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call them by that name. But if at any time any one of us, either in a letter, or in discourse, termed them martyrs, they reproved us sharply. But they readily ascribed the honour of martyrdom to Christ,-the faithful and true wit– ness, and the first-begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the life of God; Rev. i. 5. They also commemorated the martyrs who were already departed out of this life, and said —These now are martyrs whom Christ has vouchsafed to take to himself in the midst of their confession, sealing their martyrdom by their death; we are mean and humble confessors. And with tears they besought the brethren, entreating that earnest prayers might be made for them that they might be perfected. And they demonstrated the power of martyrdom in fact, using great freedom of speech in all their answers to the Gentiles, and manifesting" a greatness of mind in their patience, fearlessness, and undaunted courage under all their sufferings. But they refused the appellation of martyrs from the brethren, being filled with the fear of God. Again, after some few things, they say:—They humbled themselves under the mighty hand, by which they are now exalted; 1 Pet. v. 6: they apologized for themselves to all, but accused none. They loosed all, but they bound none. They prayed for those who grievously treated them, as did Stephen the perfect martyr: Lord, lay not this sin to their charge; Acts vii. 60. And if he prayed for those who stoned him, how much more for the brethren 3 And again, after a few other things, they say: for that was the greatest encounter which they had with the enemy, proceeding from their genuine love. And the beast being strangled brought up again alive those whom before he supposed he had digested. They did not proudly glory over those that fell. On such as were indigent they bestowed those good things with which themselves abounded : having motherly bowels of compassion, they poured out many tears for them to the Father: They asked life, and he gave it them; Psal. xxi. 4; which also they imparted to their neighbour: and, having been in all things conquerors, they went to God. They always loved peace, they always recommended peace, and in peace they went to God: leaving no grief to their mother, nor contention and war among the brethren, but joy and peace and concord and love.’
Eusebius still goes on in another chapter, which I shall
likewise here transcribe.
pavipaw £Totav. p. 166. D.
* Moreover,’ says" he, ‘in the same epistle there is another thing well deserving to be taken notice of. It is to this purpose: “For Alcibiades, one of the martyrs, who led a very austere course of life, and hitherto had fed upon bread and water only, and still observing the same course of life in prison; it was revealed to Attalus, after his first combat in the amphitheatre, that Alcibiades did not do. well in not using the creatures of God, and was an occasion of scandal to others; I Tim. iv. 4: and Alcibiades submitted, and after that partook of all sorts of food promiscuously, and gave God thanks.” For,’ adds Eusebius, they were not destitute of the grace of God, but the Holy Spirit was their director.” * IV. I shall now make some remarks. 1. The fierceness of the persecution at Lyons must have continued for some good while, several months at least. This must be manifest to all, so that I need not add any thing to show it. 2. Here is a proof of the great progress of the christian religion in a short time. There were now two churches in that part of Gaul; one at Lyons, the other at Vienne. Pothinus, bishop of the church of Lyons, was a venerable man, of great age. The number of christians in those two places must have been very considerable. There were among them men of distinction for their knowledge and understanding. Attalus, and divers others, were Roman citizens. Alexander was by profession a physician. There were among them men of substance, who had a number of slaves, some of which were heathens, others christians, one of whom was the admirable Blandina. As it may be of use to cast some light upon this remarkable story, and upon the epistle which we have just seen I shall now transcribe someo observations of Walesius: ‘Here ‘ ariseth,” saith he, “a twofold question. The first is, Why ‘ was this epistle written jointly by the two churches of ‘Vienne and Lyons? The other is, Why these Gauls wrote * in Greek, and to the churches of Asia and Phrygia 3 As ‘ for the first, I suppose the reason to be, that the churches ‘of Vienne and Lyons were joined together, not only by ‘ vicinity of place, but also by the bonds of mutual love. “And since they had suffered together in the same persecu‘tion, they joined together in an account of their martyrs. ‘And both the provinces seem to have been under the ju“risdiction of one and the same president; for these rea‘sons they joined together in this account. For whereas " Ib. cap. 3. p. 167. * Annot. in Euseb. p. 85, 86.
some have supposed that there was but one bishop only of these two cities, they are confuted by the epistle itself, which calls Pothinus bishop of Lyons, not of Vienne. Moreover, they of Lyons out of respect name those of Vienne first: forasmuch as they of Lyons wrote the epistle, and gave an account of what was done in their own city. As for the second question, we perceive from the epistle itself that there were many Greeks in the church of Lyons. Attalus and Alexander were Phrygians: and Alcibiades also, as I suppose, came from Phrygia. Irenaeus likewise was born in Asia, and when young, conversed with Polycarp. The name of Pothinus denotes it to be of Greek original. It is no wonder therefore that they, who came into Gaul from Asia, should write to their brethren in Asia; from whom also, as may be supposed, they had before received an epistle concerning the death of Polycarp and others.’ So writes Walesius. Sulpicius Severus, referring to this persecution, says, “Andy now first of all martyrdoms were seen in Gaul.” It is manifest that there were now two churches, one at Vienne, another at Lyons; though the bishop of the former city is not expressly named. These words are very remarkable : ‘However,” from day to day such were taken up as were “worthy to supply the number of such as had gone off. . So “ that the most eminent men of the two churches, by whom ‘good order had been settled among us, were picked out ‘and brought together.” We cannot hence conclude when conversions were first made in this country: but we can hence reasonably infer that these two churches had been for some while in a flourishing condition; and that the eminent men, who had been the authors of the good order among them, were still living, and several of them ‘now suffered * martyrdom.” - And we have reason to believe that though these two societies underwent a severe shock at this time, they were not shattered or broken to pieces. They may have recovered themselves and flourished again. For Irenaeus, who was now" presbyter, succeeded Pothinus in the episcopate, and lived and wrote with great reputation after" this. His large and excellent work against heresies in five books is a work of leisure, and must have been written in a time of peace and tranquillity.
* Sub Aurelio deinde, Antonini filio, persecutio quinta agitata. Ac tum primum intra Gallias martyria visa; serius trans Alpes Dei religione susceptà.. Sul. Sev. l. 2. cap. 46. $
2, was ovXAsympat sk rov čvo skk\matov Tavrag rac orečatec, rat 6'. wv HaAtsa ovvstonks; ta sv6aës. p. 156. C. * Euseb. l. 5. cap. iv.
* See in this work, Vol. i. p. 363, &c.
3. The sufferings which the christians now underwent were various and very grievous; they need not to be here particularly rehearsed. We might have been apt to think that the accounts of the christians' sufferings, which we meet with in Lactantius, and other ancient apologists, are oratorical exaggeration. But here is an authentic account of eye-witnesses and fellow-sufferers which assures us that it is all matter of fact.
Such things may be thought to be a reflection upon the Roman government. But we are to consider that the Romans, and many other people at that time, were accustomed to the inhuman spectacles of gladiators, and that excessive cruelty was then practised upon many occasions. Since which time the farther progress of the christian religion has in a great degree corrected and mollified the tempers of men in this part of the world. We ought likewise to consider that the sufferers, whose history we have been reading, were christians, whom many then thought to be the most contemptible of all men, and not entitled to the common rights of the human kind.
The excessive and repeated sufferings of Blandina were
very extraordinary: but she was a slave, and therefore de
spised. And in the eye of prejudiced idolaters the provoca
tion was very great, that she, a woman, and a slave, should
withstand all attempts to induce her to pay homage to their
deities. Attalus was a Roman citizen, and should have been beheaded; but being a christian this privilege was not allowed. The multitude demanded that he should be tortured, and thrown to wild beasts; and the president granted their
request, relying undoubtedly upon impunity, though he
acted contrary to law. Such was the hard condition of the christians at that time ! The persecution at Lyons was very severe. The tortures made use of were grievous and various, and the sufferers were numerous. By the edict of Trajan, such christians as were brought before a governor's tribunal, and were convicted, were to be punished. “But they are not to be “sought for,’ says that emperor. But ‘the" president at * Lyons issued out public orders, that strict searches should * be made for them.” 4. The sufferings of these Christians in Gaul cannot but be " a disparagement to the emperor Marcus Antoninus; He could not be unacquainted with them, though he had not been applied to about them. ... But he was applied to. The governor wrote to him for direction. And he wrote back that ‘ they who confess themselves christians should be put to death; but that they who denied it might be set at liberty.” Certainly Marcus deserves to be put in the number of persecuting emperors. If he had only connived at the sufferings, (as he may have done in some places,) that would not exculpate him, when he might have restrained and forbid them by his imperial authority. But here is a rescript, with an order that all who, upon examination, confessed themselves to be christians, “should be but to death.’ And such rescripts may have been sent by |. to other governors, and to other provinces. Some may think that “this emperor was hardened by the principles of his sect. Nevertheless, I think that will not fully account for his cruel treatment of the christians: it was owing to want of equity to them ; and he was a bigot to his religion, as well as to his philosophy; and he had been so from his childhood ; for he could show tenderness enough for some men. As Tillemont said some while" ago : “ there were many instances of mildness in the reign of this ‘ emperor, and very few of severity, excepting against the * christians, who the least deserved it.” However, it must be owned that § the beginning of this persecution at Lyons was not owing to any new edicts, or to any express orders from the emperor; for when the president perceived that Attalus was a Roman citizen, he sent him back to those who were in prison, and wrote to the emeror for directions how to act toward those prisoners; and |. deferred to proceed any farther till he had received an answer from him; which answer was such as we have just taken notice of Indeed the persecutions in many places were very much owing to the clamours of the common peo
*Tet Önuoqug skéAsvgev č iyepov avašijreigõat tranraç inac. p.
* Hic finis suppliciorum in Lugdunensi provincià fuit, quae mirum est Marci Aurelii temporibus de innocentibus potuisse Sumi ea tantum de causã, quod Ethnicorum sacra suscipere nollent.—Haec ergo erit macula, quae boni alias viri vitae inusta, infamem eum, crudelis superstitionis causā, omnibus seculis faciet, et philosophiae Stoicae contemtum merito creabit. Cleric. H. E. ann. 167. n. xv. - * * Igitur tragice christianos mori, non philosophice, censebat. Hinc etiam malis, quibus afficiebatur, parum movebatur, imo ex praescripto secto, cui parebat, moveri nullo modo debebat. Moshem. ubi supra. p. 246. * See before, p. 144. & Inde collige, hanc persecutionem sine novis Imperatorum edictis motam esse. Ruinart. Acta Mart, sincera, p. 67.