Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

“sensible that they had done wrong in persecuting the christians. Vigellius Saturninus, who first persecuted us in this country, lost his sight. Claudius Herminianus, in Cappadocia, being enraged that his wife had embraced this opinion, treated the christians with cruel severity; and when he alone in his palace was seized with a pestilential disease, and worms, crawled out of his body yet alive, he said: “Let none know of this, lest the christians should rejoice.” Afterwards, being convinced of his error, in that he had by torments compelled some to renounce this doctrine, he died almost a christian. Caecilius Capella, when he heard of the destruction of the city of Byzantium, cried out: “Christians, you have reason to rejoice.” But,’ says Tertullian, “they, who may think they have escaped, will be called to an account in the day of judgment.’ . Before I proceed any farther, I must make a few remarks by way of explication. Tertullus Scapula" is supposed to have been consul in Rome in the year 195, and proconsul of Africa in 211, or thereabout. Therefore this work of Tertullian could not be written before that time. Vigellius Saturninus" is supposed to have been proconsul of Africa in the year of Christ 200. Claudius Herminianus" governed in Cappadocia in the reign of the emperor Severus; but his exact time is not now known. Fr. Balduinus seems to allow,' that he is the same whom Papinian in the Pandects has mentioned with respect. The city of Byzantium had sided with Niger. After a long and obstinate siege it was taken, and destroyed by the army of Severus in the year 196. The christians in that city had been persecuted in the time of Marcus Antoninus. Probably & Caecilius Capella had been then governor of Thrace, in which Byzantium stood, and then persecuted the christians there with great severity. When he heard of the lamentable fate of that city, he used the expressions mentioned by Tertullian; thinking, that the christians would rejoice at it, because many of their brethren had there en

* See Tillem. L'Emp. Sévere, art. vii. Comp. Basnag. ann. 195. num, i.

* Tillem. Persécution sous L'Emp. Sévere, art. 3. * Tillem. as before, art. 4. f Hunc esse illum Claudium Herminianum, cujus Papinianus in Pandectis mentionem facit, et quem clarissimum appellat nuper doctissimus Jurisconsultus admonuit. Certe temporibus Severi proconsulem eum fuisse, facile credo. Fr. Balduin. Edicta Princ. Rom. de Christianis. p. 99.

& Tillem. L'Emp. Severe, art. 18. See likewise la Persecution sous L'Emp. Marc Aurele, art. 6,

dured very grievous sufferings. But Tillemont says, “That ‘ christians were wont to weep with those that wept, and ‘not to rejoice at the calamities of their greatest enemies; ‘ though they might at the same time adore the disposals of ‘ divine justice.” 2. It follows in the next chapter of the same work of Tertullian: “And" how many governors, and those both * resolute and cruel, have declined these causes? as Cincius ‘Severus, who at Thysdri helped the christians to an answer ‘ that might clear them ; as Vespronius Candidus, who, ‘when a christian was brought before him, called him “a ‘ troublesome fellow, and bid him go, and ask pardon of ‘ his fellow-citizens:” as Asper, who having slightly tor‘tured a christian, and thereby overcome him, (so that he “renounced his profession,) did not compel him to sacrifice, ‘ but let him go, openly declaring to those who sat upon the ‘ bench with him, “that he was sorry to be at all concerned ‘ in such a cause.” Pudens likewise, when a christian was ‘brought before him, and he perceived some unfair dealing ‘ in the libel, dismissed him, and tore the libel to pieces, “saying, “ he would not receive an accusation, unless the ‘accuser was present, as the law directed.”” Wei have no particular accounts of these things elsewhere; but it is reasonable to believe, that all these magistrates were governors of provinces in the persecution of Severus, or not long before; perhaps in the time of the emperor Marcus Antoninus. Basnage" supposeth, that Pudens, here mentioned by Tertullian, is Servilius Pudens, who was consul in the year 166. All these things does Tertullian boldly mention in his address to Scapula, proconsul of Africa; I think, it may be concluded, that they were known facts, and that the truth of them may be relied upon. Doubtless Tertullian speaks according to his own knowledge, or according to such informations as he judged credible; for he would not

* Quantiautem praesides, et constantiores et crudeliores, dissimulaverunt ab hujusmodi causiso ut Cincius Severus, qui Thysdri ipse dedit remedium quomodo responderent christiani, ut dimitti possent; ut Vespronius Candidus, qui christianum, quasi tumultuosum, civibus Suissatisfacere, dimisit; ut Asper, qui modice vexatum hominem, et statin dejectum, nec sacrificium compulit facere, ante professus inter advocatos et assessores, dolere se incidisse in hanc causam. Pudens etiam missum ad se christianum, in elogio concussione ejus intellectá, dimisit, scisso eodem elogio, sine accusatore negans se auditurum hominem, secundum mandatum. Ibid. cap. 4.

! See Tillemont, la Persecution de L'Eglise sous L'Emp. Severe, art. 6.

* Vid. Basnag. ann. 166. num, i.

presume to tell the proconsul stories, which he had any suspicion might be confuted or contradicted. Indeed, most" of these men just mentioned had been proconsuls in Africa, where Tertullian lived, in his own time, in the reign of Severus. 3. I should here have inserted the story of Arrius Antominus, proconsul of Asia, who after having long exercised great cruelty toward the christians of his province, when some of them came before his tribunal, expressing great resolution, told them: “If they had a mind to die, there “were halters and precipices enough.” But this has been taken notice of already in the chapter of the" younger Pliny. III. I have been long ago admonished in a letter, not ‘to forget to make some observations concerning the silence ‘ of contemporary heathen authors concerning christianity ‘ for several ages; or else mentioning all affairs relating to ‘them in a slight and superficial manner.’ Surely, that difficulty is there too much magnified : however, I take this opportunity to say something to it. Some subjects are more agreeable to authors, because they are more entertaining to the generality of readers. Eusebius well observes, in the preface to the fifth book of his Ecclesiastical History, “That" most historians have em‘ployed their pens in recording wars and victories, and ‘ trophies erected over vanquished enemies, the valour of ‘generals, and the exploits of soldiers, besmeared with the ‘blood of innumerable slaughters for their country, their ‘ children, and their estates.” Many writers of great worth, and many affairs of no small importance, have long lain in obscurity, or have been totally buried in oblivion. It has been observed, that Welleius Paterculus, a man of a good family, who flourished in the time of Tiberius, and wrote an abridgment of the Roman History, in two books, has been mentioned by no ancient writer, excepting” Priscian. “But P the moderns have done him more justice, ‘ by publishing him frequently with notes and commen* taries.” M. Annaeus Seneca, father of L. A. Seneca the philoso

* See Tillem. la Persecution sous Severe. art. 6. Basnag. ann. 202. num. ii.

* See p. 57. * H. E. l. v. in Pr. p. 154. A.

° Pauca de Velleio ejusque scriptis prædicanda sunt; sed pauca, quia latet in turbă illä scriptorum prisciaevi. Quis veterum eum nominat, praeter Priscianum, et, si forte, Tacitum 2 Lips, de Vitā et Scriptis Velleii.

P Bibliographia Classica, vol. ii. p. 189.

WOI, VII. X

pher, and author of divers works, has been" confounded with his son, and has been almost unknown as a writer. Lucian, a subject of the Roman empire, who has written so many things, and so many sorts of works, has taken little notice of Roman authors, or Roman affairs. He has a laboured encomium of Demosthenes; but says nothing of Cicero; though a comparison between those two great orators would have been very proper, and has been made by Plutarch and Longinus. Maximus Tyrius, a Platonic philosopher, flourished in the time of Antoninus the Pious, and several of his Dissertations were written at Rome; nevertheless, as" Davies, one of his editors, says, he appears little acquainted with Roman affairs. Nay, says he, I do not recollect, that he has made any reference to the Roman history. We now know of two sons of the emperor Marcus Antominus, which" are not mentioned by any ancient historians. Some writers are silent from reasons of policy. We are told, in the History of the Reformation of the Low Countries, ‘ that Margaret, governess in that country, in the year * 1525, sent orders to all the convents, enjoining them to ‘ forbid preachers to mention Luther and his doctrine, and ‘the opinions of ancient heretics.” “This order,’ says the abridger of the large work of Gerard Brandt, “ was very ‘judicious. The best way of stopping the progress of ‘ heresies, is to seem to neglect them.’ From this principle of policy Josephus may have been silent about the christians, and their affairs, in his writings, that he might bury them in oblivion. Epictetus, and others, may have suppressed their own thoughts, and have been reserved in their discourses, lest they should excite inquisitiveness in their hearers, and occa

" Tributa illi quae hujus erant, et claritate nimiä filii obscurus pater hodie, immo ignotus. Memoriam boni senis fugitivam (impune hoc dixerim) primus retraham ego. Andreas Schottus de Auctore, et declamandi ratione, sub fin.

* Tom. ii. p. 685, &c. Graev. * Cap. 12. p. 92. Toll.

* Et Sane, ne quid dissimulem, Graecia diutius quam Roma Maximum videfur cepisse; quod in unāquâque fere Dissertatione summam rerum Græcarum Ostendat peritiam, cum res Romanas calluisse nullo indicio constet. Certe, quoad memini, ad eorum historiam ne semel quidem respexit. Davis. Pr. p. 15.

* Plures ex Faustiná liberos Marcus suscepit; filios scilicet Commodum cum fratre Antonino gemino, qui quadrimus elatus est. Verum Caesarem, quem mors stravit, anno clzx. Doctissimo debemus Mabilloni, duos adhuc Marci filios, quorum nulla apud veteres historiae scriptores exstat memoria, &c. Basnag. ann. 180. num. ii.

* Abridgment of Gerard Brandt's History of the Reformation. By Mr. La Roche, vol. i. p. 29.

sion doubts about the popular deities, and the worship paid to them. I might add, that it is not impossible, nor very improbable, that some writings of heathen authors have been lost, in which the christians were mentioned; for very few writers in the Syriac language are come down to us. After all, we have now seen a goodly catalogue of heathen writers, in the first and second century, men of great emimence for their wit and learning, their high stations, and their credit in the world, who have, in their way, borne testimony to Jesus Christ, and the things concerning him, and to the christians, his disciples and followers, their numbers, their principles, their manners, and their fortitude and patience under heavy sufferings, and a great variety of difficulties and discouragements, which they met with for the profession of what they were persuaded to be the truth. And Celsus, who in this period wrote against the christians, has borne a large testimony to the books of the New Testament, and to the history of our Saviour. And we can allege two Roman emperors, Adrian W and Titus Antoninus,” who have been favourabley to us. And Adrian” in his letter to Servian, written in the year 134, bears witness to the numbers and the influence of christians in Egypt at that time. We must say the same of Serenius Granianus,” proconsul of Asia, who wrote so much in favour of the christians to Adrian, and of his successor in the same province, Minucius Fundanus, to whom Adrian's rescript was sent. To them ought to be added some governors of provinces, mentioned in this chapter from Tertullian. All these great men had some acquaintance with the christians, and saw through the thick mist of calumnies, with which the christians were aspersed by the vulgar, and by many others. They perceived, that though the christians had some religious sentiments peculiar to themselves, and did not join in the established rites, they were not disturbers of the public peace, nor were justly chargeable with any of those crimes which are generally published by civil magistrates; and consequently they were entitled to protection and favour.

" See this vol. p. 94-101. * Ib. p. 126–131. and ch. xv. sect. 3. near the end. J. To those two emperors above named might be added Tiberius: see vol. vi. ch. ii. and Nerva, vol. v. chap. ix. sect. vi. and hereafter in the chapter of Dion Cassius. * See this vol. p. 98. o ibid. p. 93. Y

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »