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to their judgment, and the principles which they had embraced after serious inquiry and consideration ? Were not all wise and honest men persuaded that a man ought to die rather than do what he thought evil and dishonourable. Celsus," who wrote against the christians, says as much. Was there any way for a christian's escaping, but by criminal hypocrisy and dissimulation, when statues of heathen deities were set before him to be worshipped by him; or when he was required to revile Jesus Christ? They had taken up their principles upon consideration; and it was reasonable to adhere to them at all times. (4.) Marcus says must be done “ considerately.’ The christians took up their principles upon consideration. When they first embraced them they could not but see that, as the world then stood, the making a profession of them was very likely to expose them to many sufferings. And therefore, when they first resolved upon christianity, they must have resolved to adhere to it whatever it should cost them. By this means they were always ready to die, upon mature consideration, whenever the spite of their ignorant and prejudiced neighbours worked so far against them. And a constant readiness for a violent death, in a good cause, is the most glorious fortitude that can be imagined in a human creature. (5.) He says it should be done ‘gravely, without tragical exclamations.” Upon this Le Clerc well observes, that ‘it’ is not a little ‘strange that a stoic, whose writings are full of affectation,
Totavra ruva Asyst Eav pisyrot ye kâsvot rug, et rvXot, 6pmakevovra €sov m acrégsty, m a}\\o ru atoxpov stretv, ačapum séapog trussvrčov, a NAa orpo rsrav traoag (3ao avoic sykaprepnrsov, kat Travrag 6avaraç i tropsymrčov, orptv rt avoguv rept 688, p.m ort ys stirstv, a\\a postmoat. Celsus ap. Orig. Contra Cels. l. 8, p. 421. al. num. 66.
* Nos quidem neque expavescimus, neque pertimescimus ea quæ ab ignorantibus patimur ; cum ad hane sectam utique susceptă conditione ejus pacti venerimus, ut etiam animas nostras auctorati in has pugnas accedamus, ea, quae Deus repromittit, consequi optantes, et ea, quae diversae vitae comminatur, pati timentes, Tertull. ad Scap. cap. i.
* Verum et hoc mirum est, hominem Stoicum, et cujus liber plenus est exaggerationibus vere tragicis, hoc est, tumidis et fictis, exprobare christianis, quod arpaywówg non morerentur. Atqui nihil illi exaggerabant, cum vitam Deo repetenti, potius quam ab eo deficerent, libenter reddendam profitebantur. Si qui, quod interdum factum negare nolim, credulitate suppliciorum, propinquitate mortis, speque proxima beatitatis, extra se rapti, quaedam proferebant, quae supra vulgi Ethnici captum erant, an tribuenda haec Sunt Taparaśst, obstinationi, veloperturbationi? Imo eo aut vitio, aut adfectu, vel maxime laborabant, qui innocentes excarnificatos occidebant, quod facere nollent, quae illicita, et a Deo improbari, pro certo statuebant. Cleric. ib. ann. 165. n. iv.
‘ and are all over tragical, should blame the christians for ‘ not dying without tragical noise and exclamation.” If they then called upon God and Christ; if they then exhorted their brethren to constancy and perseverance; if they expressed a contempt of this world, and its fading enjoyments; if they spake in sublime strains of the felicities of the world to come; in a word, if they triumphed in death, as some of them did, there is nothing in it absurd or unreasonable; nothing but what is truly admirable: the heathen people around them wanted nothing to make them sensible of it but a better knowledge of the christian principles; such as a persuasion of the boundless power and goodness of the one God, Creator of all, and a well-grounded expectation of eternal life. (6.) And lastly, Marcus says, “it should be done so as to persuade another.’ This alone, if there were nothing else, would be sufficient to satisfy us that Marcus was influenced by prejudice in his judgment concerning the christians. It has been often said, and very truly, that the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church. And some early believers have themselves assured us, that" they were led to inquire into the principles of the christians when they observed their manner of dying; and that this was the first means of their own conversion. The like is often testified by" christian writers, who lived when the followers of Jesus were in suffering circumstances, and martyrdoms were frequent. But if there were nothing of this kind in the remains of ancient christian authors, since there continued to be christians in the world, and they suffered in every age, and were not extinguished, but remained and increased, as heathen writers themselves
* Nec quidguam tamen proficit exquisitior quaeque crudelitas vestra. Illecebra magis est sectae. Plures efficimur, quoties metimur a vobis. Semen est Sanguis christianorum. Tertull. Ap. cap. 50. * Kau Yap avrog syw, toug IIAarovoc Yauptov Čučayplagi, Öuaga\\opsweg akawv Xpt=uavag, optov Ös aspoGag Trpog 0avatov, kav travra ra ax\a vopu%opuéva $0.3spa, evewoav ačvvarov swat ev kakig kat pixmöovug inrapysiv avrac. Justin. M. ap. 2. p. 50. a. al. p. 96. num. 12. * Multi apud vos ad tolerantiam doloris et mortis hortantur, ut Cicero in Tusculanis, ut Seneca in fortuitis—Nectamen tantos inveniunt verba discipulos, quantos christiani factis docendo. Illa ipsa obstinatio, quam exprobratis, magistra est. Quis enim non contemplatione ejus concutitur ad requirendum, quid intus in re sit 2 Quis non, ubi requisivit, accedit? Ubi accessit, pati exoptat? Tertull. ap. cap. 50. - Nec tamen deficiet hac secta, quam tunc magis aedificari scias, cum caedi videtur. Quisquis enim tantam tolerantiam spectans, ut aliquo scrupulo percussus, et inquirere accenditur, quid sit in causá : et ubi cognoverit veritatem, et pse statim sequitur. Ad Scap cap, ult. Wid. et Lact. l. 5. c. 13. et alibi.
acknowledge; we may depend upon it that many did die so as to persuade others; their brethren were animated to patience and courage by their example; and unbelievers were awakened, and excited to serious examination, till they were convinced and converted. As I have gone along, I have transcribed in the margin several remarks upon this passage of Marcus Antoninus from Le Clerc's Ecclesiastical History. I would also refer to” Mr. Mosheim, in whom likewise divers just observations may be seen upon the same. But perhaps it will be said that the christians gave cause for these censures by their too great forwardness, and by offering themselves to death. To which I would answer. First, Instances of this kind were not very common, and they were disliked and condemned by the wiser sort. Some such instances there were during the persecution in Asia when Polycarp suffered. They P are particularly mentioned, and censured in the epistle of the church of Smyrna, which gives an account of the martyrs in that city. And I St. Cyprian, in his last ietter to his people at Carthage, in the persecution of Valerian, in the year 258, exhorts them to a quiet and peaceable behaviour, but not to offer themselves to the magistrates; forasmuch as the Lord had not required it of us; but to confess his name when called upon so to do. And he reminds them that this had always been his doctrine. Secondly, There could be no instances of this kind but in times of persecution, and when there were magistrates who were disposed to inflict death upon men as christians. Thirdly, The most remarkable instances of this kind happened when the persecution was violent. So it was in the case" before taken notice of by us. When Arrius Antoninus, proconsul of Asia, furiously persecuted the christians in that country, a great number of them, in some city where he was, came before his tribunal, telling him he might do with them as he pleased, for they were not afraid to die. In like manner Scapula, proconsul of Africa, persecuted the christians with great severity. Some” he ordered to be burnt alive;
° De Reb. Christianorum, sec. ii. p. 245, 246. P Vid. Euseb. H. E. l. 4. cap. 15. p. 129, 130. " Vos autem, fratres carissimi, pro disciplinä, quam de mandatis dominicis a me semper accepistis, quietem et tranquillitatem tenete: ne quisquam vestrum aliquem tumultum de fratribus moveat, aut ultro se Gentilibus offerat. Apprehensus enim et traditus logui debet: siquidem in nobis Dominus positus illá horá loguatur, quinos confiteri magis voluit quam profiteri. Ep. 81. al. 83. p. 239. Oxon. * See p. 57. * Pro tantã innocentiá, pro tantá probitate, pro justitiã, pro pudicitia, pro
though that was a punishment seldom inflicted even upon traitors, or the worst of criminals. Upon that occasion Tertulliant puts him in mind of the forementioned conduct of the christians in Asia: and, the more to alarm him, tells him the like might happen again, and at Carthage itself. And what would you do, says he, if you should see the christians of that place present themselves in a body before your tribunal 2 What would you do with so many thousands of each sex, of every age, of every condition, and some of the most honourable persons of the city, some of them your friends, or friends and relations of your friends and counsellors 2 After all, it must be acknowledged that the christians’" readiness to die, and their intrepidity in death, were sometimes perverted to their disadvantage. Nor do I think that the primitive christians were exempted from human frailty. Nevertheless I apprehend that the exceptions and reflections of this kind were chiefly owing to the prejudices and ignorance of misguided and sensual men, who minded little or nothing but the affairs of this present life; who did not consider the importance of religious truth, nor the great virtue and value of integrity, and a steady regard to the convictions of our own minds. So" says Lactantius. And Tertullian has spoken to this point excellently at the conclusion of his Apology. He" mentions “Mutius, Regulus, ‘and others, whose resolution had been admired and ap“ plauded by the Greeks and Romans. And indeed,” says he, “with you it is reputable to die for our country, for the * commonwealth, for a friend; but to die for God and truth “is reckoned reproachful and dishonourable.” Certainly the first christians, who were men as we are, and had the same sensations with us, were not weary of life, nor did they desire death: but” as men engaged in a warfare, hazard their lives for the sake of victory, and the advantages of it; so the christians of those times, desirous to approve themselves to God, and hoping for the reward of eternal life, were ready, if required, to lay down their lives rather than deny Christ and the truths which they had received from him. The corollaries to be drawn from this passage are several; but they will be all easily admitted after what has been already said. 1. At that time the christians were well known in the world. 2. The emperor Marcus was well acquainted with them, and had often heard of their sufferings. He knew that many christians had died in testimony to their princio and as christians; and that the sufferings which they had undergone were in common estimation very grievous. 3. He knew, and here acknowledgeth, their resolution and steadiness in the profession of their principles for which they suffered death. This he calls obstinacy. 4. He had heard of their cheerfulness in death and in all the sufferings which they had met with. This he endeavours to disparage by comparing it to the declamations of tragedies. 5. He was also persuaded of their innocence, or freedom from promiscuous lewdness and other gross crimes in their assemblies, with which they were charged by some. If he had known and believed that they practised such things, he would have expressed himself very differently. 6. He despised and scorned the christians as a mean, illiterate, and unphilosophical set of men. 7. He was not at all inclined
fide, pro veritate, pro Deo, vivi cremamur; quod nec sacrilegi, nec hostes publici, verum nec tot majestatis rei pati Solent. Ad Scap. cap. 4. p. 88. A. * Wide tantum, me hoc ipso, quod talia Sustinemus, ad hoc solum videamur erumpere, ut hoc ipsum probemus, nos hac non timere, Sed ultro vocare. Arrius Antoninus in Asia cum persequeretur instanter, omnes illius civitatis christiani ante tribunalia ejus se, manu factâ, obtulerunt.—Hoc si placuerit et hic fieri, quid facies detantis millibus hominum, totvirisac feminis, omnis Sexsis, omnis aetatis, omnis dignitatis, offerentibus se tibio Quantis ignibus, quantis gladiisopus erit? Quid ipsa Carthago passura est decimanda a te, cum propinquos, cum contubernales Suos illic unusquisque cognoverit, cum viderit illic fortasse et tui ordinis viros et matronas, et principales quasque personas, et amicorum tuorum vel propinquos vel amicos. Parce ergo tibi, si non nobis: parce Carthagini, si non tibi. Ad Scap. cap. 5. " Licet nunc sarmentitios ac semaxios appelletis, quia ad stipitem dimidii axis revincti Sarmentorum ambitu exurimur.—Propterea enim desperati, et perditi existimamur. Tertull. Ap. cap. 50. Vid. et Minuc. Fel. cap. 3. Lactant. 1. 5. cap. 9. et Epit. cap. 54. * Sed illi malitiã et furore coecantur, ne videant ; stultosque arbitrantur esse, quicum habeant in Suá potestate supplicia vitare, cruciari tamen, et emori malunt. Lact. l. 5. cap. 13. * O gloriam licitam, quia humanam, cui nec presumptio perdita, nec persuasio desperata reputatur, in contemptu mortis et atrocitatis Omnimodae; cui tantum pro patriá, pro imperio, pro amicitiã pati permissum est, quantum pro Deo non licet. Et tamen illis omnibus et statuas defunditis, et imagines inscribitis—quantum de monimentis potestis Scilicet, præstatis et ipsi quodam
modo mortuis resurrectionem: hanc qui veram a Deo sperat, si pro Deo patiatur, insanus est. Ap. cap. 50. p. 45.
* Ergo, inquitis, cur querimini, quod vos insequamur, si pati vultis; cum diligere debeatis, per quos patimini quodvultis 2 Plane volumus pati, verum eo more, quo et bellum memo quidem libens patitur, cum et trepidare, et periclitarisit necesse; tamen et praeliatur omnibus viribus, et vincensin proclio gaudet, qui de praelio querebatur, quia et gloriam consequitur et praedam. Proelium est nobis, quod provocemur ad tribunalia, ut illis sub discrimine capitis pro veritate certemus. , Victoria est autem, pro quo certaveris, obtinere. Ea victoria habet et gloriam placendi Deo, et praedam vivendi in aeternum. Tertullian. Apol. c. 50. p. 44. B. C.