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Eusebius says about the christianity of Philip, he had received from uncertain tradition.
2. All heathen writers are silent about the christianity of Philip and his son.
It seems to me, thath Spanheim does rightly insist on this argument of no small weight. Nor hasi Julian in his Cæsars taken any notice of it. If Philip had been a christian, they would some of them have reproached him upon that account, and they would have reproached his christianity, with the crimes of which he was guilty; for his treachery to the young Gordian was well known, and was very odious, and k is spoken of as such.
3. Philip celebrated the secular games at Rome in the thousandth year of the city, and in the usual manner, with great magnificence: as we are assured by ancient medals, and by christian as well as by heathen writers.
In the Chronicle of Eusebius it is said, that' at that time innumerable beasts were slain in the Circus, and there were theatrical shows in the Campus Martius for three days and three nights. Andm Orosius acknowledgeth, that the secular games were celebrated by Philip with great magnificence; though he will have it, that all was designed to the honour of Christ.
Capitolinus, one of the writers of the Augustan History, is very particular in representing the great number and various sorts of beasts produced to public show, or slain
n Primo silent isti historici, qui res Philipporum Deciorumve ex professo quondam tradiderunt--Certe apud Ælium Spartianum, Julium Capitolinum, Ælium Lampridium, Aurelium Victorem, Eutropium abbreviatorem, Zosimuin, -nulla vestigia deprehendas christianæ in Philippis religionis. Span.
· Julianus Imp. in Satyrâ suâ de Cæsaribus, de Philippo tacet, non facturus, siquidem hic christianus fuisset, &c. Ibid. p. 413. m.
k Ita Philippus impie non jure obtinuit imperium. Capitolin. Gordian. iii. cap. 31. p. 127.
Regnantibus Philippis, millessimus annus Romanæ urbis expletus est: ob quam solemnitatem innumerabiles bestiæ in circo magno interfectæ ; ludique in Campo Martio theatrales tribus diebus et noctibus populo pervigilante celebrati. Euseb. Chr. p. 174.
m Ita magnificis ludis augustissimus omnium præteritorum hic natalis annus a christiano imperatore celebratus est. Nec dubium est, quin Philippus hujus tantæ devotionis gratiam et honorem ad Christum et ecclesiam reportavit, &c. Oros. l. yii. c. 20.
n Fuerunt sub Gordiano Romæ elephanti xxx. et 11-tigres x. leones mansueti lx. gladiatorum fiscalium paria mille: hippopotamus, et rhino
equi feri xl. et cætera hujusmodi animalia, innumera et diversa; quæ omnia Philippus ludis secularibus vel dedit, vel occidit--Nam omnia hæc Philippus exhibuit secularibus ludis et muneribus atque Circensibus, quum millesimum ab urbe conditâ annum in consulatu suo et filii sui celebravit. Capitol. Gordian. iii. cap. 33. p. 132--134.
by Philip upon occasion of this solemnity. And other heathen authors, as well as ancient medals, bear witness to his celebrating this festival with great magnificence, aso Eutropius, whom I transcribe below, and refer to the P Victors.
4. Once more, finally, the Philips were deified after their death, as! Eutropius says; which shows, that they were reckoned to be heathens. And Philip put Gordian in the number of the gods, as Capitolinus' says, in which he acted like a heathen.
Upon the whole therefore, I can see no reason to believe, that the emperor Philip was by belief or profession á christian : though he might be favourable to some who
As I do not love to be singular, I shall now transcribe the judgments of several learned men upon this point. Says Crevier: • Hes is said to have been a christian; but if • he was, it seems to me very strange, that none of the pagan
writers who have spoken of him should have mentioned it. · Zosimus, in particular, who is full of venom against chris
tianity, and who takes a pleasure in loading Constantine • with the most atrocious calumnies, would surely not • have spared Philip. The christian writers, upon whose
authority the notion of this prætorian præfect's christianity • is founded, certainly deserve respect. But their accounts are so confused, so full of circumstances, either palpably
contradictory, or absolutely refuted by history, that the 'weight of their testimony is considerably diminished.
Though Mr. Tillemont inclines to their opinion, I am not 6 afraid to own, that what he himself has written upon this
subject makes me of a different mind. If Philip did pro• fess our religion, he was certainly a bad christian. I had • rather believe, that being born in the neighbourhood of
the country which was the cradle of christianity, be might • thence acquire some tincture of it; and that he favoured it, as Alexander Severus had done, but without re
• His imperantibus, millesimus annus Romæ urbis ingenti ludorum apparatu spectaculorumque celebratus est, &c. Eutrop. I. ix. cap. 3.
p Vide Victor. de Cæsar. cap. 28. et Epit. cap. 28.
9 Ambo inde ab exercitu interfecti sunt; senior Philippus Veronæ, Romæ Junior. Annis v. imperaverunt; inter Divos tamen relati sunt. Eutrop. I. ix.
Denique Philippus quum eum interfecisset, neque imagines ejus tolleret, neque statuas deponeret, neque nomen abraderet, sed Divum semper appellans etiam apud ipsos milites, cum quibus factionem facerat, serio animo et peregrinâ calliditate veneratus est. Capitolin. ut supra, p. 128.
History of the Roman Emperors, vol. viii. p. 419.
nouncing his idolatrous superstition to which he adhered • when emperor.' And afterwards,t • The celebration of the * secular games, in wbich all the pomp of the pagan super• stition was displayed, is a direct proof of the public pro* fession which Pbilip made of his attachment to idolatry. • It is a violation of all probability to suppose, without any * evidence, that the emperor could celebrate them without * taking part in the sacrifices that accompanied them, or • rather which were the essential part of them, and the very • foundation of the whole festival.
Pagi, at the conclusion of one part of his argument upon this subject, has an observation which may be reckoned sage and pertinent, 'There is no more reason,' says he, • to believe what Eusebius here says of the christianity of * the emperor Philip, than what he says of Abgarus king * of the Edessens, that having heard of the fame of Christ's ó miracles, he wrote a letter to him; and that our Lord re• turned him an answer, promising to send to him one of * his apostles. Nor is there any more regard to be had to
Jerom, when he calls the emperor Philip a convert to * christianity, than when he speaks of the letters of Paul 6 to Seneca, and Seneca to Paul. The first christians,' says he,' wholly intent upon propagating our faith, and being
men of great candour, oftentimes too easily admitted stories • which were favourable to our religion; of which there are
many instances. A remarkable observation of a Franciscan monk, but a truly learned mau.
Cellarius has an observation to the like purpose. 6 The v more greedily this story was received by our ancestors, t Ib. vol. ix. p. 9.
u Hic tantum dicam, non majorem fidem adhibendam Eusebio, Philippum imp. christianum facienti, quam eidem affirmanti Abgarum Edessenorum regem, auditis Christi miraculis, ad ipsum literas dedisse, et Christum mutuas ad eum literas scripsisse, quibus se missurum ad ipsum unum ex apostolis suis pollicitus est--Nec etiam inajor fides Hieronymi de conversione Philippi imperatoris loquentis, quam cum in lib. de Script. Eccles. de Senecâ scribit : « Quem non ponerem in catalogo sancto
nisi me illæ epistolæ provocarent, quæ leguntur a plurimis Pauli ad Senecam, et Senecæ ad Paulum.' Priores christiani, fidei nostræ promovendæ toti addicti, et summo animi candore præditi, sese sæpe nimis faciles in iis, quæ religioni favebant, præbuerunt, ut innumera exempla demonstrant. Pagi ann. 244. num, vii.
" Quam cupide autem hoc creditum a majoribus fuit, tanto id minus fit vero simile, si veteres auctores excutiantur. Qui adseverant christianum fuisse, ideo videntur in hanc opinionem ingressi, ut millesimum Urbis annum Christi potius quam deorum cultori vindicarent. Oros. l. vii. cap. 28. de Constantino Magno. Primus imperatorum christianus, excepto Philippo, qui christianus ·annis admodum paucissimis ad hoc tantum constitutus fuisse mihi visus est,
ut millesimus Romæ annus Christo potius, quam idolis dicaretur.' Cellar Diss. de primo. Principe Christiano. num. xxii. p. 322.
* the more carefully ought we to examine their testimony
concerning it; for tliey seem (some of them at least) to • have embraced this opinion about Philip; being desirous
to have it thought, that the secular games of the thousandth year of the city of Rome were celebrated to the honour of • Christ, and not of the gods.' I must not allow myself to take any thing more from this author; though bis Observations upon the christianity ascribed to Philip appear to me very clear and solid; and I recollect, that I did before transcribe some of his thoughts upon this point at p. 351,
THE EMPEROR DECIUS.
1. His time, and character. II. Accounts of his persecu
tion. III. A persecution at Alexandria, before the publication of his edict. IV. That this persecution was universal.
I. WE sometimes meet with chronological difficulties, where they might be little expected. Eusebius in his Chronicle says, thata Decius reigned only one year and three months; and in his History, tható he and his sons were slain before be had reigned two years; which account Baronius follows. But learned men are now rather of opinion, that! Decius reached to the third year. And it is computed, that he reigned froin July or August 249, to November or December 251.
Eutropius, and Victors in his Cæsars, say, he reigned two years; the other Victorh says, thirty months. He was
a Romanorum vicesimus quintus regnavit Decius anno uno, menses iii. Chron. p. 175.
b H. . 1. vii. cap. i. c Ann. 254. n. xlix.
d Déce a certainement commencé la troisième année de son règne, comme on le voit par ses médailles. Tillem. H. E. T. iii. p. 599. Brux.
e Vid. Pagi, ann. 251. num. xxx. Basnag. ann. 249. num. iii.
fPost hos Decius, e Pannoniâ inferiore, Bubaliæ natus, imperium sumsit-Cum biennio ipse et filius ejus imperâssent, uterque in barbarico interfecti sunt, et inter Divos relati. Eutrop. I. ix. cap. iv.
8 Cap. 29. ► Decius, e Pannoniâ inferiore--imperavit menses triginta. Hic Decium filium suum Cæsarem fecit; vir artibus cunctis virtutibusque instructus, placidus et communis domi; in armis promptissimus. Vict. Epit
. cap. 29.
born in Pannonia; and, as has been observed, he is the first of the inany Roman emperors who were natives of Illyricum. His name, as inscribed uponi medals, is Caius Messius Trajanus Decius. He has a very good character in the epitome ofk Victor, and! Zosimus, heathen authors; but he is little taken notice of by christian writers, excepting upon account of his persecution. Some of their passages I shall transcribe, sufficient to afford my readers a general notion of it.
II. The author of the Deaths of Persecutors says, that Decius began to persecute the christians as soon as he began to reign ; but he does not tell us what the edict was, nor the occasion of it.
Eusebius writes to this purpose. Philip having é reigned seven years, lie was succeeded by Decius, who,
being an enemy to Pbilip, raised a persecution against the • churches: in which Fabian at Rome having been perfected by martyrdom, he was succeeded by Cornelius in that bishopric. In Palestine Alexander, bishop of the church at Jerusalem, is again brought before the governor's tri• bunal at Cæsarea for Christ's sake; and having made a • second glorious confession is put in prison, being now • venerable for his age and grey hairs. Having died in • prison, after a noble and illustrious confession before the
governor's tribunal, he was succeeded in the bishopric of • Jerusalem by Mazabanes. In like manner Babylas, having • died in prison at Antioch, after a public confession of the faith, was succeeded in that church by Fabius. How many and how great sufferings Origen endured at that 6 time, imprisonment, chains, fetters upon his legs, his feet • stretched in the stocks to the fourth hole for several days, menaces to burn him alive, and other torments, the judge all the while carefully endeavouring that he might not die under thein, may be fully known froin some letters written by him.
Origen was then in the sixty-sixth or sixty-seventh year of bis age; but neither his age, nor his learning, nor his many works, nor the greatness of his fame, secured him from a share in this trial. And Alexander before men
i Vid. Noris. Ep. Syro-Maced. Diss. 3. cap. 10. p. 344, 345. Lips. k See noteh
Δεκιω μεν εν αρισα βεβασιλευκοτι τελος TOLOVÒE ouveßn. Zos. 1. i. p. 644. in.
m Exstitit enim post annos plurimnos exsecrabile animal Decius, qui vexaret ecclesiam. Quis enim justitiam, nisi malus, persequatur ? Et, quasi hujus rei gratiâ provectus esset ad illud principale fastigium, furere protinus contra Deum cæpit, ut protinus caderet. De M. P. cap. 4.
n H. E. 1. vi. cap. 39.