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MARTYRDOM OF SIMEON CLEOPHAS.
Of the letters of Ignatius there are extant two editions, a larger and a smaller one; but it is the opinion of the learned that the smaller is the genuine and the larger interpolated. I know that doubts have been entertained of the genuineness of both these editions—but Dr. Lardner, who has examined the subject with great care, inclines to the affirmative side of the question, and thinks the testimony of Irenæus, of Origen, and of Eusebius, all of whom have mentioned them, connected with the internal characters of great simplicity and piety, are evidence in their favour.
The time of writing these epistles is determined by that of his martyrdom ; for they were written after Ignatius was condemned to be cast to the wild beasts, and while he was going a prisoner from Antioch to Rome; but whether that took place in the year 107 or in 116 has been contested by the learned, though Lardner assigns reasons for believing the former to be the correct
About the same time that Ignatius suffered martyrdom, Simeon Cleophas, who had succeeded the apostle James as presbyter of the church originally gathered in Jerusalem, but which at the time of the destruction of that city removed to the small town of Pella, was accused before Atticus, the Roman governor, of being a Christian. He is said to have then been upwards of 100 years old, but his hoary hairs were no protection to him in the present instance. He underwent the punishment of scourging for several days; but, though his hardiness astonished, his sufferings failed to excite the pity of his persecutors, and he was at length crucified at Jerusalem. This state of things seems to have continued during the whole of the reign of the emperor Trajan ; for it does not appear that the edicts which were in force against the Christians, when he ascended the throne, were ever repealed or revoked during his life, which was closed in the year 117, while prosecuting his great military expedition into the east, having swayed the imperial sceptre nineteen years.
LECTURE X. :
State of the Christians under the Emperor Adrian-Apologies i of Quadratus and Aristides ---Candid appeal of Serenus
Granianus-- Adrian's Rescript addressed to Minutius Fundanus-State of the Jews under Adrian's Reign-Succession of Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius-Character of the former-His Instructions to the Town Council of Asia, &c.
Character of Marcus Aurelius–Martyrdom of Polycarp, Justin Martyr and his Apologies, Death, &c.-Persecution of
the Churches of Lyons and Vienne--Reflections on the Philo
sophic Character of Marcus Aurelius - Justin Martyr's Aca · count of the Social Practices of the Christians of his Age:i A. D. 117–180.
On the death of Trajan, the government of the Roman empire devolved upon Adrian, under whose reign the state of affairs, as regarded the Christians, was somewhat ameliorated. This emperor had decided that “these people were not to be officiously sought after,” according to the edict of his predecessors, which was now registered among the public acts of the empire; nevertheless, such as were accused and convicted of an obstinate adherence to this new religion—this “ execrable superstition,” as Pliny called it, were to be put to death as wicked citizens; nothing could avail them but a return to the religion of their forefathers.
According to Mr. Gibbon's testimony, Adrian was an excellent emperor, and under him “the empire flourished in peace and prosperity. He encouraged the arts, reformed the laws, asserted military discipline, and visited all his provinces in person. His vast and active genius was equally suited to the most enlarged views and the minute details of civil policy: but
CHARACTER OF THE EMPEROR ADRIAN.
the ruling passions of his soul were curiosity and vanity. As these prevailed, and as they were attracted by different objects, Adrian was, by turns, an excellent prince, a ridiculous sophist, and a jealous tyrant.” He began his reign A. D. 117, and swayed the sceptre one and twenty years, viz. to the year 138; we shall now briefly glance at the state of the friends of Christianity during this period.
In the sixth year of his reign, Adrian paid a visit to the city of Athens, where he was formally initiated in the Eleusinian mysteries. He is described by Tertullian as being in the highest degree curious and inquisitive. His knowledge, we are told, was various and extensive ; he had studied all the arts of magic; and was passionately fond of the rites and institutions of Paganism. At the time he visited Athens, there was a Christian church there, of which Quadratus was pastor, having succeeded Publius who suffered martyrdom either in this or the preceding reign. It seems probable that the church at Athens had undergone a severe persecution about this time; for we are informed that when Quadratus took the oversight of it he found the flock in a confused and dispersed state—their public assemblies were neglected, their zeal languished, and they were in danger of being entirely scattered. Quadratus laboured indefatigably to recover them, and he succeeded. Order and discipline were restored to such an extent that at a subsequent period, when Origen wrote his treatise against Celsus, which was about a century after, he refers to the church at Athens as exhibiting a notable pattern of good order, constancy, meekness, and quietness.
Quadratus drew up and presented to the emperor Adrian an apology for Christianity,* which is said to have been the first written apology tendered to any of the Roman emperors. It is described as containing evident marks of the writer's ability, and of the true apostolic doctrine; but only a valuable fragment of it now remains, and that relates to the Saviour's miracles. It was delivered to the emperor in the year 126, and, according to Jerome, it had a favourable effect : in
. * It may not be amiss to mention, in this place, that the word “ Apology,” as used by the primitive Fathers, invariably denotes a Vindication of what is right; not an oxcuse for something wrong.
deed, Eusebius intimates the same thing in his chronicle. Of the time and circumstances of the death of Quadratus we have no record ; but Eusebius, in his account of him, repeatedly mentions one “ Aristides, a faithful man of our religion, who left an apology for our faith as Quadratus did, addressed to Adrian ;” and he, moreover, informs us that this Aristides had been an Athenian philospher. Jerome also, in his book of illustrious men, confirms this account, with the addition of another circumstance, viz. that after his conversion he continued to wear his former habit of a philosopher. His words are, “ Aristides, à most eloquent Athenian philosopher, and, in his former habit, a disciple of Christ, presented to the emperor Adrian, at the same time with Quadratus, a book containing an account of our sect, that is, an Apology for the Christians,' which is still extant a monument with the learned of his ingenuity.” To our great regret there is nothing of the apology of Aristides now remaining
The learned Mosheim has remarked, concerning the period of which we are now treating, that such of the Christians as could conceal their profession were indeed sheltered under the law of Trajan, which was therefore a disagreeable restraint upon the Heathen priests, who breathed nothing but fury against the disciples of Jesus. The office of an accuser was also become dangerous, and very few were disposed to undertake it, which put the priests upon inventing new methods of oppressing the Christians. The law of Trajan was consequently artfully evaded under his successor Adrian. The populace, set in motion by their priests, demanded from the magistrates, with one voice, during the public games, the destruction of the Christians; and the magistrates, fearing that a sedition might be the consequence of despising or opposing these popular clamours, were too much disposed to indulge them in their request. During these commotions, Serenus Granianus, proconsul of Asia, represented to the emperor how barbarous and unjust it was to sacrifice, to the fury of a lawless multitude, persons who had been convicted of no crime. -- This seems to be the first instance upon record of any Roman governor publicly daring to question the propriety and justice of Trajan's edict, which, independently of any moral turpitude, inflicted the punishment of death on Christians, solely on account
RESCRIPT OF THE EMPEROR ADRIAN,
of their profession; but the remonstránce was not without effect. Adrian saw the propriety of the complaint, and his moderation in yielding to it has been attributed to the admirable apologies of Quadratus and Aristides, above mentioned ; which were every way proper to dispel the angry prejudices of a mind that had any sense of equity and humanity remaining. Serenus, at the time of writing his remonstrance, seems to have been on the eve of resigning his office; but Adrian addressed the following rescript to his successor :
TO MINUTIUS FUNDANUS. " I have received a Letter written to me by the very illustrious Serenus Granianus, whom you have succeeded. To me then the affair (concerning the Christians] seems by no means a fit one to be slightly passed over, that men may not be disturbed without cause, and that sycophants may not be encouraged in their odious practices. If the people of the province will appear publicly, and prefer open charges against the Christians, so as to afford them an opportunity of answering for themselves—let them proceed ; but in that manner only, and not by rude demands and mere clamour, For it is much more proper, if any person will accuse them, that you should take cognizance of these matters. If, therefore, any should accuse the Christians, and show that they actually break the laws, do you determine according to the nature of the crime. But, by Hercules ! if the charge be a mere calumny, do you estimate the enormity of such calumny, and punish it as it deserves.”
This rescript of the emperor Adrian, taken according to its obvious acceptation, would seem to cover the Christians from the fury of their enemies, inasmuch as it rendered them punishable on no other ground than the commission of crimes, and especially as the magistrates refused to interpret their religion as the crime mentioned in the Imperial edict: but we shall see that under the following reign their enemies adopted a new method of attack, viz. by accusing them of impiety and atheism. But, before we proceed to this, it may be proper to pause, and introduce a short notice of Jewish affairs.
Half a century had now elapsed since the city and temple of Jerusalem had fallen before the arms of the Romans; and during this interval the Jews continued to multiply wonderfully. Many