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was born A. D. 233, and died about A. D. 303. Constantine ordered his writings against Christianity to be suppressed, in which he was ill advised. Si nilil est nostra religione cerius, quid rationes reformidanus.? said Ludovicus Vives.
Plotinus, as Porphyry relates, desired the Emperor Gallienus to rebuild a ruined city in Campania, and to give it to the philosophers, proposing to dwell there himself with his disciples, and to establish Plato's republic. But though he was much in the emperor's favour, his project met with opposition at court, and came to nothing. Thus philosophy, though patronized by princes, could never in any age introduce its rules even into one city, and Jesus Christ hath established his all over the world, in spite of all world'y opposition from the great and the learned. Tillemont H, E. iii. p. 268.
A republic of modern deists and moral philosophers would be as great a curiosity as this city of philosopher's would have been, but perhaps not quite so well regulated. Plotinus, if he could have compassed liis design, would probably have found it necessary to alter at least one part of the plan in Plato's republie, and to exclude the coinmunity of ivires which that philosopher had a fancy to establish.
The city of Symrna being overthrown by an earth. quake, Marcus Aurelius shewed great kindness to the inhabitants, and liberally assisted tliein in repairing the loss. Aristides the sophist had the honour to be instrumental in this by writing to the emperor in behalf of the sufferers.
“ Aristides, in a discourse which lie addresses to “ the people of Smyrna to congratulate their re-esta
blishment, says, that their calamity had been deplored by all the inhabitants of Creece and Asia, as a distress common to thein all; that every one
" had been forward to bring provisions to those who “ remained in the city, and to furnish carriages,
houses, and all sorts of conveniencies to those who “ were forced to quit the place, as though they had “ been the parents or the children of the safferers.
Every one offered them money, and they who had
none, promised to furnish it as soon as they were “ able ; and in doing thus, each thought that he did
not bestow, but receive a favour.
“ Such was the change tliat Christianity has made “ in the world; for doubtless the Christians, who “ were numerous in those provinces, had the best " share in these acts of charity, and by their zeal in“ flamed the Pagans also, to make the old proverb
lie, that all the world forgets and neglects the mi
serable, which yet till then had been too true.' Tillemont H. des Einp. iii. p. 391.
In the time of Marcus Aurelius lived Bardesanes, a Syrian. We have a large extract from him in Eusebius Præp. Ev. vi. 11. containing argnments against fate and astrology. It is a judicious and ingenious piece, and it shews that this heretic was a man of considerable abilities. Eusebius esteemed him much as an author, (and so did Jerom) and seems to judge candidly and charitably of him as to religion ; for he says that Bardesanes fell into the Valentinian heresy, and afterwards saw the folly of it, and rejected it, but could not entirely shake off all his errors. Hist. Eccl. iv. 30. He was one of those who admitted two principles, the one good, and the other evil, and from him the Manichæans borrowed some of their notions. The author of the Recognitions has pillaged Bardesanes, and has put his remarks and his arguments against astrological fate in the inouth of his pretended Clemens,
ix. 18. but honour and probity is not to be expected from such writers. Cave had a suspicion that Bardesanes was himself the author of the Recognitions. I am inclined to have a better opinion of him, and to think that he could not be the author of so many shameless lies. See an account of this philosopher, of his accomplishments, and of his errors in Beausobre, Hist, du Manicheisme, ii. p. 128.
In those days lived Melito, bishop of Sardes. He is thought by some to have been a prophet. Amongst many treatises which are lost, he wrote one concerning prophecy. Euseb. iv. 26. aóyos auto otpi aspoonteóds, which Valesius rightly translates, Item alius (liber) de prophetia. But in his notes he says, Rufinus hcec cum verbis superioribus conjunxit hoc modo : De fide et generatione Christi, et de prophetia ejus. cui tamen non assentior. Rectius Hieronymus in libro de Scriptoribus Ecclesiasticis hunc locum ita vertit: Item de prophetia sua librum unum.
Certe Melitonem prophetam a plerisque habitum fuisse docet Tertullianus. Hieronymus in Melitone, Hujus, inquit, elegans et declamatorium ingenium laudans Tertullianus in septem libris quos scripsit adversus Ecclesiam pro Montano, dicit a plerisque nostrorum prophetam putari.
All this amounts to little or nothing, and will not prove that Melito was a prophet. If he had made any predictions, Eusebius would have taken notice of them. As a prophet means sometimes only an inspired teacher, in that sense Melito miglit have been a prophet, and the ancient Christians accounted him one. Polycrates, a bishop of the second century,' says of him-τον εν αγίω σνεύμαζι σολίτευσάμενον–για Spiritu sancto afflatus cuncta gessit : and of a daughter of Philip, ir ayiw arouzlo word vergeten. Apud Euseb. v.
24. But these are expressions somewhat rague,
and which admit of more or less.
Concerning this illustrious bishop and apologist, see Disc. i. on the Christ. Relig. p. 50.
Under Commodus, the Christians suffered little, and many considerable and wealthy families were converted. Eusebius, v. 2.
About the year 171, arose the sect of the Montanists, a sect pretending to prophecy and extraordinary illuminations, and to excessive rigour in doctrine, discipline, and practice. It consisted, as we may suppose, of some hypocrites, mixed with several enthusiasts, and Tertullian was easily drawn in to side with them. They were accused by hasty and credulous adversaries of abominations from which they were free, of killing and eating children, calumnies which only served to confirm them in their obstinacy and in their
This sect, though it spread itself much for a time, did some service perhaps to Christianity ; for it produced in its opposers, even for the very sake and pleasure of contradiction, an antifanatical spirit, a prudence in avoiding danger when it might be lawfully shunned, a charitable disposition towards repenting sinners, a cantion not to be imposed upon by impudent or frantic pretences to inspiration, and a dislike of superstitious and uncommanded austerities, though these indeed some time after overwhelmed the Christian world like a torrent.
Besides Tertullian's own vehement and rigid disposition, the ill usage which he received from the ccclesiastics of the church of Rome contributed to make him a Lionienis, as Jerom says, Invidid et contatelis Clericorunn Luclesie Romanæ ad Blontani dogma delap sum. De Script. Ecl. This may be true ; and it may be a inistake : for how should Jerom know Tertullian's motives? Thus, however, he lost the title of saint, a title which hath been often as wretchedly bestowed as other titles and favours. Charity bids us suppose that he lost not what is infinitely more important. Several have thought too hardly concerning him, never considering that, with all his abilities, he was deficient in judgment; and had a partial disorder in his understanding, which excuses almost as much as downright frenzy. He was learned for those times, acute and ingenious, and somewhat satyrical, hasty, credulous, impetuous, rigid and censorious, fanatical and enthusiastical, and a bad * writer, as to style, not perhaps through incapacity of doing better, but through a false taste and a perverse affectation. He fell into many errors ; but it is to be hoped that, in another world, the mistakes, as well as the doubts, of poor mortals are rectified, and forgiven too, and that whosoever loves truth and virtue,
--illic postquam se lumine vero Implevit, stellasque vagas miratus et astra Fira polo, vidit quanta sub nocte jaceret Nostra dies.
But the manner in which he treated some of those heretics whom he attacks, is not to be excused.
In his books against Marcion, he declaims against the
very country in which he supposed him to have been born, and calls him, by way of reproach; a sailor', or water-man, and a Scythian. He should have remeinbered, as Beausobre observes, that Peter the
• Mr de Balzac dit que l'obscutité de Tertullien, est comme la noirceur de l' êbene, qui jette un grand éclat. Menagiana.