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    THESE things before premised, having thus hitherto prepared the way unto our story, let us now (by the grace and speed of Christ our Lord) enter into the matter: that as we have heretofore set forth, in a general description, the whole state as well of the primitive as of the latter times of this church of Rome, so now consequently, we may discourse, in particular sort, the acts and doings of every age, by itself, in such order as is before prefixed: declaring a22 — First , a22 of the suffering time of the church, which containeth about the time of three hundred years after Christ.

    Secondly , a22 of the flourishing and growing time of the same, containing other three hundred years.

    Thirdly , of the declining time of the church and of true religion, other three hundred years.

    Fourthly , of. the time of Antichrist, reigning and raging in the church, since the loosing of Satan.

    Lastly , of the reforming time of Christ’s church, in these latter three hundred years.

    In the tractation of all which things our chief purpose and endeavour shall be (so near as the Lord will give us grace), not so much to intermeddle with outward affairs of princes or matters civil (except sometimes for example of life), as specially minding, by the help of the Lord, to prosecute such things as to the ecclesiastical state of the church are appertaining: as first, to treat of the establishing of christian faith: then, of the persecutions of tyrants; the constancy and patience of God’s saints; the first conversion of christian realms to the faith of Christ (namely of this realm of England and Scotland, first beginning with king Lucius; and so forward, following the order of our English kings here in this land): lastly, to declare the maintenance of true doctrine, the false practice of prelates, the creeping in of superstition and hypocrisy, the manifold assaults, wars, and tumults of the princes of this world against the people of God. Wherein may appear the wonderful operation of Christ’s mighty hand, ever working in his church, and never ceasing to defend the same against his enemies, according to the verity of his own word, wherein he promised to be with his church while the world shall stand, as, by the process of this story, may well be proved, and will be testified in the sequel thereof.

    In the tractation of all which things two special points I chiefly commend to the reader, as most requisite and necessary for every christian man to observe and to note, for his own experience and profit; as, first, the disposition and nature of this world; secondly, the nature and condition of the kingdom of Christ; the vanity of the one, and stableness of the other; the unprosperous and unquiet state of the one, ruled by man’s violence and wisdom, and the happy success of the other, ever ruled by God’s blessing and providence; the wrath and revenging hand of God on the one, and his mercy on the other. The world, I call all such as be without or against Christ, either by ignorance not knowing him, or by heathenish life not following him, or by violence resisting him. On the other side, the kingdom of Christ in this world, I take to be all them which belong to the faith of Christ, and here take his part in this world against the world; the number of whom although it be much smaller than the other, and always, lightly, is hated and molested of the world, yet it is the number which the Lord peculiarly doth bless and prosper, and ever will. And this number of Christ’s subjects is it, which we call the visible church here in earth; which visible church, having in itself a difference of two sorts of people, so is it to be divided into two parts, of which the one standeth of such as be of outward profession only, the other of such as by election inwardly are joined to Christ: the first in words and lips seem to honor Christ, and are in the visible church only, but not in the church invisible, and partake the outward sacraments of Christ, but not the inward blessing of Christ. The other are both in the visible, and also in the invisible church of Christ, which not in words only and outward profession, but also in heart do truly serve and honor Christ, partaking not only the sacraments, but also the heavenly blessings and grace of Christ.

    And many times it happeneth, that as between the world and the kingdom of Christ there is a continual repugnance, so between these two parts of this visible church aforesaid ofttimes groweth great variance and mortal persecution, insomuch that sometimes the true church of Christ hath no greater enemies than those of their own profession and company; as happened not only in the time of Christ and his apostles, but also from time to time almost ever since; but especially in these latter days of the church under the persecution of Antichrist and his retinue; as by the reading of these volumes more manifestly hereafter may appear.

    At the first preaching of Christ, and coming of the gospel, who should rather have known and received him than the Pharisees and Scribes of that people which had his law? and yet who persecuted and rejected him more than they themselves? What followed? They, in refusing Christ to be their king, and choosing rather to be subject unto Caesar, were by the said their own Caesar at length destroyed; whereas Christ’s subjects the same time escaped the danger. Whereby it is to be learned, what a dangerous thing, it is to refuse the gospel of God, when it is so gently offered.

    The like example of God’s wrathful punishment is to be noted no less in the Romans also themselves. For when Tiberius Caesar, having learnt by letters from Pontius Pilate of the doings of Christ, of his miracles, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, and how he was received as God of many, was himself also moved with belief of the same, and did confer thereon with the whole senate of Rome, [and proposed] to have Christ adored as God; they, not agreeing thereunto, refused him, because that, contrary to the law of the Romans, he was consecrated (said they) for God, before the senate of Rome had so decreed and approved him. F847 Thus the vain senate (following rather the law of man than of God, and being contented with the emperor to reign over them, and not contented with the meek King of glory, the Son of God, to be their king) were, after much like sort with the Jews, scourged and entrapped for their unjust refusing, by the same way which they themselves did prefer. For as they preferred the emperor, and rejected Christ, so the just permission of God did stir up their own emperors against them in such sort, that both the senators themselves were almost all destroyed, and the whole city most horribly afflicted for the space almost of three hundred years together. For first, the same Tiberius, who, for a great part of his reign, was a moderate and a tolerable prince, afterward was to them a sharp and heavy tyrant, who neither favored his own mother [Livia], nor spared his nephews f848 [Drusus and Nero], nor the princes of the city, such as were his own counsellors, of whom, being of the number of twenty, he left not past two or three alive; and so cruel was he to the citizens, that, as the story f849 recordeth, “Nullus a poena hominum cessabat dies, ne religiosus quidem ac sacer.” Suetonius reporteth him to be so stern of nature, and tyrannical, that, in time of his reign, very many were accused, and condemned, with their wives and children; maids also first deflowered, then put to death. In one day he recordeth twenty persons to be drawn to the place of execution. F850 By whom also, through the just punishment of God, Pilate, under whom Christ was crucified, was apprehended and sent to Rome, [where he was accused before Caligula,] deposed, then banished to the town of Vienne in Dauphiny, and at length did slay himself. f853 Neither did Herod and Caiaphas long escape, of whom more followeth hereafter. Agrippa the elder, also, by him was cast into prison, albeit afterward he was restored. F854 In the reign of Tiberius, the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, in the four-and-thirtieth year of his age, which was the sixteenth of this emperor, by the malice of the Jews suffered his blessed passion for the conquering of sin, death, and Satan the prince of this world, and rose again the third day. After whose blessed passion and resurrection, this aforesaid Tiberius Claudius Nero (otherwise [for his wine-bibbing], called Biberius Caldius Mero ) lived seven years, during which time no persecution was yet stirring in Rome against the christians, through the commandment of the emperor.

    In the reign also of this emperor, and the year which was the next after the passion of our Savior, or somewhat more, St. Paul was converted to the faith.

    After the death of Tiberius, when he had reigned three-and-twenty years, succeeded C. Caesar Caligula, Claudius Nero, and Domitius Nero: which three were likewise such scourges to the senate and people of Rome, that the first not only took other men’s wives violently from them, but also deflowered three of his own sisters, and afterward banished them. So wicked he was, that he commanded himself to be worshipped as god, and temples to be erected in his name, and used to sit in the temple among the gods, requiring his images to be set up in all temples, and also in the temple of Jerusalem; which caused great disturbance among the Jews, and then began the abomination of desolation spoken of in the gospel to be set up in the holy place. His cruelty of disposition, or else displeasure towards the Romans, was such that he wished that all the people of Rome had but one neck, that he, at his pleasure, might destroy such a multitude. By this said Caligula, Herod Antipas, the murderer of John Baptist and condemner of Christ, was condemned to perpetual banishment, where he died miserably.

    F857 Caiaphas also, who wickedly sat upon Christ, was the same time removed from the high priest’s room, and Jonathan set in his place. The raging fierceness of this Caligula, incensed against the Romans, had not thus ceased, had not he been cut off by the hands of a tribune and other gentlemen, who slew him in the fourth year of his reign. After whose death were found in his closet two small books, one called the Sword, the other the Dagger: in which books or libels were contained the names of those senators and noblemen of Rome, whom he had purposed to put to death.

    Besides this Sword and Dagger, there was found also a coffer, wherein divers kinds of poisons were kept in glasses and vessels, for the purpose of destroying a wonderful number of people; which poisons, afterward being thrown into the sea, destroyed a great number of fish. F858 But that which this Caligula had only conceived, the same did the other two, which came after, bring to pass; namely, Claudius Nero, who reigned thirteen years with no little cruelty; but especially the third of these Neros, called Domitius Nero, who, succeeding after Claudius, reigned fourteen years, with such fury and tyranny, that he slew the most part of the senators, and destroyed the whole order of knighthood in Rome. F859 So prodigious a monster of nature was he (more like a beast, yea rather a devil, than a man), that he seemed to be born to the destruction of men.

    Such was his monstrous uncleanness, that he abstained not from his own mother, his natural sister, nor from any degree of kindred. Such was his wretched cruelty, that he caused to be put to death his mother, his brotherin- law, his sister, his wife great with child, all his instructors, Seneca and Lucan, with divers more of his own kindred and consanguinity. Moreover, he commanded Rome to be set on fire in twelve places, and so continued it six days and seven nights in burning, while that he, to see the example how Troy burned, sung the verses of Homer. And to avoid the infamy thereof, he laid the fault upon the christian men, and caused them to be persecuted. And so continued this miserable emperor in his reign fourteen years, till at last the senate, proclaiming him a public enemy unto mankind, condemned him to be drawn through the city, and to be whipped to death; for the fear whereof, he, flying the hands of his enemies, in the night fled to a manor of his servant’s in the country, where he was forced to slay himself, complaining that he had then neither friend nor enemy left, that would do so much for him. In the latter end of this Domitius Nero, Peter and Paul were put to death for the testimony and faith of Christ, A.D. 67.

    F861 Thus ye see, which is worthy to be marked, how the just scourge and heavy indignation of God from time to time ever follow, and how all things there go to ruin, neither doth any thing well prosper, where Christ Jesus, the Son of God, is contemned, and not received; as may appear, both by these examples of the Romans — who not only were thus consumed and plagued by their own emperors, but also by civil wars (whereof three happened in two years at Rome, after the death of Nero) and other casualties (as in Suetonius is testified); so that in the days of Tiberius aforesaid, five thousand Romans were hurt and slain at one time by the fall of a theater — and also most especially by the destruction of the Jews, who about this same time in the year threescore and ten, and about forty years after the passion of Christ, and the third year after the suffering of St. Peter and Paul, were destroyed by Titus, and Vespasian his father, (who succeeded after Nero in the empire) to the number of eleven hundred thousand, besides those which Vespasian slew in subduing the country of Galilee; over and beside them also which were sold and sent into Egypt and other provinces to vile slavery, to the number of seventeen thousand; two thousand were brought with Titus in his triumph; of whom, part he gave to be devoured of the wild beasts, part otherwise most cruelly were slain. By whose case all nations and realms may take example, what it is to reject the visitation of God’s verity being sent, and much more to persecute them which be sent of God for their salvation.

    And as this wrathful vengeance of God thus hath been showed upon this rebellious people, both of the Jews and of the Romans, for their contempt of Christ, whom God so punished by their own emperors, so neither the emperors themselves, for persecuting Christ in his members, escaped without their just reward. For among so many emperors who put so many christian martyrs to death, during the space of these first three hundred years, few or none of them escaped either being slain themselves, or dying by some miserable end; or otherwise worthily revenged.

    First, of the poisoning of Tiberius, and of the slaughter of the other three Neros after him, sufficiently is declared before. After Nero Domitius, Galba, within ten months, was slain by Otho. And so did Otho afterward slay himself, being overcome by Vitellius. And was not Vitellius, shortly after drawn through the city of Rome, and, after he was tormented, thrown into the Tiber? Titus, a good emperor, is thought to be poisoned of Domitian his brother. F862 The said Domitian, after he had been a persecutor of the Christians, was slain in his chamber, not without the consent of his wife.

    Likewise Commodus was murdered of Narcissus. The like end was of Pertinax and Julian. Moreover, after that Severus was slain here in England (who lieth at York), did not his son Bassianus slay his brother Geta, and was not he, after, slain of Martialis?

    Macrinus with his son Diadumenus were both slain of their own soldiers. After whom Heliogabalus, that monstrous belly-paunch, was of his own people slain, drawn through the city, and cast into the Tiber. Alexander Severus, that worthy and learned emperor, who said he would not feed his servants, doing nothing, with the bowels of the commonwealth, although in life and virtues he was much unlike other emperors, yet proved the like end, being slain at Mentz with his godly mother Mammaea, by Maximin, whom the emperor before, of a muleteer, had advanced to great dignities: the which Maximin also, after three years, was slain himself of his soldiers. What should I speak of Maximus and Balbinus, in like sort both slain in Rome? Of Gordian slain by Philip; of Philip, the first christened emperor, slain, or rather martyred, for the same cause; of wicked Decius drowned, and his son slain the same time in battle; of Gallus, and Volusian his son, emperors after Decius, both slain by conspiracy of AEmilianus, who rose against them both in war, and within three months after, was slain himself? Next to AEmilian succeeded Valerian, and Galienus his son, of whom Valerian (who was a persecutor of the Christians) was taken prisoner of the Persians, and there made a riding fool of Sapor their king, who used him for a stool to leap upon his horse; while his son Galienus, sleeping at Rome, either would not, or could not, once proffer to revenge his father’s ignominy; for, after the taking of Valerian, as many emperors rose up as there were provinces in the Roman monarchy. At length Galienus also was killed by Aureolus, who warred against him.

    It were too long here to speak of Aurelian, another persecutor, slain of his secretary; of Tacitus, and Florianus his brother, of whom the first reigned six months, and was slain at Pontus; the other reigned two months, and was murdered at Tarsus; of Probus, who, although a good civil emperor, yet was destroyed by his soldiers.

    After whom Carus, the next emperor, was slain by lightning. Next to Carus followed the impious and wicked persecutor Dioclesian, with his fellows Maximian, Galerius, Maximinus, Maxentius, and Licinius, under whom all, at one time (during the time of Dioclesian), the greatest and most grievous persecution was moved against the Christians ten years together. Of whom, Dioclesian and Maximian deposed themselves from the empire. Galerius the chiefest minister of the persecution, after his terrible persecutions, fell into a wonderful sickness, having such a sore risen in the nether part of his belly, which consumed his privy-members, and so did swarm with worms, that, being curable neither by surgery nor physic, he confessed that it happened for his cruelty towards the Christians; and so called in his proclamations against them.

    Notwithstanding he, not able to sustain, as some say, the stink of his sore, slew himself. Maximinus, in his war, being tormented with pain in his guts, thereof died. Maxentius was vanquished by Constantine, and drowned in the Tiber. Licinius likewise, being overcome by the said Constantine the Great, was deposed from his empire, and afterward slain by his soldiers. But, on the other side, after the time of Constantine, when the faith of Christ was received into the imperial seat, we read of no emperor after the like sort destroyed or molested, except it were Julian, or Valens, or Basiliscus, (who expelled one Zeno, and was afterward expelled himself); beside these, we read of no emperor to come to ruin and decay, as the others before mentioned. f865 And thus have we, in brief sum, collected out of the chronicles the unquiet and miserable state of the emperors of Rome, until the time of Christian Constantine; with the examples, no less terrible than manifest, of God’s severe justice upon them, for their contemptuous refusing and persecuting the faith and name of Christ their Lord.

    Moreover, in much like sort and condition, if leisure of time or haste of matter would suffer me a little to digress unto more lower times, and to come more near home, the like examples I could also infer of this our country of England, concerning the terrible plagues of God against the churlish and unthankful refusing or abusing the benefit of his truth. First, we read how that God stirred up Gildas to preach to the old Britons, and to exhort them unto repentance and amendment of life, and to warn them afore of plagues to come, if they repented not. What availed it? Gildas was laughed to scorn, and taken for a false prophet, and a malicious preacher.

    The Britons, with lusty courages, whorish faces, and unrepentant hearts, went forth to sin, and to offend the Lord their God. What followed? God sent in their enemies on every side, and destroyed them, and gave the land to other nations.

    Not many years past, God, seeing idolatry, superstition, hypocrisy, and wicked living, used in this realm, raised up that godly-learned man John Wickliff, to preach unto our fathers repentance; and to exhort them to amend their lives, to forsake their papistry and idolatry, their hypocrisy and superstition, and to walk in the fear of God. His exhortations were not regarded, he, with his sermons, was despised, his books, and he himself after his death, were burnt. What followed? They slew their right king, and set up three wrong kings on a row, under whom all the noble blood was slain up, and half the commons [in addition] thereto. What in France, with their own sword in fighting among themselves for the crown; while the cities and towns were decayed, and the land brought half to a wilderness, in respect of what it was before. O extreme plagues of God’s vengeance!

    Since that time, even of late years, God, once again having pity of this realm of England, raised up his prophets; namely, William Tyndale, Thomas Bilney, John Frith, doctor Barnes, Jerome, Garret, Anthony Peerson, with divers others, who, both with their writings and sermons, earnestly labored to call us unto repentance; that, by this means, the fierce wrath of God might be turned away from us. But how were they treated?

    How were their painful labors regarded? They themselves were condemned and burnt as heretics, and their books condemned and burnt as heretical. “The time shall come,” saith Christ, “that whosoever killeth you, will think that he doth God high good service.” (John 16:2) Whether any thing since that time hath chanced to this realm worthy the name of a plague, let the godly-wise judge. If God hath deferred his punishment, or forgiven us these our wicked deeds, as I trust he hath, let us not therefore be proud and high-minded, but most humbly thank him for his tender mercies, and beware of the like ungodly enterprises hereafter.

    Neither is there here any need to speak of these our lower and latter times, which have been in king Henry’s and king Edward’s days, seeing the memory thereof is yet fresh, and cannot be forgotten. But let this pass; of this I am sure, that God, yet once again, is come on visitation to this church of England, yea, and that more lovingly and beneficially than ever he did before. For in this visitation he hath redressed many abuses, and cleansed his church of much ungodliness and superstition, and made it a glorious church, if it be compared to the old form and state. And now how grateful receivers we be, with what heart, study, and reverence, we embrace that which he hath given, that I refer either to them that see our fruits, or to the sequel, which, peradventure, will declare it. But this by the way of digression.

    Now to regress again to the state of the first former times. It remaineth, that as I have set forth the justice of God upon these Roman persecutors, so now we declare their persecutions raised up against the people and servants of Christ, within the space of three hundred years after Christ; which persecutions in number commonly are counted to be ten, besides the persecutions first moved by the Jews, in Jerusalem and other places, against the apostles. In the which, first St. Stephen the deacon was put to death; with divers others more, in the same rage of time either slain or cast into prison. At the doing whereof, Saul the same time played the doughty pharisee, being not yet converted to the faith of Christ, whereof the history is plain, set forth at large by St. Luke in the Acts of the Apostles.

    After the martyrdom of this blessed Stephen, suffered next James the holy apostle of Christ, and brother of John. Of which James mention is made in the twelfth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, where is declared, how that not long after the stoning of Stephen, king Herod stretched forth his hand, to take and afflict certain of the congregation, among whom James was one, whom he slew with the sword. Of this James, Eusebius also inferreth mention, alleging Clement, thus writing a memorable story of him. “This James,” saith Clement, “when he was brought to the tribunal seat, he that brought him and was the cause of his trouble, seeing him to be condemned and that he should suffer death, as he went to the execution, being moved therewith in heart and conscience, confessed himself also, of his own accord, to be a christian. And so were they led forth together, where in the way he desired of James to forgive him what he had done. After that James had a little paused with himself upon the matter, turning to him, ‘Peace,’ saith he, ‘be to thee, brother;’ and kissed him. And both were beheaded together, A.D. 36.”

    Dorotheus in his book named “Synopsis,” testifieth, that Nicanor, one of the seven deacons, with two thousand others which believed in Christ, suffered also the same day, when Stephen did suffer. The said Dorotheus witnesseth also, that Timon, another of the deacons, bishop afterward of Bostra in Arabia, was there burned. Parmenas also, another of the deacons, suffered. F869 Thomas preached to the Parthians, Medes, and Persians, also to the Carmanians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and Magians. He suffered in Calamina, a city of India, being slain with a dart. Jude, brother of James the younger, called also Thaddaeus, and Lebbeus, preached to the Edessenes, and to all Mesopotamia: he was slain under Abgarus, king of the Edessenes, in Berytus. F873 Simon, who was brother to Jude above mentioned, and to James the younger, who all were the sons of Mary Cleophas and of Alpheus, was bishop of Jerusalem after James, and was crucified in a city of Egypt in the time of Trajan the emperor, as Dorotheus recordeth. Simon the apostle, called Cananeus and Zelotes, preached in Mauritania, and in the country of Africa, and in Britain: he was likewise crucified. But Abdias writeth, that he and the apostle Jude were both slain by a tumult of the people in Suanir a city of Persia. F874 Mark, the evangelist and first bishop of Alexandria, preached the gospel in Egypt, and there, drawn with ropes unto the fire, was burnt, and afterward buried in a place called there “Bucolus,” under the reign of Trajan the emperor. F875 Bartholomew is said also to have preached to the Indians, and to have converted the gospel of St. Matthew into their tongue; where he continued a great space, doing many miracles. At last in Albinopolis, a city of greater Armenia, after divers persecutions, he was beaten down with staves, then crucified; and after, being excoriate, he was at length beheaded. F876 Of Andrew the apostle and brother to Peter, thus writeth Jerome in his book “Catalogus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum.” “Andrew the brother of Peter (in the time and reign of Vespasian, as our ancestors have reported) did preach, in the year fourscore of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the Scythians, Sogdians, to the Sacae, and in a city which is called Sebastopolis, where the Ethiopians do now inhabit. He was buried in Patrae, a city of Achaia, being crucified by AEgeas, the governor of the Edessenes.” Hitherto writeth Jerome, although in the number of years he seemeth a little to miss: for Vespasian reached not to the year fourscore after Christ. But Bernard, in his second sermon, and St. Cyprian, in his book “De duplici Martyrio,” do make mention of the confession and martyrdom of this blessed apostle; whereof partly out of these, partly out of other credible writers, we have collected after this manner:

    That when Andrew, being conversant in a city of Achaia called Patrae, through his diligent preaching, had brought many to the faith of Christ, AEgeas the governor, knowing this, resorted thither, to the intent he might constrain as many as did believe Christ to be God, by the whole consent of the senate, to do sacrifice unto the idols, and so give divine honor unto them. Andrew, thinking good at the beginning to resist the wicked counsel and the doings of AEgeas, went unto him, saying to this effect unto him: “that it behoved him who was judge of men, first to know his Judge which dwelleth in heaven, and then to worship him being known; and so, in worshipping the true God, to revoke his mind from false gods and blind idols.” These words spake Andrew to the proconsul. But he, greatly therewith discontented, demanded of him, whether he was the same Andrew that did overthrow the temple of the gods, and persuade men to be of that superstitious sect, which the Romans of late had commanded to be abolished and rejected.

    Andrew did plainly affirm, that the princes of the Romans did not understand the truth, and that the Son of God coming from heaven into the world for man’s sake, hath taught and declared how those idols, whom they so honored as gods, were not only not gods , but also most cruel devils ; enemies to mankind, teaching the people nothing else but that wherewith God is offended, and, being offended, turneth away and regardeth them not; and so by the wicked service of the devil, they do fall headlong into all wickedness, and, after their departing, nothing remaineth unto them, but their evil deeds. But the proconsul esteeming these things to be as vain, especially seeing the Jews (as he said) had crucified Christ before, therefore charged and commanded Andrew not to teach and preach such things any more; or, if he did, that he should be fastened to the cross with all speed.

    Andrew, abiding in his former mind very constant, answered thus concerning the punishment which he threatened: “He would not have preached the honor and glory of the cross, if he had feared the death of the cross.” Whereupon sentence of condemnation was pronounced; that Andrew, teaching and enterprising a new sect, and taking away the religion of their gods, ought to be crucified. F879 Andrew, going toward the place, and seeing afar off the cross prepared, did change neither countenance nor color, as the imbecility of mortal men is wont to do, neither did his blood shrink, neither did he fail in his speech, his body fainted not, neither was his mind molested, nor did his understanding fail him, as it is the manner of men to do, but out of the abundance of his heart his mouth did speak, and fervent charity did appear in his words as kindled sparks; he said, “O cross, most welcome and long looked for! with a willing mind, joyfully and desirously, I come to thee, being the scholar of him which did hang on thee: because I have been always thy lover, and have coveted to embrace thee.” F881 So, being crucified, he yielded up the ghost and fell on sleep, the day before the Kalends of December.

    Matthew, otherwise named Levi, first of a publican made an apostle, wrote his gospel to the Jews in the Hebrew tongue. F882 After he had converted to the faith AEthiopia and all Egypt, Hireanus, their king, sent one to run him through with a spear, as writeth the aforenamed Johannes de Monte Regali. Concerning the doings and decreements of this blessed apostle and evangelist, divers things are recorded by Julius Africanus, f883 under the pretensed name of Abdias; also by Vincentius, Perionius, and others; but in such sort, as, by the contents, the matter may greatly be suspected not to lack some crafty forgery, for the more establishment of later decretals and Romish doctrine; as touching merits, consecration of nuns, the superstitious prescription of Lent-fast, not only in abstaining from all flesh meats, but also from all matrimonial intercourse between man and wife, during the said time of holy Lent: Item, the strict prohibition not to taste any bodily sustenance, before receiving of the Lord’s supper: in ordaining of mass; and that no nun must marry after the vow of her profession, with other such-like.

    Johannes de Monte Regali, testifieth of Matthias, after he had preached to the Jews, at length he was stoned and beheaded. Some others record that he died in AEthiopia.

    Philip, the holy apostle, after he had much labored among the barbarous nations in preaching the word of salvation to them, at length suffered, as the other apostles did, in Hierapolis, a city of Phrygia, being there crucified and stoned to death; where also he was buried, and his daughters also with him. F885 OF JAMES, THE BROTHER a23 OF THE LORD, THUS WE READ IN EUSEBIUS. F886 After that Festus had sent the apostle Paul to Rome after his appellation made at Cesarea, and that the Jews, by the means thereof, had lost their hope of performing their malicious vow against him conceived, they fell upon James, the brother of our Lord, who was bishop at Jerusalem, against whom they were bent with like malice, and brought him forth before them, and required him to deny, before all the people, the faith of Christ. But he, otherwise than they all looked for, freely and with a greater constancy, before all the multitude confessed Jesus to be the Son of God, our Savior and our Lord. Whereupon they, not being able to abide the testimony of this man any longer, because he was thought to be the justest of all men, for the divine wisdom and godliness which he exhibited in his life, they killed him; finding the more opportunity to accomplish their mischief, because the government at that time was vacant. For, Festus being dead in Jewry, the administration of that province was destitute of a ruler, and a deputy. But after what manner James was killed, the words of Clement do declare, who writeth that he was cast down from the pinnacle of the temple, and being smitten with a club, was slain.

    But Hegesippus, who lived in the time next after the apostles, in the fifth book of his Commentaries, writeth most accurately about him, as followeth: — James, the brother of our Lord, took in hand to govern the church with the apostles, being counted of all men, from the time of our Lord, to be a just and perfect man. Many and divers other Jameses there were beside him, but this was born holy from his mother’s womb. He drank no wine nor any strong drink, neither did he eat any animal food; the razor never came upon his head; he was not anointed with oil, neither did he use the bath; to him only was it lawfill to enter into the holy place, for he was not clothed with woollen, but with linen only; (See Leviticus 16:2-4. — ED.) and he used to enter into the temple alone, and there, falling upon his knees, ask remission for the people; so that his knees, by oft kneeling (for worshipping God, and craving forgiveness for the people), lost the sense of feeling, being benumbed and hardened like the knees of a camel. He was, for the excellency of his just life, called “The Just,” and, “Oblias,” which means in Hebrew “the safeguard of the people” and “justice,” as the prophets declare of him: therefore, when many belonging to the seven sects of the Jews asked him what the door of Jesus was, he answered, that he was the Savior. Whereupon some believed Jesus to be Christ; but the aforesaid sects neither believe the resurrection, neither that any shall come, who shall render unto every man according to his works; but as many of them as believed, believed for James’s preaching. When many therefore of their chief men did believe, there was a tumult made of the Jews, scribes, and pharisees, saying; There is danger, lest all the people should look for this Jesus, as the Christ. Therefore they gathered themselves together, and said to James, “We beseech thee restrain the people, for they believe in Jesus, as though he were Christ; we pray thee persuade all them which come unto the feast of the passover to think rightly of Jesus; for we all give heed to thee, and all the people do testify of thee that thou art just, and that thou dost not accept the person of any man. Therefore persuade the people that they be not deceived about Jesus, for all the people and we ourselves are ready to obey thee. Therefore stand upon the pinnacle of the temple, that thou mayest be seen above, and that thy words may be heard of all the people; for all the tribes with many gentiles are come together for the passover.” And thus the forenamed scribes and pharisees did set James upon the battlements of the temple, and they cried unto him, and said, “Thou just man, whom all we ought to obey, because this people is going astray after Jesus which is crucified, tell what is the door of Jesus crucified.” F889 And he answered with a loud voice, “Why do you ask me of Jesus the Son of man? He sitteth on the right hand of the Most High, and shall come in the clouds of heaven.” Whereupon many were persuaded and glorified God, upon this witness of James, and said, “Hosannah, to the Son of David.” Then the scribes and the pharisees said among themselves, “We have done evil, that we have caused such a testimony of Jesus; let us go up, and throw him down, that others, being moved with fear, may deny that faith.” And they cried out, saying, “Oh, oh, this just man also is seduced” and they fulfilled that scripture which is written in Isaiah, “Let us take away the just man, because he is not profitable for us, wherefore let them eat the fruits of their works.” F890 Therefore they went up to throw down the just man. Yet he was not killed by the fall, but, turning, fell down upon his knees, saying, “O Lord God, Father, I beseech thee to forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) And they said among themselves, “Let us stone the just man, James;” and they took him to smite him with stones. But while they were smiting him with stones, a priest, one of the children of Rechab, a descendant of the Rechabites mentioned in Jeremiah the prophet, said to them, “Leave off what do ye? The just man prayeth for you.” And one of those who were present, a fuller, took an instrument, wherewith they did use to beat and purge cloth, and smote the just man on his head, and so he finished his testimony. And they buried him in the same place, and his pillar abideth still by the temple. He was a true witness for Christ to the Jews and the Gentiles. And shortly after, Vespasian the emperor, destroying the land of Jewry, brought them into captivity.

    These things thus written at large by Hegesippus, do well agree with those which Clement did write of him. F891 This James was so notable a man for his justice, that he was had in honor of all men; insomuch that the wise men of the Jews, shortly after his martyrdom, did impute the besieging of Jerusalem, and other calamities which happened unto them, to no other cause, but unto the violence and injury done to this man. Also Josephus hath not left this out of his history, where he speaketh of him after this manner: “These things so chanced unto the Jews in revenge of that just man James, the brother of Jesus whom they called Christ, for the Jews killed him, although he was a righteous man.” F892 The same Josephus declareth his death in the twentieth book of his Antiquities, saying, “Caesar, hearing of the death of Festus, sent Albinus, as procurator, into Jewry: but Ananus the younger, of the sect of the Sadducees, being high-priest, and trusting that he had obtained a convenient time [to shew his authority], seeing that Festus was dead, and Albinus yet on the road, assembled the Sanhedrim, and, calling many unto him, among whom was James, the brother of Jesus who is called Christ, he delivered them to be stoned, accusing them as breakers of the law.”

    Whereby it appeareth, that many others also, besides James, at the same time were martyred and put to death among the Jews, for the faith of Christ.


    These things being thus declared for the martyrdom of the apostles, and the persecution of the Jews : a24 now let us (by the grace of Christ our Lord) comprehend with like brevity, the persecutions raised by the Romans against the Christians in the primitive age of the church, during the space of three hundred years, till the coming of godly Constantine, which persecutions are reckoned by Eusebius, and by the most part of writers, to the number of ten most special. F894 Wherein marvellous it is to see and read the numbers incredible of christian innocents that were slain and tormented, some one way, some another, as Rabanus saith, and saith truly, “Some slain with sword; some burnt with fire; some with whips scourged; some stabbed with forks of iron; some fastened to the cross or gibbet; some drowned in the sea; some their skins plucked off; some their tongues cut off; some stoned to death; some killed with cold; some starved with hunger; some their hands cut off alive, or otherwise dismembered, have been so left naked to the open shame of the world,” etc. Whereof Augustine also thus saith, “Ligabantur, includebantur, caedebantur, torquebantur, urebantur laniabantur, trucidabantur, multiplicabantur, non pugnantes pro salute, sed salutem contemnentes pro servatore.” F896 Whose kinds of punishments, although they were divers, yet the manner of constancy in all these martyrs was one. And yet, notwithstanding the sharpness of these so many and sundry torments, and also the like cruelness of the tormentors, yet such was the number of these constant saints that suffered, or rather such was the power of the Lord in his saints, that, as Jerome, in his epistle a25 to Chromatius and Heliodorus, saith, “There is no day in the whole year, unto which the number of five thousand martyrs cannot be ascribed, except only the first day of January.” F897 THE FIRST PERSECUTION.

    The first of these ten persecutions was stirred up by Nero Domitius before mentioned, the sixth emperor, about the year of our Lord threescore and four. The tyrannous rage of which emperor was very fierce against the Christians, “Insomuch that (as Eusebius recordeth) a man might then see cities full of men’s bodies, the old there lying together with the young, and the dead bodies of women cast out naked, without all reverence of that sex, in the open streets,” etc. Likewise Orosius, writing of the said Nero, saith, “that he was the first who in Rome did raise up persecution against the Christians; and not only in Rome, but also through all the provinces thereof; thinking to abolish and to destroy the very name of Christians in all places,” etc. Whereunto accordeth, moreover, the testimony of Jerome upon Daniel, saying, that many there were of the Christians in those days, who, seeing the filthy abominations and intolerable cruelty of Nero, thought that he was Antichrist.

    In this persecution, among many other saints, the blessed apostle Peter was condemned to death, and crucified, as some do write, at Rome; albeit some others, and not without cause, do doubt thereof: concerning whose life and history, because it is sufficiently described in the text of the Gospel, and in the Acts of St. Luke, I need not here to make any great repetition thereof. As touching the cause and manner of his death, divers there be which make relation, as Jerome, Hegesippus, Eusebius, Abdias, and others, although they do not all precisely agree in the time. The words of Jerome be these: “Simon Peter, the son of Jonas, of the province of Galilee, and of the town of Bethsaida, the brother of Andrew, after he had been bishop of the church of Antioch, and had preached to them of the circumcision that believed, dispersed in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, in the second year of Claudius the emperor [which was about the year of our Lord 42] came to Rome to withstand Simon Magus, and there kept the priestly chair the space of five and twenty years, until the last year of the aforesaid Nero, which was the fourteenth year of his reign, of whom he was crucified, his head being down and his feet upward, himself so requiring, because he was (he said) unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as the Lord was.” F902 Hegesippus, prosecuting this matter something more at large, and Abdias also (if any authority is to be given to his book, which, following not only the sense, but also the very form of words, of Hegesippus in this history, seemeth to be extracted out of him and of other authors), saith, f905 Simon Magus, being then a great man with Nero, and his president and keeper of his life, was required upon a time to be present at the raising up of a certain noble young man in Rome, of Nero’s kindred, lately departed; where Peter, also, was desired to come to the reviving of the said personage. But when Magus, in the presence of Peter, could not do it, then Peter, calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus, did raise him up, and restored him to his mother: whereby the estimation of Simon Magus began greatly to decay and to be detested in Rome. Not long after, the said Magus threatened the Romans that he would leave the city, and, in their sight, fly away from them into heaven. So, the day being appointed, Magus taking his wings in the mount Capitolinus began to fly in the air: but Peter, by the power of the Lord Jesus, brought him down with his wings headlong to the ground; by the which fall his legs and joints were broken, and he thereupon died. Then Nero, sorrowing for the death of him, sought matter against Peter to put him to death; which, when the people perceived, they entreated Peter with much ado that he would fly the city. Peter, through their importunity at length persuaded, prepared himself to avoid. But, coming to the gate, he saw the Lord Christ come to meet him, to whom he, worshipping, said, “Lord, whither dost thou go?” To whom he answered and said, “I am come again to be crucified.” By this, Peter, perceiving his suffering to be understood, returned back into the city again, and so was he crucified in manner as is before declared.

    This is out of Hegesippus. Eusebius, moreover, writing of the death not only of Peter, but also of his wife, affirmeth, that Peter, seeing his wife going to her martyrdom (belike as he was yet hanging upon the cross), was greatly joyous and glad thereof, who, crying unto her with a loud voice, and calling her by her name, bade her “remember the Lord Jesus.” Such was then (saith Eusebius) the blessed bond of marriage among the saints of God. F907 And thus much of Peter.

    Paul, the apostle, who before was called Saul, after his great travail and unspeakable labors in promoting the gospel of Christ, suffered also in this first persecution under Nero, and was beheaded. Of whom thus writeth Jerome in his “Catalogus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum:” Paul, otherwise called Saul, one of the apostles, yet out of the number of the twelve, was of the tribe of Benjamin, and of a town of Jewry called Giscala; which town being taken of the Romans, he with his parents fled to Tarsus, a town of Cilicia; afterward was sent up by his parents to Jerusalem, and there brought up in the knowledge of the law, at the feet of Gamaliel, and was a doer of the death of Stephen. And when he had received letters from the high priest to persecute the Christians, by the way, going to Damascus, he was stricken down of the Lord’s glory; and, of a persecutor, was made a professor, an apostle, a martyr, a witness of the gospel, and a vessel of election.

    Among his other manifold labors and travails in spreading the doctrine of Christ, he first won Sergius Paulus, the proconsul of Cyprus, to the faith of Christ, whereupon he took his name, as some suppose, turned from Saul to Paul. After he had passed through divers places and countries in his laborious peregrinations, in company with Barnabas, he went up to Jerusalem, to Peter, James, and John, where he was ordained and sent out with Barnabas to preach unto the Gentiles. And because it is in the Acts of the Apostles sufficiently comprehended concerning the admirable conversion and conversation of this most worthy apostle, that which remaineth of the rest of his history I will here add, how the said apostle Paul, the five and twentieth year after the passion of the Lord, in the second year of Nero, at what time Festus ruled in Jewry, was sent up in bonds to Rome, where he, dwelling in his free hostery two years together, disputed daily against the Jews, proving Christ to be come (Acts 28:30). And here is to be noted, that, after his first answer or purgation there made at Rome, the emperor Nero not yet fully confirmed in his empire and not yet bursting out into those mischiefs which histories report of him, he was at that time by Nero discharged, and dismissed to preach the gospel in the west parts, [and about the coasts of Italy] ; as he himself afterward, in his second epistle to Timothy, (2 Timothy 4:16 [This passage proves that Peter was not then at Rome: see “Essays on Romanism,” Seeley and Burnside, London 1839, p. 175. —ED.]) written in his second apprehension (in which also he suffered), witnesseth, saying, “In my first purgation no man stood with me, but all did forsake me: the Lord lay it not to their charge! But the Lord stood with me, and did comfort me, that the preaching of his word might proceed by me, and that all the Gentiles might hear and be taught. And I was delivered out of the lion’s mouth.” In which place, by the lion he plainly meaneth Nero. [And afterwards likewise he saith, “I was delivered from the mouth of the lion.” And again, “The Lord hath delivered me out from all evil works, and hath saved me unto his heavenly kingdom.”] f909 Speaking this, because he perceived then the time of his martyrdom to be near at hand. For in the same epistle before, he saith, “I am now ready to be offered up, and the time of my dissolution draweth on.”

    Thus, then, this worthy preacher and messenger of the Lord, in the fourteenth year of Nero, and the same day on which Peter was crucified [although not in the same year, as some write, but in the next year following], was beheaded at Rome for the testimony of Christ, and was buried in the way of Ostia, the seven and thirtieth year after the passion of the Lord. He wrote nine epistles to Seven churches; to the Romans one, to the Corinthians two, to the Galatians one, to the Ephesians one, to the Philippians one, to the Colossians one, to the Thessalonians two. Moreover he wrote to his disciples, to Timothy two, to Titus one, to Philemon one.

    The epistle which beareth the title to the Hebrews, some think not to be his, for the difference of the style and phrase, but either judged to be written of Barnabas, as Tertullian supposeth, or of St.

    Luke, as others think; or else of Clement, afterward bishop of Rome, who, as they say, compiling together the sayings and sentences of Paul, did phrase them in his own style and manner. Or rather, as some do judge, because St. Paul wrote unto the Hebrews, for the odiousness of his name among that people he dissembled, and confessed not, his name in the first entry of his salutation, contrary to his accustomed condition. And as he wrote to the Hebrews, being himself a Hebrew, so he wrote in Hebrew, that is, his own tongue, the more eloquently; and this, afterward, was after a more eloquent manner translated into the Greek, than his other epistles be written in. And that is thought to be the cause why it differeth from his other epistles. Some also acknowledge as his the epistle to Laodicea, but that is rejected of most men. F910 As touching the time and order of the death and martyrdom of St. Paul, as Eusebius, Jerome, Maximus, and other authors do but briefly pass it over, so Abdias (if his book be of any substantial authority), speaking more largely of the same, doth say, “that after the crucifying of Peter, and the ruin of Simon Magus, Paul, yet remaining in free custody, was dismissed and delivered at that time from martyrdom by God’s permission, that all the Gentiles might be replenished with preaching of the gospel by him.

    And the same Abdias, proceeding in his story, declareth moreover, That as Paul was thus occupied at Rome, he was accused to the emperor, not only for teaching new doctrine, but also for stirring up sedition against the empire. For this he, being called before Nero, and demanded to show the order and manner of his doctrine, there declared what his doctrine was: to teach all men peace and charity; how to love one another; how toq prevent one another in honor; rich men not to be puffed up in pride, nor to put their trust in their treasures, but in the living God; mean men to be contented with food and raiment, and with their present state; poor men to rejoice in their poverty with hope; fathers to bring up their children in the fear of God; children to obey their parents; husbands to love their wives; wives to be subject to their husbands; citizens and subjects to give their tribute unto Caesar, and to be subject to their magistrates; masters to be courteous, not churlish to their servants; servants to deal faithfully with their masters: and this to be the sum of his teaching. Which his doctrine “he received not of men, nor by men, but by Jesus Christ, and the Father of glory,” which spake to him from heaven, the Lord Jesus saying to him, “That he should go and preach his name, and that he would be with him, and would be the Spirit of life to all that believed in him; and that whatsoever he did or said, he would, justify it,” etc. After that Paul had thus declared unto the emperor, shortly after sentence of death was pronounced against him, that he should be beheaded. Unto whose execution then Nero sent two of his esquires, Ferega and Parthemius, to bring him word of his death. They, coming to Paul, instructing then the people, desired him to pray for them, that they might believe; who told them, that shortly after they should believe, and be baptized at his sepulcher. This done, the soldiers came and led him out of the city to the place of execution, where he, after his prayers made, gave his neck to the sword.

    Abdias reporteth that as his head was stricken off, instead of blood issued out white milk; and that at laying down his head, he signed himself with the sign of a cross in his forehead: but this being found in no other history, Abdias seemeth either to add it of his own, or else to borrow out of the legend, as he doth many other things beside, whereof more shall be said (Christ willing) hereafter. Although the same miracle of milk flowing out of his neck, is referred also unto Ambrose, who in his threescore-andeighth sermon (if it be not counterfeited) seemeth to affirm the same. Of the time and year when these blessed apostles did suffer, histories do not all agree. They that follow the common opinion, and the pope’s decrees, say, that Peter and Paul both suffered in one day, and in one year; which opinion seemeth to be taken out of Dionysius, bishop of Corinth. Jerome in his “Catalogus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum” affirmeth, that they both suffered in one day, but he expresseth not the year. F913 So do Isidore and Eusebius. Simon Metaphrastes bringeth in the opinion of some which think that Paul suffered not with Peter, but after Peter. Prudentius in his “ Peri< stefa>nwn noteth, that they both were put to death upon the same day, but not in the same year, and saith, that Paul followed Peter a year after. F914 Abdias, above mentioned, recordeth that Paul suffered two years after Peter. But, if it be true which Abdias also saith, that after the crucifying of Peter, Paul remained in free custody at Rome (as mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles), which was, as Jerome witnesseth, the third or fourth year of Nero, then must it be ten years betwixt the martyrdom of Peter and of Paul, forasmuch as it is by all writers confessed, that Paul suffered the fourteenth year, which was the last year of Nero. And so Abdias seemeth neither to agree with other authors, nor with himself. And thus much of the first persecution.


    The first Roman persecution beginning under Nero, as is aforesaid, ceased under Vespasian, who gave some rest to the poor Christians. After whose reign was moved, not long after, the second persecution, by the emperor Domitian, brother of Titus. Of whom Eusebius and Orosius so write, that he, first beginning mildly and modestly, afterward did so far outrage in pride intolerable, that he commanded himself to be worshipped as god, and that images of gold and silver in his honor should be set up in the capitol.

    The chiefest nobles of the senators, either upon envy, or for their goods, he caused to be put to death, some openly, and some he sent into banishment, there causing them to be slain privily. And as his tyranny was unmeasurable, so the intemperance of his life was no less. F916 He put to death all the nephews of Judas, called the Lord’s brother, and caused to be sought out and to be slain all that could be found of the stock of David (as Vespasian also did before him), for fear lest he were yet to come of the house of David, who should enjoy the kingdom. In the time of this persecutor, Simeon, bishop of Jerusalem, after other torments, was crucified to death, whom Justus afterward succeeded in that bishopric. F918 In this persecution, John, the apostle and evangelist, was exiled by the said Domitian into Patmos. Of whom divers and sundry memorable acts be reported in sundry chronicles. As first, how he was put in a vessel of boiling oil, by the proconsul of Ephesus. The legend and Perionius say, It was done at Rome. Isidore also writing of him, and comprehending many things in few words, declareth, that he turned boughs of trees into gold, and stones by the sea side into jewels, to satisfy the desire of two, whom he had before persuaded to renounce their riches: and afterward they, repenting that for worldly treasure they had lost heaven, for their sakes again he changed the same into their former substance. Also, how he raised up a widow, and a certain young man, from death to life. How he drank poison, and it hurt him not; raising also to life two which had drank the same before. F920 These and such other miracles, although they may be true, and are found in Isidore and other writers more, yet because they are no articles of our christian belief, I let them pass, and only content myself with that which I read in Jerome, declaring of him in this wise: that after Nero, in the second persecution, raised by Domitian in his fourteenth year, John was banished into Patmos for the testimony of the word, in the year fourscore and fifteen. And after the death of the aforesaid Domitian, he being slain and his acts repealed by the senate, John was again released under Nerva, the emperor, and came to Ephesus in the year fourscore and seventeen; where he continued until the time of Trajan, and there governed the churches in Asia, where also he wrote his gospel; and so lived till the year after the passion of our Lord, threescore and eight, which was the year of his age, about one hundred. F923 Moreover, in the aforesaid ecclesiastical history of Eusebius we read, that John the apostle and evangelist, whom the Lord did love, was in Asia, where he, having returned out of Patmos after the death of Domitian, governed the churches and congregations. F924 Irenaeus, in his second book, thus writeth: “And of him all the elders do witness, which were with John, the disciple of the Lord, in Asia, that he told them these things, for he continued there with them unto the time of Trajan.” Also, the said Irenaeus in like words declareth, saying, “The church of the Ephesians, being first founded by Paul, afterward being presided over by John (who continued in the same city unto the time of Trajan the emperor), is a true witness of this apostolical tradition,” etc. Clement of Alexandria, moreover , a26 in his book intituled Timenov plou>siov both noteth the time of this holy apostle, and also addeth to the same a certain history of him, not unworthy to be remembered of such as delight in things honest and profitable. The words of the author setting forth this history be these:

    Hear a fable, and yet not a fable, but a true report which was told us of John the apostle, and has been ever since kept in our remembrance. After the death of the tyrant, when John was returned to Ephesus from the isle of Patmos, he was requested to resort to the places bordering near unto him, partly to constitute bishops, partly to dispose the causes and matters of the church, partly to ordain to the clerical office such as the Holy Ghost should elect. Whereupon, when he was come to a certain city not far off, (the name of which also some do mention) and had comforted the brethren as usual, he beheld a young man robust in body, and of a beautiful countenance, and of a fervent mind, when, looking earnestly at the newly-appointed bishop: “I most solemnly commend this man (saith he) to thee, in presence here of Christ and of the church.”

    When the bishop had received of him this charge, and had promised his faithful diligence therein, again the second time John spake unto him, and charged him with like manner and contestation as before.

    This done, John returned again to Ephesus. The bishop, receiving the young man commended and committed to his charge, brought him home, kept him, and nourished him, and at length also did illuminate, that is, baptized him; and after that, he gradually relaxed his care and oversight of him, trusting that he had given him the best safeguard possible in putting the Lord’s seal upon him. The young man thus having his liberty more, it chanced that certain of his old companions and acquaintances, being idle, dissolute, and hardened in wickedness, did join in company with him, who first invited him to sumptuous and riotous banquets; then enticed him to go forth with them in the night to rob and steal; after that he was allured by them unto greater mischief and wickedness. Wherein, by custom of time, and by little and little, he becoming more expert, and being of a good wit, and a stout courage, like unto a wild or unbroken horse, leaving the right way and running at large without bridle, was carried headlong to the profundity of all misorder and outrage. And thus, being past all hope of grace, utterly forgetting and rejecting the wholesome doctrine of salvation which he had learned before, he began to set his mind upon no small matters.

    And forasmuch as he was entered so far in the way of perdition, he cared not how much further he proceeded in the same. And so, associating unto him a band of companions and fellow thieves, he took upon himself to be as head and captain among them, in committing all kind of murder and felony.

    In the mean time it chanced that of necessity John was sent for to those quarters again, and came. The causes being decided and his business ended for the which he came, by the way meeting with the bishop afore specified, he requireth of him the pledge, which, in the presence of Christ and of the congregation then present, he left in his hands to keep. The bishop, something amazed at the words of John, supposing he had meant them of some money committed to his custody, which he had not received (and yet durst not mistrust John, nor contrary his words), could not tell what to answer. Then John, perceiving his perplexity, and uttering his meaning more plainly: “The young man,” saith he, “and the soul of our brother committed to your custody, I do require.” Then the bishop, with a loud voice sorrowing and weeping, said, “He is dead.” To whom John said, “How, and by what death?” The other said, “He is dead to God, for he became an evil and abandoned man, and at length a robber. And now he doth frequent the mountain instead of the church, with a company of villains and thieves, like unto himself.”

    Here the apostle rent his garments, and, with a great lamentation, said, “A fine keeper of his brother’s soul I left here! get me a horse, and let me have a guide with me:” which being done, his horse and man procured, he hasted from the church as much as he could, and coming to the place, was taken of thieves that lay on the watch.

    But he, neither flying nor refusing, said, “I came hither for the purpose: lead me,” said he, “to your captain.” So he being brought, the captain all armed fiercely began to look upon him; and eftsoons coming to the knowledge of him, was stricken with confusion and shame, and began to fly. But the old man followed him as much as he might, forgetting his age, and crying, “My son, why dost thou fly from thy father? an armed man from one naked, a young man from an old man? Have pity on me, my son, and fear not, for there is yet hope of salvation. I will make answer for thee unto Christ; I will die for thee, if need be; as Christ hath died for us, I will give my life for thee; believe me, Christ hath sent me.” He, hearing these things, first, as in a maze, stood still, and therewith his courage was abated. After that he had cast down his weapons, by and by he trembled, yea, and wept bitterly; and, coming to the old man, embraced him, and spake unto him with weeping (as well as he could), being even then baptized afresh with tears, only his right hand being hid and covered. Then the apostle, after that he had promised and firmly ascertained him that he should obtain remission of our Savior, and also prayed, falling down upon his knees, and kissing his murderous right hand (which for shame he durst not show before) as now purged through repentance, he brought him back to the church. And when he had prayed for him with continual prayer and daily fastings, and had comforted and confirmed his mind with many sentences, he left him not (as the author reporteth) before he had restored him to the church again; and made him a great example of sincere penitence and proof of regeneration, and a trophy of the future resurrection.

    Moreover, the aforesaid Irenaeus and Eusebius, prosecuting the history of John, declare in these words, saying, “There were certain which heard Polycarp say, that John, the disciple of our Lord, going into Ephesus to be washed, seeing Cerinthus within, he leaped out of the bath unbathed, because he feared the bath should have fallen, seeing that Cerinthus, an enemy to the truth, was within. Such fear had the apostles,” saith Irenaeus, “that they would not communicate a word with them that adulterated the truth.”

    And forasmuch as we are here in hand with the story of John, the blessed evangelist, here cometh in matter and occasion not given by him, but taken of others, of a great doubt and difficulty, such as hath occupied all the catholic, subtle, illuminate, and seraphical doctors of the pope’s catholic church, these five hundred years. The difficulty is this: that forsomuch as auricular confession hath been, and is yet, received in the pope’s catholic church for a holy and necessary sacrament, extending universally to all and singular creatures christian, here then ariseth a question, Who was our Lady’s confessor, or ghostly father? But that is decreed and confessed with full consent of all the catholics to be St. John. Whosoever denieth, or doubteth of this, is straightways, ipso facto , a heretic. This then so determined, ariseth another question or doubt; that seeing our Lady was without all original sin, and also actual or mortal, what need then had she of any confessor? or what should she confess unto him? for, if she had confessed any sin, when she had none, then had she made herself a liar, and so had sinned indeed. Here, therefore, gentle reader, in this perplexity these our illuminate doctors stand in need of thine aid to help at a pinch. Magnus Albertus, the great divine, denieth not, but that she indeed, although most pure, yet was confessed to her ghostly father, to keep the observance of the law, appointed for such as had that need, which she had not. And therefore (saith he) necessary it was that she should confess with mouth.

    But then here is to be asked, What did she say in her confession, when she had nothing to confess? To this Albert answereth again, and telleth us plainly what she said in her confession, which was this: That she had received that great grace, not ex condigno , that is, not of any dignity of her own, but yet notwithstanding of congruity. And this was it, saith Albert, that she said in her confession. F932 Moreover, to help this case out of all doubt, cometh in famous Thomas of Watring, and thus looseth the knot, much after like effect, saying, “that as Christ, although he did owe nothing to the law, yet notwithstanding received circumcision, to give to others example of humility and obedience, in like manner would our Lady show herself obedient to the observance of the law, albeit there was no cause why she had any need thereof.” And thus hast thou (gentle reader) this doubtful question moved and solved, to the intent I might reveal to thee some part of the deep divinity of our catholic masters, that have ruled and governed the church in these their late popish days.

    But, breaking off this matter, I return again where we left; that is, to this aforesaid second persecution under Domitian. In which persecution, besides these aforementioned, and many other innumerable godly martyrs, suffering for the like testimony of the Lord Jesus, was Flavia, the daughter of Flavius Clemens, one of the Roman consuls; which Flavia, with many others, was banished out of Rome, into the isle of Pontia, for the testimony of the Lord Jesus, by the emperor Domitian. F935 This Domitian feared the coming of Christ, as Herod did, and therefore commanded them to be killed, which were of the stock of David in Jewry. There were remaining alive at that time certain of the Lord’s kindred, which were the nephews of Jude that was called the Lord’s brother after the flesh. When the commissary had brought these up before Domitian, the emperor demanded of them, Whether they were of the stock of David? Which when they had granted, he asked again, What possessions and what substance they had? They answered, that they both had no more between them, in all, but nine and thirty acres of ground, and how they got their living, and sustained their families with the hard labors of their hands; showing forth their hands unto the emperor, being hard and rough, worn with labors, to witness that to be true which they had spoken. Then the emperor, inquired of them concerning the kingdom of Christ, what manner of kingdom it was, how and when it should appear? They answered, that his kingdom was no worldly nor terrene thing, but an heavenly and angelical kingdom, and that it should appear in the consummation and end of the world, what time He, coming in glory, should judge the quick and the dead, and render to every one according to his deservings. Domitian the emperor, hearing this (as the saying is), did not condemn them; but, despising them as vile persons, let them go, and also stayed the persecution then moved against the Christians. They, being thus discharged and dismissed, afterward had the government of churches, being taken for martyrs, and as of the Lord’s stock; and so continued in good peace till the time of Trajan. f936 By this story here cited, may appear what were the causes why the emperors of the Roman monarchy did so persecute the Christians which causes were chiefly these — fear and hatred. First, fear, for that the emperors and senate, of blind ignorance, not knowing the manner of Christ’s kingdom, feared and misdoubted lest the same would subvert their empery (like as the pope thinketh now that this gospel will overthrow his kingdom of majesty); and therefore sought they all means possible, how, by death and all kinds of torments, utterly to extinguish the name and memory of the Christians. And thereupon seemeth to spring the old law of the Roman senate: that the Christians should not be let go, which were once brought to the judgment-seat, except they changed their purpose, etc. Secondly, hatred, partly for that this world, of its own natural condition, hath ever hated and maliced the people of God, from the first beginning of the world. Partly again, for that the Christians being of a contrary nature and religion, serving only the true living God, despised their false gods, spake against their idolatrous worshippings, and many times stopped the power of Satan working in their idols: and therefore Satan, the prince of this world, stirred up the Roman princes and blind idolaters to bear the more hatred and spite against them.

    Upon these causes, and such like, rose up these malicious slanders, false surmises, infamous lies, and slanderous accusations of the heathen idolaters against the christian servants of God, which incited the princes of this world the more to persecute them: for what crimes soever malice could invent, or rash suspicion could minister, that was imputed to the Christians; as, that they were a people incestuous; that in the night, in their concourses, putting out their candles, they ran together in all filthy manner; that they killed their own children; that they used to eat man’s flesh; that they were seditious and rebellious; that they would not swear by the fortune and prosperity of Caesar; that they would not adore the image of Caesar in the market-place; that they were pernicious to the empery of Rome. Briefly, whatsoever mishappened to the city or provinces of Rome, either famine, pestilence, earthquake, wars, wonders, unseasonableness of weather, or what other evils soever happened, it was imputed to the Christians, as Justin recordeth. Over and beside all these, a great occasion that stirred up the emperors against the Christians, came by one Publius Tarquin, the chief priest of the idolatrous sacrifices, and Mamertinus, the prefect of the city in the time of Trajan; who, partly with money, partly with sinister and pestilent counsel, partly with infamous accusations (as witnesseth Nauclerus), incensed the mind of the emperor so much against God’s people.

    Also, among these other causes abovesaid, crept in some piece of covetousness withal (as in all other things it doth), in that the wicked promoters and accusers for lucre-sake, to have the possessions of the Christians, were the more ready to accuse them, to have the spoil of their goods.

    Thus hast thou, christian reader, first, the causes declared of these persecutions; secondly, the cruel law of their condemnation; thirdly, now hear more what was the form of inquisition, which was (as is witnessed in the first apology of Justin) to this effect: That they should swear to declare the truth, whether they were in very deed Christians, or not: and if they confessed, then by the law the sentence of death proceeded. f938 Neither yet were these tyrants and organs of Satan thus contented with death only, to bereave the life from the body. The kinds of death were divers, and no less horrible than divers. Whatsoever the cruelness of man’s invention could devise for the punishment of man’s body, was practiced against the Christians, as partly I have mentioned before; and more appeareth by the epistle sent from the brethren of France, hereafter following. Crafty trains, outcries of enemies, imprisonment, stripes and scourgings, drawings, tearings, stonings, plates of iron laid unto them burning hot, deep dungeons, racks, strangling in prisons, the teeth of wild beasts, gridirons, gibbets and gallows, tossing upon the horns of bulls.

    Moreover, when they were thus killed, their bodies were laid in heaps, and dogs there left to keep them, that no man might come to bury them, neither would any prayer obtain them to be interred and buried. f939 And yet, notwithstanding for all these continual persecutions and horrible punishments, the church of the Christians daily increased, deeply rooted in the doctrine of the apostles and of men apostolical, and watered plenteously with the blood of saints; as saith Nicephorus. F940 Whereof let us hear the worthy testimony of Justin Martyr, in his dialogue with Trypho: — “And that none can terrify or remove us who believe in Jesus, by this it daily appeareth, for when we are slain, crucified, east to wild beasts, into the fire, or given to other torments, yet we go not from our confession: but contrary, the more cruelty and slaughter is wrought against us, the more they be that come to piety and faith by the name of Jesus; no otherwise than if a man cut the vine-tree, the better the branches grow. For the vine-tree, planted by God and Christ our Savior, is his people.” f941 To comprehend the names and number of all the martyrs that suffered in all these ten persecutions (which are innumerable) as it is impossible, so it is hard, in such a variety and diversity of matter, to keep such a perfect order and course of years and times, that either some be not left out, or that every one be reduced into his right place; especially seeing the authors themselves, whom, in this present work, we follow, do diversely disagree both in the times, in the names, and also in the kind of martyrdom of them that suffered. As for example: where the common reading and opinion of the church and epistles decretal do take Anacletus to succeed after Clement, next before Evaristus: contrary, Eusebius, making no mention of Cletus, but of Anacletus, saith, that Evaristus succeeded next to Clement. Likewise Ruffinus and Epiphanius, speaking nothing of Anacletus, make mention of Linus, and of Cletus, next before Clement, but say nothing of Anacletus: whereby it may appear that Cletus and Anacletus were both one. Sabellicus, speaking of Linus and of Cletus, saith, that they were ordained helpers under Peter, while he labored in his apostleship abroad, and so saith also Marianus Scotus: contrary, Irenaeus speaketh of Anacletus, making no mention of Cletus. Whereby it may appear by the way, what credit is to be given to the decretal epistles, whom all the later histories of the pope’s church do follow in this behalf, etc. Moreover, whereas Antoninus, Vincentius, Jacobus (in Supplemento), Simoneta, Aloisius, with others, declare of Linus, Cletus, Clement, Anacletus, Evaristus, Alexander, bishops of Rome, that they died martyrs, Eusebius, in his “Ecclesiastical History,” writing of them, maketh thereof no mention.


    Between the second Roman a27 persecution and the third, was but one year, under the emperor Nerva, after whom succeeded Trajan; and under him followed the third persecution. So the second and the third are noted of some to be both one, having no more difference but one year between them. This Trajan, if we look well upon his politic and civil governance, might seem (in comparison of others) a right worthy and commendable prince, much familiar with inferiors, and so behaving himself toward his subjects, as he himself would have the prince to be to him, if he himself were a subject. Also he was noted to be a great observer of justice, insomuch that when he ordained any praetor, giving to him the sword, he would bid him use the sword against his enemies in just causes: and if he himself did otherwise than justice, to use then his power against him also.

    But for all these virtues, toward christian religion he was impious and cruel; who caused the third persecution of the church.

    And first, as touching Clement (whom Marianus Scotus calleth the first bishop of Rome after Peter), they say that he was sent out into banishment by Trajan beyond the Euxine, with two thousand Christians, where he opened a well-spring to those who, in the wilderness, were condemned to the mines. Afterward, being accused to the emperor, he was thrown into the sea with a millstone fastened about his neck; and not long after, his body was cast up and buried (as Platina saith) at the place where the well was made. Some say it was found first in the days of pope Nicholas I. F948 But, forasmuch as I find of his martyrdom no firm relation in the ancient authors, but only in such new writers of later times, which are wont to paint out the lives and histories of good men with feigned additions of forged miracles, therefore I count the same of less credit: as I do also certain decretal epistles, untruly (as may seem) ascribed and intituled to his name. Eusebius, in his third book, writing of Clement, giveth no more of him, but thus: “After he had governed the church of Rome nine years, the said Clement left the succession thereof to Evaristus.”

    Of which Evaristus next bishop of Rome, thus we find in Irenaeus: f949 Peter and Paul (saith he), committed the charge of that church to Linus; after whom came Anacletus; then succeeded Clement; next to Clement followed Evaristus; after whom came Alexander; and then Sixtus, the sixth bishop of Rome after the apostles: after Sixtus sat Telesphorus; then Hyginus; then Pius; then Anicetus. And when Soter took the place after him, then the twelfth bishop of Rome was Eleutherius. F951 Thus after Clement followed (as is said) Evaristus, in the second or third year of Trajan, as saith Eusebius; or, as Nicephorus saith, the fourth year of the said emperor. But howsoever the count of years standeth, little or nothing remaineth of the acts and monuments either of this, or of other bishops of Rome in those days; whereby it may appear that no great account was then made of Roman bishops in those days, whose acts and deeds were then either so lightly reputed, or so slenderly committed to history.

    Notwithstanding, certain decretal epistles are remaining, or rather thrust upon us in their names; containing in them little substance of any doctrine, but altogether stuffed with laws, injunctions, and stately decrees, little to the purpose, and less savouring of the nature of that time then present. Amongst whom also are numbered the two epistles of this Evaristus. “And when he had given these orders, and had made six priests, two deacons, and five bishops for sundry places,” saith the story, “he suffered martyrdom.” But what kind of death, for what cause he suffered, what constancy he showed, what was the order or conversation of his life, is nothing touched; and seemeth therefore the more to be doubted that which our new histories do say, because the old ancient writers have no remembrance thereof, which otherwise would not have passed such things over in silence, if they had been true. Again, neither do the authors fully agree in the time of his martyrdom, which Nauclerus witnesseth to be in the last year of Trajan: but Platina thinketh rather that he suffered under Adrian. The Fasciculus temporum referreth it to the third year of Adrian; Volateran to the beginning of the reign of Adrian. F954 Contrary, Eusebius (coming near to the simple truth, as seemeth) doth affirm that Evaristus succeeded Clement in the third year of Trajan; and so, giving to him nine years, it should follow thereby that Evaristus deceased the twelfth year of Trajan. F955 After whom succeeded next Alexander I. in the governance of that church, of whose time and death the like discrepance is among the writers.

    Marianus Scotus saith, he was the fourth bishop from Peter: but that could not be. Some say he was the sixth, and some the seventh: but they likewise were deceived; for the most part all do grant Sixtus to be the sixth.

    Damasus affirmeth, that he was in the reign of Trajan: and how can that be, when the said Damasus affirmed before, that Evaristus his predecessor suffered in the last year of Trajan, and then the bishopric stood at least a month void: except he mean that the said Alexander I. succeeded Evaristus in the last year of Trajan. But then how can that stand with Bede and Marianus a28 Scotus, which say that he suffered under Trajan; or with Otho of Frisinghen, who saith, he suffered the fourth year of Adrian, when he had been bishop ten years, by the general consent of most writers?

    They which write of the deeds and doings of this blessed bishop, as Bergomensis, Antoninus, Equilinus, and such as follow them, declare that he had converted a great part of the senators to the faith of Christ, amongst whom was Hermes, a great man in Rome, whose son, being dead, Alexander raised again to life, and likewise restored sight to his maid being blind. Adrian the emperor, then absent, hearing this, sent word to Aurelian, prefect of Rome, to apprehend Alexander, with Euentius and Theodulus (otherwise called Theodorus, as Platina saith), his two deacons, and Hermes, and to commit them to ward with Quirinus the tribune: which being done, as their story recordeth, Alexander, inclosed in a diverse prison from Hermes, notwithstanding, by the guiding of an angel, through three doors with three locks a-piece, was brought with candlelight to the prison of Hermes; and then returning to his own prison again, cured the daughter of Quirinus his keeper, named Balbina; by reason whereof the said Quirinus, with his whole household, were all baptized, and suffered also for the faith of Christ. “Thus then,” saith the story, “about the second year of Adrian, Aurelian the prefect took Alexander the bishop, with Hermes, his wife, children, and his whole household, to the number of one thousand two hundred and fifty, and threw them into prison. And not long after, the said Alexander, with Euentius his deacon, and Hermes, and the rest, were burnt in a furnace. Theodulus, another deacon of Alexander, seeing and rebuking the cruelty of the tyrant, suffered also the same martyrdom.”

    Quirinus also, the same time (as saith Antoninus), having first his tongue cut out, then his hands and feet off, afterward was beheaded and cast to the dogs: Equilinus saith, that he was beheaded and cast into the Tiber, in the reign of the emperor Claudius; but that cannot be: albeit Platina maketh relation but only of Alexander, with his two deacons aforesaid, declaring moreover, that, in the time of this bishop, Sapphira of Antioch, and Sabina, a Roman, suffered martyrdom. F959 Florilegus, the author of “Flores Historiarum,” affirmeth, that Alexander, bishop of Rome, was beheaded seven miles out of Rome (where he lieth buried), in the year one hundred and five; but that agreeth not with the chronicles above recited. Eusebius recordeth of him no more, but that in the third year of Adrian, he ended his life and office, after he had been bishop ten years.

    Divers miracles are reported of this Alexander, in the canon-legends, and lives of saints; which as I deny not but they may be true, so, because I cannot avouch them by any grave testimony of ancient writers, therefore I dare not affirm them, but do refer them to the authors and patrons thereof, where they are found. Notwithstanding, whatsoever is to be thought of his miracles, this is to be affirmed and not doubted, but that he was a godly and virtuous bishop.

    And as I say of his miracles, the like judgment also I have of the ordinances both of him and of Evaristus his predecessor, testified in the pope’s decrees by Gratian, where it is said that Evaristus divided divers titles in the city of Rome to the priests; also ordained in every city seven deacons to be associate with and assist the bishop in his preaching, both for his defense, and for the witness of truth. F963 Notwithstanding, if probable conjectures might stand against the authority of Gratian and his decrees, here might be doubted whether the absolute ordination of priests were first forbidden by Evaristus, and whether the intitulation of priests were first by him brought in or not: wherein an instance may be given to the contrary, that this intitulation seemeth to take its first beginning at the council of Chalcedon, and of pope Urban II. in the council of Placentia.

    In the which council of Chalcedon the words of the canon (making no mention of Evaristus at all) do expressly forbid, that any ecclesiastical person, either priest or deacon, should be ordained absolutely: otherwise the imposition of hands, without some proper title of the party ordained, to stand void and frustrate, etc. And likewise Urban II. in the council of Placentia doth decree the same, alleging no name of Evaristus, but the statutes of former councils. F967 Moreover, in the time of Evaristus, the church, then being under terrible persecutions, was divided into no peculiar parishes or cures, whereby any title might rise, but was scattered rather in corners and deserts, where they could best hide themselves. And as the church of Rome in those days was not divided into several parishes or cures (as I suppose), so neither was then any such open or solemn preaching in churches, that the assistance or testimony of seven deacons either could avail among the multitude of the heathen, or be needed amongst the christian secret congregations. Again, this constitution of seven deacons seemeth rather to spring out of the council of Neocesarea, long after Evaristus, where it was appointed that in every city, were it never so small, there should be seven deacons after the rule. And this rule the said council taketh out of the book of the Acts of the Apostles, making no word or mention of Evaristus at all. F969 But these (as is said) be but only conjectures, not denying that which is commonly received, but only showing what may be doubted in their epistles decretal.

    More unlike it seemeth to be true that is recorded and reported of Alexander, of whom we read, that he was the first founder and finder of holy water mixed with salt, to purge and sanctify them upon whom it is sprinkled. The words of the Distinction be these: “We bless water mixed with salt among the people, that all men, being sprinkled therewith, may be sanctified and purified; and this we command all priests to do,” etc. f970 The opinion is also (but how true I have not to affirm), that by him first was ordained water to be mixed with wine in the chalice. Item, that by him was brought in the piece of the mass canon, beginning, “Qui pridie,” etc.

    And thus much of these aforesaid bishops of Rome, martyred in the days of Trajan and Adrian.

    In this third persecution a29 Pliny the second, a man learned and famous, seeing the lamentable slaughter of Christians, and moved therewith to pity, wrote to Trajan of the pitiful persecution, certifying him that there were many thousands of them daily put to death, of which none did any thing contrary to the Roman laws worthy persecution; saving that they used to gather together in the morning before day, and sing hymns to a certain God whom they worshipped, called Christ — in all other their ordinances they were godly and honest. Whereupon the persecution by commandment of the emperor was greatly stayed and diminished. The form and copy of which epistle of Pliny, I thought here not inconvenient to set down, as followeth: f971 THE EPISTLE OF PLINY A HEATHEN PHILOSOPHER, TO TRAJAN THE EMPEROR.

    It is an inviolable rule with me, sir, to make reference of all those things wherein I doubt, to you; for who is better able either to direct my judgment or instruct my ignorance? I have never yet witnessed any of the proceedings against the Christians; and therefore I am quite at a loss what punishment ought to be administered, and to what extent; and how far it is proper that any inquiry should be made after them. Nor am I at all clear, whether any difference should be made for age, or whether those of tender years should be treated with the same severity as adults; also whether repentance should entitle to a pardon, or whether he who has once been a Christian should gain nothing by ceasing to be one; also, whether the bare profession, unaccompanied by any criminal conduct, should be visited with punishment, or only crimes which may be connected with the profession. In the mean time, I have adopted this course with those who have been brought before me as christians. I ask them whether they are Christians; if they confess to it, I repeat the question a second and a third time, accompanied with threats: if they persist, I order them to be led to punishment; for of this I never doubted, that, whatever their opinions might be, a contumacious and inflexible obstinacy deserved correction. Some of those infected with this infatuation, being citizens of Rome, I have reserved as privileged persons to be sent thither. But the crime spreading (as is usually the case) while it was actually under prosecution, more cases soon occurred. An anonymous libel was presented to me, containing the names of many persons, who yet denied that they were, or ever had been, Christians, and repeated after me an invocation of the gods, and offered worship with wine and incense to your image (which for this purpose I ordered to be brought with the images of the deities), and they even cursed Christ; things — which, I am told, no real Christian can be prevailed on to do: on this account I thought proper to discharge them. Others, on being accused by an open informer, have allowed that they were Christians, but presently after denied it; alleging, that once indeed they were Christians, but that they ceased to be such, some three years ago, others more, some even twenty years back: these, likewise, all worshipped your image and the images of the gods, and even cursed Christ: but the whole account they gave of their crime or error (whichever it is to be called) amounted only to this, — viz, that they were accustomed on a stated day to meet before day-light, and to repeat together a set form of prayer to Christ as a God, and to bind themselves by an obligation — not indeed to commit wickedness; but, on the contrary, — never to commit theft, robbery, or adultery, never to falsify their word, never to defraud any man: after which it was their custom to separate, and reassemble to partake in common of a harmless meal, from which last practice, however, they had desisted, in consequence of my edict, in which (agreeably to your command) I forbad such societies. This being the whole of their statement, I judged it quite necessary to examine two young women, who were said to be deaconesses, by torture, in order to get at the real truth; but I found out nothing except absurd and raving superstition. I have thought proper, therefore, to suspend all further proceedings in order to consult you. For it appears to me a matter which calls for serious deliberation, especially on account of the great number of the persons involved, many of all ranks and ages, and of both sexes, being already under prosecution, and more will soon be in the same situation. Not that I think it impossible to check and master the evil: this at least is certain, that the temples which were nearly deserted have begun to be frequented, and the sacred solemnities which had been intermitted are again attended, and victims, which lately were very scarce, owing to the scarcity of purchasers, are now selling every where. Whence it is easy to conjecture, that crowds might be reclaimed from their error, if only pardon should be promised to such as repent.


    You have followed just the course which you ought, my dear Secundus, in dealing with the Christians who have been brought before you; for no specific rule can be framed so as to be of universal application. These people, however, must not be purposely sought after: if they be brought before you and convicted, they must be punished; yet with this restriction, that if any one declares that he is not a Christian, and shall prove that he is not by the fact of supplicating our gods, however suspected for the past, let him be pardoned on his repentance.

    Tertullian, writing upon this letter of Trajan, above prefixed, thus saith: “O sentence of necessity confused! as men innocent he would not have them to be sought for, and yet causes them to be punished as persons guilty.” And thus the rage of that persecution ceased for a time, although, notwithstanding, many naughty-disposed men and cruel officers there were, who, upon false pretense to accomplish their wicked minds, ceased not to afflict the Christians in divers provinces: and especially if any occasion were given (never so little) for the enemies to take hold of, or if any commotion were raised in the provinces abroad, by and by the fault was laid upon the Christians. As in Jerusalem, after that the emperor Trajan had sent down his commandment that whosoever could be found of the stock of David, he should be inquired out and put to death: upon this Hegesippus, writing, saith, that certain sectaries there were of the Jewish nation, that accused Simeon, the bishop then of Jerusalem and son of Cleophas, to be of the stock of David, and that he was a christian. Of the which his accusers it happened also (saith the said Hegesippus), that certain of them likewise were apprehended and taken to be of the stock of David, and so right justly were put to execution themselves, who sought the destruction of others. As concerning Simeon the blessed bishop, the aforesaid Hegesippus thus writeth: That Simeon the Lord’s nephew, when he was accused to Atticus the proconsul by the malicious sect of the Jews, to be of the line of David, and to be a Christian, was scourged during the space of many days together, being a hundred and twenty years of age. In which his martyrdom he endured so constantly, that both the proconsul and all the multitude did marvel to see him of that age so constantly to suffer; and so at last, being crucified, finished his course in the Lord, for whom he suffered, as partly before also is recorded.

    In this persecution of Trajan above specified (which Trajan next followed after Nerva), besides the other aforementioned, also suffered Phocas bishop of Pontus, whom Trajan, because he would not do sacrifice to Neptune, caused to be cast into a hot lime-kiln, and afterward to be put into a scalding bath; where the constant godly martyr, in the testimony of Christ, ended his life, or rather entered into life. F975 In the same persecution suffered also Sulpitius and Servilianus, two Romans; whose wives are said to be Euphrosyne and Theodora, whom Sabina did convert to the faith of Christ, and who after were also martyred.

    Of which Sabina, Jacobus Philippus (author of the book called “Supplementum”) reporteth that she was beheaded on the mount Aventine in Rome, by Elipidus the prefect, in the days of Adrian. F976 Under whom also suffered Seraphia, a virgin of Antioch, as Hermannus and Antoninus witness. F977 The aforenamed authors, Antoninus and Equilinus, make mention moreover of Nereus and Achilleus, who, in this persecution of Trajan, had the crown of martyrdom, being put to death at Rome. Eusebius maketh mention of one Sagaris, who, about the same time, suffered martyrdom in Asia, Servilius Paulus being then proconsul in that province.

    In this persecution, beside many others, suffered the blessed martyr of Christ, Ignatius, who, unto this day, is had in famous reverence among very many. This Ignatius was appointed to the bishopric of Antioch next after Peter in succession. Some do say, that he, being sent from Syria to Rome, because he professed Christ, was given to the wild beasts to be devoured. F980 It is also said of him, that when he passed through Asia, being under the most strict custody of his keepers, he strengthened and confirmed the churches a30 through all the cities as he went, both with his exhortations and preaching of the word of God; and admonished them especially, and before all other things, to beware and shun those heresies risen and sprung up newly among them, and that they should cleave and stick fast to the tradition of the apostles; which he, for their better safeguard, being now about to suffer martyrdom, judged it necessary to put in writing. Accordingly, having come to Smyrna, where Polycarp was, he wrote one epistle to the church of Ephesus, wherein he maketh mention of Onesimus as their pastor; and another he wrote to the church at Magnesia on the Maeander, wherein also he mentioneth Damas as their bishop. Also another he wrote to the church at Tralles, the bishop of which church at that time he noteth to be one Polybius. Another he wrote to the church at Rome, wherein he exhorts them not to use means for his deliverance from martyrdom, lest they should deprive him of that which he most longed and hoped for. F981 But it will be worth while citing a short passage thereof, in confirmation of what has been said. F982 “From Syria to Rome,” saith he, “I fight with,wild beasts, by land and by sea, by night and by day, being chained among ten leopards (that is, a band of soldiers), who are made even worse by kind treatment. By their injuries, however, I learn daily the more to be a disciple of Jesus; — yet am I not hereby justified. O that I were come to the real wild beasts, which are prepared for me! May I find them eager to dispatch me! I will encourage them to devour me without delay, and not use me as some, whom through fear they would not touch. And if they will not dispatch me willingly, I will provoke them to it. Pardon me; — I know what is good for me.

    Now I begin to be a disciple. I care for nothing, of visible or invisible things, so that I may but win Christ. Let fire and the cross, let the companies of wild beasts, let breaking of bones and tearing of limbs, let the grinding of the whole body, and all the malice of the devil, come upon me; be it so, only may I win Christ Jesus!”

    Such things wrote he from the aforesaid city of Smyrna, to the congregations which we have recited. And even when he was now sentenced to be thrown to the beasts, such was the burning desire that he had to suffer, that he spake, what time he heard the lions roaring, saying, “I am the wheat of Christ: I am going to be ground with the teeth of wild beasts, that I may be found pure bread.” He suffered in the eleventh year of Trajan the emperor. F983 Besides this godly Ignatius, many thousands also were put to death in the same persecution, as appeareth by the letter of Pliny the younger above recited, written to the emperor. Jerome in his book intituled “Catalogus Scrip. Eccles.” F984 maketh mention of one Publius, bishop of Athens, who, for the faith of Christ, the same time during this persecution, was put to death and martyred.


    Next after this Trajan, succeeded Adrian the emperor, under whom suffered Alexander the bishop of Rome, with his two deacons Euentius and Theodorus; also Hermes and Quirinus, with their families, as late before was declared.

    It is signified moreover in the histories, that in the time of this Adrian Zeno, a nobleman of Rome, with ten thousand two hundred and three were slain for Christ. F986 Henry de Herford and Bergomensis make mention of ten thousand, as being crucified in the days of this Adrian, on mount Ararat, crowned with crowns of thorn, and thrust into the sides with sharp darts, after the example of the Lord’s passion; whose captains (as Antoninus and Vincentius declare) were Achaicus, Heliades, Theodorus, and Carcerius. Whether this story be the same with the other above of Zeno or not, it is doubted. F990 As touching the miracles done, and the speaking of the angel, I refer the certainty thereof to Vincentius, and such other like authors, where more things seem to be told than be true.

    There was one Eustachius a captain, whom Trajan in time past had sent out to war against the barbarians. After he had by God’s grace valiantly subdued his enemies, and now was returning home with victory, Adrian, for joy, meeting him in his journey to bring him home with triumph, by the way first would do sacrifice to Apollo for the victory gotten, willing also Eustachius to do the same with him. But when Eustachius could by no means thereto be enforced, being brought to Rome, there with his wife and children he suffered martyrdom under the foresaid Adrian. It were a long process here to recite all the miracles contained, or rather suspected, in the story of this Eustachius; concerning his conversion and death; how the crucifix appeared to him between the horns of an hart; of the saving of his wife from the shipmen; of one of his sons saved from the lion, the other saved from the wolf; of their miraculous preservation from the wild beasts, and from the torments of fire — mentioned in Bergomensis, Vincentius, and others. F991 All which as I find them in no ancient records, so I leave them to their authors, and the compilers of the legends.

    We read also of Faustinus and Jobita , a31 citizens of Breschia in Italy, who suffered-martyrdom with like grievous torments. At the sight whereof one Calocerius, seeing their so great patience in so great torments, cried out with these words, “Verily great is the God of christians:” which words being heard, forthwith he was apprehended, and being brought to the place of their execution, was made partaker of their martyrdom. F995 The history of Nicephorus maketh mention of Anthia, a godly woman, who committed her son Eleutherius to Anicetus bishop of Rome, to be brought up in the doctrine of christian faith; who afterwards, being bishop of Illyricum , a32 was beheaded with his aforesaid mother Anthia. F996 Justus also, and Pastor; two brethren, with like martyrdom ended their lives in a city of Spain, called Alcala, under the said Adrian the emperor.

    Likewise Symphorissa, the wife of Getulus a33 the martyr, with her seven children, is said about the same time to suffer; who first was much and often beaten and scourged; afterwards was hanged up by the hair of her head; at last, having a huge stone fastened unto her, was thrown headlong into the river, and, after that, her seven children in like manner, with sundry and divers kinds of punishment diversly martyred by the tyrant.

    The story of Hermannus, and Antoninus, and others, report of Sophia, with her three children also; also of Seraphia and Sabina, as having suffered under the said emperor, about the year of our Lord 130.

    As concerning Alexander bishop of Rome, with his two deacons, also with Hermes, Quirinus, Seraphia and Sabina, some writers (as Bede and Marianus Scotus) record that they suffered under Trajan. Others again (as Otho of Frisinghen; with like more) report that they suffered in the fourth year of this emperor Adrian: but of these martyrs sufficient hath been said before.

    A little before , a34 mention was made of Symphorissa, otherwise named Symphorosa, wife of Getulus, with her seven sons. This Getulus or Getulius was a minister or teacher (as witness the Martyrology [and Chronicle] of Ado ) in the city of Tibur, which Getulus, with Cerealis, Amantius, and Primitivus, by the commandment of Adrian, were condemned to the fire; wherein they were martyred and put to death. The names, moreover, of the seven sons of this Symphorosa I find to be Crescens, Julianus, Nemesius, Primitivus, Justinus, Stacteus, and Eugenius, whom the [Martyrology and] Chronicle of Ado a35 declare to have been put to death at the commandment of Adrian, being fastened to seven stakes, and so racked up with a pulley, and at last were thrust through; Crescens in the neck, Julianus in the breast, Nemesius in the heart; Primitivus about the navel, Justinus cut in every joint of his body, Stacteus run through with spears, Eugenius cut asunder from the breast to the lower parts. Next day their bodies were all together cast into a deep pit, by the idolatrous priests entitled “ Ad septem Biothanatos . a36 “ After the martyrdom of whom Symphorosa, the mother, did likewise suffer, as is before declared.

    While Adrian the emperor was at Athens, he was initiated into the Eleusinian and most of the other mysteries of the Greeks; after which he gave free leave and liberty, whosoever would, to persecute the Christians. Whereupon Quadratus, a man of no less excellent zeal than of famous learning, being then bishop of Athens, and disciple of the apostles, or at least succeeding incontinent the age of the apostles, and following after Publius (who a little before was martyred for the testimony of Christ), did offer up and exhibit unto Adrian the emperor a learned and excellent apology in the defense of the christian religion; wherein he declared the christians, without all just cause or desert, to be so cruelly intreated and persecuted. The like, also, did Aristides, an excellent philosopher in Athens, who, for his singular learning and eloquence, being notified to the emperor, and coming to his presence, there made before him an eloquent oration. Moreover he did exhibit unto the said emperor a memorable apology for the Christians, so full of learning and eloquence, that, as Jerome saith, it was a spectacle and admiration to men in his time, that loved to see wit and learning. Over and besides these, there was also another named Serenius Granianus, proconsul of Asia, who likewise did write very pithy and grave letters to Adrian the emperor, showing and declaring therein that it was not consonant with right or reason, for the blood of innocents to be given to the rage and fury of the people, and so to be condemned for no fault, only for the name and sect that they followed.

    Thus, the goodness of God being moved with the prayers and constant labor of these so excellent men, so turned the heart of the emperor, that he, being better informed concerning the order and profession of the christians, became more favorable unto them. And, immediately upon the same, directed his letters to Minucius Fundanus (as is partly before mentioned), proconsul of Asia, willing him from henceforth to exercise no more such extremity against the christians, as to condemn any of them, having no other crime objected against them, but only their name. The copy of which his letter, because that Justin in his apology doth allege it, I thought, therefore, to express the same in his own words, as followeth: — THE LETTER OF ADRIAN THE EMPEROR, TO THE PROCONSUL, MINUCIUS FUNDANUS.

    I have received a letter written to me by the very illustrious Serenius Granianus, your predecessor in office. The subject is one which I feel bound to inquire into, both that these people may not be vexatiously disturbed, and that base informers may not be encouraged in their vile occupation. To the matter then — if the people of the province will appear openly to support their charges against the Christians, so as to give them opportunity of answering for themselves before the tribunal, let them keep to this alone, and not proceed by rude demands and vain clamours: for it is much more becoming, if any one wishes to accuse, that you should take regular cognizance of the matter. If then any one shall accuse them and shew that they are breaking the laws, do you determine according to the degree of their offense. But if, by Hercules, the charge prove to be a calumny, do you estimate the enormity of such calumny and take care to punish it. f1002 Thus, by the merciful providence of God, some more quiet and rest was given to the church, although Hermannus thinketh these halcyon days did not very long continue, but that the emperor, changing his edict, began to renew again persecution of God’s people, albeit this soundeth not to be so by the words of Melito in his apology to Marcus Antoninus hereafter ensuing. In the mean time this is certain, that in the days of this Adrian, the Jews rebelled against the Romans and spoiled the country of Palestine: against whom the emperor sent Julius Severus, who overthrew in Jewry fifty castles, and burnt and destroyed nine hundred and fourscore villages and towns, and slew of the Jews fifty thousand, so that with famine, sickness, sword, and fire, Judah was almost desolate. But at length Adrian the emperor, who otherwise was named AElius, repaired and enlarged the city again of Jerusalem, which was called after his name AEliopolis, or AElia Capitolina, the inhabiting whereof he granted only to the Gentiles, and to the Christians, forbidding the Jews utterly to enter into the city.

    After the death of Adrian, who died by bleeding at the nose, succeeded Antoninus Pius, in the year of our Lord 138, and reigned twenty and three years, who, for his clemency and modest behavior, had the name of Pius , and is for the same in histories commended. His saying was, that he had rather save one citizen, than destroy a thousand of his adversaries. At the beginning of his reign, such was the state of the church, as Adrian his predecessor had left it, as in which, although there was no edict set forth to persecute the Christians, yet the tumultuous rage of the heathen multitude, for the causes above specified, did not cease to disquiet and afflict the quiet people of God; imputing and ascribing to the Christians whatsoever misfortune happened contrary unto their desires; moreover, inventing against them all false crimes and contumelies whereof to accuse them. By reason whereof, divers there were in sundry places much molested, and some put to death: albeit, as it is to be supposed, not by the consent of the emperor, who of nature was so mild and gentle, that either he raised up no persecution against the Christians, or else he soon stayed the same, being moved.

    And here occasion a37 serveth to speak of Justin, a man in learning and philosophy excellent, and a great defender of the christian religion; who also exhibited two Apologies, concerning the defense of christian doctrine, the one to Antoninus Pius, the emperor, the other to the senate of Rome.

    This Justin was born at Neapolis, in the country of Palestine, whose father was Priscus son of Bacchius, as he himself doth testify, by whom in his youth he was set to school to learn; where, in process of time, he became a famous and worthy philosopher, of whose excellency many learned and notable men do record. For first he, being altogether inflamed and ravished with desire of knowledge, would in no wise be satisfied in his mind, before he had gotten instructors singularly seen in all kind of philosophy. Whereupon he writeth of himself, in the beginning of his dialogue with Trypho, thus, declaring that in the beginning he, being desirous of joining that sect and society, applied himself to be scholar to a certain Stoic, and, remaining with him a time, when he nothing profited in divine knowledge (whereof the Stoic had no skill, and affirmed the knowledge thereof not to be necessary), he forsook him, and went to another, of the sect of the Peripatetics, a sharp-witted man, as he thought; with whom, after he had been awhile, he demanded of him a stipend for his teaching, for the better confirmation of their familiarity. Whereupon Justin, accounting him as no philosopher, left him, and departed. And yet not satisfied in mind, but desirous to hear of further learning in philosophy, adjoined himself to one that professed the Pythagorean sect, a man of great fame, and one who made no small account of himself. Whom after he had followed a time, his master demanded of him whether he had any sight in music, astronomy, and geometry; without the sight of which sciences (he said) he could not be apt to receive the knowledge of virtue and felicity; unless before he had used to apply his mind from sensible matters to the contemplation of things intelligible. And, speaking much in the commendation of these sciences, how profitable and necessary they were, after that Justin had declared himself not to be seen therein, the philosopher gave him over; which grieved Justin not a little, and so much the more, because he thought his master to have some knowledge in those sciences. After this Justin, considering with himself what time was requisite to the learning of these sciences, and thinking not to defer any longer, thought best to resort to the sect of the Platonists, for the great fame that ran of them. Wherefore he chose unto him a singular learned man of that sect, who lately was come to those parts; and so, remaining with him, seemed to profit not a little in contemplation of supernal things and invisible forms, insomuch that he thought shortly to aspire to such sharpness of wit and wisdom, that, out of hand, he might achieve to the comprehension and contemplation of God; which is the end of Plato’s philosophy. And in this manner he bestowed his youth: but afterward he, growing to a riper age, how and by what means the said Justin came to the knowledge and profession of Christianity, it followeth likewise in his first Apology: where he affirmeth of himself (as witnesseth Eusebius ), that when he did behold the Christians in their torments and sufferings to be so constant in their profession, he was therewith marvellously moved.

    After this manner reasoning with himself: that it was impossible for that kind of people to be subject to any vice or carnality, still less cannibalism, which vices, of their own nature, are not able to sustain any sharp adversity, much less the bitterness of death. The sight whereof helped him not a little (being of his own nature inclined to the searching of true knowledge and virtue), to begin to love and embrace the christian religion, for so he doth witness of himself in the end of his second Apology; signifying there, how it was his seeking and endeavor to attain to Christianity, when he perceived how the Christians, by malice of wicked persons, were compelled to suffer wrong and torments, and to be evil spoken of. By sight whereof, as he saith himself, he became a Christian, through this occasion. Being in this state of mind, as is aforesaid, it came in his head, for his more quietness, to go aside to a certain solitary place void of concourse of people, near to the sea-side; whither as he approached, thinking there to be all alone, he fell in with an old and venerable father of a comely visage and gentle behavior, who, making up to him, began to reason with him: where, after long disputation, when the old man had declared unto him, that there was no knowledge of truth amongst the philosophers, who neither knew God, neither were aided by the Holy Ghost; and further had reasoned with him of the immortality of the soul, of the reward of the godly, and punishment of the wicked: then Justin, being confirmed with his reasons and arguments, yielded to him of his own accord; and demanded of him by what means he might attain to that true knowledge of God, whereof he had spoken; who then counselled him to read and search the prophets, adjoining therewith prayer. “But what master,” quoth Justin, “should I use for the instruction thereof, and who shall be able to help us if these philosophers (as you say) lack the truth, and are void of the same?” To whom the old father answered: “There have been, many years before all these reputed philosophers, others more ancient than they, who were blessed, just, and lovers of God, who spake by the spirit of God, foreseeing and prophesying these things which we see now come to pass; and therefore they are called prophets. These alone saw the truth, and revealed it to men, neither fearing nor passing for any; who were seduced with no desire of human applause, but only spake and taught those things which they themselves both heard and saw, being inspired with the holy Spirit of God; whose writings and works yet to this day remain, out of which the reader may receive great profit and knowledge of things, as concerning the first creation of the world, and end of the same, with other things necessary to be known of every true philosopher. But faith is necessary to profit by them; for in their teaching they do not use any demonstration, as being in themselves (independently of any demonstration) sure witnesses of the truth. Moreover, the course of events, (not to mention that the miracles also, which they wrought, entitle them to credit), both past and present, constraineth us of necessity to believe the things spoken by them, when they both glorified God as the Maker and Father of all things, and also did prophesy before, of Christ his Son to be sent of him; all which, the false prophets, being filled with a false and corrupt spirit, neither have done, nor do, but only take upon them to work certain prodigious wonders to astound men, setting out thereby to the world false and unclean spirits. But before all things, make thy prayer that the gates of light may be opened unto thee, for these things cannot be seen or comprehended by every man, but only by him to whom God and his Christ give the understanding thereof.”

    These things, with much more (which now leisure serveth not to prosecute), after the aforesaid old father had declared unto him, he departed, exhorting him well to follow the things which he had spoken; and, after that, Justin (as he himself witnesseth) saw him no more.

    Immediately after this, Justin, being all inflamed as with a fire kindled in his breast, began to conceive a love and zeal towards the prophets, and all such as were favored of Christ. And thus he, revolving in his mind more and more these words, found only this philosophy among all other professions both sure and profitable. And so became he a philosopher at first, and by these means, afterwards, he was made a Christian, and baptized. But where he received this holy sacrament of baptism is not recorded, nor yet by what occasion he left his country and came to Rome.

    This only we read in Jerome, that he was in Rome, and there used certain exercises which he called Diatribes, disputing there with Crescens, a Cynic philosopher, as is before touched. But this is certain, how that Justin, after he had received the profession of the christian religion, became an earnest defender of the same; travailing and disputing against all the adversaries thereof, fearing neither peril of life nor danger of death, whereby he might maintain the doctrine of Christ against the malicious blasphemers, and also augment the number of christian believers, as may appear by his vehement disputations against the heathen philosophers: also, it well appeareth in that long disputation which he had with Trypho, a Jew, at Ephesus; as also in his confutations of heretics. Furthermore, his Conflicts and Apologies, which with great courage and boldness he exhibited against the persecutors of the Christians, both to the emperor and the magistrates, yea and the whole senate of Rome, do testify the same.

    Of the which Apologies , a38 the first he wrote to Antoninus Pius the emperor, and the second to the senate of Rome, as is before mentioned; where, in the first, writing to Antoninus the emperor, and his successors, with gravity and free liberty he declareth unto them how they had the name, commonly being reputed and taken as virtuous philosophers, maintainers of justice, lovers of learning: but whether they were so, their acts declared. As for him, neither for flattery, nor favor at their hands, he was constrained thus to write unto them; but only to sue unto them, and desire a serious and righteous kind of dealing in their judgments and sentences (for it becometh princes to follow uprightness and piety in their judgments, not tyranny and violence); and also in plain words chargeth as well the emperor as the senate with manifest wrong, for that they did not grant the Christians that which is not denied to all other malefactors, judging men to death not convicted, but only for the hatred of the name. “Other men which be appeached,” said he, “in judgment, are not condemned before they are convicted: but on us , you take our name only for the crime, when indeed you ought to see justice done upon our accusers.” And again, saith he, “If a Christian, being accused, only deny that name, him you release, if not able to charge him with any other offense. But, if he stand to his name, only for his confession you cast him: whereas, indeed it were your duty rather to examine their manner of life, what thing they confess or deny, and according to their deserts to see justice done.”

    And, in the same, further he saith: “You examine not the causes, but, incensed with rash affections, as with the spur of fury, ye slay and murder them not convicted, without any respect of justice.” And further he addeth, “Some peradventure will say, certain of them have been apprehended and taken in evil doings: as though,” saith he, “you used to inquire upon them, being brought afore you, and not commonly to condemn them before due examination of their offense, for the cause above mentioned.” Where also, in the end of the said Apology, after this manner he reprehendeth them; “You do degenerate,” quoth he, “from the goodness of your predecessors, whose example you follow not; for your father Adrian, of famous memory, caused to be proclaimed, that Christians accused before the judge should not be condemned, unless they were found guilty of some notorious crime.” I find that all his vehement and grave Apology standeth upon most strong and firm probations, denying, that the Christians ought by conscience, at the will and commandment of the emperor and senate, to do sacrifice to the idols: for which they, being condemned, affirm that they suffer open wrong; affirming, moreover, that the true and only religion is the religion of the Christians, whose doctrine and conversation have no fault.

    And likewise, in his second Apology, writing with great liberty to the senate, he declared that of necessity he was compelled to write and utter his mind and conscience to them. For that in persecuting of the Christians they did neglect their duty, and highly offended God, and therefore need they had to be admonished. And further, mentions one of the martyrs as reproaching Urbicius, prefect of the city, saying, “That he put men to death and torments for no offense committed, but for the confession only of the name of Christ; which proceedings and judgments neither became the emperor, nor Caesar’s son, nor the senate;” defending, moreover, in the said Apology, and purging the Christians of such crimes as falsely were laid and objected against them by the heathen.

    By these things a39 it is apparent, with what zeal and faith this Justin did strive against the persecutors, which (as he said) could kill only, but could not hurt.

    This Justin , a39 by the means and malice of Crescens the philosopher (as will be hereafter declared), suffered martyrdom under Marcus Antoninus Verus, about the time that Polycarp was martyred in Asia, as witnesseth Eusebius. f1012 Justin, although with these and such-like persuasions he did not so prevail with the emperor, as to cause him to love his religion and become a Christian (for that is not recorded), yet thus much he obtained, that Antoninus, writing to his officers in Asia in the behalf of the Christians, required and commanded them, that those Christians only who were found guilty of any trespass, should suffer; and such as were not convicted, should not for the name only be punished, because they were called Christians, as well may appear a40 by his letter sent down to the commons of Asia, the tenor whereof here ensueth. f1013 THE EPISTLE OF ANTONINUS PIUS, TO THE COMMONS OF ASIA.

    Emperor and Caesar, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, Armenicus, Pontifex Maximus, tribune fifteen times, consul thrice, to the common council of Asia, greeting.

    I am persuaded, that the gods will take care that persons such as you describe these Christians to be, shall not escape with impunity; for they are much more concerned to punish those who refuse to worship them, than you are. But are they quite the characters you represent? You overwhelm them with trouble, and only confirm them in the opinions which they really do hold, when you charge them with being “atheists:” and it seems infinitely preferable to them to die for their God, than to live under such an imputation. And here it may not be amiss for me to refer to the earthquakes which are continually happening, and remind you how disheartened you are whenever they occur, and how you then envy these people their state of mind, as compared with your own: at such seasons whilst they wax the more bold in their God, you seem to have forgotten that there are gods, and the worship of the eternal is the last thing you think of; and yet the Christians who do worship him, you hunt and persecute to death. Many of the governors of the provinces heretofore wrote about these people to our father of blessed memory, who in reply directed them “not to molest the Christians, unless they should appear to be attempting something against the Roman government.” I have also myself received many communications respecting them, to which I have returned answer to the same effect as my father did. Wherefore, if any one hereafter shall prosecute a Christian, merely as such, though the accused should plainly be proved to be one, let him be acquitted; but let the accuser be punished.

    This godly edict of the emperor was proclaimed at Ephesus , a41 in the public assembly of all Asia, whereof Melito also, bishop of Sardis, who flourished in the same time, maketh mention, in his apology written in defense of our doctrine, to M. Antoninus Verus, as hereafter (Christ willing) shall appear. By this means, then, the tempest of persecution in those days began to be appeased, through the merciful providence of God, who would not have his church utterly to be overthrown, though hardly yet to grow.


    After the decease of the aforesaid quiet and mild prince Antoninus Pius (who, among all other emperors of that time made the most quiet end), followed his son Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Verus (with Lucius Verus, his brother), about the year of our Lord 161, a man of nature more stern and severe; and, although in study of philosophy and in civil government no less commendable, yet, toward the christians sharp and fierce; by whom was moved the fourth persecution after Nero.

    Among those who sustained a42 the cruelty of this persecution at Rome, under this Marcus Antoninus Verus, is mentioned Felicitas, with her seven children. The names of her children Bergomensis, and other historians, do thus recite: Januarius, Felix, Philip, Silvanus, Alexander, Vitalis, and Martial. Of whom her first and eldest son, Januarius, after he was whipped and scourged with rods, was pressed to death with leaden weights: Felix and Philip had their brains beaten out with malls: Silvanus was cast down headlong, and had his neck broken: furthermore, Alexander, Vitalis, and Martial, were beheaded. Last of all, Felicitas, the mother (otherwise than the accustomed manner was for such as had borne children), was slain with the sword. f1015 To these above recited, is also to be added Praxedes, a blessed virgin, the daughter of a citizen of Rome, who, in the time of Anicetus there bishop, was so brought up in the doctrine of Christ, and so affected to his religion, that she, with her sister Patentiana, bestowed all her patrimony upon the relieving of poor Christians, giving all her time to fasting and prayer, and to the burying of the bodies of the martyrs. And after she had made free all her family with her servants, after the death of her sister she also departed, and was buried in peace.

    Under the same Antoninus also suffered Ptolomaeus and Lucius, for the confession of Christ; whose history, because it is described in the Apology of Justin Martyr, I thought therefore so to set forth the same, as it is alleged in Eusebius, declaring the manner and occasion thereof, in words and effect as followeth: — A certain woman had a husband who led a lascivious and libidinous course of life; she herself also had formerly been guilty of the same.

    But having become acquainted with the christian religion, she became chaste herself and made it her constant endeavor to persuade him to be the same; repeating to him ofttimes the truths and precepts of Christianity, and telling him of the punishment in eternal fire which was prepared for such as lead an obscene and disorderly life. But he, persevering in his lascivious habits, alienated thereby his wife’s affections. At length the woman, judging it a wicked thing for her to cohabit with a husband who (disregarding the law of nature and common propriety) only sought ways to gratify his lust; was minded to be divorced from him. But her friends advising her still to continue with him in hope that he might yet mend, she put a force on herself and continued with him.

    But after this, her husband, having gone a journey to Alexandria, was reported to her as living there more licentiously than ever; whereupon, she (fearing lest by her continuing in connection with him, she should be counted a partaker of his sins) sent him what is termed a bill of divorce and separated from him. But this excellent fellow, who ought to have rejoiced that his wife (who formerly committed the basest lewdness, and took pleasure in drunkenness and all manner of vice) had now desisted from such practices herself and wished him to desist also, and had got divorced from him only because he would not comply, publicly accused her of being a Christian. Whereupon she presented a petition to thee, O emperor, that she might have liberty first to set her affairs in order; after which settlement she would put in an answer to the accusation. To which you condescended.

    But her heretofore husband, being unable to substantiate anything against her, set upon one Ptolomaeus (the same whom Urbicius has put to death) who had been her instructor in the christian religion, in the following manner. He persuaded a centurion, who was his friend, to apprehend Ptolomaeus, and having put him in bonds to ask him this one question, Whether he were a Christian.

    Ptolomaeus (being a lover of truth and a hater of deceit and equivocation) confessed that he was a Christian; whereupon the centurion caused him to be bound in fetters, and afflicted him with a long imprisonment. At length being brought before Urbicius, he was again asked the plain question, Whether he were a Christian.

    He, knowing in himself the blessings he had received through the doctrine of Christ, again confessed himself a follower of that heavenly learning. For he who denies himself to be a Christian, either denies because he disapproves of Christianity, or avoids the profession of it because he feels himself unworthy and a stranger to its blessings; neither of which can be said of a true Christian. He was immediately ordered to execution. Whereupon one Lucius (himself a Christian) considering the injustice of the sentence, said to Urbicius; — “What is the reason that you have sentenced a man who is neither an adulterer, nor a fornicator, nor a murderer, nor a thief, nor a robber, nor convicted of any misdemeanor whatever, but simply owns to the appellation of a Christian? Such proceedings as these, O Urbicius, are not in character with the “Pious” emperor, or the “philosopher” son of Caesar, or the “sacred” senate. But Urbicius made no reply, except, “You seem to be one of this sort, yourself.” Lucius admitting that it was so, Urbicius ordered him also to be led off to execution. He declared himself much obliged to him, “for I shall be delivered (said he) from such wicked tyrants, and go to my God, a gracious father and king.” A third stepping forward and making the same profession, was condemned to undergo the same punishment.

    And thus much out of the Apology of Justin, by the which story it may appear not to be true what Gratian attributeth unto Hyginus, bishop of Rome, the deciding of causes matrimonial, seeing that in Justin’s time (who was in the same age as Hyginus), the divorcement of this woman in this history above touched, was not decided by any ecclesiastical law, or brought before any bishop, but was brought before a heathen prince, and determined by the law civil.

    Henry of Herford a43 [in Westphalia] recordeth, out of the Martyrology of Isuardus, of one Concordius, a minister of the city of Spoleto, who, in the reign of this Antoninus Verus, because he would not sacrifice unto Jupiter, but did spit in the face of the idol, after divers and sundry punishments sustained, at last with the sword was beheaded. Vincentius reciteth a long story of his acts and life, whereof some part, perhaps, may seem tolerable. But this verily appeareth to be false and fabulous, concerning the water flowing beside his sepulcher in the aforenamed city of Spoleto, unto the which water was given (saith Vincentius) by the virtue of him for whose name he suffered, to restore sight to the blind, to heal the sick, and to cast out devils, etc. Which kind of virtue, to open the eyes of the blind, and to expel devils, neither doth God give to any creature of water, neither is it likely that Concordius, the blessed martyr, did or would require any such thing at the hands of God.

    Isuardus and Bede, Vincentius and Henry of Herford, with other authors more, make relation of divers other martyrs that by sundry kinds of torments were put to death under the aforesaid Antoninus Verus: the names of whom be Symmetrius, Florellus, Pontian, Alexander, Caius, Epipodius, Victor, Corona, Marcellus, and Valerian. The cause of whose martyrdom was the reprehending of idolatry, and because, at the emperor’s commandment, they would not sacrifice to idols. Many sorts of punishments and miracles are told of them; but at length the end of them all is this, that they were beheaded. Whereby it may be the more suspected the histories of these writers not to be certain or true, as well touching these as also other martyrs, as may appear in Vincentius, in Petrus “De Natalibus,” and other authors of like sort. In which authors they who list to read more of their miracles, there may find them.

    In the rage of this a44 fourth persecution, under the reign of Antoninus Verus, suffered also the before-mentioned good Justin, who first exhibited unto the emperor, and to the senate, his second Apology in the defense of the Christians, and afterward himself also died a martyr. Of whom, in the history of Eusebius, it is thus recorded: — About the time that Polycarp, with divers other saints, suffered martyrdom in Pergamos, a city of Asia, this Justin presented a second book in defense of our doctrine to the emperors aforesaid.

    After which he was also crowned with like martyrdom unto those whom he, in his book, had defended; through the malicious means and crafty circumvention of Crescens.

    This Crescens was a philosopher, conforming his life and manners to the Cynical denomination, whom because this Justin had confuted in open audience; he therefore, as much as in him lay, did work and procure unto him this crown of martyrdom. And thus much did also Justin (himself a philosopher of no mean order) foresee and declare in his aforesaid Apology, predicting almost all those things beforehand which were to happen unto him, in these words. “I also expect myself to be betrayed and put in the stocks by some one of those whom I have named, perhaps by that pseudo-philosopher, Crescens, who is louder of fame than of truth: for the man does not deserve the name of a philosopher, who publicly asserts what he does not know to be true — for example, ‘that the Christians are atheistical and impious persons’ — merely to gratify and please the multitude. In so doing he commits a grievous error. If he never met with any account of our doctrine, it is very wicked of him to inveigh against us, and he is far worse in so doing than the generality of men, who are mostly cautious how they talk about what they do not understand, lest they speak what is false. If he has met with it, but did not understand the majestic sublimity thereof; or, understanding it, acts thus in order to avoid the suspicion of being himself a Christian, that is still more base and wicked, in that he avows himself the slave of popular opinion and the fear of man. For I would have you know that, when I proposed and asked him some questions on the subject, I discovered that he really knew nothing about it. And to prove the truth of what I say, I am ready (if these our disputations have not come to your knowledge) to propose the questions to him again in your presence — and this exercise will be by no means derogatory to your Imperial Dignity. But if both my questions and his answers have been made known to you, then it must be clear to you already, that he is quite ignorant of our religion. If, however, he understands it, but does not freely declare himself because of his auditors, then is he plainly no philosopher (as I said before), but a slave to popular opinion; and has no esteem for that most excellent saying of Socrates in Plato, that no man is to be preferred before the truth.”

    And thus much of Justin, out of Justin himself.

    Now, to verify that which Justin here of himself doth prophesy, “That Crescens would procure his death,” Tatian (a man brought up of a child in the learning of the Gentiles, and who obtained in the same not a little fame, and who also left behind him many good monuments and commentaries,) writeth in his book against the gentiles in this sort: “And Justin,” saith he, “that most excellently learned man, full well spake and uttered his mind, that the afore-recited men were like unto thieves, or liers by the high-way side.” And in the said book, speaking afterwards of certain philosophers, the said Tatian inferreth thus: “Crescens, therefore,” saith he, “when he came first into that great city, passed all others in the vicious love of children, and was very much given to covetousness; and whereas he taught that men ought not to regard death, he himself did fear death, and he did all his endeavor to oppress Justin with death, as with the greatest evil that was; and all because that Justin, speaking truth, reproved the philosophers to be men only for the belly, and deceivers: and this was the cause of Justin’s martyrdom.”

    Jerome , a45 in his Ecclesiastical Catalogue, thus writeth: “Justin, when in the city of Rome he had his disputations, and had reproved Crescens, the Cynic, a great blasphemer of the Christians, for a belly-god, and a man fearing death, and also a follower of lust and lechery; at last, by his endeavor and conspiracy, was accused to be a Christian, and for Christ shed his blood,” A.D. 153, under Antoninus Pius, according to the abbot of Ursperg; but according to others, A.D. 165 or 166, in the sixth year of the emperor Marcus Antoninus. f1021 Here is to be a46 gathered how Epiphanius was deceived in the time of his death, saying, “That he suffered under Rusticus the prefect, and Adrian the emperor, being of thirty years of age;” which indeed agreeth neither with Eusebius, nor Jerome, nor Suidas, nor others more, who manifestly declare and testify how he exhibited his Apology unto Antoninus Pius, who came after Adrian. Thus hast thou, good reader, the life of this learned and blessed martyr, fully and amply discoursed, for the better commendation of his excellent and notable virtues, of whose final end thus writeth Photius, saying, “That he, suffering for Christ, died cheerfully and with honor.” f1022 In the time of the same Marcus a great number of them which truly professed Christ, suffered most cruel torments and punishments, both in Asia and France. In the number of whom was Polycarp, the worthy bishop of Smyrna, who, in the great rage of this persecution in Asia, among many other most constant saints, was also martyred. Of whose end and martyrdom I thought it here not inexpedient to commit to history so much as Eusebius declareth to be taken out of a certain letter or epistle: written by them of his own church to all the brethren throughout the world: the tenor of which epistle here followeth.

    The church of God which sojourns at Smyrna to that which sojourns at Philomelium, and to all the churches throughout the world composing the holy catholic church, mercy, peace, and the love of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ, be multiplied! We have written to inform you, brethren, concerning the martyrs, but particularly concerning the blessed Polycarp, who, as it were, sealed up the persecution with his own blood.

    And in the same epistle, before they enter into further matter of Polycarp, they discourse of other martyrs, describing what patience they abode in and showed, in suffering their torments.

    Their patience was so admirable (saith the epistle) that the bystanders were amazed; while they beheld them torn with whips till their veins and arteries appeared, yea and even their bowels and the inward structure of their frame were laid open to view; then, laid on prickly sea-shells, and on little sharp spikes or nails called ojbeli>skoi and, in short, made to go through every kind of punishment and torture that could be devised; and, lastly, thrown to the wild beasts to be devoured.

    But especially in the aforesaid epistle, mention is made of one Germanicus, how he most worthily persevered and overcame, by the grace of God, that fear of death which is engrafted in the common nature of all men; whose patience and sufferance were so notable, that the whole multitude, wondering at this beloved martyr of God for this his so bold constancy, and also at the singular strength and fortitude of the whole of the Christians, began suddenly to cry with a loud voice, saying, “Away with the atheists: let Polycarp be sought for.” And whilst a great a47 uproar and tumult began thus to be raised upon those cries, a certain Christian, named Quintus, lately come out of Phrygia, having been shown the wild beasts and threatened with being thrown to them, quailed with fear, and, to save his life, gave in. The letter states, that this man had, more hastily than wisely, rushed up, with others, before the tribunal; and thereupon being taken, afforded by his apostasy a signal warning to all, not to venture on such trials fool-hardily and without counting the cost.

    But now we will surcease to speak more of them, and return to Polycarp, of whom the aforesaid letter consequently declareth as followeth:

    The admirable Polycarp, when first he heard what was passing, was not at all flurried, but preserved his usual calmness and presence of mind, and purposed to remain in the city: but being prevailed on by those about him, who earnestly besought him to convey himself away, he retired to a village not far off; and there, with a few friends, he spent his time entirely, night and day, in praying (as he had ever been wont) for the peace of all the churches throughout the world. Three days before he was apprehended, as he was thus praying at night, he fell asleep, and saw in a dream the pillow take fire under his head, and presently consumed. Waking thereupon, he forthwith related the vision to those about him, and prophesied that he should be burnt alive for Christ’s sake. It is further stated, that when the persons who were in search of him were close at hand, he was induced, for the love of the brethren, to retire to another village, to which, notwithstanding, the pursuers soon followed him; and having caught a couple of boys dwelling there about, they whipped one of them till he directed them to Polycarp’s retreat. The pursuers having arrived late in the day, f1027 found him gone to bed in the top room of the house, whence he might have escaped into another house, if he would; but this he refused to do, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.” Hearing that they were come, as the said history relates, he came down, and spoke to them with a cheerful and pleasant countenance: so that they were wonder-struck, who, having never known the man before, now beheld his venerable age and the gravity and composure of his manner, and wondered why they should be so earnest for the apprehension of so old a man. He immediately ordered a table to be laid for them, and exhorted them to eat heartily, and begged them to allow him one hour to pray without molestation; which being granted, he rose and began to pray, and was so full of the grace of God, that they who were present and heard his prayers were astonished, and many now felt sorry that so venerable and godly a man should be put to death.

    After this the aforesaid epistle or letter, prosecuting the history, addeth more, as followeth: — When he had finished his prayers, wherein he made mention of all whom he had ever been connected with, small and great, noble and vulgar, and of the whole catholic church throughout the world, the hour being come for their departure, they set him on an ass and brought him to the city, on the great sabbath. There met him the irenarch Herod, and his father Nicetes, who taking him up into their chariot, began to exhort him, saying, “What harm is it to say ‘Lord Caesar,’ and to sacrifice, and save yourself?” At first he was silent: but being pressed to speak, he said “I will not do you advise me.” When they saw that he was not to be persuaded, they gave him rough language, and pushed him hastily down, so that in descending from the chariot he grazed his shin. But he, unmoved as if he had suffered nothing, went on cheerfully, under the conduct of his guards, to the Stadium. There, the noise being so great that few could hear anything, a voice from heaven said to Polycarp as he entered the Stadium, “Be strong, Polycarp, and play the man.” No one saw him that spake, but many of our people heard the voice.

    When he was brought to the tribunal, there was a great tumult as soon as it was generally understood that Polycarp was apprehended. The proconsul asked him, if he were Polycarp. When he assented, the former counselled him to deny Christ, saying, “Consider thyself, and have pity on thy own great age;” and many other suchlike speeches which they are wont to make: — “Swear by the fortune of Caesar” — “Repent” — “say, Away with the atheists.” Then Polycarp, with a grave aspect, beholding all the multitude in the Stadium, and waving his hand to them, he gave a deep sigh, and, looking up to heaven, said, “Take away the atheists.” The proconsul then urged him, saying, “Swear, and I will release thee; — reproach Christ.” Polycarp answered, “Eighty and six years have I served him, and he never once wronged me; how then shall I blaspheme my King, who hath saved me?” The proconsul again urged him, “Swear by the fortune of Caesar.”

    Polycarp replied, “Since you still vainly strive to make me swear by the fortune of Caesar, as you express it, affecting ignorance of my real character, hear me frankly declaring what I am — I am a Christian — and if you desire to learn the christian doctrine, assign me a day, and you shall hear.” The proconsul said, “Persuade the people.” Polycarp said, “I have thought proper to address you, because we are taught to pay to magistracies and powers ordained of God, all honor, which is consistent with a good conscience. But I do not hold those people worthy that I should apologize to them.”

    Hereupon the proconsul said, “I have wild beasts; and I will expose you to them, unless you repent.” “Call for them,” replied Polycarp; “for repentance with us is a wicked thing, if it is to be a change from the better to the worse, but a good thing if it is to be a change from evil to good.” “I will tame thee with fire,” said the proconsul, “since you despise the wild beasts, unless you repent.”

    Then said Polycarp, “You threaten me with fire, which burns for an hour, and is soon extinguished; but the fire of the future judgment, and of eternal punishment reserved for the ungodly, you are ignorant of. But why do you delay? Do whatever you please.”

    While saying this, and much more of the same kind, he was filled with confidence and joy, and grace shone in his countenance, and was so far from being confounded by the proconsul’s menaces, that, on the contrary, the proconsul himself was visibly embarrassed, and sent the herald to proclaim thrice in the middle of the Stadium, “Polycarp hath professed himself a Christian.” Which words were no sooner spoken, but the whole multitude, both of Gentiles and Jews, dwelling at Smyrna, with outrageous fury shouted aloud, “This is the doctor of Asia, the father of the Christians, and the subverter of our gods, who hath taught many not to sacrifice nor adore.” They now called on Philip, the asiarch, to let loose a lion against Polycarp. But he refused, alleging that he had closed his exhibition. They then unanimously shouted, that he should be burnt alive. For his vision must needs be accomplished — the vision which he had when he was praying, and saw his pillow burnt, when he turned to the faithful that were with him, and said, prophetically, “I must be burnt alive.” This was no sooner said, than done; for the people immediately gathered wood and other dry matter from the workshops and baths: in which service the Jews (with their usual malice) were particularly forward to help.

    The pile being now made, he put off his garments and unloosed his girdle, and attempted to take off his shoes, — a thing which he had not been accustomed to do — because the faithful were wont to strive who should be most assiduous in serving him. For even in his younger days he had been held in great respect, for his integrity and blameless conduct. Immediately the materials for making the pile were placed around him, and when they would have fastened him to the stake, he said, “Leave me as I am; for he who giveth me strength to sustain the fire, will enable me also, without your securing me with nails, to remain without flinching in the pile.”

    Upon which they bound him, without nailing him. So he, having his hands bound behind him, like a distinguished ram selected from a large flock, to be offered as an acceptable burnt-offering to God Almighty, said thus: — “O Father of thy beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have attained the knowledge of thee, the God of angels and principalities, and of all creation, and of all the just who live in thy sight, I bless thee that thou hast counted me worthy of this day and of this hour, to receive my portion among the number of martyrs in the cup of Christ, for the resurrection and eternal life both of soul and body, in the incorruption of the Holy Ghost; among whom may I be received before thee this day, as a sacrifice well-savoured and acceptable, which thou the faithful and true God hast prepared, promised beforehand, and fulfilled accordingly. Wherefore I praise thee for all things, I bless thee, I glorify thee, through the eternal High-Priest, Jesus Christ, thy well-beloved Son; through whom to thee with him, in the Holy Spirit, be glory, both now and for ever. Amen.”

    As soon as he had uttered the word “Amen,” and finished his prayer, the officers lighted the fire; and a great flame bursting out, we, to whom it was given to see it, and who were also reserved to relate to others what happened, we saw a wonder. For the flame, forming the appearance of all arch, as the sail of a vessel filled with wind, surrounded, as with a wall, the body of the martyr; which was in the midst, not as burning flesh, but as gold and silver refining in the furnace. We received also in our nostrils such a fragrance as proceeds from frankincense or some other precious perfume. At length the wicked people, observing that his body could not be consumed with the fire, ordered the confector to approach, and to plunge his sword into his body. Upon this such a quantity of blood gushed out, that the fire was extinguished; and all the multitude were astonished to see this difference providentially made between the unbelievers and the elect, of whom this most admirable man was one, the last surviving apostolical and prophetical teacher in our times, having been the bishop of the catholic church of Smyrna; for whatever he spoke, both has been and shall be accomplished. But the envious, malignant, and spiteful enemy of the just, observing the gloriousness of his martyrdom, and the blamelessness of his life, even from his youth up, and knowing that he was now crowned with immortality, and had received the prize of unquestionable victory, studied to prevent us from obtaining his poor body, though many of us longed to do so, that we might have communion with his sacred remains. For some persons suggested to Nicetes, the father of Herod and the brother of Alce, to go to the proconsul, and entreat him not to deliver the body to the Christians, “lest,” said they, “leaving the crucified one, they should begin to worship him .” And they said these things upon the suggestions and arguments of the Jews, who also watched us when we were going to take the body from the pile: unacquainted indeed with our views, viz. that it is not possible for us to forsake Christ, who suffered for the salvation of all who are to be saved of the human race, nor ever to worship any other. For Him, as being the Son of God, we worship ; but the martyrs, as disciples and followers of the Lord, we love , and that justly, on account of the distinguished affection which they bore toward their King and Master. And may we be ranked at last in their number! The centurion, perceiving the malevolence of the Jews, placed the body in the midst of the fire, and burned it. Then we gathered up his bones — more precious than gold and jewels — and deposited them in a proper place, where, if possible, we shall meet, and the Lord will grant us in gladness and joy to celebrate the birthday of his martyrdom, both in commemoration of those who have wrestled before us, and for the instruction and confirmation of those who come after.

    Thus much concerning the blessed Polycarp, who, together with eleven Philadelphians, was crowned with martyrdom at Smyrna: who alone is so preeminently famous among all men, that even the heathens everywhere make mention of him.

    Thus have you heard, out of the epistle of the brethren of Smyrna, the whole order and life of Polycarp: whereby it may appear that he was a very aged man, who had served Christ eighty-six years since the first knowledge of him, and served also in the ministry about the space of seventy years. This Polycarp was the scholar and hearer of John the evangelist, and was placed by the said John in Smyrna. Of him also Ignatius maketh mention in his epistle, which he wrote in his journey to Rome, going toward his martyrdom, and commendeth to him the government of his church at Antioch, whereby it appeareth that Polycarp was then in the ministry. Likewise Irenaeus writeth of the said Polycarp after this manner: “He always taught,” said he, “those things which he had learned of the apostles (leaving them to the church), and which are alone true. Whereunto also all the churches that be in Asia, and all they which succeeded after Polycarp, to this day, bear witness.” And the same Irenaeus witnesseth also that the said Polycarp wrote an epistle to the Philippians, which whether it be the same that is now extant and read in the name of Polycarp, it is doubted of some: notwithstanding in the said epistle divers things are found very wholesome and apostolic: as where he teacheth of Christ, of judgment, and of the resurrection. Also he writeth of faith very worthily, thus declaring, that by grace we are saved, and not by works, but in the will of God by Jesus Christ.

    In Eusebius we read in like manner a part of an epistle written by Irenaeus to Florinus, wherein is declared, how that the said Irenaeus, being yet young, was with Polycarp in Asia; and at what time he wrote, well remembered what Polycarp did, and the place where he sat teaching, his whole order of life, and the proportion of his body, with the sermons which he uttered to the people. And furthermore, he perfectly remembered, how that the said Polycarp oftentimes reported unto him those things which he had heard them speak concerning the Lord’s doings, power, and doctrine, who heard the Word of Life with their own ears, all which [things] were consonant and agreeable to the holy scripture. This, with much more, hath Irenaeus concerning Polycarp.

    Jerome also, writing of the same Polycarp, hath, how he was in great estimation throughout all Asia, for that he was scholar to the apostles, and to them who did see and were conversant with Christ himself: whereby it is to be conjectured his authority was great, not only with them of his own church, but with all other churches about him.

    Irenaeus, in his book a48 against heresies, and Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History, report this worthy saying of Polycarp: “This Polycarp,” saith he, “meeting at a certain time Marcion, the heretic, who said to him, ‘Dost thou not know me?’ made answer, ‘I know that thou art the first-begotten of Satan.’” So great fear what evil might ensue thereof, had the disciples of the apostles, that they would not even speak to those whom they knew to be depravers of the verity, even as St. Paul saith: “A heretic, after the first and second admonition, shun and avoid, knowing that he which is such a one, is perverse and sinneth, and damneth himself.”

    Over and besides, it is witnessed by the said Irenaeus, that Polycarp came to Rome in the time of Anicetus, bishop of Rome, about the year of our Lord 160, in the reign of Antoninus Pius: the cause of his coming thither appeareth to be about the controversy of Easter-day, wherein the Asians and the Romans something disagreed among themselves. And therefore the said Polycarp, in the behalf of the brethren and church of Asia, took his long journey thither, to come and confer with Anicetus. Whereof writeth also Nicephorus, declaring, that Polycarp and Anicetus something varied in opinions and judgment about that matter, and yet, that notwithstanding, both friendly communicated either with the other, insomuch that Anicetus, in his church, gave place to Polycarp, to minister the communion and sacrament of the Lord’s supper, for honor sake. Which may be a notable testimony now to us, that the doctrine concerning the free use and liberty of ceremonies, was at that time retained in the church without any offense of stomach, or breach of christian peace in the church.

    This Polycarp (as is above mentioned) suffered his martyrdom even in his own church at Smyrna, where he had labored so many years in planting of the gospel of Christ; which was in the fourth persecution after Nero, f1043 when Marcus Aurelius Antoninus and Lucius AElius Verus reigned, A.D. 167, as the abbot of Ursperg affirmeth; and in the year 169, and the seventh of M. Antoninus, as Eusebius witnesseth in his Chronicles; f1045 the seventh day before the kalends of March; whereby it appeareth that Socrates (cited in the “Historia Tripartita”) was much deceived, saying, that Polycarp suffered in the time of Gordian. F1047 In this fourth persecution, besides Polycarp and others mentioned before, we read also in Eusebius of divers others, who about the same time likewise did suffer at Smyrna. F1048 Of Germanicus a49 mention is made above, in the story of Polycarp, of whom writeth Eusebius, noting him to be a young man, and most constantly to persevere in the profession of Christ’s doctrine; whom when the proconsul wanted to persuade to remember his youth, and to spare himself, being in the flower of his age, he would not be allured; but constantly and boldly, and of his own accord, incited and provoked the wild beasts to come upon him, and to devour him, that he might be delivered more speedily out of this wretched life.

    Over and besides, in the same persecution suffered moreover Metrodorus, a minister, who was given to the fire, and so consumed. Another was worthy Pionius, who, after much boldness of speech, with his apologies exhibited, and his orations made to the people in the defense of christian faith, and after much relieving and comforting of such as were in prisons and otherwise discomforted, at last was put to cruel torments and afflictions; then given likewise to the fire, and so finished his blessed testimony.

    Beside these also suffered Carpus, Papylus, and Agathonica, a woman; who, after their most constant and worthy confessions, were put to death at Pergamos, in Asia, as witnesseth Eusebius. F1050 Under the said Antoninus Verus, and in the same persecution, which raged not in Rome and Asia only, but in other countries also, suffered the glorious and most constant martyrs of Lyons and Vienne, two cities in France; giving to Christ a glorious testimony, and to all christian men a spectacle or example of singular constancy and fortitude in Christ our Savior. The history of whom, because it is written and set forth by their own churches, where they did suffer, mentioned in Eusebius, I thought here to express the same in the form and effect of their own words, as there is to be seen. The title of which their epistle, written to the brethren of Asia and Phrygia, thus beginneth: — A LETTER OF THE BRETHREN OF FRANCE, IN THE CITIES OF VIENNE AND LYONS, TO THE BRETHREN OF ASIA AND PHRYGIA.

    The servants of Christ, inhabiting the cities of Vienne and Lyons, in France, to the brethren throughout Asia and Phrygia, having the same faith and hope of redemption with us: peace, grace, and glory from God the Father, and from Christ Jesus our Lord. F1052 We are not competent to describe with accuracy in words or in writing, the greatness of the affliction sustained here by the saints, the intense animosity of the heathen against them, and the complicated sufferings of the blessed martyrs. The grand enemy assaulted us with all his might; and by his first essays, exhibited intentions of exercising malice without limits and without control.

    He left no method untried to habituate his slaves to his bloody work, and to prepare them by previous exercises against the servants of God. Christians were absolutely prohibited from appearing in any houses except their own, in baths, in the market, or in any public place whatever. The grace of God, however, fought for us, preserving the weak and exposing the strong; who, like pillars, were able to withstand him in patience and to draw the whole fury of the wicked against themselves. These entered into the contest and sustained every species of pain and reproach. What was heavy to others, to them was light, while they were hastening to Christ; evincing indeed, that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.” The first trial was from the people at large; shouts, blows, the dragging of their bodies, the plundering of their goods, casting of stones, and the confining of them within their own houses, and all the indignities which may be expected from a fierce and outrageous multitude, these were magnanimously sustained. And now, being led into the forum by the tribune and the magistrates, they were examined before all the people, whether they were Christians; and on pleading guilty, were shut up in prison till the arrival of the governor. Before him they were at length brought; and he treated us with great savageness of manners. The spirit of Vettins Epagathus, one of the brethren, was roused — a man full of charity both to God and man — whose conduct was so exemplary, though but a youth, that he might justly be compared to old Zacharias; for he “walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless;” a man ever unwearied in acts of beneficence to his neighbours, full of zeal towards God, and fervent in spirit.

    He could not bear to see so manifest a perversion of justice; but, being moved with indignation, he demanded to be heard in behalf of the brethren, and pledged himself to prove that there was nothing atheistic or impious among them. Those about the tribunal shouted against him. He was a man of quality; and the governor, being vexed and irritated by so equitable a demand from such a person, only asked him if he were a Christian; and this he confessed in the most open manner: — the consequence was, that he was ranked amongst the martyrs. He was called indeed, the Advocate of the Christians; but he had an advocate within, the Holy Spirit, more abundantly than Zacharias, which he demonstrated by the fullness of his charity, cheerfully laying down his life in defense of his brethren; for he was, and is still, a genuine disciple of Christ, “following the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.”

    The rest began now to be proved. F1053 The capital martyrs appeared indeed ready for the contest, and discharged their part with all alacrity of mind. Others seemed not so ready; but rather, unexercised, and as yet weak and unable to sustain the shock of such a contest: of these, ten in number lapsed, whose case filled us with great and unmeasurable sorrow, and dejected the spirits of those who had not yet been apprehended, who, though they sustained all indignities, yet deserted not the martyrs in their distress. Then we were all much alarmed because of the uncertain event of confession; not that we dreaded the torments with which we were threatened, but because we looked forward to the end, and feared the danger of apostasy. Persons were now apprehended daily of such as were counted worthy to fill up the number of the lapsed, so that the most excellent were selected from the two churches, even those by whose labors they had been founded and established. There were seized at the same time some of our heathen servants, — for the governor had openly ordered us and ours all to be examined, — who, by the impulse of Satan, and fearing the torments which they saw inflicted on the saints; at the suggestion of the soldiers, accused us of eating human flesh, and of various unnatural crimes, and of things not fit even to be mentioned or imagined, and such as ought not to be believed of mankind.

    These things being commonly reported, all were incensed even to madness against us; so that if some were formerly more moderate on account of any connexions of blood, affinity or friendship, they were then transported beyond all bounds with indignation. Now was it that our Lord’s word was fulfilled, “The time will come when, whosoever killeth you, will think that he doeth God service.” The holy martyrs now sustained tortures which exceed the powers of description; Satan laboring by means of these tortures, to extort something slanderous against Christianity. The whole fury of the multitude, the governor, and the soldiers, was spent in a particular manner on Sanctus of Vienne, the deacon, and on Maturus, a late convert indeed, but a magnanimous wrestler in spiritual things; and on Attalus of Pergamos, a man who had ever been a pillar and support of our church; and lastly on Blandina, through whom Christ showed that those things that appear unsightly and contemptible among men are most honorable in the presence of God, on account of love to his name exhibited in real energy, and not in boasting and pompous pretences. For — while we all feared; and among the rest while her mistress according to the flesh, who herself was one of the noble army of martyrs, dreaded that she would not be able to witness a good confession, because of the weakness of her body; — Blandina was endued with so much fortitude, that those who successively tortured her from morning to night, were quite worn out with fatigue, and owned themselves conquered and exhausted of their whole apparatus of tortures, and were amazed to see her still breathing whilst her body was torn and laid open: they confessed that any single species of the torture would have been sufficient to dispatch her, much more so great a variety as had been applied. But the blessed woman, as a generous wrestler, recovered fresh vigor in the act of confession; and it was an evident refreshment, support, and an annihilation of all her pains, to say — “I am a Christian, and no evil is committed among us.”

    In the mean time Sanctus, having sustained in a manner more than human the most barbarous indignities, while the impious hoped to extort from him something injurious to the gospel, through the duration and intenseness of his sufferings, resisted with so much firmness, that he would neither tell his own name, nor that of his nation or state, nor whether he was a freeman or a slave; but to every interrogatory he answered in Latin, “I am a Christian.” This, he repeatedly owned, was to him both name, and country, and family, and every thing; and nothing else could the heathen draw from him. Hence the indignation of the governor and of the torturers was fiercely levelled against this holy person, so that having exhausted all the usual methods of torture, they at last clapped brazen plates to the most tender parts of his body. These were made red hot for the purpose of scorching him, and yet he remained upright and inflexible, and firm in his confession; being, no doubt, bedewed and refreshed by the heavenly fountain of the water of life which flows from Christ. His body witnessed indeed the ghastly tortures which he had sustained, being one continued wound and bruise, altogether contracted, and no longer retaining the form of a human creature. In this man the view of Christ suffering wrought great marvels, confounded the adversary, and showed for the encouragement of the rest, that nothing is to be feared where the love of the Father is; and that nothing is painful where the glory of Christ is exhibited. For when, after some days, the impious had renewed his tortures and imagined that a fresh application of the same method of punishment to his wounds, now swollen and inflamed, must either overcome his constancy, or, by dispatching him on the spot, strike a terror into the rest (as he could not even bear to be touched by the hand), this was so far from being the case, that, contrary to all expectation, his body recovered its natural position in the second course of torture; he was restored to his former shape and to the use of his limbs; so that, by the grace of Christ, this cruelty proved not a punishment, but a cure.

    One of those who had denied Christ was Biblias, a female. Satan imagining that he had now devoured her, and desirous to augment her condemnation, by inducing her to accuse the Christians falsely, caused her to be led to the torture; and supposing her to be a weak and timorous creature, tempted her to charge us with horrid impieties. But in her torture she recovered herself, and awoke as out of a deep sleep, being admonished by a temporary punishment of the danger of eternal fire in hell; and, in opposition to the impious, she said, “How can we eat infants, — we, to whom it is not lawful to eat the blood of beasts?” And now she professed herself a Christian, and was added to the army of martyrs.

    The power of Christ, manifested in the patience of his people, had now exhausted the usual artifices of torment; and the devil was driven to new resources. Christians were thrust into the darkest and most noisome parts of the prison: their feet were distended in the stocks, even to the fifth hole; and in this situation they suffered all the indignities which diabolical malice could inflict. Hence many of them were suffocated in prison, whom the Lord, showing forth his own glory, was pleased thus to take to himself. The rest, though afflicted to such a degree as to seem scarcely capable of recovery under the kindest treatment, destitute as they were of all help and support, yet remained alive, strengthened by the Lord, and confirmed both in mind and body: and these encouraged and comforted the rest.

    Some young persons who had been lately seized, and whose bodies had been unexercised with sufferings, being unequal to the severity of the confinement, expired. The blessed Pothinus, bishop of Lyons, upwards of ninety years of age, and very infirm and asthmatic, yet strong in spirit, and panting after martyrdom, was dragged before the tribunal: his body was worn out indeed with age and disease; yet he retained a soul through which Christ might triumph. Borne by the soldiers to the tribunal, and attended by the magistrates and all the multitude, shouting against him as if he were Christ himself, he made a good confession. Being asked by the governor who was the God of the Christians, he answered, “If ye be worthy, ye shall know.” He was then unmercifully dragged about, and suffered variety of ill treatment: those who were near, insulted him with their hands and feet, and those at a distance threw at him whatever came to hand: every one looked upon himself as deficient in zeal if he did not insult him in some way or other; for thus they imagined they revenged the cause of their gods.

    He was thrown into prison almost breathless, and after two days expired.

    And in the same epistle of the aforesaid brethren of France, writing to the brethren of Asia, it followeth in this manner:

    And here appeared a remarkable dispensation of Providence and the immense compassion of Jesus, such indeed as is rarely exhibited among the brethren, but not foreign to the Character of Christ. Many who, when first apprehended, had denied their Savior, were, notwithstanding, shut up in prison and suffered dreadful severities, as their denial of Christ availed them not. But those who confessed him, were imprisoned as Christians, abstracted from any other charge. Now the former, as if they had been murderers and incestuous wretches, were punished much more than the rest: but the joy of martyrdom supported the latter, and the hope of the promises, and the love of Christ, and the Spirit of the Father. The former were oppressed with the pangs of guilt; so that while they were dragged along, their very countenances distinguished them from the rest: but the faithful proceeded with cheerful steps; their countenances shone with much grace and glory; their bonds were as the most beautiful ornaments; and they themselves looked as brides adorned with their richest array, breathing the fragrance of Christ so much, that some thought they had been literally perfumed. The others went on dejected, spiritless, and forlorn, and in every way disgraced, insulted even by the heathen as cowards and poltroons, and treated as murderers; they had lost the precious, the glorious, the soul-reviving appellation. The rest observing these things, were confirmed in the faith, confessed without hesitation on their being apprehended, and would not entertain the diabolical suggestion for a moment.

    The martyrs were put to death in various ways: or, in other words, they wove a chaplet of various odours and flowers, and presented it to the Father. In truth, it became the wisdom and goodness of God to appoint that his servants, after enduring a great and variegated contest, should, as victors, receive the great crown of immortality. Maturus, Sanctus, Blandina, and Attalus, were led to the wild beasts into the amphitheatre to be the common spectacle of Gentile inhumanity.

    One day extraordinary of the shows being afforded to the people on our account, Maturus and Sanctus again underwent various tortures in the amphitheatre, as if they had suffered nothing before.

    Thus were they treated like those wrestlers, who, having conquered several times already, were obliged afresh to contend with other conquerors by fresh lots, till some one was conqueror of the whole number, and as such was crowned. Here they sustained again, as they were led to the amphitheatre, the blows usually inflicted on those who were condemned to wild beasts; they were exposed to be dragged and torn by the beasts, and to all the barbarities which the mad populace with shouts demanded, and above all to the hot iron chair, in which their bodies were roasted and emitted a disgusting smell. Nor was this all: the persecutors raged still more, resolved, if possible, to overcome their patience. But not a word could be extorted front Sanctus besides what he first had uttered — the word of confession. These then after remaining alive a long time, expired at length, and became a spectacle to the world, equivalent to all the variety usual in the fights of gladiators.

    Blandina, suspended from a stake, was exposed as food to the wild beasts: she was seen suspended in the form of a cross and employed in vehement supplication. The sight inspired her fellowcombatants with much alacrity, while they beheld with their bodily eyes, in the person of their sister, the figure of Him who was crucified for them, that he might persuade those who believe in him, that every one who suffers for the glory of Christ, always has communion with the living God. None of the beasts at that time touched her: she was taken down from the stake and thrown again into prison, and reserved for a future contest; that having overcome in various exercises, she might fully condemn the old serpent, and fire the brethren with a noble spirit of christian emulation. Weak and contemptible as she might be deemed, yet when clothed with Christ, the mighty and invincible champion, she became victorious over the enemy in a variety of encounters, and was crowned with immortality.

    Attalus also was vehemently demanded by the multitude, for he was a person of great reputation among us. He advanced in all the cheerfulness and serenity of a good conscience; — an experienced Christian, and ever ready and active in bearing testimony to the truth. He was led round the amphitheatre, and a tablet carried before him, inscribed in Latin: “This is Attalus the Christian.” The rage of the people would have had him dispatched immediately; but the governor, understanding that he was a Roman, ordered him back to prison: and concerning him and others, who could plead the same privilege of Roman citizenship, he wrote to the emperor and waited for his instructions.

    The interval which this circumstance occasioned was not unfruitful to the church. — The unbounded compassion of Christ appeared in the patience of many. Dead members were restored to life by means of the living; and the martyrs became singularly serviceable to the lapsed; and thus the church rejoiced to receive her sons returning to her bosom, for by these means most of those who had denied Christ were recovered and dared to profess their Savior: they felt again the divine life in their souls: they approached to the tribunal; and their God who willeth not the death of a sinner, being again precious to their souls, they desired a fresh opportunity of being interrogated by the governor.

    Caesar sent orders that the confessors of Christ should be put to death; and that the apostates from their divine Master should be dismissed. — It was now the general assembly held annually at Lyons and frequented from all parts and this was the time when the christian prisoners were again exposed to the populace. The governor, again interrogated. Roman citizens had the privilege of dying by decollation; the rest were exposed to wild beasts; and now it was that our Redeemer was magnified in those who had apostatized. They were interrogated separate from the rest, as persons soon to be dismissed, and made a confession to the surprise of the Gentiles, and were added to the list of martyrs. A small number still remained in apostasy; but they were those who possessed not the least spark of divine faith, had not the least acquaintance with the riches of Christ in their souls, and had no fear of God before their eyes; whose life had brought reproach on Christianity; and had evidenced them to be the children of perdition; but all the rest were added to the church.

    During their examination, a man who had lived many years in France, and was generally known for his love of God and zealous regard for divine truth, a person of apostolical endowments, a physician by profession, a Phrygian by nation, and named Alexander, stood near the tribunal, and by his gestures encouraged them to profess the faith. He appeared to all who surrounded the tribunal as one who travailed in much pain on their account. And now the multitude, incensed at the christian integrity exhibited at the conclusion by the lapsed, made a clamor against Alexander as the cause of this change. Upon which the governor ordered him into his presence, and asked him who he was. He declared that he was a Christian. The former in great wrath condemned him instantly to the wild beasts; — and the next day he was introduced with Attalus. For the governor, willing to gratify the people, delivered Attalus again to the wild beasts; and these two underwent all the usual methods of torture in the amphitheatre: indeed they sustained a very grievous conflict, and at length expired. Alexander neither groaned nor spake a word, but in his heart conversed with God.

    Attalus, sitting on the iron chair and being scorched, when the smell issued from him, said to the multitude in Latin, “This indeed which ye do is to devour men; but we devour not our fellow-creatures, nor practice any other wickedness.” Being asked what is the name of God, he answered, “God has not a name as men have.”

    On the last day of the spectacles, Blandina was again introduced with Ponticus a youth of fifteen: they had been daily brought in to see the punishment of the rest. They were ordered to swear by the idols; and the mob perceiving them to persevere immovably, and to treat their menaces with superior contempt, were incensed; and no pity was shown either to the sex of the one, or to the tender age of the other. Their tortures were now aggravated by all sorts of methods; and the whole round of barbarities was inflicted; but menaces and punishments were equally ineffectual. Ponticus, animated by his sister, who was observed by the heathen to strengthen and confirm him, after magnanimous exertion of patience, yielded up the ghost.

    And now the blessed Blandina, last of all, as a generous mother having exhorted her children, and sent them before her victorious to the king, reviewing the whole series of their sufferings, hastened to undergo the same herself, rejoicing and triumphing in her exit, as if invited to a marriage supper, not as one going to be exposed to wild beasts. After she had endured stripes, the tearing of the beasts, and the iron chair, she was enclosed in a net, and thrown to a bull; and having been tossed some time by the animal, and proving quite superior to her pains, through the influence of hope, and the realizing view of the objects of her faith and her fellowship with Christ, she at length breathed out her soul. Even her enemies confessed that no woman among them had ever suffered such and so great things. But their madness against the saints was not yet satiated. For the fierce and savage tribes of men, being instigated by the ferocious enemy of mankind, were not easily softened; and they now began another peculiar war against the bodies of the saints. That they had been conquered by their patience, produced no stings of remorse: indeed the feelings of common sense and humanity appear to have been extinguished among them.

    Disappointment increased their fury. The governor, and the mob equally showed their ferocious malice; that the Scripture might be fulfilled “He that is unjust let him be unjust still,” as well as “He that is holy let him be holy still.” (Revelation 22:11) They now exposed to dogs the bodies of those who had been suffocated in prison, and carefully watched night and day, lest any of our people should by stealth perform the funeral rites. And then exposing what had been left by the wild beasts or by the fire, relics partly mangled and partly scorched, and the heads of others with their trunks, they preserved them by military guards unburied for some days. Some gnashed on them with their teeth, desirous, if possible, to make them feel still more of their malice. Others laughed and insulted them, praising their own idols, and ascribing to them the vengeance inflicted on the martyrs. All, however, were not of this fierce mould. Yet even those who were of a gentler spirit, and who sympathized with us in some degree, upbraided us, often saying, Where is their God — and what profit did they derive from their religion, which they value above life itself? Such variety was there in the behavior of the heathen towards us.

    As for ourselves our sorrow was great, that we were deprived of the melancholy satisfaction of interring our friends. Neither did the darkness of the night befriend us herein, nor could we prevail by prayers or by price. They watched the bodies with unremitting vigilance, as if to deprive them of sepulture was to them an object of great importance. The bodies of the martyrs having been contumeliously treated and exposed for six days, were burnt and reduced to ashes, and scattered by the wicked into the Rhone, that not the least particle of them might appear on the earth any more.

    And they did these things, as if they could prevail against God and prevent their resurrection — and that they might deter others, as they said, from the hope of a future life, — “on which relying they introduce a new and strange religion, and despise the most excruciating tortures, and die with joy. Now let us see if they will rise again, and if their God can help them and deliver them out of our hands.” F1054 Out of the same writing, moreover, concerning these martyrs of France afore-mentioned, is recorded also another history not unworthy to be noted, taken out of the same fifth book of Eusebius, which history is this: “There was among these constant and blessed martyrs one Alcibiades, who led an austere kind of life, and hitherto had fed on nothing but bread and water. Being thrown into confinement he endeavored there to practice the same austerity of life, when it was revealed to Attalus after his first conflict in the amphitheatre, that Alcibiades did not do well in not making use of God’s creatures and thereby casting a stumbling-block in the way of others. Alcibiades was convinced of his mistake, and thenceforth partook without scruple of all things, and gave God thanks. A proof that in those days they were not destitute of the grace of God, but the Holy Spirit was their counsellor.”

    Thus have ye heard the whole account of the blessed saints of a50 France, Vettius, Zacharias, Sanctus, Maturus, Attalus, Blandina, Alexander, Alcibiades, with others, recorded and set forth by the writing of certain christian brethren of the same church and place of France. F1056 In the which aforesaid writing of theirs, moreover, appeareth the great meekness and modest constancy of the said martyrs described in these words: “Such imitators were they of Christ (who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God, yet, etc. Philippians 2:6) that though they were in such a height of glory, and had suffered as martyrs not once, nor twice, but often, and had been taken from the wild beasts and committed again to prison, although they had the marks of fire and the scars of stripes and wounds all over their bodies; yet they neither declared themselves martyrs, nor would they suffer us to call them by that name. But if any of us at any time, either by letter or in discourse, called them martyrs, they censured it sharply. For they readily allowed the appellation of martyr to Christ (‘the faithful and true witness and the first begotten of the dead and the Prince of the life of God’); they commemorated also those martyrs who had already departed this life, and said, ‘Those are now martyrs whom Christ vouchsafed to take to himself while they were making their confession, he having (as it were) sealed their testimony by their death: but we are mean and humble confessors.’ And with tears they besought the brethren to pray earnestly for them that they might be perfected. Thus they in fact exhibited the virtue of martyrdom, and manifested their noble spirit by their patience, fearlessness, and undaunted courage, but being filled with the fear of God, they deprecated the being called martyrs by the brethren.”

    And after, in the said writing, it followeth more: “They humbled themselves under the mighty hand of God, by which they are now greatly exalted. They excused themselves to all men, but they accused no man; they loosed all, but they bound none; and for them which did so evil entreat them they prayed, after the example of Stephen, that perfect martyr, ‘O Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.’” And after, again: “They did not proudly triumph over those that fell; but bestowed on the indigent among them those good things of which they had a superabundance, having motherly bowels of compassion, pouring forth many tears for them to their heavenly Father. They sought life for themselves, and he gave it them, and so they were ready to communicate it to others. They went to God, victors over all; having always loved peace, and continually recommended it, they departed in peace to God; leaving no grief to their mother, no faction or dissension among the brethren, but joy, peace, concord, and love.”

    The aforesaid martyrs of France at the same time commended Irenaeus, newly then made minister, with their letters unto Eleutherius bishop of Rome, as witnesseth Eusebius, in the fourth chapter of the said fifth book; which Irenaeus first was the hearer of Polycarp, then made minister (as is said) under these martyrs: and, after their death, made bishop afterwards of Lyons in France, and succeeded after Pothinus.

    Besides the before-named good Justin, there was also about the same time in Asia, Claudius Apollinaris or Appollinarius, bishop of Hierapolis, and also Melito, Bishop of Sardis, an eloquent and learned man, much commended of Tertullian; who, succeeding after the time of the apostles, in the reign of this Antoninus Verus, exhibited unto him learned and eloquent apologies in defense of Christ’s religion; like as Quadratus and Aristides above mentioned did unto the emperor Adrian, whereby they moved him somewhat to storage of his persecution. In like manner did this Apollinaris and Melito (stirred up by God) adventure to defend in writing the cause of the Christians unto this Antoninus. Of this Melito Eusebius in his fourth book maketh mention, and excerpteth certain places of his Apology, in these words, as followeth: f1058 “Now,” saith he, “which was never seen before, the godly suffer persecution, by occasion of certain edicts proclaimed throughout Asia: for impudent informers, covetous of other men’s goods, taking occasion from those proclamations, rob openly, night and day, spoiling innocent persons of their goods.”

    And it followeth after: “Now if all this be done by your command, let it stand good. For a just emperor can never authorize anything that is unjust, and we will cheerfully submit to the honor of such a death. This only we humbly crave of you, that you would first take cognizance yourself of those who manifest such determination under all their trials, and then decide impartially whether they deserve punishment and death, or to live in peace and quietness. But if these proceedings and this new edict (too bad to be enacted even against barbarian enemies) do not proceed from you, then we the more earnestly beseech you not to permit us any longer to be infested with these public rapines. For the system which we profess first flourished among the barbarians. F1059 Afterward, in the reign of the great Augustus your progenitor it began to flourish in the Roman provinces, and proved a most fortunate omen for the rising empire.

    For from that time the power of Rome was greatly aggrandized. To which prosperous state of affairs you have happily succeeded, and shall continue, together with your son; if you will but defend that religion which was nursed up together with the empire, and which began under the reign of the great Augustus, and which your ancestors honored together with other religions. And verily this is no small proof of the connection between the success of our religion and the prosperity of your happily begun empire, viz. that from the time of Augustus no untoward accident has occurred, but on the contrary brilliant success and glory have crowned all the public measures, agreeably to the wishes of all men. Only Nero and Domitian (and they — influenced thereto by certain ill-natured persons) endeavourd to bring our religion under reproach; from whom the fashion of malicious detraction was propagated to succeeding times, agreeably to irrational usage in such cases. But your pious predecessors corrected their mistake, and frequently by rescripts reproved such as audaciously attempted to behave insolently towards us. Among whom your grandfather Adrian wrote to Fundanus proconsul of Asia, and many others; and your father (at the time when you were his colleague in the empire) wrote to the cities that they should not raise tumults nor commit any insolencies against us, particularly to the Larisseans, to the Thessalonians, to the Athenians, and to all the Greeks. The more confidently, then, do we persuade ourselves that you (who retain the same opinion of us as they held, yea, who are much more graciously and thoughtfully disposed) will do all that we request of you.”

    Thus much out of the Apology of Melito, who, writing to Onesimus, giveth to us this benefit; to know the true catalogue and the names of all the authentic books of the Old Testament, received in the ancient time of the primitive church. Concerning the number and names whereof, the said Melito in his letter to Onesimus declareth; how that he, returning into the parts where these things were done and preached, there he diligently inquired out the books approved of the Old Testament, the names whereof in order he subscribeth, and sendeth unto him as followeth: the five books of Moses, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Joshua; Judges; Ruth; Four Books of Kings; Two Books of Chronicles; the Psalms of David; the Proverbs of Solomon, called also the Book of Wisdom; f1060 the Preacher; the Song of Songs; Job; the books of the Prophets Esay, Jeremy; Twelve Prophets in one book; Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. And thus much of this matter which I thought here to record, for it is not unprofitable for these latter times to understand what in the first times was received and admitted as authentic, and what otherwise.

    But from this little digression, to return to our matter omitted; that is, to the Apologies of Apollinarius and Melito, in the story so it followeth; that whether it was by the occasion of these two Apologies, or whether it was through the writing of Athenagoras, a philosopher, and a legate of the Christians, it is uncertain: but this is certain, that the persecution the same time was stayed. Some do think, which most probably seems to touch the truth, that the cause of staying this persecution did arise upon a wonderful miracle of God showed in the emperor’s camp by the Christians, the story whereof is this. At what time the emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus warred against the Quadi, Vandals, Sarmatians, and Germans, in the expedition against them, his army, by reason of the imminent assault of the enemy, was cooped and shut in within the straits and hot dry places, where his soldiers, besides other difficulties of battle, being destitute of water five days, were like to have perished; which dread not a little discomforted them, and abated their courage; whereupon, in this so great distress and jeopardy, the christian soldiers suddenly withdrew from the army for their succour; who, falling prostrate upon the earth, by ardent prayer by and by obtained of God double relief: by means of whom, God gave certain pleasant showers from the sky whereby as their soldiers quenched their thirst, so were a great number of their enemies discomfited and put to flight by continual lightnings which shot out of the air. This miracle so pleased and won the emperor, that, ever after, he waxed gentler and gentler to the Christians, and directed his letters to divers of his rulers (as Tertullian in his Apology witnesseth), commanding them therein to give thanks to the Christians, no less for his victory, than for the preservation of him and all his men. F1062 The copy of which letter ensueth:

    MARCUS AURELIUS a51 ANTONINUS, EMPEROR, TO THE SENATE AND PEOPLE OF ROME. F1063 This is to inform you of my efforts and successes in the German war, also of the difficulties to which I was once reduced in the enemy’s territory, being hemmed in by seventy-four dragons. F1064 When within nine miles of us, the scouts gave notice that they were approaching, and Pompeianus, my lieutenant-general, sent me word that they were in sight. I, therefore, thought no less but to be overwhelmed, I and my army — consisting of the first and tenth legions, the double legion, and the legion of the Euphrates — by such an immense multitude, numbering nine-hundred-andseventy- five thousand armed men. Seeing that my forces bore no comparison in point of numbers to the enemy, I betook myself in prayer to our national deities for assistance; gaining no answer from them, and being reduced to straits by the enemy, I sent for the people we call Christians. On being mustered they were found to be pretty numerous. I vented my fury at them in a manner they little deserved, as I afterward learned from experience of their marvellous power. They presently fell to work, not with weapons, armor, and trumpets, a mode of preparation from which they are abhorrent, being contented with the God whom they carry about with them in their consciences. And really it does seem — though we account them atheists — that they have a God in their breasts, and one who is able to defend: for falling prostrate on the ground, they interceded both for me and my army, imploring succor under our pressing need of water and provision: for it was the fifth day of our being without water, and we were in an enemy’s country, in the very heart of Germany. Scarcely had they fallen prostrate on their faces, and poured forth prayers to a God unknown to me, when suddenly there descended from the sky — on us a most cool and refreshing rain, but on our enemies hail mixt with lightning; insomuch that we at once perceived, that a most potent God had interposed irresistibly in our favor. Wherefore, we hereby grant full toleration to these people, lest peradventure by their prayers they should procure some like interposition against us. And I forbid, in virtue of my imperial authority, that the profession of Christianity be objected to any man for a crime. And if any one shall accuse a Christian merely on the ground that he is such, I desire that the accused be acquitted, though he confess to the charge, provided nothing else be objected to him but his religion; but let his accuser be burnt alive. Nor do I wish a confessed and proved Christian to be urged by the proconsul of the province to change his religion, but that he should be left to his own choice. And this my decree I wish to be ratified by a decree of the senate; and I charge Verasius Pollio, prefect of the city, to take care that it be hung up publicly to be read, in Trajan’s forum, and that it be transmitted into all the provinces. I also give free leave to all persons to transcribe and use this edict, taking it from our attested copy publicly hung up in the forum. F1066 Thus the tempestuous rage of persecution against the Christians began for a time to assuage, partly by the occasion hereof, partly also upon other causes incident, compelling the enemies to surcease their persecution; as — great plagues and pestilence lying upon the country of Italy; likewise great wars, as well in the east parts, as also in Italy and France; terrible earthquakes, great floods, noisome swarms of flies and vermin devouring their cornfields, etc. And thus much of things done under Antoninus Verus; which Antoninus, in the beginning of his reign, joined with him in the government of the empire, his brother Lucius A Elius Verus , a52 who also was with him at the miraculous victory gotten by the Christians, as Eusebius recordeth. F1067 Contrary, Platina, in “Vita Soteris,” and Matthew of Westminster, in his book intituled “Flores Historiarum,” refer the same to the time of Antoninus Verus, and his son Lucius Antoninus Commodus; and not of his brother Lucius AElius Verus. But howsoever the truth of years doth stand, certain it is, that after the death of Marcus Antoninus Verus, and of Lucius AElius Verus, succeeded Lucius Antoninus Commodus [A.D. 180], the son of Marcus Verus, who reigned thirty years.

    In the time of this Commodus, although he was an incommodious prince to the senators of Rome, yet notwithstanding there was some quietness universally through the whole church of Christ from persecution, by what occasion it is not certain. Some think (of whom is Xiphilinus), that it came through Marcia, the emperor’s concubine, who favored the Christians. But howsoever it came, the fury of the raging enemies was then somewhat mitigated, and peace was given (saith Eusebius) by the grace of Christ unto the church, throughout the whole world; at what time, the wholesome doctrine of the gospel allured and reduced the hearts of all sorts of people unto the religion of the true God, insomuch that many, both rich and noble personages of Rome, with their whole families and households, to their salvation, adjoined themselves to the church of Christ.

    Among whom there was one Apollonius, a nobleman and a senator of Rome, mentioned in Eusebius, who was maliciously accused unto the senate, by one whom Jerome writeth to be the servant of the said Apollonius, and nameth him Severus; but whose servant soever he was, the wretched man came soon enough before the judge, and was condignly rewarded for that his malicious diligence. For, by a law which the emperor made, that no man upon pain of death should falsely accuse the Christians, he was put to execution, and had his legs broken forthwith by the sentence of Perennis the judge, which, though a heathen man, he pronounced against him. But the beloved martyr of God, when the judge, with much ado, had obtained of him to render an account of his faith before the honorable senate, under their warrant of life he did the same, and delivered unto them an eloquent defense of the christian belief. But, the said warrant notwithstanding, he, by the decree of the senate, was beheaded, and so ended his life; for that there was an ancient law among them decreed, that none that professed Christ, and was arraigned there-for, should be released without recantation, or altering his opinion.

    This Commodus is said in stories, to have been so sure and steady-handed in casting the dart, that in the open theater, before the people, he would encounter with the wild beasts, and be sure to hit them in the place appointed. Among divers other his vicious and wild parts, he was so far surprised in pride and arrogancy, that he would be called Hercules; and many times would show himself to the people in the skin of a lion, to be counted thereby the king of men, like as the lion is of the beasts.

    Upon a certain time, being his birthday, this Commodus, calling the people of Rome together in a great royalty, having his lion’s skin upon him, made sacrifice to Hercules and Jupiter, causing it to be cried through the city, that Hercules was the patron and defender of the city. There were the same time at Rome, Vincentius, Eusebius, Peregrinus, and Potentianus, learned men, and instructors of the people, who, following the steps of the apostles, went about from place to place where the gospel was not yet preached, converting the Gentiles to the faith of Christ. These, hearing the madness of the emperor and of the people, began to reprove their idolatrous blindness, teaching in villages and towns all that heard them to believe upon the one triune a53 God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and to come away from such worshipping of devils, and to give honor to God alone, who only is to be worshipped; willing them to repent and to be baptized, lest they perish with Commodus. With this their preaching they converted one Julius, a senator, and others, to the religion of Christ. The emperor, hearing thereof, caused them to be apprehended of Vitellius his captain, and to be required to sacrifice unto Hercules and Jupiter, which when they stoutly refused, after divers grievous torments and great miracles by them done, at last they were pressed with leaden weights to death. F1071 This Peregrinus, above mentioned, had been sent before by Sixtus, bishop of Rome, into the parts of France, to supply there the room of a bishop and teacher, by reason that for the continual and horrible persecutions thereabout touched, those places were left desolate and destitute of ministers and instructors; where, after he had occupied himself with much fruit among the flock of Christ, and had stablished the church there, returning home again to Rome, there he finished at last (as it is said) his martyrdom. F1072 Now remaineth likewise to speak of Julius, which Julius being (as is touched before) a senator of Rome, and now won by the preaching of these blessed men to the faith of Christ, did eftsoons invite them, and brought them home to his house, where, being by them more fully instructed in christian religion, he believed the gospel, and sending for one Ruffinus, a priest, was with all his family by him baptized; who did not (as the common sort was wont to do) keep close and secret his faith, but, incensed with a marvellous and sincere zeal, openly professed the same; altogether wishing and praying it to be given to him by God, not only to believe in Christ, but also to hazard his life for him. Which thing the emperor hearing, how that Julius had forsaken his old religion and become a christian, forthwith sent for him to come before him; unto whom he spake on this wise: “O Julius, what madness hath possessed thee, that thus thou dost fall from the old and common religion of thy forefathers, who acknowledged and worshipped Jupiter and Hercules as their gods, and now dost embrace this new and fond religion of the Christians?” At which time Julius, having good occasion to show and open his faith, gave straightway account thereof to him, and affirmed that Hercules and Jupiter were false gods, and how the worshippers of them would perish with eternal damnation and punishments. The emperor hearing how that he condemned and despised his gods, being then inflamed with a great wrath (as he was by nature very choleric), committed him forthwith to Vitellius, the captain of the guard, a very cruel and fierce man, either to see Julius sacrifice to mighty Hercules, or, refusing the same, to slay him. Vitellius (as he was commanded) exhorted Julius to obey the emperor’s commandment, and to worship his gods, alleging how that the whole empire of Rome was not only constituted, but also preserved and maintained by them; which Julius denied utterly to do, at the same time admonishing sharply Vitellius to acknowledge the true God, and obey his commandments, lest he, with his master, should die some grievous death; whereat Vitellius, being moved, caused Julius with cudgels to be beaten unto death.

    These things being thus briefly recited, touching such holy martyrs as hitherto have suffered, now remaineth that we return again to the order of the Roman bishops, such as followed next after Alexander, at whom we left off; whose successor next was Xistus or Sixtus, the sixth bishop, counted after Peter, who governed the church the space of ten years; as Damasus and others do write. Uspergensis maketh mention but of nine years. Platina recordeth that he died a martyr, and was buried at the Vatican. F1073 But Eusebius, speaking of his decease, maketh no word or mention of any martyrdom. In the second tome of the Councils, certain epistles be attributed to him, whereof Eusebius, Damasus, Jerome, and other old authors, as they make no relation, so seem they to have no intelligence nor knowledge of any such matter. In these counterfeit epistles, and in Platina, it appeareth that Sixtus was the first author of these ordinances: First, that the holy mysteries and holy vessels, should be touched but only of persons holy and consecrated, especially of no woman. Item, that the corporas-cloth should be made of no other cloth but of fine linen. Item, that such bishops as were called up to the apostolic see, returning home again, should not be received at their return, unless they brought with them letters from the bishop of Rome, saluting the people. Item, at the celebration, he ordained to be sung this verse, “Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabbaoth.” And here (by the way) it is to be noted, that the said Platina, in the life of this Sixtus, doth testify that Peter ministered the celebration of the communion only with the Lord’s Prayer. These trifling ordinances of Sixtus, who is so rude that seeth not, or may not easily conjecture them to be falsely fathered on Sixtus, or on any father of that time? First, by the uniform rudeness and style of all those decretal letters, nothing savouring of that age, but rather of the latter Dunstical times that followed; also, by the matter and argument in those letters contained, nothing agreeing with the state of those troublesome days. Neither again is it to be supposed, that any such recourse of bishops was then to the apostolical see of Rome, that it was not lawful to return without their letters; when the persecution against the Christians was then so hot, in the days of Adrian, that the bishops of Rome themselves were more glad to fly out of the city, than other bishops were to come to them unto Rome. And if Sixtus added the “Sanctus” unto the mass canon, what piece then of the canon went before it, when they who put to the other patches came after Sixtus? And if they came after Sixtus, that added the rest, why did they set their pieces before his, seeing they that began the first piece of the canon, came after him?

    The same likewise is to be judged of the epistles and ordinances of Telesphorus, who succeeded next unto Sixtus, and, being bishop of that church the term of eleven years, the first year of the reign of Antoninus Pius, died a martyr about the year of our Lord 138. His epistle, like unto the rest, containing in it no great matter of doctrine, hath these ordinances.

    First, he commandeth all that were of the clergy to fast and abstain from flesh-eating seven weeks before Easter: that three masses should be said upon the nativity-day of the Lord: that no man should accuse either bishop or priest. He ordained moreover, “Gloria in excelsis,” to be added to the mass, etc. But these things falsely to be feigned upon him, may easily be conjectured. For, as touching the seven weeks’ fast, neither doth it agree with the old Roman term commonly received, calling it “Quadragesima,” that is, the forty days’ fast; neither with the example of our Savior, who fasted not seven weeks, but only forty days. Moreover, as concerning this forty days’ fast, we read of the same in the epistle of Ignatius, which was long before Telesphorus: whereby it may appear that this Telesphorus was not the first inventor thereof. And, if it be true which is lately come out in the name of Abdias (but untruly, as by many conjectures may be proved), there it is read, that in the days of St.

    Matthew, this Lent fast of forty days was observed long before Telesphorus, by these words that follow: “In the days,” saith he, “either of Lent, or in the time of other lawful fastings, he that abstaineth not as well from eating meat, as also from the mixture of bodies, doth incur in so doing, not only pollution, but also committeth offense, which must be washed away with the tears of repentance.” Again, Apollonius affirmeth, that Montanus the heretic was the first deviser and bringer-in of these laws of fasting into the church, which before was used to be free. F1077 But especially by Socrates, writer of the Ecclesiastical History, who lived after the days of Theodosius, it may be argued, that this seven weeks’ fast is falsely imputed to Telesphorus. For Socrates, in his fifth book, speaking of this time, hath these words: “The Romans do fast three weeks continuously before Easter, except the Saturdays and Sundays.” F1078 And moreover, speaking of divers and sundry fastings of Lent in sundry and divers churches, he addeth these words: “And because that no man can produce any written commandment about this matter, it is therefore apparent, that the apostles left this kind of fast free to every man’s will and judgment, lest any should be constrained, by fear and necessity, to do that which is good,” etc. With this of Socrates, agree also the words of Sozomen, living much about the same time, in his seventh book, where he thus writeth: “The whole fast of Lent,” saith he, “some comprehend in six weeks; as do the Illyrians and west churches, with all Lybia, Egypt, and Palestine: some in seven weeks, as at Constantinople, and the parts bordering to Phoenicia: others in three weeks, next before the day of Easter, and some again in two weeks,” etc. By which it may be collected, that Telesphorus never ordained any such fast of seven weeks, which otherwise never would have been neglected in Rome and in the west churches; neither again would have been unrecorded by these ancient ecclesiastical writers, if any such thing had been. The like is to be thought also of the rest, not only of his Constitutions, but also of those of the other ancient bishops and martyrs who followed after him, as of Hyginus, who, succeeding him, and dying also a martyr, A.D. 142, as Volateran declareth, is said, or rather is feigned, to have brought in the use of the chrism and of at least one godfather or one godmother in baptism, and to have ordained the dedication of churches; whereas in his time so far was it off, that any solemn churches were standing in Rome, that unneth the Christians could safely convent in their own houses. Likewise the distinguishing the orders of metropolitans, bishops, and other degrees, savours of nothing less than of that time.

    After Hyginus followed Pius, who, as Platina reporteth, was so precisely devout about the holy mysteries of the Lord’s table, that if any one crumb thereof did fall down to the ground, he ordained that the priest should do penance forty days; if any fell upon the altar , a54 he should do penance three days; if upon the linen corporas-cloth, four days; if upon any other linen cloth, nine days. And if any drop of the blood, saith he, should chance to be spilt, wheresoever it fell, it should be licked up, if it were possible: if not, the place should be washed, or pared, or scraped, and the parings or scrapings burned, and the ashes laid in the sanctuary. All which toys may seem to a wise man more vain and trifling, than to savor of those pure and strict times of those holy martyrs. This Pius, as is reported, was much conversant with Hermas, called otherwise Pastor.

    Damasus saith, he was his brother. F1083 But how is it likely, that Hermas being the disciple of Paul, or one of the seventy disciples, could be the brother of this Pius? Of this Hermas, and of his Revelations, the aforesaid Pius, in his epistle decretal (if it be not forged) maketh mention; declaring that the angel of God appeared unto him in the habit of a shepherd, commanding him that Easter day should be celebrated of all men upon no other day but on Sunday: “whereupon,” saith the epistle, “Pius the bishop, by his authority apostolical, decreeth and commandeth the same to be observed of all men.”

    Then succeeded Anicetus, Soter, and Eleutherius, about the year of our Lord one hundred and fourscore. F1085 This Eleutherius, at the request of Lucius, king of Britain, sent to him Damian and Fugatius, by whom the king was converted to Christ’s faith, and baptized, about the year of our Lord 179. Nauclerus saith it was in the year 156. Henry of Herford saith it was in the year 179, in the nineteenth of Verus the emperor. Some say it was in the sixth year of Commodus, which should be about A.D. 185. Timotheus, in his story , a57 thinketh that Eleutherius came himself: but that is not likely. And, as a58 there is a variance among the writers for the count of years, so doth there arise a question among some, whether Eleutherius was the first that introduced the faith from Rome into this land or not. Nicephorus saith that Simon Zelotes came into Britain. Some others allege out of Gildas, “De Victoria Aureliani Ambrosii,” that Joseph of Arimathea, after the dispersion of the [early church by the] f1089 Jews, was sent, by Philip the apostle, from France to Britain, about the year of our Lord 63; and here remained in this land all his time; and so with his fellows, laid the first foundation of christian faith among the people of Britain: whereupon other preachers and teachers, coming afterward, confirmed the same, and increased it more. And therefore doth Peter of Clugni count the Scottishmen among the more ancient Christians. F1090 For the confirmation hereof might be alleged the testimony of Origen, of Tertullian, and even the words of the letter of Eleutherius, which import no less but that the faith of Christ was here in England among the people of Britain, before Eleutherius’ time, and before the king was converted: but hereof more shall be spoken hereafter (Christ willing), when, after the tractation of these ten persecutions, we shall enter into the matter of our English stories.

    About this time of Commodus afore mentioned, among divers other learned men and famous teachers, whom God stirred up at that time (as he doth at all other times raise up some) in his church, to confound the persecutors by learning and writing (as the martyrs, to confirm the truth with their blood), were Serapion, bishop of Antioch, and Hegesippus a writer of the Ecclesiastical History, from Christ’s passion to his own time, as witness Jerome and Eusebius, which books of his be now remaining: but those that be remaining (which be five) “De excidio urbis Hierosolymitanae” be not mentioned, neither of Jerome, nor Eusebius, nor of Miltiades, who also wrote his Apology in defense of Christian Religion, as did Melito, Quadratus, and Aristides before-mentioned. About the same time a59 also wrote Heraclitus, who first began to write annotations on the epistles of the apostle Paul. Also Theophilus bishop of Caesarea, Dionysius bishop of Corinth, a man famously learned, who wrote divers epistles to divers churches; and, among others, one to the Gnossian church, wherein he exhorts Pinytus, their bishop, “that he would lay no yoke of chastity of any necessity upon his brethren; but that he would consider the infirmity of others, and bear with it.” Moreover, the said Dionysius, writing in his epistles of Dionysius the Areopagite, f1094 declareth of him how that he was first converted to the christian faith by St. Paul, according as in the Acts is recorded; and afterwards was made the first bishop of Athens; but maketh there no mention of his book “De Hierarchia,” whereby it may easily appear, what is to be judged of that book. Furthermore, by the epistles of the said Dionysius of Corinth, this we have to understand to have been the use at that time in churches, to read the letters and epistles, such as were sent by learned bishops and teachers unto the congregations, as may appear by these words of Dionysius, who, writing to the church of the Romans, and to Soter, saith, “This day we celebrate the holy dominical-day, in which we have read your epistle, which always we will read for our exhortation; like as we do read also the epistle of Clement sent to us before,” etc. Where also mention is made of keeping of Sunday holy, whereof we find no mention made in ancient authors, before his time, except only in Justin Martyr, who, in his first Apology, declareth two times most especially used by christian men for congregating together: first, when any convert was to be baptized; the second was upon the Sunday, which was wont for two causes then to be hallowed, “first, because,” saith he, “upon that day God made the world: secondly, because that Christ, upon that day, first showed himself, after his resurrection, to his disciples,” etc.

    The same time, moreover, lived Pantaenus, who was the first in Alexandria that professed in open school to read, of whom is thought first to proceed the order and manner among the Christians to read and profess in universities. This Pantaenus, for his excellency of learning, was sent by Demetrius, bishop of Alexandria, to preach to the Indians, where he found the gospel of St. Matthew written in Hebrew, left there by St.

    Bartholomew, which book, afterwards, he brought with him from thence to the library of Alexandria. F1096 Over and besides a60 these above named, about the days of Commodus, wrote also Clemens Alexandrinus, a man of notable and singular learning, whose books, although for a great part they be lost, yet certain of them yet remain; wherein is declared among other things, the order and number of the books and gospels of the New Testament. F1097 During all the reign of Commodus, God granted rest and tranquillity, although not without some bloodshed of certain holy martyrs, as is above declared, unto his church. In the which time of tranquillity, the Christians, having now some leisure from the foreign enemy, began to have a little contention among themselves about the ceremony of Easter: which contention, albeit of long time before it had been stirring in the church (as is before mentioned, in speaking of Polycarp and Anicetus), yet the variance and difference of that ceremony brought no breach of christian concord and society among them; neither as yet did the matter exceed so far, but that the bond of love, and communion of brotherly life, continued, although they differed in the ceremony of the day. For they of the West church, pretending the tradition of Paul and Peter (but indeed being the tradition of Hermas and of Pius), kept one day, which was upon the Sunday after the fourteenth day of the first month. F1098 The church of Asia, following the ordinance of John the apostle, observed another, as more shall be declared (the Lord willing) when we come to the time of Victor bishop of Rome. In the mean time, as concerning the fourth persecution, let this hitherto suffice.


    After the death of Commodus reigned Pertinax but a few months: after whom succeeded Severus, under whom was raised the fifth persecution against the christian saints; who, reigning the term of eighteen years, the first ten years of the same was very favorable and courteous to the Christians: afterward, through sinister suggestions and malicious accusations of the malignant, he was so incensed against them, that by proclamations he commanded no Christians any more to be suffered. Thus the rage of the emperor being inflamed against them, great persecution was stirred up on every side, whereby an infinite number of martyrs were slain, as Eusebius recordeth, which was about the year of our Lord 205. The crimes and false accusations objected against the Christians are partly touched before; as sedition and rebellion against the emperor, sacrilege, murdering of infants, incestuous pollution, eating raw flesh, libidinous commixture, whereof certain indeed, called then “Gnostici,” were infamed. Item, it was objected against them for worshipping the head of an ass; which, whereof it should rise, I find no certain cause, except it were, perhaps, by the Jews. Also, they were charged for worshipping the sun, for that peradventure before the sun did rise, they convented together, singing their morning hymns unto the Lord, or else because they prayed toward the east: but specially, for that they would not with them worship their idolatrous gods, and were counted as enemies to all men.

    The persons who managed this persecution under the emperor were chiefly Hilarian, Vigellius, Claudius, Herminian governor of Cappadocia, Cecilius, Capella, Vespronius; also Demetrius mentioned of Cyprian, and Aquila judge of Alexandria, of whom Eusebius maketh relation.

    The places where the force of this persecution most raged, were Africa, Alexandria, Cappadocia, and Carthage. The number of them that suffered in this persecution, by the report of Ecclesiastical History, was innumerable; of whom the first was Leonidas the father of Origen, who was beheaded. With whom also Origen his son, being of the age then of seventeen years, would have suffered (such a fervent desire he had to be martyred for Christ), had not his mother privily, in the night season, conveyed away his clothes and his shirt. Whereupon more for shame to be seen, than for fear to die, he was constrained to remain at home; and when he could do nothing else, yet he writeth to his father a letter with these words, “Take heed to yourself, that you change not your thought and purpose for our sake,” etc. Such a fervency had this Origen, being yet young, to the doctrine of Christ’s faith, by the operation of God’s heavenly providence, and partly also by the diligent education of his father, who brought him up from his youth most studiously in all good literature, but especially in the reading and exercise of holy scripture; wherein he had such inward and mystical speculation, that many times he would move questions to his father of the meaning of this place or that place in the scripture. Insomuch that his father, divers times, would uncover his breast being asleep, and kiss it, giving thanks to God which had made him so happy a father of such a happy child. After the death of his father, and all his goods confiscated to the emperor, he, with his poor mother and six brothers, were brought to such extreme poverty, that he did sustain both himself and them by teaching a school: till at length, being weary of the profession, he transferred his study only to the knowledge and seeking of divine scripture, and such other learning [as was] conducible to the same. F1103 So much he profited both in the Hebrew and other tongues, that he conferred the Hebrew text with the translation of the Seventy; a61 and, moreover, did find out and confer the other translations which we call the common translations of Aquila, of Symmachus, and Theodotion. Also he adjoined to these aforesaid other translations, whereof more is in the history of Eusebius expressed. F1104 They that write of the life of Origen, testify of him that he was quick and sharp of wit, much patient of labor, a great travailer in the tongues, of a spare diet, of a strict life, a great faster; his teaching and his living were both one; his going was much barefoot; a strict observer of that saying of the Lord, bidding to have but “one coat,” etc. He is said to have written so much as seven notaries and so many maids every day could pen. F1105 The number of his books [say Epiphanius and Ruffinus] came to six thousand volumes; the copies whereof he used to sell for three pence, or a little more, for the sustentation of his living. F1107 But of him more shall be touched hereafter. So zealous was he in the cause of Christ, and of Christ’s martyrs, that he, nothing fearing his own peril, would assist and exhort them going to their death, and kiss them; insomuch that he was oft in jeopardy to be stoned of the multitude; and sometimes, by the provision of christian men, had his house guarded about with soldiers, for the safety of them who daily resorted to hear his readings. F1108 And many times he was compelled to shift places and houses, for such as laid wait for him in all places: but great was the providence of God to preserve him in the midst of all this tempest of Severus. Among others who resorted unto him, and were his hearers, Plutarch was one, and died a martyr; and with him Serenus his brother, who was burnt. The third after these was Heraclides, the fourth Heron, who were both beheaded. The fifth was another Serenus, also beheaded. [Of women] Rhais, and Potamiena who was tormented with pitch poured upon her, and martyred with her mother Marcella, who died also in the fire.

    This Potamiena was of a fresh and flourishing beauty, who, because she could not be removed from her profession, was committed to Basilides, one of the captains there in the army, to see the execution done. Basilides, receiving her at the judge’s hand, and leading her to the place, showed her some compassion in repressing the rebukes and railings of the wicked adversaries: for the which Potamiena the virgin, to requite again his kindness, bade him be of good comfort, saying, “That she would pray the Lord to show mercy upon him,” and so went she to her martyrdom, which she both strongly and quietly did sustain.

    Not long after it happened that Basilides was required by his fellow-soldiers, on some occasion, to swear; which thing he refused to do, plainly affirming that he was a Christian [for their oath then was wont to be by the idols and the emperor]. At the first he was thought dissemblingly to jest; but after, when he was heard constantly and in earnest to confirm the same, he was had before the judge, and so by him committed to ward. The Christians marvelling thereat, as they came to him in the prison, inquired of him the cause of that his sudden conversion. To whom he answered again, and said, “That Potamiena, three days after her martyrdom, stood by him in the night, put a crown upon his head, and said she had entreated the Lord for him, and had obtained her request; adding moreover, That it should not be long, but he should be received up.” Which things thus done, the next day following he was had to the place of execution, and there beheaded. F1111 Albeit, the said Eusebius giveth this story of no credit, but only of hearsay, as he there expresseth.

    As divers and many there were that suffered in the days of this Severus, so some there were again, who, being put to great torments, through the protection of God’s providence yet escaped with life: of whom was one Alexander, who, for his constant confession and torments suffered, was made bishop afterward of Jerusalem, together with Narcissus; who, being then an old man of a hundred and sixteen years , a63 as saith Eusebius, was unwieldy for his age to govern that function alone.

    Of this Narcissus it is reported in Eusebius’s History, that certain miracles by him were wrought, very notable, if they be true.

    First, of water by him turned into oil, at the solemn vigil of Easter, what time the congregation wanted oil for their lamps. Another miracle is also told of him, which is this: “There were three evil disposed persons, who, seeing the soundness and grave constancy of his virtuous life, and fearing their own punishment (as a conscience that is guilty is always fearful), thought to prevent his accusations, in accusing him first, and laying a heinous crime unto his charge. And to make their accusation more probable before the people, they bound their accusation with a great oath, one wishing to be destroyed with fire, if he said not true; the other to be consumed with a grievous sickness; the third to lose both his eyes, if they did lie. Narcissus, although having his conscience clear, yet not able, being but one man, to withstand their accusation bound with such oaths, gave place, and removed himself from the multitude into a solitary desert by himself, where he continued the space of many years. In the mean time, to them which so willingly and wickedly forswore themselves, this happened: The first, by casualty of one little small sparkle of fire, was burnt with his goods and all his family. The second was taken with a great sickness from the top to the toe, and devoured with the same. The third, hearing and seeing the punishment of the others, confessed his fault, but through great repentance poured out such tears, that he lost both his eyes; and thus was their false perjury punished. F1112 Narcissus, after long absence, returning home again, was by this means both cleared of the fact, and received into his bishopric again: to whom as is said, for impotency of his age, Alexander was joined in execution of the function. F1113 f1114 Of this Alexander is recorded in the said Ecclesiastical History, that after his agonies and constancy of his confession showed in the persecution of Severus, he was admonished, by a vision in the night season, to make his journey a64 up to Jerusalem from Cappadocia (where he had been a bishop already), to see there the sacred places, and to pray. Thus he, taking his journey, and drawing near to the city, a vision with plain words was given to certain chief heads of Jerusalem, to go out of the gate of the city, there to receive the bishop appointed to them of God. And so was Alexander met and received, and joined partner with aged Narcissus, as is before expressed, in the city of Jerusalem; where he continued bishop above forty years, until the persecution of Decius, and there erected a famous library, where Eusebius had his chiefest help in writing his Ecclesiastical History.

    F1115 He wrote also divers epistles to divers churches, and licensed Origen openly to teach his church. At length, being very aged, he was brought from Jerusalem to Cesarea before the judge under Decius, where, after his constant confession the second time, he was committed to prison, and there died.

    Besides these that suffered in this persecution of Severus, recited by Eusebius, Vincentius also speaketh of one Andoclus, whom Polycarp before had sent into France which Andoclus, because he had spread there the doctrine of Christ, was apprehended of Severus, and first beaten with staves and bats, and after was beheaded. F1117 To these above-named may also be added Asclepiades, who, although he was not put to death in this persecution of Severus, yet therein constantly he did abide the trial of his confession, and suffered much for the same, as Alexander before-mentioned did. Wherefore afterward he was ordained bishop of Antioch, where he continued the space of seven years; of whom Alexander writes unto the church of Antioch out of prison, much rejoicing and giving thanks to God, to hear that he was their bishop. F1118 About the same time, during the reign of Severus, died Irenaeus. Henry of Herford, Ado, and other martyr-writers , a65 do hold that he was martyred, with a great multitude of others more, for the confession and doctrine of Christ, about the fourth or fifth year of Severus. This Irenaeus, as he was a great writer, so was he greatly commended of Tertullian for his learning, who calleth him, “A great searcher of all kind of learning.” F11109 He was first scholar and hearer of Polycarp; from thence either was sent, or came to France; and there, by Pothinus, and the rest of the martyrs, was instituted into the ministry, and commended by their letter to Eleutherius, as is before premonished. At length, after the martyrdom of Pothinus, he was appointed bishop of Lyons, where he continued about the space of three and twenty years. In the time of this Irenaeus the state of the church was much troubled, not only for the outward persecution of the foreign enemy, but also for divers sects and errors then stirring; against which he diligently labored, and wrote much, although but few books be now remaining. The nature of this man, well agreeing with his name, was such, that he ever loved peace, and sought to set agreement when any controversy rose in the church. And therefore, when the question of keeping the Easter day was renewed in the church between Victor bishop of Rome and the churches of Asia, and when Victor would have excommunicated them as schismatics, for disagreeing from him therein; Irenaeus, with other brethren of the French church, sorry to see such a contention among brethren for such a trifle, convented themselves together in a common council, and directing their letter with their common consent subscribed, sent unto Victor, entreating him to stay his purpose, and not to proceed in excommunicating his brethren for that matter. Although they themselves agreed with him in observing the Sunday-Easter as he did, yet with great reasons and arguments they exhorted him not to deal so rigorously with his brethren, who followed the ancient custom of their country-manner in that behalf. And besides this, he wrote divers other letters abroad concerning the same contention, declaring the excommunication of Victor to be of no force. F1120 Not long after Irenaeus followed also Tertullian, about the time of this Severus and Antoninus Caracalla his son; a man both in Greek and Latin well expert, having great gifts in disputing, and in writing eloquent; as his books declare, and as the commendation of all learned men doth testify no less. To whom Vincentius of Lerins giveth such praise, that he calleth him “the flower of all Latin writers.” And of the eloquence of his style he thus writeth, “that with the force of his reasons,” he saith, “whom he could not persuade, them he compelled to consent unto him. How many words, so many sentences, and how many sentences, so many victories he had,” etc.

    Such men, for doing and writing, God raised up from time to time, as pillars and stays for his poor church, as he did this Tertullian in these dangerous days of persecution. For when the Christians were vexed with wrongs and falsely accused of the Gentiles, Tertullian, taking their cause in hand, defended them against the persecutors, and against their slanderous accusations. F1121 First, that they never minded any stir or rebellion, either against the empire or emperors of Rome, he proved, forsomuch as the use of Christians was to pray for the state of their emperors and governors.

    And whereas they were accused falsely to be enemies of all mankind, “How could that be?” saith Tertullian to Scapula, “seeing the proper office of the Christians is, by their profession, to pray for all men, to love their enemies, never requiting evil for evil, whereas all others do love but only their friends, and scarcely them.” As touching the horrible slander of murdering infants, “How can that be true of the Christians?” saith he, “whose order is to abstain from all blood and strangled; insomuch that it is not lawful for them to touch the blood of any beast at their tables when they feed? From filthy copulation no sort more free than they, which are, and ever have been, the greatest observers of chastity; of whom, such as may, live in perpetual virginity all their life; such as cannot, contract matrimony, for avoiding all whoredom and fornication.” Neither could it be proved that the Christians worshipped the sun: which false surmise Tertullian declared to rise hereof, for that the manner of the Christians was to pray toward the east. Much less was there any of them so mad as to worship an ass’s head; whereof the occasion being taken only of the Jews, the slander thereof he proved to be falsely and wrongfully laid to the charge of the Christians.

    And likewise from all other lies and slanders objected of the heathen against the Christians, the said Tertullian purgeth the Christians, declaring them to be falsely belied and wrongfully persecuted, not for any desert of theirs, but only for the hatred of their name. And yet notwithstanding, by the same persecutions, he proveth, in the same Apology, the religion of the Christians nothing to be impaired, but rather increased. “The more,” saith he, “we are mown down of you, the more rise up. The blood of Christians is seed. For what man,” saith he, “in beholding the painful torments, and the perfect patience of them, will not search and inquire what is the cause?

    And when he hath found it out, who will not agree unto it? And when he agreeth to it, who will not desire to suffer for it?” “Thus,” saith he, “this sect will never die, which, the more it is cut down, the more it groweth. For every man, seeing and wondering at the sufferance of the saints, is moved the more thereby to search the cause; in searching, he findeth it, and finding, he followeth it.” F1124 Thus Tertullian, in this dangerous time of persecution being stirred up of God, defended the innocency of the Christians against the blasphemy of the adversaries; and moreover, for the instruction of the church, he compiled many fruitful works; whereof some are extant, some are not to be found. Notwithstanding the great learning and famous virtues of this worthy man, certain errors and blemishes are noted in his doctrine, as are both in a66 Origen and Irenaeus, who were before him, and likewise in them (were they never so excellent) that followed him; which errors all here in order to note and comprehend, were too long a matter for this story to prosecute. This, by the way, shall be sufficient to admonish the reader, never to look for any such perfection of any man in this world, how singular soever he be (Christ only excepted), but some blemish or other joineth itself withal, whereof more, perchance, shall be said when we come to Cyprian.

    And now, to return again to the order of bishops of Rome intermitted.

    After Eleutherius afore-mentioned, next in the bishopric of Rome succeeded Victor; who, as Platina saith, died quietly in the days of Severus. But Damasus, and such as do follow the common chronicles, f1125 affirm that he died a martyr, after he had sat ten (or as some say twelve) years. This Victor was a great stirrer (as partly before is signified) in the controversy about Easter-day, for the which he would have proceeded in excommunication against the churches of Asia, had not Irenaeus, then bishop of Lyons, with the counsel of his other brethren there assembled, repressed his intended violence.

    As touching that controversy of Easter in those days of the primitive church, the original thereof was this, as Eusebius, Socrates, Platina, and others record. First, certain it is, that the apostles, being only intentive and attendant to the doctrine of salvation, gave no heed nor regard to the observation of days and times, neither bound the church to any ceremonies and rites, except those things necessary, mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, as strangled and blood; which was ordained then of the Holy Ghost, not without a most urgent and necessary cause, touched partly in the history before. For when the murdering and blood of infants were commonly objected by the heathen persecutors against the Christians, they had no other argument to help themselves, nor to repel the adversary, but only their own law, by the which they were commanded to abstain, not only from all men’s blood, but also from the blood of all common beasts. And therefore that law seemeth by the Holy Ghost to be given, and also to the same end continued in the church, so long as the cause (that is, the persecutions of the heathen Gentiles) continued. Besides these, we read of no other ceremonies or rites, which the apostles greatly regarded, but left such things free to the liberty of Christians, every man to use therein his own discretion, for the using or not using thereof. Whereupon, as concerning all the ceremonial observations of days, times, places, meats, drinks, vestures, and such others; of all these things neither was the diversity among men greatly noted, nor any uniformity greatly required.

    Insomuch that Irenaeus, writing to Victor of the tradition of days, and of fastings, and of the diversity of these things then used among the primitive fathers, saith: “Notwithstanding all this variety, all they kept peace among themselves, and yet we keep it still; and this difference of fasting among us commendeth more the concord of faith.” F1126 And so long did the doctrine of christian liberty remain whole and sound in the church till the time of Victor, which was about the year of our Lord 197; although the diversity of these usages began before also in the days of Pius, about the year of Christ 143, to be misliked; yet restraint hereof was not so much urged before, as in the time of Victor. And yet neither did the violence of Victor take such place, but that the doctrine of christian liberty was defended and maintained by means of Irenaeus and others, and so continued in the church till after the council of Nice. — And thus much concerning the doctrine of christian liberty, and of the differences of rites and ceremonies.

    Now to return to Victor again, to show what diversity there was in observing the day of Easter, and how it came, thus is the story. First, in the time of Pius, in the year of Christ 143, the question of Easter-day began first to be moved, at what time Pius, by the revelation of Hermas, decreed the observation of that day to be changed, from the wonted manner of the fourteenth day of the moon in the first month, unto the next Sunday after. After him came Anicetus, Soter and Eleutherius, bishops of Rome, who also determined the same. F1127 Against these stood Melito bishop of Sardis, Polycarp, and, as some think, Hegesippus, with other learned men of Asia; which Polycarp, being sent by the brethren of Asia, came to Rome as is aforesaid, to confer with Anicetus in that matter: wherein when they could not agree after long debating, yet notwithstanding, they did both communicate together with reverence, and departed in peace. And so the celebration of Easter-day remained ajdia>fron, as a thing indifferent in the church, till the time of Victor; who, following after Anicetus and his fellows, and chiefly stirring in this matter, endeavored by all means and might to draw, or rather subdue, the churches of Asia unto his opinion; thinking moreover to excommunicate all those bishops and churches of Asia, as heretics and schismatics, which disagreed from the Roman order: had not Irenaeus otherwise restrained him from that doing, as is aforesaid, which was about the year of our Lord 197, in the reign of Commodus. Thus then began the uniformity of keeping that holy day to be first required as a thing necessary, and all they accounted as heretics and schismatics, who dissented from the bishop and tradition of Rome.

    With Victor stood the following bishopsTheophilus bishop of Cesarea in Palestine, Narcissus of Jerusalem, Irenaeus of Lyons, Palmas [of Amastris] and the other bishops in Pontus, Bachyllus of Corinth, the bishops of Osroene, and others more: all which condescended to have the celebration of Easter upon the Sunday, partly, because they would differ from the Jews in all things as much as they might, and partly, because the resurrection of the Lord fell on the same day. F1129 On the contrary side, divers bishops were in Asia, of whom the principal was Polycrates bishop of Ephesus; who, having assembled a great multitude of bishops and brethren of those parts, by the common assent of the rest, wrote again to Victor and to the church of Rome, declaring, that they had ever from the beginning observed that day, according to the rule of Scripture, unchanged, neither adding nor altering any thing from the same; alleging, moreover, for themselves the examples of the apostles and holy fathers their predecessors, as Philip the apostle, with his three daughters, who died at Hierapolis; also John the apostle and evangelist, at Ephesus; Polycarp, at Smyrna; Thraseas of Eumenia, bishop and martyr, at Smyrna; likewise Sagaris at Laodicea, bishop and martyr; holy Papirius, and Melito at Sardis. Beside these, bishops also of his own kindred, and his own ancestors, to the number of seven, who were all bishops before him, and he the eighth now after them; all of these observed (saith he) the solemnity of Easter on the same day, and after the same wise and sort, as we do now. F1130 Victor, being not a little moved herewith, by letters again denounceth against them (more bold upon authority than wise in his commission) violent excommunication; albeit by the wise handling of Irenaeus, and other learned men, that matter was staid, and Victor otherwise persuaded. What the persuasions of Irenaeus were, partly may appear in Eusebius, the sum whereof tendeth to this effect: “That the variety and difference of ceremonies is no strange matter in the church of Christ, when as this variety is not only in the day of Easter, but also in the manner of fasting, and in divers other usages among the Christians: for some fast one day, some two days, some others fast more. Others there be, who, counting forty hours, both day and night, take that for a full fast. And this so diverse fashion of fasting in the church of Christ began not only in this our time, but was before among our fore-elders. And yet, notwithstanding, they with all this diversity were in unity among themselves, and so be we; neither doth this difference of ceremonies any thing hinder, but rather commendeth the concord of faith. And he bringeth forth the examples of the fathers, of Telesphorus, Pius, Anicetus, Soter, Eleutherius, and such others, who neither observed the same usage themselves, nor prescribed it to others; and yet, notwithstanding, kept christian charity with such as came to communicate with them, though not observing the same form of things which they observed; as well appeared by Polycarp and Anicetus, who, although they agreed not in one uniform custom of rites, yet refused not to communicate together, the one giving reverence unto the other.”

    Thus the controversy being taken up between Ireneaus and Victor, [the matter] remained free to the time of the Nicene council. And thus much concerning the controversy of that matter, and concerning the doings of Victor.

    After Victor, succeeded in the see of Rome, Zephyrinus, in the days of the aforesaid Severus, about the year of our Lord 202. To this Zephyrinus be ascribed two epistles, in the first tome of the Councils. But, as I have said before of the decretal epistles of other Roman bishops, so I say and verily suppose of this; that neither the countenance of the style, nor the matter therein contained, nor the condition of the time, doth otherwise give to think of these letters, but that they be verily bastard letters; not written by these fathers, nor in these times, but craftily and wickedly packed in by some, which, to set up the primacy of Rome, have most pestilently abused the authority of these holy and ancient fathers, to deceive the simple church. For who is so rude, but that in considering only the state of those terrible times he may easily understand (except affection blind him), beside a number of other probable conjectures to lead him, that the poor persecuted bishops in that time would have been glad to have any safe covert to put their heads in: so far was it off, that they had any list or leisure then to seek for any primacy or patriarchship, or to drive all other churches to appeal to the see of Rome, or to exempt all priests from the accusation of any layman; as in the first epistle of Zephyrinus is to be seen, written to the bishops of Sicily: and likewise the second epistle of his to the bishops of the province of Egypt, containing no manner of doctrine, nor consolation necessary for that time, but only certain ritual decrees to no purpose, argueth no less, but the said epistles neither to savor of that man, nor to taste of that time.

    Of like credit also seemeth the constitution of the patines of glass, which Damasus saith that the same Zephyrinus ordained to be carried before the priest at the celebration of the mass. Again Platina writeth that he ordained the administration of the sacrament to be no more used in vessels of wood, or of glass, or of any other metal, except only silver, gold, and tin, etc. But how these two testimonies of Damasus and Platina join together, let the reader judge; especially seeing the same decree is referred to Urban that came after him. Again, what needed this decree of golden chalices f1133 to be established afterward in the councils of Tribur and Rheims, if it had been enacted before by Zephyrinus? How long this Zephyrinus sat, our writers do vary. Eusebius saith, he died in the reign of Caracalla, and sat seventeen years. Platina writeth that he died under Severus, and sat eight years; and so saith also Nauclerus. Damasus affirmeth, that he sat sixteen years and two months. F1135 Matthew of Westminster, author of the story intituled “Flores Historiarum,” with other later chronicles, maketh mention of Perpetua, and Felicitas, and Revocatus her brother, also of Saturninus and Satyrus brothers, and Secundolus, who, in the persecution of this Severus, gave over their lives to martyrdom for Christ; being thrown to wild beasts, and devoured of the same in Carthage in Africa; save that Saturninus, brought again from the beasts, was beheaded, and Secundolus died in prison about the year of our Lord 202, as writeth Florilegus.

    This Severus, the persecutor, reigned, as the most part of writers accord, the term of eighteen years, who, about the latter time of his reign, came with his army hither into Britain; where, after many conflicts had with the Britons, in the borders of the north he cast up a ditch, with a mighty wall made of earth and turfs and strong stakes, to the length of about seventy miles, from the one side of the island to the other, beginning at the Tyne, and reaching to the Scottish sea: which done, he removed to York, and there, by the breaking in of the northern men and Scots, was besieged and slain, about the year of our Lord 211, leaving behind him two sons, Bassianus and Geta; which Bassianus, surnamed Caracalla, after he had slain his brother Geta here in Britain, governed the empire alone, the space of six years. After whose death, (he being slain also of his servants, as he had slain his brother before), succeeded Macrinus with his son Diadumenus, to be emperor; who, after they had reigned one year, were both slain of their own people.

    After them followed Varius Heliogabalus in the empire, rather to be called a monster than a man; so prodigious was his life in all gluttony, filthiness, and ribaldry. Such was his pomp, that in his lamps he used balm, and filled his fish-ponds with rose-water. To let pass his sumptuous vestures, which he would not wear but only of gold and most costly silks; and his shoes glistering with precious stones finely engraved; he was never two days served with one kind of meat; he never wore one garment twice. And likewise, for his fleshly wickedness, some days his company was served at meal with the brains of ostriches, and a strange fowl called phoenicoptery, another day with the tongues of popinjays, and other sweet singing birds.

    Being nigh to the sea, he never used fish; in places far distant from the sea, all his house was served with most delicate fishes. At one supper he was served with seven thousand fishes, and five thousand fowls. At his removing in his progress, often there followed him six hundred chariots laden only with bawds, common harlots, and ribalds. He sacrificed young children, and preferred to the best advancements in the common-wealth most light personages, as bawds, minstrels, carters, and such like; in one word, he was an enemy to all honesty and good order. And when he was foretold by his sorcerers and astronomers that he should die a violent death, he provided robes of silk to hang himself, swords of gold to kill himself, and strong poison in [boxes of] jacinth and emerald to poison himself, if needs he must thereto be forced. Moreover, he made a high tower, having the floor of boards covered with gold plate, bordered with precious stones, from the which tower he would throw himself down, if he should be pursued of his enemies. But notwithstanding all his provision, he was slain of the soldiers, drawn through the city, and cast into the Tiber, after he had reigned two years and eight months, as witnesseth Eutropius; others say four years.

    This Heliogabalas, having no issue, adopted to his son and heir Aurelius Alexander Severus, the son of Mammaea, who, entering his reign the year of our Lord 222, continued thirteen years, well commended for being virtuous, wise, gentle, liberal, and to no man hurtful. And as he was not unlearned himself, through the diligent education of Mammaea his mother, so he was a great favourer of wise and learned men. Neither did he any thing in the commonwealth, without the assistance of learned and sage counsellors. It is reported of him that he bore such stomach against corrupt judges, that when he chanced to meet with any of them, by the commotion of his mind he would cast up gall, being so moved with them that he could not speak, and was ready with his two fingers to put out their eyes. From his court he dismissed all superfluous and unneedful servants, saying, that he was no good pupil which fed idle servants with the bowels of his commonwealth. F1138 Among his other good virtues, it appeareth also that he was friendly and favorable unto the Christians, as by this act may be gathered: for when the Christians had occupied a certain public place in some good use (belike for the assembling and conventing together of the congregation) the company of the cooks or tiplers made challenge of that place to belong unto them.

    The matter being brought before the emperor, he judged it more honest, for the place to be continued to the worship of God, howsoever it were, than be polluted by the dirty slubbering of cooks and scullions.

    By this it may be understood, that in Rome no Christian churches were erected unto this time, when yet (notwithstanding this favor of the emperor) no public house could quietly be obtained for the Christians. So that, by the reason hereof, may appear the decretal epistle and ordinance of pope Hyginus concerning the dedication of churches, above-mentioned, to be falsified. And likewise the ordinance of Pius his successor, concerning the a67 altar, to be also false. For what altar was it likely they had in the time of Hyginus and Pius, A.D. 150, when at this time, A.D. 223, which was long after, no public place almost could be granted them for the Christians to assemble together.

    Of’ this Alexander, Platina writeth, that as he was a great hater of all boasters and flatterers, so he was of such prudence, that no deceit could escape him; and bringeth in a story of one Turinus, who had gotten craftily many great bribes and gifts, by making the people believe that he was of great authority with the emperor, and that he could help them to have whatsoever they sued for. Whereof the emperor being certified, he caused him in the open market to be fastened to a stake, and there killed with smoke, while the crier stood thus crying to the people; “Smoke he sold, and with smoke he is punished.”

    Mammaea, the mother of this Alexander above-mentioned (whom Jerome calleth a devout and religious woman), hearing of the fame and the excellent learning of Origen, who was then at Alexandria, sent for him to Antioch, desirous to see and hear him: unto whom the aforesaid Origen, according to her request, resorted, and after that he had there remained a space with the emperor and his mother, returned again to Alexandria. And thus continued this good emperor his reign the space of thirteen years; at length, at a commotion in Germany, with his mother Mammaea he was slain. After whom succeeded Maximin, A.D. 235, contrary to the mind of the senate, only appointed by the soldiers to be emperor. During all this time between Severus and this Maximin, the church of Christ, although it had not perfect peace, yet it had some mean tranquillity from persecution. Albeit, some martyrs there were at this time that suffered, whereof Nauclerus giveth this reason: “For although,” saith he, “Alexander, being persuaded through the entreating of his mother Mammaea, did favor the Christians, yet notwithstanding, there was no public edict or proclamation provided for their safeguard.” By reason whereof, divers there were who suffered martyrdom under Almachius and other judges. In the number of whom, after some stories, was Calixtus bishop of Rome, who succeeded next unto Zephyrinus above mentioned; and after him Urban also, who, both being bishops of Rome, did both suffer , a68 by the opinion of some writers, under Alexander Severus. This Calixtus, in his two decretal epistles, written to Benedict and to the bishops of France, giveth these ordinances; that no actions or accusations against the prelates or doctors of the church should be received; that no secret conspiracies should be made against bishops; item, no man to communicate with persons excommunicate; also, no bishop to excommunicate or to deal in another’s diocese. And here he expoundeth the diocese or the parish of any bishop or minister to be his wife: “The wife,” saith the apostle, “is bound to the law, as long as the husband liveth; when he is dead, she is free from the law.” “So,” saith Calixtus, “the wife of a bishop (which is his church) so long as he liveth, is bound only to him, neither ought to be judged or disposed by any other man, without his will and judgment. After his death, she is free from the law to marry to whom she will, so it be in the Lord, that is ‘regulariter,’ regularly.” In the end of the said his epistle decretal, he confuteth the error of those who hold, “that they which are fallen are not to be received again:” which heresy, after the time of Calixtus or Calistus, came in first by Novatian, in the days of Cornelius, A.D. 251.

    Moreover, in his said first epistle decretal is contained the Fast of the Four Times, commonly called the Ember-fast, whereof also Marianus Scotus maketh mention. But Damasus, speaking of the same fast, saith, he ordained the fast but of three times, which was for the increase of corn, wine, and oil.

    By these hitherto premised, it is not hard for a quick reader to smell out the crafty juggling of that person or persons, whosoever they were, that falsely have ascribed these decretal institutions to those holy fathers. For first, what leisure had the Christians to lay in their accusations against their bishops, when we never read, or find in any story, any kind of variance in those days among them; but all love, mutual compassion, and hearty communion among the saints? And as we read of no variance among the people in those days, nor of any fault or backsliding among the bishops, who for the most part then died all constant martyrs, so neither do we read of any tribunal seat or consistory used or frequented then about any such matters. Again, if a man examine well the dangers of those busy days, he shall see the poor flock of the Christians so occupied and piteously oppressed by the cruel accusations of the heathen infidels, that though the cause did, yet the time would not serve them to commence any law against their bishops. Secondly, as touching their conspiracy against bishops, what conspiracy either would they then practice against them, who always gave their lives for their defense? Or how could they then conspire in any companies together, when never a true christian man durst once put his head out of his doors? neither was there in the church any christian man in those perilous days, except he were a true man indeed, such as was far from all false conspiracies. And when all the world almost in all places conspired against them, what time, what cause, or what heart, trow ye, could they have to conspire against their instructors? Thirdly, concerning the confutation of that heresy, how standeth the confutation with the time of Calixtus, when Novatian, the author of that heresy, was after him in the time of Cornelius? Fourthly, if by the law of Calixtus every diocese or parish be the proper wife of every bishop or minister, then how many bishops’ wives, and parsons’ wives, has the adulterous pope of Rome deflowered in these latter days of the church! who so proudly and impudently hath intermeddled and taken his pleasure, and his own profit, in every diocese and parish almost through all Christendom, without all leave and license of the good man; who hath been in the mean time, and yet is compelled still, wheresoever the pope’s holiness cometh, “Vigilanti stertere naso,” and to give him leave unasked to do what he list. Wherefore if this canon decretal be truly his, why is it not observed, so as it doth stand, without exception? If it be not, why is it then falsely forged upon him, and the church of Christ deceived? and certes, lamentable it is, that this falsifying of such trifling traditions, under the false pretense of antiquity, either was begun in the church to deceive the people, or that it hath remained so long undetected. For, as I think, the church of Christ will never be perfectly reformed, before these decretal constitutions and epistles, which have so long put on the visor of antiquity, shall be fully detected, and appear in their own color, wherein they were first painted.

    And yet neither do I say this, or think contrary, but that it may be, that bishops of Rome, and of the same name, have been the true authors of these traditions. But here cometh in the error (as I credibly suppose), that when other later bishops of the like name have devised these ceremonial inventions, the vulgar opinion of men hath transferred them to the first primitive fathers; although being of another time, yet bearing the same name with the true inventors thereof. But of Calixtus enough; who, as Damasus saith, in the days of this Alexander Severus died a martyr.

    Vincentius affirmeth, that he was tied to a great stone, and so out of a window was thrown into a ditch. F1144 Eusebius, speaking of his death, maketh no mention of his martyrdom, and saith he sat five years; Platina saith six years; Sabellicus giveth him seven years, and so doth Damasus.

    F1145 After Calixtus followed Urban, about the year of our Lord 223; who, in his epistle decretal (coming out of the same forge) which he wrote in common to all bishops, maketh no mention of the heavy persecutions of the church, nor ministereth any exhortation of comfort or constancy to the brethren; but only giveth many strict precepts for not transporting or alienating the goods of the church, and to pay truly their offerings which they vow: also to have all common among the clergy. Moreover, about the end of his epistle, he instituteth the confirmation of children after baptism (which the papists be wont to take into the number of their seven sacraments) affirming and denouncing more than Scripture will bear, that the imposition of the bishop’s hand bringeth the Holy Ghost, and that thereby men be made full Christians, etc. But of these decretal epistles enough is said before, more may be considered of the discreet reader. Marianus Scotus, Sabellicus, Nauclerus, and other late story-writers do hold, as is aforesaid, that he died a martyr in the days of Alexander Severus, after he had governed that seat four years, as Damasus and Platina do witness; as Marianus saith, eight years.

    The same Damasus and Platina do testify of him, that he, by his preaching and holiness of life, converted divers heathens to the faith. Among whom were Tiburtius, and Valerian the [espoused] husband of Cecilia, who both, being [brothers and] noblemen of Rome, remained constant in the faith unto martyrdom. Of this Cecilia a69 thus it is written in the Martyrology by Ado: “Cecilia the virgin, after she had brought Valerian, her husband espoused. and Tiburtius his brother, to the knowledge and faith of Christ, and, with her exhortations, had made them constant unto martyrdom; after the suffering of them she was also apprehended by Almachius the ruler, and brought to the idols to do sacrifice: which thing when she abhorred to do, she should be presented before the judge to have the condemnation of death. In the mean time, the serjeants and officers which were about her, beholding her comely beauty, and the prudent behavior in her conversation, began, with many persuasions of words, to solicit her mind to favor herself, and that so excellent beauty, and not to cast herself away, etc. But she again so replied to them with reasons and godly exhortations, that, by the grace of Almighty God, their hearts began to kindle, and at length to yield to that religion which before they did persecute. Which thing she perceiving, desired of the judge Almachius a little respite; which being granted, she sendeth for Urban, the bishop, home to her house, to stablish and ground them in the faith of Christ. And so were they, with divers others, at the same time baptized, both men and women, to the number (as the story saith) of four hundred persons; among whom was one Gordian a nobleman. This done, this blessed martyr was brought before the judge, where she was condemned; then, after, was brought to the house of the judge, where she was enclosed in a hot bath. But she, remaining there a whole day and night without any hurt, as in a cold place, was brought out again, and commandment given that in the bath she should be beheaded. The executioner is said to have had four strokes at her neck; and yet her head being cut off, she (as the story goeth) lived three days after. And so died this holy virgin martyr, whose body, in the night season, Urban the bishop took and buried among the other bishops.”

    Ado, the compiler of this Martyrology, addeth that this was done in the time of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. But that cannot be, forsomuch as Urban, by all histories, was long after those emperors, and lived in the days of this Alexander, as is above declared. Antoninus, Bergomensis, and Equilinus, with such other writers, set forth this history with many strange miracles wrought by the said Cecilia, in converting her husband Valerian and his brother, in showing them the angel which was the keeper of her virginity, and of the angel putting on crowns upon their heads. F1147 But as touching these miracles, as I do not dispute whether they be true or fabulous, so, because they have no ground upon any ancient or grave authors, but are taken out of certain new legends, I do therefore refer them thither from whence they came.

    Under the same Alexander divers other there be, whom Bergomensis mentioned to have suffered martyrdom, as one Agapitus of the age of fifteen years, who, being apprehended and condemned at Preneste in Italy, because he would not sacrifice to idols, was assailed with sundry torments; first with whips scourged, then hanged up by the feet; after, having hot water poured upon him; at the last cast to the wild beasts: with all which torments when he could not be hurt, finally, with sword he was beheaded.

    F1148 The executer of these punishments (as by Henry of Herford may be gathered) was one Antiochus; who, in the executing of the foresaid torments, suddenly fell down from his judicial seat, crying out, that all his inward bowels burned within him, and so gave up the breath. f1149 Also with the same Agapitus is numbered Calepodius, a minister of Rome, whose body first was drawn through the city of Rome, and afterwards cast into the Tiber. F1150 Then followeth Palmatius, a senator of Rome, with his wife and children, and others both men and women, to the number of forty and two; also another noble senator of Rome named Simplicius; all which together, in one day, had their heads smitten off, and their heads afterwards were hanged up on divers gates of the city for a terror of others, that none should profess the name of Christ. Besides these suffered also Quiritius, a nobleman of Rome, who, with his mother Julitta, and a great number more, were put likewise to death. Also Tiberius and Valerian [before-mentioned], citizens of Rome and brothers, suffered (as Bergomensis saith) the same time; who, first being bruised and broken with bats, afterwards were beheaded. Also Vincentius, Bergomensis, and Henry of Herford, make mention of Martina, a christian virgin, who, after divers bitter punishments, being constant in her faith, suffered in like manner by the sword.

    Albeit, as touching the time of these aforenamed martyrs, as I find them not in older writers, so do I suppose them to have suffered under Maximin or Decius, rather than under Alexander.


    After the death of the emperor Alexander, who, with his mother Mammaea (as is said), was murdered in Germany, followed Maximin, chosen by the will of the soldiers, rather than by the authority of the senate, about the year of our Lord 235; who, for the hatred he had to the house of Alexander (as Eusebius recordeth), raised up the sixth persecution against the Christians, especially against the doctors and leaders of the church; thinking thereby the sooner to vanquish the rest, if the captains of them were removed out of the way. For which reason I suppose the martyrdom of Urban, the bishop of Rome, and of the rest above specified, to have happened rather under the tyranny of this Maximin than under Alexander.

    In the time of this persecution Origen wrote his book, “De Martyrio;” which book, if it were extant, would give us some knowledge, I doubt not, of such as in this persecution did suffer, who now lie in silence unknown: and no doubt but a great number they were, and more should have been, had not the provident mercy of God shortened his days, and bridled his tyranny; for he reigned but three years. After whom succeeded Gordian III. in the year of our Lord 238, a man no less studious of the welfare of the commonwealth, than mild and gentle to the Christians. This Gordian, after he had governed with much peace and tranquillity the monarchy of Rome the space of six years, was slain of Philip, the emperor after him.

    In the days of these emperors above recited was Pontian bishop of Rome, who succeeded next after Urban above rehearsed, about the year A.D. 230; or in the twelfth year of Alexander, A.D. 233, as Eusebius noteth, f1151 declaring him to sit six years. F1152 Contrary, Damasus and Platina write, that he was bishop nine years and a half, and that in the time of Alexander he, with Philip a priest, was banished into Sardinia, and there died.

    But it seemeth more credible, that he was banished rather under Maximin, and died in the beginning of the reign of Gordian. In his Epistles Decretal (which seem likewise to be feigned) he appeareth very much bent, after the common example of other bishops, to uphold the dignity of priests, and of clergymen; saying, “that God hath them so familiar with him, that by them he accepteth the offerings and oblations of others, he forgiveth their sins, and reconcileth them unto him:” also, “that they do make the body of the Lord with their own mouth, and give it to others,” etc.; which doctrine, how it standeth with the glory of God and testament of Christ, let the reader use his own judgment. F1154 Other notable fathers also in the same time were raised up in the church, as Philetus bishop of Antioch, who succeeded after Asclepiades afore mentioned, in the year of our Lord 221; and after him Zebinus, bishop of the same place, in the year of our Lord 233.

    Of Hippolytus , a70 also, both Eusebius and Jerome make mention that he was a bishop; but where, they make no relation. And so likewise doth Theodoret witness him to be a bishop and also a martyr, but naming no place. Gelasius saith, he died a martyr, and that he was metropolitan of Arabia. Nicephorus writeth, that he was bishop of Porto, a port-town near to Rome. F1156 Certain it is, he was a great writer, and left many works in the church, which Eusebius and Jerome do recite. By the computation of Eusebius, he was about the year of our Lord 230. Prudentius, in his Peri< Stefa>nwn making mention of great heaps of martyrs buried by threescore together, speaketh also of Hippolytus, and saith that he was drawn with wild horses through fields, dales, and bushes, and describeth thereof a pitiful story.

    To these also may be added Ammonius the schoolmaster of Origen, as Suidas supposeth, also the kinsman of Porphyry, the great enemy of Christ: notwithstanding, this Ammonius, indued with better grace, as he left divers books in defense of Christ’s religion, so did he constantly persevere (as Eusebius reporteth) in the doctrine of Christ, which he had in the beginning received; who was about the days of Alexander.

    Julius Africanus also, about the time of Gordian aforesaid, is numbered among the ancient writers; of whom Nicephorus writeth, that he was the scholar of Origen, and a great writer of histories of that time.

    Unto these doctors and confessors may be adjoined the story of Natalius, mentioned in the fifth book of Eusebius. F1160 This Natalius had suffered persecution before, like a constant confessor; but was seduced and persuaded by Asclepiodotus and Theodorus (who were disciples of Theodotus the tanner ), to take upon him to be bishop of their sect; promising to give him every month a hundred and fifty pieces of silver.

    And so, joining himself to them, he was admonished [of his error] by frequent visions from the Lord; for such was the great mercy of our God and Lord Jesus Christ, that he would not have his martyr, who had suffered so much for his name before, now to perish out of his church: “For the which cause,” saith Eusebius, “God, by certain visions, did admonish him. But he, not taking great heed thereunto, being blinded partly with lucre, partly with honor, was at length all the night long scourged of the angels; insomuch that he, being made thereby very sore, and early on the morrow putting on sackcloth, with much weeping and lamentation went to Zephyrinus, the bishop above mentioned; where he, falling down before him and all the christian congregation, showed them the stripes of his body, and prayed them, for the mercies of Christ, that he might be received into their communion again, from which he had sequestered himself before; and so was admitted according as he desired.”

    After the decease of Pontian, bishop of Rome, afore mentioned, succeeded next in that place Anterus, of whom Isuardus writeth, that Pontian, leaving Rome, did substitute him in his room: but Eusebius writeth that he succeeded immediately after him. Damasus saith, that because he caused the acts and deaths of the martyrs to be written, therefore he was put to martyrdom himself by Maximin. Concerning the time of this bishop our writers do greatly jar. F1163 Eusebius and Marianus Scotus affirm that he was bishop but one month; Sabellicus saith that not to be so; Damasus assigneth to him twelve years and one month; Volateran, Bergomensis, and Henry of Herford, give to him three years and one month; Nauclerus writeth that he sat one year and one month. All which are so far discrepant one from another, that which of them most agreeth with truth, it lieth in doubt. Next to this bishop was Fabian, of whom more is to be said hereafter.

    After the emperor Gordian III. the empire fell to Philip, in the year of our Lord 244, who, with Philip his son, governed the space of six years. This Philip, with his son and all his family, were converted and christened by Fabian and Origen, who by letters exhorted him and Severa his wife to be baptized, being the first of all the emperors that brought Christianity into the imperial seat. Howsoever Pomponius Letus reporteth him to be a dissembling prince. This is certain, that for his Christianity, he, with his son, was slain of Decius, one of his captains. Sabellicus and Bergomensis show this hatred of Decius against Philip to be conceived, for that the emperor Philip, both the father and the son, had committed their treasures unto Fabian, then bishop of Rome.


    Thus Philip being slain, after him Decius invaded the crown about the year of our Lord 249; by whom was moved a terrible persecution against the Christians, which Orosius noteth to be the seventh persecution. The first occasion of this hatred and persecution of this tyrant, conceived against the Christians, was chiefly (as is before touched) because of the treasures of the emperor which were committed to Fabian the bishop.

    This Fabian, first being a married man (as Platina writeth), was made bishop of Rome after Anterus above-mentioned, by the miraculous appointment of God; which Eusebius doth thus describe: “When the brethren,” saith he, “were congregated together in the church about the election of their bishop, and divers of them had nominated divers noble and worthy personages of Rome, it chanced that Fabian, among others, was there present; who of late before was newly come out of the country to inhabit in the city. The brethren thinking of nothing less than of choosing this Fabian, there suddenly cometh a dove flying from above, and sitteth upon his head; whereupon all the congregation were moved, with one mind and one voice, to choose him for their bishop;” in the which function he remained the space of thirteen years, as Eusebius writeth; Damasus, Marianus, and Sabellicus say fourteen years, unto the time of Decius; who, whether for that Philip had committed to him his treasures, or whether for the hatred he bare to Philip, in the beginning of his reign caused him to be put to death; sending out moreover his proclamation into all quarters, that all who professed the name of Christ should be slain.

    To this Fabian be ascribed certain ordinances; as, of consecrating new oil for baptism once every year, and burning the old; of accusations against bishops; of appealing to the see apostolic; of not marrying within the fifth degree; of communicating thrice a year; of offering every Sunday; with such other things more in his three Epistles Decretal: which epistles, as by divers other evidences may be supposed to be untruly named upon him, giving no signification of any matter agreeing to that time; so do I find the most part of the third epistle word for word standing in the epistle of Sixtus III., who followed almost two hundred years after him; beside the unseemly doctrine also in the end of the said epistles contained, where he, contrary to the tenor of the gospel, applieth remission of sins (only due to the blood of Christ) unto the offerings of bread and wine by men and women every Sunday in the church.

    To this Fabian wrote Origen “De orthodoxia suae fidei,” that is, “Of the orthodoxy of his faith:” whereby is to be understood, that he continued to the time of Decius: some say also to the time of Gallus. Of this Origen partly mention is touched before, declaring how bold and fervent he was in the days of Severus, in assisting, comforting, exhorting, and kissing the martyrs that were imprisoned, and suffered for the name of Christ; with such danger of his own life, that had it not been for the singular protection of God, he had been stoned to death many times of the heathen multitude.

    Such great concourse of men and women was daily at his house to be catechised and instructed in the christian faith by him, that soldiers were hired on purpose to defend the place where he taught them. F1168 Again, such search sometimes was set for him, that scarce any shifting of place or country could cover him; in whose laborious travails and affairs of the church, in teaching, writing, confuting, exhorting, and expounding, he continued about the space of fifty-two years, unto the time of Decius and Gallus. Divers and great persecutions he sustained, but especially under Decius, as testifieth Eusebius, declaring that, for the doctrine of Christ, he sustained bands and torments in his body, rackings with bars of iron, dungeons, besides terrible threats of death and burning. All this he suffered in the persecution of Decius, as Eusebius recordeth of him, and maketh no relation of any further matter. But Suidas and Nicephorus, following the same, say further concerning him, that the said Origen, after divers and sundry other torments which he manfully and constantly suffered for Christ, at length was brought to an altar, where a foul filthy Ethiopian was appointed to be, and there this option or choice was offered unto him; whether he would sacrifice to the idols, or have his body polluted with that foul and ugly Ethiopian. Then Origen, saith he, who, with a philosophical mind, ever kept his chastity undefiled, much abhorring that filthy villany to be done to his body, condescended to their request. Whereupon the judge, putting incense in his hand, caused him to set it to the fire upon the altar; for the which impiety he afterward was excommunicated of the church. Epiphanius writeth that he, being urged to sacrifice to idols, and taking the boughs in his hand, wherewith the heathen were wont to honor their gods, called upon the Christians to carry them in the honor of Christ. The which fact the church of Alexandria misliking, removed him from their communion; whereupon Origen, driven away with shame and sorrow out of Alexandria, went into Jewry, where, being in Jerusalem among the congregation, and there requested of the priests and ministers (he being also a priest) to make some exhortation in the church, he refused a great while to do. At length, by importunate petition being constrained thereunto, he rose up, and turning the book, as though he would have expounded some place of the Scripture, he only read the verse of the fiftieth Psalm: “But to the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do, to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?” which verse being read, he shut the book, and sat down weeping and wailing, the whole congregation also weeping and lamenting with him.

    F1171 What more became of Origen, it is not found in history, but only that Suidas addeth, he died and was buried at Tyre. Eusebius affirmeth, that he departed under the emperor Gallus, about the year of our Lord 255; and in the seventieth year of his age, in great misery (as appeareth) and poverty.

    In this Origen divers blemishes of doctrine be noted, whereupon Jerome sometimes doth inveigh against him; albeit in some places again he doth extol and commend him for his excellent learning, as in his Apology against Ruffinus, and in his epistle to Pammachius and Ocean; where he praiseth Origen, although not for the perfection of his faith and doctrine, nor for an apostle, yet for an excellent interpreter, for his wit, and for a philosopher: and yet in his Prologue upon the Homilies of Origen on Ezekiel, he calleth him the second master of the churches after the apostle; and, in the preface to his Questions upon Genesis, he wisheth to himself the knowledge of the Scriptures, which Origen had; also with the envy of his name. Athanasius, moreover, calleth him admirable and laborious, and useth also his testimonies against the Arians. F1172 After Origen, the congrue order of history requireth next to speak of Heraclas his usher; a man singularly commended for his knowledge, not only in philosophy, but also in such faculties as, to a christian divine do appertain. This great towardness of wit and learning when Origen perceived in him, he appointed him above all others to be his usher, or under-teacher, to help in his school or university of Alexandria in the reign of Antoninus Caracalla, son of Severus. And after, in the tenth year of Alexander, Origen departing unto Caesarea, he succeeded in his room to govern the school in Alexandria. Further also, in the time of Alexander f1173 after the decease of Demetrius bishop of Alexandria, this Heraclas succeeded to be bishop of the said city; in which function he ministered the term of sixteen years. F1174 Of this Heraclas writeth Origen himself, that he, although he was a priest, yet ceased not to read over and peruse the books of the Gentiles, to the intent he might the better, out of their own books, confute their errors. F1175 After Heraclas succeeded Dionysius of Alexandria in the bishopric of Alexandria, like as he succeeded him in the school before; which Dionysius also writeth of the same Heraclas unto Philemon a priest of Rome, saying thus: “This canon and type I received of blessed Heraclas our pope,” etc. This Heraclas was no martyr, who died three years before Decius, about the year of our Lord, 247. After whom succeeded next in the same see of Alexandria, Dionysius Alexandrinus, who also suffered much under the tyranny of Decius; as hereafter shall be showed (Christ willing) when we come to the time of Valerian.

    Nicephorus in his first book, and others who write of this persecution under Decius, declare the horribleness thereof to be so great, and such innumerable martyrs to suffer in the same, that he saith, it is as easy to number the sands of the sea, as to recite the particular names of them whom this persecution did devour; in which persecution the chiefest doers and tormentors under the emperor appear, in the history of Vincentius, to have been these: Optimus the proconsul, Valerian, and Quartus Promotus, etc. Although therefore it be hard here to infer all and singular persons, in order, that died in this persecution, yet such as remain most notable in stories, I will briefly touch by the grace of Him for whose cause they suffered.

    In the former tractation of the fifth persecution , a71 mention was made of Alexander, bishop of Jerusalem, and of his troubles suffered under Severus; and how, afterward, by the miracle of God, he was appointed bishop of Jerusalem, where he continued governor of that church above the term of forty years, till the time of the first year of Decius; at what time he, being brought from Jerusalem to Caesarea into the judgment place, after a constant and evident confession of his faith made before the judge, was committed unto prison, and there finished his life a very aged man; as testifieth Dionysius Alexandrinus in the sixth book of Eusebius. F1179 After whom succeeded in that see Mazabanes, the thirty-and-fourth bishop of that city after James the apostle.

    Mention was made also before of Asclepiades, bishop of Antioch, who succeeded after Serapion, and in the persecution of Severus did likewise persevere in a constant confession; and, as Vincentius testifieth, suffered martyrdom at last under this Decius. But this computation of Vincentius can in no wise agree with the truth of time; forsomuch as by probable writers, as Zonaras, Nicephorus, and others, the said Asclepiades, after Serapion, entered the bishop’s seat of Antioch, in the year of our Lord 214, and sat seven years before the time of Alexander ; a72 after whom succeeded Philetus, A.D. 221, governing the function twelve years. And after him Zebinus followed, A.D. 233; and so after him Babylas; which Babylas, if he died in this persecution of Decius, then could not Asdepiades also suffer in the same time, who died so long before him, as is declared. Of this Babylas, bishop of Antioch, Eusebius and Zonaras record, that under Decius he died in prison, as did Alexander, bishop of Jerusalem above rehearsed.

    We read in a certain treatise of Chrysostom, intituled “Contra Gentiles,” a noble and long history of one Babylas a martyr, who, about these times, was put to death for resisting a certain emperor, not suffering him to enter into the temple of the Christians after a cruel murder committed; the story of which murder is this:

    There was a certain emperor, who, upon conclusion of peace made with a certain nation, had received for hostage, or surety of peace, the son of the king, being of young and tender age; with conditions upon the same, that neither he should be molested of them, nor that they should ever be vexed of him. Upon this the king’s son was delivered, not without great care and fear of the father, unto the emperor; whom the cruel emperor, contrary to promise, caused in short time, without all just cause, to be slain. This fact so horrible being committed, the tyrant with all haste would enter into the temple of the Christians, where Babylas, being bishop or minister, withstood him that he should not into that place approach. The emperor therewith not a little incensed, in great rage bade him forthwith to be laid in prison with as many irons as he could bear, and from thence shortly after to be brought forth to death and execution. Babylas, going constantly and boldly to his martyrdom, desired after his death to be buried with his irons and bands, and so he was.

    The story proceedeth moreover, and saith; In the continuance of time in the reign of Constantine, Gallus, then made the overseer of the east parts, caused his body to be translated into the suburbs of Antioch, called Daphne, where was a temple of Apollo, famous with devilish oracles and answers given by that idol, or by the devil rather in that place. In the which temple, after the bringing of the body of Babylas, the idol ceased to give any more oracles, saying, that for the body of Babylas he could give no more answers, and complaining that that place was wont to be consecrated unto him, but now it was full of dead men’s bodies. And thus the oracles there ceased for that time till the coming of Julian; who, inquiring out the cause why the oracles ceased, caused the bones of the holy martyr to be removed again from thence by the Christians, whom he then called Galileans.

    They, coming in a great multitude, both men, maidens, and children, to the tomb of Babylas, transported his bones according to the commandment of the emperor, singing by the way as they went, the verse of the Psalm, in words as followeth: “Confounded be all that worship images, and all that glory in idols;” which, coming to the emperor’s ear, set him in great rage against the Christians, stirring up persecution against them. F1182 Albeit Zonaras declareth the cause something otherwise, saying, that so soon as the body of him and [those of] other martyrs were removed away, incontinent the temple of the idol, with the image, in the night was consumed with fire: for the which cause, saith Zonaras, Julian, stirred up with anger, persecuted the Christians; as shall be showed (Christ willing) in his order and place hereafter.

    And thus much of Babylas, who, whether it was the same Babylas bishop then of Antioch, or another of the same name, it appeareth not by Chrysostom, who neither maketh mention of the emperor’s name, nor of the place where this Babylas was bishop. Again, the stopping of the emperor out of the church importeth as much as that emperor to have been a Christian: for otherwise, if he had come in as a heathen, and as a persecutor, it was not then the manner of christian bishops violently to withstand the emperors, or to stop them out. Over and besides the testimony of Eusebius, Zonaras doth witness contrary, that this Babylas, who was then bishop of Antioch after Zebinus, was not put to death by the tormentors, but died in prison: wherefore it is not impossible, but this Babylas, and this emperor of whom Chrysostom speaketh, may be another Babylas than that which suffered under Decius. Nicephorus maketh mention a73 of another Babylas beside this, that suffered under Decius, who was bishop of Nicomedia. F1186 Vincentius speaketh of forty virgins, martyrs, in the forenamed city of Antioch, who suffered in the persecution of Decius.

    The same Vincentius also speaketh of one Peter, who was apprehended, and suffered bitter torments for Christ’s name in the country of Hellespont, and in the town of Lampsacus, under Optimus the proconsul: and likewise of other martyrs that suffered in Troas, whose names were, Andrew, Paul, Nicomachus, and Dionysia a virgin. F1189 Also in Babylon, saith he, divers christian confessors were found of Decius, who were led away into Spain, there to be executed.

    In the country of Cappadocia, at the city Caesarea, in like manner of the said author it is testified, that Germanus, Theophilus, Caesarius, and Vitalis, suffered martyrdom for Christ. F1191 And in the same book mention is also made of Polychronius, bishop of Babylon, and of Nestor bishop of Perga in Pamphylia, that died martyr there. F1193 In Persia, at the town of Corduba, Olympiades and Maximus; in Tyre also, Anatolia a virgin, and Audax, gave their lives likewise to death for the testimony of Christ’s name. F1194 Eusebius moreover, in his sixth book reciteth out of the epistles of Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, divers that suffered diversely at Alexandria, which places of Dionysius, as they be cited in Eusebius, I thought here good for the ancientness of the author, to insert and notify in his own words, as he wrote them to Fabius bishop of Antioch, and rendered in our language as followeth: f1195 This persecution began not with the proclamation set forth by the emperor, but a whole year before, by the occasion and means of a wicked person, a soothsayer and poet; who, coming to our city here, stirred up the multitude of the heathen against us, and incited them to maintain their own country superstition; whereby they, being set agog, and obtaining full power to prosecute their wicked purpose, so thought, and no less declared, all piety and religion to consist only in their idolatrous worship of devils, and in destruction of us. And first, flying upon a venerable old man, named Metra, they apprehended him and commanded him to speak blasphemous words; which when he would not do, they laid upon him with staves and clubs, and with sharp reeds pricked his face and eyes; and afterward bringing him out into the suburbs, there they stoned him to death. Then they took a faithful woman, called Quinta, and brought her to the temple of their idols, to compel her to worship with them; which when she refused to do, and expressed abhorrence thereof, they tied her by the feet, and dragged her through the whole city over the rough pavement, and dashed her against millstones, at the same time scourging her with whips; and having finally brought her to the same place of the suburbs, as they did the other before, they stoned her likewise to death. After this, they all with one accord rushed to the houses of the godly, and, each singling out those of his own neighborhood, spoiled and plundered them, purloining the more valuable goods; the refuse and every thing made of wood they threw out and burnt in the roads; and thus they exhibited the appearance of a city taken and sacked in war. The brethren fled and withdrew themselves, taking no less joyfully the spoiling of their goods than did they of whom St. Paul doth testify; and I am not aware that any person who fell into their hands — except perhaps one — has revolted from his profession and denied the Lord, to this day.

    Among others, they seized a most surprising old woman, a virgin, named Apollonia, and dashed out all her teeth; and having made up a pile outside the city, they threatened to burn her alive, unless she would join them in blaspheming Christ: she begged and was allowed a little respite, and shortly after leaped into the fire and was consumed.

    There was also one Serapion, whom they laid hands on in his own house, and having racked him with excruciating tortures, and broken all his joints, they threw him down headlong from the top loft. No way, public or private, was passable by us, night or day; the people always and everywhere crying out, if we would not repeat their blasphemies, that we should be dragged to the fire and burnt; and these evils continued a long time. A sedition and civil war then succeeded among the wretches themselves, which averted their fury from us against one another; and so we had a little breathing time, from their wanting leisure to persecute us.

    Shortly after this, news came that the government which had been somewhat favorable toward us was changed, and great terror was excited among us by what was threatened against us. At length the edict came; the very thing (one would almost imagine) predicted by our Lord, so exceedingly terrible, as “to seduce if it were possible the very elect.” All were seized with consternation: many Christians of quality came running to sacrifice immediately through fear; others who held public offices were constrained by their office to appear. Others were brought up by their Gentile connexions, and, being called on by name, approached the impure and profane sacrifices: — some of them pale and trembling, not as if they were going to sacrifice but to be themselves the victims, so that they were derided by the multitude who stood round, as being manifestly afraid either to die or to do sacrifice; but others of them ran more readily to the altars, affirming boldly that they never had been Christians; of such our Lord affirmed most truly, that they should be saved with great difficulty. Of the rest, some followed one or other of the examples just mentioned, and others fled. Many were taken, whereof some persevered unto bonds and imprisonment, enduring them perhaps for many days, and then, just before they were led to the tribunal, they abjured; others, after having endured torments for some time, then lost heart. But the firm and blessed pillars of the Lord, being strengthened by him and having received vigor and courage proportionate and correspondent to the strong faith which was in them, became admirable martyrs of his kingdom. The first of these was Julian, a gouty person, who could neither stand nor walk; he was brought forth with two others who used to carry him, one of whom immediately denied Christ; the other, called Cronion the benevolent, and old Julian himself, having confessed the Lord, were led through the whole city — very large as you know it is — sitting on camels, and in that conspicuous situation were scoured: at last they were burnt in a very hot fire in the view of surrounding multitudes.

    As these aforesaid were going to their martyrdom, a soldier, named Besas, stood by them and defended them from the insults of the mob; on which they raised an outcry, and this most manful champion for his God was brought forward, and, after behaving himself nobly in the great cause of true religion, had his head struck off.

    Another person, a Libyan by birth, named Macar, and truly meriting the appellation, having resisted much importunity of the judge to deny Christ, was burnt alive. After these Epimachus and Alexander, who had long sustained imprisonment and undergone infinite tortures with razors and scourges, were burnt to death; and along with them four women; — viz. Ammonarion, a holy virgin, who, though she was long and grievously tormented by the judge, for having declared beforehand, that she would not repeat the blasphemy which he dictated, yet was true to her word, and was led off to execution. The other three, viz. the venerable matron Mercuria — and Dionysia, a mother indeed of many children, but a mother who did not love her children more than the Lord — and another Ammonarion, — these were slain by the sword without being first exposed to torments: for the judge was ashamed of torturing them to no purpose, and of being baffled by women; which had been remarkably the case in his attempt to overcome the first of the four, Ammonarion, who had undergone what might have been esteemed sufficient torture for them all.

    Heron, Ater, and Isidore, Egyptians, and with them Dioscorus, a boy of fifteen, were presented to the judge, who first began with the boy as most likely from his tender years to yield; but the boy resisted both the blandishments and the tortures which were applied to him: the rest, after most barbarous torments still persevering, were burnt. The boy having answered in the wisest manner to all questions, and excited the admiration of the judge, was dismissed by him from regard to his extreme youth, with an intimation of hope that he might afterwards repent. And now the excellent Dioscorus is, with us, reserved to a greater and longer conflict.

    Nemesion, another Egyptian, was first accused as a partner of robbers, but he cleared himself of this charge before the centurion: an information that he was a Christian was then brought against him, and he came bound before the president, who most unjustly tortured and scourged him with twice the severity used in the case of malefactors, and then burnt him among robbers. F1197 Thus was he honored in resembling Christ in suffering.

    And now some of the military guard, Ammon, Zeno, Ptolemy, and Ingenuus, and with them an old man named Theophilus, stood before the tribunal; when a certain person being interrogated whether he was a Christian, and appearing disposed to deny the imputation, they made the most lively signs of aversion, gnashing their teeth, writhing their countenances, lifting up their hands, and throwing themselves into various attitudes, so as to attract general observation; but before they could be seized, they ran up voluntarily to the tribunal and owned themselves Christians, so that the president and his assessors were astonished: the accused in fact seemed to wax bolder at the prospect of suffering, and the judges were quite daunted. God triumphed gloriously in these, for they went from the judgment-seat to execution in a sort of ovation, glorying in their testimony.

    Many others, throughout the various cities and villages, were torn to pieces by the Gentiles. For example — Ischyrion was agent to a certain magistrate. His employer ordered him to sacrifice; on his refusal he scolded him; persisting, he grossly abused him; till at length, seizing a large stake, he ran it through his body and killed him. But what shall we say of the multitude of those who wandered in deserts and mountains, and were at last destroyed by famine, and thirst, and cold, and diseases, and robbers, and wild beasts? Those who have survived, are witnesses of their faithfulness and victory. Suffice it to relate one fact: There was a very aged person named Chaeremon, bishop of the city of Nilus.

    He, together with his wife, fled into an Arabian mountain, and did not return; nor could the brethren, after much searching, discover them alive or dead. Many other persons were caught about this Arabian mountain and made slaves by the barbarian Saracens, some of whom were afterwards redeemed for money with difficulty; — others have never regained their liberty to this day.

    Thus much out of the epistle of Dionysius to Fabius.

    Moreover, the aforesaid Dionysius in another place writing to Germanus, of his own and others’ dangers sustained in this persecution, and before this persecution, of Decius, thus inferreth as followeth:

    I say it before God, who knows that I lie not — I did not betake myself to flight, of my own accord or without a providential leading. On the contrary, when the persecuting edict was put forth under Decius, Sabinus, the Roman governor, the same hour sent an officer to seek me, and I remained four days at home, expecting his coming: he made the most accurate search in the roads, the rivers, and the fields where he suspected I might be hid or pass along. A dulness seems to have seized him, that he never inquired for my house, for he had no idea that a man in my circumstances should stay at home. At length after four days, God ordered me to remove; and having opened me a way contrary to all expectation, I and my servants and many of the brethren went out together. The event showed that the whole was the work of Divine Providence.

    Again, shortly after, the aforesaid Dionysius, proceeding in the narrative of himself, thus inferreth:

    About sunset, I was seized, together with my whole company, by the soldiers and was led to Taposiris. But my friend Timotheus, by the providence of God, was not present, nor was he seized. He came afterwards to my house and found it uninhabited and guarded; and he then learned that we were taken captive. How wonderful was the dispensation! but it shall be related precisely as it happened.

    And again shortly after it followeth:

    A countryman met Timotheus as he was flying in confusion, and asked the cause of his hurry: he told him the truth: the peasant heard the story and went away to a nuptial feast, at which it was the custom to sit up merry-making all night. He informed the guests of what he had heard. At once they all started up, as by a signal, and ran quickly to find us, bawling and shouting: our guards, struck with a panic, fled; and the party came upon us, just as we were, lying on unfurnished beds. I first thought they must have been a company of robbers, in pursuit of their prey, and continued lying still in my shirt as I was, and offered them the rest of my clothes which lay at my side. They ordered me to rise and go out quickly; at length I understood their real designs, and I cried out and entreated them earnestly to depart, and to let us alone. But, if they really meant any kindness to us, I requested them to strike off my head at once, and so to deliver me from my persecutors. They compelled me to rise by downright violence, as my companions can testify: and then I threw myself on the ground. They then seized me by my hands and feet, and pulled me out by force. Gaius, Faustus, Peter, and Paul, followed me (who also are my witnesses), and taking me up carried me out of the place on a chair, and setting me on the back of an ass, conducted me away.

    Thus much writeth Dionysius of himself, the example of whose epistle is cited in the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius. F1200 Nicephorus, in his fifth book, maketh mention of one named Christopher, who also suffered in this persecution of Decius; of which Christopher, whether the fable riseth of that mighty giant set up in churches, wading through the seas with Christ on his shoulder, and a tree in his hand for a walking-staff, etc., it is uncertain. Georgius Wicelius f1203 allegeth out of Ruggerus of Fulde and mentioneth one Christopher, born of the nation of Canaanites, who suffered under Decius, being, as he saith, twelve cubits high. But the rest of the history painted in churches, the said Wicelius derideth as fables of centaurs, or other poetical fictions. F1204 Bergomensis maketh relation of divers martyred under Decius, as Meniatus, who suffered at Florence; Agatha, a holy virgin of Sicily, who is said to have suffered divers and bitter torments at Catania under Quintian the proconsul; with imprisonment, with beatings, with famine, with racking; rolled also upon sharp shells and hot coals; having moreover her breasts cut from her body, as Bergomensis and the martyrology of Ado record. In which authors as I deny not but that the rest of the story may be true, so again, concerning the miracles of the aged man appearing to her, and of the young man clothed in a silken vesture, with a hundred young men after him, and of the marble table with the inscription, “Mentem sanctam,” etc., I doubt.

    Hard it is to recite all that suffered in this persecution, when whole multitudes went into wildernesses and mountains, wandering without succor or comfort; some starved with hunger and cold, some with sickness consumed, some devoured of beasts, some with barbarous thieves taken and carried away. Vincentius, in his eleventh book, speaking of Asclepiades, writeth also of forty virgins martyrs, who, by sundry kinds of torments, were put to death at Antioch about the same time, in the persecution of this tyrant.

    Likewise, in the said Vincentius, mention is made of Trypho, a man of great holiness, and constant in his suffering; who being brought to the city of Nicaea, before the president Aquilinus, for his constant confession of Christ’s name was afflicted with divers and grievous torments, and at length with the sword put to death.

    At what time Decius had erected a temple in the midst of the city of Ephesus, compelling all that were in the city there to sacrifice to the idols, seven Christians were found, whose names were Maximian, Malchus, Martinian, Dionysius, Johannes, Serapion, and Constantine, who, refusing the idolatrous worship, were accused for the same unto the emperor to be Christians. Which when they constantly professed and did not deny notwithstanding, because they were soldiers pertaining to the emperor’s service, respite was given them for a certain space, to deliberate with themselves, till the return again of the emperor, who then was going to war. In the mean space, the emperor being departed, they, taking counsel together, went and hid themselves in secret caves of the mount Caelius.

    The emperor returning again, after great inquisition made for them, hearing where they were, caused the mouth of the place where they were to be closed up with heaps of stones; that they, not able to get out, should be famished within. And thus were those good men martyred. The story (if it be true) goeth further, that they, between fear and sorrow, fell asleep, in which sleep they continued the space of certain ages after, till the time of Theodosius the emperor, before they did awake, as report Vincentius, Nicephorus, and partly also Henry of Herford. But of their awaking, that I refer to them that list to believe it. Certain it is, that at the last day they shall awake indeed, without any fable.

    Jerome, in the life of Paul the hermit, reciteth a story of a certain youth, whom when the praetor could not otherwise with torments remove from his Christianity, he devised another way, which was this:

    He commanded the youth to be laid upon a soft bed in a pleasant garden, among the flourishing lilies and red roses; which done, all others being removed away, and himself there left alone, a beautiful harlot came to him, who embraced him, and with all other incitements of an harlot labored to provoke him to her naughtiness.

    But the godly youth, fearing God more than obeying flesh, bit off his own tongue with his teeth, and spit it in the face of the harlot, as she was kissing him; and so got he the victory, by the constant grace of the Lord assisting him. F1208 Another like example of singular chastity is written of the virgin Theodora, and a soldier, by Ambrose. F1209 At Antioch this Theodora, refusing to do sacrifice to the idols, was condemned by the judge to the stews; and notwithstanding, by the singular providence of God, was well delivered. For as there was a great company of wanton young men ready at the door to press into the house where she was, one of the brethren [named Didymus, as Ado saith], moved with faith and motion of God, putting on a soldier’s habit, made himself one of the first that came in, who, rounding her in the ear, told her the cause and purpose of his coming, being a Christian as she was: his counsel was, that she should put on the soldier’s habit, and so slip away; and he, putting on her garments, would there remain to abide their force, and so aid, whereby the virgin escaped unknown. Didymus, left unto the rage and wondering of the people, being found a man instead of a woman, was presented unto the president, unto whom, without delay, he uttered all the whole matter as it was done, professing himself, so as he was, to be a Christian; and thereupon was condemned to suffer. Theodora understanding thereof, and thinking to excuse him by accusing herself, offered herself, as the guilty party, unto the judge; claiming and requiring the condemnation to light upon her, the other, as innocent, to be discharged. But the cruel judge (crueller than Dionysius, who spared Damon and Pythias), neither considering the virtue of the persons, nor the innocency of the cause, unjustly and inhumanly proceeded in execution against them both; who, first, having their heads cut off, after were east into the fire. F1210 At what time, or in what persecution these did suffer, in the authors of this narration it doth not appear. F1211 Agathon, a man of arms in the city of Alexandria, for rebuking certain lewd persons scornfully deriding the dead bodies of the Christians, was cried out of, and railed on, of the people; and afterwards, accused to the judge, was condemned to lose his head. F1212 Henry of Herford maketh mention also of Paul and Andreas, whom the proconsul at Troas gave to the people; who, being scourged, and after drawn out of the city, were trodden to death with the feet of the people.

    Among others that suffered under this wicked Decius, Bergomensis also maketh mention of one Justin a priest of Rome, and of another, Nicostratus a deacon. To these Vincentius also addeth Portius a priest of Rome, whom he reporteth to be the converter of Philip the emperor aforementioned.

    Of Abdon and Sennas we read also in the aforesaid Bergomensis and Vincentius, two noble men; who, because they had buffed the Christians whom Decius had brought from Babylon to Corduba, and there put them to death, were therefore accused to Decius, and brought to Rome, where they, being commanded to sacrifice to dead idols, would not obey; and, for the same, were given to the wild beasts to be devoured. But when the wild beasts, more gentle than the men, would not touch them, they were at length with the sword beheaded. F1214 Albeit to me it seemeth not impossible nor unlike this Abdon and Sennas to be the same, whom in other stories we find, and before have mentioned to be Ammon and Zeno.

    One Secundian was accused to Valerian, a captain of Decius, to be a Christian; which profession when he stoutly and constantly did maintain, he was commanded to prison. By the way, as the soldiers were leading him to the gaol, Verian and Marcellian, seeing the matter, cried to the soldiers, asking them whither they drew the innocent? At the which word, when they also confessed themselves to be Christians, they were likewise apprehended, and brought to a city named Centum-Cellae; where being willed to sacrifice, they did spit upon the idols. And so after sentence and judgment given, first they were beaten with wasters or truncheons; after that they were hanged and tormented upon the rack, having fire set to their sides. Vincentius addeth moreover that some of the tormentors falling suddenly dead, others being taken with wicked spirits, the martyrs with the sword at length were beheaded. F1216 To prosecute in length of history the lives and sufferings of all them, which in this terrible persecution were martyred, it were too long, and almost infinite: briefly therefore to rehearse the names of such as we find alleged out of a certain brief treatise of Bede, intituled, “De Temporibus,” cited by Henry of Herford, it shall be at this time sufficient. F1218 Under Decius suffered a74 — at Rome, Hippolytus and Concordia, Irenaeus and Abundus, Victoria a maiden, Miniates, and Tryphonia, wife of Decius, eldest son of the emperor: at Antioch, Babylas the bishop: at the city of Apollonia in Pontus, Leucius, Thyrsus, and Callinicus: at the city of Thmuis in Egypt, Phileas the bishop, and Philoromus a military tribune, with many others: in Persia, Polychronius bishop of Babylon and Ctesiphon: at Perga in Pamphylia, Nestor the bishop: at Corduba in Persia, Parmenius a priest, with divers more: at Cirta in Numidia, Marianus and Jacobus: in Africa, Nemesian and Felix, bishops, Rogatian a priest, and Felicissimus: at Rome, Jovinus and Basilius, Ruffina and Secunda, virgins, Tertullian and Valerian; also Nemesius, Symphronius, and Olympius: in Spain at Tarragona, Fructuosus the bishop, with Augurius and Eulogius, deacons: at Verona, Zeno the bishop: at Caesarea in Palestine, Marinus and Astyrius: in France at the town of Mende, f1222 Privatus the bishop. F1223 Vincentius, in his eleventh book, maketh mention of certain children suffering martyrdom under the same persecution, in a city of Tuscany, called Arezzo, whose names a75 were Pergentinus and Laurentinus; they are also mentioned in Equilinus. F1225 Now that I have recorded of those sufficiently, who under this tempest of Decius constantly gave their lives to martyrdom for the testimony of Christ, it remaineth that a few words also be spoken of such as for fear or frailty in this persecution did shrink and slide from the truth of their confession: In the number of whom first cometh in the remembrance of Serapion, an aged old man; of whom writeth Dionysius bishop of Alexandria unto Fabius bishop of Antioch, declaring that this Serapion was an old man, who lived amongst them a sincere and upright life of long time, but at length fell. F1226 This Serapion oft and many times desired to be received again; but no man listened to him, because he had sacrificed. After this, not long after, he fell into sickness, wherein he remained three days dumb, and benumbed of all senses. The fourth day following, beginning a little to recover, he called to him his daughter’s son, and said, “How long, how long, my son, do ye hold me here? Make haste, I pray you, that I may be absolved. Call hither one of the presbyters to me.” And so, saying no more, held his peace as dumb and speechless. The boy ran (it was then night.) unto the presbyter, who, at the same time being sick, could not come with the messenger: but — forsomuch as Dionysius had previously ordered that such as lay a dying, if they coveted to be received and reconciled, and especially if they required it earnestly, should be admitted, whereby with the better hope and confidence they might depart hence — therefore he gave to the boy a little of the Eucharist, willing him to moisten it in water, and so to drop it into the mouth of the old man. With this the boy returned, bringing with him the Holy Eucharist. As he was now near at hand, before he had entered in, Serapion the old man, speaking again, said, “Thou art come, my son: the priest is sick and cannot come, but do as he willeth you, and let me go.” Then the boy moistened the Eucharist in water, and dropped it softly into the mouth of the old man, who, after he had swallowed it by little and little, immediately gave up the ghost. F1228 In the city of Troas, as the proconsul was grievously tormenting one Nicomachus, he cried out, “That he was no Christian;” and so was let down again. And after, when he had sacrificed, he was taken eftsoons with a wicked spirit, and so thrown down upon the ground, where he, biting off his tongue with his teeth, so departed. F1229 Dionysius in his epistles also, writing to Fabius, and lamenting the great terror of this persecution, declareth, how that many worthy and notable Christians, for fear and horror of the great tyranny thereof, did show themselves feeble and weak men. Of whom some for dread, some of their own accord, others after great torments suffered, yet afterwards revolted from the constancy of their profession. Also St. Cyprian, in his treatise “De Lapsis,” reciteth with great sorrow, and testifieth how that a great number, at the first threatening of the adversary, neither being compelled nor thrown down with any violence of the enemy, but of their own voluntary weakness, fell down themselves. “Not even,” saith he, “tarrying while the judge should put incense in their hands, but before any stroke stricken in the field, they turned their backs, and played the cowards; not only coming to their sacrifices, but preventing the same, and pretending to come without compulsion; bringing moreover their infants and children, either put into their hands, or taking them with them of their own accord; and exhorting moreover others to do the like after their example.”

    Of this weakness and falling the said author showeth two causes, either love of their goods and patrimony, or fear of torments: and addeth, moreover, examples of the punishments of them which revolted; affirming, that many of them were taken and vexed with wicked spirits; and that one man among others, after his voluntary denial, was suddenly stricken dumb.

    Again, another after his abjuration, as he should communicate with others, instead of bread, received ashes in his hand. Item, a certain maiden, being taken and vexed with a spirit, did tear her own tongue with her teeth, and tormented with pain in her belly and inward parts, so deceased.

    Amongst others of this sort, St. Cyprian, in his Epistles, maketh also mention of one Evaristus, a bishop, who, leaving his proper charge, and making shipwreck of his faith, went wandering about in other countries, forsaking his own flock. In like manner, he maketh also mention of Nicostratus a deacon, who, forsaking his deaconship and taking the goods of the church with him, fled away into other countries. Albeit Bergomensis affirmeth, that this Nicostratus the deacon afterward died a martyr. Thus then, although some did relent, yet a very great number (saith he) there were, whom neither fear could remove, nor pain could overthrow, to cause them to betray their confession; but they stood like glorious martyrs unto the end.

    The same Cyprian also, in another book, “De Mortalitate,” reciteth a notable story of one of his own colleagues and fellow-priests, who, being oppressed with weakness and greatly afraid, with death drawing at hand, prayed for a longer furlough ere he departed. F1232 As he was thus entreating, and almost now dying, there appeared by him a young man, of an honorable and reverent majesty, of a tall stature and comely behavior, so bright and clear to behold, that scarce any man’s carnal eyes were able to bear it, unless he were now ready to depart this world. This young man, speaking to him with a certain indignation of mind and voice, thus said, “To suffer ye dare not; to depart ye wish not; what would ye have me to do for you?” f1233 Upon the occasion of these and such others, who were a great number, that fell and did renounce, as is aforesaid, in this persecution of Decius, rose up first the quarrel and heresy of Novatus, who, in these days, made a great disturbance in the church, holding this opinion, that they which once renounced the faith, and for fear of torments had offered incense to the idols, although they repented there-for, yet could not afterward be reconciled, nor admitted to the church of Christ. This Novatus, being first priest under Cyprian at Carthage, afterward by stirring up discord and factions, began to disturb the bishopric of Cyprian, to appoint there a deacon called Felicissimus, against the bishop’s mind or knowledge; also to allure and separate certain of the brethren from the bishop; all which Cyprian doth well declare. After this the said Novatus going to Rome, kept there the like stir with Cornelius (as the same Cornelius in Eusebius doth testify), setting himself up as bishop of Rome against Cornelius, who was the lawful bishop of Rome beforewhich to bring to pass, he used this practice: first, he had allured to him, to be his adherents, three or four good men and holy confessors, who had suffered before great torments for their confession, whose names were Maximus, Urban, Sidonius, and Celerinus. After this he enticed three simple bishops about the coasts of Italy to repair to Rome, under pretense to make an end of certain controversies then in hand. This done, he caused the same, whether by making them drunk, or by other crafty counsel, to lay their hands upon him, and to make him bishop; and so they did. Wherefore the one of those three bishops hardly was received to the communion, by the great intercession of his people: the other two, by discipline of the church, were displaced from their bishoprics, and others possessed with their rooms.

    Thus then were there two bishops together in one church of Rome, Novatian and Cornelius, which was unseemly, and contrary to the discipline of the church. And hereupon riseth the true cause and meaning of St. Cyprian, writing in his epistles so much of one bishop, and of the unity to be kept in ecclesiastial regiment. F1236 And in like sort writeth also Cornelius himself of one bishop, saying of Novatian, “He knows not that there ought to be one bishop in a catholic church.” f1237 This by the way (not out of the way I trust) I have touched briefly, to detect or refute the caviling wresting of the papists, who falsely apply these places of Cyprian and Cornelius to maintain the pope’s supreme mastership alone, over the whole universal church of Christ in all places; when their meaning is otherwise, how that every one catholic church or diocese ought to have one bishop over it, not that the whole world ought to be subject to the dominion of him only that is bishop of Rome. Now to the story again.

    Novatian, being thus bishop, took not a little upon him, going about by all means to defeat Cornelius, and to allure the people from him. Insomuch that (as in the aforesaid book of Eusebius appeareth) when Novatian came to the distributing of the offerings, and should give every man his part, he compelled the simple persons every man to swear, before they should receive of the benediction and of the collects or oblations, holding both their hands in his, and holding them so long (speaking these words unto them, “Swear to me by the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, that thou wilt not leave me and go to Cornelius”), till that they, swearing unto him, instead of “Amen” (to be said at the receiving of the bread) f1238 should answer, “I will not return to Cornelius.” Where note by the way, that the Latin book of Christophorson’s translation, in this place, craftily leaveth out the name of “bread.” This story being written in Eusebius, and also contained in Nicephorus (although not in the same order of words, yet in effect drawn out of him), doth declare in plain words in both the authors (whoso will mark the same), that the sacrament of the body of Christ is termed with the plain name of “bread,” after the consecration.

    It followeth moreover in the story, that Maximus, Urban, Sidonius, and Celerinus, before mentioned, perceiving at length the crafty dissimulation and arrogancy of Novatian, left him, and with great repentance returned again to the church, and were reconciled to Cornelius; as they themselves, writing to Cyprian, and Cyprian likewise writing to them an epistle gratulatory, do declare; and Cornelius, also, in his epistle to Fabius witnesseth the same. In this epistle the said Cornelius, moreover, writeth of one Moses, a worthy martyr, who once being also a follower of Novatian, afterwards perceiving his wickedness, forsook him, and refused communion with him. Of whom Cyprian also maketh mention, and calleth him “a blessed confessor.” F1241 Damasus, in his “Pontifical” saith, “That he was apprehended with Maximus and Nicostratus above mentioned, and was put with them in prison, where he ended his life.” And thus much of Novatian, against whom (as Eusebius testifieth) a synod was holden at Rome of threescore sundry bishops in the time of Cornelius, under the reign of Decius, in the year of our Lord 251; whereby it may be supposed that the heat of the persecution at that time was somewhat calmed.

    After Fabian (or, as Zonaras calleth him, Flavian) next succeeded into the bishopric of Rome Cornelius, whom Cyprian noteth to be a worthy bishop, and for his great virtue and maidenly continency much commendable, chosen to that room not so much by his own consent, as by the full agreement, both of the clergy and also of the people. F1242 Jerome addeth also, that he was a man of great eloquence: whereby it may appear those two epistles decretal, which go in his name, not to be his, both for the rudeness of the barbarous and gross style, and also for the matter therein contained, nothing tasting of that time, nor of that age, nor doings then of the church. Whereof in the first, he writeth to all his brethren of the holy church, concerning the lifting up of the bodies and bones of Peter and Paul from the catacombs, and transferring them to the Vatican and the Appian Way, at the instance of a certain devout woman named Lucina, having no great argument or cause to write thereof unto the churches, but only that he, in that letter, doth desire them to pray unto the Lord, that, through the intercession of those apostolical saints, their sins might be forgiven them, etc. In the second epistle, written to Rufus, a bishop of the eastern church, he decreeth and ordaineth, that no oath ought to be required or exacted of any bishop or clergyman, for any cause or by any power; also, that no cause of priests or ministers ought to be handled in any strange or foreign court, without the precinct, except only in the court of Rome by appellation: wherein who seeth not the train of our later bishops, going about craftily to advance the dignity of the court of Rome, under and by the pretensed title of Cornelius, and of such ancient bishops? If Cornelius did write any epistles to any indeed in those turbulent times of persecution, no doubt but some signification thereof he would have touched in the said his letters, either in ministering consolation to his brethren, or in requiring consolation and prayers of others. Neither is there any doubt, but he would have given some touch also of the matter of Novatian, with whom he had so much to do: as he did elsewhere; for so we find it recorded both in Eusebius and Jerome, that he wrote unto Fabius, bishop of Antioch, of “the decreements of the council of Rome;” and another letter “of the manner of the council;” the third also, of “the cause of Novatian;” and again of the “repentance of such as fell,” whereof there is no word touched at all in these aforesaid epistles decretal. F1243 What trouble this Cornelius had with Novatian, sufficiently is before signified. In this persecution of Decius, he demeaned himself very constantly and faithfully, and sustained great conflicts with the adversaries, as St. Cyprian giveth witness. F1244 Jerome testifieth that he remained bishop after the death of Decius, to the time of Gallus, and so appeareth also by St. Cyprian, who hath these words: “Et tyrannum armis et bello postmodum victum, prior sacerdotio suo vicit.” But Damasus and Sabellicus, his followers, affirm, that he was both exiled, and also martyred, under the tyrannous reign of Decius. Of whom Sabellicus writeth this story, taken out (as it seemeth) of Damasus, and saith, “that Cornelius, by the commandment of Decius, was banished to a town called Centum-Cellae, bordering on Etruria, from whence he sent his letters to Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, and Cyprian again to him.” This coming to the ears of Decius the emperor, he sendeth for Cornelius, asking him, “How he durst be so bold to show such stubbornness; that he, neither caring for the gods, nor fearing the displeasure of his princes, durst, against the commonwealth, give and receive letters from others?” To whom Cornelius answering again, thus purged himself, declaring to the emperor, “That letters indeed he had written, and received again, concerning the praises and honoring of Christ and the salvation of souls; but nothing as touching any matter of the commonwealth.” And it followeth in the story, “Then Decius, moved with anger, commanded him to be beaten with plumbats (which, as saith Sabellicus, is a kind of scourging), and so to be brought to the temple of Mars; either there to do sacrifice, or to suffer the extremity. But he, rather willing to die than to commit such iniquity, prepared himself to martyrdom, being sure that he should die. And so, commending the charge of the church unto Stephen, his archdeacon, he was brought to the Appian Way, where he ended his life in faithful martyrdom.” Eusebius, in one place, saith that he sat two years; in another place, he saith that he sat three years; and so doth Marianus Scotus, following also the diversity of the said Eusebius. Damasus giveth him only two years.

    In this aforesaid persecution of Decius, it seemeth by some writers also that Cyprian was banished; but I suppose rather his banishment to be referred to the reign of Gallus, next emperor after Decius, whereof more shall be said (Christ willing) in his place hereafter. In the meantime the said Cyprian in his epistles maketh mention of two that suffered, either in the time of this Decius, or much about the same time. Of whom one was Aurelius, a worthy and valiant young man, who was twice in torments for his confession, which he never denied, but manfully and boldly withstood the adversary till he was banished, and also after; and therefore was commended of Cyprian to certain brethren, to have him for their “lector;” as in the aforenamed epistle of Cyprian appeareth. The other was named Mappalicus, who, on the day before he suffered, declaring to the proconsul in the midst of his torments, and saying, “To-morrow you shall see a struggle for a prize,” was brought forth, according as he forespoke, to martyrdom; and there, with no less constancy than patience, did suffer.

    And thus much of the tyranny of this wicked Decius against God’s saints.

    Now to touch also the power of God’s vengeance and punishment against him. Like as we see commonly a tempest that is vehement not long to continue, so it happened with this tyrannical tormentor; who, reigning but two years, as saith Eusebius, or three at most, as writeth Orosius, among the middle of the barbarians, with whom he did war, was there slain with his son. F1251 Like as he had before slain Philip and his son, his predecessors, so was he with his son slain by the righteous judgment of God himself. Pomponius affirmeth, that he, warring against the Goths and being by them overcome, lest he should fall into their hands ran into a whirlpit, where he was drowned, and his body never found afterwards.

    Neither did the just hand of God plague the emperor only, but also revenged, as well, the heathen Gentiles and persecutors of his word throughout all provinces and dominions of the Roman monarchy; amongst whom the Lord, immediately after the death of Decius, sent such a plague and pestilence, lasting for the space of ten years together, that horrible it is to hear, and almost incredible to believe. Of this plague or pestilence testifieth Dionysius to Hierax, a bishop in Egypt, where he declareth the mortality of this plague to be so great in Alexandria, where he was bishop, that there was no house in the whole city free. And although the greatness of the plague touched also the Christians somewhat, yet it scourged the heathen idolaters much more: besides that the order of their behavior in the one and in the other was much diverse. For, as the aforesaid Dionysius doth record, the Christians, through brotherly love and piety, did not refuse one to visit and comfort another, and to minister to him what need required, notwithstanding it was to them great danger; for divers there were, who, in closing up their eyes, in washing their bodies, and in interring them in the ground, were next themselves who followed them in their graves: yet all this stayed not them from doing their duty, and showing mercy one to another. Whereas the Gentiles, contrarily, being extremely visited by the hand of God, felt the plague, but considered not the striker, neither yet considered they their neighbor; but, every man shifting for himself, nothing cared one for another; but such as were infected, some they would cast out of the doors, half dead, to be devoured of dogs and wild beasts; some they let die within their houses without all succour; some they suffered to lie unburied, for that no man durst come near them. And yet, notwithstanding, for all their voiding and shifting, the pestilence followed them whithersoever they went, and miserably consumed them. Insomuch that Dionysius, bishop the same time of Alexandria, thus reporteth of his own city; that such a mortality was then among them, that the said city of Alexandria had not in number so many altogether, both old and young, from fourteen to fourscore years of age, as it was wont to contain before of the old men only from the age of forty to seventy. F1253 Pomponius Laetus also, and other Latin writers, making mention of the said pestilence, declare how the beginning thereof first came (as they think) out of Ethiopia, and from the hot countries; and so, invading and wasting first the south parts, from thence spread into the east; and so further running and increasing into all other quarters of the world, especially wheresoever the edicts of the emperor went against the Christians, it followed after and consumed the most part of the inhabitants; whereby many places became desolate and void of all concourse. It continued the term of ten years together.

    This pestiferous mortality (by the occasion whereof Cyprian took the ground to write his book “De Mortalitate”) began (as is said) immediately after the death of Decius the persecutor, in the beginning of the reign of Vibius Gallus, and Volusian his son; who succeeded through treason next unto Decius, about the year of our Lord 251, and continued their reign but two years.

    This Gallus, although the first beginning of his reign was something quiet, yet shortly after, following the steps of Decius by whom rather he should have taken warning, set forth edicts in like manner for the persecution of the Christians; albeit we find no number of martyrs to have suffered in consequence thereof, but all this persecution to rest only in the exilement of bishops and guides of the flock. Of other sufferings or executions we do not read; for the terrible pestilence following immediately, kept the barbarous heathen otherwise occupied. Unto this time of Gallus, rather than to the time of Decius, I refer the banishment of Cyprian, who was then bishop of Carthage; of the which banishment he himself testifieth in divers of his epistles, declaring the cause thereof to rise upon a commotion or sedition among the people, out of the which he withdrew himself, lest the sedition should grow greater: notwithstanding, the said Cyprian, though being absent, yet had no less care of his flock and of the whole church, than if he had been present with them, and therefore never ceased in his epistles continually to exhort and call upon them to be constant in their profession, and patient in their afflictions. Amongst divers others whom he doth comfort in his banishment, although he was in that case to be comforted himself, writing to certain that were condemned to mining for metals, whose names were Nemesian, Felix, and Lucius, with other bishops, priests, and deacons, he declareth unto them — How it was no shame, but a glory, not to be feared, but to be rejoiced at, when they suffered banishment, or other pains, for Christ. And, confirming them in the same, or rather commending them, he signifieth how nobly they distinguished themselves as valiant captains of virtue; and that they stirred up, both by the confessions of their mouth and by the suffering of their bodies, the hearts of their brethren to christian martyrdom; and that their example was a great confirmation to many, even maids and children, to follow the like. “That you have been grievously beaten with clubs (saith he), and have been initiated by that punishment in your christian confession, is a thing not to be lamented. The body of a Christian trembles not on account of clubs: all his hope is in wood. F1254 The servant of Christ acknowledges the emblem of his salvation: redeemed by wood to eternal life, by this wood he is advanced to his crown. O happy feet, shackled indeed at present with fetters, ye will quickly finish a glorious journey to Christ! Let malice and cruelty bind you as they please, ye will soon pass from earth and its sorrows to the kingdom of heaven. In the mines ye have not a bed on which the body may be refreshed; nevertheless, Christ is your rest and consolation: your limbs are fatigued with labor, and have only the ground to lie on; but so to lie down, when you have Christ with you, is no punishment: filth and dirt defile your limbs, and ye have no baths at hand; but remember, ye are inwardly washed from all uncleanness: your allowance of bread is but scanty; be it so, ‘man doth not live by bread alone, but by the word of God:’ ye have no proper clothes to defend you from the cold; but he who has put on Christ, is clothed abundantly. How will all these deformities be compensated with honor proportioned to the disgrace! What a blessed exchange will be made of this transient punishment for an exceeding and eternal glory! And if this do grieve you, that the priests of the Lord are not permitted now to present your oblations and celebrate divine sacrifices among you after the wonted manner, yet you do indeed offer that which is most precious and glorious in the sight of the Lord, of which he saith, ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise’ (Psalms 51:17).

    You also cease not day and night offering yourselves as victims, according to the exhortation of the apostle, ‘I beseech you, therefore, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service: and be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed in the renewing of our minds, that ye may know what is that good and acceptable, and perfect will of God:’ (Romans 12:1,2) this is of all sacrifices the most acceptable to God. And though your travail be great, yet is the reward greater, which is most certain to follow: for God, beholding and looking down upon them that confess his name, in their willing mind approveth them, in their striving helpeth them, in their victory crowneth them; rewarding that in us which he hath performed, and crowning that which he hath perfected in us.” F1255 With these and such like comfortable words he doth animate his brethren, admonishing them that they are now in a joyful journey, hasting apace to the mansions of the martyrs, there to enjoy after this darkness a light and brightness, greater than all their passions, according to the apostle’s saying, “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us.”

    F1256 And, after the like words of sweet comfort and consolation, writing to Seagrius and Rogatian, who were in prison and bonds for the testimony of truth, “he doth encourage them to continue steadfast and patient in the way wherein they have begun to run; for that they have the Lord with them as their helper and defender, who promiseth to be with us to the world’s end; and therefore willeth them to set before their eyes, in their death, the immortality to follow; in their pain, everlasting glory; remembering that it is written, ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.’ Item, ‘Though they be punished in the sight of men, yet is their hope full of immortality: and having been a little chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded: for God proved them, and found them worthy for himself; as gold in the furnace hath he tried them, and received them as a burnt-offering. And in the time of their visitation they shall shine, and run to and fro like sparks among the stubble: they shall judge the nations, and have dominion over the people, and their Lord shall reign for ever.’” (Wisdom 3:4-8.) He writeth moreover, admonishing them, that “it is appointed from the beginning of the world, that righteousness here should suffer in conflicts with the powers of this world; for so just Abel was slain in the beginning of the world, and, after him, a long train of righteous men and prophets, down to the apostles sent of the Lord himself; unto whom the Lord gave an example in himself, teaching that there is no coming to his kingdom, but by that same way by which he entered himself, and telling them, ‘He that loveth his life in this world, shall lose it,’ etc. And again, ‘Fear ye not them that slay the body, but have no power to slay the soul,’ etc. And St. Paul, likewise, admonishing all them whosoever covet to be partakers of the promises of the Lord, to follow his example, saith, ‘If we suffer together with him, we shall reign together,’ etc.”

    Furthermore, as the same Cyprian doth encourage here the holy martyrs, who were in captivity, to persist, so likewise, writing to the priests and deacons who were free, he exhorteth them to be serviceable and obsequious, with all care and love to cherish and embrace them that were in bonds. F1258 Whereby may appear the fervent zeal and care of this good bishop toward the church of Christ, although being now in exile in the time of this emperor Gallus.

    In the same time, and under the said Gallus, reigning with his son Volusian, was also Lucius, bishop of Rome, sent into banishment; who next succeeded after Cornelius in that bishopric, about the year of our Lord 252. Albeit, in this banishment he did not long continue, but returned home to his church, as by the epistles of St. Cyprian may appear. As to all the other bishops of Rome in those primitive days certain decretal epistles with several ordinances be ascribed, bearing their names and titles, as hath been before declared; so also hath Lucius one epistle fathered upon him, in the which epistle he, writing to the brethren of France and of Spain, appointeth such an order and form of the church as seemeth not to agree with the time then present: for so he decreeth in that epistle, that a bishop in all places, whithersoever he goeth, should have two priests with three deacons75A waiting upon him to be witnesses of all his ways and doings. Which ordinance, although I deny not but it may be and is convenient, yet I see not how that time of Lucius, A.D. 252, could serve then for a bishop to carry such a pomp of priests and deacons about him, or to study for any such matter; forsomuch as bishops commonly in those days were seldom free to go abroad, went they never so secret, but either were in houses close and secret, or in prison, or else in banishment.

    Moreover in the said epistle how pompously writeth he of the church of Rome! “This holy and apostolical church of Rome,” saith he, “the mother of all churches of Christ, through the grace of God omnipotent, hath never been proved to swerve out of the path of apostolical tradition, neither hath ever been depraved and degraded with heretical innovations: but even as, in the beginning, she received the rule of the apostolical faith from its first teachers, the princes of the apostles, so she continueth ever immaculate and undefiled unto the end.”

    Unto this Lucius also is referred, in the decrees of Gratian, this constitution, that no minister whatsoever, after his ordination, should at any time re-enter into the chamber of his own wife, on pain of losing his ministry in the church. Eusebius, in his seventh book, making mention of the death of Lucius, and not of his martyrdom, saith, that he sat but eight months: but Damasus, in his Martyrology, holdeth that he sat three years, and was beheaded the second year of Valerian and Gallien, emperors; and so do also Marianus Scotus and Nauclerus, with others that follow Damasus, affirm the same.

    After him came Stephen, next bishop of Rome following Lucius, whom Damasus, Platina, and Sabellicus affirm to have sat seven years and five months, and to have died a martyr. F1263 Contrary, Eusebius, and Volaterran holding with him, give him but two years: which part cometh most near to the truth, I leave to the reader’s judgment. Of his two epistles decretal, and of his ordinances out of the same collected, I need not much to say, for two respects; either for that concerning these decretal epistles, suspiciously entituled by the names of the fathers of the primitive church, suffciently hath been said before; or else because both the phrase is so barbarous and incongruous, and also the matter itself therein contained is such, that although no testimony came against them, yet they easily refell themselves. As where, in the second epistle, he decreeth: “That no bishop, being expulsed out of his see, or deprived of his goods, ought to be accused of any, or is bound to answer for himself, before that by the law regularly he be restored again fully to his former state; and that the primate and the synod render unto him again all such possessions and fruits as were taken from him before his accusation, as is agreeing both to the laws canon and also secular.” First, here I would desire the reader a little to stay, and this to consider with himself, who be these here meant, who either used to or might, despoil these bishops of their goods, and expulse them from their sees for such wrongful causes, but only kings and emperors? who at this time were not yet christened, nor used any such proceedings against these bishops, in such sort as that either primates or synods could restore them again to their places and possessions. Again, what private goods or possessions had bishops then to be taken from them? whereas, neither were churches yet endowed with patrimonies or possessions; and if any treasures were committed to the church, they pertained not properly to the bishop, but went in general to the subvention of the poor in the church, as appears in the epistle of Cornelius to Fabius, bishop of Antioch, alleged in Eusebius; wherein he, speaking of his own church, and declaring how there ought to be but one bishop in the same, inferreth mention of forty and six priests, seven deacons, seven subdeacons, forty-two acolyths, fifty-two exorcists, readers, and janitors, of widows and indigent persons to the number of fifteen hundred and above, found and nourished in the same, by the merciful benignity and providence of God. F1265 It followeth, moreover, in the end of the said canon, “Which thing is forbidden both by the laws ecclesiastical, and also secular.” Now what laws secular were in the time of Stephen, for bishops not to be charged with any accusation before they were restored again to their state, let any reader, marking well the state of the heather laws that then were, judge; and, in judging, I doubt not but this matter alone, though there were no other, will be enough to describe the untruth hereof.

    Moreover, by divers other probable notes and arguments in the said second epistle of Stephen, it may be easily espied, that this epistle is feigned and misauthorized; especially by the sixth canon of the said epistle, wherein he so solemnly entreateth of the difference between primates, metropolitans, and archbishops: which distinction of degrees and titles, savouring more of ambition than of persecution, giveth me verily to suppose this epistle not to be written by this Stephen, but by some other man either of that name, or of some other time, when the church began to be settled in more prosperity, and orders therein to be taken for every man to know his degree and the limits of his authority; according as is specified by the sixth and seventh canons of the Nicene council, decreeing of the same matter.

    The like estimation may be conceived also of the seventh canon of the said epistle, wherein he willeth and appointeth all causes judiciary to be decided and determined within the precinct of their own proper province, and not to pass over the bounds thereof, “unless,” saith he, “the appeal be made to the apostolical see of Rome;” which savoureth in my nose rather of a smack of popery, than of the vein of Christianity, especially in these times, during this terrible persecution among the bishops of Christ. And thus much of the second decretal epistle of Stephen; although of the first epistle, also, written to Hilary, something may be said — as where he speaketh in the said epistle of holy vestments, and holy vessels, and other ornaments of the altar serving to divine worship; and therefore not to be touched nor handled of any man, saving of priests alone — concerning all which implements my opinion is this: I think the church of Rome not to have been in so happy a state then, that either Stephen, or Sixtus before him, being occupied about other more serious matters, and scarce able to hide their own heads, had any mind or cogitation to study upon such unnecessary inventions serving in public churches. Neither do I see how the heathen in those days would have suffered those ornaments to be unconsumed, who would not suffer the bishops themselves to live amongst them, notwithstanding Isidore and Polydore judge the contrary.

    Between this Stephen and Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, was a great contention about re-baptizing heretics, whereof more hereafter (Christ willing) shall be said.

    Besides these bishops above specified, divers others there were also sent into banishment under the aforenamed emperors, Gallus and Volusian, as appeareth by Dionysius, writing to Hermammon on this wise: that Gallus, not seeing what was Decius’s destruction, nor foreseeing the occasion of his own ruin, stumbled himself also at the same stone, lying openly before his eyes: for whereas, at the first beginning, his empire went prosperously forward, and all things went luckily with him, afterward he drave out the holy men who prayed for his peace and safeguard, and so with them rejected also the prayers by which they interceded for him. F1266 Otherwise, of any bloodshed, or any martyrs that in the time of this emperor were put to death, we do not read.

    After the reign of which emperor Gallus and of his son Volusian being expired (who reigned but two years), AEmilian, who slew them both by civil sedition, succeeded in their place; who reigned but three months, and was also slain: next to whom, Valerian and his son Gallien were advanced to the empire.

    About the changing of these emperors, the persecution which first began at Decius, and afterward slacked in the time of Gallus, was now extinguished for a time, partly for the great plague reigning in all places, partly for the change of the emperors, although it was not for very long. For Valerian, in the first entrance of the empire, for the space of three or four years was right courteous and gentle to the people of God, and well accepted of the senate. Neither was there any of all the emperors before him, no not of those who are openly reported to have been Christians, that showed himself so loving and familiar toward the Christians as he did: insomuch that (as Dionysius, writing to Hermammon, doth testify) his whole household was replenished with holy saints and servants of Christ and godly persons, and was seemingly a church of God. But, by the malice of Satan, through wicked counsel, these quiet days endured not very long.

    For, in process of time, this Valerian — being mis-advised by a certain Egyptian, a chief ruler of the heathen synagogue of the Egyptians, a master of the charmers or enchanters (who indeed was troubled, because that he could not for the Christians do his magical feats) — was so far infatuated and bewitched, that, through the detestable provocations of that devilish Egyptian, he was wholly turned unto abominable idols, and to execrable impiety, in cutting the throats of young infants, and sacrificing the children of unhappy parents, and ripping open the bowels of new-born children; and so, proceeding in his fury, he moved the eighth persecution against the Christians, whom the wicked Egyptian could not abide, as being the hinderers and destroyers of his magical enchantings, about the year of our Lord 257. F1268 THE EIGHTH PERSECUTION.

    In this persecution the chief administers and executers were AEmilian, president of Egypt, and Paternus and Galerius Maximus, proconsuls in Africa. Bergomensis also maketh mention of Paternus, prefect of Rome, and of Perennis. F1269 Vincentius speaketh also of Nicerius and Claudius, presidents.

    What was the chief original cause of this persecution partly is signified before, where mention was made of the wicked Egyptian; but as this was the outward and political cause, so St. Cyprian showeth other causes more special and ecclesiastical in his fourth book, and fourth epistle, whose words be these: “But we,” saith he, “must understand and confess that this turbulent oppression and calamity, which hath wasted, for the most part, all our flock, and doth still waste it, hath come upon us for our sins; while we walk not in the way of the Lord, nor observe his heavenly precepts, given to guide us to salvation. Our Lord observed the will of his Father in all points, but, we observe not the will of the Lord; being wholly set upon lucre and the improvement of our fortunes, given to pride, full of emulation and dissension, void of simplicity and faithful dealing; renouncing this world in word only, and not in deed; every man pleasing himself, and displeasing all others. And therefore are we thus scourged, and worthily: for what stripes and scourges do we not deserve, when the very confessors themselves, who ought to be an example to the rest of well-doing, keep no discipline? Wherefore, because some grew insolent and elated on their confession, and made swelling and unmannerly bragging thereof, these tortures came — tortures which are not soon at an end — tortures not intended to dismiss them easily to their crown, but to keep them on the rack till they prevail against them to betray their profession; except perhaps in the case of a very few, who through the peculiar mercy of God sank under the pressure, and so went straight to glory, not by bearing the full measure of their punishment, but by expiring before its completion.

    These things do we suffer for our sins and deserts, as holy scripture long since forewarned us, saying: ‘If they shall forsake my law, and will not walk in my judgments; if they shall profane my institutions, and will not observe my precepts, I will visit their iniquities with the rod, and their transgressions with scourges’ (Psalms 89:30-32).

    This rod and these scourges,” saith he, “we feel, who neither please God by good deeds, nor make penitential satisfaction for our evil deeds.”

    Wherefore the said Cyprian addeth this exhortation withal: “Let us, therefore, from the bottom of our hearts and with our whole soul entreat the mercy of God, who hath subjoined to the former commination this comfortable promise — ‘Nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him.’ Let us ask and we shall receive: and if, in regard to the grievousness of our offenses, it be long ere we receive, yet let us knock, provided our knocking consist in genuine prayer, sighs, and tears, offered with perseverance, and with brotherly unanimity.”

    Moreover, what vices were then principally reigning among the Christians, he further specifieth in the said epistle, which chiefly were division and dissension among the brethren. “What hath moved me more particularly to write in this manner to you is, an admonition which I received in a vision from the Lord, saying unto me, ‘Ask and ye shall have.’ F1271 Next, my people were in the same vision directed to pray for certain persons there described to them: but they could not agree in asking; which exceedingly displeased him who had said, ‘Ask and ye shall have;’ seeing it is written, that ‘God maketh men to be of one mind in a house;’ and we read in the Acts of the Apostles, that ‘the multitude of them that believed were of one heart;’ and the Lord with his own mouth hath told us saying, ‘This is my commandment, that ye love one another.’” And so, by the occasion hereof, he writeth unto them in the aforesaid epistle, and moveth them to prayer and mutual agreement. “It is promised,” saith he, “in the gospel — ‘If two of you shall agree on earth touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.’ — Now if the agreement of two be so prevailing, what would not the agreement of all accomplish? Certainly, we should have obtained long ago what we had asked; and our faith and salvation would not have been in the danger they now are, of shipwreck. Nay, and — I may add — these calamities would not have befallen the brethren, if they had continued like-minded.” F1272 After the causes thus declared of this and other persecutions, the said St.

    Cyprian moreover, in the aforenamed epistle (worthy to be read of all men), describeth likewise a certain vision, wherein was showed unto him by the Lord before the persecution came, what should happen. The vision was this: “There seemed to be a certain aged father sitting, at whose right hand sat a young man sad and pensive, with indignation in his looks, resting his cheek upon his hand, his countenance heavy and uncheerful. On the left hand sat another person, having in his hand a net, with which he seemed to threaten to catch the people that stood round about. And as he was marvelling that saw all this, it was said unto him: ‘The young man, whom thou seest sitting on the right hand, is sad and sorry that his orders were not observed.

    But he on the left hand is exulting, for that opportunity is given him by the aged father to vent his fury without control.’ And this vision was vouchsafed long before this tempest of persecution arose. But we have since seen fulfilled what was therein revealed; viz. that whilst we keep not the Lord’s commandments, but despise his precepts, the enemy should have power to hurt us, to cast his net over us (as it were), while we were naked and defenceless, and unprepared for such a sudden onset. And all, because we foreslack our praying, or be not so vigilant therein as we should be. Wherefore, the Lord, because he loveth, chasteneth; chasteneth, to amend; amendeth, to save us.”

    Furthermore, the same Cyprian, and in the same epistle, writing of his own revelation or message sent to him, thus saith: “Finally, to the least of his servants, both sinful and unworthy” [meaning himself,] “God, of his tender goodness, hath vouchsafed to direct this word: ‘Tell him,’ saith he, ‘that he be easy and of good comfort, for that peace is coming; albeit a little delay there is for a while longer, because some yet remain to be proved and tried.’” And he showeth also in the same place of another revelation, wherein he was admonished to be spare in his feeding, and sober in his drink, lest his mind, now given to heavenly meditation, should be carried away with worldly allurements; or, oppressed with too much surfeit of meats and drinks, should be less apt or able for prayer and spiritual exercise. Finally, in the latter end of the aforesaid epistle mention also followeth of other revelations or showings: “Wherein the Lord,” saith Cyprian, “doth vouchsafe to foreshow to his servants the restoration of his church; the security of our salvation; fair weather to succeed the present rain; light after darkness; peaceable calm after stormy tempest; the helps of his fatherly love; the wonted displays of his divine majesty, whereby both the blasphemy of the persecutor shall be repressed, and such as have fallen be renewed to repentance, and the strong and stable confidence of them that stand shall rejoice and glory.”

    Thus much hath St. Cyprian written of these things to the clergy. F1273 As touching now the crimes and accusations in this persecution laid to the charge of the Christians, these were the principal: first, for that they refused to do worship to the idols and to the emperors; then, for that they professed the name of Christ. Besides, all the calamities and evils that happened in the world, as wars, famine and pestilence, were imputed only to the Christians. Against all which quarrelling accusations Cyprian doth eloquently defend the Christians in his book “Ad Demetrianum,” like as Tertullian had done before, writing “Ad Scapulam.” And first touching the objection, for not worshipping idols, he cleareth the Christians both in his book “Ad Demetrianum,” and also “De Vanitate Idolorum,” proving — Those idols to be no true Gods, but images of certain dead kings, which neither could save themselves from death, nor such as worship them. The true God to be but one, and that, by the testimony of Hostanes, Plato, and Hermes Trismegistus; the which God the Christians do truly worship. And as concerning that the Christians were thought to be the cause of public calamities, because they worshipped not the Gentiles’ idols, he purgeth the Christians thereof; proving, that if there be any defect in increase of things, it is not to be ascribed to them, but rather to the decrease of nature, languishing now towards her age and latter end. Again, for that it hath been so foresaid and prophesied, that towards the end of the world should come wars, famine, and pestilence. Moreover, if there be any cause thereof more proper than another, it is most reasonably to be imputed to their vain idolatry, and to their contempt of the true God. Also that such evils be increased by the wickedness of the people, so that (to speak in his own words) “Famine cometh more by avarice of men monopolizing the corn, than by drought of the air.” F1275 But, especially, the cause thereof proceeded of the cruel shedding of the innocent blood of the Christians. F1276 Thus, with many other more probations, doth Cyprian defend the Christians against the barbarous accusations a76 of the heathen Gentiles.

    Of which Cyprian, forsomuch as he suffered in the time of this persecution, I mind (Christ willing) to recapitulate here, in ample discourse, the full sum, first of his life and bringing up, then of his death and martyrdom, as the worthiness of that man deserveth to be remembered. F1277 Of this Cyprian therefore, otherwise named Thascius, thus writeth Nicephorus, Nazianzen, Jerome, and others; that he, being an African, and born in Carthage, first was an idolater and Gentile, altogether given to the study and practice of the magical arts; of whose parentage and education in letters during his youth no mention is made, but that he was a worthy rhetorician in Africa: of whose conversion and baptism he himself, in his second a78 book and second epistle, writeth a flourishing and eloquent history. Which his conversion unto the christian faith, as Jerome affirmeth in his “Catalogus” and his commentary upon Jonas, was through the grace of God, and the means of Caecilius a priest (whose name afterward he bare), and through the occasion of hearing the history of the prophet Jonas. F1279 The same Jerome moreover testifieth, that he, immediately upon his conversion, distributed among the poor all his substance, and, after that, being ordained a priest, was not long after constituted bishop of the church of Carthage. But whether he succeeded Agrippinus (of whom he often maketh mention, who also was the first author of re-baptization), or some other bishop of Carthage, it remaineth uncertain. But this is most true, he himself shined in his office and dignity with such good gifts and virtues, that, as Nazianzen writeth, he had the government of all the churches throughout the East and in Spain; and was called in the edict for his banishment “the bishop of the Christians.”

    And, to the further setting forth (to the praise of God) of his godly virtues wherewith he was endued, appearing as well in his own works to them that list to peruse the same, as also described by other worthy writers, he was courteous and gentle, loving and full of patience, and therewithal sharp and severe, according as the cause required, and always in his office; as appeareth in his first book and third epistle. Furthermore, he was most loving and kind toward his brethren, and took much pains in helping and relieving the martyrs, as appeareth by his letters to the elders and deacons of his bishopric, charging them that, with all study and endeavor, they should gently entertain and show pleasure unto the martyrs in his absence, as partly is touched before.

    The third epistle of his first book doth declare of what stomach and godly courage he was in executing his office, and handling his matters. Neither was he void of prudence and circumspection, but was adorned with marvellous modesty, whereby he attempted nothing upon his own head and judgment, but with the consent of his fellow-bishops and other inferior ministers; and that chiefly (among others) doth the tenth epistle of his third book witness. He was of a marvellous liberal disposition towards the poor brethren of other countries; for so often as he had cause of absence, he committed the care of those poor men to his fellow-officers, and wrote to them, that of their own proper goods they should help their banished brethren to that which was necessary for them, as witnesseth the twentyfourth epistle of his third book. He reciteth among other gifts wherewith he was endued, the visions and heavenly admonitions concerning the persecutions that should follow, and concerning other matters touching the government of the church, in his first book and third epistle, and fourth book and fourth epistle, where he reciteth and expoundeth the form or manner of a certain vision, which we have before sufficiently expressed.

    He had, moreover, great skill in the foreknowledge of things that should chance, as may be gathered in the sixth epistle of his fourth book. Also Augustine doth attribute unto him many worthy virtues, who writeth much in setting forth his gifts of humility in the second book of his “De Baptismo contra Donatistas,” the fourth chapter; and in his seventh book and eleventh chapter, of his long sufferance and patience; also, of his candour and meekness, by which virtues he concealed nothing that he thought, but [yet] uttered the same meekly and patiently. Also, that he kept the ecclesiastical peace and concord with those that were of another opinion than he was of. Lastly, that he neither dictated nor overbore any man, but allowed him to follow that thing which seemed good in his judgment, it is manifest in the fifth book of St. Augustine’s “De Baptismo contra Donatistas.” Neither is this to be passed over, which Jerome writeth, that he was very diligent in reading, especially the works of Tertullian: for he saith, that he once saw at Concordia in Italy a certain old man whose name was Paul, who told him he had seen at Rome the notary of blessed Cyprian, the said notary being then an old man, when he himself was but a springal; who told him that it was Cyprian’s wont, never to let one day pass without reading some of Tertullian, and that he was accustomed oftentimes to say unto him, “Give me my master;” meaning thereby Tertullian. F1281 Now a few words touching his exile and martyrdom. Of his epistles which he wrote back to his congregation, leading his life in exile, mention is made above; wherein he showeth the virtue beseeming a faithful pastor, in that he took no less care when absent, as well of his own church, as of those of other bishops, than he did being present: wherein also he himself doth signify that voluntarily he absented himself, lest he should do more hurt than good to the church by reason of his presence; as is likewise declared before. Thus from the desolate places of his banishment, wherein he was oftentimes sought for, he writeth unto his brethren, as in his third book and tenth epistle is manifest; which thing seemeth to be done in the reign of Decius or Gallus. But after that he returned again out of exile in the reign of this Valerian; he was also, after that, the second time banished by Paternus, the proconsul of Africa, into the city of Curubis , a81 as the oration of Augustine touching Cyprian showeth; or else, as Pontius the deacon saith, into a city named Furabilitana, or Curubitana. But when Paternus, the proconsul, was dead, Galerius Maximus succeeded in his room and office; who, finding Cyprian in a garden, caused him to be apprehended by his serjeants, and to be brought before the idols to offer sacrifice. Which when he would not do, then the proconsul, breaking forth in these words, said, “Long hast thou lived in a sacrilegious mind, and hast gathered together [very many] men of a wicked conspiracy, and hast showed thyself an enemy to the gods of the Romans, and to their holy laws: neither could the sacred emperors Valerian and Gallien recall thee to the profession of their ceremonies.” At length the wicked tyrant condemning him to have his head cut off, he patiently and willingly submitted his neck to the stroke of the sword, as Jerome affirmeth. F1283 And so this blessed martyr ended this present life in the Lord, Sixtus then being bishop of Rome (as Eusebius noteth), in the year of our Lord 258.

    Sabellicus saith that he was martyred in the reign of Gallus and Volusian, Lucius being bishop of Rome: but that seemeth not likely.

    Now remaineth to speak something likewise of his works and books left behind him, although all, peradventure, that he wrote do not remain; whereof some are missing, some again, in the livery of his name and title, are not his: but such as be certainly his, by the style and sense may soon be discerned; such is the eloquence of his phrase, and gravity of his sentence, vigor of wit, power in persuasion, so much differing from many others, as he can lightly be imitated but of few. Of the which his books with us extant, as the flourishing eloquence is worthily commended, proceeding out of the school of rhetoricians, so is the authority thereof of no less reputation, not only among us of this age of the church, but also among the ancient fathers. Whereof St. Augustine, speaking in his commendation, saith, “Ego literas Cypriani non ut canonicas habeo, sed eas ex canonicis considero: et quod in eis divinarum seripturarum authoritati congruit cum laude ejus accipio; quod autem non congruit, cum pace ejus respuo, etc.” By which words it may appear, that Augustine, although he did not repute the books and writings of Cyprian to be equivalent with the holy Scripture, yet notwithstanding, next after the holy Scriptures he had the same in exceeding great admiration.

    Vincentius and Laziardus Celestinus, reciting the names of divers books bearing the title of Cyprian (more, perchance, than be truly his), do collect out of them a certain extract of his most pithy sentences, all which here to repeat were too tedious. To give a taste of the special, I thought it not impertinent: as where he, speaking of the treasures of a rich man, exhorteth, saying: f1286 Let not that sleep in thy treasures, which may profit the poor. F1287 Two things never wax old in man; the heart, ever imagining new cogitations, the tongue, ever uttering the vain conceptions of the heart. F1288 That which a man must of necessity lose, it is wisdom for him voluntarily to distribute, so that God may everlastingly reward him. F1289 Discipline is an orderly amendment of manners present, and a regular observation of evils past. F1290 There can be no integrity, where they are ever wanting, who should condemn the wicked; and they only are ever present, who are to be condemned. F1291 A covetous man possesseth his goods only for this: — that another should not possess them. F1292 Women that pride themselves in putting on silks and purple, cannot put on Christ. F1293 Women who dye their locks with red and yellow, begin betime to give unlucky presage of the fiery locks which they will wear in hell.

    F1294 They who love to paint themselves in this world of a different colour from what God created them of, have reason to fear, lest, when the day of resurrection cometh, the Creator should not know his own creatures. F1295 He that giveth an alms to the poor, offereth a sacrifice to God of sweet-smelling savor. F1296 All the injury of evils present is to be disregarded, in faith of good things to come. F1297 It is useless to set out virtue in words, and to destroy the same in deeds. F1298 The more children thou hast at home, the more cause hast thou not to hoard up, but to disperse abroad; for that there are so many who have sins to be redeemed, so many who have consciences to be purged. F1299 Moreover, lest the papists here should take an occasion by this text, grounded upon the text of Tobit, cap. 4, “Alms delivereth from all sin and death,” to build up the works of satisfaction, the said Cyprian more plainly expoundeth both himself and that place of Scripture, writing in these words: “‘Alms do deliver from all sin and from death.’ (Tob. 4.) Not from that death which the blood of Christ hath once for all extinguished, and from which the saving grace of our baptism and of our Redeemer hath delivered us; but from that death which afterwards creepeth in by our failings.” F1300 By which words a82 it is apparent, that Cyprian meaneth this death, from which deliverance cometh by alms-giving, not to be expounded nor to be taken for death everlasting, from which only the blood of Christ doth save us; but for temporal or transitory punishment, which is wont to be inflicted in this body of sin. For so it is nothing repugnant, but that temporal virtues may have their temporal rewards in this life, and likewise sins committed may have temporal punishments both in us and in our families; our eternal salvation standing evermore firm in Christ, yet notwithstanding.

    The aforesaid Vincentius, moreover, speaking of another book of Cyprian (although the said book be not numbered in the catalogue of his works), maketh mention of twelve abuses or absurdities in the life of man, which in order be these: 1. A wise man without good works. — 2. An old man without religion. 3. A young man without obedience. — 4. A rich man without alms-giving. 5. A woman without modesty. — 6. A guide without virtue. — 7 . A christian man contentious. — 8. A poor man proud. — 9. A king unrighteous. — 10. A bishop negligent. — 11. A multitude without discipline. — 12. A people without law. F1301 As we have hitherto set forth the commendation of Cyprian, this blessed martyr, so must we now take heed again that we do not here incur the old and common danger which the papists are commonly accustomed to run into; whose fault is, always almost to be immoderate and excessive in their proceedings, making too much almost of every thing. So, in speaking of the holy sacraments, they make more of them than doth the nature of sacraments require; not using them, but abusing them; not referring or applying them, but adoring them; not taking them in their kind for things godly, as they are, but taking them for God himself; turning religion into superstition, and the creature into the Creator; the things signifying into the things themselves signified. To the church, likewise, and ceremonies of the church, to general councils, to the blessed Virgin Mary mother of Christ, to the bishop of Rome, and to all others in like case — not contented to attribute [to them] that which is sufficient, they exceed, moreover, the bounds of judgment and verity; judging so of the church, and general councils, as though they could never, or did never, err in any jot.

    That the blessed mother of Christ amongst all women was blessed, and a virgin full of grace, the Scripture and truth do give: but, to say that she was born without all original sin, or to make of her an advocate, or mother of mercy, there they run further than truth will bear. The ceremonies were first ordained to serve but only for order’ sake; unto the which they have attributed so much at length, that they have set in them a great part of our religion, yea, and also of salvation. And what thing is there else almost, wherein the papists have not exceeded?

    Wherefore, to avoid this common error of the papists, we must beware, in commending the doctors and writers of the church; and so commend them, that truth and consideration go with our commendation. For though this cannot be denied, but that holy Cyprian and other blessed martyrs were holy men, yet notwithstanding, they were men ; that is, such as might have, and had, their falls and faults; men, I say, and not angels, nor gods; saved by God, not saviours of men, nor patrons of grace. And though they were also men of excellent learning, and worthy doctors, yet with their learning they had their errors also annexed. And though their books be (as they ought to be) of great authority, yet ought they not to be equal with the Scriptures. And albeit they said well in most things, yet it does not therefore hold, that what they said, it must stand for a truth. That preeminence of authority only belongeth to the word of God, and not to the pen of man: for of men and doctors, be they never so famous, there is none that is void of reprehension. In Origen, although in his time the admiration of his learning was singular, yet how many things be there, which the church now holdeth not? But, examining him by Scripture, where he said well, they admit him; where otherwise, they leave him. In Polycarp, the church hath corrected and altered that which he did hold in celebrating the Easter-day after the Jews. Neither can holy and blessed Ignatius be defended in all his sayings; as where he maketh the fasting upon Sundays or Saturdays (except the Saturday before Easter-day) as great an offense, as to kill Christ himself; contrary to this saying of St. Paul , a83 “Let no man judge you in meat and drink.” Also where the said Ignatius speaketh “De Virginitate,” and of other things more. Irenaeus did hold, that man was not made perfect in the beginning. He seemeth also to defend free-will in man, in those things also that be spiritual. He saith that Christ suffered after he was fifty years old, abusing this place of the gospel, “Quinquaginta annos nondum habes.” Tertullian (whom St. Cyprian never laid out of his hands almost) is noted to be a Chiliast: also to have been of Montanus’s sect. The same did hold also, with Justin, Cyprian, and others, that the angels fell first for the concupiscence of women. F1304 He defendeth free-will of man after the corruption of nature, inclining also to the error of them which defend the possibility of keeping God’s law.

    Concerning marriage; “We know,” saith he, “one marriage as we know one God;” condemning the second marriage. Divers other things of like absurdity in him be noted. Justin also seemeth to have inclined unto the error of the Chiliasts; of the fall of certain angels by women; of free-will of man; of possibility of keeping the law; and such other things. Neither was this our Cyprian, the great scholar of Tertullian, utterly exempt from the blot of them, who, contrary to the doctrine of the church, did hold with rebaptizing of such as were before baptized of heretics; whereof speaketh St.

    Austine, misliking the same error of Cyprian, in these words contained in his second book “contra Cresconium.” “Cyprisni laudem assequi non valeo, cujus multis literis mea scripta non comparo, cujus ingenium diligo, cujus ore delector, cujus charitatem miror, cujus martyrium veneror: — non accipio quod de baptizandis haereticis et schismaticis sensit.”

    Upon the which matter there was a great contention between the said Cyprian and Stephen bishop of Rome, as partly afore is noted. Of Augustine himself likewise, of Ambrose, Jerome, Chrysostom, the same may be said, that none of them all so dearly passed away, but their peculiar faults and errors went with them, whereof it were too long, and out of our purpose, at this present to treat. And thus much concerning the story of Cyprian, the holy learned martyr of Christ.

    Albeit , a84 here is to be noted by the way, touching the life and story of Cyprian, that, whereas the narration of Nazianzen (as is above mentioned) declareth that he, from art magic, was converted to be a Christian, this is rather to be understood of another Cyprian; which Cyprian was a citizen of Antioch, and afterward bishop of the same city, and was martyred under Dioclesian, at Nicomedia: whereas this Cyprian was bishop of Carthage, and died under Valerian, as is said. By the decrees of Gratian f1307 it appeareth, moreover, that there was also a third Cyprian, in the time of the emperor Julian the Apostate, long after both these afore-named: for so giveth the title prefixed before the said distinction, “Cyprianus Juliano Imperatori:” the distinction beginning, “Quoniam idem Mediator Dei et hominum, homo Christus Jesus, sic actibus propriis et dignitatibus distinctis officia potestatis utriusque discrevit.” Upon the which distinction the gloss cometh in with these words, saying, “that the popedom and the seat imperial have both one beginning of one, that is Christ, who was both Bishop, and King of kings;” and “that the said dignities be distinct:” albeit the pope, notwithstanding, hath both the swords in his hand, and may exercise them both sometimes. “And therefore, although they be distinct, yet in exercise the one standeth lineally under the other, so that the imperial dignity is subject under the papal dignity, as the inferior is subject under the superior: that as there is one ruler over the whole world, which is God; so in the church there is one monarch, that is, the pope, to whom the Lord hath committed the power and lawful right both of the heavenly and terrene dominion.” F1308 Thus much I thought here to note by the way, because this distinction is fathered upon Cyprian, which is false: for this Cyprian was not in the time of Julian, not by two hundred years; and so likewise the other Cyprian, who died martyr under Dioclesian. Of any Cyprian besides these two we read not; neither is it credible, that, if there were any such Cyprian, he would ever have written of any such matter, as the difference and yet mutual need of christian emperors and christian popes; when that emperor, being an apostate, neither regarded Christ, nor cared for any pope.

    About this time, and under the same emperor Valerian, suffered also Xistus, or Sixtus, the second of that name, bishop of Rome, who, being accused of his adversaries to be a Christian, was brought with his six deacons to the place of execution, where he, Nemesus, and other his deacons, were beheaded and suffered martyrdom. Laurence in the same time, being also deacon, followed after, complaining to Sixtus (as one being aggrieved) that he might not also suffer with him, but was secluded as the son from the father. To whom the bishop, answering again, declared that within three days he should follow after. In the mean time he willed him to go home, and to distribute his treasures, if he had any, unto the poor. The judge, belike hearing mention to be made of treasures to be given to the poor, and thinking that Laurence had great store of treasure in his custody, commanded him to bring the same unto him, according as in the discourse of the story hereunder written more fully may appear. Which history, because it is set forth more at large in Prudentius, Ambrose, and other writers, and containeth in it more things worthy to be noted of the reader, we have therefore with the more diligence here inserted the more ample description of the same, to the further admiration of his patience, and God’s glory showed in him.

    Now then, as order requireth, let us enter the story of that most constant and courageous martyr of Christ, St. Laurence, whose words and works deserve to be as fresh and green in christian hearts, as is the flourishing laurel-tree. F1310 This thirsty hart, longing after the water of life, desirous to pass unto it through the strait, door of bitter death, when on a time he saw his vigilant shepherd Sixtus, led as a harmless lamb, of harmful tyrants, to his death, cried out with open mouth and heart invincible, saying, “O dear father! whither goest thou, without the company of thy dear son? Whither hastenest thou, O reverend priest, without thy deacon? Never wast thou wont to offer sacrifice without thy minister. What crime is there in me, that offendeth thy fatherhood?

    Hast thou proved me unnatural? Now try, sweet father, whether thou hast chosen a faithful minister or not? Deniest thou unto him the fellowship of thy blood, to whom thou hast committed the distribution of the Lord’s blood? See that thy judgment be not mistaken, whilst thy fortitude is liked and lauded. The abasing of the scholar is the disgracing of the master. What! have we not learned that worthy masters have obtained most worthy fame by the worthy acts of their disciples and scholars? Finally, Abraham sacrificed his only-begotten Isaac; stoned Stephen prepared the way for preaching Peter: even so, father, declare thy manifold virtues by me thy son. Offer thou him that proffereth himself; grant that the body of thy scholar may be sacrificed, whose mind with good letters thou hast beautified.”

    These words with tears Saint Laurence uttered, not because his master should suffer, but because he might not be suffered to taste of death’s cup which he thirsted after. Then Sixtus to his son shaped this answer: “I forsake thee not, O my son; I give thee to wit, that a sharper conflict remaineth for thee. A feeble and weak old man am I, and therefore run the race of a lighter and easier death: but lusty and young art thou, and more lustily, yea more gloriously, shalt thou triumph over this tyrant. Thy time approacheth; cease to weep and lament; three days after thou shalt follow me. Decent it is that this space of time come between the priest and the levite. It may not beseem thee, O sweet pupil! to triumph under thy master, lest it be said, he wanted, a helper. Why cravest thou to be partaker with me in my passion? I bequeath unto thee the whole inheritance. Why requirest thou to enjoy my presence? Let weak scholars go before, and the stronger come after, that those without master may get the victory, which have no need by master to be governed. So Elias left behind him his beloved Eliseus. I yield up into thy hands the succession of my virtues.”

    Such was their contention, not unmeet for so godly a priest, and so zealous a minister; striving with themselves who should first suffer for the name of Christ Jesus.

    In tragical histories we have it mentioned, that through joy and admiration people clapped their hands, when Pylades named himself Orestes, and Orestes (as truth it was) affirmed himself to be Orestes: Pylades wishing to die for Orestes, but Orestes not suffering Pylades to lose his life for his sake. But neither of them might escape death; for both these lovers were guilty of blood, the one committing the fact, the other consenting. But this our Laurence, the martyr most constant, was by no means enforced to make this proffer, saving only by his ardent zeal and fervent spirit; who, thirsting after the cup of martyrdom, had it shortly after filled to the hard brim.

    Now let us draw near to the fire of martyred Laurence, that our cold hearts may be warmed thereby. The merciless tyrant, understanding this virtuous levite not only to be a minister of the sacraments, but a distributer also of the church riches (whereof mention is made before in the words of Sixtus), promised to himself a double prey, by the apprehension of one silly soul. First, with the rake of avarice to scrape to himself the treasure of poor Christians; then with the fiery fork of tyranny, so to toss and turmoil them, that they should wax weary of their profession. With furious face and cruel countenance, the greedy wolf demanded where this deacon Laurence had bestowed the substance of the church: who, craving three days’ respite, promised to declare where the treasure might be had.

    In the mean time, he caused a good number of poor Christians to be congregated. So, when the day of his answer was come, the persecutor strictly charged him to stand to his promise. Then valiant Laurence, stretching out his arms over the poor, said: “These are the precious treasure of the church; these are the treasure indeed, in whom the faith of Christ reigneth, in whom Jesus Christ hath his mansion-place. What more precious jewels can Christ have, than those in whom he hath promised to dwell?

    For so it is written, ‘I was hungry and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me to drink; I was harbourless, and ye lodged me.’ And again; ‘Look, what ye have done to the least of these, the same have ye done to me.’ What greater riches can Christ our Master possess, than the poor people, in whom he loveth to be seen?”

    O, what tongue is able to express the fury and madness of the tyrant’s heart! Now he stamped, he stared, he ramped, he fared as one out of his wits: his eyes like fire glowed, his mouth like a boar foamed, his teeth like a hellhound grinned. Now, not a reasonable man, but a roaring lion, he might be called. “Kindle the fire (he cried) — of wood make no spare. Hath this villain deluded the emperor? Away with him, away with him: whip him with scourges, jerk him with rods, buffet him with fists, brain him with clubs. Jesteth the traitor with the emperor? Pinch him with fiery tongs, gird him with burning plates, bring out the strongest chains, and the fire-forks, and the grated bed of iron: on the fire with it; bind the rebel hand and foot; and when the bed is fire-hot, on with him: roast him, broil him, toss him, turn him: on pain of our high displeasure do every man his office, O ye tormentors.”

    The word was no sooner spoken, but all was done. After many cruel handlings, this meek lamb was laid, I will not say on his fiery bed of iron, but on his soft bed of down. So mightily God wrought with his martyr Laurence, so miraculously God tempered his element the fire; not a bed of consuming pain, but a pallet of nourishing rest was it unto Laurence. Not Laurence, but the emperor, might seem to be tormented; the one broiling in the flesh, the other burning in the heart. When this triumphant martyr had been pressed down with fire-picks for a great space, in the mighty Spirit of God he spake to the vanquished tyrant: This side is now roasted enough; turn up, O tyrant great!

    Essay whether roasted or raw, thou thinkest the better meat.” O rare and unaccustomed patience! O faith invincible! that not only dost not burn, but by means unspeakable dost recreate, refresh, stablish, and strengthen those that are burned, afflicted, and troubled. And why so mightily comfortest thou the persecuted? Because through thee they believe in God’s promises infallible. By thee this glorious martyr overcometh his torments, vanquisheth this tyrant, confoundeth his enemies, confirmeth the Christians, sleepeth in peace, and reigneth in glory. The God of might and mercy grant us grace, by the life of Laurence to learn in Christ to live, and by his death to learn for Christ to die, Amen.

    Such is the wisdom and providence of God, that the blood of his dear saints, like good seed, never falleth in vain to the ground, but it bringeth some increase: so it pleased the Lord to work at the martyrdom of this holy Laurence, that, by the constant confession of this worthy and valiant deacon, a certain soldier of Rome being therewith compuncted, and converted to the same faith, desired forthwith to be baptized of him: for the which he, being called for of the judge, was scourged, and afterward beheaded. F1312 Under the same Valerian, suffered also Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, much affliction and banishment, with certain other brethren: of the which he writeth himself in his letter to Germanus, a bishop of those times; which is alleged in the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius, the words whereof tend to this effect: Dionysius with Maximus, one of his priests, and three of his deacons, to wit, Faustus, Eusebius, and Chaeremon, also with a certain brother of Rome, came before AEmilian, the prefect of Alexandria; who declared unto them in circumstance of words, how he had signified unto them the clemency of his lords the emperors, who had granted them pardon of life, so that they would return to them, and worship the gods who were the protectors (as he called them) of their empire; asking them what answer they would give him to these proposals, and trusting, as he said, that they would not show themselves ungrateful towards the clemency of those who so gently did exhort them. To this Dionysius answering, said, “All men worship not all gods, but divers men divers gods; so as every one hath in himself a mind or fantasy to worship.

    But we worship only that one God, who is the Creator of all things, and hath committed to our lords, Valerian and Gallien, the government of their empire; making to him our prayers incessantly for the permanency and stability of their empire.” Then the prefect said, “And what hinders but that you may both worship your God (what God soever he be), and these our gods also? For you are commanded to worship such gods, as all men own to be gods.” Dionysius answered, “We worship none other but as we have said.” AEmilian the prefect said, “I see you are ungrateful men, and consider not the benignity of the emperors; wherefore you shall remain no longer in this city, but shall be sent out to the parts of Libya, unto a place called Cephro; for that place by the commandment of the emperors I have chosen for you. Neither shall it be lawful for you to convent your assemblies, or to resort as ye are wont to your burial places. And if any of you shall be found out of your places whereunto you are appointed, at your peril be it. And think not contrary, but ye shall be watched well enough. Depart therefore to the place, as is commanded you.” And it followeth more in the said Dionysius, speaking of himself: “And as for me, although I was sick, yet he urged me so strictly to depart, that he would not give me one day’s respite. And how then could I have leisure to congregate, or not congregate, any assemblies?” And after a few lines it followeth, “And yet neither was I altogether absent from the corporal society of the Lord’s flock; but I collected them together which were in the city, being absent, as though I had been present; ‘absent in body, yet present in spirit.’ And in the same Cephro, a great congregation assembled with me, as well of those brethren who followed me out of the city, as also of those who resorted to us from the rest of Egypt. And there the Lord opened to me a door [to preach] his word. Although at the first entrance I was persecuted and stoned among them, yet afterward a great number of them fell from their idols, and were converted unto the Lord. And so by us the word was preached to those who before were infidels; which ministry after that we had accomplished there, the Lord removed us to another place. For AEmilian resolved to translate us thence to more uncomfortable places, wretched even for Lybia, and commanded us to repair all together to Mareotis, thinking there to separate us severally into sundry villages, and ordering us to reside near the high road, that we might be the more easily apprehended at any time. After we were come thither, it was assigned to me (saith Dionysius) to go to the parts of Colluthio; which was a great grief to me; yet some solace it was to me, that (as the brethren suggested to me) it was rather near to the city; for as my being at Cephro brought us many new brethren out of Egypt, so my hope was, that the vicinity of that place (where I should be) to the city, might procure the familiarity and concourse of certain loving brethren, who would resort and assemble with us; and so it came to pass, etc.” f1315 Moreover, the said Dionysius in his epistle “Ad Domitium et Didymum,” making mention of them which were afflicted in this persecution of Valerian, recordeth in these words, saying: “It were superfluous here to recite the particular names of all our brethren slain in this persecution, who were many, but to you unknown. But this is certain, that there were men and women, young men and old, maidens and old wives, soldiers, simple innocents, and persons of all sorts and ages: of whom some with scourgings and fire, some with sword, obtained victory, and got the crown [of martyrdom]. Some continued a great time, and yet have been reserved; in the which number am I reserved hitherto, to some other opportune time known unto the Lord, who saith: ‘In the time accepted I have heard thee, and in the day of salvation I have helped thee.’ Now as concerning ourselves, in what state we are, if thou desirest to know — how I and Gaius, and Faustus, Peter, and Paul, being apprehended by the centurion and the magistrates of Alexandria and their officers, were forcibly taken away by certain of Mareotis, you have fully heard. F1316 At present, I and Gaius, and Peter, are here alone, shut up in a desert and most uncomfortable place of Lybia, distant the space of three days’ journey from Paraetonium, etc.”

    And in process further he addeth: “In the city (saith he) are certain which privily visit the brethren: of priests, Maximus, Dioscorus, Demetrius, and Lucius. For they who are more eminent in the world, Faustinus and Aquila, do travel up and down Egypt. Of the deacons, besides them which died in the plague, Faustus, Eusebius, and Chaeremon are yet alive.

    Eusebius hath God raised up and furnished with great rigour to minister to the confessors lying in bonds, and to bury the bodies of the blessed martyrs, not without great peril. Neither doth the prefect cease yet to this day, cruelly murdering such as be brought before him, tearing some with tortures, imprisoning and wasting some in prisons, commanding that no man should come to them, inquiring also who resorted unto them. Yet notwithstanding, God through the cheerfulness and daily resort of the brethren doth comfort the afflicted.” F1318 Concerning these deacons above recited, here is to be noted, that Eusebius afterward was made bishop of Laodicea in Syria. Maximus, the priest aforesaid, had the government of the church of Alexandria after Dionysius.

    Faustus long after continued in great age, unto the later persecution; wherein he, being a very old man, at length was beheaded, and died a martyr.

    As touching Dionysius himself, the stories report, that he, surviving all these troubles and persecutions, by the providence of God, continued after the death of Valerian, unto the twelfth year of the reign of Gallien, which was about the year of our Lord 265; and so departed in peace in great age, after he had governed the church of Alexandria the space of seventeen years, before which he had taught the school of the said city of Alexandria the term of sixteen years; after whom succeeded Maximus, as is above specified. And thus much touching the full story of Dionysius Alexandrinus, and of other martyrs and confessors of Alexandria.

    At Caesarea in Palestine suffered also, about the same time, Priscus, Malchus, and Alexander; the which three good men, dwelling in the country, seeing the valiant courage of the Christians, so boldly to venture and constantly to stand and patiently to suffer in this persecution, as men being grieved with themselves, began to repent and accuse their own so great sluggishness and cowardly negligence, to see others so zealous and valiant, and themselves so cold and fainthearted, in laboring for the crown of christian martyrdom. And first consulting and agreeing with themselves, they came to Caesarea; and there, stepping up before the judge, declared themselves what they were, and obtained the end they came for, being given to the wild beasts. After which manner also, and in the same city of Caesarea, a certain woman, whose name Eusebius expresseth not, who had been before of the sect of Marcion, was brought before the prefect, and likewise obtained the same martyrdom. F1319 Neither was the city of Carthage all this while free from the stroke of this persecution, if credit should be given to the “Speculative Glass” of Vincentius, who recordeth of three hundred martyrs, of which three hundred martyrs the story saith thus; that the president setting before them coals and incense to do sacrifice by a lime-kiln, which was there near at hand, offered unto them this condition; either to set incense to the coals for sacrifice to Jupiter, or else to go into the furnace of lime: whereupon they all together, with a general motion, suddenly rushed into the kiln, and there with the dusty smoke of the lime were smothered. F1321 In Africa also, in the city of Tuburba, the said Vincentius out of the Martyrology inferreth mention of three constant virgins, Maxima, Donatilla, and Secunda; who, in the persecution of this Valerian and Gallien, first had given them for their drink vinegar and gall; then with scourges were tried; after that upon the rack were tormented, and rubbed with lime; then were scorched upon the fiery gridiron; at last were cast to the wild beasts; who, being not touched of them, finally with the sword were beheaded. F1322 In Cimele, a city in France, under the Alps, one Pontius being there apprehended, by the commandment of Claudius the prefect, was first hanged upon the rack, then cast to the wild beasts, of whom being nothing hurt, he was after committed to the fire; and finally not touched therewith (if the story of Vincentius be true), he was beheaded by the river’s side, and his body thrown into the flood; where immediately, the same hour, the aforesaid Claudius and his assessor Anabius were taken with wicked spirits, by whom they were so miserably vexed a85 that Claudius bit his own tongue in pieces, and Anabius’s eyes started from their sockets through the pain he was in; and so they died. F1324 Zeno, bishop of Verona, is said also in the same persecution to have sustained martyrdom. F1325 Moreover, Bergomensis, in his eighth book, writing of the story of Valerian the emperor, maketh mention of Philip, bishop of the see of Alexandria aforesaid; who (as he saith) was under the said Valerian beheaded. But that is not to be found in any approved story, nor standeth it with the truth of time that any such Philip was then bishop of Alexandria, or any other, except only Dionysius.

    After whom next succeeded Maximus, who remained eighteen years, and after him Theonas, etc.: so that, by the ancient records of old writers, it appeareth not that Philip, or any other of that name, was bishop of Alexandria, during this time signified by Bergomensis.

    Although in some other later writers, as Equilinus, Antoninus, and Bergomensis, I find a certain history of one Philip, prefect of Alexandria about the same time of Valerian and Gallien, elected by the emperor and senate of Rome, to govern those quarters, where he was at length converted to the christian faith, and after made priest or bishop (as they say) of Alexandria; but that not to be so, the testimony of ancient writers doth manifest. The history of this Philip, witnessed in our later chronicles, is this: Philip, being promoted to the prefecture of Alexandria, came down with his wife Claudia, and his two sons, Avitus and Sergius, and with his daughter, named Eugenia; of the which Eugenia a long history, full of strange and prodigious miracles, is written by Antoninus and others, whereof many things I will cut off, and briefly touch the effect of the story; leaving to the judgment of the reader the credit of mine authors, as he shall see cause. F1328 This Eugenia, daughter of Philip, being of singular beauty, and diligently brought up by her parents in the study of science and learning, was by occasion of hearing Christians reduced and brought up to Christianity, with two others, eunuchs, her school-fellows, called Protus and Hyacinthus, with whom she taking counsel, upon occasion (whether to avoid the danger of persecution, or refusing to marry with a pagan), unknown to her parents and friends did fly away; and because the more boldly site might resort to hear the readings of Helenus, then an aged bishop, and of others, she changed herself into man’s apparel, and named herself Eugenius, under the which name she was at length admitted unto a certain monastery, or a society of Christians, in the suburbs of Alexandria (although I hardly believe that any monastery of Christians was then in the suburbs of Alexandria permitted); where also, at the last, for her excellency of learning and virtue, she was made head of the place.

    Here, by the way I omit the miracles of the aforesaid Helenus, bishop (as the story saith) of Heliopolis, how he carried burning coals in his lap, and how he adventured himself to go in the burning fire, to refel wicked Zereas, a pagan, remaining in the same unburnt. Here also I omit the careful search of her parents for her, and of the answer of the Pythoness again unto them, that she was taken up to heaven among the goddesses. I omit, moreover, the miracles done by the said Eugenia, in healing the diseases and sicknesses of such as came to her, etc. The story proceedeth thus:

    Among others which were by this Eugenius cured and restored, there was a certain matron of Alexandria, named Melancia, who, after she had used the help and acquaintance of Eugenius, supposing her to be a man, fell into an inordinate love of her, seeking by all means how to accomplish the lust of her concupiscence; insomuch that in her daily visiting of her, at length she began secretly to break her mind, and to entice her to her lewdness.

    Eugenius, contrarily, exhorted her to virtue and honesty, showing her the miseries of this life, and the peril of that folly. Melancia, seeing that by no means she would be allured, nor by force drawn to her desire, and fearing moreover, that she, in detecting of her, would bring her to shame, beginning first to make an outcry of Eugenius, declared how that she went about corruptly to deflower her; and so presented her accusation before Philip the prefect as well against Eugenius, as also against the rest of that company. This matter being heard, and the woman well known, the crime began to seem suspicious; and so much the more, because it was objected against the Christians. By reason whereof Eugenius, with her fellowchristians, was now not only in great hatred, but also in danger of present death and destruction. Then Eugenius, although purging herself and her honesty with sufficient probation, yet notwithstanding, perceiving that whatsoever she said could take no place, and seeing no time now to dissemble any longer, for the danger as well of her own self, as specially of her brethren (which troubled her more), she desired of the judge place and time to make manifest to him the truth; and so showed herself what she was, and how she was his daughter, the others to be Protus and Hyacinthus, the two eunuchs, her school-fellows; uttering moreover to him and to her brothers the cause of her departing from them. At the narration whereof, Philip her father , Claudia her mother , a86 and her two brothers, coming to the knowledge of her, conceived no little joy in receiving their Eugenia again, whom they thought to have been lost. No less gladness was among the people, to see the evidence of the matter so plainly to try out the truth of the one, and the falseness of the other; whereat the malignant accuser was with double shame confounded, first, for her dishonesty falsely cloaked; secondly, for the untruth of her accusation openly detected. Bergomensis addeth, moreover, that the said accuser was stricken presently with lightning. Thus Eugenia, trying her honesty to her parents and friends, was not only received of them again, but also, by the grace of the Lord working with her, in the space of time did win them to Christ.

    Whereby Philip, the father of her by nature, now by grace was begotten of his own daughter to a more perfect life; and whom once he thought to have been lost, not only he found again, but also with her found his own soul, and his own life, which before he had lost indeed. This Philip (saith the story) was made afterward bishop of Alexandria, and there suffered martyrdom; concerning whose martyrdom I deny not but it may be true; but that he was bishop of Alexandria, that cannot be admitted, as is before sufficiently proved out of Eusebius and other ancient historians.

    Likewise, it is said, that Eugenia, after the martyrdom of her father, returning to Rome with Protus and Hyacinthus, by occasion of converting Basilla (who should have been married to a pagan husband, and was then beheaded) to the christian faith, was assailed with sundry kinds of death; first, being tied to a great stone and cast into the Tiber, where she was carried up from drowning; then, put in the hot baths, which were extinguished, and she preserved; afterward, by famishment in prison, where they say she was fed at the hand of our Savior: all which legendary miracles I leave to the reader to judge of them, as shall seem good unto him.

    At last, the story saith, she was with the sword beheaded. F1330 And because in this present history mention was made of Helenus, whom Antoninus with his fellows noteth to be the bishop of Heliopolis, here is to be understood and observed, by the way, that as Philip in the aforesaid history is falsely said to be bishop of Alexandria; so likewise untrue it is, that Helenus was bishop of Heliopolis. For by Eusebius it appeareth, alleging the words of Dionysius, that he was bishop of Tarsus, in Cilicia; and there he had oversight of that church from the time of our Lord God 254, to the year of our redemption 274. F1332 Under the sixth year of Valerian and Gallien, we read in the History of Herfordiensis (who cites Isuardus) of Victor and Victorinus, who, lying in prison the space of three years with Claudian and Bassa his wife, are said to have sustained great torments and martyrdom for the testimony and name of Christ. F1333 Aurelius Prudentius, in his book intituled Peri< Stefa>nwn inferreth mention of Fructuosus, bishop of Tarragona in Spain, who, with his two deacons, Augurius and Eulogius, suffered also martyrdom, being burnt after six days’ imprisonment under the aforesaid emperors in this persecution. The cause of their punishment was for the profession of Christ’s name; their judge and condemner was AEmilian; their imprisonment endured six days; the kind of death ministered unto them was fire; wherein they, being altogether cast with their arms bound behind them, their bands (as Prudentius writeth) were dissolved, their hands untouched with the fire, and their bodies remaining whole. The charge of this judge unto the bishop was this: “That he should worship the gods whom the emperor Gallien worshipped.” To whom Fructuosus the bishop answering: “Nay,” saith he, “I worship no dumb god of stocks and blocks, whom Gallien doth worship, but I worship the Lord and Master of Gallien, the Father and Creator of all times, and his only Son sent down to us, of whose flock I am here the pastor and shepherd.” At this word AEmilian answering again, “Nay,” saith he, “say not thou art, but say thou wast.” And forthwith commanded them to be committed to the fire, where (as is said) their bands and manacles being loosed by the fire, they lifted up their hands to heaven, praising the living God, to the great admiration of them that stood by, praying also that the element, which seemed to fly from them, might work its full force upon them, and speedily dispatch them; which was after their request obtained. In the mean space, as they were in the fire, there was a certain soldier in the house of AEmilian, who did see the heavens above to open, and these aforesaid martyrs to enter into the same; which soldier likewise showed the sight the same time unto the daughter of AEmilian the prefect, who, beholding the same sight with the soldier, was a present witness of the blessedness of them whom her cruel father had condemned.

    As this godly bishop was preparing to his death (saith Prudentius) the brethren approaching to him, brought him drink, desiring him with much weeping to receive and drink with them; but that he refused to do, requiring them moreover to refrain their tears. With like readiness the brethren also were diligent about him to pluck off his shoes and hose, as he was addressing himself to the fire; but neither would he suffer any servant’s help in that, wherein he was no less willing than able to help himself. And thus this blessed and fruitful bishop Fructuosus, with his two deacons, Augurius and Enlogius, being brought to the fire, witnessed the constant confession of the name of Christ with the shedding of their blood. F1334 And thus far continued wicked Valerian in his tyranny against the saints of Christ. But as all the tyrants before, and oppressors of the Christians, had their deserved reward at the just hand of God, who rendereth to every man according to his works; so this cruel Valerian, after he had reigned with his son Gallien the term of six or seven years, and about two years had afflicted the church of Christ, felt the just stroke of his hand, whose indignation before he had provoked, whereof we have to witness Eutropius, Pollio, Sabellicus, Volateran. F1336 For, making his expedition against the Persians, whether by the fraud and treason of some about him, or whether by his own rashness, it is doubtful; but this is certain, that he fell into the hands of his enemies, being about the age of fourscore years; where he spent his wretched age in a more wretched captivity: insomuch that Sapor, the king of the Persians, used him (and well worthy) not for his riding-fool, but for his riding-block; for whensoever the king should light upon his horse openly in the sight of the people, Valerian, emperor quondam, was brought forth instead of a block, for the king to tread upon his back in going to his horseback. And so continued this blockish butcherly emperor with shame and sport enough unto his final end, as witness Laetus and Aurelius Victor. F1337 Albeit Eusebius, in a certain sermon “Ad conventum Sanctorum,” declareth a more cruel handling of him, affirming that he was slain, writing in these words: “And thou Valerian, forasmuch as thou hast exercised the same cruelty in murdering of the subjects of God, hast proved unto us the righteous judgment of God, in that thyself hast been bound in chains, and carried away for a captive slave with thy gorgeous purple, and thy imperial attire; and at length also, being commanded of Sapor, king of the Persians, to be flayed and powdered with salt, hast set up unto all men a perpetual monument of thy wretchedness.” F1338 The like severity of God’s terrible judgment is also to be noted in Claudius, the prefect, and minister of his persecutions. Of which Claudius Henry of Herford thus writeth, that he was possessed and vexed of the devil, in such sort, that he biting off his own tongue in many small pieces, so ended his life.

    Neither did Gallien, the son of Valerian, after the captivity of his father, utterly escape the righteous hand of God: for beside the miserable captivity of his father, whom he could not rescue, such portents strange and out of the course of nature, such earthquakes did happen, also such tumults, commotions, and rebellions did follow, that Trebellio doth reckon up to the number of thirty together, which in sundry places, all at one time, took upon them to be tyrants and emperors over the monarchy of Rome, by the means whereof he was not able to succor his father, though he would. Notwithstanding, the said Gallien, being (as is thought) terrified by the example of his father, did remove, at least did moderate, the persecution stirred up by the edicts of Valerian his father, directing forth his imperial proclamation, the tenor whereof proceedeth after this effect, as is to be seen in Eusebius. F1340 Emperor and Caesar, Publius Licinius Gallien, Pius, Felix, Augustus, to Dionysius, Pinna, Demetrius, and the rest of the bishops. I have commanded that the indulgence of my gracious bounty be published through the whole world, viz. that all should depart from the places devoted to religious worship. And for this cause I have here sent to you the copy of my rescript for you to peruse and keep, that no man may molest you. And that, which you may now lawfully enjoy, hath been long since by me granted.

    And therefore, for your more warrant in the same, I have committed the copy hereof to the custody of Aurelius Cyrenius, my high steward.

    This mandate above prefixed did Gallien send to Dionysius Alexandrinus, and other bishops, as is premised. Another rescript also the said emperor sent to other christian bishops, permitting to them full liberty to receive again their wonted places where they were wont to associate together, called of them Coemeteria.

    By this it may appear that some peace was granted then under this Gallien to the church of Christ: albeit not so, but that some there were who suffered, of whom was one Marinus, mentioned in Eusebius. F1343 This Marinus, being a warrior and a nobleman at Caesarea in Palestine, stood for the dignity of a certain order, which by all order of course was next to fall upon him by fight, had not the envious ambition of him, that should follow next after him, supplanted him both of office and life; for he accused him to be a Christian, and therefore said that he was not to be admitted unto their offices, he being against their religion. Whereupon Achaeus, then being judge, examined him of his faith; who, finding him to be a Christian indeed, and constantly to stand to his profession, gave him three hours to deliberate and advise with himself. There was about the same time bishop at Caesarea, one named Theotecnus; who, perceiving him to stand in doubtful deliberation and perplexity in himself, took him by the hand, and brought him into the church of the Christians, laying before him a sword (which he had under his cloak for the same purpose) and a book of the New Testament; and so willed him to take his free choice which of them he would prefer. The soldier immediately, without delay, ran to the book of the gospel, taking that before the sword. And thus he, being animated by the bishop, presented himself boldly before the judge, by whose sentence he was beheaded, and died a martyr. F1345 Whose dead body one Astyrius, a noble senator of Rome, a man very wealthy and among the chief of that order (who in the same time was there present at his martyrdom), took up and bare upon his own shoulders, wrapping it in a rich and sumptuous weed, and so honourably committed it to burial. F1346 Of which Astyrius the said author writeth moreover this story; how that in the aforesaid city of Caesarea, the Gentiles used there, of an ancient custom, to offer up a certain sacrifice by a fountain side, the which sacrifice, by the working of the devil, was wont suddenly to vanish out of their eyes, to the great admiration of the bystanders. Astyrius seeing this, and pitying the miserable error of the simple people, lifting up his eyes to heaven, made his prayer to Almighty God in the name of Christ, that the people might not be seduced of the devil any longer: by the virtue of whose prayer the sacrifice was seen to swim in the water of the fountain; and so the strange wonder of that sight was taken away, and no such matter could be there wrought any more. F1347 And because mention is made here of Caesarea, there followeth in the next chapter of the same author a strange miracle, if it be true, which he there reporteth; how that out of the same city was the woman who in the gospel came to our Savior, and was healed of her bloody issue, her house being in the city of Caesarea. Before the door thereof was set up a certain pillar of stone, and upon the pillar was an image, made of brass, of a woman meekly kneeling on her knees, and holding up her hands, as one that had some suit. Against the which there was another image of a man, proportioned of the same metal; standing upright, dressed decently in a short vesture, and stretching forth his hand to the woman. At the foot of which pillar grew up a certain herb of a strange kind, but of a more strange operation; which growing up to the hem of his vesture, and once touching the same, is said to have had such virtue, that it was able to cure all manner of diseases. This image of the man (they say) represented our Savior. The history is written in Eusebius, as is said; the credit whereof I refer to the reader, whether he will think it true or false. If he think it false, yet I have showed him mine author: if he think it true, then must he think withal that this miraculous operation of the herb proceeded neither by the virtue of the one image, nor by the prayer of the other (being both dumb figures, and engraven no doubt at that time by the hand of infidels); but to be wrought by some secret permission of God’s wisdom, either to reduce the infidels at that time to the belief of the story, or to admonish the Christians to consider with themselves what strength and health was to be looked for only of Christ and no other advocate; seeing the dumb image, engraven in brass, gave his efficacy to a poor herb, to cure so many diseases. This image (saith Eusebius) remained also to his time, which was under Constantine the Great. F1348 As touching the line and order of the Roman bishops hitherto intermitted; after the martyrdom of Sixtus above specified, the government of that church was committed next to one Dionysius, about the year of our Lord 259; who continued in the same the space of nine years, as Eusebius saith: as Damasus recordeth, but only six years and two months. Of his decretal epistles, because sufficient hath been said before concerning that matter, I omit to speak. After whom succeeded Felix, toward the first year of Aurelian the emperor, about the year of our Lord 269, who governed that church five years, and died, as Platina saith, a martyr. After him followed Eutychian, and then Caius, both martyrs, as the histories of some do record.

    About the time of these bishops lived Theodore bishop of Neocaesarea [in Pontus], who is otherwise called Gregory the Great, whom also Nicephorus, for his miracles, calleth qaumatou>rghn.

    Thus Gallien the aforesaid emperor reigned, as is declared, with his father Valerian seven years, after whose captivity he ruled the monarchy alone about eight years, with some peace and quietness granted to the church.

    The days of this Gallien being expired, followed Claudius II. a quiet emperor, as most histories do record. Although Vincentius affirmeth that he was a mover of persecution against the Christians, and maketh mention of two hundred sixty and two martyrs, who in his time did suffer; but because no such record remaineth to be found in Eusebius (who would not have omitted some memorial thereof, if it had been true), therefore I refer the same to the free judgment of the reader, to find such credit as it may.

    This Claudius reigned but two years, after whom came Quintillus his brother, next emperor, and a quiet prince, who continued but only seventeen days, and had to his successor Aurelian; under whom Orosius, in his seventh book, doth number the ninth persecution against the Christians. F1349 THE NINTH PERSECUTION.

    Hitherto from the captivity of Valerian, the church of Christ was in some quietness till the death of Quintillus, as hath been declared; after whom Aurelian the next successor possessed the crown; who in the first beginning of his reign (after the common manner of all princes) showed himself a prince moderate and discreet, much worthy of commendation, if his good beginning had continued in a constant course agreeing to the same.

    Of nature he was severe, and rigorous in correcting, dissolute in manners; insomuch as it was said of him in a vulgar proverb, “That he was a good physician, saving that he gave too bitter medicines.” This emperor when sick, never sent for a physician, but cured himself with abstinence. And as his beginning was not unfruitful to the commonwealth, so neither was he any great disturber of the Christians, whom he did not only tolerate in their religion, but also their councils; and they, being the same time assembled at Antioch, he seemed not to be against them. Notwithstanding, in continuance of time, through sinister motion and instigation of certain about him (as commonly such are never absent in all places from the ears of princes), his nature, somewhat inclinable to severity, was altered to a plain tyranny; which tyranny first he showed, beginning with the death of his own sister’s son, as witnesseth Eutropius. After that he proceeded either to move, or at least to purpose, persecution against the Christians; albeit that wicked purpose of the emperor the merciful working of God’s hand did soon overthrow. For when the edict or proclamation should have been published for the persecuting of the Christians, and the emperor was now ready to subscribe the edict with his hand, the mighty stroke of the hand of the Lord suddenly from above did stop his purpose, binding (as a man might say) the emperors hands behind him, declaring (as Eusebius saith) to all men, how there is no power to work any violence against the servants of God, unless his permission do suffer them, and give them leave. F1350 Eusebius in his Chronicle and Orosius affirm, that, as the said Aurelian a88 was beginning to raise persecution against us, he was suddenly terrified with lightning; and that not long after, about the fifth or sixth year of his reign, he was slain between Byzantium and Heraclea (as also Eutropius and Vopiscus affirm ) a89 , in the year of our Lord 275.

    Thus Aurelian rather intended than moved persecution; neither is there any more than this found concerning this persecution in ancient histories and records of the church: wherefore I marvel the more, that Vincentius, collecting out of the Martyrologies, hath comprehended such a great catalogue of so many martyrs, which in France and in Italy (saith he) suffered death and torments under this emperor Aurelian; whereunto Orosius also seemeth to agree in numbering this, under the said Aurelian, to be the ninth persecution. F1351 Next after Aurelian the succession of the empire fell to Publius Annius Tacitus, who reigned but six months; him succeeded his brother Florian, who reigned but threescore days; and after him followed Marcus Aurelius, surnamed Probus. F1352 Of whom more hereafter (God willing) shall appear. In the mean time, within the compass of these emperors falleth in a story recorded of Eusebius, and not unworthy here to be noted, whereby to understand the faithful diligence of good ministers, what good it may do in a commonwealth.

    Mention is made before of Eusebius the deacon of Dionysius, whom God stirred up to visit and comfort the saints that were in prison and bands, and to bury the bodies of the blessed martyrs departed, not without great peril of his own life, who after was made bishop (as is said) of Laodicea.

    But before he came to Laodicea, to be bishop there, it chanced, while the said Eusebius was remaining as yet at Alexandria, the city was besieged of the Romans, in that part of it called Bruchium. F1353 In which siege part of the city did hold with the Romans, the other part withstood them. In that part which went with the Roman captain was Eusebius, being also in great favor with the captain for his worthy fidelity and service showed. With the other part, that resisted the Romans, was Anatolius, governor or moderator then of the school of Alexandria, who also was bishop, after the said Eusebius, of Laodicea. This Anatolius, perceiving the citizens to be in miserable distress of famine and [peril of] destruction, by reason of penury and lack of sustenance, sendeth to Eusebius being then with the Romans, and certifieth him of the lamentable penury and peril of the city, instructing him moreover what to do in the matter. Eusebius, understanding the case, repaireth to the captain, desiring of him so much favor, that so many as would fly out of the city from their enemies, might be licensed to escape and freely to pass, which was to him eftsoons granted. As Eusebius was thus laboring with the captain, on the other side Anatolius for his part labored with the citizens, moving them to assemble together, and persuading them to give themselves over, in yielding to the force and might of the Romans. But when the citizens could not abide the hearing thereof, “yet,” said Anatholius, “with this I trust you will be contented, if I shall counsel you in this miserable lack of things to void out of your city all such persons as are superfluous and unnecessary incumbrances about you, as old women, young children, aged men, with such others as be feeble and impotent; and not suffer them here to perish with famine, whose presence can do no stead to you if they die, and less if they live, for spending the victuals which otherwise might serve them that be more able to defend the city.” The senate hearing this counsel, and understanding moreover the grant of the captain promising them their safety, were well consenting thereunto. Then Anatolius, having a special care to them that belonged to the church of Christ, calleth them together with the rest of the multitude, and persuading them what they should do, and what had been obtained for them, caused them to void the city; and not only them, but also a great number of others more, who persuaded by him, under that pretense, changing themselves in women’s apparel, or feigning some impotency, so escaped out of the city. At whose coming out, Eusebius on the other side was ready to receive them, and refreshed their hungry and pined bodies; whereby not only they, but the whole city of Alexandria was preserved from destruction. F1354 By this little history of Eusebius and Anatolius, described in Eusebius, and briefly here set forth to thee (gentle reader) thou mayst partly understand the practice of the prelates, what it was in those days in the church; which was then only employed in saving of life, and succouring the commonwealths wherein they lived, as by these two godly persons Eusebius and Anatolius may well appear. Unto the which practice if we compare the practice of our later prelates of the church of Rome, I suppose no little difference will appear.

    The next emperor to Florian (as is said) was Marcus Aurelius Probus, a prince both wise and virtuous, and no less valiant in martial affairs, than fortunate in the success of the same. During his time we read of no persecution greatly stirring in the church, but much quietness as well in matters of religion as also in the commonwealth. Insomuch that, after his great and many victories, such peace ensued, that his saying was: “There needed no more soldiers, seeing there were no more enemies for the commonwealth to fight against.” It was his saying also, “that his soldiers need not to spend corn and victual, except they labored to serve the commonwealth.” And for the same cause he caused his soldiers to be set at work about certain mountains at Sirmium in Pannonia and in Moesia, to be planted with vines, and not so much as in winter suffered them to be at rest; therefore by them at length he was slain, after he had reigned the space of six years and four months, in the year of our Lord 282. F1355 Carus, with his two sons Carinus and Numerian, succeeded next after Probus in the empire; the reign of which emperors continued in all but three years. Of the which three, first Carus, warring against the Persians, was slain with lightning. Of Numerian his son, being with his father in his wars against the Persians, we find much commendation in Eutropius, Vopiscus, and other writers, who testify him to be a valiant warrior; and an eloquent orator, as appeareth by his declamations and writings sent to the senate; and thirdly, to be an excellent poet. This Numerian, sorrowing and lamenting for the death of his father, through immoderate weeping fell into a great soreness of his eyes; by reason whereof he, keeping close, was slain not long after of his father-in-law, named Aper; who, traitorously aspiring to the empire, dissembled his death with a false excuse to the people asking for him, saying, “For the pain of his eyes he kept in from the wind and weather;” till at length, by the stench of his body being carried about, his death was uttered.

    In the life of this emperor Carus aforesaid, written by Eutropius in the later edition set forth by Frobenius, I find (which in other editions of Eutropius doth not appear), that Numerian, the son of this Carus, was he that slew Babylas the holy martyr, whose history before we have comprehended. But that seemeth not to be likely, both by the narrative of Chrysostom, and also for that Urspergensis (declaring the same history, and in the same words, as it is in Eutropius) saith that it was Cyril whom Numerian killed; the story whereof is this: “What time Carus the emperor, in his journey going toward the Persians, remained at Antioch, Numerian his son would enter into the church of the Christians, to view and behold their mysteries. But Cyril their bishop would in no wise suffer him to enter into the church, saying, “that it was not lawful for him to see the mysteries of God, who was polluted with sacrifices of idols.” Numerian, full of indignation at the hearing of these words, not suffering that repulse at the hands of Cyril, in his fury did slay the godly martyr. And therefore justly (as it seemed) was he himself slain afterward by the hands of Aper.

    F1357 Thus Carus with his son Numerian being slain in the East parts, as is declared, Carinus the other son reigned alone in Italy; where he overcame Sabinus striving for the empire, and reigned there with much wickedness, till the returning home of the army again from the Persians, who then set up Dioclesian to be emperor; by whom the aforesaid Carinus, for the wickedness of his life being forsaken of his host, was overcome, and at length slain with the hand of the tribune, whose wife before he had deflowered. Thus Carus with his two sons, Numerian and Carinus, ended their lives, whose reign continued not above three years.

    All this mean space we read of no great persecution stirring in the church of Christ, but it was in mean quiet state and tranquillity, unto the nineteenth year of the reign of Dioclesian; so that in counting the time from the latter end of Valerian unto this aforesaid year of Dioclesian, the peace of the church, which God gave to his people, seemeth to continue about four and forty years; during the which time of peace and tranquillity, the church of the Lord did mightily increase and flourish, so that the more bodies it lost by persecution, the more honor and reverence it won daily among the Gentiles in all quarters, both Greeks and barbarous; insomuch that (as Eusebius in his eighth book describeth) amongst the emperors themselves, divers there were who not only bare singular good-will and favor to them of our profession, but also did commit unto them offices and regiments over countries and nations; and so well were they affected to our doctrine, that they privileged the same with liberty and indemnity. What needeth to speak of those who not only lived under the emperors in liberty, but also were familiar in the court with the princes themselves, entertained with great honor and special favor beyond the other servitors of the court: as was Dorotheus, with his wife, children, and whole family, highly accepted and advanced in the palace of the emperor; also Gorgonius in like manner; with divers others more, who, for their doctrine and learning which they professed, were with their princes in great estimation.

    In like reverence also were the bishops of cities and dioceses with the prefects and rulers where they lived; who not only suffered them to live in peace, but also had them in great price and regard, so long as they kept themselves upright, and continued in God’s favor. Who is able to number at that time the mighty and innumerable multitudes and congregations assembling together in every city, and the notable concourses of such as daily flocked to the common oratories to pray? For the which cause they, being not able to be contained in their old edifices, had large and great churches, new builded from the foundation, for them to frequent together.

    In such increasement (saith Eusebius) by process of time did the church of Christ grow and shoot up daily more and more, profiting and spreading through all quarters, which neither envy of men could infringe, nor any devil could enchant, neither the crafty policy of man’s wit could supplant, so long as the protection of God’s heavenly arm went with his people, keeping them in good order, according to the rule of christian life.

    But as commonly the nature of all men, being of itself unruly and untoward, always seeketh and desireth prosperity, and yet can never well use prosperity; always would have peace, and yet having peace always abuseth the same: so here likewise it happened with these men, who through this so great liberty and prosperity of life began to degenerate and languish into idleness and delicacy, and one to work spite and contumely against another, striving and contending amongst themselves, for every occasion, with railing words after most despiteful manner; bishops against bishops, and people against people, moving hatred and sedition one against another; besides also cursed hypocrisy and simulation with all extremity increasing more and more. By reason whereof the judgment of God, after his wonted manner (the multitude of the faithful as yet meeting in their assemblies), began by little and little to visit the people with persecution, falling first upon the brethren who were abroad in warfare. But when that touched the others nothing or very little, neither did they seek to appease God’s wrath, and call for his mercy, but wickedly thought with themselves, that God neither regarded nor would visit their transgressions, they heaped iniquities daily more and more one upon another; and they who seemed to be pastors, rejecting the rule of piety, were inflamed with mutual contentions one against another. And thus, whilst they were given only to the study of contentions, threatenings, emulations, envy and mutual hatred, every man seeking for himself the first place in the church of Christ, as if it were secular principality: then, then, (saith Eusebius) according to the voice of Jeremy, “the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger: the Lord hath drowned all the beauty of Israel, and thrown down all his strongholds.” (Lamentations 2:1,2.)

    And as it is predicted in the Psalms, “He hath made void the covenant of his servant, and frofaned his sanctuary in the earth [to wit, by the destruction of the churches]. He hath broken down all his hedges, he hath made his strongholds fear. All the multitudes of the people that pass by the way spoil him, and further, he is a reproach to his neighbors. For he hath exalted the right hand of his enemies, and hath turned away the help of his sword, and hath not assisted him in the war. But he hath put an end to his purification, and hath broken his throne by casting it to the ground.

    The days of his life hath he shortened, and, lastly, covered him with ignominy.” F1359 All these things were fulfilled upon us, when we saw the temples razed from the top to the ground, and the sacred Scriptures to be burnt in the open market-place; and the pastors of the church to hide themselves, some here, some there; others of them ignominiously apprehended, and exposed to the scorn of their enemies; when also, according to the saying of the prophet in another place, “Contempt was poured upon the princes, and he caused them to wander in the wilderness, where there was no way.” (Psalm 107:40.)


    By reason whereof the wrath of God being kindled against his church, ensued the tenth and last persecution against the Christians, so horrible and grievous, that it maketh the pen almost to tremble to write upon it; so tedious that never was any persecution before or since comparable to it for the time it continued, lasting the space of ten years together. This persecution, although it passed through the hands of divers tyrants and workers more than one or two, yet principally it beareth the name of Dioclesian, who was emperor, as is above noted, next after Carinus and Numerian. This Dioclesian, ever having an ambitious mind, aspired greatly to be emperor, To whom, when serving in Gaul as a common soldier, a Druidess foretold, “that after he had killed a wild boar, he should be emperor.” He, taking effect at these words, used much to kill with his hands wild boars; but seeing no success to come thereof, he used this proverb: “Ego aptos occido, altus pulpamento fruitur,” that is, “I kill the boars, but others eat the flesh.” At length the said Dioclesian, being nominated to be emperor, and seeing Aper (who had killed Numerian the emperor) standing thereby, sware to the soldiers that Numerian was wrongfully killed; and forthwith, running upon Aper with his sword, slew him. F1361 After this, he being stablished in the empire, and seeing on every side divers and sundry commotions rising up against him, which he was not well able himself to sustain, in the first beginning of his reign he chooseth for his colleague Maximian, surnamed Herculius, father of Maxentius. Which two emperors, because of divers wars that rose in many provinces, chose to them two other noblemen, Galerius and Constantius, whom they called Caesars; of whom Galerius was sent into the east parts against the Persians. Constantius was sent over to Britain, to this our country of England, to recover the tribute, where he took to wife Helena the daughter of king Coel, who was a maiden excelling in beauty, and no less famously brought up in the study of learning, of whom was born Constantine the Great.

    All this while hitherto no persecution was yet stirred of these four princes against the church of Christ, but quietly and moderately they governed the commonwealth; wherefore accordingly God prospered their doings and affairs, and gave them great victories: Dioclesian in Egypt, Maximian in Africa and in France, Galierus in Persia, Constantine in England, and in France also. By reason of which victories, Dioclesian and Maximian, puffed up in pride, ordainer a solemn triumph at Rome: after which triumph Dioclesian gave commandment that he should be worshipped as God, saying, that he was brother to the sun and moon; and adorning his shoes with gold and precious stones, commanded the people to kiss his feet.

    And not long after, by the judgment of God for certain enormities used in the church (above touched), began the great and grievous persecution of the Christians, moved by the outrageous cruelty of Dioclesian, which was about the nineteenth year of his reign, who in the month of March, when the feast of Easter was nigh at hand, commanded all the churches of the Christians to be spoiled and east to the earth, and the books of holy Scripture to be burnt.

    The most violent edicts a90 and proclamations, as is said, were set forth throughout all the Roman empire, for the overthrowing of the Christian temples. Neither did there want in the officers any cruel execution of the same proclamations; for their temples were [already] defaced when they celebrated the feast of Easter. The same proclamations contained orders for the burning of the books of the holy Scripture; which thing was done in the open market-place, as before stated: Item, for the displacing of such as were magistrates, and all others whosoever bare any office, and that with great ignominy: Item, for imprisoning such as were of the common sort, if they would not abjure Christianity, and subscribe to the heathen religion.

    And this was the first edict given out by Dioclesian. And these were the beginnings of the Christians’ evils. F1364 It was not long after, but that new edicts were sent forth (nothing for their cruelty inferior to the first), for the casting of the elders and bishops into prison, and then constraining them with sundry kinds of punishments to offer unto their idols. By reason whereof ensued a great persecution against the governors of the church; amongst whom many stood manfully, passing through many exceeding bitter torments, neither were overcome therewith, being tormented and examined divers of them diversely; some were scourged all their bodies over with whips and scourges, some were cruciated with racks and razings of their flesh that were intolerable; some one way, some another way put to death. Some again violently were drawn to the impure sacrifice, and as though they had sacrificed, when indeed they did not, were let go. Others, neither coming at all to their altars, nor touching any piece of their sacrifices, yet were borne in hand of them that stood by, that they had sacrificed, and so suffering that false infatuation of their enemies quietly went away. Others, as dead men, were carried and cast away, being but half dead. Some they cast down upon the pavement, and trailing them a great space by the legs, made the people believe that they had sacrificed. Furthermore, others there were who stoutly withstood them, affirming with a loud voice that they had done no such sacrifice; of whom some said they were Christians, and gloried in the profession of that name: some cried, saying, that neither they had nor ever would be partakers of that idolatry. And these, being buffeted on the face and mouth with the hands of the soldiers, were made to hold their peace, and so thrust out with violence. And if the saints did seem never so little to do what the enemies would have them, they were made much of: albeit, all this purpose of the adversary did nothing prevail against the holy and constant servants of Christ. Notwithstanding, of the weak sort innumerable there were, who for fear and infirmity fell and gave over, even at the first burnt. F1365 On the first publishing of the edict against the churches at Nicomedia, there chanced a deed to be done much worthy of memory, of a Christian, who was no obscure person, but eminently illustrious for secular honor and esteem; who, moved by a zeal of God, after the proclamation was set up, by and by ran and took down the same, and openly tare and rent it in pieces, not fearing the presence of the two emperors, then being in the city. For which act he was put to a most bitter death, which death he with great faith and constancy endured, even to the last gasp. F1366 After this, the furious rage of the malignant emperors, being let loose against the saints of Christ, proceeded more and more, making havoc of God’s people throughout all quarters of the world. Dioclesian (who had purposed with himself to subvert the whole christian religion) executed his tyranny in the East, and Maximian in the West. But wily Diocletian began very subtilely; for he put the matter first in practice in the camp, where his lieutenant (as Eusebius affirmeth) put the christian soldiers to this choice; whether they would obey the emperor’s commandment in that manner of sacrifice he commanded, and so both to keep their offices, and lead their bands, or else to lay away from them their amour and weapons.

    Whereunto the christian men courageously answered, that they were not only ready to lay away their armor and weapons, but also to suffer death, if it should with tyranny be enforced upon them, rather than they would obey the wicked decrees and commandments of the emperor. There might a man have seen very many who were desirous to live a simple and poor life, and who regarded no estimation and honor in comparison of true piety and godliness. And this was no more but a subtle and wily flattery in the beginning, to offer them to be at their own liberty, whether they would willingly abjure their profession or not; as also this was another, that in the beginning of the persecution, there were but a few tormented with punishment, but afterward, by little and little, the enemy began more manifestly to burst out into persecution. After the second edict, commanding that all the governors of churches should be committed to prison; the sight of what was then done, no expressions are sufficient to describe; when infinite multitudes were every where committed to custody, and the prisons, which had formerly been provided for murderers and robbers of the dead, were then filled with bishops, priests, and deacons, readers and exorcists; insomuch that there was now no place left therein for those who had been condemned for their crimes. Again, when another edict offered the choice to the imprisoned, of liberty on sacrificing, or a thousand tortures on refusal, it can hardly be expressed with words what number of martyrs, and what blood was shed, throughout all cities and regions for the name of Christ. f1369 Eusebius saith, that he himself knew some worthy martyrs that suffered in Palestine; and others in Tyre of Phoenicia. He declareth, in the same place, of a marvellous martyrdom made at Tyre, where certain Christians being given to most cruel wild beasts, were preserved without hurt of them, to the great admiration of the beholders; and those bears, boars, leopards and bulls (kept hungry for that purpose, and stimulated with hot irons), had no desire to devour them; which, notwithstanding, most vehemently raged against those by whom they were brought into the stage, who, standing (as they thought) out of danger of them, were first devoured; but the christian martyrs, because they could not be hurt of the beasts, being slain with the sword, were afterward thrown into the sea. F1370 At that time was martyred the bishop of Tyre, whose name was Tyrannio , a91 who was made meat for the fishes at Antioch; and Zenobius, a presbyter of Sidon and a skillful physician, who died under the torments at the same place.

    Sylvanus, bishop of Emisa, a notable martyr, together with certain others, was thrown to the wild beasts at Emisa. But Sylvanus, the bishop of Gaza, was slain with nine and thirty others at the copper mines of Phaeno. At Caesarea, Pamphilus a presbyter, who was the glory of that church, died a most worthy martyr; whose life Eusebius hath written in a book by itself, and whose commendable martyrdom (as he had promised in his eighth book and thirteenth chapter) he hath declared in another treatise. f1373 Furthermore, he maketh mention in the same book of others at Antioch who were broiled on gridirons set over the fire—yet not to death, but so as to protract their punishment; of some others that were brought to the sacrifices, and commanded to do sacrifice, who would rather thrust their right hand into the fire, than touch the profane or wicked sacrifice; also of some others, that, before they were apprehended, would cast down themselves from steep places, lest that, being taken, they should commit any thing against their profession. Also of two virgins very fair and proper, with their mother also, who had studiously brought them up, even from their infancy, in all godliness, being long sought for, and at the last found, and strictly kept by their keepers; who, whilst they made their excuse to do that which nature required, threw themselves down headlong into a river. Also of two other young maidens, being sisters, and of a worshipful stock, indued with many goodly virtues, who were cast of persecutors into the sea; and these things were done at Antioch, as Eusebius, in his eighth book and twelfth chapter, affirmeth.

    Divers and sundry torments were the Christians in Mesopotamia molested with; where they were hanged up by the feet, and their heads downwards, and with the smoke of a small fire strangled; and also in Cappadocia, where the martyrs had their legs broken. f1374 Henry of Herford maketh mention of the martyrs of Tarsus in Cilicia, as Taracus, Probus, and Andronicus: but yet the martyrs in, the region of Pontus suffered far more passing and sharper torments, whereof I will hereafter make mention. F1376 So outrageous was the beginning of the persecution which the emperor made in Nicomedia in Bithynia, as before is said, that he refrained not from the slaughter of the most chief princes and pages of his court, whom a little before he made as much of, as if they had been his own children. Such an one was Peter, who among divers and sundry torments as a victorious martyr ended his life; who, being stripped naked, was lifted up, and, his whole body so beaten and torn with whips, that a man might see the bare bones; and after they had mingled vinegar and salt together, they poured it upon the most tender parts of his body, and lastly, roasted him at a slow fire, as a man would roast flesh to eat.

    Dorotheus and Gorgonius, being in a great authority and office under the emperor, after divers torments were strangled with a halter; both which being of his privy chamber, when they saw and beheld the grievous punishment of Peter their household companion, “Wherefore,” say they, “O emperor, do you punish in Peter that opinion which is in all us? Why is this accounted in him an offense, that we all confess? We are of that faith, religion, and judgment that he is of.” Therefore he commanded them to be brought forth, and almost with like pains to be tormented as Peter was, and afterwards hanged. F1377 After whom Anthimus, the bishop of Nicomedia, after he had made a notable confession, bringing with him a great company of martyrs, was beheaded. To this end came Lucian, a presbyter of the church of Antioch, who also was martyred after he had made his apology [at Nicomedia] before the emperor. These men being thus dispatched, the emperor vainly thought that he might cause the rest to do whatever him listed. F1378 Hermannus a92 Gigas hath reported Serena, the wife of Dioclesian the emperor, to be martyred for the christian religion: so much did the rage of persecution utterly forget all natural affection. Other martyrs doth Nicephorus recite, as Eulampius and Eulampia, at Nicomedia; Agape, Irene, Chionia, [at Thessalonica]; and Anastasia, a Roman lady, who, under the prefect of Illyricum, was bound hand and foot to a post and burnt. F1382 He mentions, also, a matter full of horror and grief. There assembled together in their temple many christian men to celebrate the memory of the nativity of Christ; of every age and sort some. Maximian, thinking to have a very fit occasion given him to execute his tyranny upon the poor Christians, sent thither such as should burn the temple. The doors being shut and closed round about, thither came they with fire; but first they commanded the crier with a loud voice to cry, that whosoever would have life, should come out of the temple, and do sacrifice upon the next altar of Jupiter they came to; and unless they would do this, they should all be burnt with the temple. Then one stepping up in the temple answered in the name of all the rest with great courage and boldness of mind, that they were all Christians, and believed that Christ was their only God and King, and that they would do sacrifice to him, with his Father, and the Holy Ghost; and that they were now all ready to offer unto him.

    With these words the fire was kindled, and compassed about the temple, and there were burnt of men, women, and children, certain thousands. f21383 There were also in Arabia very many martyrs slain with axes. F1384 There was in Phrygia a93 a city, unto which the emperor sent his edicts, that they should do sacrifice to the gods, and worship idols; on which all the citizens, including the quaestor and the chief magistrate, confessed that they were all Christians. The city upon this was besieged and set on fire, and all the people burnt. F1386 At Sebaste, in lesser Armenia, Eustratius was martyred. This Eustratius, as Nicephorus declareth, was born in Arabrace, a region near adjoining to Armenia, and very skillful in Greek learning, and executed the office of scribe to Lysias, who was governor of the east and a cruel minister of the persecution there against the Christians. This man, beholding the marvellous constancy of the martyrs, thirsted with the desire of martyrdom, for that he had privily learned the christian religion. Therefore he, not abiding for other accusers, detected himself, and worthily professed that he was a Christian, openly execrating the madness and vanity of the wicked gentiles. He therefore, being carried away, was first tied up, and most bitterly beaten. After that, he was parched with fire being put into his bowels, and then basted with salt and vinegar; and lastly, so scotched and bemangled with the shards of sharp and cutting shells, that his whole body seemed to be all one continual wound: howbeit, by God’s great goodness, afterward it was restored to the first integrity. After this he was carried away to Sebaste before Agricolaus, where, with his companion Orestes, he was burnt.

    Nicephorus saith, that at Nicopolis, in greater Armenia, the martyrs were in most miserable and pitiful wise handled, where Lysias had the execution thereof; at which time suffered Eugene, Auxentius, and Mardarius. F1388 In Chalcedon suffered Euphemia, under Priscus the proconsul. F1389 And in no less wise raged this persecution throughout all Egypt, where Eusebius maketh mention of Peleus and Nilus, martyrs and bishops in Egypt. But at Alexandria especially were declared most notable conflicts of christian and true constant martyrs that suffered; which Phileas the bishop of Thmuis describeth, as after (God willing) shall be declared. In this persecution at Alexandria, the principal that then suffered was Peter, the bishop of Alexandria, with the elders of the same, most worthy martyrs: as Faustus, Didius, and Ammonius, also Phileas, Hesychius, Pachymius, and Theodorus; who all were bishops of the churches within Egypt, and besides them many other both famous and singular men. F1391 The whole legion of christian soldiers, usually quartered at Thebes in Egypt f1392 under the christian captain Maurice, when they would not obey the emperor’s commandment touching the worshipping of images, were tithed to death once, and then again: and at last, through the exhortation of Maurice, died all together like constant martyrs, Likewise at Antinoe in Egypt divers christian soldiers, notwithstanding they were seriously dissuaded, suffered death together, among whom were Ascla, Philemon, and Apollonius. F1394 And also in the other parts of Africa, and Mauritania, was great persecution. F1395 Also [in Lesbos; a40 and in Samos, a94 of which place Chronicon maketh mention; and Sicily, where were seventy-nine martyrs slain for the profession of Christ. F1398 Now let us come unto Europe. Henry of Herford saith, that at Rome, Johannes and Crispus, being priests, suffered execution as martyrs; and at Bologna, Agricola and Vitalis; and at Aquileia the emperor commanded to kill all the Christians. F1401 And among those martyrs he maketh mention of the two Felixes and Fortunatus Regino also writeth, that in other places of Italy the persecution became great, as at Florence, Bergamo, Naples; at Benevento in Campania; at Venosa in Apulia; and in Tuscany: Henry of Her-ford saith, also, at Verona. In France, doubtless, Rectius Varus the prefect played the cruel hellhound, of whose great cruelty against the Christians many histories are full. F1403 At Marseilles suffered Victor: and at Marseilles, Maximian set forth his decree, that either they should all do sacrifice unto the gods of the Gentiles, or else be all slain with divers kinds of torments. Therefore many martyrs there died for the glory of Christ. F1405 In Beauvais suffered Lucian. F1406 Vincentins and Regino write of many places in Spain, where was great persecution, as at Merida, where suffered Eulalia, of whom more followeth hereafter; and Avila, where also suffered Vincentins, Sabina, and Christina.

    F1408 At Toledo suffered Leocadia the virgin; Saragossa were put to death eighteen; besides a great number of other martyrs who suffered under Dacian the governor, who afflicted with persecution all the coasts of Spain, as saith Vincentius. F1410 The aforesaid Rectius made such persecution at Treves, near the river of Moselle, that the blood of the christian men that were slain ran like small brooks, and colored great and main rivers. Neither yet did this suffice him, but from thence he sent certain horsemen with his letters, commanding them to ride into every place, and charge all such as had taken and apprehended any Christians, that they should immediately put them to death. F1411 Also Henry of Herford a95 and Regino make mention of great persecution to be at Cologne; and also at Augsburg in the province of Rhaetia, where was martyred Afra a96 with her mother Hilaria. F1412 Bede also saith, that this persecution reached even unto the Britons, in his book “De ratione temporum.” And the Chronicle of Martinus and “the Nosegay of Time” do declare, that all the Christians in Britain were utterly destroyed: furthermore, that the kinds of death and punishment were so great and horrible, as no man’s tongue is able to express. In the beginning, when the emperor by his subtlety and wiliness rather dallied than showed his rigor, he threatened them with bands and imprisonment: but, within a while, when he began to work the matter in good earnest, he devised innumerable sorts of torments and punishments, as whippings and scourgings, rackings, horrible scrapings, sword, fire, and ship-boats, wherein a great number being put, were sunk and drowned in the bottom of the sea. F1415 Also hanging them upon crosses; binding them to the trunks of trees with their heads downwards; hanging them by the middles upon gallows till they died for hunger; throwing them alive to such kind of wild beasts as would devour them, as boars, bears, leopards and wild bulls; pricking and thrusting them in with bodkins and iron claws, till they were almost dead; lifting them up on high with their heads downward, even as in Thebais they did unto the women, being naked and unclothed, one of their feet tied and lifted on high, and so hanging down with their bodies, which thing to see was very pitiful: with other devised sorts of punishments, most tragical or rather tyrannical, and pitiful to describe; as the binding of them to the boughs and arms of trees, forcibly bent together, then pulling and tearing asunder of their members and joints by letting go the said bent boughs and arms of trees; the mangling of them with axes; the choking of them with smoke by small and slow fires; the mutilation of their hands and ears, and cutting off their other limbs; which things the holy martyrs of Alexandria suffered: the scorching and broiling of them with coals, not unto death, but every day renewed; with which kind of torment the martyrs at Antioch were afflicted. But in Pontus, other horrible punishments, and fearful to be heard, did the martyrs of Christ suffer; of whom some had their fingers’ ends under the nails thrust in with sharp bodkins; some all-to besprinkled with boiling lead, having their most necessary members mutilated; others suffering most filthy and intolerable torments and pains in their bowels and privy members. F1418 To conclude, how great the outrage of the persecution which reigned in Alexandria was, and with how many and sundry kinds of new devised punishments the martyrs were afflicted, Phileas, the bishop of Thmuis, a man singularly well learned, hath described in his Epistle to the Thmuitans, the copy whereof Eusebius hath; out of the which we mean here briefly to recite somewhat:

    Free leave being given to all persons, so disposed, to annoy the Christians, some beat them with cudgels, some with rods, others with whips; some again with leathern thongs, and others with ropes. The spectacle of the beating was sometimes interchanged with other torments, exhibiting much wanton cruelty. For some of the martyrs, having their hands tied behind them, were suspended, on the wooden rack, and every limb was stretched out with certain machines: in this position the tormentors, by command of the judge, operated on them all over the body; and not only on the sides (as in the case of murderers), but also on the belly, the legs, and the cheeks they tortured them with scrapers. Others were hung up by one hand at a portico, the consequent straining of their limbs and joints causing them the most dreadful of all pain. Others were bound face to face against pillars, their feet not touching the ground, so that the cords, being strained by the weight of the body, were drawn tighter and tighter. And this they had to endure, not merely while the president was at leisure personally to attend them, but almost the whole day; for when he passed from them to others, he appointed officials to stay by those whom he left, and watch whether any of them, overcome by the tortures, seemed to flinch, charging them to brace with the cords unsparingly, and then when they were about to expire to let them down and haul them along the ground. “No care,” said he, “ought to be taken of these Christians; let all treat them as unworthy the name of men.”

    Therefore our adversaries devised this second torture, to follow the beating. There were some, who, after they had been scourged, lay in the stocks, their feet being stretched four holes asunder; insomuch that they were obliged to lie in the stocks with their faces upward, unable to stand because of their fresh wounds, caused by the stripes which they had received all over their bodies. Others threw themselves on the ground, where they lay, by reason of the innumerable wounds made by their tortures exhibiting a spectacle more horrid to behold than the very operation of torture, and bearing on their bodies the varied torments devised against them.

    Some of the martyrs expired under their tortures, having shamed the adversary by their persevering constancy. Others, being half dead, were shut up in prison, where, in a few days, sinking under their sufferings, they were consummated. The residue having recovered by medical attention, became more stout and confident by time and their abode in prison. Therefore when, afterwards, a new order was issued, and it was put to their choice, whether, by touching the detestable sacrifice, they would free themselves from all molestation, and obtain an acceptable liberty; or whether, refusing to sacrifice, they would abide the sentence of death; without hesitation, they cheerfully proceeded forth to death. For they well knew what was before prescribed to us by the sacred Scriptures: for “he (say they) that sacrificeth to other gods, shall be utterly destroyed:” and again, “Thou shalt have no other gods, but me.” (Exodus 22:20; 20:3. — ED.)

    Thus much wrote Phileas to the congregation where he was bishop, before he received the sentence of death, being yet in bands; and in the same he exhorteth his brethren constantly to persist after his death in the truth of Christ professed. F1419 Sabellicus, in his seventh Ennead, and eighth book, saith that that christened man, who tore and pulled down the wicked edict of the emperor in Nicomedia, being flayed alive, and afterwards washed in salt and vinegar, was then slain with this cruel kind of torment. Platina writeth, that Dorotheus and Gorgonius exhorted him to die so constantly. F1421 But, as all their torments were for their horribleness marvellous and notable, and therewithal so studiously devised, and no less grievous and sharp; so, notwithstanding, therewith were these martyrs neither dismayed nor overcome, but rather thereby confirmed and strengthened; so merrily and joyfully sustained they whatsoever was put unto them. Eusebius saith, that he himself beheld and saw the huge and great persecution that was done in Thebaid; insomuch that the very swords of the hangmen and persecutors being blunt with the great and often slaughter, they themselves for weariness sat down to rest them, and others were fain to take their places. And yet, all this notwithstanding, the murdered Christians showed their marvellous readiness, willingness, and divine fortitude, which they were indued with; with stout courage, joy, and smiling, receiving the sentence of death pronounced upon them, and sung even unto the last gasp hymns and psalms to God. So did also the martyrs of Alexandria, as witnesseth Phileas above-mentioned. “The holy martyrs,” saith he, “keeping Christ in their minds, being led with the love of better rewards, sustained whatsoever affliction and devised punishments they had to lay upon them, and that not only at one time but also the second time, and bore not only all the menaces of the cruel soldiers, wherewith they threatened them in words, but also whatsoever in deed and work they could devise to their destruction; and that with most manly stomachs, excluding all fear by the perfection of their unspeakable love towards Christ; whose great strength and fortitude cannot by words be expressed.”

    And Sulpitius saith, in the second book of his Sacred History, that then the Christians, with more greedy desire, pressed and sougilt for martyrdom, than now they do desire bishoprics.

    Although some there were also, as I have said, that with fear and threatenings, and by their own infirmities, were overcome and went back, among whom Socrates nameth Meletius, whom Athanasins, in his second Apology, calleth the bishop of Lycopolis, a city in Little Egypt; whom Peter the bishop of Alexandria excommunicated, for that in this persecution he sacrificed unto the Gentiles’ gods. Of the fall of Marcellinus, the bishop of Rome, I will speak afterwards; for he, being persuaded by others, and especially by the emperor Dioclesian himself, did sacrifice; whereupon he was excommunicated. But afterwards he, repenting the same, was again received into the congregation, and made martyr, as Platina and the compiler of the Book of the General Councils affirm. The number of the martyrs increased daily; sometimes ten, sometimes twenty were slain at once; some whiles thirty, and oftentimes threescore; and other whiles a hundred in one day, men, women, and children, by divers kinds of death. F1424 Also Damasus, Bede, Orosius, Honorius , a97 and others do witness, that there were slain in this persecution by the name of martyrs, within the space of thirty days, seventeen thousand persons, besides another great number and multitude that were condemned to the metal mines and quarries with like cruelty.

    At Alexandria, with Peter the bishop, of whom I have made mention before, were slain with axes three hundred and above, as Sabel-liens declareth; Gereon was beheaded at Cologne, with three hundred of his fellows, as saith Henry of Herford; Maurice, the captain of the christian legion, with his fellows, six thousand six hundred and sixty-six. Victor, in the city of Troy, now called Xanthus, was slain, with his fellows, three hundred and threescore, as saith Otho of Frisingen. F1427 Regino reciteth the names of many other martyrs, to the number of one hundred and twenty.

    And forsomuch as mention here hath been made of Maurice and Victor, the particular description of the same history I thought here to insert, taken out of Ado, and other story-writers, as ensueth.

    Maurice came out of Syria into France, being captain of the band of the Theban soldiers, to the number of six thousand six hundred and threescore, being sent for of Maximian, to go against the rebellious Bagaudae; but rather, as it should seem, by the reason of the tyrant, who thought he might better in these quarters use his tyranny upon the Christians, than in the east part. These Thebans, with Maurice the captain, after they had entered into Rome, were there, of Marcellinus the blessed bishop, confirmed in the faith, promising by oath, that they would rather be slain of their enemies, than forsake that faith which they had received; who followed the emperor’s host through the Alps even into France. At that time the Caesareans were encamped not far from the town called Octodurum, where Maximian offered sacrifice to his devils, and called all the soldiers, both of the east and west, to the same, strictly charging them by the altars of his gods, that they would fight against those rebels the Bagaudae, and persecute the christian enemies of the emperor’s gods; which his commandment was showed to the Thebans’ host, who were also encamped about the river Rhone, and in a place that was named Agaunum: but to Octodurum they would in no wise come, for that every man did certainly appoint and persuade with themselves, rather in that place to die, than either to sacrifice to the gods, or bear armor against the Christians; which thing indeed very stoutly and valiantly they affirmed, upon their oath before taken to Maximian, when he sent for them. F1432 Wherewith the tyrant, being wrathful and all moved, commanded every tenth man of that whole band to be put to the sword, whereto strivingly and with great rejoicing they committed their necks. To which notable thing and great force of faith, Maurice himself was a great encourager, who, by and by, with a most grave oration, exhorted and animated his soldiers both to fortitude and constancy; which, being again called of the emperor, answered in this wise, saying:

    O emperor, we are your soldiers, but yet also, to speak freely, the servants of God. We owe to thee service of war, to him innocency: of thee we receive for our travail, wages; of him the beginning of life. In this we may in no wise obey thee, O emperor, to deny God who is our author and Lord, and not ours only, but your author and Lord likewise, will ye, hill ye. If we be not enforced to do that whereby we shall offend him, doubtless, as we have hitherto, so we will yet obey you: but otherwise we will rather obey him than you.

    We offer here our hands against any real enemies: but to defile our hands with the blood of the innocent, that we may not do. These right hands of ours have skill to fight against the wicked and true enemies: but to spoil and murder the godly and our fellow-citizens, they have no skill at all. We have in remembrance that we took arms in hand for the defense of the citizens, and not against them.

    We have fought always for justice’ sake, for piety, and for the welfare of the innocent. These have been always the rewards of our perils and travail. We have fought in the quarrel of faith, which in no wise we can keep to you, if we do not show the same to our God. We first sware allegiance to our God, then afterward to the king: and can you trust us in regard of the second, if we break the first? By us you would plague the Christians, to do which feat you must henceforth command others. We are here ready to confess God the Father, the author of all things, and we believe in his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. We see before our eyes our fellows, the partakers of our labors and travails, to be put to the sword, and we are sprinkled with their blood: of which our most holy comrades and brethren the end and death we have not bewailed nor mourned, but rather have given thanks, and have rejoiced, for that they have been counted worthy to suffer for the Lord their God. The extreme necessity of death hath not moved us in rebellion against your majesty, neither yet hath desperation, which is wont in danger to be so daring, armed us against you, O emperor. Behold here we have weapons, and yet resist not, for that we had rather to be killed, than kill; and guiltless die, than guilty live. Whatsoever more ye will command, appoint and enjoin us; we are here ready to suffer, yea, both fire and sword, and whatsoever other torments.

    We confess ourselves to be Christians, and Christians we cannot persecute. F1433 With which their answer, the king being altogether incensed and moved, commanded the second time the tenth man of them that were left, to be in like case murdered. That cruelty also being accomplished, at length, when the christian soldiers would in no wise condescend unto his mind, he set upon them with his whole host, both footmen and also horsemen, and charged them to kill them all, who with all force set upon them: they, making no resistance, but throwing down their armor, yielded their lives to the persecutors, and offered to them their naked bodies.

    Victor at the same time was not of that band, nor yet then any soldier; but being an old soldier, was dismissed for his age. At which time he, coming suddenly upon them as they were banqueting and making merry with the spoils of the holy martyrs, was bidden to sit down with them; who, first asking the cause of that their so great rejoicing, and understanding the truth thereof, detested the guests, and refused to eat with them. And then, being demanded of them whether haply he were a Christian or no, openly confessed and denied not but that he was a Christian, and ever would be.

    And thereupon they, rushing upon him, killed him, and made him partner of the like martyrdom and honor.

    Bede, in his history, writeth that this persecution, being begun under Dioclesian, endured unto the seventh year of Constantine: and Eusebius saith, that it lasted until its tenth year. F1434 It was not yet one year from the day in which Dioclesian and Maximian, joining themselves together, began their persecution, when that they saw the number of the Christians rather to increase than to diminish, notwithstanding all the cruelty that ever they could show, and now were out of all hope for the utter rooting out of them. Which thing was the cause of their first enterprise; and having now even their fill of blood, and loathing, as it were, the shedding thereof, they ceased at the last, of their own accord, to put any more Christians to death. But yet of a great multitude they thrust out their right eyes, and maimed their left legs at the ham with a searing iron, condemning them to the mines of metals, not so much for the use of their labor, as for the desire of afflicting them. And this was the clemency and release of the cruelty of those princes, who said that it was not meet that the cities should be defiled with the blood of their citizens, and to make the emperor’s highness to be distained with the name of cruelty, but to show his princely beneficence and liberality to all men. F1435 When Dioclesian and Maximian had reigned together emperors one and twenty years (Nicephorus saith, two and twenty years), at length Dioclesian put himself from his imperial dignity at Nicomedia, and lived at Salona; Maximian at Milan; and led both of them a private life, in the three hundred and ninth year after Christ. F1436 This strange and marvellous alteration gave occasion (and so it came to pass) that within short space after, there were in the Roman commonwealth many emperors at one time.

    In the beginning of this persecution, you heard how Dioclesian, being made emperor, took to him Maximian. Also how these two, governing as emperors together, chose out two other Caesars under them, to wit, Galerius Maximian, and Constantius, the father of Constantine the Great.

    Thus then Dioclesian, reigning with Maximian, in the nineteenth year of his reign began his furious persecution against the Christians, whose reign after the same continued not long. For so it pleased God to put such a snaffle in the tyrant’s mouth, that within two years after, he caused both him and Maximian (for what cause he knoweth) to give over their imperial function, and so remain not as emperors any more, but as private persons.

    So that they being now displaced and dispossessed, the imperial dominion remained with Constantius and Galerius Maximian, which two divided the whole monarchy between them: so that Galerius should govern the east countries, and Constantius the west parts. But Constantius, as a modest prince, only contented with the imperial title, refused Italy and Africa, contenting himself only with France, Spain, and Britain. Wherefore Galerius Maximian a99 chose to him Maximin and Severus, as Caesars.

    Likewise Constantius took Constantine his son, Caesar under him. In the mean time, while Galerius with: his two Caesars were in Asia, the Roman soldiers set up for their emperor Maxentius, the son of Maximian who had before deposed himself. Against whom Galerius the emperor of the East sent his son Severus, which Severus in the same voyage was slain of Maxentius, in whose place then Galerius took Licinius. And these were the emperors and Caesars, who, succeeding after Dioclesian and Maximian, prosecuted the rest of that persecution, which Dioclesian and Maximian before began, during near the space of seven or eight years, which was to the year of our Lord 313; save only that Constantius, with his son Constantine, was no great doer therein, but rather a maintainer and a supporter of the Christians. Which Constantius, surnamed Chlorus for his paleness, was the son of Eutropius, a Roman of great nobility (he came of the line of A Eneas, as Laetus affirmeth), and Claudia, the daughter of Claudius Augustus. This man (as is before said) had not the desire of great and mighty dominions, and therefore parted he the empire with Galerius, and would rule but in France, Britain, and Spain, refusing the other kingdoms for the troublesome and difficult government of the same.

    Otherwise, he was a prince (as Eutropius maketh description of him) very excellent, civil, meek, gentle, liberal, and desirous to do good unto those that had any private authority under him. And as Cyrus once said, that he got treasure for himself when he made his friends rich, even so it is said that Constantius would oftentimes say, that it were better that his subjects had the public wealth, than he to have it hoarded in his own treasurehouse.

    Also he was by nature sufficed with a little, insomuch that he used to eat and drink in earthen vessels (which thing was counted in Agathocles the Sicilian a great commendation); and if at any time cause required to garnish his table, he would send for plate and other furniture to his friends.

    In consequence of which virtues ensued great peace and tranquillity in all his provinces. To these virtues he added yet a more worthy ornament, f1438 that is, devotion, love, and affection towards the word of God, as Eusebius affirmeth, By which word being guided, he neither levied any wars contrary to piety and christian religion, neither aided he any others that did the same, neither destroyed he the churches, but commanded that the Christians should be preserved and defended, and kept them safe from all contumelious injuries. And when in the other jurisdictions of the empire the churches were molested with persecution, as Sozomen declareth, f1440 he only gave license unto the Christians to live after their accustomed manner. This wonderful act of his following, besides others, doth show that he was a sincere follower of the christian religion. F1441 Those which bare the chief offices amongst the Gentiles drave out of the emperors’ courts all the godly Christians: whereupon this ensued, that the emperors themselves, at the last, were destitute of help, when those were driven away who, dwelling in their courts and living a godly life, poured out their prayers unto God for the prosperous estate and health both of the empire and the emperors. Constantius, therefore, minding at a certain time to try what sincere and good Christians he had yet in his court, called together all his officers and servants in the same, feigning himself to choose out such as would do sacrifice to devils, and that those only should dwell there and keep their offices; and that those who would refuse to do the same, should be thrust out and banished the court. At this appointment, all the courtiers divided themselves into companies: the emperor marked who were the constantest and godliest from the rest. And when some said they would willingly do sacrifice, others openly and boldly refused to do the same; then the emperor sharply rebuked those who were so ready to do sacrifice, and judged them as false traitors unto God, accounting them unworthy to be in his court, who were such traitors to God; and forthwith commanded that they only should be banished the same. But greatly he commended those who refused to do sacrifice, and confessed God; affirming that they only were worthy to be about a prince; forthwith commanding that thenceforth they should be the trusty counsellors and defenders both of his person and kingdom; saying thus much more, that they only were worthy to be in office, whom he might make account of as his assured friends, and that he meant to have them in more estimation than the substance he had in his treasury. Eusebius maketh mention hereof in his first book of the life of Constantine, and also Sozomen in his first book and sixth chapter.

    With this Constantius was joined (as hath been afore said) Galerius Maximian, a very civil man, as Eutropius affirmeth, and a passing good soldier; furthermore, a favorer of wise and learned men, of quiet disposition, not rigorous except in his drunkenness, whereof he would soon after repent him, as Victor writeth; but whether he meaneth Maximian the father, or Maximin his son , a100 it is uncertain. But Eusebius far otherwise describeth the conditions of him, in his eighth book and fourteenth chapter. For he saith he was of a tyrannical disposition, the fearfullest man that might be, and curious in all magical superstition; insomuch that without the divinations and answers of devils, he durst do nothing at all, and therefore he gave great offices and dignities to enchanters. Furthermore, that he was an exactor and extortioner of the citizens, liberal to those that were flatterers, given to surfeiting and riot, a great drinker of wine, and in his furious drunkenness most like a madman, a ribald and adulterer, who came to no city but he ravished virgins and defiled men’s wives. To conclude, he was so great an idolater, that he built up temples in every city, and repaired those that were fallen into decay, and appointed priests thereto, and chose out the most worthy of his political magistrates to be the chief-priests, and devised that they should execute that their office with great authority and dignity, and also with warlike pomp. F1442 But unto christian piety and religion, he was most hostile, and in the eastern churches exercised cruel persecution, and used as executioners of the same, Peucetius Quintian, Culcian, Theotecnus, and others. F1443 Notwithstanding, he was at length revoked from his cruelty by the just judgment and punishment of God. For he was suddenly vexed with a fatal disease most filthy and desperate, which disease to describe was very strange, taking the first beginning in his flesh outwardly, from thence it proceeded more and more to the inward parts of his body. For about the middle of the privy members of his body there happened unto him a sudden abscess to form, and afterwards in the fundament a spongy ulcer or fistula; both of which consumed and ate into his entrails, out of the which came forth an innumerable multitude of worms, with such a pestiferous stink, that no man could abide him; and so much more, for that all the grossness of his body, by abundance of meat before he fell sick, was turned also into fat; which fat now putrefied and stinking, was so uglisome and horrible, that none that came to him could abide the sight thereof. By reason whereof, the physicians who had him in cure, not able to abide the intolerable stink, some of them were commanded to be slain; others, because they could not heal him, being so swollen and past hope of cure, were also cruelly put to death. F1444 At length, being put in remembrance that this disease was sent of God, he began to forethink the wickedness that he had done against the saints of God; and so coming again to himself, first confesseth to God all his offenses; then, calling them unto him who were about him, forthwith commanded all men to cease from the persecution of the Christians: requiring moreover that they should set up his imperial proclamations, for the restoring and re — EDifying of their temples, and that they should obtain of the Christians in their assemblies (which without all fear and doubt they might be bold to make), that they would devoutly pray to their God for the emperor. Then forthwith was the persecution stayed, and the imperial proclamations in every city were set up, containing the retraction or countermand of those things which against the Christians were before decreed, the copy whereof ensueth:

    Amongst the other plans which we had conceived for the public profit and convenience, it was early our wish to reform all things according to the ancient laws and the national principles of the Romans; especially to devise means whereby the Christians, who have relinquished the opinions and usages of their parents, might be brought back to a right mind. For such a degree of arrogance and folly has (by some fancy) possessed them, that they will not follow the sanctions of their ancestors, which ‘tis likely they also had before received front their parents; but they make laws for themselves, and observe them, just according to their own individual fancy and arbitrement, assembling large multitudes of people in divers places. Therefore, when we had published such an edict as should oblige them to return to the rites and ordinances of their ancestors; many of them were exposed to imminent dangers, and many, having been actually troubled, finally underwent death in various Forms. But when many persisted in this madness, and we perceived they did neither exhibit a due worship to the celestial gods, nor yet to the God of the Christians; having respect to our humanity and that continued usage by which we have been accustomed to exercise pardon towards all sorts of men—we have thought good most readily to extend our indulgence in this matter also; so that the Christians should again be tolerated, and that they should have license to rebuild the houses wherein they used to assemble themselves, and that they may not in future be forced to do any thing contrary to their principles. In another rescript we will signify to our judges what it shall behove them to observe.

    Wherefore, in gratitude for this our indulgence, they ought to supplicate their God both for our welfare and that of the commonwealth, as well as their own; that so, both public affairs may everywhere be kept in a wholesome state, and they themselves may live securely in their own dwellings. F1445 But one of the Caesars, whose name was Maximin, was not well pleased, when this countermand was published throughout all Asia, and the provinces where he had to do. Yet he, being qualified by this example, and feeling that it was not becoming for him to repugn the pleasure of those princes who had the chief authority, viz. Constantine and Galerius, set forth of himself no edict touching the same; but commanded his officers by an unwritten order, that they should somewhat stay from the persecution of the Christians: of which commandment of the inferior Maximin, each of them gave intelligence unto their fellows by their letters. But Sabinus, who then amongst them all had the chiefest office and dignity, to the governor of every province wrote by his letter the emperor’s pleasure, in this wise:

    The majesty of our most sacred lords the emperors, with most earnest and devout care, long since determined to render the minds of all men conformable to a holy and correct way of living; so that they who seemed to have embraced usages different from those of the Romans should exhibit the due worship to the immortal gods.

    But the obstinate and most intractable perverseness of some persons was arrived at such a pass, that neither could the justice of the imperial edict prevail with them to recede from their own resolutions, nor the punishment annexed strike any terror into them. Since, therefore, it happened on this account, that many precipitated themselves into danger, the sacred majesty of our lords the most puissant emperors, considering (according to their innate generosity and piety) that it was far from the intention of their sacred majesties to involve people in so great a danger for such a cause as this, charged my excellency to write to your wisdom, that if evidence should be brought against any of the Christians of his following that way of worship observed by his sect, you should set him free from all danger and molestation, and that you should deem none worthy to be punished on this pretext; since it has evidently appeared in all this time, that they can by no means be persuaded to desist from their perverse stubbornness. Your prudence therefore is enjoined to write to the curators, to the magistrates, and to the presidents of the villages belonging to every city, that they may understand, that for the future they are not to pay any attention to that edict. F1447 The governors therefore of the provinces, supposing this to be the determinate pleasure (and not feigned) of Maximin, did first advertise thereof the rustical and pagan multitude: after that, they released and set at liberty all such prisoners as were condemned to the metal-mines and to perpetual imprisonment for their faith, thinking thereby (wherein indeed they were deceived) that the doing thereof would please Maximin. This, therefore, seemed to them as unlooked for as light to travelers in a dark night. They gather themselves together in every city, they call their synods and councils, and much marvel at the sudden change and alteration. The infidels themselves extol the only and true God of the Christians. The Christians receive again all their former liberties; and such as fell away before in the time of persecution, repent themselves, and after penance done, they returned again to the congregation. Now the Christians rejoiced in every city, praising God with hymns and psalms. F1448 This was a marvellous-sudden alteration of the church, from a most unhappy state into a better. But scarce suffered Maximin the tyrant the same state of affairs six months unviolated to continue; for whatsoever seemed to make for the subversion of the same peace (yet scarcely hatched), that only did he meditate. And first of all he took from the Christians all liberty and leave for them to assemble and congregate in churchyards, on some pretext or other. After that he sent certain miscreants unto the Antiochians , a101 to solicit them against the Christians, and to provoke them to ask of him, as a great favor, that he would not suffer any Christian to inhabit in their country: and amongst them was one Theotecnus, a most wicked miscreant, and an enchanter, and a most deadly enemy against the Christians. He first made the way whereby the Christians were put out of credit and accused to the emperor; to which base end, he also erected a certain idol of Jupiter to be worshipped or the enchanters and conjurers, and mingled the same worship with ceremonies, full of deceiveable witchcraft. Lastly, he caused the same idol to give this sound out of his mouth, that is: “Jupiter commandeth the Christians to be banished out of the city and suburbs of the same, as enemies unto him.” And the same sentence did the rest of the governors of the provinces publish against the Christians; and thus, at length, persecution began to kindle against them. Maximin also appointed priests in every city to offer sacrifice unto idols, and high-priests over these; and inveigled all those that were in great offices under him, that they should do all in their power against the Christians, and that they should with new-devised stratagems against them (as that would please him) put as many to death as by any means they might. (See Euseb. lib. 9 cap. 3, 4. — ED.) They also did counterfeit a102 certain “Acts” of Pilate and our Savior Christ, full of blasphemy, and sent the same into all the dominion of Maximin; by their letters commanding, that the same should be published and set up in every city and suburbs of the same, and that they should be delivered to the schoolmasters, to cause their scholars to learn the same by rote. F1449 After that, one named “praefectus castrorum” (whom the Romans call “Dux”) at Damascus, in Phoenicia, allured certain light women, taken out of the market-place, by threats of torture, that they should openly say in writing, that they were once Christians, and that they knew what wicked and lascivious acts the Christians were wont to practice amongst themselves upon the Sundays; and what other things they thought good to make more of their own head, to the slander of the Christians. The captain showeth unto the emperor their words, as though it had been so indeed; and the emperor by and by commanded the same to be published throughout every city. Furthermore, they did hang in the midst of every city (which was never done before) the emperor’s edicts against the Christians, graven in tables of brass. And the children a103 in the schools, with great noise and clapping of hands, did all the day resound “Jesus and Pilate,” and the contumelious blasphemies contained in those counterfeit “Acts,” after a most despiteful manner. F1451 And this is the copy of the edict, which Maximin caused to be fastened to the pillars, fraught with all arrogant and insolent hate against God and Christ:

    The human mind, weak and yet presumptuous as it is,—having shaken off and dispersed every cloud and mist of error which heretofore invested the senses of men (not so much wicked as wretched) involved in the fatal night of ignorance—has now at length discerned, that all things are undoubtedly ordered and settled by the gracious providence of the immortal gods. You cannot conceive how grateful, delightful, and acceptable a thing it was to us, when you gave such a proof of your pious disposition towards the gods; though before this, no person was ignorant what reverence and religious worship you showed towards the immortal gods; to whom you are well known, not by a faith of bare and empty words, but by a course of astonishing and glorious actions; upon which account your city may deservedly be styled—”The seat and mansion of the immortal gods.” F1452 For it is evident by many instances that she flourisheth through the presence of the celestial deities in her. For lo! your city—as soon as it perceived that the followers of that accursed vanity began to creep again, and [revive] like a smoldering fire, which, when the embers are stirred up, bursteth out afresh in a very great blaze—neglect-ing every thing that was for its own particular benefit, and overlooking former supplications made to us in its own behalf—immediately, without the least delay, had recourse to our piety as to the metropolis of all religion, petitioning for some remedy and assistance. ‘Tis evident that the gods have instilled into your minds this wholesome resolution, on account of your faithful perseverance in your religion. Yea, the most high and mighty Jupiter (who presides over your most famous city, and preserveth your country gods, your wives and children, your families and houses, from all manner of evil) hath breathed into your minds this salutary resolution; plainly demonstrating thereby what an excellent, noble, and salutary thing it is, with due reverence to adore the immortal gods and to approach their sacred ceremonies. For what man can there be found so foolish and so void of all reason, as not to perceive, that it is through the gracious care of the gods that it cometh to pass—that the earth denies not the seeds committed to it, frustrating the hopes of the husbandmen with vain expectations; and that the aspect of impious war is not immovably fixed on the earth; and that men’s bodies are not perpetually pining to death through a corrupt and disordered state of the air; and that the sea, tossed with the blowing of furious winds, doth not swell and overflow; and that sudden blasts, breaking fourth unexpectedly, do not raise a destructive hurricane: and lastly, that the earth (the nurse and mother of all things), shaken by a horrid trembling, doth not heave from its own inmost caverns; or that the mountains which lie upon it are not engulfed in the opening chasms. All these calamities—yea, far more horrible than these— have often occurred, as every one knoweth. And all these evils lay upon us , because of the pernicious error and empty folly of those wicked men, at the precise time when it abounded in their souls, and (as I may say) burdened the whole earth with shame and confusion. [And after the interposition of some words he continues] But now—let men cast their eyes over the corn fields, flourishing in the wide champaign and waving with ears; and upon the meadows blooming with flowers and grass after seasonable showers; let them consider the state of the air how temperate and calm it is again become. In future let all men rejoice, for that by your piety, by your sacrifices, and religious worship, the fury of that most powerful and stern god Mars is appeased; and for this reason let them securely solace themselves in the quiet enjoyment of a most serene peace. F1453 And, as many as have wholly abandoned that blind error, and from their wanderings have returned to a right and sound temper of mind—let them specially rejoice as they would do, had they been delivered from an unforeseen tempest or a dangerous disease; assured, that for the remainder of their lives they will reap sweet enjoyment. But if any shall wilfully persist in their execrable folly, let them be banished and driven far from your city and neighborhood, according to your request; that by this means your city, being (in consequence of your commendable anxiety in this affair) freed from all pollution and impiety, may (agreeably to its natural inclination) attend with due devotion upon the sacrifices of the immortal gods. And that you may know how acceptable your petition on this subject was to us, and how predisposed our soul is to gracious acts of its own voluntary motion, and without any memorializing or solicitation; we permit your devotion to ask whatever magnificent gift you may desire to have presented to you, in recompense of this your godly disposition. Now, therefore, make it your business to ask and receive some great been; for you shall obtain it without any delay.

    And this, once being granted to your city, shall be a testimony throughout all ages of your most fervent piety towards the immortal gods; and shall also be an evidence to your children and descendants, that. for this excellent course of life you received due rewards from our gracious goodness. f1454 Thus came it to pass that at length the persecution was as great as ever it was, and the magistrates of every province were very disdainful against the Christians, condemning some to death, and some to exile. Among whom they condemned three Christians at Emisa in Phoenicia; among whom was Sylvanus the bishop of Emisa, a very old man, having been forty years in that function. Lucian, a presbyter of Antioch, being brought to Nicomedia, after he had exhibited to the emperor his apology concerning the doctrine of the Christians, was cast into prison, and afterward put to death. At Alexandria, Peter, the most worthy bishop of that church, was beheaded, with whom many other Egyptian bishops also died, In Amasaea [a city of Cappadocia], Bringas, the lieutenant of Maximin, had at that time the executing of that persecution. Quirinus, the bishop of Siscia in Croatia, having a millstone tied about his neck, was thrown headlong from the bridge into the flood, and there a long while floated above the water; and, having spoken to the lookers-on, that they should not be dismayed with that his punishment, prayed fervently that he might be, and was with much ado, drowned. At Rome died Marcellinus the bishop, as saith Platina; also Timothy the presbyter, with many other bishops and priests were martyred. To conclude, many in sundry places everywhere were martyred, whose names the book, intituled “Fasciculus temporum,” declareth; as, Victorian, Symphorian, Castorins with his wife, Castulus; Caesarius; Mennas; Nobilis; Peter, Dorotheus, and Gorgonins; and other innumerable martyrs; Erasmus; Boniface; Juliana; Cosmas and Damian; Basilian, with seven others; Dorothea, Theophihs, Theodosia; Vitalis, and Agricola; Ascla and Philemon; Irenaeus; Januarius, Festus,: and Desiderius; Gregory, a presbyter of Spoleto; Agape, Chionia, and Irene; Theodora, and two hundred threescore and ten other. martyrs; Florian; Primus and Felician; Vitus, Modestus, and Crescentia; Alban; Rogatian and Donatian; Paneras; Catharina; Margareta; Lucia the Virgin; Agnes; Christopher; Simplicius, Faustin, and Beatrix; Pantaleon; George; Justus; Leocadia; Antonia, and other more (to an infinite number), suffered martyrdom in this persecution, whose names God hath written in the book of life; also Felix; Victor with his parents; Lucia the widow, and Geminian; with threescore and nineteen others; Sabinus; Anastasia and Chry-sogon; Felix and Adauctus; Adrian, Natalia, Eugenia. Agnes also, when she was but thirteen years old, was martyred. Eusebius rehearseth these kinds of torments and punishments; that is to say, fire, wild beasts, the sword, crucifixion, drowning in the depths of the sea, the cutting and burning of the members, the thrusting out of the eyes, maiming of the whole body, hunger, the mines, imprisonment, and whatsoever other cruelty the magistrates could devise.

    All which notwithstanding, the godly ones, rather than that they would do sacrifice, as they were bid, manfully endured. Neither were the women any thing at all behind; for they, being enticed to the filthy use of their bodies, rather suffered banishment, or willingly killed themselves. Neither yet could the Christians live safely in the wilderness, but were fetched even from thence to death and torments; insomuch that this latter persecution under Maximin (a tyrant rather than a prince) was more grievous than was the former, cruel as that was. f1465 And forsomuch as ye have heard the cruel edict of Maximin proclaimed against the Christians, graven in brass, which he thought perpetually should endure to the abolishing of Christ and his religion; now mark again the great handywork of God, which immediately fell upon the same, checking the proud presumption of the tyrant, proving all to be false and contrary, that in the brazen proclamation was contained. For whereas the aforesaid edict boasted so much of the prosperity and plenty of all things in the same time of this persecution of the Christians, suddenly befel such unseasonable drought, with famine and pestilence among the people, besides also the wars with the Armenians, that all was found untrue that he had bragged so much of before. By reason of which famine and pestilence the people were greatly consumed, insomuch that one measure of wheat was sold for two thousand and five hundred pieces of money of Attic drachms; by reason whereof innumerable died in the cities, but many more in the country and villages, so that most part of the husbandmen and countrymen died up with the famine and pestilence.

    Divers there were which bringing out their best treasure, were glad to give it for any kind of sustenance, were it never so little. Others, selling away their possessions, fell by reason thereof to extreme poverty and beggary.

    Certain, eating grass, and feeding on other unwholesome herbs, were fain to relieve themselves with such food as did hurt and poison their bodies. Also a number of women of good family in the cities, being brought to extreme misery and penury, were constrained to come forth, and fall to begging in the market-place. Some others, pined and withered like ghosts, without breath, reeling and staggering this way and that, from inability to stand fell down in the middle of the streets, and lying at full length with their faces downward, craved for some little morsel of bread to be given them; and being at the last gasp, ready to give up the ghost, and not able to utter any other words, still dolefully they cried out, that they were hungry. Of the richer sort, divers there were who, being weary with the number of beggars and askers, after they had bestowed largely upon them, became hardhearted, fearing lest they should fall into the same misery themselves, as those who begged. By reason whereof, the market-places, streets, lanes, and alleys, were full of dead and naked bodies, which lay cast out and unburied, to the pitiful and grievous beholding of them that saw them; whereof many were eaten of dogs: for which cause they that survived fell to the killing of dogs, lest they, running mad, should fall upon them and kill them.

    In like manner the pestilence, scattering through all houses and ages of men, did no less consume them; especially those who through having plenty of victuals had escaped famine. Wherefore the rich governors of provinces, and presidents, and innumerable magistrates, being the more apt to receive the infection by reason of their plenty, were quickly dispatched and turned up their heels. Thus the miserable multitude being consumed with famine and with pestilence, all places were full of mourning; neither was there any thing else seen but wailing and weeping in every corner. So that death, what for famine and pestilence, in short time brake up and consumed whole households, two or three dead bodies being borne out together from the same house in one funeral. These were the rewards of the vain brags of Maximin and his edicts, which he did publish in all towns and cities against us.

    At which time it was evident to all men, how diligent and charitable the Christians were to all men in this their miserable extremity. For they only, in all this time of distress, showed compassion upon them, travailing every day, some in tending the sick, and some in burying the dead, who otherwise of their own sort were forsaken. Others of the Christians, calling and gathering the multitude together, which were in jeopardy of famine, distributed bread unto them; whereby they ministered occasion to all men to glorify the God of the Christians, and to confess them to be the true worshippers of God, as appeared by their works. By the means and reason hereof, the great God and defender of the Christians, who before had showed his anger and indignation against all men for their wrongful afflicting of us, opened again unto us the comfortable light of his providence; so that by means thereof peace fell unto us, as light unto them that sit in darkness, to the great admiration of all men, who easily perceived God himself to be a perpetual Director of our affairs; who many times chasteneth his people with calamities for a time to exercise them, but after sufficient correction again showeth himself merciful and favorable to those who with trust call upon him. f1468 By the narration of these things heretofore premised, taken out of the History of Eusebius, like as it is manifest to see, so it is wonderful to marl; and note, how those counsels and rages of the Gentiles achieved against Christ and his Christians, when they seemed most sure against them, were most against themselves; and whereby they thought most to confound the church and religion of Christ, the same turned most to their own confusion, and to the profit and praise of the Christians; God, of his marvellous wisdom, so ordering and disposing the end of things. For whereas the brazen edict of the emperor promised temperate weather, God sent drought; whereas it promised plenty, God immediately sent upon them famine and penury; whereas it promised health, God struck them even upon the same with grievous pestilence, and with other more calamities, in such sort that the most relief they had was chiefly by the Christians; to the great praise of them, and to the honor of our God.

    Thus most plainly and evidently was then verified the true promise of Christ to his church, affirming and assuring us, that the gates of hell shall not prevail against his church builded upon his faith: (Matthew 16:18.) as sufficiently may appear by these ten persecutions above specified and described; wherein as no man can deny but that Satan and his malignant world have essayed the uttermost of their power and might to overthrow the church of Jesus, so must all men needs grant, who read these stories, that when Satan and the gates of hell have done their worst, yet have they not prevailed against this mount of Sion, nor ever shall. For else what was here to be thought,—where so many emperors and tyrants together, Dioclesian, Maximian, Galerius, Maximin, Severus, Maxentius, Licinius, with their captains and officers, were let loose, like so many lions, upon a scattered and unarmed flock of sheep, intending nothing else but the utter subversion of Christianity; and especially also when laws were set up in brass against the Christians, as a thing perpetually to stand;—what was here to be looked for, but a final desolation of the name and religion of Christians? But what followed, partly ye have heard, partly more is to be marked, as in the story followeth.

    I showed before how Maxentius, the son of Maximian, was set up at Rome by the praetorian soldiers to be emperor. Whereunto the senate, although they were not consenting, yet for fear they were not resisting.

    Maximian his father, who had before deprived himself with Dioclesian, hearing of this, took heart again to him, to resume his dignity, and so labored to persuade Dioclesian also to do the same: but when he could not move him thereunto, he repaireth to Rome, thinking to wrest the empire out of his son’s hands. But when the soldiers would not suffer that, of a crafty purpose he flieth to Constantine in France, under pretense to complain of Maxentius his son, but in very deed to kill Constantine.

    Notwithstanding, that conspiracy being detected by Fausta the daughter of Maximian, whom Constantine had married, so was Constantine through the grace of God preserved, and Maximian retired back: in the which his flight, by the way he was apprehended, and so put to death. And this is the end of Maximian.

    Now let us return to Maxentius again, who all this while reigned at Rome with tyranny and wickedness intolerable, much like to another Pharaoh or Nero; for he slew the most part of his noblemen, and took from them their goods. And sometimes in his rage he would destroy great multitudes of the people of Rome by his soldiers, as Eusebius declareth. Also he left no mischievous nor lascivious act unattempted, but was the utter enemy of all womanly chastity; who used to send the honest wives, whom he had adulterated, with shame and dishonesty unto their husbands (being worthy senators), after that he had ravished them. He abstained from no adulterous act, but was inflamed with the unquenchable lust of deflowering of women.

    Laetus declareth that he being that time far in love with a noble and chaste gentlewoman of Rome, sent unto her such courtiers of his as were meet for that purpose, whom also he had in greater estimation than any others, and with such was wont to consult about matters for the common weal. These first fell upon her husband and murdered him within his own house: f1470 then when they could by no means, neither with fear of the tyrant, or with threatening of death, pull her away from him, at length she, being a Christian, desired leave of them to go into her chamber, and after her prayers she would accomplish that which they requested. And when she had gotten into her chamber under this pretense, she killed herself. But the courtiers, when they saw that the woman tarried so long, they, being displeased therewith, brake open the doors, and found her there lying dead.

    Then returned they, and declared this matter to the emperor; who was so far past shame, that, instead of repentance, he was the more set on fire in attempting the like.

    He was also much addicted to the art magical, which to execute he was more fit than for the imperial dignity. Also sometimes he would rip women with child; sometimes he would search the bowels of newborn infants. Often he would invocate devils in a secret manner, and by the answers of them he sought to repel the wars which he knew Constantine and Licinius prepared against him. And to the end he might the better perpetrate his mischievous and wicked attempts, which in his ungracious mind he had conceived, according to his purpose, in the beginning of his reign he feigned himself to be a favourer of the Christians; in which thing doing, thinking to make the people of Rome his friends, he commanded that they should cease from persecuting the Christians. And he himself in the mean season abstained from no contumelious vexation of them, till that he began at the last to show himself an open persecutor of them: at which time, as Zonaras writeth, he most cruelly raged against the Christians thereabouts, vexing them with all manner of injuries. Which things he in no less wise did, than Maximin, as Eusebius seemeth to affirm. And Platina declareth, in the life of Marcellinus the bishop [of Rome], that he banished a certain noble woman of Rome, because she gave her goods to the church.

    Thus, by the grievous tyranny and unspeakable wickedness of this Maxentius the citizens and senators of Rome being much grieved and oppressed, sent their complaints with letters unto Constantine, with much suit and most hearty petitions, desiring him to help and release their country and city of Rome; who, hearing and understanding their miserable and pitiful state, and grieved therewith not a little, first sendeth by letters to Maxentius, desiring and exhorting him to restrain his corrupt doings and great cruelty. But when no letters nor exhortations would prevail, at length pitying the woful case of the Romans, he gathered together his power and army in Britain and France, therewith to repress the violent rage of that tyrant: thus Constantine, sufficiently appointed with strength of men, but especially with strength of God, entered his journey coming towards Italy, which was about the last year of the persecution. Maxentius, understanding of the coming of Constantine, and trusting more to his devilish art of magic than to the good-will of his subjects, which he little deserved, durst not show himself out of the city, nor encounter with him in the open field, but with privy garrisons laid wait for him by the way in sundry straits, as he should come; with whom Constantine had divers skirmishes, and by the power of the Lord did ever vanquish them and put them to flight. Notwithstanding, Constantine yet was in no great