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et cum est nova Luna, convenientes Cephallenei, diem na
in Deos relatus est Epiphanes, sacrificant, libantque et convivantur, et hymnos canunt. Clemens Alex. Strom, iii. p. 511.
Here is the canonization, or apotheosis of a young heretic performed in an exact and ample manner by these Cephallenean blockheads. Now Simon, it may be said, might have acquired such honours as easily as Epiphanes, who tho' he was ingenious, was but a boy.
If any one thinks that these examples tend to support Justin, they are at his service. Dr Thirlby, when I once mentioned them to him, thought them observable, and fit to be produced on this subject.
We have the Acts of Justin's martyrdom, whicli seem in the main to be genuine, and to contain a true narration of his courageous behaviour, and of his sufferings.
Without detracting from the merits of this worthy man, we ought to acknowledge, what truth and plain matter of fact extort from us, that he, and the rest of the fathers, are often poor and insufficient guides in things of judgment and criticism, and in the interpretation of the Scriptures, and sometimes in points of morality also and of doctrine, as Daillé, Whitby, Barbeyrac, and others have fully shewed. The men themselves usually deserve much respect, and their writings are highly useful * on several accounts; but it is better to defer too little, than too much, to their decisions, and to the authority of antiquity, that handmaid to Scripture, as she is called. She is like Bria
* The learned defender of Dr Chajman's charge hath pointed out (heir utility, p. 40. &c.
reus, and lias a hundred hands, and these hands often clash, and beat one another.
The genuineness of Justin's Dialogue hath been called in question by Christianus Gotlieb Kochius, Gothofredus Wagnerus, and I know not who, whose names, if Fabricius and Thirlby had not preserved them from oblivion, would liave been lost long ago. Father Ilarduin also, though for a time he thought fit to spare this valuable treatise, yet afterwards, I think, did it the honour to reject it, along with the rest of Justin's works ; which is one argument and not a bad one, in its firvour.
About A. D. 146. Ilegesippus wrote an ecclesiastical history. He was a weak and a credulous man, much such another as Papias. He gives us a history of the martyrdom of James, bishop of Jerusalemn, which is no better than a legend, and which Eusebius should not have related, without adding, as he has on some other occasions, of this let every one judge as he thinks proper.
Towards A. D. 170. arose the sect of the Encratites, followers of Tatian, Justin's disciple. Eusebius iv. 29. They condemned marriage, wine, and animal food. Others before them had held the same doctrines, doctrines expressly foretold and condemned by St Paul, 1 Tim. iv. 1. But before the fourth century was ended, these and other corruptions were widely spread, or at least the foundation of them was laid, in superstitious and injudicious mortifications, monkery, lying wonders, feigned apparitions, excessive honours paid to departed saints, and to their reliques, &c. as Jos. Mede intimates, and Sir Is. Newton and others have sufficiently shewed.
In the persecution under Marcus Aurelius, Alcibiades and Attalus suffered death. Alcibiades was one who abstained froin all food, except bread and water. It was revealed to Attalus, whilst they were in prison, that his companion did wrong, and set a bad example, in refusing to make use of God's creatures ; upon which Alcibiades obeyed, and ate of such things as were set before him. Eusebius relates this v. 3. and took it from an epistle of the churches of Lions and Vienne in Gaul. They who defend the fasts and abstinencies of the ancient monks, may try how they can reconcile these things together.
When Marcus Aurelius was at war with the Quadi, A. D. 174. and in the utmost distress and danger, his army was relieved by a plentiful shower of rain, together with hail, thunder, and lightning, which so incommoded his enemies, that the elements seemed to fight for him. The fact is attested by many writers, Pagan and Christian, and by the Columna Antoniniuna, where is represented the figure of Jupiter Plurius. The Pagans ascribed it to the incantations of some magician, or to the virtues of the emperor, and the Christians to the prayers of the Christian soldiers.
This produced a silly story of the Thundering Legion, and a forged letter of the emperor in favour of the Christians, all which agrees not with the persecution which they endured under him and his colleague Lucius Verus. Observe that Eusebius v. 5. after
producing his vouchers, concludes his narration of the story thus και άλλα ταύτα μεν όπη τις εθέλη τιθέσθω, but of this let every one judge as he thinks fit. We are o bliged to him for giving us leave to reject it. See Le Clerc, Hist. Eccl. p. 744. and Moyle's Dissertation. Moyle concludes, with wishing no other harm to
the believers of the thundering legion, than that they may also believe the martyrdom of the Thebean Legion : to which good wish I say, with Le Clerc, Amen.
Qui Bavium non odit, fc. There is a stupid and ridiculous epistle of the emperor Marcus still extant, and of a modern date, which is given up even by Tillemont, who is seldom disposed to make such concessions, and, I believe, by every one else, who knows any thing of those matters, one person excepted. We have also an epistle of the same stamp ascribed to Antoninus Pius, which was forged by some Christian before the days of Eusebius, and which Thirlby rejects, and the last editor of Justin defends in his Preface, and observes, Tantus est decreti Imperatoris cum Justini Apologia consensus, ut in sententiam S. Martyris constructum videatur. p. lxxx. The observation concerning the consensus is very true ; but who would warrant the inference. The forger of the epistle must have been a poor wretch indeed, if he could not take care that the emperor's answer should favour the petition of Justin. Mihi fateor suspectum esse hoc edictum, magisque ad mentem Christianorum esse conceptum quam illud concepturus fuerit Gentilis Imperator. Dodwell Diss. xi. 257.
As to the Emperor Marcus, with all his amiable and princely qualities, he did not love the Christians, as appears from unquestionable authority, even from his ozon book. The Philosophers had probably contributed to set him against them, and his love of philo, sophy and the respect which he paid to its professors were excessive, and indeed sometimes ridiculous. A Greek orator met him once in the street, and asked him
Bibl. A. et M. xxvü: 193.
where he was going. A man, replied Marcus, is never too old to learn; I am going to Sextus the philosopher, to be instructed by him. O sun, suid the Orutor, lifting up his hands, a Roman emperor, in his old age, trull res with his book, like a school-boy, to his master's house, to learn his lesson! The Orator might well wonder to see him act so out of character, and more like a pedant than a prince. Suidas, et Philostr. Vit. So. phist. 1. ii. 556.
We are told that Marcus Aurelius, without repcaling the old laws which condemned convicted Christians, made an edict, that whosoever accused a Christian should be put to death ; and that about ten years after, under his son Commodus, who yet was favourable to the Christians, one Apollonius, a man of eminence, being publicly accused of Christianity by a slave (as Jerom says) the delator had his legs broken for his information, and was executed ; and that Apollonius, persisting in his religion, was condemned by the senate. Tertullian Apol. Eusebius v. 5. 21. Le Clerc, Hist. Eccl. p.786. Strange! that so wise a prince as Marcus Aurelius should make so absurd an edict, * who might have made a reasonable one in four words, NOLVMVS CHRISTIANOS AMPLIVS VEX
Had he not so much interest with the senators as to gain their consent ? That is not to be supposed of an emperor so much beloved by his subjects. And if he could not have gained it for this reasonable de cree, † neither could he have gained it for the other,
which, • The forger of this story had his head full of the Book of Esther, and of the law of the Medes and Persians which alterath not, and imagined that the only way by which the emperor could protect the Christians was to punish their accusers.
+ Gallienus, being favourably disposed towards the Christians, gave a Rescript which without these absurdities secured them in