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his African eloquence, might induce him to make free with a figure called exaggeration. But, were we even to concede this to the candid Jortin, there still remains the testimony of Eusebius, who was nearly contemporary with Cyprian, to be disposed of, and which is as follows :
Through too much liberty, they (the Christians) grew negligent and slothful, envying and reproaching one anotherwaging, as it were, civil wars among themselves, bishops quarrelling with bishops, and the people divided into parties. Hypocrisy and deceit were grown to the highest pitch of wickedness. They were become so insensible as not to think of appeasing the divine anger, but, like Atheists, they thought the world destitute of any providential government and care, thus adding one crime to another. The bishops themselves had cast off almost all concern about religion ; they were perpetually contending with one another and did nothing but quarrel, and threaten, and envy, and hate, one another ; they were full of ambition and tyrannically used their power.”+
There are two reflections which I cannot forbear making on this subject before we proceed. The first respects the lesson which what has now been stated is calculated to teach us.concerning the depravity of human nature. We see in this instance what effects were produced in the churches by a few years' exemption from persecution! So long as adversity was the lot of the disciples, they were driven to the gospel as the source of their consolation—" tribulation wrought patience, and patience experience, and experience hope :” and thus “their citizenship was in heaven, whence also they looked for the Saviour" to perfect their salvation. But, in proportion as the world smiled upon them, they cooled in their love to the gospel and to one another -its allurements prevailed--they began to take up with this world as their portion, and the Lord in mercy laid his chastening hand upon them.
The other reflection which I have to offer is, that, supposing the church to have arrived at that state of lukewarmness, sensuality, and corruption, which is described by Cyprian and admitted by Eusebius --- can we be surprised that a schism should
Remarks on Eccles. History, Vol. I. p.
| Eusebius Eccles. Hist, b.8, chii.
take place, as in the case of Novatian and his friends ? Or upon what principle of justice, equity, or truth, can these people be condemned as heretics or schismatics? We are told that the defection of such a prodigious number of persons as at this time took place was the occasion of great commotion in the various churches to which they belonged, and produced debates of a very difficult nature. The persecution ceased with the life of Decius, who died about two years afterwards; and then numbers of those who had lapsed, or fallen from their Christian profession, applied for re-admission into the churches, without submitting to that painful course of penitential discipline which the case seemed to require. The bishops were divided upon the matter : some were for granting the desired indulgence, while others strenuously opposed it. Among the latter was Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, a man of inflexible integrity and great dignity of character. A very singular measure was resorted to by many of the temporizers—that is, of persons who swerved from their profession, in Egypt and Africa. In order to facilitate the pardon of their apostacy, they applied to such as were about to suffer martyrdom for letters of reconciliation and peace (libellos pacis), a formal act, by which the martyrs declared, in their last moments, that they looked upon them as worthy of their communion, and consequently requested that they might be restored to their place among the brethren. Some of the bishops and elders consented to receive them on these testimonies, when produced ; but, though Cyprian had no intention to derogate from the respect due to the venerable martyrs, he resolutely opposed this unreasonable lenity, and consequently set limits to the efficacy of these letters of reconciliation and peace. This involved him in a warm contest with the martyrs, confessors, presbyters, and lapsed, supported as they all were by the great body of the people; yet, notwithstanding this formidable phalanx of adversaries, the venerable Cyprian came off victorious.*
In the year 254 Valerian was declared emperor, on which the church was instantly restored to a state of tranquillity, which continued for about five years, when the scene began to change, and that in a sudden and unexpected manner.
The new empe* The whole history of this affair may be collected from the epistles of Cyprian. See also Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. lib. vi. cap. 44.
ror had a favourite minister, whose name was Macrianus, a superstitious and bigoted Pagan, who had gained an entire ascendancy over Valerian, and was his chief counsellor in every thing that related to the administration of the government. At the persuasion of this insolent minister an edict was issued, prohibiting all assemblies of the Christians and banishing all their bishops and teachers. It was first 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 provinces of the empire, were put to death, and by such cruel methods of execution as were more terrible than death itself. It was at this juncture that Cyprian was beheaded-Sixtus, bishop of Rome, was at the same time crucified, and Laurentius, a deacon, was broiled alive on a gridiron, over a slow fire, which he endured with wonderful constancy. 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 in the year 260 'restored peace to the church. This emperor reigned eight years; and, though it could not be pronounced a happy period for the Christians, yet their condition was supportable, as it also was under the short administration of Claudius, who succeeded him. In the year 270 Aurelian was raised to the throne, and during the first four years the state of the Christians was tolerable; but in the fifth year of his administration a dark and portentous cloud gathered over them, which would have proved fatal had not his violent death prevented the execution of his cruel purposes. While, instigated by the suggestions of his own superstition, or by the barbarous counsels of a bigoted priesthood, he was preparing a formidable attack upon the Christians, he was compelled to march into Gaul, where he was murdered in the year 275, ere his edicts were published throughout the empire. This is commonly called the ninth persecution, but it scarcely merits the name of one; the number of martyrs was inconsiderable, and, during the remainder of this third century, the Christians enjoyed a considerable measure of ease and tranquillity.
The tenth, and last, persecution, which the Christians were called to undergo from the heathen magistrates, took place in the year 302, and consequently belongs to the next century. I
must not, therefore, enter upon it in this place, but shall close the present lecture with a brief notice of some persons, and things relating to the discipline, order, and worship of the Christian church which pertain to the third century, and which have not hitherto been mentioned.
Among the men of learning and talents who flourished about the end of the third century, there is no one better entitled to our notice than Pamphilus, a presbyter of the church of Cæsa
He was a most intimate friend of Eusebius, the ecclesiastical historian, so often mentioned in these lectures. He was one of the most learned and pious men of his time, and spent his life in acts of the most disinterested benevolence. He constantly kept several copies of the sacred writings by him--some of them transcribed with the greatest accuracy by his own hand, which he lent out to such as had a desire to read them; and
many copies he also gave away. He erected at Cæsarea a library, which is said to have contained thirty thousand volumes. This vast collection (immense indeed in those days when the art of printing was not known) seems to have been made solely for the good of the church, and for the purpose of being lent out to persons religiously disposed. This appears to be the first instance upon record of A CIRCULATING LIBRARY. On such eminently holy and useful men, the rage of persecution, when once excited, was sure to alight. He was apprehended and brought before the governor Urbanus, who after trying him upon different questions of rhetoric, philosophy, and polite literature, told him he must conform to the religion of his country and sacrifice to the gods. When Pamphilus refused to obey his orders, he commanded him to be cruelly tortured, after which he was cast into prison, where he lay for nearly two years and was then put to death. He copied several of the works of Origen with his own hand, and, in conjunction with his friend Eusebius, wrote an apology for that great man, in six books. Concerning the character of Pamphilus, Dr. Lardner thus' speaks :-" There can be no question but Pamphilus was a truly pious man. was he distinguished by the magnanimity, fortitude, and patience, of his confessions and martyrdom; but his whole life was a shining example of virtue. He must have been a person of good family, and a large estate ; but he despised
the world, and renounced all earthly expectations. He was á zealous Christian and greatly delighted himself in the Scriptures; he was liberal to the poor, kind to his acquaintance, and to all men who sought to him. He had an earnest desire to promote learning and knowledge, especially the knowledge of the holy Scriptures, in men of every condition, and his diligence in all laudable undertakings was extraordinary. Where can such a man as this be found in the heathen world?
How rare were such examples under the Mosaic institution, of men who employed their whole time in improving their own minds and serving others, without noise and ostentation, and without worldly views, and at last quietly resigned their lives, rather than disown the principles by which they had been hitherto conducted and supported ?"*
It may not be improper to mention Lactantius also in this place. He is supposed to have been born in Africa, and was educated by Arnobius. He was more distinguished as a writer than as a Theologian. His reputation, however, was so great, that Constantine, the Roman emperor, appointed him preceptor to his son, Crispus. This brought him to court; but he was so far from giving into the pleasures or corruptions incident to that station, that, amidst very great opportunities of amassing riches, he lived so“poor as often to lack the necessaries of life. Of the time and circumstances of his death we have no account, but he appears to have been advanced in life before he went to court.
* Lardner's Works, vol. iii. P:
230. + “ The eloquence of Lactantius, and the beauty and purity of his style, raise him superior to every author of the fourth century, and place him upon an equality with some of the most accomplished writers of ancient Rome. Entrusted with the education of Crispus, the unfortunate son of Constantine, whom that monarch afterwards put to death, Lactantius, amidst the splendours of a court, was distinguished only by his talents and his poverty. His principal work consists of a masterly refutation of Paganism, and a learned comparison between it and Christianity. It is to the indelible disgrace of the age that, while a number of fanatic monks and popular declaimers obtained the highest stations in the church, a man who possessed the learning of Aristotle, with the eloquence of Cicero, who united philosophy with religion, and an earnest piety with all the graces of a polished taste and enlightened understanding, should be permitted to languish without distinction or reward. It is, however but too common a case, that the service which is rendered to a party is rated higher than that which is rendered to mankind in general. The