Peesecutioit nr Afhica. [ch. Xxxvii.

cribod to the memory of count Sebastian, who professed the Nicene creed with unshaken constancy; and Genseric might detest, as a heretic, the brave and ambitious fugitive whom he dreaded as a rival.* VI. A new mode of conversion, which might subdue the feeble, and alarm the timorous, was employed by the Arian ministers. They imposed, by fraud or violence, the rites of baptism; and punished the apostacy of the Catholics, if they disclaimed this odious and profane ceremony, which scandalously violated the freedom of the will, and the unity of the sacrament.f The hostile sects had formally allowed the validity of each other's baptism; and the innovation, so fiercely maintained by the Vandals, can be imputed only to the example and advice of the Donatists.

VII. The Arian clergy surpassed, in religious cruelty, the king and his Vandals; but they were incapable of cultivating the spiritual vineyard, which they were so desirous to possess. A patriarchy might seat himself on the throne of Carthage; some bishops, in the principal cities, might usurp the place of their rivals; but the smallness of their numbers, and their ignorance of the Latin language,§ disqualified the barbarians for the ecclesiastical ministry of a great church; and the Africans, after the loss of their orthodox pastors, were deprived of the public exercise of Christianity.

VIII. The emperors were the natural protectors of the Homoousian doctrine: and the faithful people of Africa, both as Romans and as Catholics, preferred their lawful sovereignty to the usurpation of the barbarous heretics. During an interval of peace and friendship, Hunneric restored the cathedral of Carthage, at the intercession of Zeno, who reigned in the east, and of Placidia, the daughter and relict of emperors, and the sister of the queen of the

* Victor,'', 6. p. 8, 9. After relating the firm resistance and dexterous reply of count Sebastian, he adds, quaro alio generis argumento postea bellicosum virum occidit.

+ Victor. 5. 12,13. Tillemont, Mem. Eccle"s. tom, vi, p. 609.

J Primate was more properly the title of the bishop of Carthage; but the name of patriarch was given by the sects and nations to their principal ecclesiastic. See Thomassin, Discipline de l'Eglise, tom, i, p. 155, 158. § The patriarch Cyrila himself publicly

declared, that he did not understand Latin (Victor, ii, IS, p. 42): Nescio Latine; and he might converse with tolerable ease, without being capable of disputing or preaching in that language. His Vandal clergy were still more ignorant; and small confidence could be placed

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Vandals.* But this decent regard was of short duration; and the haughty tyrant displayed his contempt for the religion of the empire, by studiously arranging the bloody images of persecution, iu all the principal streets through which the Roman ambassador must pass in his way to the palace.f An oath was required from the bishops, who were assembled at Carthage, that they would support the succession of his son Hilderic, and that they would renounce all foreign or transmarine correspondence. This engagement, consistent as it should seem with their moral and religious duties, was refused by the more sagacious members J of the assembly. Their refusal, faintly coloured by the pretence that it is unlawful for a Christian to swear, must provoke the suspicions of a jealous tyrant.

The Catholics, oppressed by royal and military force, were far superior to their adversaries in numbers and learning. With the same weapons which the Greek § and Latin fathers had already provided for the Arian controversy, they repeatedly silenced, or vanquished, the fierce and illiterate successors of TTlphilas. The consciousness of their own superiority might have raised them above the arts and passions of religious warfare. Yet, instead of assuming such honourable pride, the orthodox theologians were tempted, by the assurance of impunity, to compose fictions, which must be stigmatized with the epithets of fraud and forgery. They ascribed their own polemical works to . the most venerable names of Christian antiquity; the characters of Athanasius and Augustin were awkwardly personated by Vigilius and his disciples,^ and the famous creed, which so clearly ex

in the Africans who had conformed. * Victor. 2,1, 2, p. 22.

+ Victor. 5, 7, p. 77. He appeals to the ambassador himself, whose name was Uranius. % AsMiores, Victor. 4,4, p. 75. He

plainly intimates that their quotation of the Gospel, " Non jurabitis in toto," was only meant to elude the obligation of an inconvenient oath. The forty-six bishops who ref used were banished to Corsica; the three hundred and two who swore, were distributed through the provinces of Africa. § Fulgentius, bishop of Ruspse, in the Byzacene

province, was of a senatorial family, and had received a liberal education. Ho could repeat all Homer and Menander before he was allowed to study Latin, his native tongue. (Vit. Fulgent, c. 1.) Many African bishops might understand Greek, and many Greek theologians were translated into Latin. % Compare the two prefaces to

the Dialogue of Vigilius of Thapsus (p. 118, 119, edit , Chiflet). II*

VOL. IV. i



pounds the mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation, is deduced, with strong probability, from this African school.* Even the Scriptures themselves were profaned by their rash and sacrilegious hands. The memorable text, which asserts the unity of the Three who bear witness in heaven,t is condemned by the universal silence of the orthodox fathers, ancient versions, and authentic manuscripts.J It was first alleged by the Catholic bishops whom Hunneric summoned to the conference of Carthage.§ An allegorical interpretation, in the form, perhaps, of a marginal note, invaded the text of the Latin Bibles, which were renewed and corrected in a dark period of ten centuries.^f After the invention of

might amuse his learned reader with an innocent fiction ; but the subject was too grave, and the Africans were too ignorant.

* The P. Quesnel started this opinion, which has been favourably received. But the three following truths, however surprising they may seem, are now universally acknowledged. (Gerard Vossius, tom. vi, p. 516—522. Tillemont, Mem. Ecclgs. tom. viii, p. 667—671.) 1. St. Athanasius is not the author of the creed, which is so frequently read in our churches. 2. It does not appear to have existed within a century after his death. 3. It was originally composed in the Latin tongue, and, consequently, in the Western provinces. Gennadius, patriarch of Constantinople, was so much amazed by this extraordinary composition, that he frankly pronounced it to be the work of a drunken man. Petav. Dogmat. Theo'ogica, tom. ii,lib. 7, c. 8. p. 687.

11 John, v, 7. See Simon, Hist. Critique du Nouveau Testament, part 1, c. 18, p. 203—218, and part 2, c. 9, p. 99—121, and the elaborate Prolegomena and Annotations of Dr. Mill and Wetstein to their editions of the Greek Testament. In 1689, the Papist Simon strove to be free ; in 1707, the Protestant Mill wished to be a slave; in 1751, the Arminian Wetstein used the liberty of his times, and of his sect.

t Of all the MSS. now extant, above fourscore in number, some of which are more than twelve hundred years old (Wetstein ad loc.). The orthodox copies of the Vatican, of the Complutensian editors, of Robert Stephens, are become invisible; and the two MSS. of Dublin and Berlin. are unworthy to form an exception. See Emlyn's Works, vol. ii, p. 227—255, 269—299, and M. de Missy's four ingenious letters, in tom, viii and ix, of the Journal Britannique.

§ Or more properly, by the four bishops who composed and published the profession of faith in the name of their brethren. They style this text, luce clarius. (Victor Vitensis de Persecut. Vandal. lib. 3, c. 11, p. 54.) It is quoted soon afterwards by the African polemics, Vigilius and Fulgentius. U In the eleventh and twelfth

centuries, the Bibles were corrected by Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury, and by Nicolas, cardinal and librarian of the Roman church, secundum orthodoxam fidem. (Wetstein, Prolegom. p. 84, 85.) Not

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printing,* the editors of the Greek Testament yielded to their own prejudices, or to those of the times, f and the pious fraud, which was embraced with equal zeal at Rome and at Geneva, has been infinitely multiplied in every country and every language of modern Europe.

The example of fraud must excite suspicion; and the specious miracles by which the African Catholics have de fended the truth and justice of their cause, may be ascribed, with more reason, to their own industry, than to the visible protection of Heaven. Yet the historian, who views this religious conflict with an impartial eye, may condescend to mention one preternatural event, which will edify the devout, and surprise the incredulous. Tipasa,J a maritime colony of Mauritania, sixteen miles to the east of Cssarea, had been distinguished in every age, by the orthodox zeal of its inhabitants. They had braved the fury of the Donatists,§ they resisted, or eluded, the tyranny of the Arians. The town was deserted on the approach of an heretical bishop: most

withstanding these corrections, the passage is still wanting in twentyfive Latin MSS. (Wetstein, ad loc.) the oldest and the fairest; two qualities seldom united, except in manuscripts.

* The art which the Germans had invented was applied in Italy to the profane writers of Rome and Greece. The original Greek of the New Testament was published about the same time (a. D. 1514, 1516, 1520) by the industry of Erasmus, and the munificence of cardinal Ximenes. The Complutensian Polyglot cost the cardinal fifty thousand ducats. See Maittaire, Annal. Typograph. tom. ii, p. 2—8, 125—-133, and Wetstein, Prolegomena, p. 116—127.

+ The three witnesses have been established in ourGreek Testaments by the prudence of Erasmus; the honest bigotry of the Complutensian editors; the typographical fraud, or error, of Robert Stephens, in the placing a crotchet; and the deliberate falsehood, or strange misapprehension, of Theodore Beza. [In his edition of the New Testament, in 1539, Robert Stephens made a parenthesis of the passage " in heaven—on earth,'' to indicate that it was not to be found in the Latin manuscript; but in the edition of 1550, only the words "in heaven" are placed between brackets as suspicious, instead of the whole passage, as it ought to have been.—Germ. Edit.] [Any further observations on this subject are rendered unnecessary by Porson's Letters to Travis, which completely establish Gibbon's position, that the verse respecting the "three witnesses" was the interpolation of a later age.- Ed.]

X Plin. Hist. Natural. 5,1. Itinerar. Wesseliug, p. 15. Cellarius, Geograph. Antiq. tom. ii, part. 2, p. 127. This Tipasa (which must not be confounded with another in Numidia) was a town of some note, since Vespasian endowed it with the right of Latiuni.

§ Optatus Milevitanus de Schism. Donatist. lib. 2, p. 38.



of the inhabitants who could procure ships passed over to the coast of Spain; and the unhappy remnant, refusing all communion with the usurper, still presumed to hold their pious, but illegal assemblies. Their disobedience exasperated

from Carthage to Tipasa: he collected the Catholics in the Forum, and, in the presence of the whole province, deprived the guilty of their right hands and their tongues. But the holy confessors continued to speak without tongues; and this miracle is attested by Victor, an African bishop, who published a history of the persecution within two years after the event.* "If any one," says Victor, "should doubt of the truth, let him repair to Constantinople, and listen to the clear and perfect language of Restitutus, the sub-deacon, one of these glorious sufferers, who is now lodged in the palace of the emperor Zeno, and is respected by the devout empress." At Constantinople we are astonished to find a cool, a learned, and unexceptionable witness, without interest, and without passion. jEneas of Gaza, a Platonic philosopher, has accurately described his own observations on these African sunerers. "I saw them myself: I heard them speak; I diligently inquired by what means such an articulate voice could be formed without any organ of speech: I used my eyes to examine the report of my ears: I opened their mouth, and saw that the whole tongue had been completely torn away by the roots; an operation which the physicians generally suppose to be mortal, "f The testimony of iEneas of Gaza might be confirmed by the superfluous evidence of the emperor Justinian, in a perpetual edict; of count Marcellinus, in his chronicle of the times; and of pope Gregory I. who had resided at Constantinople, as the minister of the ltoman pontifF.J They all lived within the

* Victor Vitensis, 5, 6, p. 76. Ruinart, p. 483—487. + iEneas Gazseus in Theophrasto, in Biblioth. Patrum, tom. viii. p. 664, 665. He was a Christian, and composed this Dialogue (the Theophrastus) on the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection of the body: besides twenty-five epistles still extant. See Cave (Hist. Litteraria, p. 297) and Fabricius (Bibl. Grsec. tom. i,

Mareellin. in Chron. p. 45, in Thesaur. Temporum Scaliger. Procopins, de Bell. Vandal. lib. 1, c. 7, p. 196. Gregor. Magnus, Dialog. 3, 32. None of these witnesses have specified the number of the confessors, which is fixed at sixty m an old menology (apud Ruinart, p. 486). Two of them lost their speech by fornication; but the miracle is


A military count was dispatched

p. 422.)

J Justinian, Codex, lib. 1, tit. 27.

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