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Ing therefore gathered together the small assem- | bly of Christians which had then been formed at Jerusalem, two men, remarkable for their piety and faith, were proposed as the most worthy to stand candidates for this sacred office. These men were Matthias and Barnabas, the former of whom was, either by lot, (which is the most general opinion,) or by a plurality of voices of the assembly there present, chosen to the dignity of an apostle."

mutual liberality, is the only thing intended in this passage.10

VI. The apostles having finished their work at Jerusalem, went from thence to employ their labours in other nations, travelled, with this view, over a great part of the known world, and in a short time planted a vast number of churches among the Gentiles. Several of these are mentioned in the sacred writings, particularly in the Acts of the Apostles;" though these are IV. All these apostles were men without edu- undoubtedly, but a small part of the churches, cation, and absolutely ignorant of letters and phi- which were founded, either by the apostles losophy; and yet in the infancy of the Christian themselves, or by their disciples under their imchurch, it was necessary that there should be, at mediate direction. The distance of time, and least, some one defender of the gospel, who, the want of records, leave us at a loss with reversed in the learned arts, might be able to com- spect to many interesting circumstances of the bat the Jewish doctors and the Pagan philoso- peregrinations of the apostles; nor have we any phers with their own arms. For this purpose, certain, or precise accounts of the limits of their Jesus himself, by an extraordinary voice from voyages, of the particular countries where they heaven, called to his service a thirteenth apostle, sojourned, nor of the times and places in which whose name was Saul, (afterwards Paul,) and they finished their glorious course. The stories whose acquaintance both with Jewish and that are told concerning their arrival and exGrecian learning was very considerable. This ploits among the Gauls, the English, the Spaextraordinary man, who had been one of the niards, the Germans, the Americans, the Chimost virulent enemies of the Christians, be- nese, the Indians, and the Russians, are too rocame their most glorious and triumphant de-mantic in their nature, and of too recent a date, fender. Independent of the miraculous gifts to be received by an impartial inquirer after with which he was enriched, he was naturally | truth. The greatest part of these fables were possessed of an invincible courage, an amazing force of genius, and a spirit of patience which no fatigue could overcome, and which no sufferings or trials could exhaust. To these the cause of the gospel, under the divine appointment, owed a considerable part of its rapid progress and surprising success, as the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistles of St. Paul, abundantly testify.

V. The first Christian church, founded by the apostles, was that of Jerusalem, which was the model of all those that were afterwards erected during this first century. This church was, however, governed by the apostles themselves, to whom both the elders, and those who were entrusted with the care of the poor, even the deacons, were subject. The people, though they had not abandoned the Jewish worship, held, however, separate assemblies, in which they were instructed by the apostles and elders, prayed together, celebrated the holy Supper in remembrance of Christ, of his death and sufferings, and the salvation offered to mankind through him; and at the conclusion of these meetings, they testified their mutual love, partly by their liberality to the poor, and partly by sober and friendly repasts, which from thence were called feasts of charity. Among the virtues which distinguished the rising church in this its infancy, that of charity to the poor and needy shone in the first rank, and with the brightest lustre. The rich supplied the wants of their indigent brethren with such liberality and readiness, that, as St. Luke tells us, among the primitive disciples of Christ, all things were in common. This expression has, however, been greatly abused, and has been made to signify a community of rights, goods, or possessions, than which interpretation nothing is more groundless, nothing more false. For from a multitude of reasons, as well as from the express words of St. Peter, it is abundantly manifest that the community, which is implied in mutual use and

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forged after the time of Charlemagne, when most of the Christian churches contended about the antiquity of their origin with as much vehenence as the Arcadians, Egyptians, and Greeks, disputed formerly about their seniority and precedence.

VII. At the same time, the beauty and excellence of the Christian religion excited the admiration of the thinking part of mankind, wherever the apostles directed their course. Many, who were not willing to adopt the whole of its doctrines, were, nevertheless, as appears from undoubted records, so struck with the account of Christ's life and actions, and so charmed with the sublime purity of his precepts, that they ranked him in the number of the greatest heroes, nay, even of the gods themselves. Great numbers kept with the utmost care, in their houses, pictures or images of the divine Saviour and his apostles, which they treated with the highest marks of veneration and respect. 12 And so illustrious was the fame of Christ's power grown, after his resurrection from the dead, and the miraculous gifts shed from on high upon his apostles, that the Emperor Tiberius is said to have proposed his being enrolled among the gods of Rome, which the opposition of the senate hindered from taking effect. Many have doubted of the truth of this story: there are, however, several authors of the first note who have declared, that the reasons alleged for the truth of this fact are such as have removed their doubts,

10 This is proved with the utmost evidence by Dr Mosheim, in a dissertation concerning the true nature of that community of goods, which is said to have taken place in the church of Jerusalem. This learned discourse is to be found in the second volume of our author's incomparable work, entitled, Dissertationes ad Historiam Ecclesiasticum pertinentes.

11 The names of the churches, planted by the apostles in the different nations, are specified in a work of Phil. James Hartman, De rebus gestis Christianorum sub apostolis, cap. vii. p. 107, and also in that of J. Albert Fabricius, entitled, Lux Evangelii toti orbi exoriens, cap. v. p 83, &c.

12 This is particularly mentioned by Eusebius, Hist Eccl. lib. vii. cap. xviii. p 265, and by Irenæus, lib. i. c


and appeared to them satisfactory and conclu- | this glorious event, was, the power vested in the sive.1

VIII. When we consider the rapid progress of Christianity among the Gentile nations, and the poor and feeble instruments by which this great and amazing event was immediately effected, we must naturally have recourse to an omnipotent and invisible hand, as its true and proper cause. For unless we suppose here a divine interposition, how was it possible that men, destitute of all human aid, without credit or riches, learning or eloquence, could, in so short a time, persuade a considerable part of mankind to abandon the religion of their ancestors? How was it possible, that a handful of apostles, who, as fishermen and publicans, must have been contemned by their own nation, and as Jews, must have been odious to all others, could engage the learned and the mighty, as well as the simple and those of low degree, to forsake their favourite prejudices, and to embrace a new religion which was an enemy to their corrupt passions? And, indeed, there were undoubted marks of a celestial power perpetually attending their ministry. There was, in their very language, an incredible energy, an amazing power of sending light into the understanding, and conviction into the heart. To this were added, the commanding influence of stupendous miracles, the foretelling of future events, the power of discerning the secret thoughts and intentions of the heart, a magnanimity superior to all difficulties, a contempt of riches and honours, a serene tranquillity in the face of death, and an invincible patience under torments still more dreadful than death itself; and all this accompanied with lives free from all stain, and adorned with the constant practice of sublime virtue. Thus were the Messengers of the divine Saviour, the heralds of his spiritual and immortal kingdom, furnished for their glorious work, as the unanimous voice of ancient history so loudly testifies. The event sufficiently declares this; for without these remarkable and extraordinary circumstances, no rational account can be given of the rapid propagation of the gospel throughout the world.

IX. What indeed contributed still further to

I See Theod. Hasæus. De decreto Tiberii, quo Christum deferre voluit in numerum Deorum; as also a very learned letter, written in defence of the truth of this fact, by the celebrated Christopher Iselius, and published in the Bibliotheque Germanique, tom. xxxii. p. 147. and tom. xxxiii. p. 12. (We may add to this note of Dr. Mosheim, that the late learned professor Altmann published at Bern, in the year 1755, an ingenious pamphlet upon this subject, entitled Disquisitio Historico-critica de Epistola Pontii Pilati ad Tiberium, qua Christi miracula, mors, et resurrectio recensebantur. This author makes it appear, that though the letter, which some have attributed to Pilate, and which is extant in several authors, be mani.. festly spurious, yet it is no less certain, that Pilate sent to Tiberius an account of the death and resurrection of

Christ. See the Biblioth. des sciences et des beaux arts, published at the Hague, tom. vi. p. 360. This matter has been examined anew, with his usual diligence and accuracy, by the learned Dr. Lardner, in the third volume of his Collection of Jewish and Heathen Testimonies to the truth of the Christian Religion, &c. p. 310, &c. He thinks that the testimonies of Justin Martyr and Tertullian, who in apologies for Christianity, that were presented, or at least addressed to the emperor and senate of Rome, or to Magistrates of high authority in the empire, affirm, that Pilate sent to Tiberius an account of the death and resurrection of Christ, deserve some regard; though some writers, and particularly Orosius, have made alterations and additions in the original narration of Tertullian, that are too much adapted to diminish the credibility of the whole.)

apostles of transmitting to their disciples these miraculous gifts. For many of the first Christians were no sooner baptized according to Christ's appointment, and dedicated to the service of God by solemn prayer and the imposition of hands, than they spoke languages they had never known or learned before; foretold future events, healed the sick by pronouncing the name of Jesus, restored the dead to life, and performed many things above the reach of human power. And it is no wonder, if men, who had the power of communicating to others these marvellous gifts, appeared great and respectable, wherever they exercised their glorious ministry.

X. Such then were the true causes of that amazing rapidity with which the Christian religion spread itself upon earth; and those who pretend to assign other reasons of this surprising event, indulge themselves in idle fictions, which must disgust every attentive observer of men and things. In vain, therefore, have some imagined, that the extraordinary liberality of the Christians to their poor, was a temptation to the more indolent and corrupt part of the multitude to embrace the gospel. Such malignant and superficial reasoners do not consider, that those who embraced this divine religion exposed their lives to the most imminent danger; nor have they attention enough to recollect, that neither lazy, nor vicious members were suffered to remain in the society of Christians. Equally vain is the invention of those, who imagine, that the profligate lives of the Heathen priests was an occasion of the conversion of many to Christianity. For, though this might indeed give them a disgust at the religion of these unworthy ministers, yet it could not, alone, attach them to that of Jesus, which offered them from the world no other prospects than those of poverty, infamy, and death. The person who could embrace the gospel, solely from the motive now mentioned, must have reasoned in this senseless and extravagant manner: "The ministers of that religion which I have professed from my infancy, lead profligate lives: therefore, I will become a Christian, join myself to that body of men who are condemned by the laws of the state, and thus expose my life and fortune to the most imminent danger.'

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of Stephen, of James the son of Zebedee, and of James, surnamed the Just, bishop of Jerusalem, furnish dreadful examples of the truth of what we here advance. This odious malignity of the Jewish doctors, against the heralds of the gospel, was undoubtedly owing to a secret apprehension that the progress of Christianity would destroy the credit of Judaism, and bring on the ruin of their pompous ceremonies.

II. The Jews who lived out of Palestine, in the Roman provinces, did not yield to those of Jerusalem in point of cruelty to the innocent disciples of Christ. We learn from the history of the Acts of the Apostles, and other records of unquestionable authority, that they spared no labour, but zealously seized every occasion of animating the magistrates against the Christians, and setting on the multitude to demand their destruction. The high priest of the nation, and the Jews who dwelt in Palestine, were instrumental in exciting the rage of these foreign Jews against the infant church, by sending messengers to exhort them, not only to avoid all intercourse with the Christians, but also to persecute them in the most vehement manner. For this inhuman order, they endeavoured to find out the most plausible pretexts: and, therefore, they gave out, that the Christians were enemies to the Roman emperor, since they acknowledged the authority of a certain person whose name was Jesus, whom Pilate had punished capitally as a malefactor by a most righteous sentence, and on whom, nevertheless, they conferred the royal dignity. These perfidious insinuations had the intended effect, and the rage of the Jews against the Christians was conveyed from father to son, from age to age; so that the church of Christ had, in no period of time, more bitter and desperate enemies than that very people, to whom the immortal Saviour was more especially sent.

III. The Supreme Judge of the world did not let the barbarous conduct of this perfidious nation go unpunished. The most signal marks of divine justice pursued them, and the cruelties they had exercised upon Christ and his disciples, were dreadfully avenged. The God, who had for so many ages protected the Jews with an outstretched arm, withdrew his aid. He permitted Jerusalem, with its famous temple, to be destroyed by Vespasian and his son Titus, an innumerable multitude of this devoted people to perish by the sword, and the greatest part of those that remained to groan under the yoke of a severe bondage. Nothing can be more affecting than the account of this terrible event, and the circumstantial description of the tremendous calamities which attended it, as they are given by Josephus, himself a Jew, and also a spectator of this horrid scene. From this period the Jews experienced, in every place, the hatred and contempt of the Gentile nations, still more than they had formerly done. And in these their calamities, the predictions of Christ were amply fulfilled, and his divine mission further illusrated.

IV. However virulent the Jews were against

3 The martyrdom of Stephen is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, vii. 55; and that of James the son of Zebefee, Acts xii. 1, 2; that of James the Just, bishop of Jerusalem, is mentioned by Josephus in his Jewish Antiquities, book xx. chap. viii. and by Eusebius, in his Eccles. History, book ii. chap. xxiii.

4 See the Dialogue of Justin Martyr, with Trypho the Jew p. 51, 52, 53, 109, 138, 318.

the Christians, yet, upon many occasions, they wanted power to execute their cruel purposes. This was not the case with the Heathen nations; and, therefore, from them the Christians suffered the severest calamities. The Romans are said to have pursued the Christians with the utmost violence in ten persecutions, but this number is not verified by the ancient history of the church. For if, by these persecutions, such only are meant as were singularly severe and universal throughout the empire, then it is certain, that these amount not to the number above mentioned. And, if we take the provincial and less remarkable persecutions into the account, they far exceed it. In the fifth century, certain Christians were led by some passages of the holy scriptures, and by one especially in the Revelations," to imagine that the church was to suffer ten calamities of a most grievous nature. To this notion, therefore, they endeavoured, though not all in the same way, to accommodate the language of history, even against the testimony of those ancient records, from whence alone history can speak with authority."

V. Nero was the first emperor who enacted laws against the Christians. In this he was followed by Domitian, Marcus Antoninus the philosopher, Severus, and the other emperors who indulged the prejudices they had imbibed against the disciples of Jesus. All the edicts of these different princes were not, however, equally unjust, nor made with the same views, and for the same reasons. Were they now extant, as they were collected by the celebrated lawyer Domitius, in his book concerning the duty of a Proconsul, they would undoubtedly cast a great light upon the history of the church, under the persecuting emperors. At present we must, in many cases, be satisfied with probable conjectures, for want of more certain evidence.


VI. Before we proceed further in this part of our history, a very natural curiosity calls us to inquire, how it happened, that the Romans, who were troublesome to no nation on account of their religion, and who suffered even the Jews to live under their own laws, and follow their own method of worship, treated the Christians alone with such severity? This important question seems still more difficult to be solved, when we consider, that the excellent nature of the Christian religion, and its admirable tendency to promote both the public welfare of the state, and the private felicity of the individual, entitled it, in a singular manner, to the favour and protection of the reigning powers. One of the principal reasons of the severity with which the Romans persecuted the Christians, notwithstanding these considerations, seems to have been the abhorrence and contempt with which the latter regarded the religion of the empire,

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6 Rev. xvii. 14.

7 See Sulpitius Severus, book ii. ch. xxxiii. as also Austin, De civitate Dei, book xviii. ch. lii.

8 The Collection of the imperial edicts against the Christians, made by Domitius, and now lost, is mentioned by Lactantius, in his Divine Institutes, book v. chap xi. Such of these edicts as have escaped the ruins of time, are learnedly illustrated by Franc. Balduinus, in a small treatise, entitled Commentarium ad edicta veterum principum Romanorum de Christianis. Of which a second edition was published by Mr. Gundling, at Hall, 1727.


which was so intimately connected with the form, and, indeed, with the very essence of its political constitution. For, though the Romans gave an unlimited toleration to all religions which had nothing in their tenets dangerous to the commonwealth, yet they would not permit that of their ancestors, which was established by the laws of the state, to be turned into derision, nor the people to be drawn away from their attachment to it. These, however, were the two things which the Christians were charged with, and that justly, though to their honour. They dared to ridicule the absurdities of the Pagan superstition, and they were ardent and assiduous in gaining proselytes to the truth. Nor did they only attack the religion of Rome, but also all the different shapes and forms under which superstition appeared in the various countries where they exercised their ministry. From hence the Romans concluded, that the Christian sect was not only unsupportably daring and arrogant, but, moreover, an enemy to the public tranquillity, and every way proper to excite civil wars and commotions in the empire. It is, probably, on this account, that Tacitus reproaches them with the odious character of haters of mankind, and styles the religion of Jesus a destructive superstition; and that Suetonius speaks of the Christians, and their doctrine, in terms of the same kind.

of the Christians, those whose interesst were incompatible with the progress of the gospel, loaded them with the most opprobrious calumnies, which were too easily received as truth, by the credulous and unthinking multitude, among whom they were dispersed with the utmost in dustry. We find a large account of these perfidious and ill-grounded reproaches in the writings of the first defenders of the Christian cause.* And these, indeed, were the only arms they had to oppose the truth; since the excellence of the gospel, and the virtue of its minis. ters and followers, left its enemies no resources but calumny and persecution. Nothing can be imagined, in point of virulence and fury, that they did not employ for the ruin of the Christians. They even went so far as to persuade the multitude, that all the calamities, wars, tempests, and diseases that afflicted mankind, were judg ments sent down by the angry gods, because the Christians, who contemned their authority, were suffered in the empire.

IX. The various kinds of punishments, both capital and corrective, which were employed against the Christians, are particularly described by learned men who have written professedly upon that subject." The forms of proceeding, used in their condemnation, may be seen in the Acts of the Martyrs, in the letters of Pliny and Trajan,.and other ancient monuments. These judicial forms were very different at different times, and changed naturally, according to the mildness or severity of the laws enacted by the different emperors against the Christians. Thus, at one time, we see the most diligent search made after the followers of Christ; at another, all perquisition suspended, and positive accusation and information only allowed. Under one reign we see them, upon their being proved Christians, or their confessing themselves such, immediately dragged away to execution, unless they prevent their punishment by apostasy; under another, we see inhuman magistrates endeavouring to compel them, by all sorts of tortures, to renounce their profession.

VII. Another circumstance that irritated the Romans against the Christians, was the simplicity of their worship, which resembled in nothing the sacred rights of any other people. The Christians had neither sacrifices, nor temples, nor images, nor oracles, nor sacerdotal orders; and this was sufficient to bring upon them the reproaches of an ignorant multitude, who imagined that there could be no religion without these. Thus they were looked upon as a sort of Atheists; and, by the Roman laws, those who were chargeable with Atheism were declared the pests of human society. But this was not all: the sordid interests of a multitude of lazy and selfish priests were immediately connected with the ruin and oppression of the X. They who, in the perilous times of the Christian cause. The public worship of such church, fell by the hand of bloody persecution, and an immense number of deities, was a source expired in the cause of the divine Saviour, were of subsistence, and even of riches, to the whole called martyrs; a term borrowed from the sacred rabble of priests and augurs, and also to a multi-writings, which signifies witnesses, and thus extude of merchants and artists. And as the progress of the gospel threatened the ruin of this religious traffic, and the profits it produced, this raised up new enemies to the Christians, and armed the rage of mercenary superstition against their lives and their cause.

VIII. To accomplish more speedily the ruin

1 Annal. lib. xv. cap. xliv.

2 In Nerone, cap. xvi. These odious epithets, which

Tacitus gives to the Christians and their religion, as likewise the language of Suetonius, who calls Christianity a poisonous, or malignant superstition (maleficia superstitio), are founded upon the same reasons. A sect, which not only could not endure, but even laboured to abolish, the religious systems of the Romans, and also those of all the other nations of the universe, appeared to the shortsighted and superficial observers of religious matters, as enemies of mankind, and persons possessed with a mortal hatred of all the human race.

3 This observation is verified by the story of Demetrius the silver-smith, Acts xix. 25. and by the following passage in the 97th letter of the xth book of Pliny's epistles; 66 The temples, which were almost deserted, begin to be frequented again: and the sacred rites, which have been long neglected, are again performed. The victims, which have had hitherto few purchasers, begin to come again to the market," &c.

presses the glorious testimony which these magnanimous believers bore to the truth. The title of confessors was given to such, as in the face of death, and at the expense of honours, fortune, and all the other advantages of the world, had confessed with fortitude, before the Roman tribunals, their firm attachment to the religion of Jesus. The veneration that was paid to both martyrs and confessors is hardly credible. The distinguishing honours and privileges they enjoyed, the authority with which their counsels and decisions were attended, would furnish ample matter for a history apart; and such an undertaking might be highly useful in many respects. There was, no doubt, as much wisdom,

4 See the laborious work of Christ. Kortholt, entitled, Paganus obtrectator, seu de calumniis Gentilium in Christianos; to which may be added, Jo. Jac. Huldricus, De calumniis Gentilium in Christianos, published at Zurich, in 8vo, in the year 1744.

5 See Arnobius Contra gentes.

6 See for this purpose Aut. Gallonius and Gasp. Sagittarius, De cruciatibus martyrum.

7 See Bohmer, Juris Eccles. Protestant. tom. iv. lib. v Decretal. tit. 1. sect. 32. p. 617

as justice, in treating with such respect, and in- | tury downwards, several Greek and Latin vesting with such privileges, these Christian writers endeavoured to make up this loss, by heroes; since nothing was more adapted to en- compiling, with vast labour, accounts of the courage others to suffer with cheerfulness in the lives and actions of the ancient martyrs. But cause of Christ. But, as the best and wisest the most of them have given us little else than a Institutions are generally perverted by the weak- series of fables, adorned with profusion of rhetoness or corruption of men, from their original | rical flowers, and striking images, as the wiser, purpose; so the authority and privileges granted, even among the Romish doctors, frankly acIn the beginning, to martyrs and confessors, be knowledge. Nor are those records, that pass came, in process of time, a support to supersti- under the name of martyrology, worthy of sution, an incentive to enthusiasm, and a source of perior credit, since they bear the most eviden innumerable evils and abuses. marks both of ignorance and falsehood. So that, upon the whole, this part of Ecclesiastical History, for want of ancient and authentic monuments, is extremely imperfect, and necessarily attended with much obscurity.

XI. The first three or four ages of the church were stained with the blood of martyrs, who suffered for the name of Jesus. The greatness of their number is acknowledged by all who have a competent acquaintance with ancient history, and who have examined that matter with any degree of impartiality. It is true, the learned Dodwell has endeavoured to invalidate this unanimous decision of the ancient historians, and to diminish considerably the number of those that suffered death for the gospel. And, after him, several writers have maintained his opinion, and asserted, that whatever may have been the calamities that the Christians, in general, suffered for their attachment to the gospel, very few were put to death on that account. This hypothesis has been warmly opposed, as derogating from that divine power which enabled Christians to be faithful even unto death, and a contrary one embraced, which augments prodigiously the number of these heroic sufferers. Here, no doubt, it will be wise to avoid both these extremes, and to hold the middle path, which certainly leads nearest to the truth. The martyrs were less in number than several of the ancient and modern writers have supposed them to be; but much more numerous than Dodwell and his followers are willing to believe. And this medium will be easily admitted by such as have learned from the ancient writers, that, in the darkest and most calamitous times of the church, all Christians were not equally, nor promiscuously disturbed, nor called before the public tribunals. Those who were of the lowest rank of the people, escaped the best; their obscurity, in some measure screened them from the fury of persecution. The learned and eloquent, the doctors and ministers, and chiefly the rich, after the confiscation of whose fortunes a rapacious magistracy were perpetually gaping, these were the persons the most exposed to the dangers of the times.

XII. The actions and sayings of these holy martyrs, from the moment of their imprisonment to their last gasp, were carefully recorded, in order to be read on certain days, and thus proposed as models to future ages. But few, however, of these ancient acts are come down to our times; the greatest part of them having been destroyed during that dreadful persecution which Diocletian carried on ten years with such fury against the Christians. For a most diligent search was then made after all their books and papers; and all of them that were found were committed to the flames. From the eighth cen

8 See Dodwell's dissertation, De paucitate martyrum, in his Dissertationes Cyprianica.

9 Such of those acts as are worthy of credit have been collected by the learned Ruinartus, into one volume in folio, of a moderate size, entitled, Selecta et sincera martyrum acta, Amstelod. 1713. The hypothesis of Dodwell is amply refuted in a laboured preface which the author has prefixed to this work.

XIII. It would have been surprising, if, under such a monster of cruelty as Nero, the Christians had enjoyed the sweets of tranquillity and freedom. But this was far from being the case; for this perfidious tyrant accused them of having set fire to the city of Rome, that horrid crime, which he himself had committed with a barbarous pleasure. In avenging this crime upon the innocent Christians, he ordered matters so, that the punishment should bear some resemblance to the offence. He, therefore, wrapped up some of them in combustible garments, and ordered fire to be set to them when the darkness came on, that thus, like torches, they might dispel the obscurity of the night; while others were fastened to crosses, or torn to pieces by wild beasts, or put to death in some such dreadful manner. This horrid persecution was set on foot in the month of November, 10 in the 64th year of Christ, and in it, according to some ancient accounts, St. Paul and St. Peter suffered martyrdom; though this latter fact is contested by many, being absolutely irreconcileable with chronology." The death of Nero, who perished miserably in the year 68, put an end to the calamities of this first persecution, under which, during the space of four years, the Christians suffered every sort of torment and affliction, which the ingenious cruelty of their enemies could invent.

XIV. Learned men are not entirely agreed concerning the extent of this persecution under Nero. Some confine it to the city of Rome, while others represent it as having raged throughout the whole empire. The latter opi. nion, which is also the most ancient, is undoubtedly to be preferred; as it is certain, that the laws enacted against the Christians, were enacted against the whole body, and not against particular churches, and were consequently in force in the remotest provinces. The authority of Tertullian confirms this, who tells us, that Nero and Domitian had enacted laws against

10 See, for a further illustration of this point of chrono logy, two French Dissertations of the very learned AL phonse de Vignoles, concerning the cause, and the com. mencement of the persecution under Nero, which are printed in Masson's Histoire critique de la republique des lettres, tom. viii. p. 74-117. tom. ix. p. 172-186. See also Toinard. Ad Lactantium de mortibus persequut. p. 398.

11 See Tillemont, Histoire des empereurs, tom. i. p. 564. Baratier, De successione Romanor. Pontif cap. v. p. 60. 12 This opinion was first defended by Franc. Balduin, in his Comm. ad edicta imperator, in Christianos, p. 27, 28. After him Launoius maintained the same opinion in his Dissert. qua Sulpitii Severi locus de prima martyrum Gal liæ epocha vindicatur, sect. i. p. 139, 140. tom. ii. part. i. opp. This opinion, however, is still more acutely and learnedly defended by Dodwell in the 11th of his Disserta tiones Cyprianicæ.

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