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up the blood, and ravenously tear off and snatch away the several parts of it; and with this sacrifice their confederacy and combination is made, and by the conscience of so great a villany they are mutually obliged to silence. Such sacred rites as these being more horrid and barbarous, than the highest sacrileges in the world.”! To this monstrous and horrid charge, the Christians returned these answers ;—that they appealed to the common faith of mankind, whether they could really believe them to be guilty of these things, so abhorrent to all the principles of human nature, and to the Christians' known principles and practices in all other things; that they should measure the Christians by themselves, and if they themselves could not be guilty of such things, they should not suspect it by the Christians, who were endued with the same principles of humanity with other men;that they were so far from being friends to murder or manslaughter, that they held it unlawful to be present at the gladiatory sports, where men's lives were so wantonly sacrificed to the pleasure and curiosity of the people ;3 that they accounted it murder for any woman by evil arts to procure abortion, to stifle the embryo, to kill a child in a manner before it be alive, it being much at one to hinder life, as to take it away, to kill a man, or destroy what would be one, seeing he truly destroys the fruit that kills it in the seed ;4 that it was not likely they should delight in man's blood, who never tasted any blood at all, 'abstaining from
| Min. Fel. p. 8; vid. Tertull. Apol. c. 9, p. 9.
things strangled and from blood ;'' that the very heathens themselves confessed this, when amongst the several arts they used to discover whether men were Christians, they used to offer them bladders full of blood, knowing that they held it unlawful to taste any; and therefore it was mightily improbable they should thirst after human blood, who abhorred even the blood of beasts ;? that they heartily believed the resurrection of the dead, and therefore would not make themselves the sepulchres of those bodies which were to rise again, and feed upon them, as they did upon other bodies which were to have no resurrection; that the truth was, if this charge was true of any, it was true only of the Gentiles themselves, amongst whom these things were daily allowed and practised : that Saturn, one of their chief deities, did not only expose, but eat his own children ; to him infants in Africa were offered in sacrifice by their own parents, a custom that openly continued till the proconsulship of Tiberius, which though he abolished it, yet it continued still in corners in Tertullian's days :3 to his son Jupiter they offered human sacrifices even in Rome itself,4 and that even to the time of M. Felix as he himself testifies ;' which is no more than what Porphyry himself (after he had reckoned up in how many parts of the world human sacrifices were in use) confesses was done at Rome in the feast of Jupiter Latialis even in his time. Many other instances of such barbarous practices are there produced by those two Apologists, which they urge with great advantage upon their adversaries, whom
Acts, xv. 29. 2 M. Fel. p. 26, Tertull. ibid. p. 10. 3 Athenag. ibid.
4 Ibid. 6 De Abstinent. lib. ii. S. 56, p. 95.
they challenged to make any such thing good against them.
And no sooner did discipline begin to be regularly settled, but their principles herein were everywhere confirmed by the canons of the church, either private or public. By the law of the state, made by the emperor Valentinian, whosoever, whether man or woman, killed an infant, was to be subject to the same capital punishment as if he had killed an adult person; and he that was guilty of wilful murder was, by St. Basil's rule, to undergo a twenty years' penance before he was admitted to the sacrament. Thus clear did the Christians all along stand from any just suspicion of that gross piece of inhumanity which their enemies so confidently charged upon them. As for the rise and occasion of this malicious charge, it was doubtless of the same growth with that of their incestuous mixtures (spoken of before) both springing from the abominable practices of some filthy heretics, who sheltered themselves under the name of Christians. Epiphanius, particularly reporting of the Gnostics, wbat the heathens generally charged upon the Christians, tells us of them, that at their meetings they were wont to take an infant begotten in their promiscuous mixtures, and beating it in a mortar, to season it with honey and pepper, and some other spices and perfumes, to make it palatable, and then like swine or dogs to devour it; and then to conclude all with prayer; and this they accounted their perfect passover. Who
· Basil. Ep. Can. Con. 2, p. 22; Ib. Can. 33, p. 32; Cod. Theod. lib. 9, tit. 14. 1. 1.
? Can. 56, p. 36. 3 Hæres. 26 p. 43, vid, de Phryg. seu Quintilian. Hæres. 48,
ever reads Irenæus, in whose times these heresies were most rife and predominant, and considers the account that he gives of them, which he mainly received from persons of their own party after they were returned back to the church, will see little reason either to think any wickedness too great for them to boggle at, or to doubt of the truth of what he reports concerning them.
Of their admirable Love and Charity.. That the Christian religion was immediately designed to improve and perfect the principles of human nature, appears, as from many other instances of it, so especially from this; that it so strictly enjoins, cherishes, and promotes that natural kindness and compassion, which is one of the prime and essential inclinations of mankind. Wherever the Gospel is cordially complied with, it begets such a sweet and gracious temper of mind as makes us humble, affable, courteous, and charitable, ready and disposed to every good work, prompt to all offices of humanity and kindness. It files off the ruggedness of men's natures, banishes a rude, churlish, and pharisaical temper, and infuses a more calm and treatable disposition. It
p. 181; de Montanistis Zon. et Balsam, in Can. 7; Conc. Constant. Decid. Herald. Not. ad Min. Fel. p. 76.
commands us to live and · love as brethren, to love without hypocrisy, to have fervent charity amongst ourselves, and to be kindly-affectioned one towards another.' It lays the sum of our duty towards others in this, “to love our neighbour as ourselves." This our Saviour seems to own as his proper and peculiar law, and has ratified it with his own solemn sanction, “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another;' and then makes this the great visible badge of all those who are truly Christians, 'By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.'3
And so indeed it was in those first and best ages of religion, for no sooner did the Gospel fly abroad into the world, but the love and charity of Christians became notorious even to a proverb, the heathens taking notice of the Christians of those times with this particular remark, “ See how these Christians love one another!" 4 They were then united in the most happy fraternity (a word much used by Christians in those days, and objected against them by the heathens :) they lived as brethren, and accounted themselves such, not only as being sprung from one common parent (for in this respect that they liad nature for their common mother, they acknowledged the very heathens to be brethren, though otherwise little deserving the name of men,) but upon much higher accounts, viz. that they had one and the same
11 Pet. iii. 6; iv. 8. Rom. xii. 9, 10. ? Matt. v. 43; xix. 19, et alibi. 3 John, xiii. 34, 35. 4 Tertul. Ap. c. 39, p. 31. 5 Ib. ibid. M. Fel. p. 26.