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frequent seditions in Antioch, a city remarkable for the turbulent disposition of its inhabitants ;
ing of St. Ignatius; yet, can any man of common understanding, who reads the account of his martyrdom, prevent fome doubts from rising in his inind? The unknown author of this narrative says, that “ Trajan thought his glory would not be “complete, unless he subjected the God of the " Christians to his obedience.” What a thought! Was Trajan that kind of man who would desire to triumph over the Gods? The emperor is said to havé thus accosted Ignatius when he was brought before him, “ Who art thou, unclean spirit ?" It is very unlikely that an emperor would have difcoursed with a prisoner, or have passed sentence upon him himself; it is not customary for sovereign princes to do so. Trajan might possibly cause Ignatius to be brought before him, but he would not say to him, “Who art thou?" since he knew
very well who he was. And as to the term unclean Spirit, could it possibly have been used by such a man as Trajan? Is it not evident, that this is an expression used in exorcising, and put by a Chriftian into the emperor's mouth? Good heavens! what a stile for Trajan.
here Ignatius privately acted as bishop over the Christians: it might happen that some of these dis
Can we imagine that Ignatius answered him, that he was called Theophorus, because he carried Jesus in his heart, and that Trajan entered into a long conversation with him concerning Chrift? They make Trajan say at the end of this conference, 6. We command that Ignatius, who glories in car-,
rying within him the crucified man, be thrown “ into prison loaded with chains, &c." A fophift, a foe to Chriftianity, might call Jesus Christ the crucified man; but it is hardly probable, that such a term would have been used in a decree. The punishment of the cross was so common among the Romans, that they could not in their law-stile think of distinguishing by the words crucified man the object of the Christians worship; nor is it in this manner that the laws or the emperors pronounced sentence.
They afterwards make Ignatius write a long letter to the Christians of Rome ;“ I write to you,” says he, “though loaded with chains.” Certaintainly, if he was allowed to write to the Christians of Rome, those Chriftians were not considered as the objects of persecution; confequently, Trajan
turbances being maliciousy imputed to the in
could have no design to fubject their God to his obedience: or, on the other hand, if these Chriftians were actually liable to persecution, Ignatius was guilty of very great imprudence in regard to them; since this was betraying them to their enemies, and making himself an informer against them.
Surely those who had the compiling of these facts, ought to have had greater regard to prohability and the circumstances of the times. The martyrdom of St. Polycarpus also occasions some doubts. It is said that a voice called to him from heaven, saying, “ Courage, Polycarpus !" that this voice was distinctly heard by the Christians, but by no other of the attendants : we are told also, that when Polycarpus was tied to the stake, and the fire lighted round him, that the flames parted asunder, and a dove flew out from the midst of them; and that this faint, to whom the fire showed so much respect, exhaled an aromatic odour that perfumed the whole assembly: nevertheless, he, who the fire dare not to approach, could not resist the edge of the sword. Surely we may hope for pardon, if we discover more piety than truth in these relations.
nocent Christians, had occasioned the government to take cognizance of them; and that the judge might have been mistaken, as it often happens.
St. Simeon, for example, was accused before king Sapor of being a fpy to the Romans. The history of his martyrdom tells us, that Sapor proposed to him to worship the fun; whereas every one knows, that the Persians paid no divine honours to that planet, but only considered it as an emblem of the good principle, the Oralmades, or Sovereign Creator, whom they al} adored.
Any one of the least tolerating spirit, cannot help his indignation from rising against those writers, who accused Dioclesian of persecuting the Christians after his acceflion to the empire ; Here we need only refer to Eusebius of Cesarea, whose testimony certainly cannot be rejected. the favourite, the panegyrist of Constantine, and the declared enemy of the emperors his predeceffors, is certainly entitled to our credit when he justifies those very emperors. The following are his own words t:
+ Hift. Ecclefiaft, lib. viïi.
“ The emperors had for a long time given “ the Christians great marks of their favour and “ benevolence; they had intrufted them with " the care of whole provinces ; many of them “ lived within the imperial palace ; and some " of the emperors even married Christian “women: Dioclefian in particular, espoused “ Priffa, whose daughter was wife to Maximia“ nus Gallerius, &c.”
Let this authentic teftimony make us cautious how we give too readily into calumny; and from hence let any impartial person judge, if the perfecution raised by Gallerius, after nineteen years of continued clemency and favour to the Christians, must not have been occafioned by some intrigues with which we are at present unacquainted.
From hence also, we may perceive the absurdity of that fabulous story of the Theban legion, said to have been all massacred for their religion. Can any thing be more ridiculous than to make this legion be brought from Alia by. the great St. Barnard ? It is altogether impossible that this legion should have been sent for from Asia to quiet a tumult in Gaul, a year after that tumult was suppressed, and not F 4