, and followed the clergy into ban- 
ishment. The barbarity was general. At length, af- 
ter an horrible reign of seven years and ten months, in 
which the church was purged by as severe persecu- 
tions as any ever known, in the year 485 died the ty- 
rant Htineric of a disease, in which he was corroded 


by worms, a singular monument of Divine justice i 
Gontamond, his nephew and successor stopped the 
persecution, and recalled Eugenius to Carthage. 

About this time, orthodox Christians found a patron 
in Clovis, king of the Franks, whose victorious arms 
had entirely ruined the Roman power in Gaul. His 
queen, Clotilda, was zealous for the doctrine of the 
Trinity, and by her influence with her husband, Clo- 
vis professed orthodox Christianity, while all the rest 
of the European princes were Arians. 

In the year 494, Gontamond, the Vandal, still in- 
creasing his kindness to the church, opened all the 
places of public worship, after they had been shut ten 
years and an half, and, at the desire of Eugenius, re- 
called all the other bishops. He died in the year 496 
and was succeeded by his brother Thrasamond. 

Here I finish the history of the West for this cen- 
tury : in which, as well as the preceding, superstition, 
had grown gradually, and the more it increased, the 
less were men disposed,, in the faith and love of the 
gospel, to depend on ihe Savior. But the despis- 
ed, desolate church, at once overborne by heretics, 
and by barbarous pagans, still lived in Italy, Spain, 
France, and Britain. In Italy and Spain, it was only 
tolerated. In Britain it was confined to the moun- 
tains of Wales and Cornwall ; in France it was ready 
to rise again into eminence, and in Africa it had but 
just recovered from a dreadful scourge, in which there 
had been such glorious displays of The benign influ- 
ence of Divine grace. The patience of the godly w 7 as 
now greatly tried by the secular changes, the sins of 
the church were scourged, and the gospel was com- 
municated to barbarians. The general current of 
corrupt doctrine had borne away many ; idolatry was 
too deeply rooted in men's hearts to be eradicated 
from any, except from those who were Christians in^ 
deed, and we shall see it ere long, established in the 
formality of public worship. 


The Eastern Church in the Fifth Century, 

JtlERE we find but few cheering instances of trde 
godliness during this century. The same vices which 
tarnished the West, prevailed almost universally in the 
East, and in a much higher degree. Doctrinal feuds 
and malignant passions greatly abounded. 

In Persia, a cruel persecution of Christians raged 
for thirty years. What led to this was the impru- 
dent zeal of Andes a bishop, who destroyed one of 
the temples where the Persians adored the fire. The 
Magi complained to the king, who ordered the bishop 
to rebuild the temple. He refused to comply with the 
royal mandate. The consequence was, the infuriated 
monarch ordered all the Christian churches in his do- 
minions to be destroyed. Orders were also given to 
the chiefs of the Saracens, subjects of Persia, to guard 
the roads, and to apprehend all Christians, that they 
might not fly to the Romans. One of those chiefs, 
touched with compassion at their distress, aided their 
flight. He, being accused at the Persian court, fled 
with his family to Rome, and took along with him a 
number of Arabs, who, together with himself, received 
Christian baptism, and the real church of Christ prob- 
ably had an accession from this event. 

The Persian king sent to demand that the Christian 
fugitives should be delivered into his hands. The 
emperor having refused to give them up, a war ensued. 
The Romans took 7000 prisoners, whom though per- 
ishing by famine, they would not restore. Acacius, a 
Roman bishop, assembled his clergy, and spake thus 
to them ; " Our God has no need either of dishes or 
cups ; since then our church has many gold and silver 
vessels from the liberality of the people, let us, by 
means of them, free and relieve these captive soldiers." 
He ordered the vessels to be melted down, paid the 
ransom of the Persians to the Roman soldiers, gave 
the captives provisions and necessaries for their jour- 


ney, and sent them home to their king. This was to 
conquer in a Christian manner ; a fruit of that charity 
which " seeketh not her own." 

During this century, a Jewish impostor, in Crete, 
pretended that he was Moses, arid that he had been 
sent from heaven, to undertake the care of the Cretan 
Jews, and conduct them over the sea. He preached 
a whole year in the island ? with a view of inducing 
them to obey his directions. He exhorted them to 
leave all their substance ; and promised to conduct 
them through the sea, as on dry land, and bring them 
into the land of promise. Numbers were so infatua- 
ted, as to neglect their business, and leave their pos- 
sessions to any who chose to seize them. On the day 
prefixed by the impostor, he went before them, and 
they followed with their wives and children. It was 
a memorable instance of that " blindness which has 
happened to Israel, till the fulness of the Gentiles be 
come in," and fulfils the Scripture account of their 
penal folly. When he had led them to a promontory, 
he ordered them to throw themselves into the sea. 
None of them, it seems, had the caution to insist on 
his setting the example. Those who were at the 
brink of the precipice leaped down, many of whom 
perished, some by being dashed against the rocks, and 
some by being drowned : and many more would have 
perished had not a number of fishermen, providentially 
present, saved their lives. These, enlightened by ex- 
perience, prohibited the rest from taking the leap. 
They all now sought the impostor to destroy him, but 
he had made his escape. Many of the Cretan Jews 
were on this occasion brought over to the Christian faith. 


Christian Writers of this Century. 

was the great luminary of the fifth 

century; he wrote with uncommon plainness and vig- 
or in support of the doctrines of grace. 
2 Q 


Mark, the hermit, who lived about the beginning of 
this century, was also an humble advocate for the 
same doctrines. 

Paulinus, of Nola, was one of the most humble and 
pious writers of his time. He was born at Bourdeaux, 
ha I a classical style and taste, was of an illustrious 
family, and of great dignity in the empire ; and having 
married Therasia, a rich lady, obtained by her a great 
estate. It pleased God to inspire his wife with the 
love of heavenly things, and she had great influence 
in inducing her husband to prefer a retired life to 
the grandeur of the world. He gradually parted with 
his wealth, and appears to have been truly weaned in 
his affections from his worldly possessions. After hav- 
ing lived sixteen years in retirement, he was urgently 
called to the ministry, and was ordained bishop of 
Nola, where he continued till his death. He evidently 
despised human greatness, that he might faithfully and 
humbly follow Jesus Christ. He led a retired and tem- 
perate life, but with no great austerity, and was singu- 
larly remarkable for the tenderness of his conscience 
the meekness of his spirit, and a constant sense of his 
own imbecility, and of his need of Divine grace. 

The church of Rome, though at this time much de- 
generated from her primitive purity, must not be 
deemed antichristian, while the real doctrines of 
Christ were supported in it, by Coalestine, whose life 
has been already brought into view. 

Though Antichrist had not yet risen to his full stat- 
ure, yet was he now rapidly acquiring maturity of 
size and strength. Leo, bishop of Rome, wrote with a. 
great mixture of superstition. Though zealous for the 
support of discipline, of truth, and righteousness, he 
was too active for the amplification of the Roman see. 
He attempted to extend his influence in France, but 
met with a firm resistance. 

The celibacy of the clergy was more strictly enforc- 
ed by him than by any former bishop of Rome. Yet, 
in Christian doctrine he was not only evangelical in 
general, but very elaborate" and perspicuous, so as to 
evince the pains he had taken to understand the^scrip- 


tures. He was remarkably learned on the Divftieancl 
human nature of Christ, and was pointed in opposing 
pelagianism. He appears to have been an humble 
and devout Christian. 

Theodoret of Cyrus, a city of Syria, distinguished 
himself for his pastoral labors ; in which he had so 
great success, that above a thousand Marcionites, and 
many Arians were brought over to the church under 
his ministry. He labored, and suffered for the love of 
Christ, and was often in danger of death from the rage 
of the multitude. 

Prosper of Ries, in Aquitain, was a layman, who dis- 
tinguished himself in the defence of the doctrines of 
grace. Serious, candid, and argumentative, he with- 
stood the semi-pelagians in France in support of the 
cause of truth. It appears that true religion had some 
prevalence in France, during this century. Much 
preaching and much controversy, on matters of evan- 
gelical importance, though attended with evils, prove 
that Christ is there by his Spirit. It is probable there 
was not, in any part of the world, at that time, more 
genuine piety than in France. 

Julian Pomrius, a priest in France, deserves atten- 
tion for his practical works. A few sentences, discrip- 
tive of the characters of good and bad bishops and 
preachers, will shew the taste of the times, as well as 
afford some sentiments not uninteresting to the pas- 
tors of this day. 

" A wicked bishop seeks after preferment and riches; 
chiefly aims to gratify his passions, to confirm his au- 
thority, and to enrich himself. He avoids the labori- 
ous and humbling part of his office, and delights in the 
pleasant and honorable." Again he says, "A good 
bishop converts sinners to God by his preaching and 
example lastly, he holds himself fast to God, in 
whom alone he puts his trust." 

The difference between a good and bad preacher 
he thus defines : " The one seeks the glory of Jesus 
Christ, by explaining doctrines in familiar discourse. 
The ether uses the utmost strength of his eloquence 
to gain reputation. The latter handles trifles with ela- 


borate language : the former elevates a plain discourse 
by the weight of his thoughts," 



The Life of Fulgentius , and the State of the African 
Churches in his Time. 

JLN the year 496, a storm began again to lower over 
the African churches. Thrasamond, whose reign then 
commenced, was an obstinate and sagacious Arian. 
He forbade the ordination of bishops in the vacant 
churches. The African bishops unanimously deter- 
mined not to obey an order which threatened the ex- 
tinction of orthodoxy, and proceeded to the ordination 
of pastors. The tyrant raged and determined to ban- 
ish them all. At that time Fulgentius had just been 
chosen bishop of Ruspae. He was of noble birth, had 
received a very liberal education, and was eminent for 
piety. From the renewal of the Arian persecution, he 
underwent severe bodily sufferings. In these, his mind 
appears to have been serene, and faithful to his Savior, 
whom, in real humility and sincerity, though tarnished 
with the fashionable superstition, he served according 
to the principles of the gospel. 

By the Arian persecution, Fulgentius was banished 
into Sardinia, in company with other faithful witness- 
es of orthodoxy. Upwards of 60 bishops were with 
him in exile. Thrasamond sent more still into Sar- 
dinia, in all 220 ; exerted himself greatly to over- 
come the constancy of the orthodox, and delighted to 
ensnare them with captious questions. Fulgentius was 
sent for by him to Carthage, and by his skill in argu- 
ment, and his readiness in answering questions, he ex- 
cited the king's admiration till through the advice of 
his Arian clergy, who considered the presence of Ful- 


gentius to be dangerous at Carthage, he was remand- 
ed to Sardinia. Soon after, Kilderic, the successor 
of Thrasamond, in the year 523, favoring the ortho- 
dox, put a total end to persecution, and Ruspae once 
more beheld her bishop, 

Fulgentius lived among his flock from this time to 
his death, eminent in piety, humility and charity. 
For near seventy days, he suffered extreme pains in 
his last sickness. " Lord, give patience here, and rest 
hereafter," was his constant prayer and he died at 
length, as he had lived, an edifying example of every 
Christian virtue. 

He was dexterous in the defence of the doctrine of 
the Trinity. Hear what he says in a book addressed 
to king Thrasamond 3 on the Divinity of the Holy Ghost 
" If he can quicken, who is not God ; if he can sanc^ 
tify who is not God ; if he "an dwell in believers who 
is not God; if he can give grace, who is not God; 
then the Holy Ghost may be denied to be God. If 
any creature can do those things, which are spoken 
of the Holy Ghost, then let the Holy Ghost be called 
a creature." The life of Fulgentius evinced that he 
had experienced the sanctifying power of the Holy 
Ghost on his own heart. 


The stale of the Church in other parts of the Roman 
Empire^ till the death of Justin^ including the life of 

AN the beginning of this century, twenty four bishops 
assembled, at the city of Agde, the president of whom 
was Caesarius, bishop of Aries ; they decreed that 
" all clergymen who serve the church faithfully shall 
receive salaries proportionable to their services." 
This rule, so simple and general, was the ancient pro- 
vision for the maintenance of pastors. Also they de- 
creed that all such laymen, as shall not receive the 


communion, three times a year, shall be looked on a& 
heathens. They, at this assembly, ordered that lay- 
men remain in the church till the blessing is pronoun- 
ced. Caesarius was very zealous against the abuses 
which this order was designed to rectify. Observing, 
one day, some persons going out of the church to 
avoid hearing the sermon, he cried with a loud voice, 
" What are you about my children ? where are you 
going? Stay, stay, for the good of your souls. At the 
day of judgment it will be too late to exhort you." 
His just and charitable zeal at length prevailed ; but 
he was often obliged to cause the church doors to be 
shut, after the gospel was read, to prevent the impi- 
ous practice. His people were gradually reclaimed. 
Alas, such is the depravity of the human heart, that 
mankind in all ages are apt to be weary of the word 
of God ! Another canon of this assembly forbade au- 
guries, and divinations, and the opening of the scrip- 
tures with a view of making an omen of the first words 
that offered. This last mentioned superstition was for- 
bidden under penalty of excommunication. 

Csesarius had spent some part of his youth in the 
famous monastery of Lerins. Having heard that he 
was actually designed to be made bishop of Aries, he 
hid himself among the tombs. But, at the age of .30, 
he being taken thence, was appointed bishop, and con- 
tinued in that church above 40 years. Ca?sarius was 
fond of singing, and as he found the laity were apt 
to talk in the church, while the clergy were singing, 
he induced the laity to join with them in psalmody ; 
and in a sermon still extant, exhorts them to sing with 
their hearts, as well as their voices. In another ser- 
mon he exhorts them to throw off all distracting 
thoughts 5 before they prostrate themselves for prayer. 
" Whoever," says he, " in his prayers, thinks on a pub- 
lic place of resort, or the house he is building, wor- 
ships that place or that house." He directs them al- 
so not to be content with hearing the scriptures read 
in the church, but to read them also at home. 

This holy man was indefatigable in his labors, close 
and searching in his preaching, entered into praticcal 

particulars, addressed the consciences of his hearers, 
and reproved severely idolatrous and superstitious 
usages, and amid the confusion of the times distin- 
guished himself exceedingly by acts of mercy. He 
died in the year 542, universally lamented. 

The cause ofAriunism in the mean time, was in 
France gradually declining. The state of religion 
in the East, was far less favorable. Factions and 
feuds, heretical perversions and scandalous enormities 
filled up the scene. Under the emperor Justin, Chris- 
tianity began at length to wear, in some respects, a 
more agreeable aspect, when peace and good order 
were, in external things, in a measure restored. 

In the year 522, Zamnaxes, king of the Lazi, a peo- 
ple who inhabited the country anciently called Col- 
chis, being dead, his son Zathes repaired to Constan- 
tinople, telling the emperor that he was desirous of re- 
ceiving the gospel, and of relinquishing the idolatry of 
his ancestors. They had been vassals to the king of 
Persia, and had been obliged to perform sacrifices af- 
ter the Persian mode. He put himself therefore un- 
der the protection of Justin, and desired to receive the 
crown from his hands. Justin granting his request, 
the Lazi became vassals to the eastern empire, and 
embraced Christianity. The Iberians also, who bor- 
dered on their territories, and were also subjects of 
Persia, had already received the gospel. How far any 
thing of the real spirit of Christ's religion was imbibed 
by either nation, I know not. I can only say, the li- 
mits of the Christian name were extended in the East. 

In Arabia Felix, there were many Christians sub- 
ject to a king called Dounouas, a Jew, who caused 
those who were unwilling to become Jews, to be 
cast into pits full of fire. He besieged Negra, a town 
inhabited by Christians. Having persuaded them to 
surrender on articles, he broke his oath, burnt the pas- 
tors, beheaded the laymen, and carried all the youth 
into captivity. The next year, Elesbaan, king of 
Abyssinia, a Christian country since the days of Atha- 
nasius, supported by the emperor Justin, invaded the 
territory of the Arabian Jew, subdued his country, 


and slew him. Thus the Arabian Christians were re- 
lieved. Elesbaan himself was very zealous, and in 
proof of his zeal, resigned his crown to embrace the 
monastic life. 


The state of the Church during the reign of Justinian. 

the death of Justin, his nephew Justinian suc- 
ceeded at Constantinople, in the year 527. He was 
then 45 years old, and reigned 39. His real charac- 
ter was widely different from that which was ostensi- 
ble. In some external things he appeared to be one 
of the wisest, the most pious, and the most prosperous 
of men. Africa and Italy were by him reunited to the 
Roman empire. He enacted a famous code of laws, 
was temperate and abstemious in private life, and in- 
cessantly employed in religious acts and ceremonies. 
Justinian honored monks and persons reputed holy, 
built splendid churches, endowed monasteries ; was 
liberal beyond measure in support of external reli- 
gion ; incessant in the encouragement of what he ac- 
counted orthodoxy ; was intent on public affairs ; 
spent much time in theological speculations ; extir- 
pated idolatry, and brought over a number of barba- 
rous kings and nations to the profession of Christiani- 
ty. His faculties were strong and vigorous. But he 
was the victim of superstition, and the slave of avarice. 
For gold he sold his whole empire to the governors of 
provinces, to the collectors of tribute, and infamous 
informers. He encouraged the vilest of characters in 
the most detestable calumnies, that he might share 
in their gains. He indeed showed what a poor thing 
the body of the Christian religion is without the spirit. 
The evils which he wrought were palpable. Dissen- 
sions and schisms, with forced conversions attended 
with great cruelties, alienated the minds of men still 
more from godliness ; and superstition and formality 


greatly increased. Under his influence, internal god- 
liness invariably declined, and wickedness and igno- 
rance awfully prevailed. 

This wretched man, by imperial menaces and arms, 
labored to bring all nations into uniformity of doc- 
trinej and into a nominal attachment to Christianity, 
prescribing what all should believe, while he seems 
not to have known any one thing in religion in a right 
manner. For his own genuine conversion, and per- 
sonal godliness, he appears not to have been attentive* 
Though he was serious through life, yet he seems to 
have been void of humility, faith and charity. 

In the year 529, a council was held in Orange, in 
France, at which were thirteen bishops, and Caecarius 
of Aries presided. From their doings it appears that 
they wre decidedly in opposition to semi-palagian- 
ism, and tenacious of the doctrines of grace. 

About this time, the monastic rules of Benedict, full 
of forms, and breathing little of the spirit of godliness, 
were established. These were afterwards received 
through the western churches. The founder of this 
sect zealously opposed idolatry* The worship of 
Apollo, he eradicated from that part of Italy, where 
the Samnites formerly dwelt, and instructed the peas- 
ants in Christianity. 

Justinian, in his old age, fell into the opinion, that 
the body of Jesus Christ was incorruptible ; an opin- 
ion, directly subversive of the real sufferings of Christ, 
on which the efficacy of his atonement depends. 
Having once formed the sentiment, he by an edict, 
required his subjects to embrace it. Eutychius, of 
Constantinople, considered it unchristian, and re- 
fused to publish it. He argued that according to 
this sentiment the incarnation of Christ was not real, 
but only in fancy ; that the body of Christ could not 
be called incorruptible in any other sense, than as it 
was always unpolluted with any sinful defilement, and 
was not corrupted in the grave. 

The arguments of the bishop were reasonable, but 
the emperor was self-sufficient, and powerful. Euty- 
dhius was roughly treated, banished^ and died in es> 


fle. Anastasius, bishop of Antiocb, a man of exem- 
plary piety,, also withstood this sentiment with much 
firmness. Many were influenced by his example, 
to oppose this imperial heresy. But while the old 
imperial pope was dictating a sentence of banish- 
ment against Anastasius and others, who had incurred 
his displeasure,. Providence wrought deliverance, by 
arresting the emperor by the stroke of death. Let not 
profane persons exult over him ; but let those who 
exercise their thoughts on religion^ take care to study 
the written word with humility, prayer, and pious rev- 
erence, warned by the apostacy of a man, who for ma- 
ny years had studied divinity, and fell at last into an 
error, equally subversive of the dictates of common 
sense, as it is of Christian piety, and diametrically op- 
posite to all scripture : let us remember, however, that 
his follies and persecutions were the occasion of ex- 
hibiting some excellent characters even in the Eas- 
tern church, who showed that they bore not the Chris- 
tian name without a just title to that best of all appel- 


Miscellaneous affairs to the end of the Century ^ 

JUSTIN, the nephew of Justinian, succeeded. He 
recalled the bishops whom the tate emperor had exil- 
ed, except Eutychius of Constantinople. Him he did 
not restore till after the death of John his successor. 
Eutychius continued, after his restoration, bishop of 
Constantinople till his death. In his old age he em- 
braced the whimsical notion, that our bodies after the 
resurrection become thinner than air. This shows the 
low state of Christian knowledge in the East, and the 
predominancy of Origenism and Platonism, which 
Dad remained in Asia, ever since they had gained ad- 
mission into the church. The purity and simplicity 
of the faith had be^n preserved in a much superior 


manner in the West by the faithful labors of Augus- 

At this time a number of Britons, expelled front 
their country by the arms of the Anglo-Saxons, cross- 
ed the sea, and settled the adjacent province of Bri- 
tanny in France. With them the faith of the gospel 
was preserved, as well as with their brethren in Wales 
and Cornwall, and in some parts of Scotland and Ire- 
land, while the major part of England was filled with 
Saxon idolatry. 

Colomban, an Irish priest, came over, in this centu- 
ry, into the northern parts of Scotland and labored 
with much success among the Picts. His disciples 
were remarkable for the holiness and abstemiousness 
of their lives. Thus, while the gospel was rapidly 
withdrawing from the East, where it first arose, God 
left not himself without witness in the most distant 
parts of the West. 

Toward the latter end of this century, the Lom- 
bards came from Pannonia into Italy, and settled there 
under Alboinus, their first king. They fixed their me- 
tropolis at Pavia. They were Arians. The Italian 
churches had become dreadfully corrupt ; formal su- 
perstition was corroding the vitals of genuine godli- 
ness, they needed a scourge, and experienced all the 
horrors which a savage and victorious nation could in- 

In the year 584, Levigildiis, king of the Visigoths in 
Spain, having married his eldest son Hermenigildus, 
to Ingonda, daughter of the French king, began to 
find effects from the marriage, which he little expect- 
ed. Ingonda, though persecuted by her mother-in- 
law, the wife of the Spanish monarch, persevered in 
orthodoxy, and by the assistance of Leander, bishop 
of Seville, under the influence of Divine grace, brought 
over her husband to the faith. The father enraged, 
commenced a grievous persecution against the ortho- 
dox in his dominions. Hermenigildus, having rebell- 
ed against his father, who appeared bent on his de- 
struction, was obliged to fly for security into a church^ 
where he was at length induced by his father's prom- 


to surrender himself, Levigildus at first treated 
him with kindness, but afterward banished him to Va- 
lentia. His wife Ingonda flying to the Grecian em- 
peror, died by the way. Some time after, the young 
prince, loaded with irons, had leisure to learn the van- 
ity of earthly greatness, and exhibited every mark of 
piety and humility. His father sent to him an A nan 
bishop, offering him his favor, if he would receive the 
communion at his hands. Hermenigildus continued 
firm in the faith, and the king enraged, sent officers 
who dispatched him. The father lived long enough 
to repent of his cruelty ; before he died, he desired 
Leander, bishop of Seville, whom he had greatly per- 
secuted, to educate his second son Recaredus, in the 
same principles in which he instructed his eldest. Re- 
caredus succeeded his father in the government, and 
embraced orthodoxy with much zeal. The eonse-t- 
quence was the establishment thereof in Spain, and 
the destruction of Arianism, which had now no legal 
settlement in the world, except with the Lombards 
jn Italy. Thus Divine Providence effected, by the 
means of a pious princess, a very salutary revolvition 
in religion. 


Gregory the First , Bishop of Rome. 

HE was a Roman by birth^and of a noble family.-* 
Being religiously disposed, he assumed the monastic 
habit, and became eminently pious. After he was 
drawn from his, monastery, and nad been ordained to 
the ministry, he was sent from Rome to Constantino- 
ple, to transact ecclesiastical affairs. Here he became 
acquainted with Leander^ afterward bishop of Seville, 
and profited by the acquaintance., His residence at 
Constantinople, was not without some use to the 
church. By a timely and vigorous opposition, he 
quashed the fanciful notion of Eutyehius concerning 
tjie qualities of jthe human body after the resurrection 


which have been already noticed. The emperor Tf* 
berius, who succeeded Justin, supported the labors of 
Gregory with his authority, 

Gregory, from his youth, was afflicted with frequent 
complaints in his stomach and bowels. The vigor of 
his mind was not, however, hereby depressed, and he 
appears to have profited by such chastisements. 

After his return to Rome, the Tiber overflowed and 
did great damage. The granaries of the church were 
inundated, and a prodigious quantity of wheat was 
lost. An infectious and mortal distemper followed, 
Pelagius the bishop was one of the first victims that 
fell. The mortality prevailed to that degree that ma- 
ny houses were left without an inhabitant. In this 
distress the people were anxious to .choose a bishop, 
and by unanimous consent elected Gregory. He with 
great humility earnestly refused, and loudly proclaim- 
ed his own unworthiness. He did more ; he wrote to 
the emperor beseeching him to withhold his assent. 
But the emperor confirmed his election with pleasure. 
The plague, ia the mean time, made dreadful havoc. 
Gregory, however, backward to receive the office of a 
bishop, forgot not the duties of a pastor. He preach- 
ed faithfully, and urged upon the people the duty of 
repentance, that they should humble themselves un- 
der the mighty hand of God, and turn to him with 
their whole hearts, and look to him for rnercy, and 
persisted in praying and preaching, till the plague 

After this, though the gates were watched to pre- 
vent his flight, Gregory found means to be conveyed 
out of the city, and concealed himself three days. 
The zealous search of the people found him out, and 
he was obliged to enter on his bishopric, in the year 

^ Gregory discharged the office with fidelity, giving 
himself so far as he could wholly to the care of souls. 
When he entered on his office, the church in the East 
was almost universally fallen ; in the West, it was tar- 
nished with much superstition and defiled with a va- 
riety of wickedness. The whole period of his episcopa- 
cy, which was thirteen years and a half, was disastrous 


beyond measure, because of the ferocious Lombards 5 
and Gregory himself was firmly persuaded, that the end 
of the world was near. Hence he had a strong con- 
tempt of sublunary things, and loved to refresh his 
mind with prospects beyond the grave. 
. From the epistles of Gregory it appears, that disci- 
pline, and indefatigable attention to order, justice, 
mercy and piety, marked all his proceedings. The in- 
ordinate amplitude of authority and of extensive juris- 
diction, to which superstition had already advanced 
the Roman see, and which afforded such copious fuel 
to pride and ambition in some of his predecessors, and 
many of his successors, was to him only the cause of 
anxious care and conscientious solicitude. True he 
received the prevailing idea of a superintendence of 
the Roman see over all the churches, derived from St. 
Peter. But this appears not to have excited in him 
any pleasing sensations of dominion. A fatherly in- 
spection of Christendom, without civil power, called 
him to incessant labor. He appears to have exerted 
his authority in full consistency with true humility and 
the fear of God. Amid his abundant and extensive 
cares for the general welfare of the churches, he found 
time to expound the scriptures, to perform the office 
of a diligent pastor, and to write much for the instruc- 
tion of mankind. Deeply must the spirit of that man 
have been impressed with the prospects and hopes of 
immortality, who, amid bodily infirmities, and in 
times of public perplexity, could persevere in such a 
course of arduous labors. 

During this century the bishops of the great sees 
were gradually increasing in secular grandeur; and 
John, of Constantinople, disturbed, in Gregory's time, 
th peace of the church, by assuming to himself the 
title of universal bishop. The pride and arrogance 
with which he assumed it, was only equalled by the 
obstinacy with which he persevered. Gregory wrote 
with much vehemence against John's haughtiness, 
and, on this occasion, laid down some memorable 
rules of humility, which severely condemned, not him- 
but his successors in the Romish see. In what 


a state must the East have been to revere as a great 
saint both living and dying, so proud a man as Johpt 
of Constantinople ! But there godliness was nearly 
expiring, and the Mahometan scourge was at hand. 

For near a century and a half the gospel of Christ 
had been declining in Britain, and for the greatest 
part of that time had been confined, as we have seen, 
to Wales and Cornwall, or to the mountains of Scot- 
land ; while the Angles or Saxons, destroyed every ap- 
pearance of evangelical light in the heart of the island.. 
Seven Saxon kingdoms, called the Heptarchy, were 
now formed in the island, almost totally immersed in 
heathenish darkness. It was while Britain was in this 
deplorable situation that Gregory conceived the be- 
nevolent purpose of sending into that country Christian 
missionaries. He actually sent them in the year 597. 
L is worthy of notice how much the Lord has made 
use of women in the propagation of the gospel among 
idolaters. Bertha, the only daughter of Caribert, king 
of Paris, a descendant of Clovis, had been married to 
Ethelbert, king of Kent, one of the most wise and 
powerful of the Saxon princes. He had not been al- 
lowed to marry this French princess, but on the ex- 
press stipulation, that she should be permitted to* 
make free profession of Christianity, in which she had 
been educated. Bertha brought over with her a 
French bishop to the court of Dorobernium, now Can- 
terbury. Her principles were firm and sound, her 
conduct worthy of the Christian name, and her influ- 
ence over her husband considerable. Her zealous pi- 
ety was not inferior to that of the queen, Clovis, which 
had been attended with such happy consequences in 
France, and every thing conspired to favor the mis- 

These were a number of monks, at the head of 
whom was one named Augustine. To him Ethelbert 
assigned an habitation in the isle of ThaneL Here he 
remained at first with his associates, who were nearly 
40. By the direction of Gregory, they had taken 
with them French interpreters, by whose means they 
informed the king, that they_ were come from Rome- 

&nd brought him the best tidings in the world, eternal 
life to those who received them, and the endless en- 
joyment of life with the living God. After some days 
Ethelbert paid them a visit, but being apprehensive 
of enchantments, he took care to receive them in the 
open air, where he thought he should be safer than 
in his house. The missionaries met him, singing lita- 
nies for their own salvation, and that of those for whose 
sake they had come thither* Sitting down by the 
king's direction, they preached to him and his attend- 
ants the word of life. To their instructions the king 
answered; "They are fine words and promises which 
ye bring, but because they are new and uncertain, I 
cannot afford my assent to them, nor relinquish those 
things, which for so long a time I have observed with 
all the English nation. But as ye are come hither 
from a great distance, and as I seem to discover, that 
ye are willing to communicate to us those things, 
Ivhich ye believe to be most true and most excellent, 
we are not willing to disturb you, but rather to re- 
ceive you in a friendly manner, and to afford you 
things necessary for your support ; nor do we hinder 
you from uniting all, whom ye can persuade by 
preaching, to the faith of your religion." He gave 
them a mansion in the royal city of Canterbury, with 
all necessary accommodations, and license to preach 
the word. As the missionaries approached the city, 
they sang in concert, " We pray thee, O Lord, in all 
thy mercy, that thine anger and thy fury may be re- 
moved from this city, and from thy holy house, because 
we have sinned. Alleluia." 

The conduct of the missionaries at Canterbury was 
correspondent to these beginnings. They prayed ? 
fasted, watched, preached the word of life to all, as 
o .;! orlunities presented, lived above the world, re- 
ceived nothing from those whom they taught, except 
necessaries, practised what they taught, and showed 
a readiness to suffer, or even to die for the truth which 
they preached. Some, admiring their innocent lives, 
and tasting the sweets of their doctrine, believed and 
were baptized. 


Near the city, was an old church, built in the times 
of the Romans, in which, queen Bertha was wont to 
pray. In this, the missionaries first held their assem- 
blies, sang, prayed, preached, arid baptized, till the 
king himself, being converted to the faith, they ob- 
tained a larger license to preach every where, and to 
build or repair churches. Numbers crowded to hear, 
and received the word. The king, congratulating the 
new converts, declared that he would compel no 
man to become a Christian, but embraced those who 
were Christians with intimate affection as fellow heirs 
of the grace of life. The missionaries had taught 
him, that the service of Christ ought to be voluntary ? 
not compulsive. Ethelbert now gave them a settle- 
ment in Canterbury, suited to their station, with all 
necessary accommodations. London was brought in- 
to the pale of the church, and the southern parts of 
the island found benefit, by the labors of the Christian 

Augustine, after his reception by Ethelbert, went to 
France and received ordination, as the archbishop of 
England, from the bishop of Aries, and then returned 
to his missionary labors. 

Thus the conduct of Gregory, with respect to the 
propagation of the gospel in Britain, appears to have 
been one of the most shining efforts of Christian chari- 
ty. These Christian missionaries, seem to have act- 
ed, in general, very laudably, and Christianity to have 
been firmly established among the idolatrous Saxons. 

Gregory, worn out at length, with his abundant la- 
bors and with diseases, slept in Jesus in the year 604. 
No man in any age ever gave himself up more sincere- 
ly to the service, and the benefit of his fellow men. 
Power in him was a voluntary servitude, undertaken 
not for himself, but for the world. The belief of the 
Roman bishop's succession to Peter, which he found to 
be prevalent in Europe, was strengthened by reason of 
his eminent piety and laborious virtues. The seeds 
of Antichrist began now vigorously to shoot; and the 
reputation of Gregory doubtless contributed much to 
mature the poisonous plant But idolatry, spiritual 
2 s 


tyranny, and the doctrine of the merit of works, the 
three discriminating marks of the papacy, had as yet, 
no settled establishment at Rome. 



The English Church. 

AN this century, the church in Great Britain, shone 
with distinguished lustre. Laurentius succeeded Au- 
gustine in the see of Canterbury, and like his prede- 
cessor labored to promote the best interests of the 
English by frequent preaching of the word, and by a 
diligent and useful example. He labored to bring the 
British churches to a conformity with the church of 
Rome. In this he appears to have been actuated by 
a spirit of selfish ambition. His views of Christian 
doctrine were, however, correct, and his life was un- 

Laurentius too, in conjunction with Mellitus, bish- 
op of London, and Justus, bishop of Rochester, en- 
deavored to reduce the Scots, who inhabited Ireland, 
to a conformity with the English church. But in this 
he did not succeed. While Ethelbert, the first Chris- 
tian king of Kent lived, the gospel flourished in his 
kingdom. He reigned 55 years, 21 years after he had 
embraced Christianity, and enacted laws calculated to 
protect the persons and property of the church. 

His son and successor, Eadbald, not only despised 
Christianity, but also lived in incest with his father's 
wife: Whence, all who had embraced the gospel 
through motives purely secular, were induced to re- 
lapse into idolatry. Sabereth, king of the East Sax- 
ons favored a'nd encouraged Christianity. On his de- 
cease, his three sons became joint heirs of his king- 
dom, and immediately resumed the idolatry, which 
they had intermitted a little in their father's life time*. 


and encouraged their subjects to do the same. These 
princes observing the bishop of London to distribute 
the bread of the eucharist in the church, asked why 
he did not give them the bread, which he had usual- 
ly given to their father, and which he distributed at 
thaiftime to the people ? " If you will be washed in 
the same laver of regeneration in which your father 
was," replied Mellitus, "you may partake of the same 
sacred bread ; but if ye despise the laver of life, ye 
cannot partake of the bread of life." " We will not," 
said they, " enter into that fountain ; we do not know 
that we need it ; yet we choose to eat of that bread." 
In vain did the upright pastor seriously and diligently 
admonish them, thai it was not possible for any person 
remaining uncleansed from sin, to partake of the com- 
munion. In a rage they declared, " if you will not 
gratify us in so small a matter, you shall not remain 
in our province. They therefore ordered him to be 
gone with his associates.' 

Mellitus, thus expelled, came into Kent to consult 
with Laurentius and Justus. The three bishops agreed 
to leave the country, that they might serve God with 
freedom elsewhere, rather than remain among enemies 
without the prospect of success. Mellitus and Justus 
retired first into France, waiting the issue. The 
three princes not long after were slain in battle, but 
their subjects remained still incorrigible. 

Laurentius, intending to follow the two bishops, 
employed himself in prayer in the church during the 
silent watches of the night, with much agony and ma- 
ny tears, entreating God to lo'ok upon the English 
church, which, after such promising beginnings, seem- 
ed now on the eve of a total dissolution. Next morn- 
ing he visited the king, who, struck at last with horror 
for his crimes, and relenting, when he appeared in im- 
minent danger of losing his Christian instructor forev- 
er, forbade his departure, reformed his own life and 
manners, was baptized, and from that time became a 
zealous supporter of the faith. 

Eadbald, to show the sincerity of his zeal, recalled 
Mellitus and Justus from France, after a year's exile. 


Justus was reinstated in Rochester ; but the people 
of London so preferred idolatry, and Eadbald was so 
deficient in authority that Mellitus could not be rein- 
stated in that city. So far, however, as the influence 
of Eadbald extended, he exerted it for the cause of 
Christ, and, from the time of his Conversion, adorned 
the gospel and propagated it among his people. 

Laurentius being deceased, Mellitus succeeded him 
in the archbishopric of Canterbury, while Justus still 
presided at Rochester. Mellitus, after giving the 
most undoubted proofs of genuine piety, died and was 
succeeded by Justus. 

Hitherto Kent had almost alone enjoyed the illumi- 
nation of the gospel. But Christianity was now intro- 
duced into the north, where reigned Edwin, king of 
the Northumbrians. A woman was once more hon- 
ored as the instrument of salvation to a king, her hus- 
band, and to many of his subjects. Edwin had sent 
to Eadbald, to desire his sister Ethelburg or Tate in 
marriage. The Kentish prince, with that Christian 
sincerity which had ever distinguished him since his 
conversion, answered, that it was not lawful to marry 
his sister to an infidel. Edwin promised certainly to 
grant perfect liberty of conscience to the princess and 
to her attendants, adding that he himself would re- 
ceive the same religion, if it appeared more worthy of 
God. On these conditions Eadbald consented, and 
sent his sister into Northumberland, attended by Pau- 
linus, who was consecrated bishop of the north of 
England by Justus, in the year 625. The reason of 
sending him was, that by daily exhortations and ad- 
ministration of the communion, he might guard the 
young princess and her attendants from the infection 
of idolatry. But Providence had a higher and more 
extensive aim, and excited in the heart of Paulinus a 
strong desire to propagate the gospel in those regions. 

The God of this world, however, so blinded the 
minds of unbelievers, that though Paulinus preached 
a long time, yet it was without success, till Edwin 
was very near being murdered by an assassin, whom 
the king of the West Saxons sent against him, and the 


same night his queen was delivered of a daughter. 
Wbile the king was thanking his gods for the birth of 
his daughter, Paulinus began to give thanks to the 
Lord Christ. Edwin told him, that he himself would 
worship Christ and renounce all his gods, if he would 
give him victory over the West Saxons, who had at- 
tempted to murder him, and, for the present, gave the^ 
young infant to Paulinus to be baptized. She was 
the first Northumbrian who was admitted into the vis- 
ible church by the ordinance of baptism ; and twelve 
of the king's family were baptized on that occasion. 
Edwin, having collected his forces, vanquished the 
West Saxons, and killed or reduced to subjection all 
who had conspired against him. Returning victori- 
ous he determined no longer to serve idols. But be- 
fore he received baptism, he resolved to examine seri- 
ously the grounds and reasons of Christianity. He 
was doubtless in good earnest, and attended diligently 
to the instructions of Paulinus, communed with his 
own heart in silence, and anxiously enquired what 
true religion was. Holding a consultation with his in- 
timate friends and counsellors, he said to them " What 
is this hitherto unheard of doctrine, this new worship?" 
Coifi, the chief of the priests, answered, " See you, O 
king, what this is, which is lately preached to us ? I 
declare most frankly, what I have found to be true, 
that the religion we have hitherto followed is of no 
value. If the gods could do any thing, they would 
more particularly distinguish me with their favors, 
who have served them so diligently. If the new doc- 
trine be really better, let us embrace it." Another of 
the nobles observed, that he had noticed a swallow, 
which had rapidly flown through the king's house, en- 
tering by one door and going out at the other. This 
happened, he said, when the king was setting at sup- 
per in the hall : a fire burning in the midst, and the 
room being heated, a tempest of rain or snow raged 
without: the poor swallow felt indeed a temporary 
warmth, and then escaped out of the room. "Such, 
says he, "is the life of man ; but what goes before, or 
comes after, is buried in profound darkness. Our igno- 


ranee then, upon such principles 'as hitherto we have 
embraced, is confessed ; but if this new doctrine really 
teach us any thing more certain, it will deserve to be 
followed." These and similar reflections were made 
by the king's counsellors. 

Coifi, the chief priest, on hearing Paulinus preach, 
exclaimed ; " I knew formerly, that what we worship- 
ped was nothing, because the more studiously I sought 
for truth, the less I found it Now I openly declare 
that in this preaching appears the truth, which is able 
to afford us life, salvation, and eternal bliss. I advise 
that we instantly destroy the temples and altars, which 
we have used in vain." The king, feeling the convic- 
tion with no less strength, openly confessed the faith 
of Christ, and asked Coifi, who should be the first 
man that should profane the idolatrous places. " I 
ought to do it," replied the priest, " I, who worship- 
ped them in folly, will give an example to others in 
destroying them, by the wisdom given me from the 
true God. He immediately went to the temple and 
profaned it, rejoicing in the knowledge of the Most 
High, and ordered his companions to burn the build- 
ing with its enclosures. 

In the year 627, this prince, with all his nobles, and 
very many of the commonalty, were baptized. Pauli- 
nus ,first bishop of York, continued, till the death of Ed- 
win to preach the gospel ; "and as many as were or- 
dained to eternal life believed." Edwin's children were 
afterward baptized, and so strong was the desire of 
his subjects for Christianity, that Paulinus having 
come with the king and queen, to a royal villa, spent 
there 36 days in teaching and baptizing from morning 
till night. Though many of these conversions may 
have been merely in complaisance to the court, yet 
there is every reason to believe, there was a real effu- 
sion of the Spirit at this time. Those who devoted 
themselves professedly to the service of the true God, 
appear to have done it most deliberately and uncle r- 

Edwin induced also Carpwald, king of the East An- 
gles, to embrace the gospel. Sibert, his brother, sue- 


ceeded him, and was a prince of singular zeal and pie- 
ty, and did much for the spiritual betiefitof his subjects. 

Paulinus preached also in Lincolnshire, the first 
province south of the Humber, where the governor of 
Lincoln, with his house, was converted unto God. 
Through the instrumentality of his preaching, and the 
happy effects which the Spirit of God gave to it, on 
the heart of Edwin and his subjects, peace, order and 
justice wonderfully prevailed in Northumberland, dur- 
ing his Christian reign. But this virtuous and pious 
prince, was doomed to fall in battle. Having served 
the cause of Christ for six years, he w r as slain in an ac- 
tion, fought with Carduella, a British prince, a Christian 
by profession, and with Penda, king of the Saxon prin- 
cipality of Mercia, a professed pagan. The British 
prince using his victory with savage barbarity, Pauli- 
nus fled with Edwin's queen into Kent, whence he 
had brought her. There he filled the see of Roches- 
ter, which he held till his death. His deacon, James, 
whom he had left in Northumberland, preserved still 
some remains of Christianity in a province now over- 
run by pagans. Such are the vicissitudes of the church 
in this world ; her perfect rest is above. 

The situation of the North was, after this, deplora- 
ble, till Oswald succeeded to the kingdom. He pro- 
cured Aidan, an Irish missionary, to come among his 
people, to whom he acted as interpreter. He also en- 
couraged other Irish ministers to come into the north 
of England ; by whom the gospel was preached, 
churches erected, and the ground lost by the expul- 
sion of Paulinus, recovered. 

Aidan was a most shining example of godliness. 
He labored abundantly to convert infidels, and to 
strengthen the faithful. He gave to the poor whatev- 
er presents he received from the great, and continual- 
ly employed himself and his associates in the scrip- 
tures. Luxury, and every appearance of avarice and 
ambition, he strictly avoided. With the money given 
him by the rich, he redeemed captives, whom he af- 
terward instructed and fitted for the ministry. The 
king was not inferior to him in his endeavors to promote 


godliness. He encouraged every attempt to spread 
the knowledge and practice of godliness among men. 

In the mean time Byrinus, who was sent from Rome, 
arrived among the West Saxons, whom he found all 
pagans. Cynigilsus, their king, the father-in-law of Os- 
wald, received baptism from him, and the gospel was 
S'opagated with success through this branch of the 

Eadbald, king of Kent, died in the year 640, his son 
Easconbert, a zealous supporter of godliness, succeed- 
ed him, and was the first Saxon king who totally de- 
stroyed all the idols in his kingdom. 

Oswald was at length slain in battle by the same 
Penda, king of Mercia, who was before mentioned, 
and was succeeded by his brother, Oswy. Penda son 
of the tyrant of Mercia, desired his daughter in mar- 
riage. The reception of Christianity was made a con- 
dition of his obtaining the woman of his choice. 
Young Penda, on hearing the gospel preached, de- 
clared he would become a Christian, even if Oswy's 
daughter were denied him. Two years before the 
death of old Penda, the son married the Northumbri- 
an princess, and patronized Christianity in that part 
of his father's dominions, which was committed to his 
government. Old Penda renewed hostilities against 
Oswy and was slain in battle. Oswy, now master of 
Mercia and Northumberland, applied himself to propa- 
gate Christianity among his new subjects. Through 
his influence the gospel was restored to the kingdom 
of the East Saxons ; and London, which had rejected 
the ministry of Mellitus, again embraced the religion 
of Christ. 

In this century, Ireland was filled with saints. The 
schools which they established were renow r ned for ages. 
That there was a real effusion of the Spirit on England, 
ia evident ; numbers were then turned from idols to the 
living God, and the fruits of it were long enjoyed. 
Kings were truly the nursing fathers, and queens the 
nursing mothers of the church. Toward the close of 
this century the zeal and purity of Christians in En- 
glanc\ began to decline. 



The Propagation of the Gospel in Germany and its 

-I HE northern parts of Europe had hitherto remain- 
ed in the darkness of Idolatry. In this century the 
grace of God began to visit them. Many persons 
travelled from Great Britain and Ireland to preach 
Christ in Batavia, Belgium and Germany. Colomban, 
an Irish monk, passed the Rhine and evangelized the 
Suevi, Boii, and other German nations. In this cause 
he labored till hia death, which happened in the year 
615. Gal, one of his companions, labored with much 
zeal about the lakes of Zurich and Constance. 

Kilian, another Irish missionary came to Wirtzbourg, 
upon the Mayne, where a pagan duke, called Gosbert 
was governor. The duke received the gospel, was 
baptized, and many followed his example. But he 
had married his brother's wife. The missionary uni- 
ted discretion with zeal, and deferred his admonitions 
on this head, till he found that his pupil, the duke, 
was firmly settled in the faith. Kilian ventured at 
length to act the^ part of John the Baptist, and the 
event was in a great measure similar. Gosbert prom- 
ised to obey, but delayed the execution of his promise 
till he should return from an expedition. The mischief 
of procrastination .against the light of conscience, was 
never more strongly illustrated; in his absence, Geila- 
na, for that was the name of the German Herodias, 
procured the murder of Kilian and his companions. 
They were engaged in devotional exercises, and died 
with the patience of martyrs in the year 688. Gos- 
bert was prevailed on by the artifices of Geilana to 
suffer the murderers to escape with impunity. But 
Gosbert, with all the other actors in this tragedy, came 
to an unhappy end. 

Holland, Westphalia, Bavaria, and the neighboring 
Countries received the gospel during this century. 



The General History of the Church in this Century. 

A HOCAS, the Greek emperor, was deposed and 
slain by Heraclius, in the year 610: he was a most 
vicious and profligate tyrant ; and may be compared 
with Caligula, Nero, and Domitian. Since the intro- 
duction of Christianity, such characters had, for two or 
three centuries, been exceedingly rare. For such was 
the benign influence of the gospel, that even amidst 
all the corruptions and abuses of it, which were now 
so numerous, a decency of character and conduct, un- 
known to their pagan predecessors, was supported by 
the emperors in general. In the beginning of the reign 
of Heraclius, which lasted thirty years, the Persians 
desolated the eastern part of the empire and made 
themselves masters of Jerusalem. While Asia groaned 
under their cruelties and oppressions, and was afflicted 
with scourge after scourge, for her long abuse of the best 
gift of God, ati opportunity was given for the exercise 
of Christian graces, to a bishop of a church, which had 
long since ceased to produce Christian fruit. 

This was John, bishop of Alexandria, called the 
Almoner, on account of his extensive liberality. He 
daily supplied with necessaries those who flocked into 
Egyptj after they had escaped the Persian arms. He 
sent to Jerusalem the most ample relief for such as 
remained there ; ransomed captives ; placed the 
sick and wounded in hospitals, and visited them in 
person, two or three times a week. He even seems 
to have interpreted too strictly the sacred rule, " of 
giving to him that asketh of thee." His spirit, how- 
ever, was noble " should the whole world come to 
Alexandria," said he, " they could not exhaust the 
treasures of God." 

The Nile not having risen to its usual height, there 
was a barren season, provisions were scarce, and 
crowds of refugees still poured into Alexandria. 
John, however, continued his liberalities till he hsd 


neither money, nor credit. The prayer of faith was 
his resource, and he still persevered in hope. He 
even refused a very tempting offer of a person, who 
would have bribed him with a large present, that he 
might be ordained deacon. " As to my brethren the 
poor," said the pious John, " God, who fed them be- 
fore you and I were born, will take care to feed them 
now, if we obey him." Soon after he heard of the ar- 
rival of two large ships, which he had sent to Sicily 
for corn. " I thank thee, O Lord," cried the bishop in 
a rapture of joy, " that thou hast kept me from selling 
thy gift for money." 

From the beginning of his bishopric, he maintained 
7500 poor persons by daily alms. He was accessible 
to them on all occasions, and divine faith appears to 
have influenced all his acts of love. He constantly 
studied the scriptures, and, in his conversation, was 
instructive and exemplary. Slander and evil speak- 
ing he peculiarly disliked. If any person was guilty 
of this, in his presence, he would give another turn to 
the discourse. If the person still persisted, he would 
direct "his servant not to admit him any more. 

Heresy, licentiousness and ambition, had filled the 
Alexandrian church, and reduced it very low, and per- 
sons behaved indecently even in public worship. 
John, one day, seeing several leave the church after 
the reading of the gospel, went out also and sat down 
among them. "Children," said he, "the shepherd 
should be with his flock: I could pray at home, but 
I cannot preach at home." By doing this twice, he 
reformed the abuse. The preaching of the word 
much engaged his heart, and the disregard with which 
his preaching was attended was a mark of great degen- 
eracy in the people. 

In 616 John the Almoner departed from Alexandria 
for fear of the Persians and soon after died in Cyprus, 
in the same spirit in which he had lived, and with him 
ends all that is worth recording of the church of Alex- 

In the same year the haughty Chosroes, king of 
Persia, having extended his conquests iqto Egypt, He- 


raclius sued for peace. The tyrant replied, " That, I 
never will consent to, till you renounce him who was 
crucified, whom you call God, and with me adore the 
sun." Chosroes was a second Sennacherib, and was 
treated as such by the Sovereign of the universe. 
The spirit of Heraclius was roused ; and God gave him 
wonderful success : the Persian king was repeatedly 
vanquished, and after he had lost the greater part of 
his dominions, was by his own son murdered, as was 
the case with Sennacherib ; and in the year 628, the 
Persian power ceased to be formidable to the Roman 

About the year 630 the Eutychian heresy, which 
maintained there was only one nature in Jesus Christ, 
produced another, the Monothelite, which ascribed 
to him but one will. Theodore, bishop of Pharan, in 
Arabia, first started this sentiment. Sergius, bishop 
of Constantinople, and Cyrus, bishop of Alexandria, 
received and supported it. The emperor Heraclius w r as 
drawn into this heresy, and the East was rapidly over- 
spread by it. Against this, Sophronius, a disciple of 
John the Almoner, took a firm stand, and in a council, 
at Alexandria, protested against the innovation, but in 
vain. The heresy spread wider and wider ; Honorius, 
bishop of Rome, was led into the snare, and imposed 
silence on all the controversalists. 

While this new dispute continued in the East, vice 
astonishingly prevailed ; and the Saracen locusts, 
about to torment the Christian world, began their rav- 
ages. In the year 608, Mahomet declared himself a 
prophet, and soon collected some of various sorts of 
persons who inhabited Arabia. At the time of his 
death, which happened in the year 631, he had con- 
quered almost all that country. 

After his decease, the Mahometan arms still pro- 
ceeded with the same rapidity. Damascus, Jerusalem, 
Antioch and Alexandria, successively became a prey 
to Unse devourers. Persia itself was subdued. Thus 
did God punish both the persecuting idolaters, and the 
vici u- professors of Christianity in the East. They 
were doomed^to a long night of servitude under ma- 


hometanism, which continues to this time. Heraclius 
himself died in the year 641. God had showed him 
great mercies and given him very great encourage- 
ment to seek true religion, by the remarkable success 
of his arms against the Persians in the middle of his 
reign. But he lived wickedly, and thus evinced the 
moraPtendency of his heretical sentiments. 

Maxim us, who had been secretary to Heraclius, was 
a man of real godliness, and succeeded Sophronius in 
the defence of the primitive faith. He, with much la- 
bor, confuted the heresiarchs. In the year 649, by his 
zeal and importunity, Martin, bishop of Rome, was 
excited to assemble a council, in the Lateran, of 105 
bishops. The controversy had now lasted 18 years. 
Men destitute of godliness, but eagerly embracing the 
form, had, during this period, gratified the self-right- 
eous bias, and the most malevolent passions of the 
heart, in long protracted controversies, while practical 
religion was awfully neglected. Nor could all the ca- 
lamities of the times, and the desolation of the eastern 
churches, move them to the love of peace and truth. 

Though Constans, who was then emperor, had, by 
a decree, forbidden the council to take any part in the 
controversy, yet Martin ventured to anathematize the 
supporters of the Monothelite heresy. The resentment 
of the emperor was excited, Martin was ordered to 
be dragged into the East, and made to suffer a long 
protracted punishment. He remained firm to the last. 
In his severest trials he says, "As to this wretched 
body, the Lord will take care of it. He is at hand; 
why should I give myself any trouble? for I hope in 
his mercy, that he will not prolong my course." His 
ambition, to maintain the supposed superiority of the 
Roman see, is blamable ; but his firm adherence to the 
doctrines of truth, deserves the admiration of chris- 
tians. He died in the year 655. In Roman language, 
he is called St. Martin, and appears to have had a just 
title to the name in the best sense of the word. 

Maximus, now 75 years old, was brought, by order 
of Constans, to Constantinople, and underwent a num- 
ber of examinations. His understanding remained 


vigorous, and by the solidity of his arguments, he con- 
founded his examiners. He clearly proved, " that to 
allow only one will or operation in Jesus Christ, was 
in reality to allow only one nature ; that therefore, the 
opinion for which the emperor was so zealous, was 
nothing more than Eulychianism revived ; that he 
had not so properly condemned the emperor, as the 
doctrine, by whomsoever it was held ; that it was con- 
trary to the current of all ecclesiastical antiquity ; that 
our Savior was always allowed, from the apostolical 
times, to be perfect God and perfect man, and must 
therefore have the nature, will and operations distinct- 
ly belonging both to God and man : that the new sen- 
timent went to confound the idea both of the divinity 
and the humanity, and to leave him no proper exist- 
ence at all : that the emperor was not a pastor, and 
that it had never been practised by Christian empe- 
rors in the worst times, to impose silence on bishops : 
that it was the duty of the latter not to disguise the 
truth by ambiguous expressions, but to defend it by 
clear and distinct terms, adapted to the subject : that 
Arianism had always endeavored to support itself by 
such artifices as those employe^ by the emperor, and 
that a peace obtained by such methods in the church 
was at the expense of truth." Thus God raised up 
Maximus to defend the truth, against the attacks of 
its enemies. 

The tyrant, enraged to find himself disappointed, or- 
dered that Maximus should be scourged, his tongue 
cut out, his right hand cut off, and then banished and 
doomed to imprisonment for life. The same punish- 
ment was inflicted on two of the disciples of Maximus. 
These three upright men were confined in separate 
castles, in obscure rogions of the East, where they en- 
joyed no consolations, except those which belong to, 
men who suffer for righteousness sake. 

While such barbarous measures were used by nom- 
inal Christians, to support unscriptural tenets, Provi- 
dence frowned on the affairs of the empire. The Sa- 
racens overrun Arabia, Persia, Mesopotamia, dial* 
dea, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and part of Africa. Even 
Europe suffered from their depredations, 


Constans, also, having murdered his own brother, 
and greatly disgraced the Christian name, by his fol- 
lies, his vices and cruelties, was at length dispatched 
in the 27th year of his reign, in 667. 

In 680, in a general council at Constantinople, 
where the emperor, Constantine Pogonatus, presided, 
the Monothelile heresy was anathematized, and its 
abettors were condemned, among whom was Honori- 
us, a bishop of Rome. The bishop did not at that 
time claim or allow infallibility. The most decisive 
marks of Antichrist, idolatry and false doctrine, had 
not yet appeared in that church. Superstition and 
vice were lamentably on the increase in the West, a 
considerable degree of true piety, however, prevailed, 
and some gracious effusions of the Spirit of God still 

In the East it was quite different Men had there 
filled up the measure of their iniquity. The Mahom- 
etan conquerors reduced the ancient professors of or- 
thodoxy to a state of extreme insignificancy. Here- 
tics were encouraged and protected by those conquer- 
ors, while the orthodox were sorely oppressed. 

Africa had shared in the general corruption in the 
East, and it has also shared in the general punish- 
ment. Toward the close of this century, it fell under 
the power of the Mahometans. This region, once 
fruitful in men, distinguished for soundness of faith, 
and for holy lives, was consigned to Mahometan dark- 
ness, and must henceforth be nearly dismissed from 
these memoirs. 

Learning was very low, and the taste of the age 
barbarous. Christ had, then, however, a church in 
the world. In England, true godliness appears to have 
beamed forth with a good degree of lustre ; and France 
seems to have enjoyed no small measure of piety. 
From these t\vo countries, Divine truth made its w r ay 
into Germany and the North, with glorious success. In 
Italy, the Lombards gradually renounced Arianism, 
and the purity of faith was in general preserved. In 
the dark ages which followed, some glimmerings of 
the presence qf Christ with his church will appear. 




Venerable Bede^ the English Presbyter. 

A HIS man was born at Farrow, hear the mouth of 
the Tyne. At the age of seven he lost both his par- 
ents, and was then placed in the monastery of Were- 
mouth, where he was educated with much strictness, 
and from his youth, appears to have been devoted to 
the service of God. He was afterward removed to 
the monastery of Jerrow, where he ended his days. He 
was accounted the most learned man of his time. Pray- 
er, writing, and teaching were his familiar employments 
during his whole life. He was constant in riligious du- 
ties arid made all his studies subservient to devotion. 
Of Greek and Hebrew, he had a knowledge very un- 
common in that barbarous age, and by his instructions 
and examples, raised up many scholars. There was 
more learning at that time, in the British Isles, than in 
any other part of Europe. Genuine godliness, rather 
than taste or genius, appears in his writings. 

In his last sickness, he was afflicted with a difficul- 
ty of breathing, for two weeks. His mind was serene 
and cheerful, and his affections heavenly. Amidst 
these infirmities, he daily taught his disciples. A great 
part of the night was spent in prayer and thanksgiv- 
ing , and the first employment in the morning was to 
meditate on the scriptures and to address his God. 
" God scourgeth every son whom he receiveth," was 
frequently in his mouth. Even amidst his bodily 
weakness, he was employed in writing two little trea- 
tises. Perceiving his end to draw nigh he said, " If 
my Maker please, I will go to him from the flesh ? 
who formed rne out of nothing. My soul desires to 
see Christ my King in his beauty." He sang glory to 
the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and expired with at 


sedateness, composure, and devotion, which amazed 
all, who saw and heard him. 

While Bede lived^in no part of the world, was god- 
liness better understood and practised, than among 
the English. 

A year before his death, in a letter to Egbert, arch- 
bishop of York, he writes, " Above all things, avoid 
useless discourse, and apply yourself to the holy scrip- 
tures, especially the epistles to Timothy and Titus ; 
to Gregory's Pastoral Care, and his homilies on the 
gospel. It is indecent for him, who is dedicated to 
the service of the church, to give way to actions or 
discourse unsuitable to his character. Have always 
those about you, who may assist you in temptation : 
be not like some bishops, who choose to have those 
about them, who love good cheer, and divert them 
with trifling and facetious conversation." 

In the same letter he also writes, " Appoint presby- 
ters, in each village, to instruct and to administer the 
sacraments ; and let them be studious that every one 
of them may learn by heart, the creed and the Lord's 

In a synod, held at Cloveshoo, about the middle of 
this century, in which Bede appears to have had great 
influence, the clergy are directed to have fellowship 
\vith one another, to serve God in one spirit of faith., 
hope and charity, to pray for one another, and to at- 
tend the duties of the sabbath. This shows the char- 
acter of Bede, and the spirit of the synod. 


Miscellanea us Particulars* 

J_N the early part of this century, Ceolfrid governed 
the two monasteries of Werernouth and Jerrovv, where 
Bede was educated. Through his* influence, the 
Picts, who inhabited North Britain, were brought 
over to the Roman mode of celebrating Easter, and of 
2 tf 


course io the Roman communion, and to share in the 
corruptions of that church, which continually grew 
more and more superstitious. 

In the year 713, the Mahometans passed over from 
Africa into Spain, and put an end to the kingdom of 
the Goths, which had lasted near 300 years. Most of 
the professed Christians, who had there become very 
corrupt and superstitious, were reduced ta slavery. 
A few, however, in the Asturian mountains, preserved 
their independence, and chose Pelagius for their king. 
He expressed his hope, that after God had chastised 
them for their sins, he would not give them wholly up 
to the Mahometans. His confidence in God was not 
disappointed. Under circumstances extremely disad- 
vantageous, he defeated the enemy, re-peopled the 
cities, rebuilt the churches, and by the pious assis- 
tance of several pastors, supported the gospel in one 
district of Spain, while the greatest part of the country 
was overrun by the Arabians. The successors of Pe- 
lagius recovered more cities from the enemy. 

Christendom, now afforded a mournful spectacle. 
Idolatry was widely spreading, both in Europe and 
Asia, among the professors of the gospel: in all 
those countries which had long been evangelized, 
men had generally forsaken the faith and precepts of 
Jesus. The people, who served the Lord in the 
greatest purity and sincerity, at this time, seem to 
have been our ancestors, and the inhabitants of some 
other regions, which had but lately received the gos- 
pel. Sin blinds the mind ; and the nominal Christians 
of the day perceived not that the avenging hand of 
God was upon them, till the Arabians had advanced 
into the heart of France, and were ravaging that coun- 
try in a dreadful manner, when strong efforts were made? 
to withstand them. In the year 732, they were total- 
ly defeated near Poictiers, by the heroic Charles Mar- 
tel. By this, the providence of God stopped the pro- 
gress of the Arabian locusts, and preserved a people t 
serve him in those western regions. 



The Controversy of Images. The maturity of Antichrist. 

|_N the year 727, the bishop of Rome, endeavored 
by temporal power to support false doctrine, and par- 
ticularly that which deserves the name of idolatry. 
This is probably the most proper date for the begin- 
ning of Popedorru 

While men's hearts were filled with peace and joy in 
believing, while the doctrines of regeneration and 
justification were precious and all-important in their 
timation, and they lived by the faith of Jesus, saw his 
glory, and felt in their souls the transforming power of 
his grace ; the deceitful aids of idolatry to their wor- 
ship, had no charms. But now the knowledge of the 
gospel was adulterated and darkened ; and the mind, 
no longer under the influence of the Holy Spirit, be- 
took itself to the arts of sculpture and painting, to in- 
flame its affections, and to enkindle a false fire of de- 
votion. Pride could easily invent arguments to si- 
lence the admonitions of conscience, and gratify a 
self-righteous spirit, and worldly ambition lay in its 
claim for secular pow r er and self- gratification. In this 
respect the Roman church advanced in corruption 
more rapidly than the Eastern. The Grecian empe- 
rors employed themselves in destroying images and 
pictures, while in Italy they were held in idolatrous 

Leo, the Greek emperor, in the year 727, began 
openly to oppose the worship of images. This pro- 
duced a rupture with the Roman see. Having assem- 
bled the people, with frankness and sincerity he de- 
clared to them, his settled conviction of the idolatry of 
the growing practice, and that images ought not to be 
erected for adoration. But, so deeply had error pre- 
vailed, so convenient did wicked men find it to com- 
mute for the indulgence of their crimes, by a zealous 
$}tachment to the^worship of images, and so little were 


the scriptures then read and studied, that the subjects 
of Leo murmured against him as a tyrant and persecu- 
tor. Even Germanus, bishop of Constantinople, took 
a decided part in favor of images, in opposition to the 
emperor. If peace by Jesus Christ, through faith 
alone, be not faithfully preached, men distressed for 
their sins will flee to idolatry with eagerness, and be 
confirmed in sinful practices. 

Gregory II. was now bishop of Rome ; whom, on ac- 
count of his open defence and support of idolatry, J 
shall venture to call the first Pope in Rome. From 
his time, the bishops of Rome, with their adherents, 
are to be looked on as Antichrist. 

Greece and its neighboring islands, infatuated with 
image worship, opposed the emperor, and set up an 
usurper. But the rebels were routed ; and the usurper 
was taken and beheaded. 

The cause of the emperor Leo, was just, and his 
zeal was sincere, though his temper was too warm. 
He might have been a pious Christian, there is no 
proof to the contrary. He not only condemned the 
worship of images but also rejected relics and the in- 
tercession of saints. But there lived none at that time 
capable of doing justice to the holiness of his motives 
if indeed, as there is reason to hope, they were holy. 

Jn the year 730, Leo published an edict against ima- 
ges, deposed the idolat rous Germanus, and appointed 
Anastasius, who was opposite in sentiment, in his stead. 
In the porch of the palace of Constantinople was an 
image of Christ on the cross. Leo saw it had been 
made an engine of idolatry and sent an officer to pull 
it down. Some women, who were there, entreated 
that it might be spared, but in vain. The officer hav- 
ing mounted a ladder, struck with a hatchet three 
blows on the face of the figure, when the women pull- 
ed away the ladder, threw him down, and murdered 
him on the spot. The image, however, was pulled 
down and burnt, and a plain cross set up in its room. 
Leo only objected to the erection of an human figure. 
The women afterward insulted Anastasius as having 
profaned holy things. Leo put several persons to 


death, who had been concerned in the murder. But 
the triumph of idolatry was at length so great, that 
the murderers are to this day honored by the Greek 
church, as martyrs ! more blood was spilt on this occa- 
sion, partly through the vehemence of the emperor, 
and partly through the obstinacy of the idolaters. 

The news flew to Rome, and the emperor's statues 
were pulled down and trodden under foot. Attempts 
were now made to elect another emperor, and the 
Pope encouraged those attempts. The issue of the 
ferment was that he established his, and his successors' 
temporal pow r er on the ruins of imperial authority. 
He was succeeded by Gregory III. who wrote to the 
emperor in these arrogant terms. " Because you are 
unlearned and ignorant, we are obliged to write to 
you rude discourses, but full of sense and the word of 
God. We conjure you to quit your pride, and hear 
us with humility. You say that we adore stones, 
walls, and boards. It is not so, my lord ; but those 
symbols make us recollect the persons whose names 
they bear, and exalt our grovelling minds. We do not 
look upon them as gods : but if it be the image of Je- 
sus, we say " Lord help us." If it be the image of his 
mother, we say, "pray to your son to save us." If it 
be of a martyr, we say, " St. Stephen, pray for us." 

" We might, as having the power of St. Peter, pro- 
nounce punishment against you ; but as you have 
pronounced the curse upon yourself, let it stick to you. 
You write to us to assemble a general council ; of 
which there is no need. Do you cease to persecute 
images, and all will be quiet. We fear not your 
threats ; for if we go a league from Rome toward Cam- 
pania, we are secure." Certainly this is the language 
of Antichrist, supporting idolatry by infallibility, and 
despising both civil magistrates and ecclesiastical 

In a view of such arrogance, it is not to be wonder- 
ed at, that Leo refused to have any further intercourse 
with the Roman prelate. In 732, Gregory, in a coun- 
cil excommunicated all, who should remove or speak 
contemptuously of images. Italy being thus in a state 


of rebellion, Leo fitted out a fleet to qnell it. This 
was wrecked in the Adriatic. In the East, however, 
he continued to enforce his edicts against images, in 
opposition to all the sophisms of their advocates. 

In the year 741, Gregory and Leo both died. Con- 
stantine Copronimus succeeded his father as emperor ; 
and Zachary succeeded as Pope. The new emperor 
imitated his father's zeal against images. Zachary 
showed himself worthy of the title of temporal prince . 
He fomented discord among the Lombards, and, by 
intrigues obtained an addition to the patrimony of the 

Pepin, now prime minister of state in France, sent 
a case of conscience to the Pope to be resolved, W 7 hich 
was, whether it would be right in him to depose his 
sovereign Childeric III. and reign in his stead. Zach- 
ary answered in the affirmative. Pepin then threw 
his master into a monastery and assumed the title of 
king. Zachary died in the year 752, and was suc- 
ceeded by Stephen. 

In 754, the Greek emperor held a council of 338 
bishops to decide the controversy concerning images. 
On the nature of the heresy, they say, "Jesus Christ 
hath delivered us from idolatry, and hath taught us to 
adore him in spirit and in truth. But the devil not 
being able to endure the beauty of the church, hath 
insensibly brought back idolatry under the appearance 
of Christianity, persuading men to worship the crea- 
ture, and to take for God a work, to which they give 
the name of Jesus Christ." 

Constantine now determined on exterminating all 
vestiges of idolatry, burnt the images, and demolish- 
ed the walls, which were painted with representations 
of Christ or the saints. 

Pope Stephen, now at war with the Lombards, ap- 
plied to Pepin to succor Si. Peter ; promising the re- 
mission of sins, a hundred fold in this world, and in 
the world *to come life everlasting. Shortly after this, 
Stephen visited Pepin and anointed him with oil as 
king of the Franks, and by the authority of St. Peter, 
forbad the French lords, on pain of excommuuicatiQn. 


to choose a king of another race. Pepin, in return^ 
afforded succor to St. Peter, attacked Astulphus, king 
of the Lombards, so vigorously as to compel him to 
deliver up Ravenna, and twenty-one cities besides, Jo 
the Pope. With the acquisition of Ravenna, and its 
dependencies, Stephen added rapacity to his rebel- 
lion. From this time, he not only assumed the tone 
of infallibility and spiritual dominion, but became lit- 
erally a temporal prince. 

In 757, Stephen died and was succeeded by Paul. 
In 768 Pepin, the great supporter of the Popedom, 
died, and was succeeded by his son Charles, common- 
ly called, on account of his great exploits, Charle- 
magne. By him, Adrian, the successor of Paul, ob- 
tained an enlargement of territorial jurisdiction. 

In 775, the emperor Constantine died, after having 
vigorously opposed image worship during his whole 
reign. Leo, his son and successor, trod in his steps 
and exercised severities on the supporters of image 
worship. On his decease in 680, his wife Irene assum- 
ed the government in the name of her son Constan- 
tine, now ten years old. She openly and zealously 
supported idolatry. Images and the monastic life 
again prevailed in Greece and Asia. In this they aw- 
fully departed from the all-important article of justifi- 
cation. During the whole of this century the pulpits 
were silent on this doctrine ; false religion grew with- 
out any check or molestation ; and vices, both in pub- 
lie and private life, proportionably increased. 

In 787 the second council of Nice, held under the^ 
empress, confirmed idolatrous worship. Pope Adrian, 
having received the acts of this council, sent them to 
Charlemagne, that he might procure the approbation of 
the bishops of the West. The customs and habits of 
the West were far from favoring the reigning idolatry. 
At this gloomy period the features of real religion 
are to be found in the churches newly planted. The 
island of Great Britain was then decidedly against 
idolatry. The British Christians execrated the second 
council of Nice ; and some of the Italian bishops pro- 
tested against the growing evil. France itself had, 


as yet, shown no disposition positively in favor of 

Charlemagne, struck with the discordancy of the 
Nicene council, with the principles and practices of 
the West, ordered the western bishops to examine the 
merits of the question* Their result was, that images 
might be set up in churches, and serve as books for 
the instruction of the people. But they condemned, 
in free terms, the late Grecian Synod, which enjoined 
the worship of images. They allowed the primacy of 
St. Peter's see, but would not found their faith on the 
Pope's decrees* Charles and the French churches, 
persevered in their own middle practice, used images, 
but abhorred the adoration of them. 

A synod of 300 bishops in the year 794, at Frank 
fort, condemned the second council of Nice, and the 
worship of images. Before the close of the century 
Adrian died and was succeeded by Leo III. Political 
intrigue, and secular artifice, not theological study, 
was then the practice of Roman bishops. The Irish, 
at this time, particularly excelled in divinity, some of 
that nation travelled through various countries, and 
became renowned for knowledge. The superior light 
of England and France, in the controversy of images, 
proves both those countries, in knowledge and in re- 
gard for the doctrines of scripture, to have been far 
superior to Rome. Yet so strongly were men prejudi- 
ced in favor of the dignity of the Roman see, that it 
still remained in the height of its power, and was able, 
in process of time, to communicate its idolatrous 
abominations through Europe. In the East, the wor- 
ship of images was triumphant, but as yet not univer- 
sal. The East and West, were now overgrown with 
false worship ; even those parts, which as yet, were 
not disposed to receive idolatry, were prepared for 
its gradual admission, partly by the prevalence of 
superstition, and partly by the submission of the Eu- 
ropean churches to the domination of the Roman see. 
There the seat of Antichrist was firmly fixed. Rebel- 
lion against the lawful power of the magistrate, the 
most arrogant claims to infallibility, and the support of 


image worship, conspired with the temporal dominion 
lately obtained by the bishop of Rome, to render him 
the tyrant of the church. His dominions, were, indeed, 
not large, but in conjunction with the proud preten- 
sions of his ecclesiastical character, they gave him a 
superlative dignity in the eyes of all Europe. From 
the year 727 the face of the whole church was altered : 
and from that time, till nearly the year 2000, we may 
have the dominion of the beast; the forty and two 
months, or 1260 days, a day being put for a year, 
while the witnessess are to prophesy in sackcloth. 
We must now look for the true church, either, in dis- 
tinct individual saints, who, in the midst of popery, 
were preserved by effectual grace, in vital union with 
the Son of God, or in associations of true Christians, 
formed in different regions, who were in a state of 
persecution and much affliction. Where then was the 
true church in the eighth century ? She still existed ; 
and the opposition made to idolatry by Charles and 
the council of Frankfort, demonstrates the fact. 
Nothing but the influence of sentiments, very oppo- 
site to those which were fashionable at Rome, can ac- 
count for such events, at a time, when the dignity of 
the Roman see was held in universal veneration. 
The propagation of the gospel among pagans chief- 
ly indicates the existence of the real church in this 
century. Some real work of this kind was propagat- 
ing, while the popedom was forming ; and, by the ado- 
rable providence of God, pious missionaries, who en- 
tered not into the recent controversies, but were en- 
gaged in actions purely spiritual, were .patronized and 
supported in preaching Christ among foreign nations, 
by the same popes of Rome who were opposing his 
grace among their own subjects. Their ambition led 
them to cherish the zeal of the missionaries, but with 
how different a spirit ! To this scene let us now direct 
our attention. 



The Propagation of the Gospel in this Century, and an 
account of the life of Boniface, Archbishop of Mentz. 

A HE great luminary of Germany was Winfrid, an 
Englishman, who had been brought up in the monas- 
tic Ufe from his infancy. In the year 719, he was 
appointed by Gregory II. bishop of Rome, to the 
missionary life and labors. His commission was of 
the most ample and unlimited nature. In execution 
of this he went into Bavaria and Thuringia. In the 
first country, he reformed churches, in the second, he 
was successful in the conversion of infidels. Here al- 
so he observed, how true religion, where it had been 
planted, was almost destroyed by false teachers ; some 
pastors, indeed, were zealous for the service of God, 
but others were devoted to scandalous vices : the 
English missionary beheld their state, and the ill ef- 
fects of it on the people, with sorrow, and strove in- 
cessantly to recover them to true repentance. 

A door was now opened in Friezeland for the free 
preaching of the gospel. Thither. Winfrid repaired 
and co-operated with Willibrod, another English mis- 
sionary who had already spent much time among the 
Frisons. Many received the word of God ; churches 
were erected, and idolatry was more and more subdu- 

Winfrid, having labored among the Frisons with 
success, passed into Hesse, to a place called Oinen- 
burg, belonging to two brothers, who were nominal 
Christians, but practical idolaters.. Here his- labors 
were successful, both on them and their subjects ; and 
throughout a great part of Hesse y even to the confines 
of Saxony, he erected the standard of truth, and up- 
held it with much zeal, to the confusion of the king- 
dom of Satan. In a country so poor and uncultivated 
as the greater part of Germany then was, Winfrid suf- 
fered many severe hardships. At times, he supported 


himself by the work of his hands, and was exposed t* 
imminent peril from the rage of the obstinate Pagans. 

After a considerable residence in Germany, he re- 
turned to Rome, where he was kindly received by 
Gregory II, and was consecrated bishop of the new 
German churches, by the name of Boniface. The 
policy of the Pope, in giving to this English missionary 
a Roman name, seems to have been, to procure from 
the German converts, respect to himself. This ap- 
pears further to have been his design, from the circum- 
stance, that he required of the new bishop an oath of 
subjection to the papal authority, conceived in the 
strongest terms. On his return into Germany Boni- 
face exerted himself with much zeal against the idol- 
atrous superstitions of the country. Protected by the 
civil authority of the French government, he caused an 
oak of prodigious size, which had been the occasion of 
much pagan delusion, to be cut down. 

About the year 723, Daniel, bishop of Winchester, 
wrote to Boniface concerning the best method of deal- 
ing with idolaters. " Do not contradict," says he a in 
a direct manner their accounts of the genealogy of 
their gods ; allow that they were born from one another 
in the same way as mankind are ; this concession will 
give you the advantage of proving, that there was a 
time when they had no existence. Ask them who 
governed the world before the birth of their gods ; ask 
them if these gods have ceased to propagate. If they 
have not, show them the consequence ; viz : that the 
gods must be infinite in number, and that no man can 
rationally be at ease in worshipping any of them, lost 
he should by that means, offend one, who is more 
powerful. Argue thus with them, not in a way of in- 
sult, but with temper and moderation; and take op- 
portunities to contrast these absurdities with the 
Christian doctrine : let the pagans be rather ashamed 
than incensed by your oblique mode of stating these 
subjects. Show them the insufficiency of their plea of 
antiquity: inform them that idolatry did anciently 
prevail over the world, but that Jesus Christ was mani- 
fested, in order to reconcile men to God by his grace.'* 


Piety and good sense appear to have predominated in 
these instructions, and we have here proofs, in addition 
to those already given, of the grace of God conferred 
on our ancestors during the Heptarchy. 

The reputation of Boniface was now high; and ma- 
ny from England resorted into Germany, to connect 
themselves with him. These dispersed about the 
country, and preached in the villages of Hesse and 

In 732, Boniface received from Gregory III. the ti- 
tle of archbishop, by whom too he was supported in 
his mission. 

After he had continued his exertions with unabated 
vigor and with great success for some time longer, in 
the scene of his previous labors, he was at length, 
fixed at MentZ) and he is commonly called archbishop 
of that city."" 

Under the increase of his dignity, his zeal and ex- 
ertions were not remitted. He suffered much from 
pagans, false Christians, and immoral pastors, but en- 
dured his sufferings with firmness, supported by confi- 
dence in his divine Master. Though oppressed with 
age and infirmities, he determined to return into 
Friezeland. Before this event, he acted as if he had 
a strong presentiment of his approaching exit. He 
appointed Lullus, an Englishman, his successor, as 
archbishop of Mentz, and wrote to the abbot of St. 
Denys, desiring him to acquaint the king, Pepin, tbat 
he and his frisnds believed his death was near. He 
begged, that the king would show kindness to the 
missionaries, whom, he should leave behind him. 
"Some of them" sjiLJ h^, "are priests, dispersed into 
diverse parts, for the good of the church : others arc 
monks, settled in small monasteries, where they in- 
struct the children. There are aged men with me, 
who have long assisted me in my labors. I fear, lest 
after my death, they be dispersed, and the disciples, 
who are near the frontiers, should lose the faith of 
Jesus Christ. I beg that my son Lullus, may be con- 
firmed in the episcopal office, and that he may teach 
the priests, the monks, and the people. I hope that 

357 * * 

he will perform these duties. That, which ftiost af- 
flicts me, is, that the priests, who are on the pagan 
frontiers, are very indigent They can obtain bread, 
but no clothes, unless they be assisted, as they have 
been by me. Let me know your answer, that I may 
live or die with more cheerfulness." 

It is most probable that he received an answer 
agreeable to his benevolent wishes, as he himself or- 
dained Lullus his successor, with the consent of Pe- 
pin. Boniface went by the *Rhine into Friezeland, 
where, assisted by Eoban, whom he had ordained 
bishop of Utrecht, after the death of Willibrod, he 
brought great numbers of pagans into the pale of the 
church. He had appointed a day to confirm those, 
whom he had baptized. In waiting for them, he en- 
camped with his followers, on the banks of the Bord- 
ne, a river which then divided East and West Frieze- 
land. His intention was to confirm, by imposition of 
hands, the converts on the plains of Dockum. On the 
appointed day, he beheld, in the morning, not the 
new converts, whom he expected, but a troop of angry 
pagans, armed with shields and lances. The servants 
went out to resist, but Boniface, with cairn intrepidi- 
ty, said to his followers, " Children, forbear to fight ; 
the scripture forbids us to render evil for evil. The 
day, which I have long waited for, has come. Hope 
in God, and he will save your * souls." Thus did he 
prepare the priests and the rest of his companions for 
martyrdom. The pagans attacked them furiously, and 
slew the whole company, fifty-three in number, inclu- 
ding Boniface himself. This happened in the year 755, 
in the 40tb er his arrival in Germany and the 75th 
of his age. le manner, in which his death was re- 
sented by tiiL Christian Germans, shows their high ven- 
neration for his character. They collected a great ar- 
my, attacked the pagans, slew many of them, pillaged 
their country, and carried off their wives and children. 
Those, who remained pagans in Friezeland, were glad 
to obtain peace by submitting to Christian rites. Such 
a method of shewing regard for Boniface, might be 
expected from a rude and ill informed multitude. .But, 


though rude they had the gifts of common sense, and 
could feelingly estimate the friendship and benificence 
of the apostle of the Germans. And if their vindictive 
punishment of his murderers was severe and unchris- 
tian it was natural. Boniface appears to have been 
a man of genuine piety and exemplary virtue. 
Though excessively attached to the Roman see, and 
to monastic institutions, yet he did not practise idola- 
try or teach false doctrine. Removed from the scene 
of controversy, he seems not to have taken any part 
in the debate concerning images, but uniformly to 
have opposed idolatry and immorality. For many 
years, he lived amidst dangers and sufferings, and sup- 
ported a uniform zeal for the reformation of the cler- 
gy, and the conversion of infidels, to which objects he 
sacrificed all worldly conveniences, and at last, finish- 
ed his course in martrydom, in the patience and meek- 
ness of a disciple of Christ. God made use of his la- 
bors, greatly to extend the bounds of the church in the 
north of Europe, while they were so much contracted 
in Asia and Africa. 

Virgilius, an Irishman, was appointed bishop of 
Saltzburg, by king Pepin. His modesty prevented 
him from entering upon the office for two years ; but 
he was at length prevailed on to receive consecration. 
He followed the example of JJoniface in extirpating 
the remains of idolatry in his diocese and died in the 
year 780. 

The church of Utrecht, in Friezeland, was governed 
by Gregory, who, from the fifteenth year of his age, 
had been a follower of Bonifa.ce. Two of his broth- 
ers having been .murdered in a wood, the barons, 
whose vassals, they were, delivered the murderers 
bound into his hands. Gregory, after he had treated 
them kindly, bade them depart in peace, saying "sin 
no more, lest a worse thing befal you.*" He was as- 
sisted in his ministerial labors by several disciples ; > 
some were, of his own nation, the French, others were 
English, prisons, newly converted Saxons, and Bava- 
rians. Scarce a morning passed, without his giving 
them spirkual instruction. He affected no. singular!- 


ty either in habit or diet. He recommended sobriety 
among his disciples, was not to be moved from the 
path of duty by slander, and was boundless in his lib- 
erality to the poor. He died about the year 776. 

Liefuvyn, an Englishman, one of his disciples, was 
distinguished by his labors, as a missionary in Germa- 
ny. He even ventured to appear before the pagan 
Saxons, while assembled upon the Weser sacrificing 
to their idols, and exhorted them with a loud voice to 
turn from those vanities unto the living God. As an 
ambassador from Jehovah, he offered them salvation. 
Here his zeal had well nigh cost him his life ; but he 
was at length suffered to depart, on the remonstrances 
of Buto, one of their chiefs, who expostulated with 
them on the unreasonableness of treating an ambassa- 
dor of the great God with less respect than they did 
one from any of the neighboring nations. In the 
mean time, the arms of Charlemagne prevailed over 
the Saxons, and eventually facilitated the efforts of 
Liefuvyn, who continued to preach among this people 
till his death. 

This was an age of missionaries : their character 
and their success form almost the only shining picture 
in this century. Villehad, an Englishman was abun- 
dantly successful among the Saxons. He became 
bishop of Bremen, and was called the apostle of Sax- 
ony. He commenced his mission in Dockum, where 
Boniface had been murdered, and was the first mission- 
ary who passed the Elbe. After he had labored 35 
years, and had been bishop of Bremen two years, he 
died. In his dying moments, he said to his weeping 
friends, "withhold me not from going to God: these 
sheep I recommend to him, who intrusted them to 
me, and whose mercy is able to protect them." 

Firmin, a Frenchman, preached the gospel, under 
various difficulties, in Alsace, Bavaria, and Switzer- 
land, and inspected a number of monasteries. Rumold 
travelled into Lower Germany, next into Brabant, 
diffused much light in the neighborhood of Mechlin, 
and in 775, was murdered by two persons, one of 
whom he had reproved for adultery. 


The north of France was in this century, full of pa- 
gans and merely nominal Christians. Silvin, who was 
born in Thoulouse, travelled thither, preached among 
them for many years, and gathered in a large harvest. 
He died at Auchy 5 in the county of Artois. 


Authors of this Century. 

JL HE most learned writer of this century, except 
Bede, seems to have been John of Damascus. He 
mingled the Aristotelean philosophy with the Christian 
religion, and defended the Arminian sentiment of 
free-will, in opposition to the doctrine of effectual 
grace. In this he labored to teach man to rely on 

In the doctrine of the Trinity, John appears to have 
been orthodox : in other respects he was one of the 
most powerful supporters of error. He advocated the 
practice of praying for the dead, as effectual to the re- 
mission of sins, also defended the detestable doctrine 
of image worship, and contributed more than any oth- 
er author, to establish this practice in the East. 

In the year 790, Alcuin was sent ambassador into 
France by Offa, king of the Mercians. On this occa- 
sion, he gained the esteem of Charlemagne, and per- 
suaded that monarch to found the universities of Pa- 
ris and Pavia. He was looked upon as one of the 
wisest and most learned men of his time. He read 
public lectures, in the emperor's palace, and in other 
places. He wrote in an orthordox, candid and able 
manner, on the Trinity. He died in 804. 

Paulinus, of Aquileia, was distinguished as a writer, 
in the opposition, which he maintained to the errors of 
Felix, bishop of Urgel, who attempted to separate the 
humanity from the Divinity of the Son of God. It is 
remarkable that Paulinus arid some other Italian bish- 
ops, in the year 787, agreed to condemn the decrees 
of the second council of Nice, as idolatrous, though 


Pope Adrian had assisted at that council by his legates, 
and used his utmost endeavors to maintain its author- 
ity. The despotism of Antichrist was then, so far 
from being universal, that it was not owned through- 
out Italy itself. Jn some parts of that country, as well 
as in England and France, the purity of Christian wor- 
ship was still maintained. The city of Rome, and its 
environs, seem, at this period, to have been the most 
corrupt part of Christendom, nor was a single mis- 
sionary an Italian. 



A General View of the State of Religion in this Century. 

? f E are penetrating into the regions of darkness, and 
a " land of deserts and pits, a land of drought, and of 
the shadow of death,-' and we are carried by every 
step into scenes still more gloomy than the former. 
Here and there, indeed, a glimmering ray of the sun 
of righteousness is discernable, but it is in vain to look 
for any steady lustre of evangelical truth and holi- 
ness, amidst this dismal darkness. 

The several circumstances which attended the 
gloom of this century are reducible to the follow- 
ing heads : The preference given to human writings 
above the scriptures ; the domination of the pope- 
do m ; the accumulation of ceremonies : and the op- 
pression of the godly. 

It was now fashionable to explain scripture entirely 
by the writings of the fathers. No man was permitted 
with impunity to vary in the least degree from their 
decisions. The apostolic rule of interpretation, to 
compare spiritual things with spiritual, was in a man- 
ner lost. It was deemed sufficient, that such a re- 
nowned doctor had given such an interpretation. 
2 x 


Hence men of learning and indutry paid more atten- 
tion to the fathers, than to the sacred volume, which, 
through long disuse and neglect, was looked on as ob- 
scure and perplexed, and quite unfit for common read- 
ing. Even divine truths seemed to derive their au- 
thority more from the word of man than of God ; and 
the writings and decrees of men were not treated as 
witnesses, but usurped the office of judges of divine 

The popedom now grew stronger and stronger, and 
whoever dared to oppose the bishop of Rome, drew up- 
on himself a host of enemies. All, who looked for ad- 
vancement in the church, were attached to Antichrist, 
very little resistance was consequently made to image 
worship. Most persons contented themselves with a 
simple exposition of their creed, Idolatry was now 
supported by the whole power and influence of the 

The great accumulation of ceremonies, considered 
absolutely necessary to salvation, drew off the atten- 
tion of men from Christian piety. The all-important 
article of justification was nearly smothered in the 
rubbish ; and pastors were so much engrossed with 
the rites of worship, that they were almost entirely 
diverted from intellectual improvement. 

Men of eminence, both in church and state, partly 
through superstition, and partly through secular views, 
suppressed every attempt to reform mankind. 

In Asia, Mahometanism still reigned, and scarce a 
vestige of real godliness appeared in the Eastern 
church. There image worship was still a subject of 
debate : but at length, under the patronage of the su- 
perstitious empress Theodora, it effectually triumphed. 

In this dark season, the absurd tenet of transubstan- 
tiation was introduced. John Scotus Erigena, and 
Rabanus, archbishop of Mentz, two of the most learn- 
ed men of that age, pleaded the cause of common 
.^ense, and opposed this absurd doctrine ; but their 
learning seems to have had very little connexion with 
godliness ; for they joined in opposing the doctrine of 
grace, concerning which a controversy of some im- 
portance was raised 

In France, the views of divine grace were now 
more and more darkened ; and we shall presently find 
that a zealous advocate for them could not be heard 
with candor. Ado, archbishop of Vienne, was inde- 
fatigable in pressing the great truths of salvation. He 
usually began his sermons w r ith these or similar words : 
" Hear the eternal truth, which speaks to you in the 
gospel :" or, " hear Jesus Christ who saith to you." He 
took particular care of the examination of candidates 
for orders ; and was a very diligent disciplinarian. He 
Was inflexibly vigilantagainst vice ; and, while his own 
example was an honor to his profession, he enjoined 
his clergy to apprise him, if they should discover error 
in his conduct. Nor did king Lothaire find him ob- 
sequious to his lusts : for, through Ado's vigorous re* 
monstrances, he was obliged to desist from a design 
of divorcing his queen. He sympathized with sin- 
cere penitents, and was a real friend to the poor, both 
in a spiritual and temporal sense, and was the foun- 
der of many hospitals for their reception. 

In England, the decline of godliness was now 
grievous. A most savage and lawless people invad- 
ed this country. The great Alfred was raised to de- 
fend his country against them. One of his speech- 
es delivered to his soldiers, before a battle, displays 
much good sense and a spirit of religion. In this, he 
told his people, that their sins had given their enemies 
the advantage ; that they ought to reform their ow r n 
manners to engage the favor of God ; that in other 
respects they had the superiority, Christians were fight- 
ing against heathens, and honest men against robbers ; 
that theirs was not a war of ambition or conquest, but 
of necessary self-defence. In the battle which follow- 
ed he entirely defeated the Danes. 

Alfred took great pains to instruct his subjects in 
the things of religion, encouraged literature, and foun- 
ded the University of Oxford* He constantly attend- 
ed public worship, and from his youth was wont to 
pray for grace, and to use serious methods to subdue 
his passions. Through life he appears to have main- 
tained a beautiful consistency of character. There is- 


nothing to excite doubts of the sincerity of his piety. 
After his decease the mist of ignorance again prevail- 
ed in England. 

In the year 814^ Charlemagne died aged 72. It is 
scarce worth while to recount the splendid sins of this 
emperor ; since his sanguinary ambition and habit- 
ual lewdness, too plainly evince his want of Christian 
principles. He revived the western empire in Germa- 
ny, lie was a great instrument of Providence, in ex- 
tending the pale of the church ; and, at the same 
time, fixed the power of the popedom on the strongest 
foundations. His labors, also, to revive learning, were 
very great ; but like those of Alfred, they failed of 
success. His religious ancj moral character bears no 
comparison with that of the English monarch. 


The Paulicians. 

ABOUT the year 660, a new sect arose in the East: 
the accounts of which are far more scanty, than a wri- 
ter of real church history could wish. Constantine, 
who dwelt in an obscure town near Samosatia enter- 
tained a deacon, who had been a prisoner among the 
Mahometans, from whom he received the gift of the 
New Testament in the original language. He improv- 
ed the deacon's gift, and betook himself to a close 
study of the sacred oracles, and formed a plan of Di- 
vinity from the New Testament. Finding St. Paul, the. 
most systematical of all the apostles, he very properly 
prefered his writings. And it is universally acknowl- 
edged that he was in possession of the genuine text. 

This sect appear to have taken their name from St. 
Paul himself. Constantine adopted that of Sylvanus ; 
and his disciples were called Titus, Timothy, Ty chins, 
after the apostle's fellow-laborers; and demonstrations 
of the apostolic churches were given to the congrega- 
tions formed by their labors in Armenia arid Cappado- 
cia. The Paulicians seem to have been perfectly im- 


like any other denomination of Christians, and to have 
originated from an heavenly influence, teaching and 
converting them. And in them is manifested one of 
those extraordinary effusions of the Divine Spirit, by 
which the knowledge of Christ and the practice of 
godliness are kept alive in the world. They cordially 
received the writings of St. Paul ; and from this we 
may infer that they also did the other parts of the sa- 
cred canon. They adhered closely to the orthodox 
doctrine of the Trinity ; were perfectly free from image 
worship, which more and more pervaded the East ; 
disregarded relics, and all the fashionable equipage 
of superstition, and were simply scriptural in the use 
of the sacraments. They knew no other mediator, 
but the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Sylvanus preached with great success. Pontus and 
Cappadocia, before renowned for Christian piety, were 
again enlightened through his labors. He and his as- 
sociates were distinguished from the clergy of that 
day, by their scriptural names, modest titles, knowl- 
edge, activity and holiness. Their congregations 
were diffused over the provinces of Asia Minor to the 
west of the Euphrates ; six of the principal churches 
were called by the names of those to whom St. Paul 
addressed his epistles : and Sylvanus resided in the 
neighborhood of Colonia in Pontus. 

The Greek emperors, at length roused by the grow- 
ing importance of the sect, began to persecute the 
Paulicians with the most sanguinary severity ; and, un- 
der Christian forms and names, re-acted the scenes of 
Galerius and Maximin. They ordered them to be, 
capitally punished, and their books, wherever found, 
to be committed to the flames ; also, that if any person 
was found to have secreted them, he was to be put to 
death, and his goods to be confiscated. False reli- 
gion, in all ages, hates the light, and supports itself, not 
by instruction, but by persecution, while the real truth, 
as it is in Jesus, comes to the light of scripture, and ex- 
hibits that light plainly to the world by reading and, 
expounding the sacred volume,, whence alone it de- 
rives its authority. 


The enemies of the Paulicians conducted th<* per- 
secution against them with singular violence and 
cruelty. Simeon, a Greek officer clothed with impe- 
rial power, came to Colonia, and apprehended Syl- 
vanus and a number of his disciples. Stones were 
put into the hands of these last, and they were re- 
quired to kill their pastor, as the price of their forgive- 
ness* A person, named Justus, was the only one of 
the number who obeyed; and he stoned to death the 
father of the Pauliciutis who had labored among them, 
twenty seven years. Justus signalized himself still 
more by betraying the brethren ; while Simeon, struck 
with the evidences of divine grace apparent in the 
sufferers, embraced the faith which he came to de- 
stroy, gave up the world, preached the gospel, and di- 
ed a martyr. For 150 years, these servants of Christ 
underwent the horrors of persecution with Christian 
patience and meekness. If the acts of their martyr- 
dom, their preaching, and their lives, were distinctly 
recorded, there is no doubt, they would resemble 
those, whom the church justly reveres as having suf- 
fered in behalf of Christ. All this time the power of 
the Spirit of God was with them ; and they practised the 
precepts of the 13th chapter to the Romans, as w r ell 
as believed and felt the precious truths contained in 
the doctrinal chapters of the same epistle. The blood 
of the martyrs was in this case, as uniformily, the seed 
of the church : a succession of teachers and congrega- 
tions arose, and a person named Sergiua, who labored 
among them 33 years, is acknowledged, by historians 
unfriendly to this sect, to have possessed extraordina- 
ry virtue. The persecution had, however, some in- 
termissions, till Theodora, the empress, who had ful- 
ly established image worship, exerted herself beyond 
any of her predescessors against the Paulicians. Her 
inquisitors ransacked the Lesser Asia, in search of 
these sectaries , and she is computed to have killed by 
the gibbet, by fire, and by sword, a hundred thousand 

We have brought down the scanty history of this 
Denomination to about the year 845. To undergo a 


constant scene of persecution with Christian meekness, 
and to render to God and to Caesar their dues, all the 
time, at once require and evince the strength of real 
grace. Of this the Paulicians seem to have been pos- 
sessed till the period just mentioned. They remem- 
bered the injunction of Rev. 13, 10. ".He that killeth 
with the sword, must be killed with the sword : here 
is the faith and patience of the saints." Let chris- 
tians believe, rejoice in God, patiently suffer, return 
good for evil, and still obey those, whom God hath set 
over them. These weapons have ever been found too 
hard for Satan : the power of the gospel has prevailed, 
and the church has grown exceedingly, whenever they 
have been faithfully handled. This was the case pre- 
eminently with the church in the era of Dioclesian's 
persecution. She not only outlived the storm, but 
also, under the conduct of Providence, became exter- 
nally, as well as internally, superior to her enemies. 
If the Panlicians had continued to act thus, the conse- 
quences would probably have been similar. But faith 
and patience at length failed. They were gradually 
betrayed into a secular spirit. About the year 845, 
they murdered two persecutors, a governor and a 
bishop. A soldier called Carbeas, who commanded 
the guards in the imperial armies, that he might re- 
venge his father's death, who had been slain by the 
inquisitors, formed a band of Paulicians, who renounc- 
ed their allegiance to the emperor, negotiated with 
the Mahometan powers, and, by their assistance, en- 
deavored to establish the independency of the sect. 

The cruelties and superstitions of Theodora, receiv- 
ed the applause of Nicolas, who became Pope of 
Rome in 853. So truly was Antichristian tyranny 
now established ! Chrysocheir succeeded Carbeas, 
and in conjunction with the Mahometans, not on- 
ly put Michael the son and successor of Theodora 
to flight, but penetrated into the heart of Asia, and 
desolated the fairest provinces of the Greeks. In the 
issue, the conqueror was slain, the Paulician fortress' 
Tophrice was reduced, and the power of the rebels 
broken, except a number in th mountains, who. 


by the assistance of the Arabs, preserved an uncom- 
fortable independence. The ferocious actions of the 
latter Paulicians show, that they had lost the spirit of 
true religion, and that they had nothing more of the 
sect than the name. Their schemes of worldly ambi- 
tion were however frustrated. Political methods of 
supporting the gospel, often lead the mind away from 
God for support, and issue in disappointment. 

On the whole, we have seen, in general, satisfactory 
proof of the work of Divine grace in Asia Minor, com- 
mencing in the latter end of the seventh century, arid 
extending to the former part oft he ninth. But where 
secular politics begin, there the life and simplicity of 
vital godliness end. When the Paulicians began to re- 
bel against the established government ; to return evil 
for evil , to mingle among the lieathm, the Mahometans, 
and to defend their own religion by arms, negociations 
and alliances, they ceased to become the LIGHT OF 
THE WORLD, and the salt of the earth. Such they had 
been for more than 180 years, adorning and exem- 
plifying the real gospel, by a life of faith, hope and 
charity, and by the preservation of the truth in a pa- 
tient course of suffering. They looked for true riches 
and honor in the world to come ; and doubtless they 
are not frustrated in their hope. But, when secular 
maxims began to prevail among them, they shone for 
a time, as heroes, and patriots, in the false glare of hu- 
man praise ; but they lost the solidity of true honor, 
as all have done in all ages, who have descended 
from the grandeur of real conformity to Christ, and 
have prefered to that, the low ambition of earthly 


Opposition to the Corruptions of Popery in this Century, 

1 HE absolute power of the Pope, the worship of 
image?, and the invocation of saints and angels were 
oppoaed, in this century, as in the last, by several 


princes and ecclesiastics. A council at Paris, in 824, 
rejected the decrees of the second council of Nice, and 
prohibited image worship. Agobard, archbishop of 
Lyons, wrote against the abuse of pictures and ima- 
ges : he maintained that we ought not to worship any 
image of God, except that, which is God himself, his 
eternal Son ; and, that there is no other mediator be- 
tween God and man, but Jesus Christ, both God and 

Claudius, bishop of Turin, pointedly opposed image 
worship. On this subject, he speaks in the following 
terms, " If they, who have quitted the worship of dev- 
ils, honor the images of saints ; they have not forsaken 
idols, they have only changed their names. For 
whether you paint upon a wall the pictures of St. Pe- 
ter, or St. Paul, or those of Jupiter, Saturn, or Mercury, 
they are now neither gods, nor apostles, nor men. 
The name and error continue the same. If men must 
be adored, there would be less absurdity in adoring 
them when alive, while they are the image of God, 
than after they are dead, when they only resemble 
stocks and stones. And if we are not allowed to adore 
the works of God, much less are we allowed to adore 
the works of men. If the cross of Christ ought to be 
adored, because he was nailed to it, for the same rea- 
son we ought to adore mangers, because he W 7 as laid 
in one ; and swaddling clothes, because he was wrap- 
ped in them. We have not been ordered to adore 
the cross, but to bear it, and to deny ourselves." 

The labors of Claudius were not in vain. In his 
own diocese he checked the growing evil ; and the 
valleys of Piedmont, which belonged to his bishopric, 
persevered in his opinions in the ninth and tenth cen- 
turies. Whence it appears that the churches of the 
Waldenses received much increase from his labors. 
Claudius stood firm against the false reliefs of a burden- 
ed conscience, which the popedom exhibited, and 
pointed his hearers and reader to the mediation of Je- 
sus Christ, as the sole and all sufficient object of depen- 
dence. He insisted largely that man shall be justified 


From the year 823, Claudius wrote against the 
abominations of the church of Rome, and lived to the 
year 839. 

So far were the decrees of the papacy from being 
owned as decisive, through Europe. 


The Case of Gotteschakus. 

A HE subject of predestination and grace had been 
formerly controverted in the churches of France, with 
a considerable degree of acuteness and ingenuity, and 
what is still more pleasing to a chrislian mind, with 
seriousness, candor, and charity. We have seen with 
what zeal the doctrine of divine grace had been de- 
fended and illustrated by the followers of Augustine, 
and what a salutary influence had attended those doc- 
trines on the knowledge, the spirit, and the lives of chris- 
tians. But, as superstition, idolatry, and ignorance in- 
creased, the truly evangelical views of Augustine were 
more and more thrown into the shade, and the case of 
Gotteschalcus showed that it was now no longer per- 
mitted to a divine, to promulgate the sentiments of 
Augustine with impunity. 

Gotteschalcus was born in Germany, and from early 
life had been a monk devoted to theological inquiries. 
He entered with much zeal into the sentiments of An- 
gus tiue. 

About the year 846, he left his monastery, and went 
into Dalmatia, and Parmonia, where he spread the 
doctrine of Augustine. At his return, he remained 
some time in Lombardy, and in 847, held a confer- 
ence with Notingus, bishop of Vienne, concerning 
predestination. His zeal gave offence to Notingus, 
who prevailed on Rabanus, the archbishop of Mentz, 
to undertake the confutation of the novel heresy, as it 
was now decreed. Rabanus calumniated Gotteschal- 
cus with those monstrous ancl licentious consequen- 
ces, with which the doctrines of Divine grace have m 


all ages been aspersed, and from which St. Paul him- 
self was not exempted : and having dressed the sen- 
timents of his adversary in the most adious colours, he 
found it no hard task, to expose him to infamy. The 
learned monk undertook to defend himself in writing, 
and proposed the subject to the consideration of the 
most able men of his time, and, to the great credit and 
authority of his adversary, he opposed the renowned 
name of Augustine. Soon after this he was condemn- 
ed in a synod held atMentz, where Rabanus observing 
that the monk was of the diocese of Soisons, which 
was subject to Hincmar, archbishop of Rheims, sent 
Gotteschalctis to him, calling him a vagabond, and 
declaring that he had seduced many persons, who 
had become less careful for their salvation, since they 
had learned from him to say, why should I labor for 
my salvation ? If I am predestinated to damnation, I 
cannot avoid it ; and on the contrary, if I am predesti- 
nated to salvation, of whatever sins I am guilty, 1 
shall certainly be saved. This objection to the whole- 
some scripture doctrine of predestination, is not, how r - 
ever, admitted to be fallacious, by those who suffer 
their reason to be governed by the misrule of selfish- 
ness. This was the case with Hincmar, who entered 
fully into the views of Rabanas, and, in a council of 
bishops, examined Gotteschalcus, who still maintain- 
ed his doctrine with firmness. On this account, the 
monk was condemned as a heretic, degraded from the 
priesthood, and ordered to be beaten with rods and 
imprisoned. He was, however, an injured man ; for 
nothing was proved against him, except his adherence 
to the sentiments of Augustine, which w r ere still held 
in estimation by the church. While he was whipped 
in the presence of Charles and the bishops with great 
severity, and given to understand that he must cast in- 
to the fire with his own hand a writing, in which he 
had made a collection of scripture texts to prove his 
opinion, being, at length, overpowered by his suffer- 
ings, he dropped the book into the flames. After this 
he was kept a close prisoner in a monastery, where 
Hincman still took pains to persuade him to retract his* 


sentiments, but in vain. The injured pastor main- 
tained, with his last breath, the doctrine for which he 
suffered, and died in prison in the year 870, and was 
denied Christian burial. There were, however, men 
even in that age, who remonstrated loudly against the 
barbarity, with which he had been treated, liemi- 
gius, archbishop of Lyons, distinguished himself 
among these ; and, in a council held at Valence, in 
the year 855, both Gotteschalcus and his doctrine 
were vindicated and defended. Two subsequent 
councils confirmed the decree. The churches of Ly- 
ons, Vienne, and Aries, formerly renowned for piety, 
vigorously supported the same sentiments: and it was 
apparent, that all relish for the doctrines of grace, wad 
not lost in the church : Christ was still precious to 


The Propagation of the Gospel in this Century. 

AN this century, the churches of the East and West, 
through the pride and ambition of the pontiffs of Rome 
and Constantinople, began to be separated from one 
another, and were never afterwards united. Both the 
East and the West were, indeed, full of idolatry and 
darkness, and seemed to vie with each other in sup- 
porting the kingdom of satan. Providence, however, 
made use of the ambitious spirit of the prelates for 
the more extensive spread of the gospel. In this chap- 
ter, all the information upon this subject is collected 
which could be extracted from an enormous mass of 
ecclesiastical rubbish ; and also some evidences are 
presented of the progress of the good work among the 
nations which had been, in part, evangelized in the 
two last centuries. 

Constantine, afterwards called Cyril, was born at 
Thessalonica, and was educated at Constantinople. 
He became one of the most active and useful mission- 
aries of this century. To him providence opened a 
door of solid utility among the idolatrous nations. 


The sister of Bogoris, king of the Bulgarians, a sav 
age and barbarous people, having been taken captive 
in a military excursion, was brought to Constantino- 
ple, and there received Christianity. Upon her return, 
to her own country, she gave evidence that her change 
in religion had been more than nominal. Seeing her 
brother, the king, enslaved to idolatry, she was struck 
with grief and compassion, and used the most cogent 
arguments in her power, to convince him of the vanity 
of his worship. Bogoris, was affected with her argu- 
ments, but was not prevailed on to receive the gospel, 
till, a famine and plague appearing in Bulgaria, she per- 
suaded him to pray to the God of the Christians. He 
did so, and the plague ceased. There was something 
so remarkable in the event, that Bogoris was induced 
to send to Constantinople for missionaries; and at 
length he, with many other people, received baptism. 
Cyrel and his devout brother Methodius were the in- 
struments of these blessings to the Bulgarians. Bo- 
goris had desired Methodius to draw him a picture. 
Methodius chose for his subject, the last judgment, and 
explained it. This is supposed to have induced the 
king to embrace Christianity. The event happened 
about the year 861. Pope Nicolas, to extend his own 
influence, sent bishops among the Bulgarians, who 
preached and baptized throughout the country : and 
Bogoris despatched his son with many lords to Rome, 
and entreated the Pope to send pastors into Bulgaria. 
The word of God and the name of Christ were hereby 
introduced among them. These transactions took 
place about the year 866. 

About the same lime, Cyril and his brother Metho- 
dius, labored also on the banks of the Danube, among 
the Sclavonians and the Chazari. The Cham and 
his whole nation were baptized : and Cyril gave a 
noble proof of his disinterestedness in refusing those 
presents which the munificence of the prince would 
have heaped upon him. Among the Chazavi he 
taught Christianity with great success. Finding this 
people without letters, he invented an alphabet for 
their use, and translated the sacred books into the 
Sclavonian language. 


After this, at the request of Bartilas, prince of Mo- 
ravia, Cyril and Methodius went into that country, car- 
ried with them the Sclavonian gospel, taught the chil- 
dren the letters which they had invented, and instruc- 
ted the people four years and an half. The king of 
Moravia was baptized with many of his subjects. 
Cyril died a monk : Methodius was consecrated bish- 
op of Moravia. The Sclavonian tongue, invented by 
those two missionaries, is, to this day, used in the lit- 
urgy of the Moravians. Bogoris, king of Bulgaria, 
gave up his crown about the year 880, and retired in- 
to a monastery. Methodius, a/ter a long course of la- 
bors, died in an advanced age. 

It appears that the Russians, hitherto barbarous and 
savage, about this time, received a Christian bishop 
and listened to his instruction. About the year 867, 
certain provinces of Dalmatia sent an embassy to 
Constantinople, to request Christian teachers to be 
sent among them- Their request was granted, and 
the pale of the church was extended through those, 

Frederic, nephew, to Boniface, the apostle of Ger- 
many, was appointed bishop of Utrecht. While dining 
with the emperor, Lewis the Meek, he was by him ex- 
horted to discharge the duties of his office with faithful- 
ness and integrity. The bishop, pointing to a fish on 
the table, asked whether it was proper to take hold of 
it by the head or by the tail. "By the head, to be 
sure," replied the emperor. " Then I must begin my 
career of faithfulness," answered Frederic, " with your 
majesty." He proceeded to rebuke the emperor for 
an incestuous connexion, which he openly maintained 
with Judith the empress ; and, in the spirit of John the 
Baptist, told him, "that it was not lawful for him to 
have her." Lewis had not expected this salutation ; 
and like Herod was not disposed to give up his Hero- 
dias. No sooner did the empress hear of this rebuke, 
than, in the true temper of an incensed adulteress, she 
began to plot the destruction of Frederic : and by the 
help of assassins, at last effected it. Frederic, being 
mortally wounded, insisted that no bipod should be 


shed on his account, and died in a spirit of martyr- 
dom worthy of the relations of Boniface. In him the 
Hollanders lost a faithful prelate. He was murder- 
ed about the year 833. 

Let us now look to the north of Europe, and see, 
by what gradations Divine Providence paved the way 
for the propagation of the gospel in the frozen regions 
of Scandinavia, and on the shores of the Baltic, which 
had hitherto been inveloped in the most deplorable 
darkness of paganism. 

Adelard, cousin german to Charlemagne, was a 
bright luminary in the Christian world at the begin- 
ning of this century. He had been invited to the 
court in his youth : but fearing the infection of such a 
mode of life, had retired ; and at the age of twenty 
years, became a monk of Corbie, in Picardy, and was 
chosen abbot of the monastery. His imperial rela- 
tion,, however, forced him again to attend the court, 
where he still preserved the disposition of a recluse, 
and took every opportunity, which business allowed, 
for private prayer and meditation. After the death of 
Charlemagne, he was, on unjust suspicions, banished 
by Lewis the Meek, to a monastery on the coast of 
Aquitain, in the isle of Here. After a banishment of 
five years, Lewis became sensible of his own injus- 
tice, and not only recalled him, but heaped on him 
the highest honors. The monk was the same man in 
prosperity and adversity, and in 823 obtained leave to 
return to Corbie. Here he labored abundantly, not 
only for the spiritual good of the monastery, but also 
for that of the country in its vicinity. Another Ade- 
lard, who had governed the monastery during his ab- 
sence, by the direction of the first Adelard, prepared 
the foundation of a distinct monastery, called New 
Corbie, near Paderborn, beside the Weser, as a nursery 
for evangelical laborers, who should instruct the north- 
ern nations. The first Adelard completed the scheme, 
went twice to New Corbie, and settled its discipline. 
The success of this truly charitable institution was 
^reat : many learned and zealous missionaries were 
furnished from the new seminary : and it became a. 
light to the north of Europe, 

Adelard promoted learning in his monasteries, in- 
structed the people both in Latin and French ; arid, af- 
ter his second return from Germany to Old Corbie^ 
died in 827, aged 13-. Such is the account given us 
of Adelard. He appears to have been eminently pi- 
ous, and the fruits of his labors to have been greater 
after his death than during his life. To convert mon- 
asteries into seminaries of pastoral education, was a 
thought far above the taste of the age in which he liv- 
ed, and tended to emancipate those superstitious in- 
stitutions from the unprofitable and illiberal bondage^ 
in which they had been held for many generations. 

In the year 814, Harold, king of Denmark, having 
been expelled from his dominions, implored the pro- 
tection of the emperor Lewis, the son and successor of 
Charlemagne. That prince persuaded him to receive 
Christian baptism : and foreseeing that Harold's recep- 
tion of Christianity would increase the difficulty of 
his restoration, he gave him a district in Friezeland 
for his present maintenance. Lewis, dismissing Ha- 
rold to his country, enquired after some pious person 
who might accompany him, and confirm both the king 
and his attendants. But it was not easy to find a man 
disposed to undertake such a journey. At length Ya~ 
la, abbot of Old Corbie, who had succeeded his bro- 
ther Adelard, whose history has just been related, said 
to the emperor, " I have in my monastery, a monk, 
who earnestly wishes to suffer for the sake of Christ : 
a man of understanding and integrity, and peculiarly 
fitted for such a work. But I cannot promise, that he 
will undertake the journey." The emperor ordered 
him to send for the man; his name was Anscarius. 
When the nature of the employment was opened to 
the monk, he professed his readiness to go. " I by no 
means command you," said Vala "to enter on so dif- 
ficult and dangerous a service ; I leave it to your op- 
tion." Anscarius, however, persisted in his resolution. 
It was matter of surprise to many, that he should 
choose to expose himself among strangers, barbarians 
and pagans. Much pains were taken to dissuade him, 
but in vain. While preparations were making for hip 


departure, Anscarius gave himself np to reading and 
prayer. This excellent monk had been employed as 
a teacher, both in Old and New Corbie, and had dis- 
tinguished himself by his talents and virtues. Aubert ? 
a monk of noble birth, a great confidant of Vala, and 
steward of his house, offered himself as a companion 
to Anscarius. Harold, with these, proceeded on his 
journey but neither he nor his attendants, rude and 
barbarous in their manners, were at all solicitous for 
the accommodation of the missionaries, who there- 
fore suffered much in the beginning of their journey* 
When the company arrived at Cologne, Hadebald, the 
archbishop, commisserating their condition, gave them 
a bark, in which they might convey their effects. 
Harold, struck with the convenience of the accommo- 
dation, entered into the vessel with the missionaries, 
and they went down the Rhine into the sea, and 
came to the frontiers of Denmark. But Harold find- 
ig access to his dominions impossible, because of the 
power of those who had usurped the sovereignty, re- 
mained in Friezeland, in the district assigned to him 
by the emperor. 

This king of Denmark seems to have been ap- 
pointed by Divine Providence, only as an instrument 
to introduce Anscarius into the mission. For little 
more is known of him. The two French missionaries 
labored with zeal and success in Friezeland, both 
among Christians and pagans. Harold sent some of 
his own slaves to be taught by them ; and, in a little 
time, they had twelve children in their school. 
Above two years they labored, and! were made instru- 
ments of good to souls: after this Aubert ended his 
days by disease. 

About the year 829, many Swedes having expressc d 
a desire to be instructed in Christianity, Anscarius re- 
ceived a commission from the emperor Lewis to vis- 
it Sweden. Another monk of Old Corbie, Vitmar by 
name, was assigned as his companion ; and a pastor 
was left to attend on king Harold, in the room of An- 
scarius. In the passage, the two missionaries were 
tnet-by pirates, who took the ship and all its effects. 

(f > 7* 

*> / 


On this occasion Anscafrus lost the emperor's presents,, 
and forty volumes, which he had collected for the use 
of the ministry. But his mind was still determined: 
and he and his partner, having with difficulty got to 
land, gave themselves up to the directions of Provi- 
dence, and walked on foot a long way, now and then 
crossing some arms of the sea in boats. Such are 
the triumphs of faith and love ! They arrived at Bir- 
ca, from the ruins of which, Stockholm took its rise, 
though built at some distance from it. The king of 
Sweden received them favorably; and his council 
unanimously agreed to permit them to remain in the 
country, and to preach the gospel. Success attended 
their pious efforts. Many Christian captives in Swe- 
den rejoiced at the opportunity of the communion of 
saints which was now restored to them ; and among 
others, Herigarius, governor of the city, was baptiz- 
ed. This man erected a church on his own estate, 
and persevered in the profession and support of the 

After six months, the two missionaries returned, 
with letters written by the king's own hand, into 
France, and informed Lewis of their success. The 
consequence was, that Anscarius was appointed arch- 
bishop of Hamburg. This great city, being in the 
neighborhood of Denmark, was henceforth considered 
the metropolis of all the countries of the Elbe, which 
embraced Christianity. The mission into Denmark, 
was at the same time attended to ; and Gausbert, was 
sent to reside as a bishop in Sweden, vfhere the num- 
ber of Christiana increased. 

Anscarius, by order of the emperor Lewis, went to 
Rome, to receive the confirmation of the new arch- 
bishopric of Hamburg. On his return to that city, he 
gained over many pagans, brought up children in the 
chdstian faith, and redeemed captives, whom he in- 
structed and employed in the ministry. In the year 
843, his faith was tried by a severe affliction. Ham- 
burg was besieged, taken and pillaged by the Nor- 
mans, and he himself escaped with difficulty. On this 
occasion, he lost all his effects: but his mind was so 


serene, that he was not heard to complain : " T'hfc 
Lord gave," said he, " and the Lord hath taken away." 
It was no inconsiderable addition to his sufferings, to 
hear, that Gausbert, whom he had sent into Sweden, 
was banished through a popular insurrection ; in con- 
sequence of which, the work of the ministry was for 
some years, at a stand in that country. Anscarius, re- 
duced |o great poverty, and deserted by many of his 
followers, persisted still with unwearied patience, in 
the exercise of his mission in the north of Europe, till 
the bishopric of Bremen was conferred upon him. 
Hamburg and Bremen were, from that time, consider- 
ed as united in one diocese. It was not till some pains 
were taken to overc9me his scruples, that Anscarius 
could be prevailed on to accept of this provision for 
his wants. 

Sweden and Denmark were, under God, indebted 
to Anscarius, for the first light of the gospel. It is re- 
marked of this wonderful person, that he never did 
any thing without first commending himself to God by 
prayer. It is true he was devoted to the Roman see, 
but we have no proof of his ever having practised or 
encouraged image worship. His labors and those of 
other missionaries deserve the highest commendations. 
In the year 865, this apostle of the North was called 
to his rest. Rembert, his confidant, was appointed 
bishop of Bremen, by his dying words. Rembert pre- 
sided over the churches of the North, for 23 years t and 
established their discipline and ecclesiastical consis- 
tence. He lived not unworthy of the confidence of his 
predecessor, and died in the year 888, an example of 

The reader, it is hoped, has seen, in this dark centu- 
ry, a clear demonstration, that the church of Christ 
still existed. He may now behold it sank to the ul- 
timate point of depression. 




A General View of the Church. 

L HIS century abounded in all wickedness, and is re- 
markable above all others for the scarcity of writers, 
and men of learning. The vices and crimes of the 
popes were as deep and as atrocious as language can 
paint ; nor can a reasonable man desire more authen- 
tic evidence than that, which the records both of ci- 
vil and ecclesiastical history afford, concerning the 
corruption of the whole church. One pleasing cir- 
cumstance, however, occurs to the mind of a genuine 
Christian, which is, that all this was predicted. The 
book of the Revelation may justly be called a pro- 
phetic history of these transactions ; and the truth of 
scripture is vindicated by events, of all others, the 
most disagreeable to a pious mind. 

What materials then appear for the history of the 
real church ? The propagation of the gospel among 
the pagan nations, and the review of some writers of 
this century form the principal subjects. But the gen- 
eral description of the situation of the church, can be 
little else than a very succinct enumeration of the 
means used to oppose the progress of popery. 

The decrees of the council of Frankfort, against im- 
age worship, had still some influence in Germany, 
France and England. In the year 909, a ceuncil was 
held at Trosle, a village near Soissons in France, in 
which they expressed their sentiments of Christian 
faith and practice, without any mixture of doctrine 
that was peculiarly popish. Many churches still had 
the scriptures in the vulgar tongue. The monks took 
much pains in the island of Great Britain, to erect an 
independent dominion on the ruin of the secular cler- 
gy. This scheme equally destructive of civil and 


clerical authority, met with a vigorous, and in a great 
measure, successful resistance, and the celibacy of 
the clergy, was strongly opposed. The doctrine of 
transubstantiation was still denied by many, and could 
not as yet gain a firm and legal establishment in Eu- 

The Spirit of God was evidently still with the re- 
cent churches of Germany and the North ; and France 
was by no means destitute of men, who feared God, 
and served him in the gospel of his Son. 

The church of Rome had sunk to the lowest de^ 
gradation in morals. She had even lost the appear- 
ance of virtue. Christianity, now trampled on by the 
most worthless prelates, immersed in profaneness, 
and sensuality , called for the healing aid of the civil 
magistrate. Otho I. emperor of Germany, came to 
Rome ; and, by the united powers of the civil and 
military sword, reduced that capital into some degree 
of order and decorum. He put an end to the irregu- 
lar and infamous customs of intruding into the pope- 
donij and confirmed to himself and his successors the 
right of choosing the supreme pontiff in future. The 
consequence was, that a greater degree of moral pro- 
priety began to prevail in the papacy, though facts 
evince too plainly, that religious principle was still 
as much wanting as ever. The effect of Otho's 
regulation was, that the Popes exchanged the vices 
of the rake and the debauchee, for those of the ambi- 
tious politician and the hypocrite ; and gradually re- 
covered, by a prudent conduct, the domineering as^ 
cendency, which had been lost by vicious excesses. 
J3ut this did not begin to take place till the latter end 
of the eleventh century. The Popes were rebuked, 
condemned and punished, but the popedom was still 
reverenced as much as ever. God had put it into the 
hearts of princes to fulfil his will and to agree, and 
give their kingdom to the beast, until His words should 
be fulfilled. The Roman prelates, convinced of the 
necessity of more caution and propriety in the use of 
their power, recovered, by political artifice, what they 
had lost, and in the issue, became more terrible and 
pernicious than, ever. 


The efforts of Otho, to purify the church, to promote 
learning, to erect bishoprics, to endow churches, and 
to propagate the gospel among barbarous nations, 
were highly laudable. His exertions of this nature 
were so steady, and his private life so amiable, that 
there is reason to hope, he was himself a real Chris- 
tian. His empress was no less remarkable for her zeal 
and liberality. 

In the West, the Normans, and in the East, the Turks, 
committed the most dreadful outrages on the church. 
In the island of Great Britain, nothing is found in all 
this period, but ignorance, superstition, and the rava- 
ges of northern barbarians. The state of France was 
not much different, 


The Propagation of the Gospel. 

the decease of Charlemagne, the Hungarians, 
who had in his time, received some ideas of Christian- 
ity, relapsed into the idolatries of their fathers, and the 
Christian name among them was almost extinguished. 
But toward the middle of this century, two Hungarian 
chiefs, whose governments lay on the banks of the 
Danube, professed Christianity and were baptized at 
Constantinople. Their names were Bologudes and 
Gylas. The former soon apostatized : the latter per- 
severed, and encouraged the propagation of religion. 
The effects proved salutary among the Hungarians. 
The daughter of Gylas, having been given in mar- 
riage to Geysa, the chief prince of Hungary, prevail- 
ed on her husband to receive the gospel. Whether 
the king's conversion was real or nominal, the most 
salutary cosequences attended its reception by his 

Humanity, peace, and civilization began to flourish 
among a people hitherto fierce and barbarous in the 
extreme. Stephen, the son of Geysa, was baptized, 
and became a more decisive (Jefender of the f^ith than 


his father had been. Under Stephen, Hungary was 
almost wholly evangelized ; and nothing was omitted 
by tltis zealous prince to establish Christianity through- 
out his dominions. 

Adalbert, archbishop of Prague, who visited Hunga- 
ry toward the close of this century, was instrumental 
in aiding the benevolent exertions of this prince to 
instruct and christianize his subjects. He, too, trav- 
elled as a missionary into Poland, and planted the 
gospel in Dantzic, where his labors appear to have 
been crowned with success. In visiting a small isl- 
and, he was knocked down with the oar of a boat ; 
but recovering himself, made his escape, rejoicing 
that he was counted worthy to suffer for the name of 
Christ, and with his fellow laborers quitted the place. 
Indeed he was forced to flee for his life ; but, he was 
at length murdered by barbarians, about the year 997. 
'Siggo, a pagan priest, was the principal instrument of 
his death. Adalbert was one of the wisest and best of 
men, whom God raised up for the ^instruction of the 
human race ; a man willing to labor and to suffer for 

The labors of Gerard, bishop of Toul, in Germany, 
will also deserve to be mentioned. He was an emin- 
ent preacher ; and often commissioned zealous pas- 
tors to officiate in country parishes. He cultiva- 
ted learning among his disciples ; but at the same 
time took care, so far as lay in his power, that they 
should apply themselves to devotion. That he would 
be very earnest in these pious efforts, will admit of no 
doubt, if it be true, that he declared, that he found 
more delight in heavenly exercises during one mo- 
ment, than a worldly soul finds in worldly pleasures 
for a thousand years. 

The church in Denmark now received a severe 
check from their king Gormo the III. who labored to 
extirpate the gospel there entirely. But his queen 
Tyra, who openly professed it, gave it all the support 
which lay in her power. The influence of the king 
prevailed, and the most of his subjects returned to 
idolatry. At length, Henry I. called the Fowler, the 


predecessor of the great Otho, led an army into I)en- 
mark ; ^d through tut terror of his arms, obliged Gor- 
mo to promiSfe submission to the commands of the erm- 
peror. * Under the protection of Henry, Unni, arch- 
bishop of Hamburg, came, with some faithful labor- 
ers, into Denmark and brought over many to the pro- 
fession of Divine truth; but Gormo himself remained 
inflexible. Harald, his son, received the word? with 
respect. The instruction of his mother^ Tyraj doubt- 
less had removed all prejudices from his mind. Unni, 
with the consent of Gormo, visited the islands, and 
formed Christian churches. The king himself was 
allowed by his conqueror, to choose, whether he 
would receive Christianity himself, or not; but he 
was prohibited from persecuting the faith, in his 
dominions: and thus by a singular concurrence of 
events, a sovereign prince was, by a foreign power, 
prevented from committing that evil among his sub- 
jects, to which his own inclinations would have led him* 
The labors of Unni were highly laudable, and provi- 
dence smiled on his benevolent exertions to propa- 
gate truth and holiness. He visited Sweden and arri- 
ved at Birca, where he found that the gospel had be- 
come extinct ; that for 70 years, no bishop, had ap- 
peared among them, except Rembert, the successor 
of Anscarius. It pleased God there to give large suc- 
cess to the ministry of Unni. He fixed the gospel in 
Sweden, and planted it even in the remote parts of 
that northern region. At length Unni finished his glo- 
rious course at Birca, in the year 936. The savage 
disposition of the princes, and the confusion of the 
times had tended to obliterate the traces of Anscarius' 
labors: but, at length, Eric, the 8th king of Sweden, 
and still more, his son and successor, Olaus the sec- 
ond, favored the propagation of the gospel. 

Eric requested the archbishop of Bremen to supply 
his kingdom with missionaries. In compliance with 
this request Adalvan and Stephen, persons of know! 
edge, integrity and piety, were sent to him. They, 
for a time, labored with much success ; but the natu- 
ral enmity of the human heart will exert itself again ' 


true piety, whatever be the form of government under 
whicli men live. The nobles of Sweden, being enra- 
ged at the restraints laid upon their licentiousness of 
manners, commenced a religious persecution against 
both the missionaries and the king. The former were 
beaten with rods, and expelled from Upsal: the lat- 
ter was murdered on account of his piety. His son 
and successor OIous was not, however, discouraged 
from cherishing Christianity, and his zeal and piety 
were crowned with success. 

Thus were Sweden and Denmark, after a variety of 
changes, reduced into subjection to the form, and, no 
doubt, many individuals to the power, of the gospel. 
In the latter country, after the death of Henry I. the 
inhabitants^ refused to pay tribute to Otho the Great, 
his successor. This monarch obliged them to sub- 
mit, and required Harold, the son and successor of 
Gormo, to receive Christian baptism. All that we 
know of this prince induces the belief, that there 
was no reluctance on his part. He was baptized, to- 
gether with his wife and little son, whose name had 
been Lueno ; and in honor of the emperor, he was now 
called Luen-Otho. Harold, during the remainder of 
his life, took every wise and salutary method to prop- 
agate Divine truth among his subjects, and to restrain 
vice and immorality. Nor is it much to be doubted, 
that he would instruct his son Luen-Otho to act in the 
same manner, and labor to impress on his mind the 
power of that Divine religion which he himself seems 
to have felt. Be that as it may, Luen-Otho formed a 
junction with the chiefs of the country, who were of- 
fended at the pious zeal of Harold : in consequence of 
which the latter was murdered : and Luen-Otho, re- 
nounced even the name which had been imposed on 
him, persecuted the Christians with great cruelty ; and, 
for a time, gave a predominancy to the pagan interest 
in his dominions. It is, however, remarkable, that, 
like another Manasseh, in his affliction, Luen-Otho 
knew that the Lord was God. Being expelled from 
his throne, and forced to live in exile among the 
Scots, he was induced to remember the lessops of his 
8 A 


childhood; repented of his crimes, and being re- 
stored to his throne, like the same Manasseh, labor- 
ed to destroy the idolatry, which he had supported, 
and, in the latter part of his life, trode in the steps of his 

In this century the light of the gospel penetrated into 
Norway. The idol Thor was' dragged from its place 
and publicly burnt in the sight of its worshippers ; and 
this country became Christian, in the form of its reli- 
gioa, throughout. The Orkney Islands, then subject to 
Norway, also received the light of the gospel. Iceland 
and Greenland too were visited with the cheering rays 
of the Sun of righteousness. The triumph of Christiani- 
ty was complete throughout all Scandinavia. Poland, 
hitherto a barbarous country, became nominally chris- 
tianized ; and some in that country were hopefully made 
the subjects of real Christianity. In all the barbarous 
countries where Christian missionaries were received, 
their labors were found to be salutary. The disposi- 
tions of the barbarians were hereby gradually meli- 
orated, and human society was improved. 

Though the efforts of the tenth and three preceding 
centuries, did not always spring from pure motives, 
yet they formed the principal glory of those times. In 
many instances those efforts were evidently attended 
with the effusion of the Divine Spirit, and the genuine 
conversion of many pagans from their heathen vanities, 
to the love and practice of the truth as it is in Jesus- 


Writers and Eminent Men in this Century. 

A HOUGH God had not utterly forsaken the churck 
yet true religion was now indeed low. Very few 
are to be found who deserve to be noticed for knowl- 
edge or for piety: Bruno, archbishop of Cologne 
was, however, eminent for both. He was brother to 
Otho I. and, by the desire of the people of Cologne, 
was fixed in that archbishopric. Otho invested hi?;. 


relation also with the civil power of a dukedom. 
Bruno was a diligent promoter of religion. He brought 
over to the profession of Christianity , Normans, Danes, 
and various others, who travelled in his province. The 
luxury of both clergy and people he restrained, and 
was himself a shining example of modest and frtigal 
manners. Bruno died about the year 965. 

Unni, archbishop of Hamburg, acted with a vigor 
and piety worthy of his station. It displays no com- 
mon degree of Christian zeal, that a person so opulent 
should choose to labor as a missionary in such rude 
and barbarous countries as Denmark and Sweden. 
He died at Stockholm in 936. 

Adolvard, bishop of Verden, discharged the office of 
a faithful pastor, and took great pains to instruct the 
ignorant Vandals in the way of salvation. 

Libentius, archbishop of Hamburg, showed himself 
possessed of the spirit of Unni, his pious predecessor, 
and often visited the Vandals, a barbarous people in 
Poland, and taught them the truths of the gospel. He 
sent pastors to distant nations, and was a shining ex- 
ample of piety and beni6cence. He died in 1013. 

Some other rare lights shone during this dark night, 
by which the God of grace and mercy called, nourish- 
ed and sanctified his church, and preserved to himself 
a godly seed in the earth, who served him in the 
gospel of his Son, and prevented the cruel tyranny of 
the prince of darkness from completely overspreading 
the world. 



A General View of the Church. 

A HE genuine church of Christ, under the protection 
and influence of her Supreme Head, existed in this 
efetitury ,, but it would be- ia vain to attempt a regular 


and systematical history of her progress. Some par- 
ticular circumstances in different parts of the Christian 
world, some pious and successful endeavors to propa- 
gate the gospel in pagan countries, some degrees of 
opposition to the reigning idolatry and superstition, 
and some writings of pious and evangelical theo- 
logians, demonstrated that the spirit of God had not 
entirely forsaken the earth. 

If this century excelled the last, it was in the im- 
provements of learning. The arts and sciences re- 
vived, in a measure, among the clergy and the monks, 
but were not cultivated by any other set of men. I 
speak in regard to the Western church ; for the Eas- 
tern, enfeebled and oppressed by the Turks and Sar- 
acens from without, and by civil broils and factions 
from within, with difficulty preserved that degree of 
knowledge, which in those degenerate days, still re- 
mained among the Greeks. I scarce find any vesti- 
ges of piety among the eastern Christians at this time. 
So fatal was the influence of Mahometanism, and so 
judicially hardened were the descendents of those 
who first had honored the religion of Jesus. Con- 
stantinople was still called a Christian city, and in 
learning and politeness, was superior to any part of 
the West : but it is in Europe we are to look For the 
emanations of piety. France and Italy excelled par- 
ticularly in the cultivation of learning. Robert, king 
of France, the son and successor of Hugh Capet, who 
began to reign in 996, and died in 1031, distinguished 
himself as the friend of science. Even the ferocious 
Normans, whose wars and devastations were so terri- 
ble in Italy, France, and England, after they had es- 
tablished their respective governments, applied them- 
selves, to the cultivation of the human mind, and dif- 
fused some light among the people whom they had 
subdued. This was particularly the case with the 
southern parts of Italy and with great Britain. Wil- 
liam, the conqueror, savage and imperious as he was, 
restored letters to England, which, amidst the Danish 
depredations, had been almost extinguished. The 
learning itself was not philosophical, like that of mod- 


ern times, but consisted chiefly of grammar, rhetoric, 
and logic. This was connected with divinity. The 
scriptures were held in high reputation. In such cir- 
cumstances, to have learned to read, to have attend- 
ed to the meaning of words, and to have employed 
the powers of the human mind, in any manner, on the 
sacred writings, were great blessings to mankind. In 
Italy and France there remained some witnesses of 
Divine truth, who opposed the abominations of the 

Popery now reigned triumphant, and no public 
profession of the gospel, which claimed independence 
of its domination, could be endured in Europe.^ 
The Saracens were then masters of Africa, and perse- 
cuted the Christians there with great bitterness. The 
African Christians were so infatuated with the love of 
sin, that they quarrelled among themselves, and, 
though they then had but two bishops, they betrayed 
one of those into the hands of the infidels, who great- 
ly abused him. 

He, who seriously reflects with what glory Asia and 
Africa once shone before God and his Christ ; how 
dark and idolatrous, and, at the same time, how insen- 
sible of their spiritual misery, the inhabitants of those 
two quarters of the globe were in this century, and 
continue even to the present times, will see with what 
reverential care the jewel of the gospel should be 
cherished, while in our possession, lest we not only 
lose our own souls, but entail a curse on ages yet un~ 


The Oppositon made to the Errors of Popery. 

IN the year 1017, certain persons, real or supposed 
heretics, were discovered in France, who were said to 
hold, "that they did not believe, that % Jesus Christ was 
born of the virgin Mary ; that he died for the salvation 
of mankind ; that he was buried and rose again ; that 


baptism procured the remission of sins ; that the conse- 
cration by the priest constituted the sacrament of the 
body and blood of Christ ; and that it was profitable to 
^)ray to the martyrs and confessors." Other matters 
of a detestable nature were ascribed to them. On 
their refusal to recant before a council held at Orleans, 
13 of them were burnt alive. It is not easy to say, 
what was the true character of these men. It is cer- 
tain, that they: opposed the reigning superstitions, 
and that they were willing to suffer for the doctrines 
which they espoused. The crimes alledged against 
them were so monstrous, and incredible, as to render 
the charges adduced against their doctrines very sus- 
picious. That they, however, were truly evangelical 
Christians, is what I dare not affirm. 

In Flanders, some time after, there appeared anoth- 
er sect, which was condemned by a synod held at Ar- 
ras, in the year 1025, by Gerard, bishop of Cam bray 
^and Arras. Concerning these, Gerard writes, that they 
travelled up and down to multiply converts, and that 
they had withdrawn many from the belief of the real 
presence in the sacrament ; that they owned themselves 
to be the scholars of Gundujphus, who had instructed 
them in the evangelical and apostolical doctrine. 
"This," said they, "is our doctrine, to renounce the 
world, to bridle the lusts of the flesh, to maintain our- 
selves by the labor of our own hands, to do violence 
to no man, and to love the brethren. If this plan of 
righteousness be observed, there is no need of bap- 
tism ; if it be neglected, baptism is of no avail." They 
particularly objected to the baptism of infants, be-, 
cause they were altogether incapable of understand- 
ing or confessing the truth. They denied the real 
presence of Christ's body in the Lord's supper ; they 
rejected the consecration of churches, opposed vari- 
ous reigning superstitions, particularly the'doctrine of 
Enrgatory and the practices connected with it, They 
kewise refused to worship the cross or any images 
whatever. Gerard, having examined their supposed 
errors, and, in his own opinion, confuted them, drew 
up a confession of faitn, contrary to thpse errors. 


which he required the heretics to sign. As they did 
not well understand the Latin, he caused the confess- 
ion to be explained to them in the vulgar tongue, by 
an interpreter ; then, according to this account, they 
approved and signed the instrument, and were dismis- 
sed in peace by the bishop. 

The nature of mankind, ever prone to run from one 
extreme to another, will easily account for the rejec- 
tion of infant baptism. The practice had long been 
sullied by superstitious fooleries : the transition to its 
total rejection was natural. It does not appear that 
they denied the use of the Lord's supper but only the 
doctrine of the real presence of Christ in the elements, 
and it is probable that they held baptism also in a 
similar manser. It cannot be doubted, but that, on 
the whole, they were of the true church of Christ. 
Faithfully to withstand idolatry and the reigning corr 
ruptions, required a light and strength far above na- 
ture ; and they appeared to have been raised up to 
bear witness for the truth in that dark night of papal 



The Propagation oftfo Gospel. 

work of Christian piety, which had been suc- 
cessfully carried on in Hungary, was now crowned 
with still greater prosperity. Stephen, the king, who 
had begun to reign in the year 997, shewed himself a 
zealous patron of the gospel. His zeal was, indeed, 
much stimulated, by his pious queen. He often ac- 
companied the preachers and pathetically exhorted 
his subjects. He suppressed barbarous customs, and 
restrained blasphemy, theft, adultery and murder. 
The whole moral conduct of Stephen was admirable. 
His excellent code of laws is> to this day, the basis of 
the laws of Hungary. In this, he forbids all impiety, 
the violation of the duties of the Lord's Day, and ir- 
reverent behavior ia the house of God. He lived to 


see all Hungary become externally Christian ; but 
Christianity existed there, adulterated, or clouded by 
papal domination, and by the fashionable superstitions. 
Stephen died in the year 1038. 

He was succeeded by Peter his nephew, who was 
banished by his subjects. Andrew, the cousin of Ste- 
phen, was now appointed king, on condition of restor- 
ing idolatry. Gerard, arid three other bishops, endeav- 
ored to divert him from the design. But they were as- 
saulted on the road by duke Vathas, a zealous pagan. 
Andrew, coming to the spot rescued one of the bish- 
ops, the other three had already fallen by the arm of the 
barbarian. This atrocious villany appears to have 
been overruled, by Him who causes the wrath of man 
to praise him, for the good of the church. The heart 
of Andrew was moved; he had seen in this instance 
the criminality of a believer in paganism. He exa- 
mined Christianity, received it, repressed idolatry, and 
reigned successfully. 

The triumphs of the gospel in Denmark were very 
Conspicuous. It was the preaching of the cross, at- 
tended with the energy of the Holy Spirit, which then 
effected a mighty revolution in the hearts of the Danes ; 
a revolution, which, by the fruits it has produced has 
manifested itself to have been in favor of humanity. It 
is remarkable, that, to this day, no nation, in propor- 
tion to its abilities and opportunities, has exceeded 
the Danes, in labors for the propagation of the gos- 
pel. Christian godliness has the promise of the life 
that now is, as well as of that which is to come. 
While it conducts enslaved souls into liberty, and, 
turns them from the power of Satan to God, ti in- 
vests them with the garments of salvation, meliorates 
their condition in this life, and diffuses, through the 
world, the most salutary precepts of peace, order, 
and tranquility. Let not men expect the general civ- 
ilization of the world by any other methods. Our Sa- 
vior has most fitly directed us to pray the Lord of the 
harvest to send forth laborers into his harvest ; and ev- 
ery one who feels the genuine spirit of the gospel 
\viil devoutly obey the injunction. 



The state of the Church in England. 

1.N the reign of Ethelred, a very cruel massacre of 
the Danes was, by royal order, made throughout his do- 
minions. In this, no distinction was observed between 
the innocent and the guilty. Swein, king of Denmark, 
revenged this massacre, by repeated devastations and 
heavy exactions. Ethelred fled to Normandy to save 
his life, while his subjects felt all the miseries, which 
might be expected from incensed and victorious bar- 

During these miseries, Alphage, archbishop of Can- 
terbury, Yell into the hands of the Danes. He firmly 
expostulated with the infuriated barbarians, who ex- 
ercised the most horrid cruelties, particularly on la- 
dies of quality, whom they dragged to the slake and 
burnt to death, and who did not spare even infants. 
"The cradle" says he, " can afford no triumph to sol- 
diers. It would be better for you to exercise your 
vengeance on me, whose death may give celebrity to 
your names. Remember, that some of your troops 
have, through my means, been brought over to the 
faith of Christ, and I have frequently rebuked you for 
your acts of injustice." Exasperated at these words, 
the Danes kept him a prisoner for seven months. 
They then offered him his liberty on condition of im- 
mense payments to be made by himself and Ethelred 
the king. Alphage told them the sums were too large 
to be raised by any exactions, and firmly refused to 
drain the treasures of the church, for the sake of sav- 
ing his life; accounting it wrong to give to pagans 
those sums which had been devoted to the honor of 
religion, and the relief of the poor. The merciless 
Danes, enraged beyond measure, threw him down and 
stoned him, while hq prayed for his enemies, and for 
the church. None but a Christian spirit could have 
conducted Alphage through such a scene, and sup- 
ported him with so much fortitude and charity. He 
was murdered in the year 1013. 
3 B 


In the year 1017, the Danes brought the English in- 
to complete subjection. In 1041 the English threw off 
the Danish yoke ; but soon sunk under the power of 
William the Norman, who in the year 1066, beheld 
himself sovereign of England. 

Under William, the papal power soon reached the 
same height in England, which it had attained in 
France and Italy. This, the tyrant found to be a con- 
venient support of his own despotic power : and while 
he took care that every one of his subjects should, in 
ecclesiastical matters, bow under the yoke of the 
bishop of Rome, he reserved to himself the supreme 
dominion in civil affairs, and exercised it with the 
most unqualified rigor. Lanfrano, whom he appoint- 
ed archbishop of Canterbury, zealously supported the 
power of Rome, and the absurd doctrine of tran- 
substantiation by his influence and authority. His 
successor, Anselm, was no less devoted to the Pope, 
and maintained several famous contests with his sove- 
reign William Rufus, the son and successor of the con- 
queror. Anselm contributed much, by his influence, 
to settle the celibacy of the clergy of England ; and it 
must be confessed, that even the virtues of this great 
man, through the peculiar infelicity of the times, were 
attended with great disadvantages to society. As to 
superstitious observances, his example had influence 
on others, and was injurious: his zeal, however, 
against luxury, simony and the vices of the great, was 
laudable, and his general defence of evangelical truth, 
adorned by an upright life and conversation, preser- 
ed, under God, some genuine remains of piety in the 



A General View of the Life and Death of Bernard 

A.T the entrance of this century, we find Bernard, ab- 
bot of Clairval, rising with splendor, amid the general 


gloom. Though he was an ardent champion for the of- 
fice and personal characters of the popes of Rome, yet 
he inveighed against the vices of the men, and the 
various evils of their ecclesiastical administration. 
He strenuously supported their pretensions to St. 
Peter's chair, and combatted all who opposed those 
claims. Forgive him this wrong : it was common to 
him with the Christian world ! 

At this time, the Mahometans were aiming at uni- 
versal empire, and according to the Koran, all who 
were not with them in their cred, were continually 
threatened with the loss of their religion and their lib- 
erties ; and, to live in slavery, under the Mahometan 
yoke, was all the indulgence granted to Christians, 
who sunk beneath their arms. And as at this time, 
superstition had led many, under the semblage of reli- 
gion, to undertake pilgrimages to the holy land, who 
were exposed to many insults, robberies and extor- 
tions, from the Mahometans ; so, in the beginning of 
this century, prodigious armies marched out of Eu- 
rope, to wrest the holy land out of the hands of the in- 
fidels, and Bernard used his utmost influence to en- 
courage and promote this ill timed enterprize. 

Early in life, Bernard subjected himself to the se- 
verest austerities, by which he, at length,was reduced 
to great weakness, and his health much impaired. 
But inwardly taught of God, as he advanced in the 
Divine life, he gradually learned to correct the harsh- 
ness and asperity of his sentiments. He was humbled 
under a sense of his folly, and frankly confessed it, in 
the strongest terms. He then began to travel from 
place to place, and to preach, for the good of man- 
kind. And it is wonderful to observe, with what au- 
thority he reigned in the hearts of men of all ranks, 
and how his word became a law to princes and no- 
bles. His eloquence was, indeed, very great: but 
that alone could never have given -him so extensive a 
dominion. His sincerity and humility were eminent, 
and his constant refusal of the least ecclesiastical dig- 
nities, gave an unequivocal testimony to the upright- 
ness of his character. Though no potentate, either 


civil or ecclesiastical, possessed such real pow- 
er as he did, in the Christian world ; and though he 
was the highest in the judgment of all men, yet was 
he, in his own estimation, the lowest. He said, and 
felt what he said, that, for the performance of the ser- 
vices for which he was so much extolled, he was 
wholly indebted to the influence of Divine grace. The 
talents of Bernard in preaching were, doubtless, of the 
first order. He possessed that variety of gifts, which 
fitted him either to address the great, or the vulgar. 

Peter Abelard, was born in Brittany, in the year 
1079. He was a man of genius, industry and learn- 
ing; by nature, confident and presumptuous, elated 
with applause, and far too haughty to submit to 
the simple truth, as it is revealed in scripture : from 
the moment, that he applied himself to the study of 
the sacred writings, hje was ardently disposed to hereti- 
cal singularities. He advocated certain sentiments, 
subversive of the truth as it is in Jesus, and which were 
calculated to foster the pride and selfsufficiency of the 
human heart. Bernard took the most active and ef- 
fectual measures to counteract his errors, and to sup * 
port the soul humbling doctrines of the cross; and, at 
length, after much exertions, procured the definitive 
sentence of the Pope against Abelard, who ordered 
his books to be burned, and the heretic himself to be 
confined to a monastery. He was permitted to end his 
days in that of Cluni, over which Peter the venerable, 
presided, who treated him with much compassion and 
friendship. Not personal malice, but Christian zeal, 
seems to have influenced Bernard in the whole of 
this transaction. 

In this century, there were numerous opposers of 
the reigning idolatry and superstitions of the church of 
Rome, who were denominated, by their enemies, 
Cathari; they, as to worldly property, were in low 
circumstances, and in general, mechanics. Cologne, 
Flanders, the south of France, Savoy, and Milan, 
were their principal places of residence. These ap- 
pear to have been a plain, unassuming, harmless, 
and industrious sect of Christians, condemning, by 


their doctrine and manners, the'whole apparatus of the 
fashionable idolatry and superstition, placing true re- 
ligion in the faith and love of Christ, and retaining a 
supreme regard for the Divine word. They seem to 
have conformed to the public worship, much in the 
same manner, as the apostles did to the Jewish church, 
while it existed, still preserving a union among them- 
selves in worship, and in hearing sermons, so far as 
the iniquity of the, times would permit. 

This people continued in a state of extreme per- 
secution throughout this century. Bernard, who 
seems to have been extremely ill informed concerning 
them, remarks, that they had no particular father of 
their heresy, and condemns them in whatever respects 
they stood opposed to the high claims and supersti- 
tions of the church of Rome. We cannot, however, 
find that he ever opposed their real piety. 

Bernard lived in. an age so ignorant and supersti- 
tious, that protestants are ready to ask, can any good 
come out of the twelfth century ? His writings show 
him to have been a man of humble and fervent piety. 
True, he censured some, u of whom the world was not 
worthy," but, of their true character, he was ignorant. 
He was deeply tinged with a predilection for the Ro- 
man hierarchy, had imbibed most of those errors of 
his time, which were not subversive of the gospel ; and 
the monastic character, which, according to the spirit 
of the age, appeared to be the greatest glory, seems 
to have much eclipsed his real virtues, and to have 
prevented his progress in true evangelical wisdom. 
But with all his faults, the real Christian shines forth 
in Bernard's life and death. The love of God seems 
to have taken deep root in his soul, and to have been 
always steady and ardent. He was about 60 years 
old when he died, of a disease in his stomach. A let- 
ter which he dictated to a friend, a very few days be- 
fore his decease, will be worthy of our attention, as a 
genuine monument of that simplicity, modesty, and 
piety, which had adorned his conversation. " I re- 
ceived your love, with affection, I canpot say with 
pleasure ; for what pleasure can there be to a person 


in my circumstances, replete with bitterness ? To eat 
nothing solid, is the only way to preserve myself toler- 
ably easy. My sensative powers admit of no further 
pleasure. Sleep hath departed from my eyes, and 
prevented the least intermission of my pain. Stom- 
achic weakness is, as it were, the sum total of my af- 
flictions. By day and night, I receive a small portion 
of liquids. Every thing solid, the stomach rejects. 
The very scanty supply, which I now and tnen re- 
ceive, is painful ; but perfect emptiness would be more 
so. If now and then I take in a large quantity, the ef- 
fect is most distressing. My legs and feet are swoln 
as in a dropsy. In the midst of these afflictions, that 
I may hide nothing from an anxious friend, in my in- 
ner man, (I speak as a vulgar person) the spirit is 
ready, though the flesh be weak. Pray ye to the Sav- 
ior, who willeth not the death of a sinner, that he 
would not delay my timely exit, but that still he 
would guard it. Fortify with your prayers a poor un- 
worthy creature, that the enemy who lies in wait, may 
find no place where he may fix his tooth, and inflict 
a wound. These words have I dictated, but in such 
a manner, that ye know my affection by a hand well 
known to you." Such were the condition and tern- 
per-of this excellent saint at the approach of death. 
Thus, may we hope, that Bernard, through faith and 
patience, did, at length, inherit the promises, 


General State of the Church in this Century. 

SUPERSTITION, idolatry, frivolous contentions, 
and metaphysical nicities, attended with a lamentable 
want of true piety and virtue, form almost the whole 
of the religious phenominain the East. 

Just at the close of the last century, pope Urban 
held a Synod of 150 bishops, to promote the crusades, 
and exhorted the Christian world to concur in support- 
ing the same cause. He died in the year 1099, and 


Jerusalem was taken by the crusaders in the same 
year. The pale of the visible church was extended, 
by the conquest of the Western warriors, and several 
episcopal sees were again formed in regions, whence 
the light of the gospel had first arisen to bless mankind. 
But these were of short duration : and, what is much 
more material to be observed, while they continued, 
gave no discernible evidence of the spirit of true 
religion. This is ' a circumstance which throws a 
very unpleasent shade on the whole character of the 
fanatical war, which, at that time, agitated both Eu- 
rope and Asia. Among its thousand evils, this was 
one, indulgences were now diffused by the popes through 
Europe, for the purpose of promoting what they called 
the holy war. These had indeed been sold before by 
the inferior dignitaries of the church, who, for money, 
remitted the penalties imposed on transgressors ; they 
had not, however, pretended to abolish the punish- 
ments which await the wicked in a future state. This 
impiety was reserved to the Pope himself, who dajred 
to usurp the authority which belongs to God alone. The 
corruption having once taken place, remained and in- 
creased from age to age, till it was checked by the re- 
formation. The whole discipline of the church was 
now dissolved, and men, who had means to purchase 
a licence to sin, were emboldened to let loose the 
reins of vice, and to follow at large r their own desires 
and imaginations. 

In this season of religious declension, attempts were 2 
however, made to promote human learning ; indeed, 
the laudable passion for intellectual improvement was 
strong in this century. The human mind acquired a 
new tone and vigor; but learning could not commu- 
nicate grace, nor bring men to see the folly of enslav- 
ing themselves to the popedom. The influence of 
the bishop of Rome became prodigious ; the emperors 
of Germany trembled under the rod ; and some of 
the bravest and wisest of the English princes were 
found unequal to a contest with the hierarchy. 

Where THEN was the church of Christ, and whafr 
was its condition ? In the general appearance of na- 


tional religion, she Vvas not to be discovered. God 
had, however, his SECRET ONES. In the West the Ca- 
thari appear then to have lived the religion of Jesus. 
They formed societies among themselves. These 
increased exceedingly, dnd toward the close of the 
century-, were exposed to the unrighteous indigna- 
tion of the reigning powers, both in church and state, 
and were known by the name of Waldenses. Thus, 
the church of Christ had a real existence in the West, 
and shone as a light in a dark place. In the East it is 
extremely difficult to discover the least vestiges of gen- 
uine piety, unless it be in some small degrees of it 
among the Paulicians. 

In a council held at London, in 1108> a decree was 
issued against clerks, who should cohabit with women. 
This council did not, however, mean to give an attes- 
tation to the truth of the prophecy of St. Paul, con- 
cerning the apostacy of the latter days, one circum- 
stance of which was the prohibition of marriage, but 
they fulfilled the prophecy in the clearest manner. The 
voice of natural conscience and of common sense, was 
by no means, altogether silenced during this gloomy 
season. Fluentius, bishop of Florence, taught public- 
ly, that Antichrist was born, and come into the world. 
On account of thjs ? pope Paschal II. held a council 
there in the year 1105, reprimanded the bishop, and 
enjoined him to be silent on the subject. 

The Island of Great Britain was rapidly sinking all 
this century, into a deplorable state of subjection to 
the Roman see. In the year 1159 thirty men and 
women, who were Germans, appeared in England, 
and were afterward brought before a council of the 
clergy at Oxford. Gerard their teacher, a man of 
learning, said, that they were Christians, and believed 
the doctrine of the apostles. They expressed an ab- 
horrence of the doctrine of purgatory, of prayers for 
the dead, and of the /avocation of the saints. Henry 
II, in conjunction with the council, ordered them to 
be branded with a hot iron on the forehead, to be 
whipped through Oxford, to have their clothes cut 
short by their girdles^ and to be turned into the open 


fields ; and no person to shelter or relieve them, un- 
der severe penalties. It was then the depth of winter, 
and they all lost their lives by cold and hunger. They 
had made one female convert in England, who, 
through fear of similar punishment, recanted. The 
whole number of the Germans remained patient, se- 
rene, and composed, repeating, " Blessed are those, 
who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for their's 
is the kingdom of heaven." Their teacher, Gerard, 
that he might be distinguished from the rest, had an 
additional mark on his chin. 

What darkness must at that time have filled the 
island of Great Britain ! A wise and sagacious king, a 
renowned university, the whole body of the clergy 
and laity, all united in expelling Christ from their 
coasts ! This account, though brief, is sufficiently ex- 
plicit to show that these were the martyrs of Christ. 
Most probably driven from home by persecution, 
they had brought the light and power of the gospel 
into England with them ; and so totally corrupt and 
senseless was the nation, that none received it. It de- 
serves to be noticed, that England was afterward, fox 
a long time, exposed to suffer more severely, than 
most other nations, from the exactions of the pope*- 

Antichrist, then reigned calm and victorious 
throughout Europe. Nevertheless, even in Italy it- 
self, some suspicions of his existence appeared. Jo- 
achim, abbot of Calabria, a man renowned for learn- 
ing and piety, asserted that Antichrist was born in the 
Roman state, and would be exalted to the apostolic 
see. King Richard I. of England, being at Me&gira 
in Sicily, going upon his expedition to the holy land, 
sent for Joachim, and with much satisfaction heard 
hmi explain the book of the Revelation, and discourse 
of Antichrist. 

If Richard had been as earnest in studying the scrip- 
tures, as he was in conducting his romantic expedi- 
tion into the holy land, by comparing the apocalyp- 
tic prophecies with the treatment which he himself 
received from the Pope, he might have understood 


that the bishop of Rome was Antichrist. For, in a 
bull, dated 1197, Innocent III. declared, that it was 
not fit, that any man should be invested with authori- 
ty, who did not revere and obey the holy see. In an- 
other bull, addressed to Richard, he told him, that if 
he opposed the decrees of the apostolic see, he would 
soon convince him, how hard it was to kick against 
the pricks. In another bull, Innocent declared, that 
he would not endure the least contempt of himself, or 
of God, whose place he held on earth, but would 
panish every disobedience without delay, and without 
respect of persons ; and would convince the whole 
world, that he was determined to act like a sovereign. 
The " lion-hearted" Richard obeyed his decrees, and 
gave up his opposition, in the cause which he had 
contested. Innocent reigned in England with a power 
little less than despotic. This was the pope, who 
confirmed the doctrine of trans instantiation in the 
grossest sense reduced the two succeeding princes, 
John and Henry III. to a state of the lowest vas- 
salage, and enriched his creatures with the treasures 
of England. 


The Propagation of the Gospel. 

I HE pale of the visible church was still farther ex- 
tended in this century among the idolatrous nations ; 
and, though the methods of propagating divine truth 
were too often unchristian, some missionaries seem to 
have been actuated by an apostolical spirit. The 
articles under this head are few, but well deserve the 
reader's attention. 

Boleslaus, duke of Poland, having taken Stetin, the 
capital of Pomerania, by storm, and laid waste the- 
country by fire and sword, compelled the remain- 
ing inhabitants to submit at discretion. From these 
inauspicious beginnings Pomerania was made ac- 
quainted with Christianity. For three years, the con- 
queror endeavored ta procure pastors and teachers 


from his own dominions, to instruct his new subjects; 
but could find none. He then engaged Otho, bishop 
of Bamberg, in the work. The duke of Pomerania 
met the bishop on his approach, and received him 
with much respect. The savage inhabitants were, 
however, with difficulty prevented from murdering 
him. Otho was firm, and by Christian zeal, patience, 
and meekness, labored to efface the disadvantageous 
impressions, which the military expeditions of Boles- 
laus, could not fail to have made on their minds. The 
duchess of Pomerania, with her female attendants, 
received the gospel. So did the duke with his com- 
panions, and he gave this evidence of sincerity, that 
he was prevailed on by the instructions of Otho to dis- 
miss his concubines, who were twenty four in number. 
This missionary was afterward fiercely assaulted by 
some of the inhabitants, and with great difficulty es- 
caped. Otho bore the injury so meekly, and persever^ 
ed in his labors with such evident marks of probity 
and charity, that he at length established the form of 
Christianity among them. He commenced his mis- 
sion in the year 1 123, and from his success, was styled 
the apostle of the Pomeranians. After he had carried 
the gospel to the remote districts, he returned to the 
care of his own flock at Bamberg, where he died in 
1159. That the work, however, was very slight 
among this people, appeared too plainly by the event. 
The Pomeranians soon after ejected the Christian pas- 
tors, and re-established the idolatry of their ancestors. 
The inhabitants of Rugen, an island which lies in 
the neighborhood of Pomerania, were remarkable for 
their obstinate opposition to Christianity. Eric, king 
of Denmark, subdued them ; and, among other condi- 
tions of peace, imposed on them his religion. But 
they soon renounced it for their ancient idolatry. 
At length Waldemar, king of Denmark, having sub- 
jected them again, obliged them to deliver up to him 
their idol Swanterwith, which he ordered to be hewn 
in pieces and burned. He compelled the vanquished 
also to deliver to him all their sacred money, and re- 
leased the Christian captives whom they held in slave- 


ry, 'and converted the lands which had been assigned 
to the pagan priests, to the support of the Christian 
ministry. Also he furnished the ignorant savages with 
pastors and teachers. Among these, shone Absalom, 
archbishop of Lunden, by whose pious labors, the gos- 
pel received an establishment in this island, which had 
so long baffled every attempt to evangelize it. Absa~ 
lorn ought to be ranked among those genuine bene- 
factors of mankind, who are willing to spend and be 
spent for the good of souls. Even Jaremar, the prince 
of Rugen, received the gospel, and not only taught his 
wayward subjects by his life and example, but also 
by his useful instructions and admonitions. Some- 
times he employed menaces, but to what degree, and 
with what circumstances is not known. Certain it is, 
that the people of Rugen from that time, were in some 
sense, at least, evangelized. No people had ever 
shown a more obstinate aversion to the doctrines of 
Christianity ; nor were the military proceedings of 
Eric and Waidemar calculated to soften their animo- 
sity. In this article, however, as in the last, the cha- 
racters of the missionaries ought to be distinguished 
from those of the princes ; for, in the accounts of both 
the missionaries there appears very good evidence 
of a genuine propagation of godliness. These events 
in Rugen took place about the year 1168. When the 
characters of princes are distinguished from that of 
missionaries, it is by no means intended that the con- 
duct of the former was unjustifiable. > The people 
of Rugen were a band of pirates and robbers ; and it 
is not improbable, but that the right of self-preserva- 
tion might have authorized the Danish expedition. 

The Finlanders were of the same character with the 
people of Rugen, and infested Sweden with their in- 
cursions. Eric, king of the last mentioned country, 
vanquished them in war, and is said to have wept, be- 
cause his enemies died, unbaptized. As soon as he 
was master of Finland, he sent Henry, bishop of Upsal, 
to evangelize the barbarians. The success of this 
missionary was great, and he is called the apostle of 
the Finlanders, though he was murdered, at length. 


by some of the refractory people. He was stoned to 
death at the instigation of a murderer whom he had 
endeavored to reclaim by his censures. 

Eric was excellent both as a Christian and a king. 
His piety provoked the derision of some impious mal- 
contents, by whom he was attacked, while employed 
in public worship. "The remainder of the festival" 
said he, "I shall observe elsewhere." It was the feast 
of the ascension, which he was celebrating. He went 
out alone to meet the murderers, that he might prevent 
the effusion of blood, and died commending his soul 
to God. 



Peter Waldo. 

J[ HE Cathari, who were evidently a people of God, 
received great accessions of members from the learned 
labors and godly zeal of Peter Waldo, an opulent mer- 
chant of Lyons, toward the close of the twelfth cen- 
tury. They were gloriously distinguished by a dread- 
ful series of persecution, and exhibited a spectacle, 
both of the power of Divine grace, and of the malice 
and enmity of the world against the real gospel of Je- 
sus Christ. I purpose to represent in one connected 
view, the history of this people till a little after the time 
of their reformation. The spirit, doctrine, and progress 
of the Waldenses, will be more clearly understood by 
this method, than by broken. and interrupted details ; 
and the 13th century seems the most proper place 
in which their story should be introduced. 

These people were numerous in the valleys of Pied* 
mont. Hence the name Vaudois, or Vallonses was 
given them, particularly to those who inhabited the 
valleys of Lucerne and Argrogne. A mistake arose 
from similarity of names, that Peter Valdo or Waldo, 


was the first founder of these churches. For the name 
Vallenses being easily changed into Wald<v<ise.s, (he 
Romanists improved this very easy and natural mistake 
into an argument against the antiquity of these church- 
es, and denied that they had any existence till the ap- 
pearance of Waldo. During the altercations of the 
papists and protesiants, it was of some consequence 
that this matter should be rightly stated ; because the 
former denied that the doctrines of the latter had any 
existence till the days of Luther. But from a just ac- 
count of the subject, it appeared, that the real protes- 
tant doctrines existed during the dark ages of the 
church, long before Waldo's time. 

About 1160, the doctrine of transubstantiation was 
required by the court of Rome to be acknowledged by 
all men. This led to idolatry. Men fell down before 
the consecrated host and worshipped it as God. The 
impiety of this abomination shocked the minds of all 
men who were not dead to a sense of true religion. 
The mind of Peter Waldo was aroused to oppose the 
abomination, and to strive for a reformation. A fear 
of God, in union with an alarming sense of the wick- 
edness of the times, led him to conduct with courage 
in opposing the dangerous corruptions of the hierarchy. 
He abandoned his mercantile occupation, ditributed 
iiis wealth to the poor, and exhorted his neighbors to 
seek the bread of life. The poor, who flocked to him 
to share his alms, received the best instruction he 
was capable of communicating, and reverenced the 
man, of whose liberality they partook, while the great 
and the rich both hated and despised him. 

A secular man like Waldo needed instruction. But 
where could it be found, at a tirae of such general ig- 
norance and declension ? He knew that the scriptures 
were given as infallible guides, and thirsted for those 
sources of instruction, which, at that time, were in a 
great measure a sealed book in the Christian world. 
To men who understood the Latin tongue, they 
were accessible. But how few were these compar- 
ed with the bulk of mankind ! The Latin vulgate bi- 
ble was the only edition of the sacred book at that 


time in Europe : and, the languages then in common 
use, the French and others, however mixed with the 
Latin, were, properly speaking, by this time separate 
and distinct from it. It appears that the Christian 
world under Providence, was indebted to Waldo, for 
the first translation of the bible into a modem tongue. 
No pains had been taken, by those who were attach-? 
ed to the popish system, to diffuse biblical knowledge 
among the vulgar. The benevolent attempt to send 
the bread of life among the common people, by giving 
them the scriptures in their own language, if we ex- 
cept the single instance of the Sclavonian version, 
was purely and exclusively of protestant origin. 

As Waldo grew more acquainted with the scrip- 
tures, he saw that the general practice of nominal 
Christians was totally abhorrent from the doctrines of 
the New Testament : and in particular, that a num- 
ber of customs, which all the world regarded with 
reverence, had not only, no foundation in the Divine 
oracles, but were even condemned by them. Inflam- 
ed with equal zeal and charity, he boldly condemned 
the reigning vices, and the arrogance of the Pope. 
He did more : as he advanced in the knowledge of 
the true faith and love of Christ, he taught his neigh- 
bors the principles of practical godliness, and encour- 
aged them to seek salvation by Jesus Christ. 

John de Beles Mayons, archbishop of Lyons, a dis- 
tinguished member of the corrupt system, forbade the 
new reformer to teach any more, on pain of excom- 
munication, and of being proceeded against as an he- 
retic. Waldo replied, that though he was a layman, 
yet he could not be silent in a matter which concerned 
the salvation of men. On this, the archbishop endea- 
vored to apprehend him. But the great affection of 
Waldo's friends, the influence of his relations, who 
were men of rank, the universal regard paid to his 
probity and piety, and the conviction which, no doubt 
many felt, that the extraordinary circumstances jus- 
tified his assumption of the pastoral character ; all 
things operated so strongly in his favor, that he lived 
at Lyons three years. 


!Pope Alexander III. having heard of the proceed-* 
ing* of Waldo, anathamatized him and his adherents, 
and commanded the archbishop to proceed against 
them with the utmost rigor. 

Waldo fled from Lyons, and his disci pies followed 
him. By this dispersion, the doctrine of Waldo was 
widely disseminated throughout Europe. In Daiiphn 
ny, whither he retired, his tenets took a deep and 
lasting root. Some of his people probably did join 
themselves to the Vaudois of Piedmont, and the new 
translation of the bible, was, doubtless, a rich access- 
ion to the spiritual treasures of that people. Waldo 
himself, however, seems never to have been among 
them. Persecuted from place to place, he retired in- 
to Picardy. Success still attended his labors ; and the 
doctrines which he preached, appear to have so har- 
monized with those of the Vaudois, that they and his 
people were henceforward considered as the same. 

To support and encourage the church of Christ, 
formed no part of the glory of the greatest and wisest 
princes of that age. Philip Augustus, one of the most 
prudent and sagacious princes that France ever saw, 
was enslaved by the god of this world. He took up 
arms against the Waldenses of Picardy, pulled down 
300 houses belonging to those who supported their 
party, destroyed some walled towns, and drove the in- 
habitants into Flanders. Not content with this, he 
pursued them thither, and caused many of them to be 
burned. It appears that, at this time, Waldo fled into 
Germany, and at last settled in Bohemia, where he 
ended his days about the year 1179. He appears to 
have been one, of whom the world was not worthy, 
and to have turned many unto righteousness. The 
word of God then grew and multiplied. In Alsace 
and along the Rhine the gospel was preached with a 
powerful effusion of the Holy Spirit : persecution en- 
sued, and 35 citizens of Nantz were burned at one 
fire, in the city of Bingen, and at Mentz, 18. In those 
persecutions, the bishop of Mentz was very active, and 
the bishop of Strasburg was not inferior to him in vin- 
dictive zeal , for, through his means, 80 persons were 


burned at that place. Every thing relating to the 
Waldenses resembled the scenes of the primitive 
church. Numbers died praising God, and in confi- 
dent assurance of a blessed resurrection ; whence the 
blood of the martyrs became again the seed of the 
church ; and in Bulgaria, Croatia, Dalmatia, and 
Hungary, churches were planted, which flourished in 
the 13th century, governed by Bartholomew, a native 
of Carcassone, a city not far from Toulouse, which 
might be called in those days, the metropolis of the 
Waldenses, on account of the numbers who there pro- 
fessed evangelical truth. In Bohemia and the coun- 
try of Passaw, the churches were reckoned to have 
contained in the former part of the 14th century eigh* 
ty thousand professors. Almost throughout Europe 
Waldenses were then to be found; and yet they were 
treated as the off-scouring of the earth, and as people 
against whom all the power and wisdom of the world 
were united. But "the witnesses continued to prophe 
sy in sackcloth," and souls were built up injhe faith, 
hope, and charity of the gospel. 


The real Character of the Waldenses. 

HERE we are justly called on to vindicate the claim, 
which this people made to the honorable character of 
the church of God. In times of great declension, 
whoever is led by the spirit of God to revive true reli- 
gion, necessarily exposes himself to the invidious char- 
ges of arrogance, uncharitableness and self-conceit 
By condemning all others, such an one provokes the 
rest of the world to observe and investigate his faults. 
These disadvantages the Waldenses had in common 
with other reformers; they had also disadvantages 
peculiarly their own. Power, knowledge, and learn- 
ing, were almost entirely in the hands of their adversa- 
ries: In them very particularly, God Almighty chose 
the weak and foolish things of the world, to confound 


Ihe wise. As they were, for the most part, a plain 
and illiterate people, they furnished no learned di- 
vines, no profound reasoners, nor able historians. The 
vindication, therefore, of their claims to the character 
of a true church must be drawn principally from the 
holiness of their lives and the patience of their suffer- 

Rainerins, the cruel persecutor, owns that the Wal- 
denses frequently read the holy scriptures, and in their 
preaching cited the words of Christ and his apostles 
concerning lave, humility, and other virtues ; inso- 
much that the women who heard them, were enrap- 
tured with the sound. He further says, that they 
taught men to live, by the words of the gospel and 
the apostles ; that they led religious lives ; that their 
manners were seasoned with grace, and their words 
prudent ; that they freely discoursed of divine things, 
that they might be esteemed, good men. He observes 
likewise, that they taught their children and families 
the epistles and gospels. Claude, bishop of Turin, 
wrote a treatise against their doctrines, in which he 
candidly owns, that they themselves were blameless, 
without reproach among men, and that they observed 
the Divine commands with all their might. 

Jacob de Riberia says, that he had seen peasants 
among them who could recite the book of Job by 
heart ; and several others, who could perfectly repeat 
the whole New Testament. 

The bishop of Cavaillon once obliged a preaching 
monk to enter into conference with them, that they 
might be convinced of their errors, and the effusion of 
blood be prevented. This happened during a great 
persecution in 1540, iu Merindol and Provence. But 
the monk returned in confusion, owning that he had 
never known in his whole life so much of the scrip- 
tures, as he had learned during those few days, in 
which he had held conferences with the heretics. 
The bishop however, sent among them a number of 
doctors, young men, who had lately come from the 
Sorbonne, at Paris, which was renowned for theologi- 
cal subtilty. One of them openly owned, that he had 


understood more of the doctrine of salvation from the 
answers of the little children in their catechism, than 
by all the disputations which he had ever heard. This 
is the testimony of Vesembecius in his oration con- 
cerning the Waldenses. The same author informs us 
farther, that Lewis XII. importuned by the calumnies 
of informers, sent two respectable persons into Pro- 
vence, to make inquiries. They reported, that in vis- 
iting all their parishes and temples, they found no im- 
ages or Roman ceremonies, but, that they could not 
discover any marks of the crimes with which they 
were charged ; that the sabbath was strictly observed; 
that children were baptized according to the rules of 
the primitive church, and instructed in the articles of 
the Christian faith, and the commandments of God. 
Lewis having heard the report, declared with an oath, 
" they are better men than myself or my people." 

We must add here the testimony of that great his- 
torian, Thuanus, an enemy indeed to the Waldenses, 
though a fair and candid one. 

He is describing one of the valleys inhabited by this 
people in Dauphiny, which is called the stoney valley. 
a Their clothing," he says, "is of the skins of sheep; 
they have no linen. They inhabit seven villages : 
their houses are constructed of flint stone, with a flat 
roof covered with mud, which being spoiled or loosen- 
ed by rain, they smooth again with a roller. In these 
they live with their cattle, separated from them, how- 
ever by a fence. They have besides two caves, set 
apart for particular purposes, in one of which they 
conceal their cattle, in the other, themselves, when 
hunted by their enemies. They live on milk and 
venison, being by constant practice, excellent marks- 
men. Poor as they are, they are content, and live se- 
parate from the rest of mankind. One thing is aston- 
ishing, that persons externally so savage and rude, 
should have so much moral cultivation. They can 
all read and write. They are acquainted with French 
so far as is needful for the understanding of the bible, 
and the singing of psalms. You can scarce find a 
boy among them, who cannot give you an intelligible 


account of the faith which they profess ; in this, in- 
deed, they resemble their brethren of the other val- 
leys : they pay tribute with a good conscience, and 
the obligation of this duty is particularly noted in the 
confession of their faith. If by reason of the civil 
wars, they are prevented from doing this, they care- 
fully set apart the sum, and at the first opportunity 
pay it to the king's tax-gatherers." 

Francis I. the successor of Lewis XII. received, on 
inquiry, the following information concerning the 
Waldenses of Merindol, and other neighboring places : 
namely, that they were a laborous people, who came 
from Piedmont to dwell in Provence, about 200 years 
ago: that they had much improved the country by 
their industry ; that their manners were most excel- 
lent ; that they were honest, liberal, hospitable, and 
humane ; that they were distinct from others in this, 
that they could not bear the sound of blasphemy, or 
the naming of the devil, or any oaths, except on sol- 
emn occasions ; and that if they ever fell into compa- 
ny where blasphemy or lewdness formed the sub- 
stance of the discourse, they instantly withdrew them- 
selves. Such are the testimonies to the character of 
this people from enemies ! 

Luther, who owns that he was once prejudiced 
against them, testifies that he understood by their 
confessions and writings, that they had been for ages 
singularly expert in the use of the scriptures. He re- 
joiced and gave thanks to God, that he had enabled 
the reformed and the Waldenses, to see and own each 
other as brethren. By the general confession of the 
Romanists, it appears, that the protestants and the 
Waldenses, were looked on as holding the same prin- 
ciples. The churches of Piedmont were, however, on 
account of their superior antiquity, regarded as guides 
of the rest, insomuch, that when two pastors, who had 
been sent by them into Bohemia, acted with perfidy > 
and occasioned a grievous persecution ; still the Bohe- 
mians ceased not to desire pastors from Piedmont, on- 
ly they requested, that none but persons of tried char- 
acters might be sent to them in future. 


From the borders of Spain, throughout the South of 
France for the most part, among and below the Alps, 
along the Rhine, on both sides of its course, and even 
to Bohemia,thousands ofgodly souls were seen patient- 
ly to bear persecution for the sake of Christ, against 
whom malice could say no evil, except that which ad- 
mits the most satisfactory refutation : men distinguish- 
ed for every virtue, and only hated because of godli- 
ness itself. Persecutors with a sigh owned, that, be- 
cause of their virtue, they were the most dangerous en- 
emies of the church. But of what church ? Of that, 
which in the 13th century, and long before, had shown 
itself to be Antichristian. How faithful is the prom- 
ise of God in supporting and maintaining a church, 
even in the darkest timosibut her livery is often sack- 
cloth, and her external bread is that of affliction, while 
she sojourns on earth. 

The Waldenses were conscientiously obedient to 
established governments, and their separation from a 
church, so corrupt as that of Rome, was with them 
only a matter of necessity. We shall now see what 
they were in point of doctrine and discipline. 


The Doctrine and Discipline of the Waldenses. 

JLHE leading principle of this church was, "that we 
ought to believe that the holy scriptures alone contain 
all things necessary to our salvation, and that nothing 
ought to be received as an article of faith but what 
God hath revealed to us." Wherever this principle 
dwells in the heart, it expels superstition and idol- 
atry. There the worship of one God, through the one 
Mediator, and by the influence of one Holy Spirit, 13 
practised sincerely. The dreams of purgatory, the 
intercession of saints, the adoration of images, depen- 
dence on relics and austerities, cannot stand before the 
doctrine of scripture. The Waldenses were faithful 
to the great fundamental principle of protestautism.-^ 


" They affirm, that there is only one Mediator, and 
therefore that we must not invocate the saints. That 
there is no purgatory ; but that all those, who are jus- 
tified by Christ, go into life eternal." 

A number of their old treatises evince, that for some 
hundred years, the principles of the gospel, which 
alone can produce such holiness of life as the Walden- 
ses exhibited in their conduct, were professed, under- 
stood, and embraced by this chosen people, while An- 
tichrist was in the very height of his power. 

In a book concerning their pastors we have this ac- 
count of their vocation. 

" All who are to be ordained as pastors among us, 
while they are yet at home, entreat us to receive them 
into the ministry, and desire that we would pray to 
God, that they may be rendered capable of so great a 
charge. They are to learn by heart all the chapters 
of St. Matthew and S'. John, all the canonical epistles, 
and a good part of the writings of Solomon, David and 
the prophets. Afterwards, having exhibited proper 
testimonials of their learning and conversation, they 
are admitted as pastors by the imposition of hands. 
The junior pastors must do nothing without the li- 
cense of their seniors ; nor are the seniors to under- 
take any thing without the approbation of their col- 
leagues, that every thing may be done among us in 
order. We pastors meet together once every year, to 
settle our affairs in a general synod. Those whom 
we teach, afford us food and raiment with good will, 
and without compulsion. The money given us by 
the people is carried to the said general synod, is 
there received by the elders, and is applied partly to 
the supply of travellers, and partly to the relief of the 
indigent. If a pastor among us shall fall into gross 
sin, he is ejected from the community, and debarred 
from the function of preaching." 

The Waldenses in general expressed their firm be- 
lief that there is no other mediator than Jesus Christ : 
they spake 'with great respect of the virgin Mary as ho- 
ly , humble, and full of grace ; at the same time they to- 
tally discountenanced that senseless and extravagant 


admiration, in which she had been held for ages. They 
asserted, that all, who have been and shall be saved, 
have been elected of God before the foundation of the 
world ; and that whosoever upholds free-will, abso- 
lutely denies predestination, and the grace of God. By 
an upholder of free-will, they undoubtedly meant one, 
who maintains that there are resources in the nature 
of man sufficient to enable him to live to God as he 
ought, without any need of the renewal of his nature 
by divine grace. 

They gave a practical view of the doctrine of the 
holy Trinity, perfectly agreeable to the faith of the 
orthodox in all ages. Of the nature and use of the 
sacraments, they expressed the common sentiments of 
the protestant churches. The labors of Claudius, of 
Turin, in the ninth century, appear, under God, to have 
produced these blessed effects as to the faith, arid ho- 
ness of the Waldenses. Men, who spend and are spent 
for the glory of God, and for the profit of souls, have 
no conception of the importance of their efforts. These 
often remain in durable effects, to succeeding genera- 
tions, and are blessed for the emancipation of thou- 
sands from the dominion of sin and Satan. 

The Waldenses took special care for the religious 
instruction of their children, by catechetical and ex- 
pository tracts, adapted to the plainest understand- 
ings. These formed a very salutary body of instruc- 
tion, and early taught the youth the great things which 
pertained to life and godliness. If no more could be 
said for this people, than that they hated the gross 
abominations of popery, and condemned the vices of 
the generality of mankind, they might have been os- 
tentatious Pharisees, or self-sufficient Socinians. But 
though, no doubt, there were unsound professors 
among them, as among all other denominations yet 
in their community, there were many real chris- 
tians, who knew how to direct the edge of their sever- 
ity against their indwelling sins ; and who being truly 
humbled under a view of their native depravity, be- 
took themselves wholly to the grace of God in Christ 
for salvation- 


It is clearly evident from the general current of their 
history, that the Waldenses were a humbled people^ 
prepared to receive the gospel of Christ from the heart, 
to walk in his steps, to carry his cross, and to fear sin 
above all other evils. They were devoutly strict in 
the discharge of family religion. In some ancient in- 
quisitorial memoirs, describing their names and cus- 
toms, it is said of them : " Before they go to meat, the 
elder among them says, God, who blessed the five 
barley loaves and two fishes in the wilderness, bless 
this table, and that which is set upon it, in the name of 
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And after 
meat, he says^ the God, who has given us corporal 
food, grant us his spiritual life, and may God be with 
us, and we always with him. After their meals, they 
teach and exhort one another." 

There were evidently many humble and devout fol- 
lowers of Christ among this people, who felt the pow- 
er and enjoyed the consolations of the doctrines of the 


The Persecutions of the Waldenses. 

A HE external history of this people is little else than 
a series of persecution. And it is to be regretted, that 
while we have large and distinct details of the cruel- 
ties they endured, we have very scanty accounts of the 
spirit, with which they suffered ; and still less of the 
internal exercises of holiness, which are known only 
to the people of God. That which raged against them 
in the former part of the 13th century, was an assem- 
blage of every thing cruel, perfidious, indecent, and 
detestable. This was a time when the princes of the 
earth, as well as the meanest persons, were generally 
enslaved to the popedom, and were easily led to per- 
secute the children of God with the most savage bar- 
barity. In 1179, some, under various pretexts of 
their having embraced heretical sentiments, were 
examined by the bishops and condemned. They 


were accused of receiving only the New Testament, 
and of rejecting the Old, except in the testimonies 
quoted by our Lord and the apostles. This charge is, 
however, confuted by the whole tenor of their authen- 
tic writings. They were also accused of asserting the 
Manichean doctrine of two independent principles ; of 
denying the utility of infant baptism, and of many 
other things, and all with an evident design to perse- 
cute them to death ; because they stood opposed to 
the errors and abominations of the church of Rome. 

Rainerius, who was a bigoted papist, owns, that 
the Waldenses were the most formidable enemies of 
the church of Rome, "because," saith he, " they have 
a great appearance of godliness ; because they live 
righteously before men, believe rightly in God in all 
things, and hold all the articles of the creed 5 yet they 
hate and revile the church of Rome ; and, in their ac- 
cusations they are easily believed by the people." 

But it was reserved to Innocent the third, than 
whom no pope ever possessed more ambition, to in- 
stitute the inquisition ; and the Waldenses were the 
first objects of its cruelty. He authorized certain 
monks to frame the process of that court, and to deliv- 
er the supposed heretics to the secular power. The 
beginning of the 13th century saw thousands of per- 
sons hanged or burned by these diabolical devices, 
whose sole crime was, that they trusted only in Jesus 
Christ for salvation, and renounced all the vain hopes 
of self-righteousness, idolatry and superstition. Who- 
ever has attended closely to the subject of the epistles 
to the Colossians and Galatians, and has penetrated 
ifito the meaning of the apostle, sees the great duty of 
HOLDING THE HEAD, and of resting, for justification by 
faith, on Jesus Christ alone, inculcated throughout 
them as the predominant precept of Christianity, in 
opposition to the rudiments of the world, to philosophy 
and vain deceit, to will worship, to all dependence for 
our happiness on human works and devices of what- 
ever kind. Such a person sees what true protestant- 
ism 4s, contrasted with genuine popery ; and, of 
aourse, he is convinced, that the difference is not 


Sfierely verbal or frivolous, but that there is a perfect 
opposition in the two plans ; and such as admits of no 
coalition or union ; and that therefore the true way of 
withstanding the devices of Satan, is to be faithful to 
the great doctrine of justification by the grace of Jesus 
Christ, through faith alone, and not by our own works 
or deservings. Hence the very foundation of false re- 
ligion is overthrown ; hence troubled consciences ob- 
tain solid peace, and faith, working by love, leads men 
into the very spirit of Christianity, w^hile it comforts 
their hearts, and establishes them in every good work. 

Schemes of religion so extremely opposite, being ar- 
dently pursued by both parties, could not fail to pro- 
duce a violent rupture. The church of Christ and 
the world were then seen engaged in contest. Inno- 
cent first tried the methods of argument and persecu- 
tion. He sent bishops and monks, who preached in 
those places, where the Waldensian doctrine flourish- 
ed. Their success was very inconsiderable. In the 
neighborhood of Narbonne tw ? o monks were employ- 
ed, Peter de Chateauneuf, and Dominic. The form- 
er of these was murdered, probably by Raymond ? 
count of Toulouse, because he had refused to remove 
the excommunication, which he had denounced a- 
gainst that prince. Though there appears no evidence 
that Raymond either understood or felt the vital influ- 
ence of the protestant doctrines, yet he strongly pro- 
tected his Waldensian subjects. He witnessed the 
purity of their lives and manners, and heard with in- 
dignation the calumnies with which they were aspers- 
ed by their adversaries, who proclaimed to all the 
world their own hypocrisy, avarice and ambition. He 
was incensed at the wickedness practised on his sub- 
jects, and indignant at his own unmerited disgrace ; 
but his conduct in this instance was unjustifiable. The 
event was disastrous. Innocent obtained what he wish- 
ed, a decent pretence for his horrible and most iniqui- 
tous persecution ; and thousands of the sincerely pious 
were unrighteously calumniated as accessory to crime. 

The insidious customs of the inquisition are well 
known. From the year 1206, when it was first estate- 


lished, to the year 1228, the havoc made among help- 
less Christians was so great, that certain French bish- 
ops, in the last mentioned year, desired the monks of 
the inquisition to defer a little their work of imprison- 
ment, till the Pope should be advertised of the great 
numbers apprehended; numbers so great, that it was 
impossible to defray the charge of their subsistence, 
and even to provide stone and mortar to build prisons 
for them. Yet so true is it, that the blood of martyrs 
is the seed of the church, that in the year 1530 there 
were in Europe above eight hundred thousand who 
professed the religion of the Waldenses. 

When the Waldenses saw that the design of the 
pope was to gain the reputation of having used gentle 
and reasonable methods of persuasion, they agreed 
among themselves, to undertake the open defence of 
their principles. They, therefore, gave the bishops to 
understand, that their pastors, or some of them in the 
name of the rest, were ready to prove their religion to 
be truly scriptural, in an open conference, provided it 
might be conducted with propriety. They explain- 
ed their ideas of propriety, by desiring that there 
might be moderators on both sides, who should be 
vested with full authority to prevent all tumult and 
violence ; that the conference should be held at some 
place, to which all parties might have free and safe 
access ; and that some one subject should be chosen, 
with the common consent of the disputants, which 
should be steadily prosecuted, till it was fully discuss- 
ed and determined ; and that he who could not main- 
tain it by the word of God, the only decisive rule of 
Christians, should own himself confuted. 

This was perfectly equitable and judicious, and the 
bishop could not with decency refuse to accept the 
terms. The place of discussion agreed on was Mon- 
treal, near Carcassone in the year 1206. The um- 
pires on the one side were the bishops of Villencuse 
and Auxeere ; on the other R. de Bot, and Anthony 

Several pastors were deputed to manage the debate 
for the Waldenses, of whom Arnold Hot was the 

principal. He arrived first at the time and place ap- 
pointed. A bishop named Eusus, came afterwards on 
the side of the papacy, accompanied by the monk 
Dominic, two of the pope's legates, and several other 
priests and monks. The points undertaken to be pro- 
ved by Arnold, were, that the mass and transubstanti- 
ation were idolatrous, and unscriptural ; that the 
church of Rome was not the spouse of Christ, and 
that its polity was bad and unholy. Arnold sent those 
propositions to the bishop, who required fifteen days 
to answer him, which were granted. At the day ap- 
pointed, the bishop appeared, bringing with him a 
large manuscript, which was read in the conference. 
Arnold desired to be heard by word of mouth, only 
entreating their patience, if he took a considerable 
time in answering so prolix a writing. Fair promises 
of a patient hearing were made to him. He discours- 
ed for the space of Jfour days with great fluency and 
readiness, and with such order, perspicuity, and 
strength of argument, that a powerful impression was 
made on the audience, 

At length Arnold desired, that the bishops and 
monks would undertake to vindicate the mass and tran- 
substantiation by the word of God. What they said 
on the occasion we are not informed ; but the cause 
of the abrupt conclusion of the conference showed 
which party had the advantage. While the two le- 
gates were disputing with Arnold, the bishop of Ville- 
neuse, the umpire of the papal party, declared, that 
nothing could be determined because of the coming 
of the crusaders. What he asserted was too true : the 
papal armies advanced, and, by fire and faggots, sooa 
decided all controversies. 

Arnold and his assistants were, doubtless, of the 
number of those, who "did truth, and therefore came 
to the light, that their deeds might be made manifest, 
that they were wrought in God." And their adversa- 
ries were of those who " hated the light, and would 
not come to it, lest their deeds should be reproved." 

The recourse of the popish party to arms, in the 
room of sober argumentation, was to pour contempt 


on the word of God, and to confess that its light was 
intolerably offensive to them. The approach of the 
crusaders, who, in the manner related, put an end 
to the conference, was not accidental ; for Innocent, 
who never intended to decide the controversy by ar- 
gument, on occasion of the unhappy murder of the 
monk before mentioned, had dispatched preachers 
throughout Europe, to collect all, who were willing to 
revenge the innocent blood of Peter of Chateauneuf; 
promising paradise to those, who should bear arms for 
forty days, and bestowing on them the same indul- 
gences as he did on those, who undertook to conquer 
the Holy Land. "We moreover promise," says he 
in his bull, "to all those who shall take up arms to 
revenge the said murder, the pardon and remission of 
their sins. And since we are not to keep faith with 
those, who do not keep it with God, we would have 
all to understand, that every person who is bound to 
the said earl Raymond by oath of allegiance, or by 
any other way, is absolved by apostolical authority 
from such obligations- and it is lawful for any Roman 
Catholic, to persecute the said earl, and to seize upon 
his country," &c. 

The tyrant proceeds in his bull: "We exhort you, 
that you would endeavor to destroy the wicked here- 
sy of the Albigenses, and do this with more rigor than 
you would use towards the Saracens themselves : per- 
secute them with a strong hand : deprive them of their 
lands, and put Roman Catholics in their room." 
Such was the pope's method of punishing a whole 
people for a single murder committed by Raymond, 

The French barons, incited by the motives of ava- 
rice which Innocent suggested, undertook the work 
with vigor. The Waldensian Christians then had no 
other part to act, after having performed the duty of 
faithful subjects and soldiers, but to suffer wilh pa- 
tience the oppressions of Antichrist. Three hundred 
thousand men, induced by avarice and superstition, 
filled their country, for several years with carnage and 
confusion. The scenes of baseness, perfidy, barbarity, 
indecency and hypocrisy, over which Innocent pre- 

sided, can scarcely be conceived. These were con- 
ducted, partly by his legates, and partly by the in- 
famous earl Simon of Montfort. 

The castle of Menerbe on the frontiers of Spain, for 
want of water, was reduced to the necessity of surren- 
dering to the pope's legate. A certain abbot under- 
took to preach to those who were found in the castle, 
and exhort them to acknowledge the pope. But 
they interrupted his discourse, declaring that his labor 
was to no purpose, Earl Simon and the legate then 
caused a great fire to be kindled, and burned 140 
persons of both sexes. These martyrs died in tri- 
umph, praising God that he had counted them worthy 
to suifer for the sake of Christ. They opposed the le- 
gate to his face, and told Simon, that on the last day 
when the books should be opened, he would meet with 
the just judgment of God for all his cruelties. Sev- 
eral monks entreated them to have pity on themselves, 
and promised them their lives, if they would submit 
to the popedom. But the Christians "loved not their 
lives to the death:" only three women of the compa- 
ny recanted. 

Another castle named Termes, not far from Mener- 
be, in the territory of Narbonne, was taken by Simon 
in the year 1210. " This place,'' said Simon, "is of 
all others the most execrable, because no mass has 
been sung in it for 30 years." A remark which gives 
us some idea both of the stability and numbers of the 
Waldenses ; the very worship of popery, it seems, was 
expelled from that place. The inhabitants made their 
escape by night, and avoided the merciless hands of 

But the triumphing of the wicked is short : after he 
had been declared sovereign of Toulouse, which he 
had conquered, general of the armies of the church, 
its son and its darling ; after he had oppressed and 
tyrannized over the Waldenses by innumerable confis- 
cations and exactions, he was slain in battle in the 
year 1218. 

Earl Raymond, died of sickness in the year 1222, in 
a state of peace and prosperity, after his victory over 


Simon. No man was ever treated with more injus- 
tice by the popedom. But nothing is known of his 
character for knowledge arid piety. His persecutor, In- 
nocent, died in 1216 ; and the famous Dominic in 1220. 

The Waldenses suffered sore and incessant perse- 
cutions from the church of Rome, in many different 
parts of Europe, till the time of the reformation, and, 
in most instances, they endured them with admirable 
patience and constancy. 

Thus largely did the "King of saints" provide for 
the instruction of his church, in the darkness of the 
middle ages. The Waldenses are indeed the middle 
link which connects the primitive Christians and fa- 
thers with the reformed ; and by their means, the 
proof is completely established that salvation, by the 
grace of Christ, felt in the heart by the power of the 
Holy Ghost, and expressed in the life, has ever existed 
from the time of the apostles till this day; and that 
it is a doctrine marked by the cross, and distinct from 
all that religion of mere form, which calls itself Chris- 
tian, but which wants the spirit of Christ. 


The general state of the church in this century. 

A HOUGH the narrative of the Waldensian transac- 
tions does not belong exclusively to the 13th century, 
it is, however, ascribed to it, because during this, the 
sect endured most cruel persecutions, and experienced 
many severe conflicts, which particularly excited the 
attention of all Europe. At this period a visible 
church can hardly be said to haye had an existence. 
There were, however, individuals, who loved the Lord, 
and served him in the midst of corruption, error and 

It was then a time of immense ignorance and wick- 
edness. True, the Aristotelean philosophy greatly pre- 
vailed; but it by no means, enlightened men's minds 
with useful science. Every serious enquirer after truth 

was embarrassed beyond measure, The most learn* 
ed doctors, with very few exceptions, were not, in 
their knowledge, many degrees above the most igno- 
rant and vulgar. The herd of students foolishly em- 
ployed themselves about the miserable translations of 
Aristotle, to no purpose. Their ambition was to ap- 
pear learned in the eyes of the senseless multitude. 
The Dominicans and Franciscans were almost the 
only orders which devoted themselves to study. 
These had ample buildings and princely houses. They 
attended the deathbeds of the rich and great, and 
urged them to bequeath immense legacies to their 
own orders. These gained much ground, and till the 
time of the institution of the Jesuits were the pillars 
of the papacy. Persecution of heretics, so called, 
formed a great part of their employment. While the 
other orders had, by their immoralities reduced them- 
selves to contempt; these two orders, having the sem- 
blance of worth, not the substance, revived the au- 
thority of the Romish church, supported and strength- 
ened every reigning superstition, and by deep laid 
plans of hypocrisy, induced numbers to enrich both 
the papacy and the monastic establishments. These 
two orders, having obtained a decided ascendency in 
England, arrogated to themselves great power. The 
abject slavery and superstition, under which* Eng- 
land then sunk, appears, from a commission which In- 
nocent IV. gave to John the Franciscan, in 1247, as 
follows: "We charge you, that, if the major part of 
the English prelates should make answer, that they 
are exempt from foreign jurisdiction, you demand a 
greater sum, and compel them, by ecclesiastical cen- 
sures, to withdraw their appeals, any privilege or in- 
dulgence notwithstanding." 

So shameless were the popes, at this time, in their 
exactions, and so perfect was their dominion over 
mankind, that they grossly defrauded even the Fran- 
ciscans themselves, and were not afraid of the conse- 
quences. Men, who received not the testimony of 
Jesus Christ, and refused submission to his easy yoke, 
were induced to kiss the iron rod of an Italian tyrant. 


The greater part of Europe, had now forsaken the 
all-important article of justification by the merit of 
Jesus Christ alone through faith, and were entangled 
in the nets of pharisaical religion, and readily betook 
themselves to numberless superstitions, to give quiet 
and ease to their consciences. The Waldense"s found 
peace and comfort, and the expectation of heaven 
through Jesus Christ alone by faith, and hence despis- 
ed the whole popedom with all its appendages ; while 
others, who trembled in conscience for their sins, and 
knew not the holy wisdom of resting in- Christ alone 
for salvation, might swell with indignation at the wick- 
edness of the court of Rome, but durst not emancipate 
themselves from its bonds. The power of the Pope 
was then but a cement of wickedness, which encour- 
aged men with the hopes of heaven, while living in su- 
perstition and the indulgence of the greatest crimes. 

In 1234, pope Gregory IX. desirous of increasing 
the credit of the popedom, by a bull directed to all 
Christendom, invited men to assume the cross, and to 
proceed to the holy land. In this he says, " The ser- 
vice to which they are now invited is an EFFECTUAL 
ATONEMENT for the miscarriages of a negligent life. 
The HOLY WAR is a compendious method of discharg- 
ing men from guilt, and restoring them to the Divine 
favor. Even if they die on their march, the intention 
will be taken for the deed, and many may in this way 
be crowned without fighting." 

In this, Gregory, in effect, opposed the doctrine of 
the atonement of Christ, and m contempt of it, taught 
men to expect justification from God, on the merit of 
military service, rendered at the command of his Vice- 
gerent. In this way, the human mind was removed 
from faith in Christ, and men were taught to rely for 
pardon on the sovreign pontiff, and were led to imbibe 
the fatal doctrine, that wickedness might be commit- 
ted, with the flattering prospect of gaining the Divine 
favor, without a reformation of heart and life. 

That the ecclesiastical rulers in those miserable 
times, did not desire the promotion of piety, but their 
own secular emolument, is evident from their releas- 
3 F 


ifrg those who had engaged in the crusade to the holy 
land, from their vows, on the payment of a fine. It b 
easily conceived that much wealth would be amassed 
by this dispensing power. Men were taught to pur- 
chase pardon by being liberal in the bestowment of 
their money on the popish hierarchy, and that this 
was a sure way to cover their crimes. 

During this season of gross darkness, the scripture 
was neglected ; appeals were not made to the word 
of God, but to Aristotle and the fathers, which were 
considered as decisive. The few who truly feared 
and served God, suffered extreme persecution. 

Of the Eastern churches scarce any thing worthy 
of relation occurs, except that they were overrun by 
a mixed multitude under Othman, who, in the year 
1299, was proclaimed Sultan, and founded a new em- 
pire. These, under the name of TURKS, succeeded 
the Saracens both in the propagation of Mahometan- 
ism, and in diffusing the horrors of war. A few who* 
had been illuminated by the rays of divine light and 
love, exemplified the power of religion in their lives : 
among this number, Lewis IX. of France, held a con- 
spicuous rank. He often invited men of religious 
character to his table, banished from his court all di- 
versions prejudicial to morals, and lived a life of self- 
denial. No man, who violated the rules of decorum, 
could find admission into his presence. He frequent- 
ly retired for the purpose of secret prayer. Those, who* 
were guilty of blasphemy, were, by his order, mark- 
ed on the lips, some say on the forehead, with a hot 
iron. Uprightness and integrity strongly marked his 
character. The nobles, he suffered not to oppress their 
vassals. The exercise of sovereign power was, in his 
hands, a blessing to mankind. In him, wisdom and 
truth, sound policy and Christian sincerity, appeared 
not at variance, but in sweet concord. Under the com- 
plicated disadvantages of his situation, he could only 
cherish the spirit of a Christian himself: the whole 
tenor of his life demonstrated the sincerity of his faith 
and love : but, enslaved by papal domination, he could 
not emancipate his subjects. 


True it is, that he engaged in the mad project of the 
crusades, a project imprudent and chimerical : but in 
the whole course of his military measures, he avoided 
the unnecessary effusion of blood by saving the life of 
every infidel whom he could take prisoner. In all this, 
Lewis was the same man ; the fear of God was his pre- 
dominant principle of action. He was taken captive 
by the Saracens and menaced with death : but ceased 
not from his usual fortitude and concern for his sol- 
diers. At length being ransomed, as he returned to 
Europe, three sermons were preached every week on 
board his ship, and the sailors and soldiers were cate- 
chised, and instructed, he himself bearing a part in 
all the religious offices. 

On a second crusade, Lewis laid siege to Tunis on 
the coast of Africa, and died before that city. His ad- 
vice to Philip his eldest son, which he then gave, was 
very salutary. " Avoid wars," says he, " with Christians, 
and spare the innocent subjects of your enemy. Dis- 
countenance blasphemy, drunkenness, and impurity. 
Lay no heavy burdens on your subjects. I pray our 
Lord Jesus Christ to strengthen you in his service, and 
always to strengthen his grace in you ; and I beg that 
we may together see, praise and honor him to eterni- 
ty. Suffer patiently ; being persuaded that you de- 
serve much more punishment for your sins : and then 
tribulation will be your gain. Love and converse with 
the godly : banish the vicious from your company : de- 
light to hear profitable sermons : wherever you are, 
permit none, in your presence, to deal in slanderous 
or indecent conversation. Hear the poor with pa- 
tience, and where your own interest is concerned, 
stand for your adversary yourself, till the truth appear." 
In his last hours, Lewis prayed with tears for the con- 
version of infidels and sinners ; and besought God, that 
his army might have a safe retreat, lest through weak- 
ness of the flesh they should deny Christ. He repeat- 
ed aloud, " Lord, I will enter into thine house ; 1 will 
worship in thy holy temple, and give glory to thy 
name. Into thine hands I commend my spirit." These 
\yere his last words. He died in 1270, aged 56.- 


This century was dark indeed ; there does not ap- 
pear to have been in the whole Romish church a single 
divine, who could give to a serious enquirer a scrip- 
tural answer to the question, "what shall I do to be 
saved ?" The light of scripture and of its genuine 
doctrines, was unknown in Christendom. The igno- 
rance of the times was exceedingly great, and the dif- 
difficulty of acquiring divine knowledge beyond our 

In the midst of this darkness Grosseteste, bishop of 
Lincoln, a man of excellent genius, distinguished 
himself for his sound morals, and great learning. 
His mind was always more clear in discerning the 
END of true religion than it was in discovering the 
MEANS of promoting it. Upright, intrepid, disinterest- 
ed, and constantly influenced by the fear of God, he 
failed of bringing about the good which he conceived 
in his heart, because he had too little acquaintance 
with " the mystery of godliness," and because he too 
much relied on moral and prudential plans, for that 
reformation of mankind, which is sought in vain from 
every thing, except from the knowledge and applica- 
tion of the gospel. He was, fr many years, attached 
to the church of Rome, but all along, opposed to its 
abuse of power and unjust exactions; towards the close 
of his life, he became more than ever convinced of its 
gross abominations and scandals, and though, like most 
divines of that age, not acquainted with the just nature 
of the Christian article of justification by Jesus Christ 
the righteous : yet he appears to have trusted in HIM 
for eternal salvation, and to have known too well his 
own sinfulness to have put any trust in himself. 


The General State of the Church in this Century. 

same ignorance and superstition, the same 
vices and immoralities, which predominated in the last 


century, abounded in this. Real Christians were to be 
found only among the Waldenses, or in those who 
worshipped God in obscurity. Various other sects 
arose, who were cruelly persecuted by popes and em- 
perors ; but none, appear to have professed the real 
doctrines, or were influenced by the real spirit of Je- 
sus. Some of them, both in principles and practice, 
were the disgrace of human nature. But to detail the 
narratives of fanaticism, with which most ecclesiasti- 
cal histories abound, is not the object of this work. 
The church of God, considered as a society, seems 
then to have existed only among the Waldenses. 

There were numerous societies in this century, that 
suffered extremely by the iron hand of power. Among 
all these, the Waldenses, sometimes called Lollards, 
by way of reproach, seem perfectly distinguished, by 
their solid piety, sound scriptural judgment, arid prac- 
tical godliness ; and therefore they may justly be ac- 
counted to have suffered for righteousness' sake ; while 
the rest, as far as certainty appears, were the martyrs 
of folly, turbulence, or impiety. 

In the East the profession of Christianity still exist- 
ed in that contracted empire of which Constantinople 
was the metropolis ; but nothing appears like the 
primitive faith and piety. 

The maxims and examples of the court of Rome, 
in this period, were unspeakably detrimental to the 
cause of godliness. It claimed a right to dispose of 
all offices in the church, and, in that way, amassed in- 
credible sums. Boniface VIII. then filled the Chris- 
tian world with the noise and turbulence of his ambi- 
tion. He died in extreme misery, in 1303, in the 
ninth year of his papacy. For 50 years afterward, the 
church had two or three heads at the same time : and 
while each of the contending popes was anathamatiz- 
ing his competitors, the reverence of mankind for the 
popedom was diminished, and the labors of those who 
strove to propagate Divine truth, began to be more se- 
riously regarded by men of conscience and probity. 

Eleazar, count of Arian, in Naples, born in 1295, 
distinguished himself for his piety. At the age of 23 ? 


Jhe succeeded to his father's estate ; and for five years, 
which brought him to the close of life, he supported a 
constant tenor of devotion, and religious seriousness. 
Some of the regulations of his household were these : 

" I cannot allow any blasphemy in rny house, nor 
any thing in word or deed which offends the laws of 

" Let the ladies spend the morning in reading and 
prayer, the afternoon at some work. 

" Dice, and all games of hazard are prohibited. 

" Let all persons in my house divert themselves at 
proper times, but never in a sinful manner. 

" Let there be constant peace in my family ; oth- 
erwise two armies are formed under iny roof, and the 
master is devoured by them both. 

" If any difference arise, let not the sun go down 
upon your wrath. 

u We must bear with something, if we have to live 
among mankind. Such is our frailty, we are scarcely 
in tune with ourselves a whole day ; and if a melan- 
choly humor come on us, we know not well what we 
would have. 

" Not to bear and not to forgive, is diabolical ; to 
love enemies, and to do good for evil, is the mark of 
the children of God. 

" Every evening, all my family shall be assembled 
at a godly conference, in which they shall hear some- 
thing of God and salvation. Let none be absent on 
pretence of attending to my affairs. I have no affairs 
So interesting to me as the salvation of my domestics. 

" I seriously forbid all injustice, which may cloak it- 
self under color of serving me." 

" If I feel an impatience under affront," said he on 
one occasion, " I look at Christ. Can any thing which 
I suffer, be like to that which he endured for me ?" 

God has his secret saints in the most gloomy state 
of the church ; and Eleazar seems to have been one of 
these. In his last sickness, the history of our Savior's 
passion was daily read to him, and by this means his 
mind was consoled under the pains with which he 
was afflicted- 


In this century too, Bradwardine, an Englishman, 
arose, distinguished for his accurate and profound in- 
vestigation in divinity. Deeply sensible of the despe- 
rate wickedness of the human heart, and of the pre- 
ciousness of the grace of Christ, he seems to have 
overlooked, or little regarded the fashionable supersti- 
tions of his time, and to have applied the whole vigor 
and vehemence of his spirit to the defence of the 
principles of the gospel. He was a strong and able 
advocate for the scripture doctrine of free and sove- 
reign grace, in opposition to all self-righteous claims. 
Conscious of the pernicious tendency of sELF-suFFr- 
CIENCV, he wrote much against Pelagianism, with a 
heart evidently inflamed with zeal for the Divine glo- 
ry, and laboring for the spiritual profit of souls. 
While writing in defence of free grace, he appears to 
have been under the steady influence of humility arid 
piety ; and after having described the opposition made 
to Divine grace from age to age, he thus concludes : 
" I know, O Lord God, that thou dost not despise nor 
forsake those who love thee ; but thou dost sustain, 
teach, cherish, strengthen, and confirm them. Rely- 
ing on this, thy goodness and truth, I undertake to war 
under thy invincible banners." 

Bradwardine lived in an age dreary, unpromising 
and full of darkness : but notwithstanding all this, he 
appears to have lived by faith on the Son of God. 

John Wickliff, an Englishman, the renowned refor- 
mer, a man of extensive knowledge, and great strength 
of mind, flourished about the year 1371. He preach- 
ed pointedly against the prevailing abuses in religion; 
particularly the real presence of Christ in the eucha- 
rist. On this point he has been considered remarkably 
clear. In this, his principal design, it appears, was to 
recover the church from idolatry, especially in regard 
to the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ. 

Sensible that the papal power was founded in usur- 
pation, he insisted that the church of Rome was not 
the head of other churches, that St. Peter was not su- 
perior to the other apostles, and that the pope, in the 
pmver of the keys, was only equal to a common priest. 


These were undoubtedly the sentiments of genuine 
protestantism, and excited a spirit of bitter persecu- 
tion against him. 

This reformer translated the bible from the Latin 
into the English tongue : the value of which work, at 
so dark a time, was great. At this, the Romish hie- 
rarchy were enraged, which evinced that they hated 
the light, and would not come to it, lest their deeds 
should be reproved. 

Concerning Wickliff it may with propriety be said, 
that a political spirit too deeply infected his conduct; 
but that special benefit accrued, from his labors, to the 
church of Christ, both in England and upon the con- 
tinent. He died in peace at Lutterworth, in the year 

In the year 1410, his works, about 200 volumes, 
were burned at Oxford, by order of Subinco, archbish- 
op of Prague; and in 1428, his remains were dugout 
of his grave and burned, and his ashes thrown into the 
river at Lutterworth. 

Wickliff had many errors, and many virtues; But 
he gave evidence of true piety. An effusion of the 
Divine Spirit accompanied his labors, which were 
abundant, and its effects appear to have been last- 
ing. He was a formidable adversary of the papal su- 
perstitions, and a spirited and able advocate for the 
RIGHT of the common people to read the scriptures. 
He was earnest, every where in his writings, to estab- 
lish the grand protestant sentiment, of the sufficiency 
of the scriptures for saving instruction. The reason, 
of his having done this, was ; Friars persecuted the 
faithful, and said "it had never been well with the 
church since lords and ladies regarded the gospel, and 
relinquished the manners of their ancestors." 

Wickliff labored abundantly to persuade men to trust 
wholly to Christ, and rely altogether upon his suffer- 
ings, and not to seek to be justified in any other way. 



The Lollards. 

J_ ERMS of reproach have, in all ages, been applied 
to real Christians. Lollard, the name given to the fol- 
lowers of Wickliff, is to be considered as one of them. 

Arundel, archbishop of York, in this century used 
his utmost to induce king Richard II. to harass all 
persons, who should dare, in their native language, to 
read and study the gospels of Jesus Christ. 

In the year 1399, Richard was deposed by Henry 
of Lancaster. He was shortly afterward crowned by 
Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury under the title of 
Henry IV. A persecution then commenced, more ter- 
rible than any which had ever been known under the 
English kings. William Sawtre, a clergyman in Lon- 
don, who openly taught the doctrine of Wickliff, was 
the first man who was burnt in England for opposing 
the abominations of popery. In the year 1400, he suf- 
fered the flames of martyrdom, glorying in the cross 
of Christ, and strengthened by divine grace, 

John Badby, an illiterate workman, was about this, 
time persecuted to death, for affirming that the con- 
secrated bread remaineth, after its consecration the 
same material bread, which it was before, a sign, or 
sacrament of the living God. "I believe," said he, 
;i the omnipotent God in Trinity to be ONE. But if 
every consecrated host be the Lord's body, then there 
are twenty thousand gods in England." After he had 
been delivered, by the bishops, to the secular power, 
he was, by the king's writ, condemned to be burned. 
The prince of Wales, being present, earnestly exhort- 
<;d hina to recant, menacing the most terrible ven- 
geance if he should remain obstinate. Badby was in- 
dexible. As soon as he felt the fire, he cried, Mercy ! 


The prince, supposing that he was entreating the ffief- 
cy of his judges, ordered the fire to be quenched. 
"Will you forsake heresy," said young Henry ; " and 
will you conform to the faith of the holy church ? If 
you will you shall have a yearly stipend 6ut of the 
king's treasury/' The martyr was unmoved ; Henry 
in a rage declared, that he might now look for no fa- 
vor. Badby gloriously finished his course. 

The conflict had now grown serious, and Henry 
published a severe statute, by which grievous pains 
and penalties were to be inflicted, on all, who should 
dare to defend or encourage the tenets of Wickliff ; and 
this, in conjunction with a eonstituion of Arundel, too 
tedious to b recited, seemed to threaten the total 
extinction of this falsely named heresy. The persecu- 
tors were very active, and many persons through fear 
recanted ; but worthies were still found, who continu- 
ed faithful unto death. 

In the year 1413, Henry IV. died, and was succeed- 
ed by Henry V. who trode in his steps, and counte- 
nanced Arundel, in his plan of extirpating the Lol- 
lards, and of supporting the existing hierarchy by pe- 
nal coercions. In the first year of the new king's 
reign, this archbishop collected in St. Paul's church 
in London, a synod of all the bishops and clergy of 
England. The principal object of the assembly was 
to repress the growing sect ;- and, as Sir John Oidcas- 
tle, lord Cobham, had on all occasions discovered a 
partiality for these reformers, the resentment of the 
archbishop and of the whole body of the clergy, was 
particularly levelled at this nobleman. Lord Cobham 
was most obnoxious to the ecclesiastics. For he had 
openly and distfoguishhigly opposed the abuses of po- 
pery. At a great expense, he had collected, transcri- 
bed, and dispersed the works of Wickliff among the 
common people without reserve ; and it was well 
known that he maintained a great number of itinerant 
preachers, in many parts of the country. 

But Lord Cobhara was a favorite both of the king 
and of the people ; and therefore to eifect his destruc- 
tion was an undertaking which required much caution. 


The archbishop was in earnest, and he concerted 
his measures with prudence. 

His first step was to procure the royal mandate for 
sending twelve commissioners to Oxford, to examine 
and report the progress of heresy. They found Ox- 
ford overran with heretics. The opinions of Wick- 
liff had made their way among the junior students ; 
and the talents and integrity of their master were held 
in high esteem and admiration by his disciples. * 
Arundel laid this information before the grand conven- 
tion, who determined, that, without delay, Lord Cob- 
ham should be prosecuted as a heretic. With great 
solemnity, a eopy of each of Wickliff's works was pub* 
licly burnt, by the enraged archbishop, in the pre- 
sence of the nobility, clergy, and people ; and one of 
Lord Cobham's books was of the number burnt. This 
circumstance confirmed the assembly in their belief 
that that nobleman was a great encourager of the 

At the moment when the convocation were vowing 
vengeance against Lord Cobham, some of the more 
cool and discreet members, are said to have suggested 
the propriety of sounding how the young king would 
relish the measures they had in view, before they 
should proceed any futher. Arundel instantly perceived 
the wisdom of this advice, and resolved to follow it. 

To give weight to his proceedings, this artful pri- 
mate, at the head of a great number of dignified ec- 
clesiastics, complained most grievously to Henry, of 
the heretical practices of his favorite servant Lord 
Cobham, and entreated his majesty to consent to the 
prosecution of so incorrigible an offender. 

Through the management of Arundel the king's 
mind was previously impressed with strong suspicions 
of Lord Cobham's heresy and enmity to the church. 
That very book, above mentioned, of this excellent 
man, which the convocation had condemned to the 
flames, was read aloud before the king, the bishop, 
and the temporal peers of the realm ; at the recital of 
which,"Henry was exceedingly shocked and^declared, 
that ? in his life^ he never heard such horrid heresy. 


However, in consideration of the high birth, military 
rank, and good services of Sir John Oldcastle, the king 
enjoined the convocation to deal favorably with him, 
and to desist from all further process for some days : 
he wished to restore him to the unity of the church 
without rigor or disgrace, and promised, that he him- 
self in the mean time, would send privately to the hon- 
orable knight, and endeavor to persuade him to re- 
nounce hie errors. 

The king kept his promise, and is said to have used 
every argument he could think of, to convince him of 
the high offence of separating from the church ; and 
at last, to have pathetically exhorted him to retract 
and submit, as an obedient child to his holy mother. 
The answer of the knight is very expressive of the 
frank and open intrepidity which distinguished his 
character. "You I am always ready to obey," said 
he, "because you are the appointed minister of God, 
and bear the sword for the punishment of evil doers. 
But as to the pope and his spiritual dominion, I owe 
them no obedience, nor will I pay them any ; for as 
Sure as God's word is true, to me it is fully evident, 
that the pope of Rome is the great Antichrist, foretold 
in holy writ, the son of perdition, the open adversary 
of God, and the abomination, standing in the holy 
place." The extreme ignorance of Henry in matters 
of religion, disposed him by no means to relish such 
an answer as tbis : he immediately turned away from 
him in visible displeasure, and gave the disciple of 
Wickliff to the malice of his enemies. 

Arundel, supported by the sovereign power, sent a 
citation to the castle of Cowling, where lord Cpbham 
then resided. But feudal ideas were, at that time, no 
less fashionable than those of ecclesiastical domina- 
tion. The high spirited nobleman availed himself of 
his privileges, and refused admission to the messen- 
ger. The archbishop then cited him, by letters affix- 
ed to the great gates of the cathedral of Rochester ; 
but lord Cobham still disregarded the mandate, Arun- 
del, in a rage, excommunicated him for contumacy, 
and demanded the aid of the civil power to appre- 
hend him. 


Cobham, alarmed at the approaching storm, wrote 
a confession of his faith, delivered it to the king, and 
entreated his majesty to judge for himself, whether he 
had merited all this rough treatment This confes- 
sion the king coldly ordered to be delivered to the 
archbishop. Lord Cobham then offered to bring a 
hundred knights, who would bear testimony to the in- 
nocence of his life and opinions. When these expe- 
dients had failed, he assumed a higher strain, and beg- 
ged that he might be permitted, as was usual in less 
matters, to vindicate his innocence by the law of 
arms. He said he was ready " in the quarrel of his 
faith, to fight for life or death, with any man living, 
the king and the lords of his council being excepted." 
In the issue, Cobham was arrested by the king's ex- 
press order, and lodged in the tower of London. 

On the day appointed, Arundel, the archbishop, 
with the bishops of London and Winchester, constitut- 
ed the court. Sir Robert Atorley brought lord Cob- 
ham before them, and he was arraigned for trial. 
" Sir," said the primate, "you stand here, both detect- 
ed of heresies, and also excommunicated for contuma- 
cy. Notwithstanding we have, as yet, neither shown- 
ourselves unwilling to give you absolution, nor yet do, 
to this hour, provided you would meekly ask for it." 

Lord Cobham took no notice of this offer, but de- 
sired permission to read an account of his faith, which 
had long been settled, and to which he intended to 
stand. He then took out of his bosom a writing re- 
specting the articles whereof he was accused, and 
when he had read it, delivered the same to the arch- 

The contents of the paper were, in substance, these : 

1. That the most worshipful sacrament of the altar 
is Christ's body, in the form of bread. 

2. That every man that would be saved, must for- 
sake sin, and do penance for sins already committed, 
with true and sincere contrition. 

3. That images might be allowable to represent and 
give men lively ideas of the passion of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, and of the martyrdom and good lives of saints: 


but, that if any man gave that worship to dead im- 
ages, which was due only to God, or put such hope or 
trust in them as he should <lo in God, he became a 
grievous idolater. 

4. That the matter of pilgrimages might be settled 
in few words. A man may spend all his days in pil- 
grimages, and loose his soul at last : but he that knows 
the holy commandments of God, and keepeth them 
to the end, shall be saved, though he never visited the 
shrines of saints, as men now do, in their pilgrimages 
to Canterbury, Rome, and other places. 

The archbishop, intent on the destruction of the 
prisoner, informed him that there were many good 
things in his paper, but that on several other articles of 
belief, he had not been sufficiently explicit, and that 
upon these also his opinion would be expected. As a 
directory to his faith, he promised to send him in wri- 
ting, the clear determinations of the church, and warn- 
ed him very particularly to attend to this point; wheth- 
er, in the sacrament of the altar, the material bread, 
did, or did not remain, after the words of consecration, 

The determination of the primate and clergy, which, 
according to promise, was sent to lord Cobharn in the 
tower, here follows ; 

1. The faith and determination of the holy church, 
touching the blissful sacrament of the altar is this, that 
after the sacramental words be once spoken by a 
priest in hjs mass, "the material bread, that was be- 
fore bread, is turned into Christ's very body ; and the 
material wine, that was before wine, is turnetj into 
Christ's very blood." And so there remaineth, thence- 
forth, neither material bread, nor material wine, which 
were there before the sacrarnental words were spoken. 

2. Every Christian man., living here bodily on earth, 
ought to confess to a priest ordained by the church, if 
be can come to him. 

3. Christ ordained St. Peter to be his vicar here on 
earth, whose see is the holy church of Rome : and he 
granted that the same power which he gave to Peter, 
should succeed to all Peter's successors ; whom we 
JK>W call popes of Rome and whom chris* 


tian men ought to obey, after the laws of the church 
of Rome. 

4. Lastly, the holy church had determined, that it 
is meritorious to a Christian man to go on a pilgrimage 
to holy places ; and there to worship holy relics, and 
images of saints, apostles, martyrs, and confessors, ap- 
proved by the church of Rome. 

On Monday, the day appointed for the next exam- 
ination, Arundel accosted lord Cobham, with an ap- 
pearance of great mildness, and put him in mind that 
on the preceding Saturday, he had informed him, he 
was " accursed for contumacy a-nd disobedience to the 
holy church ;" and had expected he would at that 
time have meekly requested absolution. The arch- 
bishop then declared, that even now it was not too 
late to make the same request, provided it was done 
in due form, as the church had ordained. 

Lord Cobham, with the humility of a Christian, and 
the firmness of a soldier, replied ; " I never yet tres- 
passed against YOU, and therefore I do not feel the 
want of YOUR absolution." Then kneeling down on 
the pavement, and lifting up his hands to heaven, he 
said, " I confess myself here unto thee, my eternal, liv- 
ing GOD, that I have been a grievous sinner. How of- 
ten in rny frail youth, have I offended thee, by ungov 
erned passions, pride, concupiscence, intemperance : 
How often have I been drawn ink) horrible sin by an- 
ger, and how many 'of my fellow men have I injured 
from this cause! Good Lord, I humbly ask of thee* 
mercy : here I need absolution." 

Then rising with tears in his eyes, he cried with a 
loud voice, " Lo ! these are your guides, good people. 
Take notice ; for the violation of God's holy law and 
his great commandments, they never cursed me ; but, 
for their own arbitrary appointments and traditions, 
they most cruelly treat me and other men. Let them 
however, remember, that Christ's denunciations 
against the Pharisees, shall all be fulfilled." 

The dignity of lord Cobham's manner, and the ve- 
hemence of his expression, threw the court into s 


Alter the primate had recovered himself, he procee- 
ded to examine the prisoner respecting the doctrine of 
transubstantiation. " Do you believe, that after the 
words of consecration, there remains any MATERIAL 
bread ?" " The scriptures," said Cobham, " make no 
mention of MATERIAL bread ; I believe that Christ's 
body remains in the FORM of bread. In the sacra- 
ment there is both Christ's body and the bread: the 
bread is the thing we see with our eyes ; but the body 
of Christ is hid, and only to be seen by faith." Upon 
which, with one voice, they cried Heresy ! Heresy ! 
One of the bishops in particular said vehemently, 
" That it was a foul heresy to call it bread." Cob- 
ham answered smartly, " St. Paul, the apostle, was as 
wise a man as you, and perhaps as good a Christian : i 
and yet he calls it BREAD. " The bread," saith he, 
*-that we break, is it not the communion of the body 
of Christ ?" To be short with you, I believe the scrip- 
tures most cordially, but I have no belief in your lordly 
laws and idle determinations : ye are no part of Christ's 
holy church, as your deeds do plainly show." Doctor 
Walden, the prior of the Carmelites, and Wickliff's 
greatest enemy, now lost all patience, and exclaimed, 
'" What rash and desperate people are these followers 
of Wickliff." 

"Before God and man," replied Cobham, " I sol- 
emnly here profess, that till I knew Wickliff, whose 
judgment ye so highly disdain, I never abstained from 
sin ; but after I became acquainted with that virtuous 
man and his despised doctrines, it hath been otherwise 
with me; so much grace could I never find in all your 
pompous instructions." 

" It were hard," said Walden, " that in an age of so 
many learned instructors, you should have had no 
grace to amend your life, till you heard the devil 

"Your fathers," said Cobham, " the old Pharisees, 
ascribed Christ's miracles to Beelzebub, and his doc- 
trines of the devil. Goon, and like them ascribe every 
good thing to the devil. Go on, and pronounce every 
man a heretic, who rebukes vour vicious lives. Prav. 


tyhat warrant have you from scripture, for this v 
act you are now about ? Where is it written in all God's 
law that you may thus sit in judgment upon the life of 
man ? Hold ! perhaps you will quote Annas and Caia- 
phas who sat upon Christ and his apostles." 

" Yes, sir," said one of the doctors of law, " and 
Christ too, for he judged JUDAS." 

" I never heard that he did," said lord Cobham. 
" Judas judged himself, and thereupon went out and 
hanged himself. Indeed Christ prohoiinced a wo 
against him, for his covetousnesSj as he does still 
against you, who follow Judas' steps. '* 

At the conclusion of this long and iniquitous trial, 
the behavior of lord Cobham was perfectly consistent 
with the temper he had exhibited during its progress. 
There remained the same undaunted courage and 
resolution, and the same serenity and resignation. 
Some of the last questions which were put to lord 
Cobham, respected the worship of the CROSS ; and 
his answers prove that neither the acuteness of his 
genius was blunted, nor the solidity of his judgment 

One of the Friars asked him, whether he was ready 
to worship the cross upon which Christ died ? 

" Where is it ?" said lord Cobham. 

" But suppose it was here at this moment?" said 
the Friar. 

"A wtee man indeed," said Cobham, " to put me 
such a question ; and yet he himself does not know 
where the thing is ! But, tell ine^ I pray, what sort of 
worship do I owe to it? 

One of the conclave answered ; " such worship as 
St. Paul speaks of when he says, God forbid that I 
should glory save in the cross of Christ." 

" Right," replied Cobhanij and stretched out his 
arms, " THAT is the true and the very cross ; far better 
than your cross of wood." 

" Sir," said the bishop of London, "you know very 
well that Christ died upon a MATERIAL cross." 

"True," said Cobham ; " and I know also that our 
Salvation did not come by that material cross : but by 
3 IT 


him who died thereupon. Further, I know well that 
St. Paul rejoiced in no other cross, but in Christ's 
passion and death ONLY, and in his own sufferings and 
persecution, for the same truth which Christ had died 
for before.*' 

By the quickness and pertinence of lord Cobham 's 
answers, and by his spirit and resolution, the court 
was amazed, and for that day, brought to a stand. 
ArundeL with a great show of lenity and kindness, 
with mournful looks, entreated the prisoner to return 
into the bosom of the church, and all this with the 
most consummate hypocrisy. For he, without fur- 
ther delay, judged, and pronounced Sir John Oldcas- 
tle, Lord Cobham, to be an incorrigible, pernicious 
and detestable heretic ; and having condemned him 
as such, delivered him to the secular jurisdiction. 

Lord Cobham, with a most cheerful countenance, 
said, " Though ye condemn my body, which is but 
a wretched thing, yet I am well assured, ye can do no 
harm to my soul, any more than could satan to the 
soul of Job. He that created it, will, of his infinite 
mercy, save it. Of this I have no manner of doubt. 
And in regard to the articles of my belief, I will stand 
to them, even to my very death, BY THE GRACE OF THE 
ETERiNAL GOD." He then turned to the people, and 
stretching out his hands, cried with a very loud voice, 
" Good Christian people ! for God's love, be well 
aware of these men ; else, they will beguile you, and 
lead you blindfold into hell with themselves." Hav- 
ing said these words, he fell down upon his knees, 
and lifting up his hands and eyes to heaven, prayed 
for his enemies in the following words, " Lord God 
Eternal! I beseech thee, of thy great mercy, to for- 
give my persecutors, if it be thy blessed will!" 

He was then sent back to the tower under the care 
of Sir Robert Morley. In the mean time, Arundel, 
iinfling that the persecution of this virtuous man, was 
very unpopular, went in person to the king and request 
ed his majesty to postpone, for the space of 50 days. 
tJ> ? punishment of lord Cobham. This profound hy- 
pocrite, thus temporized, to find the opportunity of a 


few weeks for lessening the credit of this pious lord, 
among the people, by a variety of scandalous asper- 

Lord Cobham, having remained some time in the 
tower, at length, by unknown means, made his, escape, 
and by the advantage of a dark night, evaded pursuit, 
and arrived safe in Wales, where he concealed him- 
self more than four years. But through the diligence 
of lord Powis and his dependants, he w ? as at length 
discovered, taken and brought to London. 

His fate was soon determined. He was dragged 
into St. Giles' fields, with all the insult and barbarity 
of enraged superstition ; and there, both as a traitor 
and a heretic, suspended alive in chains, upon a gal- 
lows, and burnt to death. 

Lord Cobham died, as he had lived, in the faith and 
hope of the go&pel, and to the end of his life bearing 
a noble testimony to its genuine doctrines. He is al- 
lowed to have been a man of great learning, arid to 
have had a profound knowledge of the scriptures. At 
the place of execution, with the utmost bravery and 
most triumphant joy, he exhorted the people to follow 
the instructions which God had given them in the 
scriptures ; and to disclaim those false teachers, whose 
lives and conversation were so contrary to Christ and 
his religion. 

This noble martyr believed and trusted in Him, 
who hath graciously said, "Fear not little flock, it is 
your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom ;" 
and he has undoubtedly gone to receive a crown of 

Henry Chicheley, then archbishop of Canterbury, 
continued at the head of that see from 1414 to 1443, 
and partly by forced abjurations, and partly by the 
flames, domineered over the Lollards, and almost ef- 
faced the vestiges of godliness in the kingdom. This 
was one of the most gloomy seasons, which the church 
ever experienced. The doctrines of WicklhT had in- 
deed been embraced in Bohemia ; but the fires of 
persecution were also kindled in that country; at the 
same time, no quarter was given to any professor of 


the pure religion of Christ in England. The strictest 
search was made after Lollards and their books ; and 
while a few souls, dispersed through various parts, 
sighed in secret, and detesting the prevailing idolatry, 
worshipped God in spirit and in truth, they found no 
HUMAN consolation or support whatever. In Kent, 
whole families were obliged to relinquish their places 
of abode for the sake of the gospel. 

About this time, William Taylor, a priest, was burnt, 
for asserting that every prayer, for some supernatural 
gift, must be directed only to God. All, who diligent? 
ly and devoutly read the scriptures, and denied po- 
pish superstitions, were persecuted as heretics. 

But the burning of heretics was found not to be the 
way to extinguish heresy. On the contrary, both in 
England and on the continent, such detestable cruel- 
ty increased the compassion of the people for their 
sufferers, excited their indignation against the perse- 
cutors, and roused a spirit of enquiry and opposition 
to the existing hierarchy, which at length, under the 
direction of a kind, overruling Providence, proved 
fatal both to papal corruptions and usurped dominion. 

In the times of Wickliff and his followers, the pre- 
vailing religion had so little influence on morals and 
the heart, that a popish writer gives the following dis- 
tinguishing marks of what he accounts heresy : " The 
disciples of Wickliff are men of a serious, modest de- 
portment ; avoiding all ostentation in dress, mixing 
little with the busy world, and complaining of the de- 
bauchery of mankind. They maintain themselves 
wholly by their own labor, and utterly despise wealth : 
being fully content with bare necessaries. They are 
chaste and temperate ; are never seen in taverns, or 
amused by the trifling gaieties of life. Yet you find 
them always employed ; either learning or teaching. 
They are concise and devout in their prayers ; blam- 
ing an unanimated prolixity. They never swear; 
speak little and in their public preaching, lay the 
chief stress on charity." Persons of the papal hierar- 
chy, who stigmatized such sentiments as heretical how- 
ever, gloried in calling the abominable community with 
Which they themselevs associated, the HOLY CHURCH, 


Who, will deny that the human "heart is deceit- 
ful above all things and desperately wicked !" 


The Council of Constance , including the Case of John 
Huss, and Jerom of Prague. 

THIS celebrated council made no essential reforma- 
tion in religion, but persecuted men who truly feared 
God, and tolerated all the predominant corruptions. 
Their labors therefore do not deserve to be recorded, 
on account of the piety and virtue of those who com- 
posed this council. The transactions of Constance do 
however, throw light on the state of religion at that 
time. They illustrate the character of John Huss and 
of Jerom of Prague, and afford various instructive 
reflections to those, who love to attend to the dispen- 
sations of Divine Providence, and would understand 
the comparative power of nature and grace, of mere 
human resources, and the operations of the Holy 

This council met in 1414. The Christian world had 
been distracted nearly 40 years, by a schism in the 
popedom. The object of this council was to settle the 
dispute, and restore peace to the church. Three pre- 
tenders to the chair of St. Peter, severally, claimed 
infallibility. The very nature of their struggle was 
subversive of the authority to which each of them 
made pretensions; and of their vain contest there 
seemed to be no end. The princes, statesmen, and 
rulers, of the church, in those times, wanted not dis- 
cernment to see the danger, to which the whole eccle- 
siastical system w r as exposed by these contentions ; 
but it seems never to have come into the minds of 
them, or of any of the members of the council, to ex- 
amine the foundation on which the popedom itself 
was erected. That on all sides, was looked on as sa- 
cred and inviolable, though allowed to be burdened 
and incumbered with innumerable abuses. 


This council deposed the three existing popes, and 
chose a new successor of St. Peter, Martin V. ; and 
while they had their eye only on the restoration of the 
unity of the Roman see, they decreed the superiority 
of councils over popes ; and thus gave a deep wound 
to the tyrannical hierarchy, which proved of considera- 
ble advantage to those real reformers, who arose 
about a hundred years after the council of Constance. 

That there needed a reformation of the church, in 
all its component parts, and that church discipline 
ought to be re-established, were, indeed, ideas which 
lay within their knowledge ; and the members of this 
council universally confessed, that reformation and 
discipline ought to be prosecuted with vigor. But 
they brought not to the council the materials, which 
alone could qualify them for such a work. In gener- 
al, they knew of nothing higher than the voice of na- 
tural conscience, the dictates of common sense, and 
something concerning the preceptive part of Christian- 
ity. Their system of religion was letter, not spirit ; 
law, not gospel. To promote the recovery of deprav- 
ed mankind, they knew no methods but those of mor- 
al suasion, on principles merely natural. The origi- 
nal depravity of man, salvation through the atonement 
of an infinite Redeemer, and regeneration by the Ho- 
ly Spirit, were doctrines, the use and efficacy of which 
they did not understand. These, however, are the on- 
ly effectual instruments for the reformation of a cor- 
rupted church, or individual. 

The members of this celebrated council undertook 
to make " bricks without straw ;" and their projects of 
reform served only, in the event, to teach posterity, 
that the real doctrines of the gospel, ought to be dis- 
tinctly known, cordially relished, and powerfully ex- 
perienced, by those who would undertake to enlight- 
en mankind. 

In this council, Italy, France, Germany, Bohemia, 
Hungary, Poland, England, Denmark, and Sweden, 
were represented. Twenty archbishops, nearly 150 
bishops, about l&O other dignitaries, and more than 
200 doctors, attended this council : yrt they had not 


sufficient spirit and integrity to punish crimes of the 
most atrocious nature. Indeed, it was not to be ex- 
pected that they should enact and execute laws, 
which bore hard on their own pride, their sloth, and 
their love of gain : consequently, after all they did, the 
substantial evils which existed in the church still re- 
mained. They could burn, without mercy, those 
whom they deemed heretics, though men of real god- 
liness, more readily, than lay the axe of wholesome 
discipline at the root of their own vices. 

At the opening of the council of Constance, pope, 
John XXIII. and the emperor Sigismund, were at the 
head of it, who continually endeavored to bafflle the 
views of each other. John was by far the most pow- 
erful of the three popes, who, at that time, struggled 
for the chair of St. Peter; and Sigismund, wh?le he 
pretended to acknowledge his authority, had secretly 
resolved to oblige him to renounce the pontificate. 
Sigismund was remarkable for hypocrisy and dissim- 
ulation. By both these potentates, and by many 
others connected with the council, political artifices 
were multiplied. These were the men who under- 
took to punish heretics and reform the church. 

Pope John had already, in a council at Rome, con- 
demned the opinions of John Huss, and was then de- 
termined to signalize his zeal for what was then called 
the church, by confirming the same condemnation at 

Huss had been summoned to the council to answer 
for himself, though already excommunicated at Rome. 
He obtained, however, a writing from the emperor, 
engaging that he should be allowed to pass without 
molestation. The emperor, in conjunction with his 
brother Wenceslaus, king of Bohemia, had committed 
him to the care of several Bohemian lords, particular- 
ly of John de Chlum. This escort travelled with him to 
Constance, where they arrived six days after the pope. 

John Huss was born in Bohemia in 1373, was of 
mean parentage, but by his superior genius, industry, 
eloquence, probity and decency of manners, was 
raised to great eminence. He was appointed rector 


university of Prague, which was then in a very flour* 
ishing state* In the year 1400, he was nominated 
preacher of Bethlehem, and in the same year was 
made confessor to Sophia, the wife of Wenceslaus 
king of Bohemia^ a princess of great merit, who highly 
esteemed him. 

In 1405, Huss preached in the chapel of Bethlehem 
with great celebrity. At first he is said to have held 
the writings oi Wickliff in detestation. But it is not 
in the power of prejudice to prevent the progress of 
the Divine councils, and the work of the Holy Spirit 
on the heart. Huss was gradually Convinced of the 
power and excellency of evangelical truth. His 
doctrinal knowledge was, however, very limited and 
defective ; but the little fundamental light which, 
through grace, he attained, was directed to the best 
practical purposes. He preached loudly against the 
abuses of the Romish church, and particularly the im- 
posture of false miracles, which then abounded. He 
also preached in a synod at Prague, in the archbish- 
op's presence, with great freedom against the vices of 
the clergy. Gregory XII. one of the three popes, whose 
schism gave rise to the council of Constance, was re- 
ceived in Bohemia. But when measures were pro- 
posed for calling a general council to compose the 
schism, Huss engaged the university to support 
them, and exhorted all Bohemia to do the same. 
The archbishop of Prague, who was attached to Gre- 
gory, opposed Huss, called him a schismatic, and for- 
bade him to exercise the pastoral functions in his di- 
ocese. About the same time, on occasion of a dis- 
pute between the natives and foreigners, who belong- 
ed to the university, Huss, having supported the for- 
mer, and gained his point, the Germans, in disgust, 
retired from Prague. This circumstance enabled the 
Bohemian teacher to speak more publicly according 
to the views of Wickliff. The archbishop of Prague 
committed the books of the latter- to the flames in 
1410. But the progress of his opinions was rather ac j 
eelerated than retarded by this step, 

The troubles of Huss were multiplied, and he was 
excommunicated at Rome. He had sent his proctors 


thither to answer for him ; but they were committed 
to prison, after they had remained there to no purpose 
a year and an half. Huss, after his excommunication, 
had no other remedy but to appeal to Almighty God 
in very solemn terms. In his appeal, which was char- 
ged on him as a crime, among many other things, he 
says, "Almighty God, the one only essence in Three 
Persons, is the first and last refuge of those who are op- 
pressed. Our Lord Jesus Christ, very God and very 
man, being desirous to redeem, from eternal damna- 
tion, his children elected before the foundation of the 
world, has given, by suffering a bloody and ignomini- 
ous death, this excellent example to his disciples, to 
commit their cause to the judgment of God." He still 
continued to preach on subjects, which he deemed 
seasonable and useful. In one sermon, he treated of 
the uses of the commemoration of the saints, among 
which he reckons meditation on the misery of man, 
subject to death for sin ; and on the death which Je- 
sus Christ suffered for our sin. In this same sermon, 
while he zealously opposed the abuses of the times, 
he discovered that he himself was not then entirely 
clear of the popish notion of purgatory. a In praying 
devoutly for the dead," said he, " we procure relief 
to the saints in purgatory." He admitted, however, 
" that there is no mention of such a practice in the 
holy scriptures ; and, that neither the prophets, nor Je- 
sus Christ, nor his apostles, nor the saints that follow- 
ed close after, taught prayer for the dead." " I verily 
believe," continued Huss, "this custom was introdu- 
ced by the avarice of priests, who don't trouble them- 
selves to exhort the people to live well, as did the pro- 
phets, Jesus Christ and the apostles ; but take great 
care to exhort them to make rich offerings in hopes 
of happiness and a speedy delivery from purgatory. 

At length John Huss was forbidden to preach any 
more at Prague. All that he could then do was to 
instruct his countrymen by his writings. Having been 
summoned, as we have seen, to Constance, he obey- 
ed ; arid before his departure, oiTered to give an ac- 
of his faith in the presence of a provincial sy- 
3 i 


nod at Prague, but was not able to obtain an audience. 
In this and some other particulars he appears to have 
acted with great frankness and integrity ; and though 
his mind strongly foreboded that which happened in 
the issue, his resolution to appear at the genera! coun- 
cil was constant and unmoved. 

On the day succeeding his arrival at Constance, 
tiuss gave notice of it to the pope, throng!) his friend 
John de Chlum, who, at the same time, implored for 
him the protection of his holiness. Pope John was 
then in much fear on his own account, and it behov- 
ed him not, in his present circumstances, to exorcise 
the fulness of papal domination. He, therefore, an- 
swered courteously ; declared that he would use all his 
power to prevent any injustice to be done to him while 
at Constance, and took off his excommunication. 

Huss appears to have expected that he should have 
had permission to preach before the council ; for he 
had prepared sermons for that purpose, which are in- 
serted among his works. 

In the first of these he declared his reliance on the 
word of God as the only true and sufficient rule of sal- 
vation. Also he declared his veneration for fathers 
and councils, so far as they are conformable to scrip- 
ture. He added, "every man must be a disciple ei- 
ther of God or of Satan. Faith is the rudiment of one 
of these schools, infidelity of the other. A man must 
believe in God alone, not in the virgin, not in the saints, 
not in the church, not in the pope : for none of these 
are God." "The church" he said, "is an assembly 
of all the predestinated, and consists "of the trium- 
phant church in heaven, the militant church on earth, 
and the sleeping church :" pitiable blindness! "who 
are now suffering in purgatory/' He allowed the in- 
tercession of the virgin Mary and of other saints ; and, 
in favor of this popish tenet, spoke far more forcibly, 
than might have been expected from one, who had so 
unlimited a veneration for the holy scriptures. 

Huss may be said to have been a martyr for holy 
practice itself. He does not seem to have held any 
doctrine, which at that day was called heretical. 


The world hated him, because he was not of the world, 
and because he testified of it, that its works were evil. 
He appears to have had that faith which works by 
love, purifying the heart. With those who persecuted 
him, even to the flames of martyrdom, the term a vi- 
cious believer," appears not to have been a sojecism 
in language. He appears to have received an UNC- 
TION FROM THE HOLY ONE, which preserved his holy 
affection alive, amidst the contagion of superstition, 
the temptations of the world, and the menaces of inso- 
lent and tyrannical domination. 

Those, who look only at the external forms of reli- 
gion, might be tempted to think, that the council of 
Constance, was in general influenced by the Spirit of 
God. In all their public sessions they sang an anthem, 
and then prayed kneeling. After having remained 
some time in this posture, a deacon called out to them 
to rise ; and the president addressed himself to the Ho- 
ly Ghost in a loud voice in a collect, which, in very so- 
lemn and explicit terms, supplicated his effectual influ- 
ence, that, not withstanding the enormity of their sins, 
which filled them with dread, HE would deign to de- 
scend into their hearts, to direct them, to dictate their 
decrees, and to execute them himself, and also to pre- 
serve their minds from corrupt passions, and not suffer 
them through ignorance or selfishness, to swerve from 
justice and truth. The ideas, and perhaps the very 
words were, however, taken from better times, when 
the operations of the Holy Ghost were not only pro- 
fessed, but FELT in Christian assemblies. The forms 
of true religion often remain a long time after the spir- 
it of it has been almost extinguished. Both the empe- 
ror Sigismund and his consort Barba, who were infa- 
mous for lewdness, attended the religious ceremonies 
of this council. Sigismund, in a deacon's habit, read 
the gospel, while the pope celebrated mass ! 

Huss was soon deprived of his liberty, in the follow- 
ing manner. He was accused by Paletz, professor of 
divinity at Prague, and by Causis, a pastor of one of 
the parishes of the same city. These men caused 
bills to be posted up against him in Constance, as an 


excommunicated heretic. When Huss complained, 
the pope replied, " What can I do in this case ? Your 
own countrymen have done it." The hishops of 
Augsburgh and of Trent were directed to summon him 
to appear before John XXIII. " I had expected," 
said Huss, " to give an account of myself before the 
general council, and not before the pope and his car- 
dinals ; however I am willing to lay down my life, 
rather than betray the truth." He set out therefore 
without delay, accompanied by his generous friend 
John de Chlum. On his arrival at the pope's palace, 
he was committed to prison. Chlum made loud com- 
plaints to the pope, but in vain. Eight articles were 
exhibited against Huss by Causis, and the pope ap- 
pointed commissioners to try him. The vexations and 
insults, to which Huss was exposed, were numerous 
and cruel: and he was unjustly accused of being more 
unfriendly to the church of Rome, than he really was. 
Whatever Wickliff maintained, Huss was accused of 
maintaining ; nor were his own express declarations 
respected, particularly in regard to transubstantiation, 
a doctrine which he certainly believed, and on which 
he wrote his thoughts while under confinement at 
Constance. W r ith great clearness he vindicated him- 
self against the charge of heresy ; but, his holy life 
was unpardonable in the eyes of his enemies. More- 
over, all those whom the faithfulness of his pastoral 
services in Bohemia had provoked, then found an op- 
portunity to wreak their vengeance upon him. 

The generous count de Chlum, grieved and incens- 
ed at the imprisonment of Huss, wrote to Sigismund 
on this subject. That prince immediately sent ex- 
press orders to his ambassadors to cause him to be set 
at liberty, and even to break the gates of the prison in 
case of resistance. The unfortunate Huss was not> 
however, released ; and he soon found that the arts 
and intrigues, both of the pope and of the emperor, 
were so deceptive, that to commit himself to HIM that 
jtidgeth righteously, was his only expedient. In the 
mean time, the doctors, in their preaching, exclaimed 
most pathetically against the prevailing evils and abu- 


ses, and exhorted the council to reform the church 
with vigor. Its growing corruptions and enormities 
were, by them, exposed in the strongest colors. Wick- 
liff himself, or Huss, could scarcely have spoken in a 
more pointed or severe manner. They were not, how- 
ever, permitted to censure with impunity even the 
most shameful practices. They preached by order of 
their superiors, aad took particular care, in the midst 
of their keenest animadversions, to express an une- 
quivocal respect to the popedom in general. 

Though Sigismund 's authority extended over the 
empire, and he, by virtue of that authority, required 
all his subjects to suffer Huss to paw and repass secure ; 
and for the honor of his imperial Majesty, if need be, to 
provide him with good passports, yet the commissioners,, 
for the examination of Huss, persuaded the emperor 
that he ought not to keep faith with a man accused of 
heresy, and that, to acquiesce in the desires of the 
venerable council, was the line of conduct proper for 
him to pursue, as an obedient and good son of the 
church ; Huss, therefore, was not allowed to repass, but 
was detained in prison at Constance. 

Before the death of their countryman, the Bohemi- 
an nobility, enraged at the perfidy of Sigismund, re- 
peatedly remonstrated, by letters, against his proceed- 
ings, but all to no purpose. At the solicitation of Pa- 
lelz, Huss was confined in the Dominican convent, 
where he became dangerously sick, through the bad 
air and other inconveniences of a noisome dungeon. 

That same John who had most unrighteously per- 
secuted Huss, found himself so disagreeably situated 
at Constance, by reason of the accusations of his ene- 
mies, and the intrigues and maneuvers of Sigismund, 
and the majority of the council, that he determined 
to depart, in secret from the assembly. He fled to 
SchaiThausen, a city belonging to Frederic duke of 
Austria, who had promised to defend him. But the 
emperor, Sigismund, determined on supporting the au- 
thority of (tie council, took such measures as obliged 
Frederic to surrender at discretion, and to abandon the 
cause of John. Thus that pontiff, who, at first had 


presided at the council, after having fled from place 
to place, was at length confined at Gottleben, in the 
same prison where Huss, the victim of his cruelty, was 

The three rival popes were at length deposed, and 
declared by the council incapable of being re-elected. 
Huss, in the mean time, contrary to every principle of 
justice, honor and humanity, was still kept in confine* 
ment, and in vain solicited a fair hearing of his cause. 

At this council another striking example of the 
same spirit of persecution was exhibited, and that to- 
wards Jerom of Prague, a firm friewd and adherent of 
John Huss. Jerom was a master of arts, and a man 
of very superior talents. Though his character was 
neither clerical nor monastic, yet he spared no pains 
to second all the endeavors of Huss to promote a re- 
formation in Bohemia. He even travelled into En- 
gland to procure knowledge, and brought the books of 
WicklifF into his own country. When Huss was setting 
out from Prague, Jerom had exhorted him to maintain 
with steadfastness the doctrines which he had preach- 
ed, and had promised that he himself would go to 
Constance to support him, if he should hear that he 
was oppressed. 

Jerom was true to his promise. Huss, in one of his 
letters to a friend, had desired Jerom not to come, lest 
he should meet with the same treatment which he 
himself had experienced; but he did not desist from 
his purpose, and came directly to Constance. Hav- 
ing learned that Huss was not allowed a fair exami- 
nation, and that some secret machination was formed 
against himself, he retired to Uberlingen, whence he 
wrote to the emperor to request a safe conduct. Sig- 
ismund refused to grant his petition. Upon which 
Jerom published a paper, declaring it to be his desire 
to answer any charges of heresy that could possibly 
be brought against him. This produced no satisfacto- 
ry answer ; and finding he could not be of any service 
to his friend Huss, he resolved to return to his own 
country. After his departure, he was summoned to 
appear before the council, and a safe conduct or pass- 


j was given him. This, however, contained such 
a salvo to justice, and the interests of the faitl^ as 
rendered it, in effect a mere nullity. 

To omit a long detail of uninteresting particulars, 
this persecuted reformer was arrested at Hirsaw, on his 
return to Bohemia, and was led in chains to Constance. 
There he was immediately brought before a general 
congregation, which seemed intent on insulting, en- 
snaring, and browbeating their virtuous prisoner. 

" You vented several errors in our university," said 
a doctor from Cologne. "Be pleased to name one," 
answered Jerom. The accuser plead that his memo- 
ry failed him. " You advanced most impious heresies 
among us," said a divine from Heidleburg : " I re- 
member one, particularly concerning the Trinity. 
You declared that it resembled water, snow, and ice." 
Jerom avowed that he still persisted in his opinions, 
but was ready to retract, with humility, and with 
pleasure, when he should be convinced of an error. 
No opportunity was, however, allowed him either for 
explanation or defence: all was confusion and uproar: 
voices burst from every quarter, " Away with him, 
away with him ; to the fire ; to the fire." 

Jerom stood astonished at the gross indecency of this 
scene, and as soon as he could in any degree be heard, 
looked round the assembly with a steady and signifi- 
cant countenance, and cried aloud, " Since nothing 
but my blood will satisfy you, I am resigned to the 
will of God." The archbishop of Saltzbourg replied, 
" No Jerom God hath no pleasure in the death of 
the wicked, but that he turn from his way and live." 

After this tumultuous examination, Jerom was de- 
livered to the officers of the city, and immediately 
carried to a dungeon. Some hoars afterward, Wal- 
lenrod, archbishop of Riga, caused him to be convey- 
ed privately to St. Paul's church, where he was bound 
to a post, and his hands were chained to his neck. 
In this posture Jerom remained ten days, and was 
fed only with bread and water. During this time his 
friends knew not what had become of him ; till at 
length one of them received notice of his pitiable sit- 


nation, from the keeper of the prison and procured hi in 
better nourishment. The hardships which he under- 
went brought upon him a dangerous illness, in the 
course of which he pressed the council to allow him 
a confessor. With difficulty he at length obtained his 
request, and through his means procured some small 
mitigation of his sufferings ; but he remained in prison 
till the day of his death. 

Some who composed the council of Constance, were 
learnt d and able ; many, superstitions and bigotted ; 
and most of them, worldly minded and unprincipled, 
totally ignorant of evangelical truth. And as the 
works of the famous Wickliff, which had laid the foun- 
dation of the religious innovations.} in Bohemia, repro- 
bated the general course of their wicked practices, 
they proceeded to condemn the doctrines of that ob- 
noxious reformer. This they did, as far as appears, 
without one dissenting voice, and pronounced the au- 
thor of them a heretic. They even proceeded so far 
as to declare " that there is no salvation out of the 
church of Rome." This they affirmed on the suppos- 
ed validity of a decretal of pope Callixtus, which de- 
clared " that the church of Rome is the mistress of all 
churches ; and that it is not lawful to depart from her 

At this council, complaint was made by the Poles, 
against the Teutonic knights, who, armed with indul- 
gences for the conversion of infidels, and with papal 
bulls for putting themselves in possession of conquer- 
ed countries, gratified their military passion, while 
they imagined they were doing God service, by har- 
rassing and wasting the Prussians and Poles with fire 
and sword. The question of law for the decision of 
the assembly was, whether it is right for Christians to 
convert infidels by force of arms, and to seize their es- 
tates. The council appointed commissioners to en- 
quire into the business ; but otherwise did not decide 
the dispute. 

At this council too, the dispute concerning ad minis- 
tering the cup in the communion to the laity, was in- 
troduced; and those who were for the disuse of it as- 


serted that (he controversy arose in consequence of 
the doctrine of John Huss, and this they urged to has- 
ten his condemnation. 

The appearance of the new controversy, added to 
the question concerning Jerom of Prague, increased 
the fury of the storm against Huss, and his enemies 
labored day and night for his destruction. His health 
and strength had decayed by the rigor of his confine- 
ment. The great men of Bohemia endeavored in vain 
to procure justice to be done to their countryman. 
Private examinations, insults and vexations, were pli- 
ed to shake his constancy, and to render a public trial 
unnecessary. But this holy man, refusing to give an- 
swers in private, and continuing to solicit a public trial, 
gave his adversaries no advantage over him either 
through warmth or timidity. He retracted nothing of 
what he had openly preached, and possessed his soul 
in patience and resignation. 

The unrighteous views of the council having been 
thus far baffled, he was conducted to Constance, lodg- 
ed in the Franciscan monastery, and loaded with 
chains ; in which condition, excepting the time when 
he was under examination, he remained until the day 
of his condemnation. 

His first hearing before the council was attended 
with so much confusion, through the intemperate rage 
of his enemies, that nothing could be concluded. In 
the second, in which the emperor was present, for the 
purpose of preserving order, Huss was accused of deny- 
ing the doctrine of transubstantiation. Some English- 
men, who knew what Wickliff held on that point, and 
who were ready to take for granted, that Huss dissent- 
ed in no article from their countryman, pressed him 
vehemently on the subject. It appeared, however, that 
Huss followed the church of Rome on this doctrine ; 
and the sincerity of his creed, though a mistaken one, 
appears from his treatise on the body of Christ. 

A tedious dispute ensued concerning the refusal of 
Huss to join with those who condemned the errors of 
Wickliff. He explained himself with sufficient pre- 
cision ; declared, that he blamed the conduct of thr 



archbishop of Subinco at Prague, only because he 
had condemned Wickliff's books without examination, 
and without distinction ; and added, that most of the 
university of Prague found fault with that prelate, be- 
cause he produced no reasons from the scriptures. 
Huss further observed to the council, that, not having 
been able to obtain justice from John XXIII. he had 
appealed from him to Jesus Christ. His seriousness 
in mentioning this appeal exposed him to the derision 
of the council. Huss, however, with great gravity af- 
firmed, that it was always lawful to appeal from an 
inferior to a higher court ; that in this case the Judge 
was infallible, full of equity and compassion, and one 
who would not refuse mercy to the miserable. The 
levity of the assembly, and the seriousness of the pris- 
oner, were remarkably contrasted. The conscious 
inartyr, in appealing to Jesus Christ, must have had 
his own mind fixed on the last judgment, and aimed 
at making an impression on the court by directing 
their attention to that awful tribunal. 

John de Chlurn, remained an unshaken friend to 
Huss, throughout all his trials, notwithstanding the 
multitude of his adversaries, and supported with cour- 
age and constancy the insulted victim of their fury. 
Huss, in his third hearing, answered the enquiries 
made of him concerning articles of supposed heresy, 
which were extracted from his works ; owning, deny- 
ing or explaining, with much clearness and candor, as 
occasions required. He was vehemently pressed to 
retract his errors, to own the justice of the accusa- 
tions, and to submit to the decrees of the council. 
But neither promises nor menaces moved him. " To 
abjure," said he, " is to renounce an error that hath 
been held, But, as in many of these articles, errors 
are laid to my charge which I never thought of, how 
can I renounce them by oath ? As in many of those 
articles, which I own to be mine, I will renounce 
them with all my heart, if any man will teach me 
sounder doctrines than what I have advanced." His 
conscientious integrity, however, availed him not. 
The court demanded a general retraction ; and nothing 


short of that could procure him their favor. The te- 
dious malignity of the third day's examination op- 
pressed, at length, both the mind and body of Huss ; 
and the more so because he had passed the pre- 
ceding night sleepless through pain of the tooth- 
ache. For some days before, he had also been afflict- 
ed with the gravel, and was, in other respects, in a 
weak state of health* At the close of the examina- 
tion he was carried back to prison, whither John de 
Chliim followed him. " O what a comfort," said he, 
" was it to me, to see that this nobleman did not dis- 
dain to stretch out his arm to a poor heretic in irons, 
whom all the world, as it were-had forsaken." In the 
same letter in which he mentions this, he begs the 
prayers of his friend, because " the spirit indeed is 
willing, but the flesh is weak.'' 

After the departure of Huss, Sigisnlund, with the 
most unrelenting barbarity, pronounced him a heretic 
Worthy of the flames. On the next day, a form of re- 
traction was sent to this persecuted prisoner, which, 
though it was penned in ambiguous terms, plainly ap- 
peared, on the whole, to imply a confession of guilt. 
Huss therefore refused to sign it; and added, that he 
had rather be cast into the sea with a mill stone about 
his neck, than give offence to his pious neighbors by 
acknowledging that to be true which he knew to be 
false ; that he had preached patience and constan- 
cy to others, and that he was willing to show an exam- 
ple of these graces, and hoped by divine assistance to 
be enabled to do so. 

We have constantly seen in the course of this his- 
tory, that the holiness of heart and life, which real 
Christians have evidenced from a^e to age, has been 
connected with the peculiar doctrines of Christianity. 
Sometimes one of these doctrines, and sometimes an- 
other, constituted the prominent feature of their pro- 
fession ; but it is in vain to look for men of real holi- 
ness and virtue, who were inimical or even indifferent 
to the principles of the gospel. Huss dwelt largely 
upon the depravity of human nature, and taught clear- 
ly the necessity of divine influences to bring men to 


be holy 111 heart and life. By distinguishing those, 
whom God hath chosen to be his peculiar people in 
Christ, and are evidently pointed out, by their practi- 
cal holiness, as different from the rest of mankind, he 
gave offence. . Undoubtedly his open rebukes of sin 5 
both by his public preaching and writings, and the 
uniform purity and innocence of his manners, had in- 
flamed the tempers of the great men of the age, both 
in church and state. It was, however, scarcely to be 
expected that the council of Constance should, even 
upon their own principles, proceed to condemn to the 
flames without the least proof of heresy, an upright 
man, because he refused to acknowledge that to be 
true which he believed to be false ; or that this same 
council should justify the deceit and perfidy of their 
imperial president : their conduct, therefore, is to be 
considered as a striking proof, not only of the general 
depravity of human nature, but also of the general 
wickedness of the Roman church. 

The council settled, before hand, after what manner 
Iluss was to be treated, in case he should retract. He 
was to have been degraded from the priesthood, and 
to be forever shut up between four walls. This was 
the only reward, which the unfeeling tyrants had in- 
tended to bestow on him, in the event of his wound- 
ing his conscience to gratify them. It would be erro- 
neous to lay the whole weight of blame on the popes, 
on account of the enormities of the church of Rome. 
It was generally and systematically corrupt ; it had 
recently deposed three popes ; it was, at present, with- 
out a pope, and yet was guilty of crimes, not less.! hei- 
nous than the worst which the pontiffs ever committed. 

The council exhorted Huss, according to his own 
account, written the night before his death, to pro- 
nounce every one of the articles, which had been ex- 
tracted from his books, to be erroneous ; but he abso- 
lutely refused to accede, to so unreasonable a requisi- 
tion, except they would, from the scriptures, prove hi* 
doctrine to be incorrect. 

The emperor and council, having tried their ut 
most to induce him to recant, and Huss remaining 


rirm in his determination not to give up his doctrines, 
unless convinced of his error from scripture evidence, 
he was again brought before the council in the pre- 
sence of the emperor, the princes of the empire, and 
an incredible concourse of people. The bishop of 
Lodi preached a sermon from those words of St. Paul, 
" that the body of sin might be destroyed." With the 
grossest ignorance, or the most virulent and indecent 
malice, he perverted the words to the purpose of the 
council. u Destroy heresies and errors," said he, 
" but chiefly that obstinate heretic," pointing to the 
prisoner. While they were reading the articles ex- 
tracted, or pretended to be extracted, from his wri- 
tings, Huss was beginning to answer to each distinct- 
ly, but was told that he might answer to them all at 
the same time, and was ordered at present to be si- 
lent. He expostulated in vain on the unreasonable- 
ness of this injunction. Lifting up his hands to hea- 
ven, he begged the prelates in God's name to indulge 
him in the freedom of speech, that he might justify 
himself before the people ; " after which, " said he, 
" you may dispose of me as you think fit." But the 
prelates persisting in their refusal, he kneeled down, 
and with uplifted eyes and hands, with a loud voice 
recommended his cause to the Judge of all the 
earth. Being accused in the article of the sacra- 
ment, of having maintained that the material bread 
remains after consecration, he loudly declared, that 
he never believed or taught so. Nothing could 
be more iniquitous than this charge, which he 
had fully refuted on his former examination. But 
the council was determined to burn him as a heretic, 
and it behoved them to exhibit, at any rate, some 
shew of proving his heretical opinions. A still more 
shameless accusation was introduced. It was said, 
" A certain doctor bears witness, that Huss gave out, 
that he should become the fourth person in the trini- 
ty." " What is the name of that doctor ?" replied the 
prisoner, protesting against the charge as a flagrant 
calumny, and making an orthodox confession of his 
faith on the subject of the Trinity. Nevertheless, the 

bishop who had read the accusation, refused to inert* 
tion the doctor's name. Being again upbraided with 
his appeal to Jesus Christ, " See," said he, with his 
hands lifted up towards heaven, " most gracious Sav- 
ior, how the council condemns as an error what thou 
hast prescribed and practised, when, overborne by en* 
emies, thou committedst thy cause to God, thy Fa- 
ther, leaving us this example, that wt>en we are op- 
pressed, we may have recourse to the judgment of 
God. Yes," continued he, turning to the assembly, 
" I have maintained, and do still maintain, that an ap- 
peal to Jesus Christ is most just and right, because HE 
can neither be corrupted by bribes, nor be deceived 
by false witnesses, nor be overreached by artifice. I 
came voluntarily to this council, under the public faith 
of the emperor here present." In pronouncing these 
last words, he looked earnestly at Sigismund, who 
blushed at the sudden and unexpected rebuke. 

Sentence was then pronounced both against John 
Huss and his books ; and he was ordered to be degra- 
ded. The bishops clothed him in the priest's gar- 
ments, and put a chalice into his hands. While they 
were thus employed, Huss said, that " the Jews put a 
white garment on our Lord Jesus Christ to mock him, 
when Herod delivered him to Pilate/' and he made 
reflections of the same kind on each of the sacerdotal 
ornaments. When the prisoner was fully apparelled, 
the prelates once more exhorted him to retract, and to 
this exhortation he replied with his usual firmness.- 
They then caused him to come down from the stool on 
which he stood, and pronounce these words, " O curs- 
ed Judas, who, having forsaken the counsel of peace, 
art entered into that of the Jews, we take this chalice 
from thee, in which is the blood of Jesus Christ." But 
God was with the martyr, who cried aloud, " I trust in 
the mercy of God, I shall drink of it this very day in his 
kingdom." They then took from him of all his vest- 
ments, uttering a curse on stripping him of each. Hav- 
ing completed his degradation, by the addition of some 
other ridiculous insults not worthy of a distinct rela- 
tion, they put a paper coronet on his head, on which 


they had painted three devils, with this inscription, 
ARCH-HERETIC and said, " We devote thy soul to the in- 
fernal devils." " I am glad," said the martyr, " to wear 
this crown of ignominy for the love of him who wore 
a crown of thorns." 

When the painted paper was put upon his head, one 
of the bishops said, " Now we commit thy soul to the 
devil." " But I," said Huss, " commit my spirit into 
thy hands, O Lord Jesus Christ ; unto thee I commend 
my spirit, which thou hast redeemed." The council 
then ordered this sentence to be pronounced, nanaely, 
" The holy synod of Constance declares, that John Huss 
ought to be given up to the secular power, and does ac- 
cordingly so give him up, considering that the church of 
God has no more to do with him." 

Sigismund committed the execution of Huss to the 
elector Palatine, The martyr, walking amidst his 
guards, declared his innocence to the people. When 
he came near the place of execution, he kneeled and 
prayed with such fervor, that some of the people said 
aloud, " What this man has done before we know not ; 
but now we hear him offer up most excellent prayers 
to God." The elector Palatine prevented him from 
speaking to the people, and ordered him to be burned. 
" Lord Jesus," said Huss aloud, " I humbly suffer this 
cruel death for thy sake, and I pray thee to forgive all 
my enemies." His paper ^rown falling from his head, 
the soldiers put it on again, saying, that "it must be 
burnt with the devils, whom he had served." His 
neck was fastened to a stake, and the wood was piled 
about him. The elector advanced once more on the 
often repeated subject of retraction. " What I have 
written and taught," rejoined Huss, " was to rescue 
souls from the power of the devil, and to deliver them 
from the tyranny of sin ; and I do gladly seal what I 
have written and taught with my blood." The elector 
withdrawing, the fire was kindled, and Huss was soofl 
suffocated, having called upon God as long as he could 
speak. Thus, by a death which has affixed eternal in- 
famy on the council of Constance, slept in Jesus the 
celebrated John Huss, one of the most upright and 


blameless of men. Human depravity lias not often 
produced a scene so flagitiously iniquitous, and so 
much calculated to bring disgrace on the Roman 
church. The uncommon pains taken to prevent his 
death by a retraction, demonstrates the conviction of 
the council, that they were doing what they could 
not justify to their own consciences. At the same time 
the grace of God was marvellously displayed in sup- 
porting and strengthening the martyr, who appears in- 
deed to have exhibited all the graces of a true disciple 
of Christ. 

Toward the latter end of the year 1415, a letter was 
sent to the council from Bohemia, signed by about 60 
principal persons, barons, noblemen and others of that 
kingdom, an extract of which is as follows : " We know 
not from what motive you have condemned John Huss, 
bachelor of divinity and preacher of the gospel. Ye 
have put him to a cruel and ignominious death, though 
convicted of no heresy. We wrote in his vindication 
to Sigismund, king of the Romans. This apology of 
ours ought to have been communicated to your con- 
gregations ; but we have been told that ye burnt it in 
contempt of us. We protest therefore, with the heart 
as well as with the lips, that John Huss was a man ve- 
ry honest, just, and orthodox ; that for many years he 
conversed among us with godly and blameless man- 
ners ; that during all those years he explained to us 
and to our subjects, the gospel and the books of the 
Old and New Testament, according to the exposition 
of holy doctors approved by the church ; and that he 
has left writings behind him in which he constantly 
abhors all heresy. He taught us also to detest every 
thing heretical. In his discourses he constantly ex- 
horted us to peace and charity, and his own life ex- 
hibited to us a distinguished example of these virtues. 
After all the inquiry which we have made, w^e can 
find no blame attached to the doctrine or life of the 
said John Huss; but on the contrary every thing pi- 
ous, laudable and worthy of a true pastor. Ye have 
not only disgraced us by his condemnation, but have 
also unmercifully imprisoned, and perhaps already 


put to death Jerom of Prague, a man of most profound 
learning and eloquence. Him also have ye 
condemned unconvicted. Notwithstanding all that 
hath passed, we are resolved to sacrifice our lives for 
the defence of the gospel of Christ, and of his faithful 
preachers." This letter was unanimously approved in 
an assembly of Bohemian lords held at Prague. 

The council, startled at the bold expostulations 
of this letter, yet being still determined to maintain 
their own unjust authority, at length, partly by pro- 
mises, and partly by threatenings, induced Jerom of 
Prague to retract his sentiments. In this, Jerom an- 
athamatized the articles both of Wickliff and of Huss, 
and declared that he believed every thing that the 
council believed. He even added, that if, in future, 
any doctrine should escape from him contrary to his 
recantation, he would submit to everlasting punish- 
ment ! Thus was disgraced before all the world, and 
humbled in his own eyes, a man of most excellent 
morals, of superior parts, and of great learning and 
fortitude. This is an event, memorable in the annals 
of human imbecility ! Consider diligently the instruc- 
tion which it affords. The power and the mercy of 
God, in owning his fallen servant, and in afterward 
restoring and supporting him, were magnified, in this 
instance, in a very striking manner. 

Jerom, after his retraction, was remanded to prison, 
with some enlargement of liberty. 

There were some, notwithstanding the recantation 
of Jerom, who insisted upon his being tried a second 
time. The council, therefore, proceeded to examine 
him again upon the articles formerly exhibited against 
him, and upon new articles, then, for the first time, 
brought forward. The prisoner refused to be sworn, 
because they at first denied him the liberty of defence. 

Then it was that this great man began to exhibit 
that strength of mind, that force of genius and elo- 
quence, and that integrity and fortitude, which will be 
the admiration of ali ages. 

Having obtained freedom of speech, during his trial, 
it} his defence he said, " I came to Constance to tle- 


fend John Huss, 'because I had advised him to g 
thither, and had promised to come to his assistance, 
in case he should be oppressed. Nor am I ashamed 
here to make public confession of my own cowardice. 
I confesb and tremble while I think of it, that through 
fear of punishment by fire, I basely consented, against 
my conscience to the condemnation of Wickliff and 
Huss." He then declared that he disowned his re- 
cantation, as the greatest crime of which he had ever 
been guilty ; and that he was determined to his last 
breath to adhere to the principles of those two men, 
which were as sound and pure, as their lives were ho- 
ly and blameless. He excepted indeed WicklifPs opin- 
ion of the sacrament, and declared his agreement 
with the Roman church in the article of transubstan- 
tiation. Having concluded his speech, he was carri- 
ed back to prison, and was there visited by several 
persons, who hoped to reclaim him, but in vain. 

Jerom, having been brought again before the coun- 
cil, the bishop of Lodi preached a sermon from these 
words, " He upbraided them tvith their unbelief and 
hardness of heart" He exhorted the jDrisoner not to 
show himself incorrigible, as he had hitherto done. 
He paid some tribute of praise to his extraordinary 
abilities, and at the same time extolled the lenity and 
generosity with which he had been treated by the 
council. Jerom, raising himself on a bench, under- 
took to confute the preacher. He declared again, that 
he had done nothing in his whole life, of which he so 
bitterly repented, as his recantation ; that he revoked it 
from his very soul, as also the letter which he had been 
induced to write on this subject to the Bohemians ; 
that he had been guilty of the meanest falsehood by 
making that recantation ; that he esteemed John Huss 
a holy man ; and that he knew no heresy of which 
he had been guilty, unless they should call by that 
name, his open disapprobation of the vices of the 
clergy. That if, after this declaration, credit should 
still be given to the false witness borne against Huss, 
he should consider the fathers of the council them- 
selves as unworthy of all belief, "This pious 


said Jcrom, alluding to John Huss, " could not bear u* 
see the revenues of the church, which were principal- 
ly designed for the maintenance of the poor, and for 
works of liberality, spent in debauchery with women, 
in leasts, hounds, furniture, gawdy apparel, and other 
expenses, unworthy of Christianity/' 

The firmness, eloquence, and zeal of Jerom, sensi- 
bly aiFected the council. They proposed to him once 
more to retract. But he replied, " Ye have determin- 
ed to condemn me unjustly ; but after my death I 
shall leave a sting in your consciences, and a worm 
that shall never die. 1* appeal to the sovereign Judge 
of all the earth, in whose presence you must appear to 
answer me." After sentence had been pronounced 
against him, Jerom was delivered to the secular 
power, and was treated with scorn and insult, similar 
to that which his friend Huss had experienced. He 
put the mitre with his own hands on his head, saying 
he was glad to wear it for the sake of Him, who was 
crowned with one of thorns. As he went to execution, 
he sung the apostles' creed, and the hymns of the 
church, with a loud voice and a cheerful countenance. 
He kneeled at the stake, and prayed. Being then 
bound, he raised his voice, and sung a paschal hymn 
at that time much in vogue in the church. 

" Hail hoppy day, and ever be adored, 

" When hell was conquered by great heaven's Lord." 

The executioner having approached to the pile be- 
hind his back, lest Jerom should see him, " Come for- 
ward," said the martyr, " and put (ire to it before my 
face." He continued alive in the flames a full quar- 
ter of an hour, and sustained the torment with great 
fortitude and courage. When he was much scorched 
with the fury of the fire, and almost smothered in its 
flames, he was heard to cry out, " O Lord God, have 
mercy on me ! have mercy on me !" And a little af- 
terward, " Thou knowest how I have loved thy truth." 
By and by, the wind parted the flames, and exhibited 
his body full of large blisters, a dreadful spectacle to 
the beholders j yet even then his lips are said to have 


continued still moving, as if his mind was actuated by 
intense devotion. 

Though the acquaintance, which Jerom had with 
the truth of the gospel, appears to have been par- 
tial and imperfect ; yet the knowledge which he had, 
doubtless respected the essential doctrines of Chris- 
tianity ; and his spirit and constancy, in his last suf- 
ferings,, his dependance on the grace of Christ, his ex- 
pectation of a blessed resurrection, and his humble 
confession of sinfulness and unworthiness, sufficiently 
distinguish him from the stoic philosopher, or the mere 
moralist, who, whatever portion he may have of the 
first of these qualities, is totally void of all the rest 

Jerom endured his last sufferings with a cheerful 
countenance, arid with more thaw stoical constancy. 

By the acts of the council of Constance, the wick- 
edness of the ecclesiastical system, then prevalent in 
Europe, was clearly demonstrated. Though ail the 
knowledge and ability, which the Roman hierarchy 
could afford, were collected at Constance, yet the able 
and learned fathers of that council were so far from 
reforming the evils of what they called the church, 
that they proved it more certainly to be Antichrist. 
The whole of the clerical establishment then con- 
curred in the support of iniquity. The real gospel it- 
self was neither understood, nor preached, nor valued 
in the Roman church. They trifled respecting sins 
with the most scandalous levity, and persecuted to 
death those very persons who earnestly opposed the 
corruptions of the times. The glory of God, the truths 
of the gospel, and real kingdom of Jesus Christ, hav- 
ing been kept out of sight by all who constituted that 
council, none of them regarded reformation much 
further than it concerned their own interested views, 
and nothing that deserved the name of reformation 

In the latter end of the year 1417, the council of 
Constance, elected Otho de Colonna pope, who took 
the name of Martin V. How destitute he was of real 
piety, and of all true knowledge of the scripture doc- 
trines of salvation, and what were the views and sen- 


timenls of that council, will appear from the bull by 
which it was dissolved. An extract of ii is as fol- 
lows : " Martin, bishop, servant of the servants of 
God, at the request of the sacred council, we dis- 
miss it. Moreover, by the authority of the Almighty 
God, and of the blessed apostles St. Peter and SK 
Paul, and by our own authority, we grant to all the 
members of the council plenary absolution of all their 
sins once in their lives, so that every one of them, 
within two months after the notification of this privilege 
has come to his knowledge, may enjoy the benefit of 
the said absolution in form. We also grant them the 
same privilege in the moment of death ; and we ex- 
tend it to the domestics, as well as to the masters, on 
condition, that, from the day of the notification, both 
the one and the other fast every Friday, during a 
whole year, for the absolution granted to them while 
alive ; and another year for their absolution in the 
moment of death, unless there be some lawful imped- 
iment, in which case they shall do other works of pie* 
ty. And after the second year they shall be obliged 
to fast on Fridays during life, or to do some other acts 
of piety, on pain of incurring the displeasure of Al- 
mighty God and of the blessed apostles St. Peter and 
St Paul." 

The council of Constance began to sit in 1414, and 
was dissolved in 1418. In that council a great effort 
was made by the united wisdom of Europe, but in 
vain, to effect that reformation, which God alone in 
his own time produced in such a manner, as to illus- 
trate the divine declaration. Salvation is " not by 
power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of host?." 


The Hussites till the beginning of the Reformation. 

.1 HE Bohemians having heard of the murder of John 
Huss and Jerom of Prague with great indignation, for* 
ty thousand of the followers of Huss assembled on, , 


mountain a* few miles from Prague under their leaders 
Zisca and Nicolas, where the latter administered to 
them the communion in both kinds. They had taken 
the field to oppose the Romish hierarchy with fire and 
sword ; a bloody war ensued, which continued 13 
years with various success, and with many inhuman 
cruelties on both sides. The main body of the dis- 
contented Bohemians w-ere at length satisfied with 
the cup in the sacrament, and with the administration 
of the ordinance in their own language. 

Those who differed from the church of Rome, only in 
the affair of the communion in both kinds, were deno- 
minated Calixtines, from Calix,the Latin name for cup. 
Those who were more thorough in their opposition to 
the abominations of the church of Rome, and who re- 
sembled the Waldenses, in the great articles of their 
faith, were called Taborites, from the circumstance 
of their having accommodated themselves with tents, 
when they took the field to oppose the papal pow r er : the 
word tabor, in the Bohemian language, signifying tent. 

The Taborites, besides the scriptural celebration of 
the sacrament, desired to see a real reformation of the 
church, and the establishment of purity of doctrine and 
discipline. But, after a long series of military confu- 
sion, they found themselves still a persecuted body of 
men ; and those of them, who had been inclined to 
have recourse to the sword, were gradually convinc- 
ed, that patient faith and perseverance in prayer are 
the proper arms of the Christian soldier. Never was 
there a more striking instance of the inefficacy of car - 
-al weapons in defending the church of Christ. By 
this long and bloody war, which the Bohemians carri- 
ed on with great success, and with undaunted cour- 
age and fortitude, they gained only two privileges, 
merely of an external nature in the administration of 
the Lord's supper. With these the majority of the 
people remained content, and still adhered to the pa- 
pal abominations, while the real Christians w r ere expos- 
ed as much as ever to the persecutions of the church 
of Rome, and were not only abandoned, but also cnv 
elly treated by their brethren. 


In the mean time, Rokyzan, a Calixtine, was allur- 
ed by the hopes of the arch bishopric of Prague, to se- 
cond the views of the papal party. He was elected 
archbishop in 1436, and labored to induce the Bohe- 
mians to be content without the cup, and in all other 
things to conform to the Romish doctrine and wor- 
ship. Rokyzan, fearing he should lose his dignity, 
could not be prevailed on openly to oppose the Ro- 
mish corruptions; he however, advised the Hussites 
to edify one another in private, and gave them some 
good books for that purpose. He also obtained for 
them permission to withdraw to the lordship of Lititz^ 
on the confines of Silesia and Moravia, and there to 
regulate their plan of worship according to their own 

About the year 1453, a number of Hussites repair- 
ed to Lititz, and chose Michael Bradazius for their 
minister. He, with some assistants, under the direc- 
tion of Gregory, who was in a great measure the foun- 
der of the unity of the Hussite brethren, held a con- 
ference in 1457, in which the plan of the Hussite 
church, or that of the United Brethren, was formed; 
idolatrous rites were prohibited, and a strictness of 
discipline, resembling that of the primitive Christian 
church, was instituted. But in this they failed to pro- 
mote the spirit of godliness to the degree they had ex- 
pected, and this through a neglect of an accurate sys- 
tem of Christian doctrines. As holy exercises of heart 
do take place in the view of truth, the inward life and 
vigor of their church did not correspond with the pu- 
rity of its external system, and distressed consciences 
could not find among them that comfort and liberty 
which are necessary to the existence of godliness to 
any great extent. In one point, however, they prov- 
ed themselves the real followers of Christ. They de- 
termined to make use of no carnal weapons for the 
defence of religion ; and no more to suffer the name 
of Hussites to be disgraced by such unchristian meth- 
ods as it formerly had been. 

They were soon called to the exercise of that pas- 
sive courage which they had professed. The increase 


of their congregations in Bohemia and Moravia, war 
beheld with suspicion both by Romish and Calixtine 
priests, and they were acclised of having an intention 
to excite tumults and seize the government. The 
Hussitss were then loaded with the calumnies of their 
enemies and suffered persecution. The United 
Brethren, had hoped for support in Rokyzan, whose 
ministry had formerly been useful to their souls ; but 
he, then living in miserable grandeur, dearly purchas- 
ed at the expense of a good conscience, afforded them 
none. The following extract of a letter which the 
brethren wrote to him, while they labored under the 
imputations of promoting needless divisions, will give 
the reader some idea of their principles and spirit. 
" Your sermons have been highly grateful and plea- 
sant to us. You earnestly exhorted us to flee from the 
horrible errors of Antichrist, revealed in these last days'* 
You taught us that the devil introduced the abuses 
of the sacraments, and that men placed a false hope 
of salvation in them. You confirmed to us from the 
writings of the apostles and from the examples of the 
primitive church, the true doctrine of those divine in- 
structions. Being distressed in our consciences, and 
distracted by a variety of opinions, which prevailed in 
the church, we were induced to follow your advice, 
which was to attend the ministry of Peter Chelezitius, 
whose discourses and writings gave us a clearer in- 
sight into Christian truths; insomuch that when we saw 
your life and practice were at variance with your 'doc- 
trine, we were constrained to entertain doubts con* 
cerning your religious character. When we convers- 
ed with you on this occasion, your answer was to this 
effect, 4 1 know that your sentiments are true ; but, if 
I should patronize your cause, I must incur the same 
infamy and disgrace which you have.' \\hen we un- 
derstood that you would desert us, rather than relin- 
quish the honors of the world, having no refuge but 
in God, we implored him to make known to us the 
mystery of his will. As a gracious Father, he halh 
looked upon our afflictions, and halh heard our pay- 
ers. Trusting in our God, we have assembled our- 


pelves in tlie unity of the faith by which we have been 
justified through Jesus Christ, and of which we were 
made partakers in conformity to the image of his 
death, that we might be the heirs of eternal life. Do 
not imagine, that we have separated ourselves from 
you on account of certain rites and ceremonies insti- 
tuted by men; but on account of evil and corrupt 
doctrines. For if we could, in connexion with you, 
have preserved the true faith of Jesus Christ our Lord, 
we never should have made this separation." 

Thus does it appear that the Hussite brethren were 
not mere schismatics, but properly reformed protest- 
ants, who separated from the church of Rome on ac- 
count of the essentials of godliness, and because, in that 
church, they could not preserve the genuine faith of 
the gospel, and purity of worship. And the constan- 
cy with which they endured persecution, showed, that 
they had not received the grace of God in vain. For 
they were declared unworthy of the common rights 
of subjects ; and in the depth of winter, were driven 
out of the cities and villages, with the forfeiture of all 
their effects-. The sick were thrown into the open 
fields, where many perished with cold and hunger, 
Various sorts of torture were inflicted on the brethren: 
numbers were barbarously murdered, and many died 
in the prisons. 

During those melancholy scenes, Gregory, nephew 
of Rokyzan, was distinguished by his zeal, fortitude 
and chanty. To these virtues he added prudence and 
discretion, of which he gave a remarkable instance. 
The governor of Prague, apprehending danger to the 
brethren to be at hand, had the kindness to warn Gre- 
gory to withdraw from that place, which he according- 
ly did. Some of the brethren were disgusted at this 
conduct, and boasted that the rack was their break- 
fast, and the flames their dinner. Some of these men, 
however, failed on the trial, and recanted to save their 
lives 5 though af the lapsed, some bemoaned their 
fall, and recovered by repentance. Gregory himself, 
on another occasion, underwent with patience the tor- 
tures of the rack. In the extremity of his suffering 
3 as 


be fell into a swoon, and was believed to have expir- 
ed. His uncle Rockyzan hastened to the prison at the 
news, and lamented over him in these words, " My 
dear Gregory, I would to God I were where thou art." 
So strong was the power of conscience still in this un- 
happy archbishop ! But Gregory recovered, and was 
preserved to the church to a very advanced age. 

The brethren having heard of the sensibility discov- 
ered by Rokyzan, addressed themselves to him again ; 
but his answers were of the same kind as formerly. 
He was determined not to suffer persecution ; and they 
in their farewel letter, said to him with more zeal than 
discretion, " thou art of the world, and wilt perish 
with the world." The persecution took a different 
turn; the Hussites were no longer tortured, but were 
driven out of the country ; where they were obliged 
to hide themselves in mountains and woods, and to 
live in the wilderness. In this situation, in 1467, they 
came to a resolution to form a church among them- 
selves, and to appoint their own ministers. In 1480 
they received a great increase of their numbers from 
the accession of Waldensian refugees, who escaped 
out of Austria, where Stephen, the last bishop of the 
Waldenses in that province, was burnt alive, and where 
the vehemence of persecution no longer allowed this 
people to live in security. A union was easily formed 
between the Waldenses and the Hussites, on account 
of the similarity of their sentiments and manners. The 
refugees, however, found their situation but little me- 
liorated by a junction with a people, who were oblig- 
ed to conceal themselves in thickets and in clefts of 
rocks ; and who, to escape detection by the smoke, 
made no fires except m the night, when they read 
the word of God and prayed. Their sufferings were 
great. Rokyzan in his latter days, persecuted them^ 
and died in despair about the year 1471. 

In 1481 the Hussites were banished from Moravia, 
but in six years afterwards they returned into that 
country. In the beginning of the 16th century, they 
had 200 congregations in Bohemia and Moravia 
Their most violent persecutors were the C 


who, for the most part, resembled the papists, except 
in that from which their name was derived. 

Hence closes, for the present, the history of the 
Hussites, who doubtless as a body of men, feared God 
and served him in the gospel of his Son. They al?o 
maintained a degree of discipline among themselves 
vastly superior to that of any other who bore the Chris- 
tian name, except the churches of the Waldenses- 
Both of these were, however, defective in evangelical 
LIGHT. But God in mercy was then hastening an ex- 
hibition of this, in the reformation, which, after we 
shall have very briefly surveyed the principal events 
of the 15th century, must engage our attention. 


A Brief Review of the Fifteenth Century. 

I HE most remarkable events of this period, appeaj 
to have been directed by Divine Providence with a 
particular subserviency to the reformation. 

The Turks had become very formidable in the East, 
and were extending their conquests to the West. Eu- 
rope, though greatly oppressed by their persevering 
cruelties, neither humbled itself before God, nor took 
any measures to check their ambition. . But God was 
then preparing the way to bring order out of confusion, 
and light out of darkness. Many learned men, on ac- 
count of the troubles in the East, emigrated from 
Greece into Europe, where they revived the study 
of letters, and hereby prepared the way for the de- 
molition of idolatry and superstition. About the year 
1440, the inestimable art of printing was invent- 
ed. Learning began then to be cultivated with vast 
ardor ; classical knowledge was greatly increased. 
Learned men were furnished with critical skill and 
ingenuity, of which they availed themselves in the in- 
struction of the ignorant. By the labors of the learn- 
ed Erasmus, who arose abont thig time, monastic su- 


superstition received a wound which has never been 

Thus, tinder the care of Divine Providence, materi- 
als were collected for that beautiful edifice which soon 
began to arise. In the 15th century the great value 
and use of these materials scarcely appeared ; the same 
corruptions, both of faith and practice, which have so 
often been described, still prevailed in all their horrors. 

In the meantime there were some individuals, who, 
though not connected with any particular Christian so- 
cieties, evinced the power of godliness. Among these 
was Thomas Rhedon, a Frenchman, who, having gone 
to Rome, to improve his understanding in religious con- 
cerns, found the corruptions of that venal city aston- 
ishingly great, and that the habitation of St. Peter had 
even become a den of thieves. His zealous spirit was 
stirred within him, to give an open testimony to evan- 
gelical truth. By continual preaching he incurred the 
hatred of the ruling powers, was degraded from the 
priesthood, and burnt, four years after his arrival at 
Rome. In 1499, Jerom Savanarola, an Italian monk, 
with two Friars, Dominic and Silvester, were burnt at 
Florence for preaching the dictrine of free justifica- 
tion through faith in Christ. 

Vincent Ferrer, though bred in the midst of dark- 
ness, and connected with the worst of ecclesiastical 
characters, was a shining model of piety. At the age 
of forty-two he began to preach with great fervor in 
every town from Avignon towards Valentia. His word 
is said to have been powerful among the Jews, the 
Mahometans, and others. He labored abundantly in 
Spain, France, Italy, England, Scotland, and Ireland ; 
and by the desire of Henry V. made Normandy, and 
Britanny, the theatre of his labors during the last two 
years of his life. He died at the age of 62. 

The following is a quotation from his book on spirit- 
ual life, and will give an idea of his piety : " Do you 
desire to study to advantage ? Consult God more than 
books, and ask him humbly, to make you understand 
what you read. Study drains the mind and heart. 
Go from time to time to be refreshed at the feet of 


Christ under his cross. Some moments of repose 
there give fresh vigor and new light: interrupt your 
study by short, but fervent ejaculations. Science is 
the gift of the Father of lights. Do not consider it as 
attainable merely by your own mind and industry." 

Bernardin of Sienna, who must close this concise 
review of the 15lh century, was born in the year 1380, 
and on account of his uncommon zeal in preaching, 
was called "the burning coal." He gave this advice 
to clergymen, " Seek first the kingdom of God, and 
the Holy Ghost will give you a wisdom which no ad- 
versary can withstand." This excellent man express- 
ed an earnest wish to be able to cry out with a trum- 
pet through the world, " How long will ye love simpli- 
city ?" 



The Reformation under the conduct of Luther. 

1 HE 16th century opened with a most gloomy pros- 
pect. Corruption, both in doctrine and practice, had 
exceeded all bounds; and Europe, though the name 
of Christ was every where professed, presented nothing 
evangelical. Notwithstanding the repeated attempts 
which had been made, no extensive or permanent re- 
formation of the church had been effected. The Ro- 
man pontiffs were still the uncontrouled patrons of im- 
piety. The scandalous crimes of the court of Rome 
did not yet operate to lessen its dominion, nor lead 
men to make a serious investigation of religion. 

But the time was fast approaching, when the ado- 
rable Providence of God, raised up 3 man, who was 
led from step to step, by a series of circumstances far 
beyond his original intentions, and in a manner which 
evinced the excellency of the power to be of God and 


mot of man, to be the instrument, rather than the agent 
of a most important reformation. 

This was Martin Luther, who was born in the year 
1483 in Saxony. His father was universally esteem- 
ed for his integrity, who gave his son an early and 
very liberal education, so that having made a great 
proficiency in learning, he was made master of arts in 
the university of Erfurth, at the age of 20. He then 
commenced the study of the civil law. But his pur- 
pose was diverted from this, by a very solemn and 
alarming Providence. While walking in the fields 
with one of his most intimate friends, his companion 
was suddenly killed by lightning. Luther was terrifi- 
ed, and formed the hasty resolution of withdrawing 
from the world, and of throwing himself into the mo- 
nastery of Erfurth, which he entered in the year 1505. 

In a manuscript history, extending from the year 
1524 to 1541, composed by Frederic Myconius, a very 
able coadjutor of Luther and Melancthon, the author 
describes the state of religion in the beginning of this 
century in the following striking 'erms. "The pas- 
sion and satisfaction of Christ, were treated as a bare 
history, like the Odyssey of Homer: concerning faith, 
by which the righteousness of the Redeemer and eter- 
nal life are apprehended, there was the greatest silence i 
Christ was described as a severe judge, ready to con- 
demn all who were destitute of the intercession of 
saints and of pontifical interest. In the room of Christ 
were substituted as saviors and intercessors, the virgin 
Mary, like a pagan Diana, and other saints, who, from 
time to time, had been created by the popes. Nor 
were men, it seems, entitled to the benefit of their 
prayers, except they deserved it of them by their works. 
What sort of works were necessary for this end was dis- 
tinctly explained ; not the works prescribed in the deca- 
logue, and enjoined on all mankind but such as enrich* 
ed the priests and monks. Those, who died neglect- 
ing these, were consigned to hell, or at least to purga- 
tory, till they were redeemed from it by a satisfaction 
made either by themselves or their proxies. The fre- 
fijuent pronunciation of the Lord's prayer, the saluta- 


fion of the virgin, and the recitations of the canoncial 
hours, constantly engaged those who undertook to be 
religious. An incredible mass of ceremonious observ- 
ances was every where visible ; while gross wickedness 
was practised,under the encouragement of indulgences, 
by which the guilt of the crimes was easily expiated. 
The preaching of the word was the least part of the 
episcopal function: rites and processions employed 
the bishops perpetually, when engaged in religious ex- 
ercises. The number of clergy was enormous, and 
their lives were most scandalous. I speak of those 
whom I have known in the town of Gothen, &,c." 
A Greek testament could not then be procured at any 
price in all Germany. Even the university of Paris, 
the first of all the famous schools of learning, could 
not furnish a single person capable of supporting a 
controversy against Luther on the foundation of scrip- 
ture. Scarcely any Christian doctor had then a crit- 
ical knowledge of the word of God. 

It was at such a time of gross darkness, when the 
Christian nations differed very little from the pagan, 
except in the name, that the world beheld an attempt 
to restore the light of the gospel, more judicious and 
evangelical, than had ever been made since the days 
of Augustine. 

That the reader may understand the necessity and 
importance of the reformation ; it may be here stat- 
ed that the popish doctrine of indulgences was then in 
the highest reputation. According to this, the church 
imposed painful works or sufferings on offenders., 
which, having been discharged or undergone with 
humility, were called satisfactions : and when regard- 
ing the fervor of the penitents, or other good works, she 
"remitted some part of the task, that was called " an 
indulgence.''' She even pretended to extend the ben- 
efit of indulgences beyond the grave, and that they 
were valid in heaven. 

The foundation of all this system was generally be- 
lieved to be this: that there is in Christ and the saints 
an infinite treasure of merit ; the saints having done 
works of supererogation. It was pretended that this 

treasure was deposited in the church, under the 
duct of the see of Rome. This was sold for money^ 
at the discretion of the Pontiffs to those who were able 
and willing to purchase. Few were found disposed to 
undergo the course of a severe penance of unpleasant 
austerities, when they could afford to commute for it 
by pecuniary payments. The popes, and under them 
the bishops and clergy, particularly the Dominican 
and Franciscan friars, had the disposal of this treas- 
ure ; and as the pontiffs had the power of canonizing 
new saints at their own will, the fund was constantly 
on the increase. So long as this system could maintain 
its credit, the riches of this flagitious church, thus sec- 
ularized under the appearance of religion, became a 
sea without a shore. A practice, thus scandalously 
corrupt, was connected with the grossest ignorance of 
the nature of gospel grace. And in fact the preachers 
of indulgences, whether popes themselves, or their 
ministers, held out to the people, with sufficient 
clearness, that the inheritance of eternal life could 
be purchased. " Pope Leo X. making use of that 
power, which his predecessors had usurped over all 
Christian churches, sent abroad into all kingdoms his 
letters and bulls, with ample promises of the full par- 
don of sins, and of eternal salvation to such as would 
purchase the same with money ! ! !" 

From this the reader will perceive, that, for the de- 
molition of this impious system, the right knowledge 
of the scripture doctrine of justification was the only 
adequate remedy. To revive this appears to have 
been the most capital object of the reformation. And 
it is not difficult to see that the state of mankind was, 
at that time, peculiarly adapted to the reception of so 
rich a display of gospel grace. Their whole religion 
was one enormous mass of bondage. Terrors beset 
them on every side ; and the fiction of purgatory was 
ever teeming with ghosts and apparitions. Faith in 
simplicity, grounded on the divine promises, connected 
with real humility, and productive of hearty and grate- 
ful obedience, hardly existed amidst the mazes of cor- 
ruption. No certain rest could be afforded to the weary- 


mind, and a state of allowed doubt and anxiety was re- 
commended by the papal system. What a joyful doc- 
trine then was that of remission of sins through Christ 
alone, received by faith! a doctrine indeed to be found 
every where in the scriptures ; but this was almost un- 
known among the common people at the beginning 
of the reformation. 

The Aristotelian philosophy, which knew nothing 
of native depravity, which allowed nothing to be crim- 
inal but certain external, flagitious actions, and which 
was unacquainted with the idea of any righteouness 
of grace, imputed to the sinner, greatly prevailed 
previous to the reformation. But the person, whom 
God raised up, particularly at this time, when the 
generality of mankind were following their own self- 
righteous schemes, to instruct an ignorant world, was 
most remarkably eminent for self knowledge. Lu- 
ther knew himself; also he knew the scriptural 
grounds on which he stood in his controversies with 
the ecclesiastical rulers. His zeal was disinterested, 
his courage, undaunted. Accordingly when he had 
once erected the standard of truth, he continued to 
uphold it with an unconquerable intrepidity, which 
merits the gratitude and esteem of all succeeding gen- 


The beginning of the Controversy concerning Indulgences, 

POPE Alexander VII. the most flagitious of men, 
died in the year 1503. Pius III. succeeded him, and 
in less than one year after, he was succeeded by Ju- 
lius II. Previous to his election the cardinals agreed 
upon an oath, which they obliged the new pontiff to 
take after his election that a general council should 
be called within two years to reform the church. The 
effect of this measure, which so strongly implied the 
consent of the Christian world to the necessity of a 


reformation, was the council of Pisa. At thig, nothing, 
good was done. Julius, by his intrigues had the conn- 
til dissolved. He died in 1513, after having, by hi* 
military ambition, violence and rapacity, filled the 
Christian world with blood and confusion. 

LeoX. succeeded ; a man famous for the encourage- 
merit of letters and the fine arts, and deservedly cele- 
brated among the patrons of learned men. Though 
refined and humanized, yet an excessive magnifi- 
cence, a voluptuous indolence, and above all, a to- 
tal want of religious principle, rendered him perhaps 
more strikingly void of every sacerdotal qualification 
than any preceding pontiff. He used no exertion to 
evince that he had a sincere reverence for religion.' 
It was during the pontificate of this man, that Provi- 
dence gave the severest blow to the authority of the 
Roman hierarchy 3 - which it had ever received since 
the days of Gregory IL 

Both before and after nis exaltation, he opposed 
with dexterity and success the laudable attempts for 
a reformation which have been mentioned. 

In the year 1517 the spirit of Luther was excited to 
instruct the ignorant, to rouse the negligent, and to 
oppose the scandalous practices of ambitious and in- 
terested ecclesiastical rulers. It was at this time, that 
the temerity of the existing hierarchy was such, and so 
infatuated with abominations, that the opportunity 
seems purposely to have been afforded to their oppo- 
nents for beginning that reformation which was event- 
ually to prove destructive to their power and influ- 

Leo X. after he had governed the church almost 
five years, having involved himself in embarrassments 
by his prodigal expenses of various kinds, and being 
desirous to complete the erection of St. Peter's church' 
at Rome, which had been begun by his predecessor 
Julius II. after his example had recourse to the sale 
of indulgences. These he published throughout the 
Christian world, granting freely to all, who would 

tay money for the building of St. Peter's church, the 
eeuce of eating eggs and cheese in the time of 


lent. This is one of the many ridiculous circum- 
stances which attended Leo's indulgences, and it is 
gravely related by the papal historian. The pro- 
mulgation of them was committed to Albert, brother 
of the elector of Brandenberg, who received im- 
mense profits fmrn their sale. John Tetzel, a bold, 
enter prizing monk of uncommon impudence, was 
employed by Albert as sub-agent, and executed his 
iniquitous commission not only with matchless in- 
solence, indecency and fraud, but even carried his 
impiety so far as to derogate from the all sufficient 
power and influence of the merits of Christ. He 
declaimed concerning the unlimited power of the 

Eope and the efficacy of indulgences. The people 
elieved, that the moment any person had paid the 
money for the indulgence, he became certain of his 
salvation, and that the souls, for whom the indulgen- 
ces were bought, were instantly released from purga- 
tory. Tetzel even boasted, that he had saved more 
souls from hell by his indulgences, than St. Peter had 
converted by his preaching. He assured the purcha- 
sers of them, that their crimes, however enormous, 
would be forgiven. In the usual form of absolution, 
written with his own hand, he said, " I, by the author- 
ity of Jesus Christ, through the merits of his most holy 
passion, and by the authority of his blessed apostles. 
Peter jind Paul, and of our most holy pope, delegated 
to me as commissioner, do absolve thee: first from all 
ecclesiastical censures however incurred ; secondly, 
from all sins committed by thee, however enormous, 
for so far the keys of the sacred church extend : and 1 
do this by remitting to thee all the punishments due to 
thee in purgatory on account of thy crimes, and I re- 
store thee to the innocence and purity in which thou 
wast when baptized, so that the gates of punishment 
may be shut to thee when dying, and the gates of 
paradise be opened." 

In regard to the effect of indulgences in delivering 
persons from the supposed torments of purgatory, the 
gross declarations of Tetzel in public are well known. 
" The moment the money tinkles in the chest ; your 
father's soul mounts up out of purgatory." 


The indulgences were farmed out to the best bid- 
ders, and the undertakers employed such deputies to 
carry on the traffic, as they thought the most likely to 
promote their lucrative views. The inferior officers, 
concerned in this commerce, were daily seen in public 
houses, indulging themselves in riot and voluptous- 
ness. In fine, whatever the greatest enemy of popery 
could have wished, was exhibited with the most undis- 
guised impudence and temerity, as if on purpose to 
render that wicked ecclesiastical system infamous be- 
fore all mankind. 

The prodigious sale of indulgences evinces both 
the profound ignorance of the age, and also the power 
of superstitious fears, with which the consciences of 
men were then distressed. This, however, was the 
very situation of things which^opened the way for the 
reception of the gospel. But" who was to proclaim it 
in its native beauty and simplicity ? The princes, the 
bishops, and the learned men of the times, saw all this 
scandalous traffic, but none was found possessing the 
knowledge, the courage, and the honesty, necessary 
to detect the fraud, and to lay open to mankind the 
true doctrine of salvation by the remission of sios 
through Jesus Christ. But at length an obscure pastor 
appeared, who alone began to erect the standard of 
sound religion. No man who believes that "the pre- 
paration of the heart is from the Lord, will for a mo- 
ment doubt whether Martin Luther, in this great un- 
dertaking, was moved by the spirit of God. 

This extraordinary man, was an Augustine monk 
and professor or lecturer in the university of Wittein- 
berg in Saxony. That was a college of students and 
society of monks. Frederic the wise, elector of Saxo- 
ny, ardently desirous of promoting literary knowledge 
always showed a steady regard to Luther, on account 
of his skill and industry in advancing the reputation 
that infant seminary, then low in its revenues 
and exterior appearance. Luther preached also from 
.une to time, and heard confessions. In the memora- 
ble year 1517, certain persons, repeating their confer 


sions before him, and owning their atrocious sins, re- 
fused to comply with the penances which he enjoined 
on them, because they said, they were possessed of di- 
plomas of indulgences. Luther was struck with the 
absurdity, and refused them absolution. The persons 
rejected, complained loudly to Tetzel. He stormed 
and frowned, and menaced every one who dared to 
oppose him; and sometimes ordered a pile of wood 
to be constructed and set on fire, to strike terror into 
the minds of heretics. Luther, then only 34 years old ; 
was vigorous both in mind and body, fresh from the 
schools, and fervent in the scriptures. He saw crowds 
flock to Wittemberg and the neighboring towns to 
purchase indulgences, and having no clear idea of the 
nature of that traffic, yet sensible of the obvious evils 
with which it must be attended, he began to signify, 
in a gentle manner from the pulpit, that the people 
might, be better employed than in running from place 
to place to procure INDULGENCES. So cautiously did 
this great man begin a work, the consequences of 
which he did not foresee. He did not then even 
know who were the receivers of the money. He 
wrote to Albert, archbishop of Mentz, who had ap- 
pointed Tetzel to this employment, entreating him to 
withdraw the licence of Tetzel, and expressing his 
fears of evil consequences from the sale. This he did, 
without knowing that Albert had any personal inter- 
est in the traffic. He sent him likewise certain theses 
which he had drawn up in the form of queries con- 
cerning this subject, and expressed with the greyest 
caution and modesty. His conscience was alarmed 
at the prevailing evils, but he knew not well where to 
fix the blame of them. He wrote also to the bishop of 
Brandenberg, with whom he was a favorite. He, see- 
ing the dangerous ground Luther was taking, replied, 
" You will oppose the church, you cannot think in 
what troubles you will involve yourself; you had much 
better be still and quiet." The intrepid spirit of the 
Saxon reformer was not to be repressed. Though by 
no means a competent master of the points in debate, 
he saw they were of too great magnitude for a consci- 


entious pastor to pass them by unnoticed. With de 
liberate steadiness he persevered ; and having tried 
in vain to procure the concurrence of the dignitaries 
of the church, he published 95 theses, which in 15 
days were spread throughout Germany. Their effect 
on the minds of men was rapid and powerful ; though 
Tetzel had by threats silenced some pastors who had 
faintly opposed him, and though bishops and doctors, 
through fear of the flames remained perfectly silent. 

What Luther's views and feelings were in the com- 
mencement of his opposition to the sale of indulgen- 
ces, may be learned from his controversial writings 
published in the year 1518. In these, he thus declares : 
46 1 was compelled in my conscience to expose the 
scandalous sale of indulgences. I saw some seduced 
by them into mischievous errors, others tempted into 
audacious profaneness. In a word, the proclaiming 
and selling of pardons proceeded to such an unbound* 
ed licentiousness, that the holy church and its authori- 
ties became subjects of open derision in the public 
taverns. There vv^s no occasion to excite the hatred 
of mankind against priests to a greater degree. The 
avarice and profligacy of the clergy had, for many 
years past, kindled the indignation of the laity. Alas ! 
they have not a particle of respect or honor for the 
priesthood, except what solely arises from a fear of 
punishment ; and I speak plainly, unless their dislike 
and their objection be attended to and moderated, not 
by mere power, but by substantial reasons and re- 
formations, all these evils will grow worse.'* 

Let us now listen to a few sentences of Luther, 
written so late as the year 1545, about 28 years after 
the beginning of the dispute concerning indulgences, 
*' Before all things 1 entreat you, pious reader, for our 
Lord Jesus Christ's sake, to read my writings with 
cool consideration, and even with much pity. I wish 
you to know, that when 1 began the affair of the indul- 
gences at the very first, I was a monk, and a most mad 
papist. So intoxicated was I and drenched in papal 
dogmas, that 1 would have been most ready at all 
times to murder or assist others in murdering any 


person, who should have uttered a Syllable against 
duty of obedience to the pope. I was a complete 
SAUL; and there are many such yet. There were, how- 
ever, and are now, others, who appear to me to adhere 
to the pope on the principles of Epicurus ; that is for 
the sake of indulging their appetites; when secretly 
they even deride him, and are as cold as ice, if called 
upon to defend papacy. I was never one of these : I 
was always a sincere believer ; I was always earnest 
in defending the doctrines which I professed ; I went 
seriously to work, as one who had a horrible dread of 
the day of judgment, and who, from his inmost soul 
was anxious for salvation. 

" You will find, therefore, in my earlier writings, with 
how much humility, on many occasions, I gave up- 
very considerable points to the pope, which I now de- 
test as blasphemous and abominable in th