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Says Eusebius: · The emperor Alexander being slain, * after he had reigned thirteen years, he was succeeded by • Maximin ; who beingd filled with hatred against the * family of Alexander, in which there were many christians, * raised a persecution; appointing, that the presidents only • of the churches should be put to death, as being the men ' who spread abroad the doctrine of the gospel. At which
time Origen composed his book, Of Martyrdom, which he * inscribed to Ambrose and Protoctetus, presbyter of the • church of Cæsarea; forasmuch as they were at that time • in great danger of suffering death. And they gained great • honour by that confession.' Thai book of Origen, which is an exbortation to martyrdom, is still extant; I made several valuable extracts from ite formerly. It appears hence, that Ambrose and Protoctetus were imprisoned, though the place is not now exactly known.
Orosius, not very disagreeable to Eusebius, says, thatf • Maximin's persecution proceeded chiefly from aversion to • the christian family of his predecessor Alexander, and his
mother Mammæa: and that his persecution was intended against the clergy, and particularly against the presbyter Origen.' So Orosius. And some learned men opinion, that Origen, though he sent bis Exhortation to Martyrdom to the two above-named confessors, retired 6 himself, and lived privately a part of this reign.
It has been argued by Pagi,h and other learnedi men, that this persecution did not reach to Africa.
There was at this time a persecution of the christians in Pontus and Cappadocia, as appears froink Firmilian's letter
d “Ος δη κατα κοτον τον προς τον Αλεξανδρε oικoν εκ πλειονων πιςων συνεςωτα, διωγμον εγειρας, τες των εκκλησιων αρχοντας μονες, ώς, αιτιες της κατα το ευαγγελιoν διδασκαλιας, αναιρεισθαι προςαττει. Η. Ε. 1. vi. cap. 28. Maximinus adversum ecclesiarum sacerdotes persecutionem facit. Chron.
e Vol. ii. f. 489, 490. f Sed continuo, hoc est tertio quam regnabat anno, a Pupieno Aquileiæ interfectus, et persecutionis et vitæ finem fecit. Qui maxime propter christianam Alexandri, cui successerat, et Mammææ matris familiam, persecutionem, in sacerdotes et clericos, et doctores, vel præcipue propter Origenem presbyterum miserat. Oros. l. vii. cap. 19. p.
8 See Tillem. in Origène, art. 21. and Moshem. p. 469. h Vid. Pagi ann. 235. num. iii.
Basnag. ann. 235. num. v. k Ante viginti enim et duos fere annos, temporibus post Alexandrum Imperatorem, multæ istic conflictationes et pressuræ acciderunt, vel in commune omnibus hominibus, vel privatim christianis. Terræ etiam motus plurimi et frequentes exstiterunt, ut per Cappadociam et per Pontum multa subruerent,ut ex hoc persecutio quoque gravis adversum nos christiani nominis fieret ; quæ, post longam retro ætatis pacem repente oborta, de inopinato et insueto malo ad turbandum populum nostrum terribilior effecta est. "Serenianus tunc fuit in nostra provinciâ præses, acerbus et dirus persecutor. In hac autem perturbatione constitutis fidelibus, et huc atque illuc persecutionis metu fugi
to Cyprian; but it is not clear, that it was occasioned by any edict of Maximin. But the president was bigoted and cruel, and the christians were greatly molested by him. However, the neighbouring provinces being peaceable, the christians left their own country, and went thither.
Mr. Mosheim, to whom I refer, has very good observations upon this persecution. He allows, that during that whole reign christians suffered in some places. There may therefore, as I apprehend, have been more sufferers, than now we have the exact knowledge of.
THE EMPEROR PHILIP.-THE QUESTION CONSIDERED,
WHETHER HE WAS A CHRISTIAN.
1. His time. II. Reasons for this inquiry. III. An argu
ment, showing, that he was not a christian, and the judgments of divers learned men concerning it.
I. THE emperor Gordian was succeeded by Philip, who took his son into partnership with him. He was an Arab, son of a captain of Arabian robbers. Heb reigned five years and somewhat longer. Hise time is computed from March in the year of Christ 244, to July in 249.
II. Of this emperor Eusebius tells the following story. * Whend Gordian had reigned six whole years, he was suc
entibus, et patrias suas relinquentibus, atque in alias partes regionum transeuntibus, (erat enim transeundi facultas, eo quod persecutio illa non per totum mundum, sed localis fuisset,) &c. Firmilian, ad Cyprian. ep. 75. p. 222. Oxon. p. 146. Baluz. 1 De Reb. Christianorum, &c.
467-470. m Hinc facile credimus illis, qui per totum illud, quod Maximinus regnavit, triennium vexatos passim christianos fuisse censent. Ib. p. 453.
Igitur Marcus Julius Philippus Arabs Thraconites, sumto in consortium Philippo filio, Romam venere. Victor. de Cæsar. cap. 28.
Marcus Julius Philippus imperavit annos quinque.--Is Philippus humillimo ortus loco fuit, patre nobilissimo latronum ductore. Victor. Epit. cap. 28. Conf. Eutrop. 1. ix. sect. iii. et Capitolin. iii. cap. 29. p. 124.
© Hoc etiam anno uterque Philippus pater et filius Impp. circa mensem Juliun occisi sunt, sexto imperii anno inchoato. Pagi ann. 249. num. v. Conf. Basnag. ann. 244. n. iv.
d H. E. I. vi. cap. 34.
' ceeded by Philip and his son. It is e reported, that this emperor, as being a christian, on the last day of the vigils of Easter, desired to partake in the prayers of the church * with the rest of the people; but that ihe bishop would ' not permit bin, till he had made confession of his sins, • and had placed himself in the number of the lapsed, and
among the penitents. And if he had not done that, he • would never have been admitted by the bishop, because • of his many crines. And it is said, that he readily com*plied, and that he manifested a sincere fear of God by his deeds.'
It is obvious to observe, that Eusebius speaks only upon the ground of report and common fame; nor does he name the bishop, nor the place where it happened. Chrysostom is supposed to supply that defect, as he ascribes a like action to Babylas bishop of Antioch; but then he does not name the emperor.
I forbear to transcribe the absurd and inaccurate account of the same thing in the Paschal Chronicle.
According to the Acts or Passion of the Martyr Pontius, Philip and his son were converted by the saine Pontius, and baptized by Fabian bishop of Rome. And, fabulous as those Acts may be, Huet seems to rely upon them, and believes, thatk those emperors were baptized by Fabian.
In a chapter following that before quoted, Eusebius, among other proofs of Origen's great reputation at that time, says, he wrote a letter to the emperor Philip, and another to his wife Severa. Which m is also mentioned by Jerom, in his book of Illustrious Men; who likewise there calls Philip the first christian emperor, and says, those letters were still extant. Nevertheless I think it does not appear what was in those letters, nor that ever they were seen either by Eusebius, or Jerom.
In Jerom's Latin edition of Eusebius's Chronicle," Philip
* Και πειθαρχησαι γε προθυμως λεγεται.
& Chrys. de S. Babyla contr. Julian. et Gent. T. ii. p. 544, 545.
Page 270. i Tunc beatissimus Pontius ad episcopum urbis Romæ nomine Fabianum, qui ecclesiæ Dei præerat, convolavit, et omnia ei ex ordine pandit-Aliâ vero die cuin simul ad Principes venissent, et sacramenta eis divina demonstrâssent, baptismi gratiam consecuti sunt. Passio S. Pontii. num. xiii. T. ii. p. 133. edit. Baluz.
k Sic igitur sentio, Christi sacris a Fabiano Papâ initiatum fuisse Philippum. Origen. l. i. cap. 3. p. 19.
1 H. E. I. vi. cap. 36. Quodque ad Philippum Imperatorem, qui primus de Regibus Romanis christianus fuit, et ad matrem [uxorem] ejus, literas fecit
, quæ usque hodie extant. De V. I. cap. 54. dc Origene.
Philippus Philippum filium
is said to be the first christian emperor; and in like manner speak" Orosius, and some other christian authors.
All which has occasioned a debate among learned men of late times, whether Philip was a christian or not : Baronius, Huet,' and some others, taking the affirmative side of the question, others the negative. Tillemonts says, it is not without difficulties. And Mr. Mosheimt has done bis utmost to perplex this question; and the more to increase the difficulty, argues that u he might be a christian secretly, though not openly. And upon the whole, according to him, it is a point not to be decided, whether the two Philips, father and son, were christians or not.
III. For my own part I should think, that we might spare ourselves the trouble of inquiring into the privacies of this emperor, and may do better to determine bis character by his public conduct. But without indulging harangue or complaint, I shall now immediately refer to some ecclesiastical historians, where, so far as I am able to judge, the question is fairly treated, and rightly decided. They are Pagi, * Basuage, y Cellarius, 2 Frederick Spanheim, not forgettinga the great Scaliger.
1. My first argument is, that divers ancient christian writers expressly say, that Constantine was the first Roman emperor who made profession of the christian religion.
The first to be quoted is Lactantius, contemporary with
suum consortem regni fecit, primusque omnium ex Romanis Imperatoribus christianus fuit. Chr. p. 174.
• Hic primus imperatorum omnium christianus fuit, &c. Oros. 1. vii. cap. 20.
p Baron. ann. 246. 9 Origen. 1. i. cap. iii. n. 12. .
I Our writer's of Universal Ancient History, in the article of Roman History, B. 3. chap. xxiii. vol. xv. p. 408, &c. note (L). $ Hist. Einp. Tom. iii. L'Emp. Philip. note 1. i De Reb. Christianor, ante C. M. p. 471--476.
Neque desunt argumenta, quæ hos Imperatores, clam licet et secreto, ad sacra christiana transiisse probabile reddant. Sed his rationibus quum aliæ possint opponi æque validæ ac speciosæ, quæstio illa quæ tot viros doctos exercuit, de Philippi Arabis, ejusque filii, religione, in medio relinqui debet. Moshem. Insti. p. 110.
" Quæ vero signa in eo sunt christianæ pietatis ? Nullum ejus rei vestigium apparet. Nobis vero id valde dubium est, quia nec ullus idoneus auctor Ostendit, vel deorum templa clausisse, vel Christo aliud dedicàsse, vel aliud egisse, quod christianam vitam et professionem probaret. Cellar. Diss. P.
323. w Ann. 244. n. iv. et seqq. ann. 247. num. vi. et seqq. Vid. et Fr. Pagi. Breviarium Pont. Roman. T. i. p. 40, &c.
Basnag. ann. 244. n. vi. &c.
y Cell. Diss. de priino Principe Christiano. sect. xxi. &c. p. 322.
Spanhem. Opp. T. ii. p. 405, &c. Quâ disquiritur, quo jure Philippi Impp. Pater et Filius, pro Christianis habeantur.
Animadversion. in Euseb. p. 234.
Eusebius, but rather older, who, in his inscription of his Institutions to Constantine, addresseth him in the character of the first emperor of the Romans who had forsaken the errors of Gentilisin.
In like manner Sulpicius Severus, who published bis Sacred History in the year 400, or soon after. • That,"c says he,' was the end of the persecution; from that time
there have been christian emperors, of whom Constantine 6 was the first.'
Theodoret, at the end of his Ecclesiastical History, says, thata before Constantine all the Roman emperors were enemies to tlie christians. .
Chrysostom says, that all the Roman emperors, Augus* tus, Tiberius, Caius, Nero, Vespasian, Titus, and after him • all the rest, were Gentiles, till the time of the blessed · Constantine; and all of them opposed the church, some • indeed with greater, others with less violence, however all “ of them in some measure. And as they all lived in in* piety, that alone was an encouragement to the people to * oppose the christians. .'
Nor can Eusebius be omitted, who, at the conclusion of his Life of Constantine, says, “ that he was the only Roman
emperor, who hitherto had worshipped the true God with • sincere piety, and had embraced and recommended the • doctrine of Jesus Christ.'
Pagi therefore says, he is persuaded, that all which
• Quod opus nunc nominis tui auspicio inchoamus, Constantine, imperator maxime, qui primus Romanorum principum, repudiatis erroribus, majestatem Dei singularis ac veri cognovisti et honorâsti. Inst. 1. l. c. 1.
c Sed finis persecutionis illius fuit ab hinc annos ix et lxxx. a quo tempore christiani imperatores esse cæperunt. Namque tum Constantinus rerum potiebatur, qui primus omnium Romanorum principum christianus fuit. Sacr. Ηist. 1. ii. cap. 33. p. 248. Cleric.
γαρ προ της Κωνσταντινα τα μεγαλα βασιλειας, όσοι Ρωμαιων εγενοντο βασιλεις, κατα των θιασώτων της αληθειας ελυττησαν. Τheod. Η. Ε. 1. ν. cap. 39. p. 248. .
e Ελληνες ησαν βασιλεις Αυγερος, Τιβεριος, Γαϊος, Νερων, Ουεσπασιανος, Τιτος, και μετ' εκεινον άπαντες εως των τα μακαρια Κωνςαντιν8 χρονων τ8 βασιλεως. Και παντες ετοι, οι μεν ελαττον, οι δε σφοδροτερον επολεμεν την εκκλησιαν επολεμεν δ' αν όμως απαντες. Ει δε τινες αυτων και ήσυχαζειν εδoξαν, αυτο τοτο το τες βασιλευοντας καταδηλες ειναι επι ασεβεια, υποθεσις πολεμων εγινετο, των αλλων κολακευοντων αυτες, θεραπευοντων εν τω της εκκλησιας πολεμφ. Chr. Contr. Jud. et. Gent. T. 1. p. 578. Bened.
μεν Ρωμαιων βασιλεως τον παμβασιλεα θεον υπερβολη θεοσεβειας τετιμηκοτος μονο δε τοις πασι πεπαρρησιασμενως τον τ8 Χρις8 κηρυξαντος λογον. κ. λ. De Vita Const. 1. iv. cap. 75.
& Verum, re maturius examinatâ, nunc non dubito, quin Eusebius quod habet de christianâ professione Philippi, ex incertâ auditione retulerit. Ann. 244 η ν.