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sàcrificing his subjects to the gratification of his passions and his own personal vanity. In the front rank of his apologists stands his friend and biographer, Eusebius, who fails not to place the character of his hero in the most favorable light, and exto! ** him as a pious and devout christian. In the variety of opinions with regard to his character, the remarks of Lardner, appear to us perfectly judicious; "it is next to impossible," says he, "for human wisdom and discretion, in the course of many years filled with action, not to be surprised into some injustice, through the bias of affection, or the specious suggestions of artful and designing people. Though, therefore, there may have been some others that must be condemned, yet we are not to consider Constantine as a cruel prince or a bad man.”

During the reign of Constantine general literature made but little progress; it required more than ordinary encouragement and exertions to recover from the blow it received after the accession of Commodus. Constantine having declared christianity to be the religion of the empire, the schools of the pagans were closed, and among the christians there was not learning enough to supply their place: hence it rapidly declined, and, in a short time, the christian world presented little more than incoherent treatises on controverted points of doctrine, to procure the parchment for which, many of the most celebrated productions of ancient genius were erased, to the great loss of future ages. The greater number of the bishops and presbyters were entirely destitute of all learning and education, and inculcated the idea that all sorts of erudition, were pernicious to true piety and religion.*

The influence of christianity upon learning, or rather the influence of its professors, in this and aster ages, was very different from what appears to us to be its natural and obvious tendency, namely, to encourage learning and science, and whatever is connected with them, that by enlightening the mind, truth may dispel error, virtue triumph over vice, and universal charity unite all men, in the benevolent purpose of promoting each others’ happiness. It is an observation confirmed by experience, that wherever the christian doctrines, pure and undefiled by the errors of superstition, exercise an influence, the mind of man ex

Mosheim's Ecc. Hist. vol. 1.

pands; new sources of information open before him, and he grasps with avidity at whatever seems calculated to enlarge and improve his faculties, and fit him in a greater degree, for the active and useful purposes of life. His mental energies are not called into action, for the sole purpose of supporting the opinions of one particular sect, to which he may be attached, to the exclusion of every other object. He walks abroad, and contemplating the wide expanse of nature's works, and how equally the allwise and benevolent Creator has dispensed his blessings, he feels none of the spirit of persecution, but a generous and liberal disposition towards all. It was not so during the period ander review.. Christianity had been persecuted for three centuries with the most rancorous violence-its professors had been exposed to every indignity, and the most cruel and horrid punishments were inflicted upon those unfortunate and unhappy beings who had the bardihood to profess christianity, in opposition to the decrees of the ruling powers. When, however, christianity became the dominant religion, and christian princes wielded the sceptre, the pagans were persecuted in their turn; “the gods of Rome were publicly insulted; their statues broken and their worshippers oppressed. The thunder of penal laws was pointed against the ancient rites; it was made capital to offer sacrifices which had formerly been enjoined by law; the altar of victory, that altar so dear to the nation, was demolished before the eyes of the senate, and every pagan, every man who did not conform to the christian creed, was excluded from all employments, civil and military.” In this disastrous state of the empire, torn to pieces by civil and religious dissensions, the seminaries of learning came in for their full share of affliction, particularly such as were under the direction of pagan teachers, and in which something like a literary taste and spirit still existed. The pagan schools being closed, schools were opened in their stead under ignorant monks, or inferior clergy, in which little was taught, that could enlighten the mind or improve the understanding, bem. cause the superior clergy, whose influence was already great, found it very convenient to suppress all kinds of learning except among their own body.

With the exception of a few writers who attained some distinction, the learning of the times was chiefly directed against the supporters of Arian heresy, Arius. the father of this heresy.


was a presbyter of Alexandria, of more than usual learning and > eloquence; he possessed a bold and daring spirit, and his natural talents had been greatly improved by the frequent controversies in wbich he had been engaged. Arius maintained, in an assembly of presbyters at Alexandria, that the Son was essentially different from the Father; that there was a time hid in the depths of eternity, when he did not exist; that he was a creature brought into being by the will of the Supreme God; that although a created being, inferior and subordinate to the Father, he was the framer of the world, and governed the universe as the representative of the eternal and unchangeable divinity. These doctrines were making such rapid advances in the public mind, that they excited the attention of Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, who publicly excommunicated Arius and his follor

Arius retired to Palestine, where he found a protector in Eusebius, bishop of Cæsaria. The contest still continued, and at length reached such a height, that sober argument was abandoned, and, in its stead, every epithet that malignant and fiery zeal could employ, was used on both sides. Constantine, in order to heal the breach, first wrote to the bishop of Alexandria

and to Arius, exhorting them to cease quarrelling, and restore & peace to the church, but, finding his exhortations of no avail, he

summoned a general council A. D. 325, at Nice, a city of Bythinia. This celebrated council consisted of two thousand ecclesiastics, from all parts of the christian world, amongst whom were three hundred and eighteen bishops. In this council Constantine presided in person, but neither his presence or authority could prevent the most indecent and disgraceful contests among the fathers of the council, who appear to have thought, that the principal object of this great convocation was, to adjust their own private disputes, and not the important question that brought them together. At length, by the exertions and influence of the emperor, the council was brought to consider the main question, and decided against the doctrines of Arius, and ordered his books to be burnt and himself banished to Illyria. His followers were compelled to give their assent to a creed composed and adopted by the council, which, of course, essentially differ. ed from the doctrines he taught, and Constantine ordered all those who should conceal any of the works of Arius to be put to death, even without the form of trial, but at the same time, with

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singular inconsistency, permitted the great author of the heresy to live.

Among the few writers worthy of notice in the reign of Con. stantine, the most distinguished were Lanctantius and Eusebius. -Lanctantius was born at Firmium, a town of Italy, from whence. he received the sirname of Firmianus. There is but little known of his family, or of his early life. At Rome he attracted the notice of Dioclesian, as a rhetorician, and was by him selected to teach rhetoric in Nicomedia, where he continued some time after the persecution of the christians under Dioclesian. caped the fate which threatened bim, but whether by the speciał favor of the emperor, or by his own ingenuity, is not known. On the accession of Constantine, whien christianity became the religion of the empire, and the persecution of the christians had ceased, Lanctantius was appointed to teach Crispus, the son of Constantino, the Latin language. He was a voluminous writer, and his pen was principally employed in defence of the christian religion, or on subjects immediately connected therewith, which were calculated to display its superiority over the institutions of paganism. His works are written with greater purity, and discover more erudition, than was usual in his age. His principal works are, “On the works of God," and "Divine Institutions." In the first he treats of the magnificent works of the Creator, and his “Divine Institutions," is an able defence of christianity against the attacks of the pagans. On account of the eloquence of his style, he was called the “Christian Cicero."

Eusebius was born in Palestine, in the city of Cæsaria. He was ordained a presbyter at an early age, and taught a school in bis native city with considerable reputation. During the persecution of the christians under Dioclesian, he first removed to Tyre and then retired to Egypt, where he was imprisoned, but in a short time was released. When the persecution ceased he returned to Palestine, and was elected bishop of Cæsaria. He was a distinguished member of the celebrated council of Nice A. D. 325, and opened the proceedings by an address to the emperor. He was also a prominent member of subsequent councils, and although he favored the Arians, he was honored with particular marks of the regard of Constantine. He died about the year A. D. 340. Eusebius was one of the most learned men of his time, and was not only remarkable for his extraor


dinary and critical knowledge of the scriptures, but was even
distinguished for his acquirements in general literature. He
was a voluminous writer, but “his language," says a learned cri-
tic of modern times, "is neither elegant nor perspicuous; and
"where it aims at elegance and sublimity, it is usually turgid and "-
perplexed." The most valuable of his works extant, and, per-
haps the most valuable of any he wrote or published, is his "Ec-
clesiastical History,” which contains the history of the church
from the birth of Christ to the death of Licinius, a period of 324
years, and furnishes the principal information we possess con-
cerning the first ages of christianity.

About the time of Constantine flourished Ossian, the bard of Morven, one of Caledonia's most celebrated bards, and who is justly entitled to a conspicuous place in the history of literature. Few poets of ancient or modern times surpass this "son of the mist,” in the chief requisites of a poet; in energy and boldness of language, sublimity of style and grandeur of imagery. Oppressed as polite literature was, under Commodus and his successors, the stuneful nine” seem to have fled the mild and genial climates of Greece and Rome, and taken refuge among the mountains of the north; and amidst the dearth of political talent in the south of Europe, it is grateful and refreshing to listen to the notes of the minstrel, resounding among Caledonia's cloud.

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Ossian was the eldest son of Fingal, king of Morven, whose dominions lay among the mountains in the west of Scotland. Fingal was celebrated as a warrior amongst the warlike chieftains of his time; she was terrible as the spirit of Trenmor, when in a whirlwind he comes to Morven to see the children of his pride; he was like a dark and stormy cloud, edged round with the lightning of heaven.” Early in life Ossian married Everallin, the “dark haired” daughter of Branno, one of the many kings who then ruled in Ireland; by her he had one son, Oscar, afterwards distinguished as a warrior, and who was killed in battle with Cairbar, king of Ireland. In the fourth book of Fingal, he speaks of his courtship of Everallin. To her he appears to have been tenderly attached, and frequently alludes to her in his poems. Everallin died in giving birth to Oscar, and it does not appear that Ossian ever married again. At the period, and in the country, of which we are now speaking, it was not

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