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retired to Nicomedia, rather with the view of gaining some time for negotiation, than with the hope of any effectual defence. Constantia, his wife, and the sister of Constantine, interceded with her brother in favor of her husband, and obtained from his policy, rather than from his compassion, a solemn promise, confirmed by an oath, that after the sacrifice of Martinianus, and the resignation of the purple, Licinius himself should be permitted to pass the remainder of his life in peace and affluence. The behavior of Constantia, and her relation to the contending parties, naturally recalls the remembrance of that virtuous matron who was the sister of Augustus, and the wife of Antony. But the temper of mankind was altered, and it was no longer esteemed infamous for a Roman to survive his honor and independence. Licinius solicited and accepted the pardon of his offences, laid himself and his purple at the feet of his lord and master, was raised from the ground with insulting pity, was admitted the same day to the Imperial banquet, and soon afterwards was sent away to Thessalonica, which had been chosen for the place of his confinement.111 His confinement was soon terminated by death, and it is doubtful whether a tumult of the soldiers, or a decree of the senate, was suggested as the motive for his execution. According to the rules of tyranny, he was accused of forming a conspiracy, and of holding a treasonable correspondence with the barbarians; but as he was never convicted, either by his own conduct or by any legal evidence, we may perhaps be allowed, from his weakness, to presume his innocence.118 The memory of Licinius was branded with infamy, his statues were thrown down, and by a hasty edict, of such mischievous tendency that it was almost immediately corrected, all his laws, and all the judicial proceedings of his reign, were at once abolished.113 By this victory of Constantine, the Ro
ment (p. 714) mentions a body of Gothic auxiliaries, under their chief Aliquaca, who adhered to the party of Licinius.
Zosimus, 1. ii. p. 102. Victor Junior in Epitome. Anonym. Valesian. p. 714.
x* Contra rcligionem sacramenti Thessalonicae privatus occisus est. Eutropius, x. 6 ; and his evidence is confirmed by Jerome (in Chronic.) as well as by Zosimus, 1. ii. p. 102. The Valesian writer is the only one who mentions the soldiers, and it is Zonaras alone who calls in the assistance of the senate. Eusebius prudently slides over this delicate transaction. But Sozomen, a century afterwards, ventures to assert the treasonable practices of Licinius.
See the Theodosian Code, 1. xv. tit. 15, torn. v. p. 404, 405 man world was again united under the authority of one emperor, thirty-seven years after Diocletian had divided his power and provinces with his associate Maximian.
The successive steps of the elevation of Constantine, from his first assuming the purple at York, to the resignation of Licinius, at Nicomedia, have been related with some minuteness and precision, not only as the events are in themselves both interesting and important, but still more, as they contributed to the decline of the empire by the expense of blood and treasure, and by the perpetual increase, as well of the taxes, as of the military establishment. The foundation of Constantinople, and the establishment of the Christian religion, were the immediate and memorable consequences of this revolution.
These edicts of Constantine betray a degree of passion and preoijiUncy very unbecoming the character of a lawgiver.
'HE PROGRESS OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, AND THE SENTIMENTS, MANNERS, NUMBERS, AND CONDITION OF THE PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANS.*
A Candid but rational inquiry into the progress and estabhshment of Christianity may be considered as a very essential port of the history of the Roman empire. While that .great body was invaded by open violence, or undermined by slow decay, a pure and humble religion gently insinuated itself into the minds of men, grew up in silence and obscurity, derived new vigor from opposition, and finally erected the triumphant banner of the Cross on the ruins of the Capitol. Nor was the influence of Christianity confined to the period or to the limits of the Roman empire. After a revolution of 'hirteen or fourteen centuries, that religion is still professed by he nations of Europe, the most distinguished portion of human Kind in arts and learning as well as in arms. By the industry und zeal of the Europeans, it has been widely diffused to the most distant shores of Asia and Africa; and by the means of their colonies has been firmly established from Canada to Chih, in a woricf unknown to the ancients.
But this inquiry, however usoful or entertaining, is attended with two peculiar difficulties. The scanty and suspicious materials of ecclesiastical history seldom enable us to dispel the dark cloud that hangs over the first age of the church. The great law of impartiality too often obliges us to reveal the imperfections of the uninspired teachers and believers of the gospel; and, to a careless observer, their faults may seem to cast a shade on the faith which they professed. But the scandal of the pious Christian, and the fallacious triumph of
* In spite of my resolution, Lardner led me to look through the famous fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of Gibbon. I could not lay them down without finishing them. The causes assigned, in the fifteenth chapter, for the diffusion of Christianity, must, no doubt, have contributed to it materially; but I doubt whether he saw them all. Perhaps those which be enumerates are among the most obvious. They might all be safely adopted by a Christian writer, with some change in the language and manner. ilackint-Mh; tte Life, i. p. 214. — M
thc Infidel, should cease as soon as they recollect not onlv by whom, but likewise to whom, the Divine Revelation was given. The theologian may indulge the pleasing task of describing Religion as she descended from Heaven, arrayed in her native purity. A more melancholy duty is imposed on the historian. He must discover the inevitable mixture of error and corruption, which she contracted in a long residence upon earth, among a weak and degenerate race of beings.*
Our curiosity is naturally prompted to inquire by what means the Christian faith obtained so remarkable a victory over the established religions of the earth. • To this inquiry, an obvious but satisfactory answer may be returned; that it was owing to the convincing evidence of the doctrine itself, and to the ruling providence of its great Author. But as truth and reason seldom find so favorable a reception in the world, and as the wisdom of Providence frequently condescends to use the passions of the human heart, and the general circumstances of mankind, as instruments to execute its purpose, we may still be permitted, though with becoming submission, to ask, not indeed what were the first, but what were the secondary causes of the rapid growth of the Christian church. It will, perhaps, appear, that it was most effectually favored and assisted by the five following causes: I. The inflexible, and, if we may use the expression, the intolerant zeal of the Christians, derived, it is true, from the Jewish religion, but purified from the narrow and unsocial spirit, which, instead of inviting, had deterred the Gentiles from embracing the law of Moses.t II. The doctrine of a future life, improved by every additional circumstance which could
* The art of Gibbon, or at least the unfair impression produced by these two memorable chapters, consists in confounding together, in one undistinguishable mass, the origin and apostolic propagation of the Christian religion with its later progress. The main question, the divine origin of the religion. is dexterously eluded or speciously conceded; his plan enables nim to commence his account, in most parts, below the apostolic times; and it is onlv by the strength of the dark coloring with which he has brought out the failings and the follies of succeeding ages, that a shadow of doubt and suspicion is thrown back on the primitive period of Christianity. Divest this whole passage of the latent sarcasm betrayed by the subsequent tone of the whole disquisition, and it might commence a Christian histon, written in the most Christian spirit of candor. — M.
* Though we are thus far agreed with respect to the inflexibility and intolerance of Christian zeal, yet, as to the principle from which it was derived, we are, toto caelo, divided in opinion. You deduce it from the Jewish religion; I would refer it to a more adequate and a more obvious source, a full persuasion of the truth of Christianity Watson, Letltrs to • Gibbon, i. 9. — M.
Vol. i. 43
give weight and efficacy to that important truth. Ill The miraculous powers ascribed to the primitive church. IV. The pure and austere morals of the Christians. V. The uuion and discipline of the Christian republic, which gradually formed an independent and increasing state in the heart of the Roman empire.
I. We have already described the religious harmony of the ancient world, and the facility* with which the most different
* This facility has not always preTented intolerance, which seems inherent in the religious spirit, when armed with authority. The separation of the ecclesiastical and civil power, appears to be the only means of at once maintaining religion and tolerance: but this is a very modern notion. The passions, which mingle themselves with opinions, made the Pagans very often intolerant and persecutors; witness the Persians, the Egyptians even the Greeks and Romans.
1st. The Persians. — Cambyses, conqueror of the Egyptians, condemned to death the magistrates of Memphis, because they nad offered divine honors to their god, Apis: he caused the god to be brought before him, struck him with nis dagger, commanded the priests to be scourged, and ordered a general massacre of all the Egyptians who should be found celebrating the festival of Apis: he causea all the statues of the gods to be burnt. Not content with this intolerance, he sent an army to reduce the Ammonians to slavery, and to set on fire the temple in which Jupiter delivered his oracles. See Herod. iii. 25—29, 37
Xerxes, during his invasion of Greece. acted on the same principles: he destroved all the temples of Greece and Ionia, except that of Ephesus. See Paus. 1. vii. p. 533, and x. p. 887. Strabo, 1 . xiv. p. 941.
2d. The Egyptian*.—They thought themselves defiled when they had drunk from the same cup or eaten at the same table with a man of a different belief from their own. "He who has voluntarily killed any sacred animal is punished with death; but if any one, even involuntarily, has killed a cat or an ibis, he cannot escape the extreme penalty: the people drag him away, treat him in the most cruel manner, sometimes without waiting for a judicial sentence. * * * Even at the time when King Ptolemv was not yet the acknowledged friend of the Roman people, while the multitude were paying couat with all possible attention to the strangers who came from Italy * * a Roman having killed a cat. the people rushed to his house, and neither the entreaties of the nobles, whom tne king sent to them, nor the terror of the Roman name, were sufficiently powerful to rescue the man from punishment, though he had committed the crime involuntarily." Diod. Sic. i. 83. Juvenal, in his 13th Satire. describes the sanguinary conflict between the inhabitants of Ombos and of Tentyra, from religious animosity. The fury was carried so far, that the conquerors toie and devoured the quivering limbs of the conquered.
Anti t arihuc Ombos c Tentyra, summits utrinque
3d. The Grtek*. — " Let us not here," says the Abbe Guenee. " refer to the cities of Peloponnesus and their severity against atheism; the Epheaians prosecuting Ilcraelitus for impiety; the Greeks armed one against the other by religious zeal, in the Amphictyonic war. Let us say nothing either of the frightful cruelties inflicted by three successors of Alexander upon the Jews, to force them to abandon their religion. nor of Antiochof rxpelling the philosophers from his states. Let us not seek our proofs of