Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

:

dated in the year of Christ 126. Sulpicius Severus placeth the fourth persecution in his reign. But he allows that afterwards the same emperor restrained it, referring, as it seems, to the rescript which shall be produced at length hereafter. Orosius does not number him among the persecuting emperors, and" placeth the fourth persecution in the time of Marcus Antoninus.

We are informed by Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History, that. Serenius Granianus, proconsul, wrote to Adrian, * that it seemed to hiin unjust that the christians should be

put to death only to gratify the clamours of the people, · without trial, and without any crime proved against them 6 and that Adrian, in answer to that letter, wrote to Minu* cius Fundanus, proconsul of Asia, ordering that no man * should be put to death without a judicial process, and a legal trial.

It is manifest, from the conclusion of Justin Martyr's first Apology, which was presented to Antoninus the Pious, and the senate of Rome, thatk the rescript of Adrian was subjoined to it. And from Eusebius we know that it was in Latin. He translated it into Greek, and inserted it in his Ecclesiastical History; whence we have it, and whence it has been put at the end of Justin's Apology, in the same language, the Latin original being lost.

The reason why this rescript was sent to Minucius Fundanus, is supposed to be that Serenius's letter to the emperor was not written till the time of his government was near expiring

Beside Justin Martyr's early and express authority, this rescript is also mentioned by Melito in his Apology to Marcus Antoninus, whom he reminds that hism grandfather

f See Vol. ii. ch. xxviii. 8 Quarta sub Adriano persecutio numeratur, quam tamen post exerceri prohibuit; injustum esse pronuntians, ut quisquam sine crimine reus constitueretur. S. Sever. H. S. 1. 2. c. 46.

h Oros. l. 7. c. XV. Ετι δ' αυτος [Ι8σινος] ισορει δεξαμενον τον Αδριανον παρα Σερεννια Γρανιανα λαμπροτατε ηγεμενα γραμματα υπερ Χριςιανων, περιεχοντα, ως 8 δικαιον ειη επι μηδενι εγκληματι, βοαις δημα χαριζομενος, ακριτως κτεινειν αυτες, αντιγραψαι Μινυκια Φανδανο ανθυπατη της Ασιας, προςαττοντα μηδενα κτεινειν ανευ εγκληματος και ευλογε κατηγοριας. Η. Ε. 1. 4. c. 8. p. 122. D.

Κ “Υπεταξαμεν δε της επιςολης Αδριανο των αντιγραφον, ίνα και κατα τατο aindevelv vuas yrwpisnrk. Justin. Ap. p. 84. Bened.

T8TOG Ó μεν δηλωθεις ανηρ αυτην παρατεθειται την Ρωμαικην αντιγραφην. Ημεις δ' επι του Ελληνικον κατα δυναμιν αυτην μετειληφαμεν, εχεσαν ώδε. Euseb. l. 4. c. 8. p. 123.

Εν οις ο μεν παππος σε Αδριανος πολλοις μεν και αλλοις, και Φενδανω δε το ανθυπατω ηγεμενη της Ασιας, γραφων φαινεται. Αp. Euseb. H. E. I. 4. c. 26. p. 143. C.

i

1

whom

• Adrian had written in their favour, as to others, so parti• cularly to Fundanus, proconsul of Asia. This rescript is also referred to by Sulpicius Severus, as before observed : the genuineness of it therefore is indubitable.

It is very reasonably supposed that, beside the letter of Serenius Granianus, the apologies of Quadratus and Aristides, presented about the same time, contributed to procure this favourable rescript. As much is plainly hinted in Jerom's Latin edition of Eusebius's" Chronicle. I now proceed to translate it literally from the Greek of Eusebius.

• Adriano to Minucius Fundanus. I have received a letter written to me by the illustrious P Serenius Granianus,

you

have succeeded. It seems then to me that this is an affair which ought not to be passed over without being examined into; if it were only to prevent disturbance being given to people, and that room may not be left for informers to practise their wicked arts. if therefore the people of the province will appear publicly, and in a legal way charge the christians, that they may answer for themselves in court, let them take that course, and not proceed by importunate demands and loud clamours only. For it is much the best method, if any bring accusations, that you should take cognizance of them. If then any one shall accuse and make out any thing contrary to the laws, do you determine according to the nature of the crime: but by Hercules, if the charge be only a calumny, do you take care to punish the author of it with the severity it deserves.'

Byó importunate demands and loud clamours,' or in other words, by clamorous petitions,' learned men generally understand the popular cry of those times. ,: The' christians

to the lions. Nor was it an unusual thing, as Valesius observes in his note upon the place, for the people at Rome, or in the provinces, in the time of public shows, when they were got together in the theatre, by loud cries, and a tumultuous behaviour, to gain their will of the presidents, and even of the emperor himself. This method' had been

[ocr errors]

6

n Quadratus discipulus Apostolorum, et Aristides Atheniensis noster Philosophus, libros pro christianâ religione Adriano dedêre compositos. Et Serenius Granianus, legatus, vir apprime nobilis, literas ad imperatorem misit, iniquum esse dicens, clamoribus vulgi innocentium hominum sanguinem concedi, et, sine ullo crimine, nominis tantum et sectæ reos fieri. Quo commotus Hadrianus Minucio Fundano proconsuli Asiæ scribit, not sine objectu criminum christianos condemnandos. Chr. p. 167.

• H. E. l. 4. cap. 9. Ρ Λαμπροτατ8 ανδρος.

1 - Αλλ' εκ αξιωσεσιν, 8δε μοναις βοαις. Si Tiberis ascendit ad mænia, si Nilus non ascendit in arva, si cælum stetit, si terra movit, si fames, si lues; statim, christianos ad leonem, Tertull. Ap. C. 40.

practised against the christians. And it is likely that mnen were often brought before the presidents with general accusations, without distinct proofs. The emperor was apprehensive that evil-minded men should sometimes hurry oil to death men who were not christians. Therefore he directs the proconsul that no man should be punished as christians, without a fair and public trial before himself in

court.

The emperor's orders are obscure. Ifs any one accuse • and make out any thing contrary to the laws, do you de* termine,' or punish,' according to the nature of the crime.' Some may be apt to think that the emperor now appointed that none should be punished for being christians, unless some real crime were alleged and proved upon them. But that does not clearly appear to be the meaning. Nor can we reasonably suppose that Trajan's edict is here repealed; according to which, if a man was accused and proved to be a christian, a president is required to punish him unless he recant. Nevertheless, this rescript must be allowed to have been beneficial to the christians. Several ancient writers, as we have seen, say that afterwards the persecution, which before had been violent, was restrained and moderated.

The christians were hereby taken out of the hands of the common people and tumultuous rabble, and brought before the governors of provinces to be examined in open court, and not to be condemned without evidence. This must have been a considerable advantage to men who were much disliked by the generality of their neighbours, as the christians were.

Melito, as before quoted, says that • Adrian wrote in favour of the christians, as to divers others, so particularly ' to Fundanus, proconsul of Asia. By which we are led to understand that this rescript was sent to other governors of provinces, as well as to Fundanus; or that this rescript, sent to him, was to be the rule of conduct, not to him only, but to other governors likewise.

From this rescript, and from the letter, which gave occasion to it, we learn that there were then christians in Asia. It is probable they were there in great numbers; for the

Ει τις 8ν κατηγορει, και δεικνυσι τι παρα τες νομες πραττοντας, έτως όριζε κατα την δυναμιν τ8 αμαρτηματος. .

t. Afterwards Adrian gave a rescript to Minucius Fundanus, which is obscure. It does not manifestly exempt christians from punishment: and yet • it seems in some degree to favour them, and might be so interpreted by a

judge, who was disposed to put the mildest construction upon it. The christians often appealed to it.' Dr. Jortin's Discourses concerning the Christian Religion, p. 59.

6

S

[ocr errors]

affair appeared worthy of the emperor's consideration. But christianity, as is apparent, was odious to the generality of people in that country; therefore men must have had some good reasons for embracing a profession which rendered them obnoxious to their neighbours.

From what we have seen of Quadratus and Aristides, two learned christian apologists, and the emperor Adrian, and also Serenius and Fundanus, two governors of the province of Asia, it may be concluded with certainty that the christians were now well known to the Roman emperors, and throughout the Roman empire. Indeed the christians diligently embraced all favourable opportunities to make themselves, and their own innocence, and the principles of their religion, and the grounds and reasons of their belief, well known to all men, and especially to the emperors and other magistrates. By that means they propagated their religion, and gradually wiped off the calumnies that had been invented against them, and with which they were loaded for a while. Quadratus and Aristides presented their apologies to Adrian, at the time of the celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries atų Athens, when there was a concourse of men of all ranks, especially of the highest, and of the most eminent, and most distinguished for their learning, and zeal for the established rites.

At that very time those apologists made a public appearance, and pleaded the cause of their religion, and of their brethren, the professors of it. Nor did they make a contemptible figure. Their discourses were rational, eloquent, and persuasive; and they were followed by a relaxation of the violence of the persecution, which for some while had raged in several provinces, through the prevailing animosity of the people: and, as it is particularly observed by Eusebius, in his Evangelical Preparation, • In' the reign of

Quadratus, Apostolorum discipulus-Quumque Hadrianus Athenis exegisset hiemem, invisens Eleusinam, et omnibus pene Græciæ sacris initiatus, dedisset occasionem his, qui christianos oderant, absque præcepto Imperatoris vexare credentes, porrexit ei librum pro religione nostra compositum, valde utilem, plenumque rationis et fidei, et apostolicâ doctrinâ dignum: in quo et antiquitatem suæ ætatis ostendens, ait, plurimos a se visos, qui sub Domino variis in Judæâ oppressi calamitatibus sanati fuerant, et qui a mortuis resurrexerant. Hieron. de V. I. cap. xix.

Aristides, Atheniensis Philosophus eloquentissimus, et sub pristino habitu discipulus Christi, volumen nostri dogmatis rationem continens, eodem tempore, quo et Quadratus, Hadriano principi dedit. Ib. cap. xx. And see before, p. 92.

' - Μεχρι των Αδριανά χρονων--Ούτος δε μαλισα ην χρονος, καθ' ον η σωτηριος εις παντας ανθρωπος ηκμασε διδασκαλια. Ρr. Εν. 1. 4. c. 17. p. 164. D.

[ocr errors]

• Adrian the christian religion shone out in the eyes of all 6 men.'

There are others beside our two apologists, who are entitled to applause in this place. Serenius Granianus is styled by Adrian, in his rescript,' an illustrious man, lagia porate uvồpos,' and by Jerom, in his Chronicle, "a truly • noble person, vir apprime nobilis.' We cannot but believe that he was a man of a generous mind, a lover of justice and equity, who pleaded the cause of the christians, when the current ran violently against them. His successor Fundanus, to whom the rescript was sent, may have been a man of a like disposition. Nor can we forbear saying somewhat here to the honour of the emperor Adrian, It does not appear that he ever issued out any orders for persecuting the christians. The persecution, which they had suffered in the beginning of his reign, was owing to the blind bigotry and violence of the common people. When the proconsul of Asia sent him a letter, representing the hardships which christians lay under, beyond most other men, he sent a favourable rescript, which could not but be, and actually was, of advantage to them: and he received the apologies of Quadratus and Aristides in behalf of a despised and persecuted people, without resentment. So far from being provoked at their importunity, he gratified their request, and moderated the displeasure of men against those whose cause they had pleaded. If moderation be a virtue, (as it certainly is, it is more especially commendable in men of power and high stations,

A passage, formerly omitted, shall be now transcribed from the Apology of Quadratus, which probably was the first written apology presented to a Roman emperor. It is in these very words: · Thex works of our Saviour were always conspicuous, for they were real: both they that were healed, and they that were raised from the dead, who were seen not only when they were healed, or raised, but ' for a long time afterwards; not only whilst he dwelled * on this earth, but also after his departure, and for a good

while after it: insomuch that some of them have reached • to our times.' Jerom supposeth thaty Quadratus himself saw several of those persons who had been the subjects of our Saviour's miracles.

III. Beside the rescript, there is a letter of Adrian to Servianus, husband of Paulina, the emperor's sister, who was consul in 134. It is preserved in Vopiscus, one of the

* Euseb. H. E. 1. 4. cap. 3. y See before, p. 96. note u

[ocr errors]

6

w See Vol. ii. ch. xxviii.

VOL. VII.

H

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »