Imatges de pÓgina

The Romans were remarkably tenacious of their own religion. Dionysius Halicarnassensis observes, that though there were a multitude of nations, which in a manner had taken up their abode at Rome, each of which had its own sacred rites, yet no foreign religion had been publicly received by the Romans, or not, at least, till they had purged and corrected it, and made it conformable to their own h

animi hominum moveantur, honestiores deportantur, humiliores capite. puniuntur.' Sentent. Receptar. 1. v. tit. 21.

Under the same title, he has another law against soothsayers and pretenders to inspiration, who are ordered to be beaten, banished, &c. ne humana credulitate publici mores ad spem alicujus rei corrumperentur, vel certe ex eo populares animi turbarentur.

'Si quis aliquid fecerit, quo leves hominum animi superstitione numinis terrerentur, Divus Marcus hujusmodi homines in insulam relegari rescripsit.' Digest. 1. xlviii. tit. xix. 30.

In the Acts of the Apostles, xvi. 21. some of the inhabitants of Philippi bring this accusation against Paul and Silas: These men teach customs which it is not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.' Where see Grotius.

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Cicero de Leg. xi. 8. Separatim nemo habessit Deos, neve novos ; sed ne advenas, nisi publice adscitos, privatim colunto.' [In the same book sacra nocturna' are accounted unlawful without particular leave.]


Plato has the same law. Ἱερὰ μηδὲ εἰς ἐν ἰδίαις οικίαις ἐκτήσθω. θύειν δ ̓ ὅταν ἐπὶ νοῦν ἴῃ τινὶ, πρὸς τὰ δημόσια ἴτω θύσων· &c. nemo in privata domo habeat. Cum vero animum quis ad sacrificandum induxerit, ad publica sacrificaturus accedat,' &c. and the transgressors of this law are to be punished. De Leg. x.

The accusation against Socrates was, ἀδικεῖ Σωκράτης, οὓς μὲν ἡ πόλις νομίζει Θεοὺς, οὐ νομίζων, ἕτερα δὲ καινὰ δαιμόνια εἰσφέρων. Plato Apol. Xenoph. Memor. Clericus Silv. Phil. cap. iii.

Porphyry says of Ammonius, who, as he pretends, left christianity for paganism, πρὸς τὴν κατὰ νόμους πολιτείαν μετεβάλετο “ ad vivendi rationem legibus consentientem descivit,' whereas Origen (says he) lived Χριστιανῶς καὶ παρανόμως. Euseb. E. H. vi. 19. This was the common language of the Pagans.

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See Bynkershoek's Opuscula 4. De cultu religionis peregrine apud Romanos.'

If Ulpian's Treatise on the duty of proconsuls were extant, we should know what edicts had been published against Christians by the emperors, down to the time of Alexander Severus. Domitius [Ulpianus] de officio proconsulis libro viii. rescripta principum nefaria collegit, ut doceret quibus pœnis adfici oporteret eos, qui se cultores Dei confiterentur.' Lactantius Inst. Div. v. 11.

Pliny, in his memorable epistle to Trajan x. 97. inquires of him howe he should proceed against the Christians.

3. The people and the governors of provinces sometimes persecuted the Christians without any particular leave or order. from the emperor.

Melito, bishop of Sardes, in the Apology which he dedicated to the emperor Marcus Aurelius, says, ' Pious men are now persecuted and harassed through all Asia, by new decrees, which was never done before: for impudent sycophants, and such as covet the possessions of others, taking occasion from the edicts, rob without fear or shame,

Trajan, in his Rescript, so far spared the Christians, that he forbad them to be sought after, or to be condemned upon the evidence of nameless informations. But, if a prosecutor appeared, he ordered them to be put to death, unless they recanted. Plin Ep. x. 99.

However, as Pliny's letter to Trajan did not set the Christians in a bad light, so the emperor's reply was in some measure favourable to them. He seemed willing to connive at them, and not to use them rigorously.

Afterwards Adrian gave a rescript to Minucius Fundanus, [to be found in Euseb. iv. 9. and at the end of Justin's first Apol.] which is obscure. It doth not manifestly exempt Christians from punishment; and yet it seems in some degree to favour them, and might have been so interpreted by a judge who was disposed to put the mildest construction upon it. The Christians often appealed to it.

κ Ουδ' ἂν ἴδοι τις παρ' αὐτοῖς, καίτοι διεφθαρμένων τῶν ἐθῶν ἤδη, οὐ Θεοφορήσεις, οὐ κορυβαντιασμοὺς οὐκ ἀγερμούς, οὐ βακχείας καὶ τελετὰς απορρήτους, οὐ διαπαννυχιασμοὺς ἐν ἱεροῖς ἀνδρῶν σὺν γυναιξίν, οὐκ ἄλλο τῶν παραπλησίων τούτοις τερατευμάτων οὐδὲν, ἀλλ ̓ εὐλαβῶς ἅπαντα πραττόμενά τε καὶ λεγόμενα τὰ περὶ τοὺς θεοὺς, ὡς οὔτε παρ' Ελλησιν, οὔτε παρὰ βαρβάροις. καὶ δ ̓ πάντων μάλιστα ἔγωγε τεθαύμακα, καίπερ μυρίων ὅσων εἰς τὴν πόλιν ἐληλυθότων ἐθνων, οἷς πολλὴ ἀνάγκη σέβειν τοὺς πατρίους θεοὺς τοῖς ὄικοθεν νομίμοις, οὐδενὸς εἰς ζῆλον ἐλήλυθε τῶν ξενικῶν ἐπιτηδευμάτων ἡ πόλις δημοσίᾳ, ὃ πολλαῖς ἤδη συνέβη παθεῖν, ἀλλὰ καὶ εἴ τινα κατὰ χρησμοὺς ἐπεισης γάγετο ἱερά, τοῖς ἑαυτῆς αυτὰ τιμᾷ νόμοις, ἅπασαν ἐκβάλλουσα τερθρείαν μυθικὴν Ῥωμαίων δὲ τῶν αὐθιγενῶν οὔτε μητραγύρτών τις, οὔτε καταυλόμενος πορεύεται διὰ τῆς πόλεως, ποικίλην ἐνδεδυκώς στόλην, οὔτε ὀργιάζων τὴν θεὸν τοῖς Φρυγίοις ὀργιασμοῖς, κατὰ νόμον ἢ ψήφισμα βουλῆς. ούτως εὐλαβῶς ἡ πόλις ἔχει πρὸς τὰ οὐκ ἐπιχώρια ἔτη περὶ θεῶν, καὶ παντα οττεύεται τύφον, ᾧ μὴ πρόσεστι τὸ ἐυπρεπές. ii. 19. p. 88.

i See Sozomen. E. H. v. 11. Eusebius E. H. vi. 41. ix. 6. where it is said that Peter of Alexandria αθρόως οὕτω καὶ ἀλόγως, ὡς ἂν Μαξιμίνου προστάξαντος, τὴν κεφαλὴν ἀποτέμνεται which Valesius translates, 'subito et absque ulla probabili caussa, utpote Maximino jubente, capite truncatur.' I think it should be, ' quasi jussisset Maximinus. The edicts against Christians were then repealed, and Maximinus at that time rather secretly encouraged than openly commanded those cruelties.

and cease not to plunder those who in nothing have offended. And if these things are done by your order, it is enough, all is well; for a just prince can never decree any thing that is unjust; and we cheerfully bear such a death, both as an honour and a reward. Only this favour we beg of you, that you would first inform yourself concerning men who are obstinate and inflexible, (in a good cause, as they think; in a bad one, as their enemies pretend) and then judge, as your own equity shall direct, whether they deserve punishment and death, or impunity and quiet. But if this resolution and this new decree, not fit to be enacted against barbarians and enemies, proceeds not from you, (as we have reason to hope) much more may we entreat you that you would not give us up unprotected to this public injury and popular devastation 1.’

4. The emperors disliked the frequent assemblies and clandestine meetings of Christians, as giving an opportunity to cabals and conspiracies'.

Mæcenas is said by Dio Cassius to have given this advice to Augustus: • Worship the deity yourself, by all means, according to the custom of the country, and compel others to do the same; and abhor and punish all those who would make any innovations in religion,—not only for the sake of

* Τὸ γὰρ οὐδὲ πώποτε γενόμενον, νῦν διώκεται τὸ τῶν Θεοσεβῶν γένος, καινοῖς ἐλαυνόμενον δόγμασι κατὰ τὴν ̓Ασίαν· οἱ γὰρ ἀναιδεῖς συκοφάνται καὶ τῶν ἀλλοτρίων ἐρασταὶ, τὴν ἐκ τῶν διαταγμάτων ἔχοντες ἀφορμὴν, φανερῶς ληστεύουσι, νύκτωρ καὶ μεθημέραν διαρπάζοντες τοὺς μηδὲν ἀδικοῦντας,—καὶ εἰ μὲν σοῦ κελευσαντος ταῦτα πράττεται, ἔστω καλῶς γινόμενον· δίκαιος γὰρ βασιλεὺς οὐκ ἂν ἀδίκως βουλέυσαιτο πώποτε καὶ ἡμεῖς ἡδέως φέρομεν τοῦ τοιούτου θανάτου τὸ γέρας· ταύτην δέ σοι μένην προσφέρομεν δέησιν, ἵνα αὐτὸς πρότερον ἐπιγνοὺς τοὺς τῆς τοιαύτης φιλονεικίας ἐργάτας, δικαίως κρίνειας εἰ ἄξιοι θανάτου καὶ τιμωρίας, ἤ σωτηρίας καὶ ἡσυχίας εἰσίν· εἰ δὲ καὶ παρὰ σοῦ μὴ εἴη ἡ βουλὴ αυτη καὶ τὸ καινὸν τοῦτο διάταγμα, ὃ μηδὲ κατὰ βαρβάρων πρέπει πολεμίων, πολὺ μᾶλλον δεόμεθά σου, μὴ περιῒδεῖν ἡμᾶς ἐν τοιάυτῃ δημώδει λεηλασίᾳ.

The place deserves to be produced, were it only to show the politeness of the old Christian Apologist. The civility and decency of Athenagoras is no less remarkable in his Apology. In the interpretation of φιλονεικίας I have followed Valesius, to whom I refer the reader.

Ab nullo genere non æque summum periculum est, si cœtus et concilia, et secretas consultationes esse sinas. M. Porcius Cato, apud Liv. xxxiv. 2. At Crotona, trecenti ex juvenibus cum-separatam a cæteris civibus vitam exercerent, quasi cœtum clandestinæ conjurationis haberent, civitatem in se converterunt, &c. Justin xx. 4.

the gods, but because such persons, substituting new deities, prevail upon many to observe foreign laws and institutions; and hence arise conspiracies, confederacies and fraternities, which are not at all expedient in a monarchy m

But there is reason to suspect that this discourse of Mæcenas was the invention of Dio, who is every where very fond of showing his talent for politics and speechmaking.

Christians were sometimes persecuted in a manner which (upon the pagan supposition that they offended against the laws and deserved to die for it) must be acknowledged not to have been the most violent and bloody; for it appears evidently in Ecclesiastical History, and in the Acts of the Martyrs, that sometimes a few persons only were seized and put to death, to intimidate the rest and to give a check to their increase; and that the Christians visited them in pri

* Τὸ μὲν θεῖον πάντη πάντως αυτός τε σέβου κατὰ τὰ πάτρια, καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους τιμᾶν ἀνάγκαζε· τοὺς δὲ ξενίζοντάς τι περὶ αὐτὸ καὶ μίσει καὶ κόλαζε, μὴ μόνον τῶν θεῶν ἕνεκα, ἀλλ' ὅτι καινά τινα δαιμόνια οἱ τοιοῦ τοι αντεισφέροντες πολλοὺς ἀναπείθουσιν ἀλλοτριονομεῖν· κακ τούτου καὶ συνωμοσίαι, καὶ συστάσεις, ἑταιρίαι τε γίγνονται, ἅπερ ἥκιστα μοναρχία ovμcasa. lii. p. 561. ed. Steph.

Pliny tells Trajan that he had forbidden such societies, and that the Christians had obeyed his order-quod ipsum facere desîsse post edictum meum, quo, secundum mandata tua, hetarias esse vetueram.'

Magi auctores fuere Trajano ut 'hetærias,' id est, sodalitates sive collegia omnia, vetaret, ut videre est apud Plinium, 'exceptis quæ religionis nomine,' Paganicæ scilicet coïbant, 1. i. § 'Sed religionis,' C. de Collegiis. Cum vero homines naturâ ament sodalitates, factum inde ut nemo esset in imperio Romano qui non in sodalitatem deorum alicuiį dicatam nomen daret, &c. Grotius ad Apoc. xiii. 16. See also Columbus on the writer'de Mortib. Persec.' c. 34.

Severus gave a rescript ordering information to be made to the prefect of Rome against those who should hold unlawful assemblies; which probably affected the Christians, as Baronius observes 204. § 12.

Celsus objects these clandestine meetings to the Christians. See Origen contr. Cels. p. 4.

Tertullian says very well Apol. 39. Hæc coitio Christianorum merito sane illicita, si illicitis par, merito damnanda, si quis de ea queritur eo titulo quo de factionibus querela est. In cujus perniciem aliquando convenimus? Hoc sumus congregati, quod et dispersi; hoc universi, quod et singuli ; neminem lædentes, neminem contristantes. Cum probi, cum boni coëunt, cum pii, cum casti congregantur; non est factio dicenda, sed curia.

son, and attended them, when they suffered in great


AMONGST the bad dispositions which keep men in error and ignorance, there was one which was more eminently peculiar to the Gentiles than to the Jews, namely, a great carelessness and indifference about all religion in general.

Men of rank and fortunes, of wit and abilities, are often found, even in Christian countries, to be surprisingly ignorant of religion and of every thing that relates to it. Such were many of the heathen; their thoughts were all fixed upon other things, upon reputation and vain-glory, upon wealth and power, upon luxury and pleasure, upon business or learning. They thought, and they had reason to think, that the religion of their country was fable and forgery, and an heap of inconsistent lyes; which inclined them to suppose that other religions were no better, and deserved not to be examined. Hence it came to pass that, even when the apostles preached the gospel, and wrought miracles in confirmation of a doctrine every way worthy of God, many Gentiles knew little or nothing of it, and would not take the least pains to inform themselves about it. This appears plainly from antient history.

About the time of the apostles, and a little after, flourished some learned men in the heathen world whose works are still extant P. These men must have known that there was a religion called the Christian religion; but their silence about it, or the very little that they say of the Christians, or the false account which they give of them, affords reason to suspect that they never desired to be in

n Arrius Antoninus in Asia cum persequeretur instanter, omnes illius civitatis Christiani ante tribunalia ejus se manu factâ obtulerunt; cum ille, paucis duci jussis, reliquis ait, ὦ δειλοί, εἰ θέλετε ἀποθνήσκειν, κρημνοὺς ἢ βρόχους ἔχετε. Tertullian ad Scapulam, cap. ult.

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Many of them knew as little of Judaism. Dio Cassius says that Hyrcanus and Aristobulus quarrelled who should be high priest of their God, whosoever he be, τοῦ σφετέρου Θεοῦ ὅστις ποτὲ οὗτός ἐστιν. 1. xxxvi. p. 36. He says also that he knew not how the inhabitants of Palæstine came to be called Jews, ib. p. 37. and he adds several things which show that he hated the nation.

℗ See Le Clerc de l'Incrédulité, par. i, ch. 5. whence this remark is borrowed.

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