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set before them were very grievous. But neither death itself, nor all the preceding tortures inflicted upon them, could terrify them, or induce them to depart from their stedfastness. The number of these patient sufferers was very great. Many were suffocated in prison, none of whom are expressly mentioned by name, beside Pothinus. The mistress of Blandina was among the confessors or martyrs, but her name is not mentioned. Several Roman citizens were beheaded, as is expressly said in the narrative; but none of their names are mentioned. Attalus was a Roman citizen; but he had not the privilege of the city allowed him. Moreover, among the remains of the dead were heads and trunks of bodies, which must have been the remains of Roman citizens, no others having been put to death by separating the head from the body. Some gave way: but a great part of these afterwards recovered themselves, and made a right confession, in defiance of the sufferings by which they had been once terrified, and which they might now again justly expect: the rest were all along stedfast in their confession; and these were by much the majority of such as were publicly examined at the governor's tribunal.
The testimony of these men is very valuable: they are not such witnesses as the apostles, and others, who were eyewitnesses of Christ and his miracles; but they lived at a time when the evidences of the truth of the Christian religion might be easily traced to the first original. Irenæus, now a presbyter in the church of Lyons, afterwards bishop of the same church, in his younger days was well acquainted with Polycarp, disciple of St. John. Pothinus, now bishop of Lyons, who was older than Irenæus, and now suffered martyrdom when he was ninety years of age, may be well supposed to have been acquainted with some of the first succession of bishops, or Christians, next after that of the apostles.
All these martyrs must have been firmly persuaded of the truth and divine original of the Christian religion, and all the principles of it. They had embraced it upon the ground of such evidence as appeared to them sufficient and satisfactory: and, as their enemies themselves saw and acknowledged, they preferred their religion above their lives. They believed, as they supposed upon good ground, that Jesus Christ was a divine teacher sent from God. They were, in particular, firmly persuaded of the truth of his doctrine concerning future rewards for the good, and punishments for the wicked, and were thereby engaged to the sincere profession of the truth, and the abhorrence of falsehood. Their knowledge of the scriptures of the Old and New Testament, and their respect for them, are manifest from their frequent allusions to them, or quotations of them.
7. They seem to have had among them gifts of the Spirit. Eusebius says, they were not • destitute of the grace of God, and the Holy Ghost was their director.' 'Of Alexander, the writers of this epistle say, he was known to almost all men for his boldness in preaching the • word; for he was not destitute of apostolic grace.' They likewise say of Attalus, ' that after • his first combat it was revealed to him that Alcibiades did not do well in not using the crea* tures of God; and Alcibiades acquiesced, and thenceforward partook of all sorts of food pro
miscuously. And it may deserve to be considered that Attalus was a Roman citizen, and not a mean person. To me those expressions likewise appear remarkable, where they say of these confessors: “They demonstrated in fact the power of martyrdom, using great freedom of speech • in all their answers to the Gentiles, and manifesting a greatness of mind in their patience, fear• lessness, and undaunted courage, under all their sufferings. Certainly the Christian sufferers had the presence of God with them. All men around them were adversaries; but God did not forsake them; he strengthened and supported them.
8. Finally, by the example of these patient and victorious confessors and martyrs, let us be animated and encouraged to steadiness in the cause of truth; humbly depending upon God, and earnestly praying that we may have strength from above, equal to the trials which we may meet with : for it is better to suffer for truth and virtue, though we should be put into the iron chair with Attalus, or be hung upon a stake like Blandina, than to be a persecuting judge upon a tribunal, or a persecuting emperor upon a throne.
What is above was intended for the conclusion of this article: but some may be of opinion that, to my own thoughts upon this subject, I ought to add the observations of that fine writer, and good Christian, Mr. Joseph Addison : • Under this head,' says he, • I cannot omit that
ιδια μεν των αποτμησει κεφαλης τετελειωμενων ιδιαν o Sce Vol. i. p. 325-327. Their testimony to the de των θηρσιν εισβοραν παραβεβλημενων και αυθις των επι της scriptures makes a distinct chapter, Vol. 1. p. 360-362. Esgxt95 xexosunfleycov. Euseb. H. E. 1. 5. cap. 4. p. 108. d'Addison of the Christian religion. sect. vii. num. iv. p. 314.
" which appears to me 'a standing miracle in the three first centuries; I mean that amazing and
supernatural courage or patience which was shewn by innumerable multitudes of martyrs, in • those slow and painful torments that were inflicted on them. I cannoť conceive a man placed
in the burning iron chair at Lyons, amidst the insults and mockeries of a crowded amphitheatre, • and still keeping his seat; or stretched upon a grate of iron, over coals of fire, and breathing
out his soul among the exquisite sufferings of such a tedious execution, rather than renounce • his religion, or blaspheme his Saviour. Such trials seem to me above the strength of human
nature, and able to overbear duty, reason, faith, conviction, nay, and the most absolute certainty • of a future state. Humanity, unassisted in an extraordinary manner, must have shaken off the
present pressure, and have delivered itself out of such a dreadful distress by any means that • could have been suggested to it. We can easily imagine that many persons, in so good a cause,
might have laid down their lives at the gibbet, the stake, or the biock; but to expire leisurely among the most exquisite tortures, when they might come out of them, even by a mental re• servation, or an hypocrisy, which is not without the possibility of being followed by repentance • and forgiveness, has something in it so far beyond the force and natural strength of mortals,
that one cannot but think that there was some miraculous power to support the sufferer.' So Mr. Addison.
A REMARKABLE DELIVERANCE OF THIS EMPEROR IN HIS WARS IN GERMANY, AND THE HIS
TORY OF THE THUNDERING LEGION CONSIDERED.
I. A general account of the deliverance obtained by Marcus Antoninus in Germany, in the year
174. II. The account given by Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History, where that deliverance is ascribed to the prayers of a legion of Christians in the emperor's army. III. Observations upon
that history. IV. A summary of the argument. 1. There is yet one thing more relating to this emperor, which must be taken notice of. If, upon inquiry, it should appear to be of small importance, some may be of opinion that it might have been passed by in silence, or but slightly mentioned. On the other hand, since some have judged it to be of great moment, and there have been many controversies about it, in which learned men of great eminence, on each side have been engaged, it may be justly supposed to deserve particular consideration.
When Marcus Antoninus was engaged in a difficult war with the Quadi, a people in Germany, · in the fourteenth year of his reign, and of our Lord 174, he was reduced to great straits, his army being in want of water. Whilst they were in that distress, there came a very seasonable and plentiful shower of rain, which refreshed him and his soldiers, and he obtained a victory over his enemies. This deliverance has been thought by many to have been miraculous, owing to the prayers of the Christians, who were in the Roman army. And it has been supposed that thereupon the emperor wrote a letter to the senate which was very favourable to the Christians.
II. I shall begin with reciting what Eusebius says of this matter in his Ecclesiastical History.
• It is said that, when Marcus Aurelius had drawn out his forces against the Germans and Sarmatians, his army was brought into a great strait by reason of drought, so that he knew not s what course to take : that the soldiers of the legion, called the Melitenian Legion, which still
subsists as a reward of their faith, when the armies were going to engage, falling down to the • earth upon their knees, according to our usual custom in prayer, offered up requests to God: • that the enemies were greatly surprised at that wonderful sight; and that, as is said, there • soon after followed a thing more wonderful, a violent lightning, which put the enemies to
flight, and destroyed them; and also a shower, which fell upon that army which had prayed • to God, and refreshed it when they were all ready to perish with thirst. This is related by • such writers as are far from embracing our religion, but were concerned to record the events of * Vid. Pagi ann. 174. n. ii. Basnag. 174. n. i. &c. et Cleric.
λογος εχει. κ. λ. Η. Ε. 1. 5. c. 5. p. 169. &c. Hist. Ec, ann. 174.
αλλο τι λογος εχει. p. 169. Β.
· thos2 times: it is also related by our authors. By other writers who were averse to our reli'gion the wonderful event is recorded: but they do not acknowledge that it was owing to the * prayers of our people: but by our authors, who were lovers of truth, what happened is related • in a plain and ingenuous manner. One of them is Apollinarius, who says, that from that time the legion, by whose prayers that wonderful deliverance was obtained, was by the emperor's order called in the Roman language, the Thunderbolt Legion, a name suited to the ( event. Tertullian is another witness worthy of credit; who, in his apology for our faith, ad. • dressed to the Roman senate in the Latin tongue, (of which we also before made mention) • strongly confirms the truth of this history; saying, that there is still extant the letter of that worthy emperor Marcus, in which he testifies that, when his army was in great danger of
perishing in Germany for want of water, it was saved by the prayers of the Christians. He like• wise says that the same emperor threatened the punishment of death to such as should accuse • them. But of these things let every one judge as he sees fit. We now proceed in the course of our laistory to other matters.'
III. I now intenu to make some observations for clearing up this history.
Obs. 1. It seems that Eusebius did not rely upon the truth of this history. For, as we have seen, he begins the account in this manner: • It is said.' And in the end he leaves every one to judge of it as he sees good. A like observation has been already made by a divers learned
Obs. 2. Eusebius quotes Apollinarius, as saying that, by Marcus's order, there was a legion called the thundering, or thunderbolt legion, in memory of the wonderful event here spoken of. But he does not quote the words of Apollinarius, nor name the book in which he said it. And, moreover, it has been observed by learned men of late times that' there had been a legion with that denomination long before the times of Marcus Antoninus.
Obs. 3. Eusebius calls it the Melitenian legion, or the legion of Melitene, 785 de eti TVS Μελιτινης ετω καλεμενης λεγεωνος 5ρατιωτας. If there was any legion so called it is likely that it had it's denomination from Melitene in Cappadocia, where the soldiers, of which it was composed, had been enlisted, or where it had resided. And it appears from writers of good authority that the twelfth legion, called the thunderbolt legion, was sometimes quartered in Cappadocia. However, Valesius denies that there was any legion called the Melitenian legion.
Obs. 4. Eusebius seems to have supposed that the legion, of which he speaks, consisted chiefly, or entirely, of Christians; whereas it is not easy to think so of any legion at that time.
There may have been Christian soldiers in Marcus's army: but it is altogethe: improbable that there should then have been an entire legion of Christians, or near it.
»- τεθειται μεν το παραδοξον. p. 169. C.
ubi legiones omnes enumerat. Vetus quoque inscriptio, a xepauvo ßonor to 'PwpawwY ETIX 7.798100.your.p. 169.D. Scaligero probata, id ipsum confirmat. Quamobrem de ipso • Αλλα ταυτα μεν όπη τις εθελη τιθεσθω. Μετιωμεν δε ημεις quidem miraculo pluvia a Christianis militibus impetrata, et επι την των εξης ακολεθιαν. Ιb. ρ. 170. Α. Β.
Apollinari et Tertulliano testantibus, facile credimus legionem d Sed et verba, quibus totam hanc varrationem concludit, vero Melitinam ob id fulminatricem esse dictam a M. Antosatis indicant, ipsum de veritate rei dubitasse. Sic eniin ait : nino Imp. nondum mihi persuasit Apollinaris. Dicet fortasse Αλλα ταυτα μεν όπη τις εθελη τιθεσυ. Ιd est, sed de his aliquis, fulminatricem quidem legionem fuisse ante tempora quisque pro arbitrio suo judicei. Vales. in loc. p. 93. M. Antonini, sed Marcum ob acceptum a Melitinâ legione
Equidem, si certum fuisset, et a legione Christianorum ad- beneficium, ei quoque fulninatricis cognomen indidisse. vocatum fuisse imbrem, et Marcum hoc scripsisse Senatui, Verum, si ita esset, secunda fulminatrix dici debuerat. Dio nunquam narrationi suæ colophonem ejusmodi imposuisset tamen nullam ejus mentionem facit, quamvis omnes legiones Eusebius : ' Sed de his quisque pro suo arbitratu statuat : in- a superioribus principibus conscriptas accurate recenseat. dicio, Eusebium ipsum eâ de traditione dubitasse, etsi Tertul- Vales. ib. liani verba immutârit, omisso forte adverbio, quod habet 8 Και το δωδεκατον το εν Καππαδοκια, το κεραυνοφορον. Tertullianus. Basnag. ann. 174. n. viii.
Dio. Cass. 1. 55. p. 564. al. 795. Vid. ibid. annotata a Rei€ Qui et in eo peccat, quod Apollinaris locum non protulit, maro. Et conf. Gruter. p. cxciii. 3. nec librum ipsum, in quo hæc Apollinaris scripserat, indicavit. Itaque quod de Legione Melitina tradit Eusebius, parum Vales. ib. Le premier de ceux qu' Eusébe allégue sur ce mihi probabile videtur. Adde quod Rufinus hoc legionis sujet est S. Apollinaire Evêque d'Hiéraple, dont le témoignage nomen consulto, ut arbitror, prætermisit; quippe qui nosset, est d'autant plus authentique, qu'il vivoit au même temps que Melitinam nomen esse oppidi minoris Armeniæ, in quo legio ce miracle arriva. Mais il seroit à souhaiter, qu' Eusébe nous 12, fulminea, adhuc suâ ætate prætenderet. Vales. ib. p. 92. eût rapporté ses propres paroles. Tillem. L'Emp. M. Aurele. Et Conf. Basn. ann. 174. n. v. art. xvi.
Cæterum, ut ingenue dicam quod sentio, parum mihi Jamdudum monuit Scaliger in Animadversionibus Euse- probabile videtur, totam legionem militum Romanorum eò bianis, legionem fulminatricem ab hoc miraculo cognominatam tempore Christianam fuisse ; quod tamen affirmare videtur
e, quippe quæ diu ante tempora M. An nini ita Eusebius. Vales, ut supr. vocata fuerit. Docet id manifeste Dio Cassius in libro 55,
Obs. 5. Eusebius quotes Tertullian as of great weight in this matter. · Tertullian,' says be. is another witness worthy of credit : who, in his apology for our faith, addressed to the Roman senate in the Latin tongue, strongly confirms the truth of this history, saying that there is still ( extant the letter of that worthy emperor Marcus, in which he testifies that when his
army was in great danger of perishing in Germany, for want of water, it was saved by the prayers of • the Christians
Now I shall transcribe below a the passage of Tertullian from his Apology, in his own words.
In English they are to this purpose: Nero and Domitian have been our enemies. But among good emperors we can aliege a patron. If the epistle of that worthy emperor Marcus · Aurelius be sought for, it, will perhaps be seen that he ascribes his deliverance from a great • drought in the German war to the prayers of Christian soldiers.' I shall put below also the account which we find in Eusebius's Chronicle, as we have it in Jerom's Latin translation. And now it will be proper to make some remarks upon what we have just seen.
(1.) Hence it seems that Eusebius chiefly relied upon Tertullian for the truth of this relation. He quotes him with the character of an author of good credit. He also mentions the name of his work, whereas he omits the title of the work of Apollinarius, to which he refers.
(2.) Eusebius never saw any letter of the emperor in which he ascribed his deliverance in, Germany to the prayers of Christian soldiers. If he had met with it, he would have inserted it in his Ecclesiastical History. So says the great Joseph Scaliger.
(8.) Nor had Tertullian seen any such letter. He does not say that he had seen it. And in the Latin original of Tertullian's Apology, and also as cited in the Latin edition of Eusebius's Chronicle, there is an unlucky forte, or perhaps:' wherein he seems to express a doubt whether, the emperor did in his letter to the senate expressly acknowledge that his deliverance in a time of great drought was owing to the prayers of Christians- -quibus illam Germanicam sitim Christianorum forte militum precationibus impetrato imbri discussam contestatur. This does. not appear
in Eusebius's Greek translation of Tertullian, which he inserts in his Ecclesiastical, History--εν αις αυτος μαρτυρείταις των Χριςιανων ευχαις σεσωσθαι. Possibly some may think that we ought not to lay much stress upon this observation. Nevertheless, it must be allowed that if this forte, perhaps,' has no meaning, it comes in here very unhappily. Nor am I the first who have mentioned it. Basnaged also supposeth it a proof that neither Tertullian, nor Jerom, who so allegeth it in the Chronicle, had seen the emperor's letter.
Before I proceed any farther, it may be observed that, in his book to Scapula, Tertullian speaks again of this matter, where he says: 'And Marcus Aurelius in a German war, where • he was in danger by a great drought, obtained rain by the prayers which the Christian soldiers • offered to God.' But here he says nothing of the emperor's letter.
We now proceed to some other observations.
It would be without reason for any to allege here so late writers as' Nicephorus Callisti, and Zonaras, 3 I now intend early writers of the second, third, and fourth century. If indeed Marcus Antoninus had obtained a signal deliverance in hazardous war, and had acknowledged
* At nos e contrario edimus protectorem. Si literæ Marci Eusebii. Eam enim Græce a se conversam in suâ Historia Aurelii gravissimi Imperatoris requirantur, quibus illam Ger-. Ecclesiastica posuisset, quæ est ejus diligentia, nulla ejusmodi manicam sitim Christianorum forte militum precationibus prætermittere, ne Latina quidem, quæ ipse convertere solet, impetrato imbri discussam contestatur. Sicut non palam ab ut multa ex Tertulliano. Scal. in Euseb. p. 222. fil). ejusmodi hominibus pænam dimovit, ita alio modo palam a Si Marci literæ exstitissent de impeiraio a Christianis dispersit, adjectâ etiam accusatoribus damnatione, et quidem imbre, vix ac ne vix quidem magnum Eusebium iu conquirentetriore. Ap. cap. 5. p. 6. D.
dis ejusmodi monumentis diligentiatn effugissent. Atqui in • Imperator Antoninus multis adversum se nascentibus bellis has literas Christianorum nemo est qui se conjecisse oculos sæpe ipse intererat, sæpe duces nobilissimos destinabat ; in scripto prodiderit. Non Tertullianus, non Eusebius, imo non quibus semel Pertinaci, et exercitui, qui cum eo in Quadorum Hieronymus, cujus hæc verba sunt- -Dixisset ne · Chrisregione pugnabat, siti oppresso, pluvia divinitus missa est ; * tianorum forte militum precationibus,' si literas perlegisset? quom e contrario Germanos et Sarmatas fulmina perseque- Siccine Marcus Senatui scripsit ? Basnag. ann. 174. n. viii. rentur, et plurimos eorum interficerent. Exstant literæ M. e Marcus quoque Aurelius in Germanicâ expeditione, ChrisAurelii gravissimi Imperatoris, quibus illam Germanicam sitim tianorum militum orationibus ad Deum factis, imbres in siti Christianorum forte militum precationibus impetrato imbri illâ impetravit. Ad Scap. c. iv. p. 87. D. discussam contestatur. Euseb. Chron. p. 170.
Niceph. Cal. 1. 4. č. 12. p. 297, &c. Non igitur illam epistolam vidit, [Orosius,] non magis & Zon. App. Tom. 2. p. 207. quam Tertullianus. Quinetiam ea non exstabat tempore
the benefit to be owing to the Christian soldiers in his army, we might expect to see particular notice of it in Christian apologies, and other writings of Christian authors, published not long afterwards. I allow that there is a reference to this story in one of Gregory Nyssen's homilies, near the end of the fourth century. But I think that if an heathen emperor, and his army, had obtained a very extraordinary deliverance by the prayers of Christian soldiers in the year of Christ 174, and he had ascribed it to their prayers in a letter to the senate, it would İnave been mentioned by many Christian writers, both Greek and Latin, before the end of the fourth century. This argument is largely insisted on by Basnage, whose words I have just now transcribed below. And this is also one of Mr. Moyle's arguments. It is his fifth proposition that the Christians in general did not believe this miracle, notwithstanding the testimony of * Apollinaris and Tertullian.'
· For this,' says he, no better argument can be alleged than the silence of all the Christian * writers of the third century; not one of whom, except Tertullian, that I ever read or heard 'of, has made the least mention of this miracle. Is it possible that so signal a testimony in • favour of Christianity could escape the knowledge and industry of so many able apologists as • wrote after Tertullian? Could they have failed to urge so strong an argument against the • heathens, as a miracle so publicly avouched and attested and owned, as is pretended, by im'perial edicts? No other rational account can be given to this silence but that they gave no credit to the story, and were too wise to expose their religion to the scorn of the heathens by employing so mean an artifice to defend it.'
Eusebius, though he has given a full relation of the miracle in all it's circumstances, yet it • appears plainly, by the close of his narration, that he did not believe it, as Valesius rightly ob• serves : so that the whole credit of this miracle rests on the authority of Apollinaris and Ter• tullian. As for the first, I know little of his character, his works, I think, being all lost. • But it is remarkable that the only particular which is preserved of his relation is undoubtedly
false. Tertullian wanted neither wit nor learning; but he must be allowed to be a very credulous writer, and an errant enthusiast.' So Mr. Moyle.
Obs. 7. Paulus Orosius, a Christian historian, who flourished not far from the beginning of the fifth century, and is placed by Cave at the year 416, gives a particular account of this emperor's war with the Marcomans, Quadians, and other people in Germany. He says that the * Roman armyd was in a great strait, and likely to be overpowered by the enemy, and that the
greatest danger was owing to a drought which oppressed the Romans; that by the prayers of • a few and illiterate soldiers, who openly, and with a lively faith, invoked the name of Christ, a plentiful shower was obtained from heaven, by which Antoninus's army was refreshed; at “the same time lightning and hail fell upon the Germans, by which they were greatly annoyed, • and many of them were killed: whereupon the Romans fell upon them, and cut them almost • all off, and gained a very glorious victory. And it is said that there is still in the hands of * many persons a letter of the emperor Antoninus, in which he acknowledgeth that the drought
a De Quadr. Martyr. Or. 2. T. 3. p. 505..
administratum fuisse, cum plurimis argumentis, tum præcipue • Cum igitur ostensum sit, neque Romano in exercitu epistolâ gravissimi ac modestissimi Imperatoris apertissime deChristianam fuisse legionem, neque Marci animum id subiisse claratum est. Nam cum insurrexissent gentes immanitate cogitationis, quod a Christianis pluvia sit impetrata, consen- barbaræ, multitudine innumerabiles, hoc est, Marcomanni, taneum est, nullas Patribus Conscriptis a Marco literas datas Quadi, Vandali, Sarmatæ, Suevi, atque omnis tunc Germania, esse, quibus boc maximi beneficii Christianis ascriberet. Quæ et in Quadorum usque fines progressus exercitus, circunivenres aliunde non pertenuibus patefit argumentis. Post ex- tusque ab hostibus, propter aquarum penuriam, præsentius haustum bellum Marcomannicum scripta est Melitonis apologia, sitis quam hostis periculum sustineret; ad invocationem noconsorte janı imperii Commodo. Quo porius argumento uti minis Christi, quam subito magnâ fidei constantiâ quidam Melito debuit, exstinguendæ persecutioni, quam beneficio, milites eflusi in preces palam fecerunt, et tanta vis pluviæ effusa quo Marcus a Christianis affectus fuerat, dum unà cum exer- est, ut Romanos quidem largissime, ac sine injuriâ refecerit, citu pene siti conficiebatur ? Quod tamen argumenti non barbaros autem crebris fulminum ictibus perterritos, præsertim attulitat iminerito negatur, Athenagoræ apologiam cum plurimi eorum occiderentur, in fugam coëgerit. Quonim Marcomannico bello fuisse posteriorem. Quid, meminitne terga Romanii usque ad internecionem cædentes gloriosissimam Athenagoras pluviæ a Christianis impetratæ, ut, eo beneficio victoriam et omnibus pene antiquorum titulis præferendam, Marci in memoriam revocato, miseris undique vexatis, bene- rudi parvoque militum numero, sed potentissimo Christi volentiam conciliaret? At qui certe certoque meninisset. auxilio, reportârunt. Exstare etiam nunc apud plerosque Imo eâ de re scriptas ad Senatun literas memorâsset. Basnag. dicuntur literæ Imperatoris Antonini, ubi invocatione nominis ann). 174. n. vii.
Moyle's Works. Vol. ii. p. 97. Christi per milites Christianos, et sitim depulsam, et collatama d Hoc quidem bellum [Marcomannicum) providentiâ Dei fatetur fuisse victoriam. Oros. 1. 7. cap. 15.