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first embraced by great numbers of the Therapeutae, or Essen iai 1 of the lake Mareotis, a Jewish sect which had abated much oi its reverence for the Mosaic ceremonies. The austere life oi the Essenians, their fasts and excommunications, the community of goods, the love of celibacy, their zeal for martyrdom, and the warmth though not the purity of their faith, already offered a very lively image of the primitive discipline.163 It was in the school of Alexandria that the Christian theology appears to have assumed a regular and scientifical form; and, when Hadrian visited Egypt, he found a church, composed of Jews and of Greeks, sufficiently important to attract the notice ol that inquisitive prince.164 But the progress of Christianity was for a long time confined within the limits of a single city, which was itself a foreign colony, and, till the close of the second century, the predecessors of Demetrius were the only prelates [A.D. 18M32] of the Egyptian church. Three bishops were consecrated by the hands of Demetrius, and the number was increased to twenty pta-ntl by his successor Heraclas.165 The body of the natives, a people distinguished by a sullen inflexibility of temper,16fl entertained the new doctrine with coldness and reluctance; and even in the time of Origen it was rare to meet with an Egyptian who had surmounted his early prejudices in favour of the sacred animals of his country.167 As soon, indeed, as Christianity ascended the throne, the zeal of those barbarians obeyed the prevailing impulsion; the cities of Egypt were filled with bishops, and the deserts of Thebais swarmed with hermits, in Bom> A perpetual stream of strangers and provincials flowed into the capacious bosom of Rome. Whatever was strange or odious,
lraBasnage, Histoire des Juifs, 1. 2, c. 20. 21, 22, 23, has examined, with the most critical accuracy, the curious treatise of Philo which describes the Therapeutic. By proving that it was composed as early as the time of Augustus, Basnage has demonstrated, in spite of Eusebius (1. ii. c 17), and a crowd of modern Catholics, that the Therapeutic were neither Christians nor monks. It still remains probable that they changed their name, preserved their manners, adopted some new articles of faith, and gradually became the fathers of the Egyptian Ascetics. [The Therapeutae were not Essenes (for whom see Gratz Gesch. der Juden. vol. 3), for they did not secede from the synagogues. P. C. Lucius (Die Therapeuten. 1879) tried to prove that they did not exist, and that Philo's treatise (to which the earliest reference is in Eusebius) is a forgery, c. 300, A.D. The genuineness is defended by Mr. Conybeare in his recent ed. and P. Wendland, die Therapeuten 1896.]
IMSee a letter of Hadrian, in the Augustan History, p. 245 [xxix. 8, 1].
1S5 For the succession of Alexandrian bishops, consult Renaudot's History, p. 24, &c. This curious fact is preserved by the patriarch Eutychius (Annal. torn. i. p. 334, Vers. Pocock [date 10th centuryj), and its internal evidence would alone be a sufficient answer to all the objections which Bishop Peamos has urged in the Vindicire Ignatianae.
3fisAtnmian. Marcellin. xxii. 16.
I67 Origen contra Celsum, L i. p. 40 [p. 757, Migne].
whoever was guilty or suspected, might hope, in the obscurity
of that immense capital, to elude the vigilance of the law. In
such a various conflux of nations, every teacher, either of truth
or of falsehood, every founder, whether of a virtuous or a
criminal association, might easily multiply his disciples or
accomplices. The Christians of Rome, at the time of the
accidental persecution of Nero, are represented by Tacitus as
already amounting to a very great multitude,168 and the language
of that great historian is almost similar to the style employed by
Livy, when he relates the introduction and the suppression of
the rites of Bacchus. After the Bacchanals had awakened the
severity of the senate, it was likewise apprehended that a very
great multitude, as it were another people, had been initiated
into those abhorred mysteries. A more careful inquiry soon
demonstrated that the offenders did not exceed seven thousand;
a number, indeed, sufficiently alarming, when considered as the
object of public justice.169 It is with the same candid allowance
that we should interpret the vague expressions of Tacitus, and
in a former instance of Pliny, when they exaggerate the crowds
of deluded fanatics who had forsaken the established worship of
the gods. The church of Rome was undoubtedly the first and
most populous of the empire; and we are possessed of an
authentic record which attests the state of religion in that city,
about the middle of the third century, and after a peace of
thirty-eight years. The clergy, at that time, consisted of a
bishop, forty-six presbyters, seven deacons, as many sub-deacons,
forty-two acolytes, and fifty readers, exorcists, and porters.
The number of widows, of the infirm, and of the poor, who
were maintained by the oblations of the faithful, amounted to
fifteen hundred.170 From reason, as well as from the analogy
of Antioch, we may venture to estimate the Christians of Rome
at about fifty thousand. The populousness of that great capital
cannot, perhaps, be exactly ascertained; but the most modest
calculation will not surely reduce it lower than a million of
inhabitants, of whom the Christians might constitute at the
most a twentieth part.171 in Africa uui The western provincials appeared to have derived the knowprovincn ledge of Christianity from the same source which had diffused among them the language, the sentiments, and the manners ol Rome. In this more important circumstance, Africa, as well as Gaul, was gradually fashioned to the imitation of the capital. Yet, notwithstanding the many favourable occasions which might invite the Roman missionaries to visit their Latin provinces, it was late before they passed either the sea or the Alps ;17a nor can we discover in those great countries any assured traces either of faith or of persecution that ascend higher than the reign of the Antonines.173 The slow progress of the gospel in the cold climate of Gaul was extremely different from the eagerness with which it seems to have been received on the burning sands of Africa. The African Christians soon formed one of the principal members of the primitive church. The practice introduced into that province of appointing bishops to the most inconsiderable towns, and very frequently to the most obscure villages, contributed to multiply the splendour and importance of their religious societies, which during the course of the third century were animated by the zeal of Tertullian, directed by the abilities of Cyprian, and adorned by the eloquence of Lactantius. But if, on the contrary, we turn our eyes towards Gaul, we must content ourselves with discovering, in the time of Marcus Antoninus, the feeble and united congregations of Lyons and Vienna; and, even as late as the reign of Decius, we are assured that in a few cities only, Aries, Narbonne, Toulouse, Limoges, Clermont, Tours, and Paris, some scattered churches were supported by the devotion of a small number of Christians.174 Silence is indeed very consistent with devotion, but, as it is seldom compatible with zeal, we may perceive and lament the languid state of Christianity in those provinces which had exchanged the Celtic for the Latin tongue; since they did not, during the three first centuries, give birth to a single ecclesiastical writer. From Gaul, which claimed a just pre-eminence of learning and authority over all the countries on this side of the Alps, the light of the gospel was more faintly reflected on the remote provinces of Spain and Britain; and, if we may credit the vehement assertions of Tertullian, they had already received the first rays of the faith when he addressed his apology to the magistrates of the emperor Severus.176 But the obscure and imperfect origin of the western churches of Europe has been so negligently recorded that, if we would relate the time and manner of their foundation, we must supply the silence of antiquity by those legends which avarice or superstition long afterwards dictated to the monks in the lazy gloom of their convents.176 Of these holy romances, that of the apostle St. James can alone, by its single extravagance, deserve to be mentioned. From a peaceful fisherman of the lake of Gennesareth, he was transformed into a valorous knight, who charged at the head of the Spanish chivalry in their battles against the Moors. The gravest historians have celebrated his exploits; the miraculous shrine of Compostella displayed his power; and the sword of a military order, assisted by the terrors of the Inquisition, was sufficient to remove every objection of profane criticism.177
1B8 Ingens multitudo is the expression of Tacitus, xv. 44.
"•T. Liv. xxxix. 13, 15, 16, 17. Nothing could exceed the horror and consternation of the senate on the discovery of the Bacchanalians, whose depravity is described, and perhaps exaggerated, by Livy.
J"«Eusebius, 1. vi. c. 43. The Latin translator (M. de Valois) has thought Froper to reduce the number of presbyters to forty-four.
171 This proportion of the presbyters and of the poor to the rest of the people was originally fixed by Burnet (Travels into Italy, p. 168), and is approved by Moyle (vol. ii. p. 151). They were both unacquainted with the passage of Chrysostom, which converts their conjecture almost into a fact [see above, p. 59. Cp. App. 5 ].
172Senus trans Alpes, religione Dei suscepta. Sulpicius Severus, 1. ii. [32. ij. These were the celebrated martyrs of Lyons. See Eusebius, v. 1. Tillemont. Mem. Ecclesiast. torn. ii. p. 316. According to the Donatists, whose assertion is confirmed by the tacit acknowledgment of Augustin, Africa was the last of the provinces which received the gospel. Tillemont, Mem. Ecclesiast. torn. i. p. 75 (.
173Turn primum intra Gallias martyria visa. Sulp. Severus, L ii. [#.]. With regard to Africa, see Tertullian ad Scapulam, c 3. It is imagined that the Scyllitan martyrs were the first (Acta Sincera Ruinart. p. 34). One of the adversaries of Apuleius seems to have been a Christian. Apolog. p. 496, 497, edit. Delphin.
17i Rara; in aliquibus civitatibus ecclesire, paucorum Christianorum devotions, resurgerent. Acta Sincera, p. 13a Gregory of Tours, 1. i. c. 28. Mosheirn, p. 207, 449. There is some reason to believe that, in the beginning of the fourth century, the extensive dioceses of Liege, of Treves, and of Cologne composed a single bishopric, which had been very recently founded. See Memoires de Tillemont, torn. vi. part i. p. 43, 411. [Duchesne, Memoires sur 1'origine des dioceses episc. dans l'ancienne Gaule, 1890.]
The progress of Christianity was not confined to the Roman Beyond th. empire; and, according to the primitive fathers, who interpretBomif».' facts by prophecy, the new religion within a century after the death of its divine author, had already visited every part of the globe. "There exists not," says Justin Martyr, "a people, whether Greek or barbarian, or any other race of men, by whatsoever appellation or manners they may be distinguished, however ignorant of arts or agriculture, whether they dwell under
175 The date of Tertullian's Apology is fixed, in a dissertation of Mosheim. to the year 198. [197-8. His Ad Nationes, written either just before or just after, or partly before and partly after, the Apologeticum, covers the same ground briefly.]
m In the fifteenth century, there were few who had either inclination or courage to question, whether Joseph of Arimathea founded the monastery of Glastonbury, aid whether Dionysius the Areopagite preferred the residence of Paris to that of Athens.
m The stupendous metamorphosis was performed in the ninth century. See Mariana (Hist. Hispan. 1. vii. c. 13, torn. i. p. 285, edit. Hag. Com. 1733), who, m every sense, imitates Livy, and the honest detection of the legend of St. James by Dr. Geddes, Miscellanies, vol. ii. p. 331.
tents, or wander about in covered waggons, among whom prayers are not offered up in the name of a crucified Jesus to the Father and Creator of all things."178 But this splendid exaggeration, which even at present it would be extremely difficult to reconcile with the real state of mankind, can Inconsidered only as the rash sally of a devout but careless writer, the measure of whose belief was regulated by that of his wishes. But neither the belief nor the wishes of the fathers can alter the truth of history. It will still remain an undoubted fact, that the barbarians of Scythia and Germany who afterwards subverted the Roman monarchy were involved in the darkness of paganism; and that even the conversion of Iberia, of Armenia, or of Ethiopia, was not attempted with any degree of success till the sceptre was in the hands of an orthodox emperor.179 Before that time the various accidents of war and commerce might indeed diffuse an imperfect knowledge of the gospel among the tribes of Caledonia,180 and among the borderers of the Rhine, the Danube, and the Euphrates.181 Beyond the last-mentioned river, Edessa was distinguished by a firm and early adherence to the faith.182 From Edessa the principles of Christianity were easily introduced into the Greek and Syrian cities which obeyed the successors of Artaxerxes;
ire Justin Martyr, Dialog, cum Tryphon. p. 341. Irenaeus adv. Hasres. LLc. 10. Tcrtullian adv. Jud. c. 7. See Mosheim, p. 203.
•TMSee the fourth century of Mosheim's History of the Charch. Many, though very confused circumstances, that relate to the conversion of Iberia and Armenia, may be found in Moses of Chorene, 1. ii. c. 78—89. [Milman notes that Gibbon "had expressed his intention of withdrawing the words 'of Armenia,' from the text of future editions" (Vindication, Works, iv. 577). Christianity spread at an early time in Armenia, but its beginnings are enveloped in obscurity, and the traditions are largely legendary. The history of the Armenian church begins with Gregory Lusavoritch (Illuminator), consecrated bishop by Leontius of Cappadocia, to which see the Armenian bishopric was at first subject. The main source for Gregory is an early Life incorporated in the history of Tiridates by Agathangelus (translated by Langlois, Fr. Hist. Graec. vol. v.). See further Appendix 18. ]
180 According to Tertullian, the Christian faith had penetrated into parts of Britain inaccessible to the Roman arms. About a century afterwards, Ossian, the son of Fingal, is said to have disputed, in his extreme old age, with one of the foreign missionaries, and the dispute is still extant, in verse, and in the Erse language. See Mr. Macpherson's Dissertation on the Antiquity of Ossian's Poems, p. 10.
181 The Goths, who ravaged Asia in the reign of Gallienus, carried away great numbers of captives; some of whom were Christians, and became missionaries. See Tillemont, Meinoires Ecclesiast. torn. iv. p. 44.
188 The legend of Abgarus, fabulous as it is, affords a decisive proof that, many years before Eusebius wrote his history, the greatest part of the inhabitants of Edessa had embraced Christianity. Their rivals, the citizens of Carrhac, adhered, on the contrary, to the cause of Paganism, as late as the sixth century.