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conduct. But without indulging harangue or complaint, I shall now immediately refer to some ecclesiastical historians, where, so far as I am able to judge, the question is fairly treated, and rightly decided. They are · Pagi, Basnage, · Cellarius, - Frederick Spanheim, not forgetting * the great Scaliger.
1. My first argument is, that divers ancient Christian writers expressly say, that Constantine was the first Roman emperor who made profession of the Christian religion.
The first to be quoted is Lactantius, contemporary with Eusebius, but rather older, who' in his inscription of his Institutions to Constantine, addresseth him in the character of the first em, peror of the Romans who had forsaken the errors of Gentilism.
In like manner Sulpicius Severus, who published his Sacred History in the year 400, or soon after. · That,'s says he was the end of the persecution: from that time there have been • Christian emperors, of whom Constantine was the first.'
Theodoret, at the end of his Ecclesiastical History, says, that " before Constantine all the Roman emperors were enemies to the Christians.
Chrysostom says, 'that'all the Roman emperors, Augustus, Tiberius, Caius, Nero, Vespasian, • Titus, and after him all the rest, were Gentiles, till the time of the blessed Constantine: and all
of them opposed the church, some indeed with greater, others with less violence, however all of « them in some measure. And as they all lived in impiety, that alone was an encouragement to the people to oppose the Christians.”
Nor can Eusebius be omitted, who at the conclusion of his Life of Constantine, says, that • he was the only Roman emperor, who hitherto had worshipped the true God with sincere piety, . and had embraced and recommended the doctrine of Jesus Christ.'
Pagi therefore says, he'is persuaded, that all which Eusebius says about the Christianity of Philip, he had received from uncertain tradition.
2. All heathen writers are silent about the Christianity of Philip and his son.
It seems to me, that " Spanheim does rightly insist on this argument of no small weight. Nor has "Julian in his Cæsars taken any notice of it. If Philip had been a Christian, they would some of them have reproached him upon that account, and they would have reproached his Christianity with the crimes of which he was guilty: for his treachery to the young Gordian was well known, and was very odious, and is spoken of as such.
3. Philip celebrated the secular games at Rome in the thousandth year of the city, and in the usual manner, with great magnificence: as we are assured by ancient medals, and by Christian as well as by heathen writers.
In the Chronicle of Eusebius it is said, that P at that time innumerable beasts were slain in
P. 40, &c.
a Aon. 244. n. iv. et seqq. ann. 247. num. vi. et seqq. Vid. πολεμων εδινελο, των αλλων κολακευονίων αυθας, θεραπευονίων et Fr. Pagi Breviarium Pont. Ronan. T. i.
EY TW 775 Exxagoras wonen.W. Chr. Contr. Jud. et Gent. T. i. 6 Basnag. ann. 244. n. vi. &c.
p. 578. Bened. © Cell. Diss. de primo principe Christiano. sect. xxi. &c. * Μονε μεν Ρωμαιων βασιλεως τον παμβασιλεα θεον υπερ
βολη θεοσεβειας τελιμηκολος" μονο δε τοις πασι πεπαρρησιασμενως d Spanhem. Opp. T. ii. p. 405. &c. Quâ disquiritur, quo τον τα Χριςε κηρυξανλος λοίον, κ. λ. De Vita Const, 1. iv. jore Philippi Impp. Pater et Filius, pro Christianis habeantur. e Animadversion. in Euseb. p. 234.
i Verum, re maturius examinatâ, nunc rion dubito, quin * Quod opus nunc nominis tui auspicio inchoamus, Con- Eusebius, quod habet de Christianâ protessione Philippi, ex stantine, Imperator maxime, qui primus Romanorum princi. incertâ auditione retulerit. Ann. 244. n. v. pum, repudiatis erroribus, majestatein Dei singularis ac veri w Primo silent isti historici, qui res Philipporum Deciorum. cognovisti et honorasti. Inst. 1. 1. c. 1.
ve ex professo quondam tradiderunt- -Certe apud Ælium B Sed finis persecutionis illius fuit ab hinc annos ix et lxxx. Spartianum, Julium Capitolinum, Ælium Lampridium, Au-. a quo tempore Christiani Imperatores esse cæperunt. Nam- relium Victorem, Eutropium abbreviatorem, Zosimum,que tum Constantinus rerum potiebatur, qui primus omnium nulla vestigia deprehendas Christianæ in Philippis religionis. Romanorum principum. Christianus fuit. Sacr. Hist. 1. ii. Span. p. 413. cap. 33. p. 248. Cleric.
^ Julianus Imp. in Satyra suâ de Cæsaribus, de Philippo * Και γαρ προ της Κωνςανδινα τα μεταλα βασιλειας, οσοι tacet, non facturus, siquidem hic Christianus fuisset. &c. Ibid. “Ρωμαιων ελενοντο βασιλεις, καλα των θιασωλων της αληθειας p. 413. m. Eurirsoy. Theod. H. E. I. v. cap. 39. p. 248.
o Ita Philippus impie non jure obtinuit imperium. Capiι 'Ελληνες ησαν βασιλεις Αυξεσος, Τιβεριος, Γαϊος, Νερων, tolin. Gordian. iii. cap. 31. p. 127. Ουεσπασιανος, Τίλος, και μετ' εκεινον απανίες έως των τε μακα- P Regnantibus Philippis, millesimus annus Romanæ urbis pie Kwisavlive yowy o'y Basinews. Kai wavles slos, ci pey expletus est: ob quam solemnitatem innumerabiles bestiae in ελαττον, οι δε σφοδρολερον επολεμεν την εκκλησιαν επολεμεν δ' circo magno interfectæ; ludique in Campo Martio theatrales Αν όμως απανίες. Ει δε τινες αυτών και ησυχαζειν εδοξαν, αυλο tribus diebus et noctibus populo pervigilante celebrati. Euseb, τείο το τες βάσιλευονίας καταδηλες ειναι επι ασεβεια, υποθεσις Chr. p. 174.
the Circus, and there were theatrical shews in the Campus Martius for three days and three nights. And • Orosius acknowledgeth, that the secular games were celebrated by Philip with great magnificence; though he will have it, that all was designed to the honour of Christ.
Capitolinus, one of the writers of the Augustan History, is very particular in representing the great number, and various sorts of beasts produced to publish show, or slain by Philip upon occasion of this solemnity. And other heathen authors, as well as ancient medals, bear witness to his celebrating this festival with great magnificence, as · Eutropius, whom I transcribe below, and refer to the - Victors.
4. Once more, finally, the Philips were deified after their death, as ° Eutropius says: which shews, that they were reckoned to be heathens. And Philip put Gordian in the number of the gods, as Capitolinus'says, in which he acted like a heathen.
Upon the whole therefore I can see no reason to believe, that the emperor Philip was by belief or profession a Christian ; though he might be favourable to some who were so.
As I do not love to be singular, I shall now transcribe the judgments of several learned men upon this point. Says Crevier : · He 5 is said to have been a Christian : but if he was, it
seems to me very strange, that none of the Pagan writers who have spoken of him should have * mentioned it. Zosimus, in particular, who is full of venom against Christianity, and who takes a pleasure in loading Constantine with the most atrocious calumnies, would surely not have spared Plailip. The Christian writers, upon whose authority the notion of this prætorian præ• fect's Christianity is founded, certainly deserve respect. But their accounts are so confused, • so full of circumstances, either palpably contradictory, or absolutely refuted by history, that * the weight of their testimony is considerably diminished. Though Mr. Tillemont inclines to their opinion, I am not afraid to own, that what he himself has written upon this subject
makes me of a different mind. If Philip did profess our religion, he was certainly a bad • Christian. I had rather believe, that being born in the neighbourhood of the country which
was the cradle of Christianity, he might thence acquire some tincture of it; and that he • favoured it, as Alexander Severus had done, but without renouncing his idolatrous supersti• tion to which he adhered when emperor. And afterwards! The celebration of the secular, games, in which all the pomp of the Pagan superstition was displayed, is a direct proof of the public profession which Philip made of his attachment to idolatry. It is a violation of all pro. bability to suppose, without any evidence, that the emperor could celebrate them without
taking part in the sacrifices that accompanied them, or rather which were the essential part of • them, and the very foundation of the whole festival.'
Pagi, at the conclusion of one part of his argument upon this subject, has an observation • which may be reckoned sage and pertinent. • There' is no more reason,' says he, “to be• lieve what Eusebius here says of the Christianity of the emperor Philip, than what he says of • Abgarus king of the Edessens, that having heard of the fame of Christ's miracles, he wrote a • letter to him ; and that our Lord returned him an answer, promising to send to him one of
* Ita magnificis ludis augustissiinus omnium præteritorum Denique Philippus quum eum interfecisset, neque imagines hic natalis annus a Christiano Imperatore celebratus est. Nec ejus tolleret, neque statuas deponeret, neque nomen abradedubium est, quin Philippus bujus tantæ devotionis gratiam et ret, sed Divum semper appellans etiam apud ipsos milites, honorem ad Christum et ecclesiam reportavit, &c. Oros. 1. vii. cum quibus factionein fecerat, serio animo et peregrinâ callic 20.
ditate veneratus est. Capitolin, ut supra, p. 128. b Fuerunt sub Gordiano Romæ elephanti xxx. et 11. & History of the Roman Emperors, vol. viii. p. 419. tigres x. leones mansueti Ix. gladiatorum fiscalium paria
h Ib. vol. ix. p. 9. mille: hippopotamus, et rhinoceros unus equi feri xl. | Hic tantum dicam, non majorem fidem adhibendam et cætera hujusmodi animalia, innumera et diversa ; quæ om- Eusebio, Philippum Imp. Christianum facienti, quam eidem nia Philippus ludis secularibus vel dedit, vel occidit -- Nam affirmanti Abgarum Edessenorum Regem, auditis Christi miomnia hæc Philippus exhibuit secularibus ludis et muneribus raculis, ad ipsum literas dedisse, et Christum mutuas ad eum atque Circensibus, quum millesimum ab urbe condità annum literas scripsisse, quibus se missurum ad ipsum unum ex in consulatu suo et filii sui celebravit. Capitol. Gordian. iii. Apostolis suis pollicitus est-Nec etiam major fides Hierocap. 33. p. 132-134.
nymi de conversione Philippi Imperatoris loquentis, quam . His imperantibus, millesimus annus Romæ urbis ingenti cum in lib. de Script. Eccles. de Senecâ scribit : Quem non kudorum apparatu spectaculorumque celebratus est. &c. Eu- 'ponerem in catalogo sanctorum, nisi me illæ epistolæ protrop. 1. ix. cap. 3.
vocarent, quæ leguntur a plurimis Pauli ad Senecam, et Vide Vicior. de Cæsar. cap. 28. et Epit. cap. 28. • Senecæ ad Paulum.' Priores Christiani, fidei nostræ promos • Ambo inde ab exercitu interfecti sunt ; Senior Philippus vendæ toti addicti, et summo animi candore præditi, sese Veronæ Romæ junior. Annis v. imperaverunt ; inter Divos sæpe nimis faciles in iis, quæ religioni favebant, præbuerunt, tamen relati sunt. Eutrop. I. ix. cap. 3.
uc innumera exempla demonstrant. Pag: azn, 244. num. vii. a Quam cupide autem hoc creditum a majoribus fuit, tanto | Vid. Pagi ann. 251. num. xxx. Basnag. ann. 249. num. iii. id minus fit vero simile, si veteres auctores excutiantur. Qui g Post hos Decius, e Pannoniâ inferiore, Bubaliæ natus, adseverant Christianum fuisse, ideo videntur in hanc opinionem imperium sunisit Cuin biennio ipse et filius ejus impeingressi, ut millesimum Urbis annuin Christi potius quam rassent, uterque in barbarico interfecti sunt, et inter Divos deorum cultori vindicarent. Oros. I. vii. c. 28. de Constan- relati. Eutrop: 1. ix. cap. iv. tino Magno. ' Primus Imperatorum Christianus, excepto Cap. 29.
: his apostes. Nor is there any more regard to be had to Jerom, when he calls the emperor • Philip a convert to Christianity; than when he speaks of the Letters of Paul to Seneca, and • Seneca to Paul. The first Christians,' says he, wholly intent upon propagating our faith, and being men of great candour, oftentimes too easily admitted stories which were favourable to our religion: of which there are many instances.' A remarkable observation of a Franciscan monk, but a truly learned man.
Cellarius has an observation to the like purpose. • The more greedily this story was rei ceived by our ancestors, the more carefully ought we to examine their testimony concerning • it: for they seem (some of them at least) to have embraced this opinion about Philip; being • desirous to have it thought, that the secular games of the thousandth year of the city of Rome
were celebrated to the honour of Christ, and not of the gods.' I must not allow myself to take any thing more from this author : though his Observations upon the Christianity ascribed to Philip appear to me very clear and solid : and I recollect, that I did before transcribe some of his thoughts upon this point at p. 188, note'.
CHA P. XXX.
THE EMPEROR DECIUS.
I. His time, and character. II. Accounts of his Persecution. III. A Persecution at Alexandria;
before the publication of his edict. IV. That this Persecution was universal.
. We sometimes meet with chronological difficulties, where they might be little expected. Eusebius in his Chronicle says, that Decius reigned only one year and three months : and in his History, that he and his sons were slain before he had reigned two years: which account account Baronius follows. But learned men are now rather of opinion, that * Decius reached to the third year. And it is computed, that'he reigned from July or August 249, to November or December 251.
Eutropius, 3 and Victor in his Cæsars, say, he reigned two years; the other Victor' says thirty months. He was born in Pannonia : and, as has been observed, he is the first of the many Roman emperors who were natives of Illyricum. His name, as inscribed upon « medals, is Caius Messius Trajanus Decius. He has a very good character in the Epitome of 'Victor, and TM Zosimus, heathen authors: but he is little taken notice of by Christian writers, excepting upon account of his persecution. Some of their passages. I shall transcribe, sufficient to afford . my readers a general notion of it.
Philippo, qui Christianus annis admodum paucissimis ad hoc i Decius, e Pannoniâ inferiore imperavit menses tri* tantum constitutus fuisse mihi visus est, ut millesimus Romæ ginta. ' Hic Decium filium suum Cæsarem fecit; vir artibus • annu: Christo potius, quam idolis dicaretur.' Cellar.. Diss. cunctis virtutibusque instructus, placidas et communis domi ; de primo principe Christiano, num. xxii. p. 322.
in armis promptissimus. Vict. Epit. cap. 29. • Romanorum vicesimus quintus regnavit Decius anno uno,. k Vid. Noris. Ep. Syro-Maced. Diss. 3. cap. 10. p. 344, menses iii. Chron. p. 175.
345. Lips. « H. E. I. vii. cap. i..
I See note i. d Ann. 254. n. xlix. ·
Δεκεω μεν εν αρισα βεβασιλευκάλι τελος τοιονδε συνεζη. . < Déce a certainement commencé la troisième année de son Zos. I. i. p. 644. in.. règne, comme on le voit par ses médailles. Tillem. H. E.T. ni.
p. 599. Brux.
II. The author of the Deaths of Persecutors says, that Decius * began to persecute the Christians as soon as he began to reign: but he does not tell us what the edict was, nor the occasion of it.
Eusebius writes to this purpose. • Philip having reigned seven years, he was succeeded by * Decius, who being an enemy to Philip, raised a persecution against the churches: in which • Fabian at Rome having been perfected by martyrdom, he was succeeded by Cornelius in that
bishopric. In Palestine Alexander, bishop of the church at Jerusalem, is again brought be'fore the governor's tribunal at Cæsarea for Christ's sake: and having made a second glorious * confession is put in prison, being now venerable for his age and grey hairs. Having died in
prison, after a noble and illustrious confession before the governor's tribunal, he was succeeded ' in the bishopric of Jerusalem by Mazabanes. In like manner Babylas having died in prison at Antioch, after a public confession of the faith, was succeeded in that church by Fabius. How many and how great sufferings Origen endured at that time, imprisonment, chains, fetters • upon his legs, his feet stretched in the stocks to the fourth hole for several days, menaces to • burn him alive, and other torments, the judge all the while carefully endeavouring that he might not die under them, may be fully known from some letters written by him.'
Origen was then in the sixty-sixth or sixty-seventh year of his age : but neither his age, nor his learning, nor his many works, nor the greatness of his fame, secured him from a share in this trial. And Alexander before-mentioned, bishop of Jerusalem, was also a truly excellent and valuable man. They who desire to know more of him, may see his history more at large in another place. Origen survived that trial, being set at liberty at the period of the persecution ; but he died a few years after.
III. The beginning of the Decian persecution must be dated in the year 249, or the beginning of 250: but there was a persecution raised against the Christians at Alexandria in the year 248, whilst other churches enjoyed great peace under the emperor Philip. This persecution lasted a whole year, and was concluded by nothing but a sedition and disturbance among the gentiles themselves. Of this we have an account in the fragment of a letter of Dionysius to Fabius, bishop of Antioch. That fragment is preserved in Eusebius, and as the account is authentic, as well as curious, I am induced to transcribe it here. • The persecution with us,
says he, had not its beginning from the imperial edict; but began a whole year before. A soothsayer
and poet, such as he was, stirred up the multitude of the gentiles against us, exciting them to contend for the superstition of their country. Being stirred up by him, and • having it in their power to do as they pleased, they thought that religion lay in nothing more * than killing us. First of all they lay hold of a man of great age named Metras, requiring him • to repeat some profane words : he not doing as they desired, they laid many blows upon his · body with clubs, and pricked him in the face and eyes with sharp reeds, and then leading him • into the suburbs, they stoned him to death. After that, dragging a faithful woman named
Quinta to their idol temple, they require her to fall down and worship it: but she refusing so ' to do, they tied her feet, and dragged her through the city, which is paved with sharp stones, * and having dashed her against millstones, and scourged her, they led her to the same place • without the city, and stoned her. They then broke into the houses of many pious men, robbing and plundering them of what they had. If they found any thing valuable, that they kept for their own use : but lumber, and utensils made of wood, they threw out in the streets : • so that the city looked as if it had been taken by an enemy. However, many of the brethren • retired, and saved themselves by flight, “joyfully taking the spoiling of their goods,” like to * those mentioned by Paul, Heb. x. 34. Nor do I yet know of more than one, that fell into • their hands, who has denied the Lord. Moreover, at this time they laid hold of an admirable
virgin, of a great age, named Apollonia : they struck her upon the cheeks, and beat out all • her teeth: then lighting a fire without the city, they threatened to burn her alive, unless she ' would join with them in pronouncing certain profane words : but she begging a short respite, • and being let loose, presently threw herself into the fire, and was consumed to ashes. Serapion
they seized in his own house, and having tortured him with grievous torments, and broken * all his limbs, they threw him headlong from the upper part of his house. Nor had we, says ,
this bishop of Alexandria, a safe passage any where, through high streets, or narrow lanes, * neither by night nor by day; but continually, and every where, the people were universally
crying out : . If any man refuse to pronounce such or such impious words, let him be imme• diately taken up and thrown into the fire.' So things went on for some time, till a sedition • among themselves, and a civil war returned this cruelty upon them. We had then a short • breathing time: but presently news came of the end of that reign which had been favourable 'to us; and all were seized with fears of an impending storm. Then came the edict, which · was very terrible, putting us in mind of what was foretold by the Lord, that “ if it were pos• sible, they should seduce even the elect.” Matt. xxiv. 24.
Dionysius proceeds to relate the consequences of the imperial edict at Alexandria, and other places in Egypt. Some were overcome by fears of suffering, and sacrificed : others (divers of which are named by him) patiently and courageously endured various kinds of death, under exquisite torture. But I transcribe nothing more here. But it is observable, that many Christians fell in the time of this persecution : and when it was over, there were in many places disputes about the manner of receiving such as had lapsed, when they desired to be reconciled to the church.
IV. Sulpicius Severus a calls the persecution under Decius the seventh persecution, as does 6. Jerom in his book of Ecclesiastical Writers, in the chapter of Alexander bishop of Jerusalem. Orosius also reckons Decius the seventh persecutor of the church, and says, • That by his cruel • edicts he sent many of the saints to receive crowns from Christ for the torments which they • endured. In « Augustine likewise it is the seventh persecution. There can be no doubt but* it was universal, as it was ordered by an imperial edict.
THE EMPEROR GALLUS.
His time, and that he was a persecutor.
Decius was succeeded by Gallus and Volusian near the end of the year 251. Gallus is not mentioned among the persecuting princes by Sulpicius Severus, or Orosius, or Augustine, or the Author of the Deaths of Persecutors : nevertheless he must have been a persecutor.
Says Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History, Decius' being slain with his sons, when he had not yet completed the second year of his reign, he was succeeded by Gallus, at which time • died Origen in the seventieth year of his age. And Dionysius in his letter to Hermammon
speaks thus of Gallus : But Gallus did not attend to the fate of Decius, nor consider what was • his ruin; but stumbled upon the same stone, which lay before his eyes. . When his empire was • in a happy state, and all things succeeded according to his wishes, he persecuted those truly holy men who prayed to God for his health and prosperity; and with them drove away those prayers which they offered up for him.' Thus he writes of Gallus.
* Mox, Decio imperante, jam tum septima persecutione sanctorum ad coronas Christi de suis cruciatibus misit. Oros. sævitum in Christianos. S. Sev. I. ii. c. 32. al. 46.
1. vii. cap. 21. Septimâ autem persecutione sub Decio, quo tempore d De Civ. Dei. I. xviii. cap. 52. Babylas Antiochiæ passus est, ductus Cæsaream, et clausus e Vid. Basnag. ann, 250. nun. iv, v. in carcere ob confessionem Christi, martyrio coronatus. De
( H. E. 1. vii. cap. 1. V. I. cap. 62.
τες ιερες ανδρας τες σερι της ειρηνης αυλα και της Ιdem continuo, in quo se etiam ob hoc Philippos inter- υλιειας πρεσβευοντας προς τον θεον ηλασεν εκεν συν εκείνους fecisse docuit, ad persequendos interficiendosque Christianos, E&Wes xai tas Utep avle wporeuxas. Ibid. p. 250. septimus post Neronem, feralia dispersit edicta, plurimosque VOL. IV.