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concerning the silence of contemporary heathen àuthors 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, · Thato most historians have employed 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 obseurity, or have been totally buried in oblivion.
It has been observed, that Velleius 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 the moderns have done him more * justice, by publishing him frequently with notes and commentaries.'
M. Annæus Seneca, father of L. A. Seneca the philosopher, 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 acquaiated 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 Antoninus, 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 here.sies, 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 occasion 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 eminence for their wit and learning, their high stations, and their credit in the world, who have, in their way, bore 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.
a H. E. I. v, in Pr. p. 154. A.
b Pauca de Velleio ejusque scriptis prædicanda sunt; sed pauca, quia latet in turbâ illâ scriptorum prisci ævi. Quis veterum eum nominat, præter Priscianum, et, si forte, Tacitum! Lips. de Vitâ et Scriptis Velleii.
© Bibliographia Classica. Vol. ii. p. 189.
+ Tributa illi quæ hujus erant, et claritate nimiâ 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. ji. p. 685. &c. Grev.
Maximum videtur cepisse ; quod in unâquâque fere Disser-
" Plures ex Faustinâ liberos Marcus suscepit ; filios scilicet Commodum cum fratre Antonino gemino, qui quadrimus elatus est. Verum Cæsarem, quem mors stravit, anno clxx. Doctissimo debemus Mabillonio, duos adhuc Marci filios, quorum nulla apud veteres historiæ 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.
And we can allegie two Roman emperors, Adrian · and Titus Antoninus, who have been favourable 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 punished by civil magistrates : and, consequently, they were entitled to protection and favour.
THE PERSECUTION OF SEVERUS, AND SPARTIAN'S TESTIMONY TO IT.
I. The time of the reign of Severus, and that for a while he was favourable to the Christians.
II. Accounts of his persecution from Christian writers. III. How long it lasted. IV. His edict against the Christians from Spartian, with Remarks. V. An observation of Balduinus upon this reign.
1. Theʻreign of Septimius Severus is computed from June 1, 193, to Feb. 4, 211. He reigned, therefore, seventeen years, eight months, and three days.
Severus is supposed to have been favourable to the Christians in the former part of his reign. Says Tertullian, in his book to the proconsul Scapula, which we suppose to have been written soon after the death of Severus, and the accession of his son, Antoninus Caracalla : · And Severus : himself, father of Antoninus, was favourable to the Christians. For when he came to be em'peror, he inquired after Proculus, a Christian, surnamed Torpacion, and steward to Euhodia, • who had cured him by anointing him with oil, and kept him in his palace so long as he lived: · whom Antoninus also knew very well, he having been nursed by a Christian woman. Moreover, • Severus openly withstood the fury of the people against some men and women of the first quality, whom he knew to be of this sect : and was so far from bearing hard upon them, that he gave them an honourable testimony."
a See this Vol. p. 52
- 56. b Ib. p. 68-72. and ch. xv. sec. 3. near the end. * To those two emperors above named might be added Tiberius : see Vol. iii. p. 599 : and Nerva, Vol. iii. chap. ix. šect. vi. and hereafter in the chapter of Dion Cassius.
See this Vol p. 54. e See Ibid. p. 51.
Vid. Pagi ann, 211. num. ii. et Basnag. 193. num. xv. & Ipse etiam Severus, pater Antonini, Christianorum memor fuit. 'Nam et Proculum Christianum, qui Torpacion cognominabatur, Eulódiæ procuratorem, qui eum per oleum ali
quando curaverat, requisivit, et in palatio suo habuit, usque ad mortem ejus ; quem et Antoninus optime noverat, lacte Christiano educatus. Sed et clarissimas feminas et clarissimos viros, Severus, sciens hujus sectæ fuisse, non modo non læsit, verum testimonio exornavit, et populo turenti in os palain restitit. Ad. Scap. cap. 4. p. 87.
Concerning the cure wrought by Proculus upon Severus, or, as others understand it, upon Euhodus, may be seen Basnag. ann. 193. num. xxii. Fabric. Bib. Gr. T. viii. p. 460. Lux. Evangel. p. 232. Jortin's Remarks upon Ecc. History. Vol. ii. p. 289, &c. Tillem. Persécution sous Sévère, art. 1.
To which I shall now add from Spartian's Life of Caracalla, that' at seven years of age, · when he heard that a boy bis play-fellow had been severely beaten, because he was of the
Jewish religion, he would not for some while after look upon his own father, nor the father of • the boy, nor those who had beaten him.'
By : the Jewish religion,' very probably, is here meant the Christian religion.
These passages, partly from Tertullian a Christian, and partly from Spartian a heathen, are sufficient to shew, that the emperor Severus was not upacquainted witli men who by profession were Christians, and that they were well known in his family.
Instead of Euhodia, in Tertullian, it is thought by some, that we ought to read Euhodus, or Evodus, freedınan of Severus, who, by Dion Cassius, is said to have been charged with the education of Caracalla : who therefore, as is supposed, had given him a Christian woman for his
II. But, however favourable Severus may have been to some Christians from personal respects, it is certain, that in his reign the Christians underwent many sufferings. And, as that excellent lawyer Francis Balduinus observes, · That“ place of Tertullian shews, that Septimius • Severus was not always averse to the Christians : nevertheless, that favour for them was rather
owing to a personal benefit, than to any regard for their religion. The favour was personal, * without restraining the cruelty with which Christians were openly treated: nor did Severus, by • any edict, forbid the hard usage which Christians then met with, and of which Tertullian him. self is a good witness.'
Orosius says, that in the fifth persecution, which was under Severus, very many of the • saints obtained the crown of martyrdom in several countries.'
Sulpicius Severus ' calls this the sixth persecution, and observes particularly, that Leonidas, father of Origen, then suffered.
In the Chronicle of Eusebiuss this is reckoned the fifth persecution, and is placed at the tenth year of Severus. In his Ecclesiastical History he does not, I think, expressly say, when it began : but he intimates, that "it was very grievous in the tenth year of Severus, and afterwards : and, according to him, the persecution was general, and very grievous. So he begins the sixth book of his Ecclesiastical History : • And when Severus raised a persecution against • the churches, there were every where in all the churches glorious martyrdoms of the cham· pions for religion : but especially were they numerous at Alexandria, to which city, as to the • noblest stadium of God, were brought the most eminent champions from Thebais, and from • all Egypt, that by invincible patience under various torments, and divers sorts of death, they
might obtain from God a glorious crown. He then relates the death of Leonidas, Origen's father, who was beheaded ; and afterwards the deaths of several others, and particularly k Potamiæna, a virgin, who with her mother Marcella was burnt to death, by order of Aquila the Judge, and as he relates, in a slow and painful manner, scalding pitch having been by little and little poured upon the several members of her body, from the soles of the feet to the crown of the head : which, nevertheless, she endured with great patience and fortitude.
He says, that'at that time there were innumerable martyrdoms. And soon after, in a following chapter: · At " that time lived Judas, who published a Commentary upon Daniel's se
Septennis puer, quum collusorem suum puerum ob Ju- e Quiniâ, post Neronem, persecutione Christianos excruç daïcam religionem gravius verberatum audisset, neque patrem ciavit, plurimique sanctorum per diversas provincias martyrio suum, neque parrem pueri, vel [al. velut.] auctores diu coronati sunt. Hanc profanam in Christianos et Ecclesiam respexit. Spartian. Ant. Carac. cap. i. p. 707.
Dei præsumtionem Severi coelestis ultio e vestigio acta subse6 Loco Eubodiæ, legendum esse Evodi, existimamus, &c. quitur. Oros. I. vii. cap. 17. p. 501. Basnag. ann. 193. num. xxii.
Sexta. deinde, Severo iinperante, Christianorum vesatio e di Euofa TFCÇek's aula. Dion. 1. 776. p. 1273. al. p. 861. fuit. Quo tempore Leonidas, Origenis pater, sacrum in marVid. et p. 1287. lib. 77. in.
tyrio sanguinem fidit. Sul. Sever. 1. i. cap. 32. al. 46. • Hic Tertulliani locus testis est, Septimium Severum alieno & Chron. p. 172. abs Christianis animo semper non fuisse. Sed favor propter h H. E. l. vi. cap. 2. p. 201. C. curationem magis fuit, quam propter religionem ; et privatus i “Ως δε και Σεξηρος διαμον καλα των εκκλησιων εκινεί, gundem favor, propter quem interea vihil sit remissum de λαμπρα μεν των υπερ ευσεβειας αθληλων εν άπασαις ταις publicâ illâ sævitiâ, quâ Christiani vexabantur. Nam neque εκκλησιαις καλα σανία τοπον ατι ετελείτο μαρτυρια. κ. λ. Cap. . Severus ullo edicto, ut Christianis parceretur, publice impe- p. 201. A. B.
* Ibid. cap. 5. ravit; qui tamen quan eo tempore crudeliter vexabantur, ex 'Και μυριων όσων τοις καία μαρτυριον αναδεμενων σιφνις. ipso quoque Tertulliano intelligi potest. Balduin de Edict.
Cap. 2. p. 202. A.
Cap. vii. p. 208. I'rinc. Roman. p. 99.
• venty weeks, concluding his computation of the times at the tenth year of Severus : who • likewise thought, that the so much talked of coming of Antichrist was then at hand. So • strangely did the raising that persecution disturb the minds of many."
That Commentary of Judas concluded at the tenth of Severus; but it is likely, that the work was not finished until some while after that year: he, therefore, had been a witness of the sufferings of his brethren, after the beginning of the persecution, before he published his work.
At this time suffered in Africa, at Tuburbium, or, as others, more probably, at Carthage, Perpetua and Felicitas and their companions; of whom o notice was taken formerly.
During this reign, likewise, the Scillitan Martyrs • are supposed to have suffered in Africa : though the Acts of their Martyrdom, which we now have, are not allowed by all to be genuine.
Alexander, bishop of Jerusalem, who afterwards suffered martyrdom in the time of Decius, was imprisoned now.
Tertullian has mentioned another martyr, named Rutilius, who suffered in this persecution, though the year is not exactly known. Rutilius“ had absconded and fled from place to place, and had likewise given money to some officers to secure himself from suffering : and yet he was at length apprehended, and through the mercy of God suffered very patiently; though he was at first grievously tormented, and then burnt alive. Tertullian could not avoid speaking honourably of him; though he then condemned both flight in persecution, and pecuniary, redemptions.
And in his book to Scapula' he mentions Mavilus, an inhabitant of Adrumetum, whom' that proconsul had himself condemned to be devoured by wild beasts.
I do not mention Irenæus here, as some do, because I do not think he died by martyrdom, as was formerly shewn.
III: Mr. Dodwell" computed the persecution under Severus to have lasted two years only. Basnage i shews, that it lasted more than six years. Mosheim observes, that some Christians suffered in the beginning of the reign of Caracalla. : • They therefore,' says he, judge rightly, who think, that this persecution did not end before the death of Severus.' Sulpicius Severus having spoken of this persecution, says, that' from that time to the
per“secution of Decius, the church enjoyed peace eight and thirty years, excepting some dis* turbance given to the Christian Clergy by Maximin. It is hence argued by Pagi," that Sulpicius supposed this persecution did not end before the year 211, in which the emperor Severus died.
It is also supposed by the same learned chronologer, that the ceasing of this persecution, and the peace of the churches are hinted at in a passage of Dion Cassius, who relates, that Antoninus Caracalla, after killing his brother Geta, and committing other acts of cruelty, coming into the senate said: • Let all hear, what is of great importance, at which all the world may
* See Vol. i. p. 578, 579.
b Vid. Basnag. ann. 211. num. viii. Ruinart. Acta Mart. p. 94, &c. Tillem. la persécu. de Sévère. $ 3. Moshem. de Ætate Apol 'Tertull. num. x.
• Vid. Euseb. H. E. I. vi. cap. 39. et 46. d L. vi. cap. xi.
Interjectis deinde annis viii et xxx. pax Christianis fuit; pisi quod medio tempore Maximinus nonnullarum ecclesiarum clericos vexavit. Sul. Sever. I. ii. cap. 46 al. 32.
e Rutilius, sanctissimus Martyr, cum toties fugisset per: secutionem de loco in locum, etiam periculuni, ut reputabat, nummis redemisset, post totam securitatem, quam sibi prospexerat, ex inopinato apprehensus, et Præsidi oblatus, tormentis dissipatus, credo pro fugæ castigatione, dehinc ignibus datus, passionem, quam vitarat, misericordiæ Dei retulit. De Foga &c. cap. v. p. 693.
I Tibi quoque optamus admonitionem solam fuisse, quod cum Adrumeticum Maviluin ad bestias damnâsses, et statim hæc vexatio subsecuta est. Ad Scap. cap. 3. p. 87.
6 Credib. P. 2: Vol. i. p. 365.
* Durasse autem constat duobus annis. Diss. Cypr. xi. pum. xli.
i Plus igitur sexennio persecutio continuata est. Basn. ann. 202. num. i.
* De fine belli hujus silent veteres. Quum vero certis auc
m Ab anno autem 211, Severi emortuali ad annum 249, quo Decios persecutionen instauravit, anni 38 interjiciuntur. Quare Severus usque ad mortem suam Christianos vexavit, vel vexari permisit, quod perinde illis erat. Pagi ann. 207. num. iii.
n Pax itaque Ecclesiæ non reddita, nisi post Severi interitum. Quod indicare videtur Dio. lib. 77. [p. 1290.] ubi, postquam retulit Caracallam, Severi filium et successorem, occidisse fratrem Getam, ait, illum dixisse in Senatu : ' Audite, inquit,
rem maximam, ut totus terraruin orbis gaudeat. Omnes * exules rei facti, cujusvis sceleris, et quomodocumque dam'nati sint, restituantur,' &c. Persecutio igitur Severiana non solum sanguinolenta, scd etiam longa exstitit. Pagi ann. 207. num. iii..
rejoice. Let all exiles, whatever be their crimes, and however they have been condemned, be • restored.' The same is in Spartian. And Christians may have been included in this act of indemnity.
And that the persecution continued some while after the death of Severus, is argued from Tertullian's book to the proconsul Scapula, not written before the year 211, or 212: for at that tine the Christians underwent heavy sufferings. By that proconsulsome seein to have been condemned to the flames: and in some other places there were governors, who inflicted capital punishments upon Christians ; though they did not strive to aggravate their death by exquisite torments.
IV. However, I do not intend to write at length the history of this persecution : but I have been obliged to take some notice of it, not only upon account of the edict of Severus, but also (ait of regard to the testimony of Spartian, a heathen author, one of the writers of the Augustan History, who flourished in the time of Dioclesian, or soon after. He has mentioned not only the time of this persecution, but also the substance and design of the emperor's edict, more particularly than any of our Christian authors.
In the Life of the Emperor Severus, he says: "Having passed through Antioch, he gave to his eldest son the manly gown, and appointed him consul with himself : and presently, · while they were yet in Syria, they entered upon their consulship. After that, having enlarged • the stipends of the soldiers, he went forward to Alexandria. In his journey through Palestine * he enacted several laws. He forbad, under a severe penalty, that any should become Jews. • He also published a like edict against the Christians.'
This determines the beginning of the persecution to the tenth year of the reign of Severus, the year of Christ 202, when he and his son Caracalla were consuls together : and the design of the edict is represented to be to restrain the increase of Christianity.
Upon this edict Mr. Mosheim observes to this purpose : • These words,' says he, shew, that Severus enacted no new laws against the Christians: nor did he enjoin, that the religion • itself, with the professors of it, should be extirpated. He only intended to hinder the increase
of the church, and ordered such to be punished, who should abandon the old religion of their • ancestors for the sake of the Christian. They, therefore, who were Christians by birth, and * were such before the time of this edict, had nothing to fear from it. The old laws indeed, • particularly the edict of Trajan, which was not repealed, might occasion them some trouble : • but this new law of Severus affected not any who were Christians before. Learned men,' he says, ' are difficultly brought to allow of this interpretation, because they see, that many • Christians suffered in the time of this emperor. Nevertheless it is very certain : for Spartian
puts together the two edicts against the Jews and against the Christians; and they were both • of the same tenour. Severus never did forbid the Jewish religion, nor compel men born of • Jewish parents to embrace the Roman rites : he only forbad the increase of Jews by the addi* tion of other people to them. Therefore neither did he enact any thing more severe against
* Post hoc, relegatis deportatisque reditum in patriam etiam de Christianis sanxit. Spartian. Sever. cap. 16, 17. restituit. Spartian. in Vita Anton. Carac. cap. 3. p. 710.
p. 617, 618. Quibus et includi Christianos, qui impietatis causâ de- e Hæc verba docent; Severum non novas in Christianos portati fuerunt, non est negandum. Basn. ann. 212. num. vi. leges tulisse, non religionem ipsam cum professoribus ejus
pro veritate, pro Deo vivo, cremamur. Nam et exstirpari jussisse, sed modum tantum statuere voluisse increnunc a Præside legionis, et a Præside Mauritaniæ vexatur hoc mentis Ecclesiæ, eosque puniri jussisse, qui a majorum sacris nomen, sed gladio tenus, sicut a prinjor dio mandatum est, ad Christiana deficerent. Natis igitur Christianis, illis item, animadverti in hujusmodi. Ad Scap. cap. 4. p. 88. A. qui ante hoc edictum Christo nomen dederunt, antiquise
Tillen:ont, Persécution sous Sévère, art. vii. translates : quidem leges molestiæ et periculi aliquid parere poterant, • Le Lieutenant, qui commandoit la legion, qui residoit en maxime celebre illud, quod abrogatum per sequentes leges
Afrique, et le Gouverneur de la Mauritanie se contentoient haud erat, Trajani rescriptum. At ex hac novå. Severi lege * de faire décapiterles Martyrs.' I rather think, that by nibil ipsis timendum erat. Verum ægre boc sibi persuadent legio is here intended a place, or province, in Africa, so viri eruditi-Componit Spartianus edictum adversus Judæos called. Cellarius may be consulted. Geogr. 1. iii. cap. 13. cum edicto in Christianos, hocque ejusdem, cujus illud, p. 505, though he is not there speaking of a place in Airica. formæ fuisse observat. Atqui Severus neque Judæorum reliFosterior oppidum fuisse, non castra sola alicujus legionis, gionem unquam vetuit, neque Judaïcis parentibus natos licet origo et nomen his debeantur.
Romana suscipere sacra coëgit, sed augeri tantum Judæorum • Deinde, cum Antiochiam transisset, datâ civili togâ filio populum ex aliis populis noluit. Igitur nec Christianis, quum majori, secum eum Consulem designavit
, et statim in Syrià idem tantum in illus, quod in Judæos, sanxerit, iniquiorem consulatum inierunt. Post hoc, dato stipendio cumulatiore sese præbuit. Alias Severum leges in Christianos, præter pilitibus, Alexandriam pelit. In itinere Palæstinis plurima illam, cujus Spartianus meminit, tulisse, ab omni alienum est jura sundavit. Judæos fieri sub gravi panå vetuit. Idem verisimilitudine. Mosh. de Reb. Christian. ante C. M. p. 456.