Ecclesiastical History

§ 483. Promoted by mutual abuse of church and sects—and influence of Priests—and other interested parties—fomenting popular illusions—as to public calamities—anger of gods for desecration —Tertullian: "Deus non pluit, due ad Christianos!"—" Si Tiberis asceDdit in msenia, si Nilus non ascendit in arva—si coelum stetit—si terra movet—si fames, si lues, statini, Christianos ad leonem!"

§ 484. Common to government and people— fear of political ascendancy—chiliastic dreams—fall of empire—or real doctrine of Messiah's kingdom —submissive citizens but dangerous.

§ 485. Guericke's classification of Persecutions

(1) governmental—(2) popular—(3) individual— Kurtz's: (1) Chronological division to Trajan—

(2) to Marcus Aurelius—(3) to Philip the Arabian —(4) under Decius—(5) under Diocletian.

§ 486. Persecutions of first century—Early Emperors—Tiberius—afraid to persecute—wicked but superstitious—conscience-stricken—traditional proposition to deify Christ (Tertullian) — Claudius expelled Jews (Acts xviii.)—and Christians with them ?—(Quote Suetonius.)—As yet not distinguished from the Jews.

§ 487. First real persecution—under Nero—conflagration—wanton cruelty—false accusation—related by Tacitus and Suetonius—(" per flagitia invisos" .... "exitiabilis superstitio odio humani generis convicti.")—General or local—for• mer asserted first by Orosius (§ 88). Spanish inscription to Nero.—First decree against Christian

ity? (Tertullian says, other Neronie laws repealed). Perhaps meant to be general—but not executed.

§ 488. Successors of Nero spared the church— until Domitian—political jealousy—Flavius Clemens—Flavia Domitilla banished to Pontia—John to Patmos—boiling oil (Tertullian)—date of Apocalypse—two of Christ's kinsmen—heirs of David (Hegesippus ap. Eusebius) — Temporary respite under Nerva.

§ 489. New era in history of Persecution—reign of Trajan—not from personal hostility—but policy —revived laws against secret societies—(Blunt says Nero's edict against Christianity). Correspondence with Pliny—no general rule—no inquisition —no anonymous charges—but if obstinate, to die * —(genuineness of correspondence denied by Gibbon and Semler—still disputed—but commonly received).—First regular law of persecution (Blunt says Nero's)—but no heathen bigotry or fanatical zeal ("pessimi exempli nec nostri seculi.")—Old Roman spirit—indifferent till conflict with civil authority—then inflexibly severe.

§ 490. Extent of Persecution—certainly to Palestine and Syria—Symeon, son of Clopas—nephew of Joseph (Hegesippus)—Bishop of Jerusalem—arraigned—as Christian and Davidite—scourged— crucified (A. D. 107).—Antioch—Ignatius—audience of Emperor—sent in chains to Home— (wrote seven epistles on the way. § 436)—exposed in Coliseum to wild beasts—(A. D. 107-116.)

§ 491. Hadrian—zealous heathen—but forbade extra-judicial persecution—-and tumultuary accusation—tradition of fourth century—built first churches—knew little of Christianity—cared less— profaned Jerusalem—report from Serenius Granianus, Proconsul of Asia Minor—instructions to his successor, Minucius Fundanus.

§ 492. Antoninus Pius—mild and benevolent— tried to quell persecution [Melito]—but people excited by calamities—rescript ad commune Asice—. preserved by Eusebius—but now thought spurious.

§ 493. Thus far political—not personal hostility —till Marcus Aurelius—most pious of heathen— yet hated Christianity—stoical contempt of its enthusiasm and condescension (§ 462)—irrational and obstinate fanaticism—resolved to suppress it—not merely passive but active—espionage and torture —Extant edict—genuine (Neander) ?—or spurious (Gieseler)?—Law of Marcus Aurelius in Pandects —punishing "religious superstition" with deportation.

§ 4.94. Persecution general but not uniform—at Pome—Justin (165-168)—instigated by Crescens (§§ 462, 470.)—Worst in Asia Minor and Gaulcontemporary accounts (§ 80)—Smyrna—Polycarp

aet. 86 (§ 442)—disciple of John—Lyons and Yienne—Pothinus aet. 90—Ponticus aet. 15—slave Blandina—ashes in Rhone.

§ 495. Old tradition of Legio Fulminea (or Fulminatrix)—A. D. 174.—War with Quadi and Marcomanni—drought—storm—prayers of Christians— end of persecution (Claudius Apollinaris and Tertullian)—but anachronism—and heathen version— Jupiter Pluvius—Egyptian sorcerer.

§ 496. Successors of Marcus personally indifferent—but persecuting laws unrepealed—at mercy of local governors—Commodus—Marcia—local persecutions—Asia Minor—Arrius Pontinus Proconsul (Tertullian)—Did the Emperor himself turn?

§ 497. Septimius Severus—healed by Proculus, a Christian slave—anointed (James 5,14)—hence favoured Christianity at first (Tertullian)—but afterwards turned—cause unknown—Montanistic extravagance and prophecies of Christ's personal reign? Edict forbidding gentiles, Judseos, or Christianos fieri (A. D. 203).

§ 498. Persecution raged in Egypt and Northwest Africa—Alexandria—Leonidas—father of Origen beheaded—Potamiena and her mother Marcella —Saturnus (" know me at the judgment")—Perpetua of Carthage—slave Felicitas—contemporary record—with extracts from Jail Journal.

§ 499. Caracalla—misanthropic indifference— but persecution still continued—new practice of purchasing exemption—disapproved by earnest Christians. (Tertullian de Fuga in Persecutione.)

§ 500. Syncretistic mania (§ 450). Heliogabalus priest of sun—wished to unite all religions in one ritual and temple—hence tolerated all—Christianity included—(compare James II.)

§ 501. Alexander Severus (222)—more rational eclecticism—(anecdote—any religion better than a tavern)—appreciated spiritual worship—bust of Christ in his Lararium—with those of Abraham, Orpheus, and Apollonius—recognized church at Home as legal corporation—influenced by his mother, Julia Mammsea—and she by Origen— (Orosius says she was a Christian—Eusebius says, pious, if ever a woman was)—golden rule on wall of palace—hence reputed Jew or Christian— nicknamed Archienus and Archisynagogus.

§ 502. Maximin the Thracian (235)—murdered and succeeded Alexander—hated Christians for his sake—persecuted chief men—as his own opponents —earthquakes excited popular rage—reign too short to do much harm.

§ 503. Gordian (244)—left the Christians unmolested—Philip the Arabian—so tolerant—afterwards said to be a Christian—and called first Christian emperor by Jerome—and to have been disciplined by a bishop. (Eusebius as a tradition—Jerome as a fact.) He and Queen (Severa) also friends of Origen (§ 501.)—Origen against Celsus (§ 464) says persecution at an end—but to be renewed.

§ 504. Pauses between persecutions—intervals of rest and growth—increase of strength and numbers—heightened expectations of ascendency—increased opposition—and prepared for new attack.

§ 505. Decian persecution—the most methodical—extensive—inquisitorial—and cruel—hitherto the martyrs were few and easily numbered—(Origen.) Now fell chiefly on bishops and clergy—but all required to sacrifice—flight allowed but not re

turn—confiscation of goods—many fled to desert— first anchorites—Paul of Thebes.

§ 506. Church weakened by repose—increase of apostates—Lapsi—classification. The 3 classes of the lapsed were: (1.) Sacrificati. (2.) Thurificati. (3.) Libellatici—certificates of sacrifice registered as heathen—condemned by zealous Christians —(" nefandus idololatriae libellus "—Cyprian cf. § 499)—Proportionate zeal and steadfastness of confessors—Legend of Seven Sleepers—Gregory -of Tours—awoke under Theodosius II. (447) and saw the cross everywhere.

§ 507. Death of Decius (251) seemed to lay storm—but people roused by plague and famine— Gallus urged to persecute—would if could—but hindered by political commotions—and soon died.

§ 508. Valerian (253)—at first favourable—but when Christianity spread in higher ranks—listened to his favourite Macrian—banished ministers—forbade meetings—next year began to slay ministers and chief laymen—so that Christians thought Rev. 13, 5 fulfilled.—(Dionysius Alexandrinus apud Eusebius).

§ 509. Martyrs at Rome: Bishop Sixtus—and four deacons—one of them St. Laiorence—broiled alive. At Carthage: Cyprian—Christian courtiers now degraded—Acta—and life by Pontius—next year Persian war—death and captivity of Valerian —narrow escape of Church.

§ 510. Gallienus spared Christians—perhaps from indolence—but not merely negative—important positive measure—beginning of end—two decrees preserved by Eusebius—Christianity recognized as religio lieita (259).

§ 511. Aurelian—zealous heathen—but just and politic—long spared Christianity—restrained by decree of Gallienus—and occupied with military enterprises—at last digested plan of persecution— but execution prevented by military conspiracy— and death.

§ 512. Another interval—long pause in storm of persecution—seemed to be abandoned—Christianity allowed to spread for many years—but only preparation for the last and worst.

§ 513. Diocletian—(284)—zealous heathen—but good-natured—and cautious—afraid of Christians —respected act of Gallienus—wife and daughter Christians—but favourite scheme to restore empire —and with it the old religion—new organization —two Augusti and two Cesars.

§ 514. Maximian—Augustus of the West—persecutor before—Legend of the Theban legion—much embellished—simplest account—seventy Christian soldiers refused to march against their brethren and were massacred with their commander Mauritius— at St. Maurice.

§ 515. Galerius—son-in-law of Diocletian—and Cesar—bigoted and fanatical heathen—leader of that party—unwearied in conjunction with Maximian—A. D. 298, purged army of Christians.

§ 516. A. D. 303. Meeting of Emperors at Nicomedia—consulted gods and men—Christian church there pulled down—next day—decree—closing churches—burning books—new class of apostates—Traditores (i. e. librorum sacrorum)—subterfuge—substituted other books—Christians excluded from office—Christian slaves from hope of freedom —edict pulled down—palace fired—charged on Christians.

§ 517. Four more edicts—prisons soon filled— height of persecution 304—sacrifice or die—almost whole empire—wonders of heroism and cowardice —but fewer lapsed than under Decius—new torments—beasts revolted (Eusebius). Sanguine hopes —monuments to commemorate extirpation of Christianity.

§ 518. Diocletian and ITaximian abdicated (305) —Galerius and Constantius Chlorus succeeded— Constantius Chlorus had spared the Christians as much as possible—in Spain—Gaul—and Britain— Maximin continued persecution in the East—exclude from cities—forbade church-building—circulated forged Acts of Pilate—caused to be read in schools—sprinkled food in market with sacrificial wine.

§ 519. Galerius on death-bed—conscience-stricken —or hope of restoration by Christian God—first edict (311)—still extant—had tried to restore Christians, who had left parentum suorum sectam—but in vain—" quamplurimi perseverant "—" indulgentiam credidimusporrigendam"—better be Christians than nothing—" ut denuo sint Christian! et conventicula sua componant"—provided nothing " contra disciplinam "—and pray to their God for us and the republic—that they may lead quiet lives.

§ 520. Constantine—son of Constantius Chlorus —same dispositions—proclaimed by army in Britain—opposed by Haxentius in Italy and Africa— ignoble bigot—turned against Christians because favoured by Constantine. On march against Maxentius—Constantine saw cross in sky—various versions—certainly put cross in hand of statue—and adopted labarum (doubtful etymology). Conquers Maxentius—Licinius in Illyricum—312 edict tolerating all religions misunderstood—313 edict of Milan—allowing free profession of Christianity —Maximin submits—and dies soon—Licinius quarrels with Constantine and heads heathen party—war of life and death—Constantine conquers—end of persecution (323-4).

§ 521. Ten Persecutions—old reckoning—founded on Plagues of Egypt ?—or Rev. 17, 12-14 ?—or mere coincidence—Two accounts—Sulpicius Severus—Historia Sacra (2, 33)—ten plagues predicted —nine past—that of Antichrist to come. Augustine (Civ. Dei. 18, 52)—" nonnullis visum est vel videtur "—no more persecution until Antichrist— but he thinks only ingenious conjecture—without inspired authority.

§ 522. 1. Nero. 2. Domitian. 3. Trajan. ( M. Aurelius A ) t S. Severus A )

1 Adrian S j (Mamilius S f

( Maximin A )

1 Severus S J 7- ^ecius. 8. Yalerian. t Aurelian A ] 9- { Diocletian S f 10- ^^cletian A.

§ 523. Question as to severity of persecutions— and number of martyrs—modern disposition to extenuate—Dodwell—Semler—Hase—partly reaction from old exaggerations (e. g. St. Ursula and eleven thousand virgins—martyred on pilgrimage under Maximin (§ 502)—said to be mistake of tombstone —XIM(artyres) for XI (mille) partly from eonfounding earlier and later periods—few martyrs before Origen (§ 509.)

§ 524. Some from wrong motives—shame—vanity—sympathy—fear—fanaticism—insanity. Still "noble army of martyrs "—old Greek and Roman heroism matched by Christian martyrs.

§ 525. Good effects of persecution—providential purpose answered (§ 476), but not perfectly—hypocrites and cowards after all.

§ 526. Positive bad effects—false notion of necessity and merit—false standard of duty—undue attention to mere suffering—with some the whole of religion (like temperance—antislavery—antipopery— millenarianism—charity— now)—false position of martyrs and confessors—led to early controversy—and first schisms.