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IV. This defection of such a prodigious number of Christians under Decius, was the occasion of great commotions in the church, and produced debates of a very difficult and delicate nature. For the lapsed, or those that had fallen from their Christian profession, were desirous to be restored to church-communion, without submitting to that painful course of penitential discipline, which the ecclesiastical laws indispensably required. The bishops were divided upon this matter: some were for showing the desired indulgence, while others opposed it with all their might." In Egypt and Africa, many, in order to obtain more speedily the pardon of their apostasy, interested the martyrs in their behalf, and received from them Libellos Pacis, "letters of reconciliation and peace," i. e. a formal act, by which they (the martyrs) declared in their last moments, that they looked upon them as worthy of their communion, and desired, of consequence, that they should be restored to their place among the brethren. Some bishops and presbyters readmitted into the church, with too much facility, apostates and transgressors, who produced such testimonies as these. But Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, a man of severe wisdom, and great lignity of character, acted in quite another way. Though he had no intention to derogate from the authority of the venerable martyrs, yet he opposed with vigour this unreasonable lenity, and set limits to the efficacy of these letters of reconciliation and peace. Hence arose a keen dispute between him and the martyrs, confessors, presbyters, and lapsed, seconded by the people; and yet, notwithstanding this formidable multitude of adversaries, the venerable bishop came off victorious. 18

judgments upon the nations. In the year 254, Valerian being declared emperor, made the fury of persecution cease, and restored the church to a state of tranquillity.

VI. The clemency and benevolence which Valerian showed to the Christians, continued until the fifth year of his reign. Then the scene began to change, and the change indeed was sudden. Macrianus, a superstitious and cruel bigot to paganism, had gained an entire ascendant over Valerian, and was his chiet counsellor in every thing that related to the administration of the government. By the persuasion of this imperious minister, the Christians were prohibited to assemble themselves together, and their bishops and doctors were sent into banishment. This edict was published in the year 257, and was followed the year after, by one still more severe; in consequence of which, a considerable number of Christians, in all the different provinces of the empire, were put to death, and that by such cruel methods of execution, as were much more terrible than death itself. Of those that suffered in this persecution, the most eminent were Cyprian, bishop of Carthage; Sixtus, bishop of Rome; and Laurentius, a Roman deacon, who was barbarously consumed by a slow and lingering fire. An unexpected event suspended, for a while, the sufferings of the Christians. Valerian was made prisoner in the war against the Persians; and his son Gallienus, in the year 260, restored peace

to the church. 15

VII. The condition of the Christians was rather supportable than happy, under the reign of Gallienus, which lasted eight years; as also under the short administration of his successor Claudius. Nor did they suffer much during the first four years of the reign of Aurelian, who was raised to the empire in the year 270. But the fifth year of this emperor's administration would have proved fatal to them, had not his violent death prevented the execution of his cruel purposes. For while, set on by the unjust

V. Gallus, the successor of Decius, and Volusianus, son of the former, re-animated the flame of persecution, which was beginning to burn with less fury. 13 And, besides the sufferings which the Christians had to undergo in consequence of their cruel edicts, they were also involved in the public calamities that prevailed at this time, and suffered grievously from a terri-suggestions of his own superstition, or by the ble pestilence, which spread desolation through many provinces of the empire. This pestilence also was an occasion which the Pagan priests used with dexterity to renew the rage of persecution against them, by persuading the people that it was on account of the lenity used toward the Christians, that the gods sent down their

nor supposed all a degree of apostasy equally enormous. It is therefore necessary to advertise the reader of the following distinctions omitted by Dr. Mosheim: These certificates were sometimes no more than a permission to abstain from sacrificing, obtained by a fee given to the judges, and were not looked upon as an act of apostasy, unless the Christians, who demanded them, had declared to the judges that they had conformed themselves to the emperor's edicts. But, at other times, they contained a profession of paganism, and were either offered voluntarily by the apostate, or were subscribed by him, when they were presented to him by the persecuting magistrates. Many used certificates, as letters of security, obtained from the priests at a high rate, and which dispensed them from either professing or denying their sentiments. See Spanheim. Historia Christiana, p. 732, 733. See also Prud. Maranus in vita Cypriani, operibus ejus præmissa, sect. 6. p. 54.

11 Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. lib. vi. cap. xliv. Cypr. Epistolæ, in many places.

12 The whole history of this controversy may be gathered from the epistles of Cyprian. See also Gabr. Albaspinæus, Observat. Eccles. lib. i. observ. xx. p. 94. Dallæus De pænis et satisfactionibus humanis, lib. vii. cap. xvi. p. 706. 13 Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. vii. cap. i. p. 250. Cyprian. Epist. lvii, lviii.

14 Vid. Cypriani Lib. ad Demetrianum.

16

barbarous counsels of a bigotted priesthood, he was preparing a formidable attack upon the Christians, he was obliged to march into Gaul, where he was murdered, in the year 275, before his edicts were published throughout the empire." Few, therefore, suffered martyrdom under his reign, and indeed, during the remainder of this century, the Christians enjoyed a considerable measure of ease and tranquillity. They were, at least, free from any violent attacks of oppression and injustice, except in a small number of cases, where the avarice and superstition of the Roman magistrates interrupted their tranquillity."

VIII. While the Roman emperors and proconsuls employed against the Christians the the destroying sword, the Platonic philosophers, terror of unrighteous edicts, and the edge of who have been described above, exhausted

15 Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. vii. cap. x, xl. p. 255. Acte Cypriani as they are to be found in the Acta Martyrun Ruinarti, p. 216. Cypriani Epist. lxxvii. p. 158. edit. Baluz. Ixxxii. p. 165.

16 Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. lib. vii. cap. xxx. Lactantius, De mortibus Persequutor. cap. vi.

17 Among these vexations may be reckoned the cruelty of Galerius Maximian, who, towards the conclusion of this century, persecuted the ministers of his court, and the soldiers of his army who had professed Christianity. See Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. lib. viii. cap. i. D. 292. iv. p 295. 317.

than a cunning knave, and did nothing but ape the austerity and sanctity of Pythagoras. This history appears manifestly designed to draw a parallel between Christ and the philosopher of Tyana; but the impudent fictions, and the ridiculous fables, with which this work is filled, must, one would think, have rendered it incapasound mind; any, but such as through the corruption of vicious prejudices, were willing to be deceived.

against Christianity all the force of their learn. ing and eloquence, and all the resources of their art and dexterity, in rhetorical declamations, subtle writings and ingenious stratagems. These artful adversaries were so much the more dangerous and formidable, as they had adopted several of the doctrines and institutions of the gospel, and with a specious air of modera-ble of deceiving any who were possessed of a tion and impartiality, were attempting, after the example of their master Ammonius, to reconcile paganism with Christianity, and to form a sort of coalition of the ancient and the new religion. These philosophers had at their head, in this century, Porphyry, a Syrian, or, as some allege, a Tyrian, by birth, who wrote against the Christians a long and laborious work, which was destroyed afterwards by an imperial edict. He was, undoubtedly, a writer of great dexterity, genius, and erudition, as those of his works that yet remain sufficiently testify. But those very works, and the history of his life, show us, at the same time, that he was a much more virulent, than a formidable enemy to the Christians. For by them it appears, that he was much more attentive to the suggestions of a superstitious spirit, and the visions of a lively fancy, than to the sober dictates of right reason and a sound judgment. And it may be more especially observed of the fragments that yet remain of his work against the Christians, that they are equally destitute of judgment and equity, and are utterly unworthy of a wise and a good man."

IX. Many were the deceitful and perfidious stratagems by which this sect endeavoured to obscure the lustre, and to diminish the authority of the Christian doctrine. But none of these were more dangerous than the seducing artifice with which they formed a comparison between the life, actions, and miracles of Christ, and the history of the ancient philosophers; and placed the contending parties in such fallacious points of view, as to make the pretended sages of antiquity appear in nothing inferior to the divine Saviour. With this view, Archytas of Tarentum, Pythagoras, of whom Porphyry wrote the life, Apollonius Tyanæus, a Pythagorean philosopher, whose miracles and peregrinations were highly celebrated by the vulgar, were brought upon the scene, and exhibited as divine teachers, and rivals of the glory of the Son of God. Philostratus, one of the most eminent rhetoricians of this age, composed a pompous history of the life of Apollonius, who was little else

1 See Holstenius, De vita Porphyr. cap. xi. Fabric. Lux. Evang. p. 154. Buddeus, Isagoge in Theologiam, tom. ii. p. 1009.

2 This work of Porphyry against the Christians was burnt by an edict of Constantine the Great. It was divided into fifteen books, as we find in Eusebius, and contained the blackest calumnies against the Christians. The first book treated of the contradictions which he pretended to have found in the sacred writings. The greatest part of the twelfth is employed in fixing the time when the prophecies of Daniel were written. For Porphyry himself found these prophecies so clearly and evidently fulfilled, that, to avoid the force of the argu ment, deducible from thence in favour of Christianity, he was forced to have recourse to this absurd supposition, that "these prophecies had been published under the name of Daniel," by one who lived in the time of An. tiochus, and wrote after the arrival of the events foretold. Methodius, Eusebius, and Apollinaris, wrote against Porphyry. But these refutations have been long since lost.

X. But as there are no opinions, however absurd, and no stories, however idle and improbable, that a weak and ignorant multitude, who are more attentive to the pomp of words, than to the truth of things, will not easily swallow; so it happened, that many were ensnared by the absurd attempts of these insidious philosophers. Some were induced by these perfidious stratagems to abandon the Christian religion, which they had embraced. Others, when they heard that true Christianity (as it was taught by Jesus, and not as it was afterwards corrupted by his disciples) differed almost in nothing from the Pagan religion, properly explained and restored to its primitive purity, determined to remain in the religion of their ancestors, and in the worship of their gods. A third sort were led, by these comparisons between Christ and the ancient philosophers, to form to themselves a motley system of religion composed of the tenets of both parties, whom they treated with the same veneration and respect. Such was, particularly the method of Alexander Severus, who paid indiscriminately divine houours to Christ and to Orpheus, to Apollonius, and the other philosophers and heroes whose names were famous in ancient times.

XI. The credit and power of the Jews were now too much diminished to render them as capable of injuring the Christians, by their influence upon the magistrates, as they had formerly been. This did not, however, discourage their malicious efforts, as the books which Tertullian and Cyprian have written against them abundantly show, with several other writings of the Christian doctors, who complained of the malignity of the Jews, and of their perfidious stratagems.1 During the persecution under Severus, a certain person called Dominius, who had embraced Christianity, deserted to the Jews, doubtless, to avoid the punishments that were decreed against the Christians; and it was to recall this apostate to his duty and his profession, that Serapion, bishop of Antioch, wrote a particular treatise against the Jews." We may, however, conclude from this instance, that when the Christians were persecuted, the Jews were treated with less severity and contempt, on account of their enmity against the disciples of Jesus: And from the same fact we may also learn, that though they were in a state of great subjection and abasement, yet they were not entirely deprived of all power of oppressing the Christians.

3 See Olearius' preface to the life of Apollonius, by Philostratus; as also Mosheim's notes to his Latin trans lation of Cudworth's Intellectual System, p. 304, 309, 311. 834.

4 Hypolytus, Serm. in Susan. et Daniel. tom. i. opp. p. 274. 276. 5 Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. lib. vi. cap xii. p. 213.

PART II.

III. The number of disciples that were formed in the school of Plotinus, is almost beyond credibility. The most famous of them was Por

THE INTERNAL HISTORY OF THE CHURCH. phyry," who spread abroad through Sicily, and

CHAP. I.

CONCERNING THE STATE OF LETTERS AND PHI-
LOSOPHY DURING THIS CENTURY.

many other countries, the doctrine of his master,
revised with great accuracy, adorned with the
graces of a flowing and elegant style, and en.
riched with new inventions and curious improve-
ments."
From the time of Ammonius, until
the sixth century, this was almost the only sys-
tem of philosophy that was publicly taught at
Alexandria. A certain philosopher, whose name
was Plutarch, having learned it there, brought
it into Greece, and renewed, at Athens, the ce-
lebrated Academy, from whence issued a set of
illustrious philosophers, whom we shall have
occasion to mention in the progress of this
work.19

I. THE arts and sciences, which, in the preceding century, were in a declining state, seemed, in this, ready to expire, and had now lost all their vigour, and all their lustre. The celebrated rhetorician Longinus, and the eminent historian Dion Cassius, with a few others, were the last among the Greeks, who stood in the IV. We have unfolded above, the nature and breach against the prevailing ignorance and bar- doctrines of this philosophy, as far as was combarism of the times. Men of learning and gepatible with the brevity of our present_design. nius were less numerous still in the western It is, however, proper to add here, that its votaprovinces of the empire, though there were, in ries were not all of the same sentiments, but several places flourishing schools erected for the thought very differently upon a variety of subadvancement of the sciences, and the culture of jects. This difference of opinion was the natural taste and genius. Different reasons contributed consequence of that fundamental law, which the to this decay of learning. Few of the emperors whole sect was obliged to keep constantly in patronized the sciences, or encouraged, by the view, viz. "That truth was to be pursued with prospect of their favour and protection, that the utmost liberty, and to be collected from all emulation, which is the soul of the republic of the different systems in which it lay dispersed." letters. Besides, the civil wars that almost al- Hence it happened, that the Athenians rejected ways distracted the empire, were extremely un- certain opinions that were entertained by the favourable to the pursuit of science, and the philosophers of Alexandria. None, however, perpetual incursions of the barbarous nations who were ambitious to be ranked among these interrupted that leisure and tranquillity which new Platonists, called in question the main docare so essential to the progress of learning and trines which formed the ground-work of their knowledge, and extinguished, among a people singular system; those, for example, which reaccustomed to nothing almost but the din of garded the "existence of one God, the fountain arms, all desire of literary acquisitions." of all things; the eternity of the world; the dependence of matter upon the Supreme Being; the nature of souls; the plurality of gods; the method of interpreting the popular superstitions," &c.

II. If we turn our eyes towards the state of philosophy, the prospect will appear somewhat less desolate and comfortless. There were, as yet, in several of the Grecian sects, men of considerable knowledge and reputation, of whom V. The famous question concerning the excelLonginus has mentioned the greatest part. lence and utility of human learning, was now But all these sects were gradually eclipsed by the debated with great warmth among the Chrisschool of Ammonius, whose origin and doctrines tians; and the contending parties, in this conhave been considered above. This victorious troversy, seemed hitherto of equal force in point sect, which was formed in Egypt, issued forth of numbers, or nearly so. Many recommended from thence with such a rapid progress, that, in the study of philosophy, and an acquaintance a short time, it extended itself almost through- with the Greek and Roman literature; while out the Roman empire, and drew into its vortex others maintained, that those were pernicious the greatest part of those who applied them- to the interests of genuine Christianity, and tl.e selves, through inclination, to the study of phi-progress of true piety. The cause of letters and losophy. This amazing progress was due to philosophy triumphed, however, by degrees; and Plotinus, the most eminent disciple of Ammo- those who wished well to them, gained ground nius, a man of a most subtle invention, and en- more and more, till at length the superiority was dowed by nature with a genius capable of the manifestly decided in their favour. This victory most profound researches, and equal to the in- was principally due to the influence and autho vestigation of the most abstruse and difficult rity of Origen, who having been early instructsubjects. This penetrating and sublime philo-ed in the new kind of Platonism already mensopher taught publicly, first in Persia, and afterwards at Rome, and in Campania; all which places the youth flocked in crowds to receive his instruction. He comprehended the precepts of his philosophy in several books, the most of which are yet extant."

7 See the Literary History of France, by the Benedictine monks, vol. i. part II. p. 317.

8 In his life of Plotinus, epitomized by Porphyry, ch. xx. p. 128. edit. Fabricii.

9 See Porphyrii vita Plotini, of which Fabricius has given an edition in his Bibliotheca Græca, tom. iv. p. 91. Bayle's Diction. tom. iii. at the article Plotinus; as also Brucker's Historia Critica Philosophiæ.

tioned, blended it unhappily with the purer and more sublime tenets of a celestial doctrine, and recommended it in the warmest manner, to the youth who attended his public lessons. The fame of this philosopher increased daily among

10 Porphyry was first the disciple of Longinus, author of the justly celebrated Treatise on the Sublime. But having passed from Greece to Rome, where he heard Plotinus, he was so charmed with the genius and penetration of this philosopher, that he attached himself entirely to him. See Plotin. vit. p. 3. Eunap. cap. ii. p. 17.

11 Holstenius vit. Porphyrii, republished in the Biblic. theca Græca of Fabricius.

12 Marini vita Procli, cap. xi, xii. p. 25

the Christians; and, in proportion to his rising credit, his method of proposing and explaining the doctrines of Christianity gained authority, till it became almost universal. Besides, some of the disciples of Plotinus having embraced Christianity, on condition that they should be allowed to retain such of the opinions of their master as they thought of superior excellence and merit,' this must also have contributed, in some measure, to turn the balance in favour of the sciences. These Christian philosophers preserv ing still a fervent zeal for the doctrines of their Heathen chief, would naturally embrace every opportunity of spreading them abroad, and instilling them into the minds of the ignorant and the unwary.

་་་་་

CHAP. II.

CONCERNING THE DOCTORS AND MINISTERS OF THE CHURCH, AND ITS FORM OF Government, duR

ING THIS CENTURY.

1. THE form of ecclesiastical government that had been adopted by Christians in general, had now acquired greater degrees of stability and force, both in particular churches, and in the universal society of Christians collectively considered. It appears incontestable, from the most authentic records, and the best histories of this century, that, in the larger cities, there was, at the head of each church, a person to whom was given the title of bishop, who ruled this sacred community with a certain sort of authority, in concert, however, with the body of presbyters, and consulting, in matters of moment, the opinion and the voices of the whole assembly. It is also equally evident, that, in every province, one bishop was invested with a certain superiority over the rest, in point of rank and authority. This was necessary to the maintenance of that association of churches that had been introduced in the preceding century; and contributed, moreover, to facilitate the holding of general councils, and to give a certain degree of order and consistence to their proceedings. It must, at the same time, be carefully observed, that the rights and privileges of these primitive bishops were not every where accurately fixed, nor determined in such a manner as to prevent encroachments and disputes; nor does it appear, that the chief authority in the province, was always conferred upon that bishop who presided over the church established in the metropolis. It is further to be noticed, as a matter beyond all dispute, that the bishops of Rome, Antioch, and Alexandria, considered as rulers of primitive and apostolic churches, had a kind of pre-eminence over all others, and were not only consulted frequently in affairs of a difficult and momentous nature, but were also distinguished by peculiar rights and privileges.

II. With respect, particularly, to the bishop of Rome, he is supposed by Cyprian to have had, at this time, a certain pre-eminence in the church; nor does he stand alone in this opi

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1 Augustinus, Epistola lvi. ad Dioscor. p. 260. tom. ii. opp. 2 A satisfactory account of this matter may be seen in Blondelli Apologia pro Sententia Hieronymi de Episcopis et Presbyteris, p. 136. as that author has collected all the testimonies of the ancients relative to that subject.

3 Cyprian, Ep. lxxiii. p. 131. Ep lv. p. 86.. Ib. De Unifate Ecclesiæ, p, 195. edit. Balusii.

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nion. But it is to be carefully observed, that even those, who, with Cyprian, attributed this pre-eminence to the Roman prelate, insisted, at the same time, with the utmost warmth, upon the equality, in point of dignity and authority, that subsisted among all the members of the episcopal order. In consequence of this opinion of an equality among all Christian bishops, they rejected, with contempt, the judgment of the bishop of Rome, when they thought it ill founded or unjust, and followed their own sense of things with a perfect independence. Of this Cyprian himself gave an eminent example, in his famous controversy with Stephen bishop of Rome, concerning the baptism of heretics, in which he treated the arrogance of that imperious prelate with a noble indignation, and also with a perfect contempt. Whoever, therefore, compares all these things together, will easily perceive, that the pre-eminence of the bishop of Rome, was a pre-eminence of order and association, and not of power and authority. Or, to explain the matter yet more clearly, the preeminence of the bishop of Rome, in the universal church, was such as that of Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, was in the African churches. And every one knows, that the precedence of this latter prelate diminished in nothing the equality that subsisted among all the African bishops, invalidated in no instance their rights and liberties; but gave only to Cyprian, as the president of their general assemblies, a power of calling councils, of presiding in them, of admonishing his brethren in a mild and fraternal manner, and of executing, in short, such offices as the order and purposes of these ecclesiastical meetings necessarily required."

III. The face of things began now to change in the Christian church. The ancient method of ecclesiastical government seemed, in general, still to subsist, while, at the same time, by imperceptible steps, it varied from the primitive rule, and degenerated towards the form of a religious monarchy. For the bishops aspired to higher degrees of power and authority than they had formerly possessed; and not only violated the rights of the people, but also made gradual encroachments upon the privileges of the presbyters. And that they might cover these usurpations with an air of justice, and an appearance of reason, they published new doctrines concerning the nature of the church, and of the episcopal dignity, which, however, were, in general so obscure, that they themselves seem to have understood them as little as those to whom they were delivered. One of the principal authors of this change, in the government of the church, was Cyprian, who pleaded for the power of the bishops with more zeal and vehemence than had ever been hitherto employed in that cause, though not with an unshaken constancy and perseverance; for, in difficult and perilous times, necessity sometimes obliged him to yield, and to submit several things to the judgment and authority of the church.

sociationis, which could not be otherwise rendered without

4 So I have translated Principatus ordinis et con

a long circumlocution. The pre-eminence here mentioned signifies the right of "convening councils, of presiding it. them, of collecting voices," and such other things as were essential to the order of these assemblies.

5 See Steph. Balusii adnot. ad Cypriani Epistolas, p. 387. 389. 400. Consult particularly the seventy-first and seventy-third epistles of Cyprian, and the fifty-fifth, ad. aressed to Cornelius, bishop of Rome, in which letters the Carthaginian prelate pleads with warmth and vehemence for the equality of all Christian bishops.

6

the internal suggestions of some evil dæmon. The Copiata were employed in providing for the decent interment of the dead.

IV. This change in the form of ecclesiastical was a consequence of the doctrine of the New government, was soon followed by a train of Platonists, which the Christians adopted, and vices, which dishonoured the character and au- which taught that the evil genii, or spirits were thority of those to whom the administration of continually hovering over human bodies, tothe church was committed. For, though several wards which they were carried by a natural and yet continued to exhibit to the world illustrious vehement desire; and that vicious men were examples of primitive piety and Christian virtue, not so much impelled to sin by an innate deyet many were sunk in luxury and voluptuous-pravity, or by the seduction of example, as by ness, puffed up with vanity, arrogance, and ambition, possessed with a spirit of contention and discord, and addicted to many other vices that cast an undeserved reproach upon the holy religion, of which they were the unworthy professors and ministers. This is testified in such an ample manner, by the repeated complaints of many of the most respectable writers of this age, that truth will not permit us to spread the veil, which we should otherwise be desirous to cast over such enormities among an order so sacred. The bishops assumed, in many places, a princely authority, particularly those who had the greatest number of churches under their inspection, and who presided over the most opulent assemblies. They appropriated to their evangelical function the splendid ensigns of temporal majesty. A throne, surrounded with ministers, exalted above his equals the servant of the meek and humble Jesus; and sumptuous garments dazzled the eyes and the minds of the multitude into an ignorant veneration for their arrogated authority. The example of the bishops was ambitiously imitated by the presbyters, who, neglecting the sacred duties of their station, abandoned themselves to the indolence and delicacy of an effeminate and luxurious life. The deacons, beholding the presbyters deserting thus their functions, boldly usurped their rights and privileges; and the effects of a corrupt ambition were spread through every rank of the sacred order.

V. From what has been now observed, we may come, perhaps, at the true origin of minor, or lesser orders, which were, in this century added every where to those of the bishops, presbyters, and deacons. For, certainly, the titles, and offices of subdeacons, acolythi, ostiarii, or door-keepers, readers, exorcists, and copiata, would never have been heard of in the church, if its rulers had been assiduously and zealously employed in promoting the interests of truth and piety, by their labours, and their example. But when the honours and privileges of the bishops and presbyters were augmented, the deacons also began to extend their ambitious views, and to despise those lower functions and employments which they had hitherto exercised with such humility and zeal. The additional orders that were now created to diminish the labours of the present rulers of the church, had functions allotted to them, which their names partly explain.' The institution of exorcists

6 Origen. Comm. in Matthæum, par. I. opp. p. 420. 441, 442. Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. lib. viii. cap. i. p. 291, &c.

7 The subdeacons were designed to ease the deacons of the meanest part of their work. Their office, consequently, was to prepare the sacred vessels of the altar, and to deliver them to the deacons in time of divine service; to attend the doors of the church during the communion service, to go on the bishop's embassies with his letters or messages to foreign churches. In a word, they were so subordinate to the superior rulers of the church, that, by a canon of the council of Laodicea, they were forbidden to sit in the presence of a deacon without his leave.-The order of acolythi was peculiar to the Latin church; for there was no such order in the Greek church during the four first centunes. Their name signifies attendants, and

VI. Marriage was permitted to all the various ranks and orders of the clergy, high and low. Those, however, who continued in a state of celibacy, obtained by this abstinence a higher reputation of sanctity and virtue than others. This was owing to an almost general persuasion, that they, who took wives, were of all others the most subject to the influence of malignant dæmons. And as it was of infinite importance to the interests of the church, that no impure or malevolent spirit entered into the bodies of such as were appointed to govern, or to instruct others, so the people were desirous that the clergy should use their utmost efforts to abstain from the pleasures of the conjugal life. Many of the sacred order especially in Africa, consented to satisfy the desires of the people, and endeavoured to do this in such a manner as not to offer an entire violence to their own inclinations. For this purpose, they formed connections with those women who had made vows of perpetual chastity; and it was an ordinary thing for an ecclesiastic to admit one of these fair saints to the participation of his bed, but still under the most solemn declarations, that nothing passed in this commerce that was contrary to the rules of chastity and virtue." These holy concubines were called by the Greeks, Zuvarázтo; and by the Latius, Mulieres subintroductæ. This indecent custom alarmed the zeal of the more pious among the bishops, who employed the utmost efforts of their severity and vigilance to abolish it, though it was a long time before they entirely effected this laudable purpose.

VII. Thus we have given a short, though not a very pleasing view of the rulers of the church during this century; and should now mention the principal writers that distinguished themselves in it by their learned and pious produc

their principal office was to light the candles of the church
and to attend the ministers with wine for the eucharist
The ostiarii or door-keepers were appointed to open and
shut the doors, as officers and servants under the deacons
and subdeacons; to give notice of the times of prayer and
church assemblies, which in time of persecution required
a private signal for fear of discovery; and that probably,
was the first reason for instituting this order in the church
of Rome, whose example, by degrees, was soon followed
by other churches. The readers were those that were ap-
pointed to read the scripture in that part of divine service
to which the catechumens were admitted.-The exorcists
were appointed to drive out evil spirits from the bodies o
persons possessed; they had been long known in the
church, but were not erected into an ecclesiastical order
until the latter end of the third century. The copiata, or
fossarii, were an order of the inferior clergy, whose busi-
ness it was to take care of funerals and to provide for the
decent interment of the dead. In vain have Baronius
and other Romish writers asserted, that these inferior
orders were of apostolical institution. The contrary is
evidently proved, since none of these offices are mentioned
as having taken place before the third century, and the
origin can be traced no higher than the fourth.
8 Porrhyrius, gờ do is, lib. iv. p. 417.

9 Credat Judæus Apella. See however Dodwell. Dissertatio Cyprianica, and Lud. An. Muratorius Diss. de Syni sactis et Agapetis, in his Anecdot. Græc. p. 218; as also Ba luzius ad Cypriani Epistol. p. 5, 12, &c.

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