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EPISTLES OF IGNATIUS
than those which he desired to correct. To the Magnesians, a neighbouring church, he writes thus : “I exhort you that ye study to do all things with a divine concord : your bishop presiding in the place of God, and your presbyters in the place of the council of the apostles.”
To the Trallians he writes, “Inasmuch as ye are subject to your bishop as to Jesus Christ, ye appear to me to live not after the manner of men. It is therefore necessary that ye do nothing without your bishop, even as ye are wont : and that ye be also subject to the presbytery, as to the apostles of Jesus Christ. In like manner, let all reverence the deacons as Christ, and the bishop as the Father, and the presbyters as the council of God.” In writing to the Christians at Smyrna, after he left them, he says, “ See that ye all follow your bishop as Jesus Christ the Father, and the presbytery as the apostles. It is good to bear due regard both to God and to the bishop. He that honours the bishop shall be honoured of God.” And again, in his epistle to Polycarp, “ Hearken ye all unto the bishop, that God also may hearken unto you. My soul be security for those who submit to their bishop, presbyters, and deacons, and may my portion be together with theirs in God !”
How different is this language to the simple exhortations of the apostle, “ Remember them which have the rule over you, Tor, which are the guides, -(marg.)] who have spoken unto you the word of God; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” “ Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves ; for they watch for your souls,” &c. “ Salute all them that have the rule over you” (Heb. xiii). Again, “ Esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake” (1 Thess. v. 12). “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour” (1 Tim. v. 17). There is no such idea throughout the New Testament as successors of the apostles; “nor can we discover (says a godly clergyman lately) that a single bishop was actually linked to the apostolic order.” That bishops or overseers of the saints, presbyters or elders among them, and deacons or servants of the church, existed in and after the times of the apostles, will be readily allowed. How they were appointed seems more doubtful : but in all cases there was, of necessity, a fitness for the work given by the Holy Ghost (Acts xx. 28); and often also a desire for it, proceeding from the same Spirit (1 Tim. iii. 1; 1 Pet. v. 2): and
CONTRASTED WITH THOSE OF THE APOSTLES.
if the persons, thus prepared, answered to the apostle's description, they were rightly accepted and obeyed by the saints (1 Tim. iii).* Fit persons, kept back by their own fault or that of others, and unfit persons, on the contrary, coming forwards through their own fault or that of others, introduced great sorrow and sin into the church of God; and almost equal misery arose from godly men, such as Ignatius and others, taking too much upon themselves, and pretending to more than they had received. The style of Paul, in his epistles, was very different-"A servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle” (Rom. i. 1). And when using his power in correcting the worst abuses, he gently says, “not that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy.” Peter says to the Christians of Asia, “ The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ,” &c. “ Neither as being lords over (or over-ruling) God's heritage,” &c.
But the lordship and exercise of authority soon became as decided in the Church as among the Gentiles; though it ought to have been entirely different (Mark x. 42): and in proportion as human power was established, the Church lost sight of the headship of Christ, and ceased to depend on the lordship and authority of the Holy Ghost.
But in noticing thus largely the evil that was authorised by Ignatius, it is well to observe, that he did not expect that his instructions would lead to such errors : he supposed that the bishops, elders, and deacons would be guided by the Spirit ; and did not, perhaps, contemplate a state of things in which persons so called might be without the Spirit of God. In his epistle to Polycarp, when he says, “Let nothing be done without thy cognizance,” he carefully adds, “ And do thou nothing without the mind of God :” and of course, as long as an overseer thus acted, those who were spiritual, and properly subject to the Spirit of God, would desire to do nothing without his knowledge or approval. But Ignatius went a great deal too far in saying, that without the bishop there could be no baptism, communion, or marriage.
* Although, as before remarked, bishops or overseers, and presbyters or elders, seem to have been originally names given to the same class of persons, a distinction was soon made ; and the bishops seem to have been those presbyters who were the best fitted to rule or guide. John, however, calls himself simply, "the elder" (see second and third epistles).
EPISTLES OF IGNATIUS.
From his epistle to the church at Ephesus, it appears that the doctrine of Christ was preserved in it; and that persecution had been a means of some revival. He exhorts the believers there to union on the ground of their common union to Christ, desires them not to neglect the assemblies for prayer and thanksgiving, to instruct the unconverted by their works, and finally, to think nothing becoming without Christ. At Corinth the church was so large that the saints were obliged to assemble in different parts of the city, and the elders ministered to these different congregations; but neither here, nor elsewhere, was it as yet forgotten they were really but one Church.
At Philippi, we learn, from the epistles of Ignatius and Polycarp, that there was much of the Spirit of Christ, and a continued value for fellowship in the Gospel. Ignatius commends their bishop; because he had obtained that office simply for the good of the saints, and not by worldly means, or for selfish ends. He recommends them unity at the Lord's supper. The following extract from this epistle is very beautiful : “ The objects dear to me are Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection, and the faith in him. If circumcised or uncircumcised speak not of Jesus Christ, they are to me pillars and sepulchres of the dead, on which are written only the names of men.” Polycarp exhorts the brethren at Philippi to seek to restore one of their elders and his wife, who had sinned through covetousness. At Troas, Ignatius was again suffered to rest; and from thence sent a letter to the church at Smyrna, warning them against the Docetæ, saying they ought to be avoided as beasts ; but at the same time desiring that prayer might be made for them, because the Lord has power to save to the uttermost. From thence also he wrote to the Roman Christians, charging them not to attempt to save his life by their influence or entreaties. Here again we see a marked difference between the excessive desire for martyrdom shown by Ignatius, and the quiet solemnity of the apostle, speaking as he was moved by the Holy Ghost. Paul says, “ I am ready to be offered;" yet he prayed that the backwardness of those who did not stand with him in the day of his trial might be forgiven them (2 Tim. iv. 16). Ignatius writes, “ I know what is good for me. Now I begin to be a disciple; nor shall any thing visible or invisible move me. Let fire and the cross, let the wild beasts, let the breaking of bones and tearing of limbs, let the
grinding of the whole body and all the malice of the devil come upon me : be it so, only may I enjoy Jesus Christ. It is better for me to die for him, than to reign over the ends of the earth.”
And truly, it was far better to be like Ignatius, even though torn to pieces in the amphitheatre at Rome, than to be like Trajan, violently attempting to reign over the ends of the earth, and yet living without God in the world. A few of the Roman brethren were allowed to accompany the martyr, and to join in his last prayers to the Son of God for the Church ; beseeching him to stop the persecution, and to continue the love of the brethren. The wild beasts, as he desired, were his grave; only a few bones were gathered up and sent to Antioch, as the relics of the bishop.
Another sufferer under this persecution was Simeon, the bishop of the saints in Judea. He was accused before Atticus, the Roman governor ; and though he was one hundred and twenty years old, he endured scourging for many days, and was at last crucified.
In A.D. 117, Trajan began his march homewards, wishing to end his days at Rome, where the people were prepared to honour and almost to adore him. But they never saw him again, as he died suddenly of apoplexy in the city of Seleucia. His ashes were carried to Rome, and buried at the foot of a magnificent pillar that he had caused to be raised in remembrance of his victories. It is still standing, and is known by the name of Trajan's pillar.
Such was the place that Trajan held in the memory of his countrymen, that two hundred and fifty years after, when the senate were expressing their good wishes for a new emperor, they desired that he might be more fortunate than Augustus and better even than Trajan!
CHAP. XXIII. ADRIAN, EMPEROR.— ADRIAN'S CHARACTER AND TRAVELS.
HIS TREATMENT OF THE CHRISTIANS AND OF THE JEWS.BARCHOCHAB.- SECOND JEWISH WAR. --ÆLIA CAPITOLINA,
ILLNESS AND DEATH OF ADRIAN. ADRIAN was accepted without hesitation as the successor of Trajan, A.D. 117. The nations of the East made an immediate
CHARACTER AND TRAVELS OF ADRIAN.
struggle for freedom upon hearing of the withdrawal and death of their conqueror : and Adrian avoided much bloodshed by recalling the Roman soldiers who were garrisoned in Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria ; contenting himself with again making the Euphrates the eastern frontier of the empire, according to the counsel of Augustus Cæsar.
Yet Adrian was by no means a slothful emperor: on the contrary, he was so distinguished for his restless activity that it has been remarked his life was one perpetual journey. He first settled home affairs, and made peace with the Parthians; and then set out with a determination to visit in turn every part of the empire.
Upon his arrival in Britain, he found the Caledonians had frequently passed the fortifications of Agricola and troubled their southern neighbours : but as it was his plan not to attempt to possess what he could not retain, he built a wall sixty miles in length, which ran between the modern towns of Carlisle and Newcastle. He repelled the fierce barbarians, but left them in quiet possession of their heaths and mountains, contented with the fair province which was peopled by peaceable subjects. After leaving Britain, Adrian visited Gaul, Germany, Holland, and his own native country Spain ; leaving everywhere some monument of his efforts for the ornament or benefit of the provinces. He displayed in turn the varied talents of a soldier, a statesman, and a scholar ; directing the legions, overlooking the provincial governors and magistrates, and encouraging learning. It was one of his sayings, that an emperor should imitate the sun; and by his presence give warmth and vigour to every part of his dominions. On his way back to Rome, Adrian ordered that Trajan's bridge should be destroyed; as he feared the barbarians might take advantage of it to invade the empire during his intended absence in the East. Whilst at Rome, he appointed Ælius Verus as his successor, and purchased the consent of the guards by a large donation : but in the midst of the public rejoicings the Cæsar died, to the exceeding grief of Adrian. He then chose Titus Antoninus, a senator, and desired him to adopt Marcus Aurelius : but in affectionate remembrance of his deceased friend, he made them both promise to adopt his son, the younger Verus.
Athens was the first residence of Adrian, on his journey eastward from Rome. There he took the title of Archon, or