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and thirteen years old. This is the first distinct account of an hermit in the chriftian church. No doubt ought to be made of the genuine piety of Paul. Those who in our days condemn all Monks with indiscriminate contempt, seem to forget what times they live in themselves, and what times the first Monks lived in. Was not folitude better than such fociety as that which christians were exposed to in the days of Decius ? Was there a day,

a an hour in which they had the least enjoyment of society, or security of any of its benefits? What could a christian eye or ear obserye but what must be exceedingly distasteful to him ? Paul loving folitude in such circumstances is no more to be wondered at than Elijah the prophet. But he carried it too far. With the return of peace the rețurn of social duties should have taken place. Yeç a heart breathing the purest love to God may naturally enough be led to think the perfection of gouliness attainable only in solitude. The increafing spirit of superstition soon produced a number of Pauls. The worst effect of it was, that those who had only external religion placed their righteousness in monaftic austerities; and thus, from the depraved imitations of well-meant beginnings, one of the strongest supports of false religion gradually strengthened itself in the christian world.

And here we close the account of the Decian persecution. Its author is admired by Pagan writers. What has been said of Trajan and Antoninus, moralists, but persecutors, is applicable to him.

It cannot be denied, that for thirty months the Prince of Darkness had full opportunity to glut his rage. But the Lord meant to chaften and to purify his church, not to destroy. The whole scene is memorable on several accounts.

It * Fleury, B, 6-48.

It was not a local or intermitting perfecution, but universal, and must have transmitted great num

. bers to the regions where sin and pain shall be no more. The peace of thirty years had corrupted the whole christian atmosphere. The lightening of the Decian rage refined and cleared it. No doubt the effects were falutary to the church. Without such a scourge external christianity might have still spread, and internal have been no more. The survivors had an opportunity to learn what the gospel is, in the faithfulness of the martyrs ; and men were taught again, that he alone who strengthens christians to suffer, can make true christians. Yet the storm proved fatal to a number of individuals who apoftatized, and cliristianity was cleared of many false friends. Two other evils we have also seen. The formation of schisms and of superstitious folitudes had their date from the Decian persecution.





HE successor of Decius gave the church a

little pause. In that space the two little treatises of Cyprian concerning the lapsed and concerning unity, were doubtless of some service in disposing the ininds of men to preserve the unity of the church, and in recovering the lapsed to a state of penitence. In the latter of these treatises indeed it must be confessed he carries his cenfure of the Novatians too far. The Gin and


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the danger of rending the body of Christ might have been stated in the strongest terms. nounce the evil absolutely damnable was carrying the matter beyond the bounds of moderation. But the same candour which should incline one to apprehend Novatian meant well in his too rigid scheme, pleads also for Cyprian's zeal in the maintenance of unity. He seems to have felt the evil as inost destructive, and knows not terms strong enough to express his decertation of it.

But Gallus soon began to disturb the peace of the church, though not with the inceffant fury of his predeceffor. One Hyppolitus, a Roman presbyter, had been seduced into Novatianism; but his mind had not been perverted from the faith and love of Jesus. He was now called on to suffer martyrdom, which he did with courage and fidelity. Either curiosity or a desire of inftructive information induced fome to ask him in the last scene of his sufferings, whether he still perfifted in the communion of Novatian? He declared in the most explicit terms, that he now saw the affair in a new light, repented of his having encouraged the schism, and died in the communion of the general church. One may conceive such a testimony must have weakened the influence of the fchifm *

In this perfecution of Gallus it was that Cornelius confessed the faith of Christ, and was banished to Civita Vecchia by the emperor, which gave occasion to the congratulatory letter of Cyprian; in one part of it he reflects on the Novatians with his usual vehemence. The rest breathes a fervent spirit of piety and charity, and throws a strong light on two facts, both that the persecution of


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Gallus was severe, and that the Roman christians bore it with becoming and exemplary fortitude.

“ We have known, dearest brother, the glorious teftimonies of your faith and virtue, and we have çeceived the honour of your confession with such exultation, that, in the praises of your excellent conduct, we reckon ourselves partners and companions. For, as we have but one church, united hearts and indivisible concord, what pastor rejoices not in the honours of his fellow-pastors as his own ? Or what brotherhood does not every where exult in the joy of brothers? We cannot express how great was our exultation and joy when we heard of your prosperous fortitude ; that you were at Rome the leader of the confeflion, but that the confession of the leader grew with the confession of the brethren, that while you led the way to glory, you incited many companions of your glory, and persuaded the people to confess, while you were prepared to confess for them all, so that we are at a loss which most to celebrate, your active and steady faith, or the inseparable charity of the brethren. The virtue of the bishop leading the way was publicly approved, the union of the brethren following him was exhibited. While one mind and one voice was among you all, the whole Roman church confeffed. Your faith which the Apostle so much celebrated fhone illustriously. He foresaw in spirit this firmness of yours, and while he commends the fathers he stirs up the fons to imitation. While you are thus unanimous and firm, your example is most instructive. Ye have taught largely the great lefsons of fearing God, of firmly adhering to Christ, of uniting pastors and people in one common danger, of uniting brethren with brethren in perfecution, that a concord thus united is invincible;


that the God of Peace gives to the peace-makers that which is jointly asked by all. With terrible violence the adversary rushed to attack the soldiers of Christ, but was bravely repulsed.

He hoped again to supplant the servants of God, as rude novices and improvident. He hoped to circumvent one of the faithful. But he found the united registance of all the faithful. He understood thar the soldiers of Christ stand sober and armed tu the battle, that they cannot be conquered; that they may die, and are invincible on this very account, because they fear nat to die; that they relift not aggressors, since it is not lawful for them, though innocent, to kill the guilty *, but that they readily give up life and blood ; that while wickedness and cruelty rage so fiercely in the world, they may the more quickly depart from the evil. What a glorious spectacle under the eyes of God! What a joy in the light of Christ and his church, that not a single soldier, but the whole army together, endured the warfare! For if. they could have heard, all would have come, since every one came who heard. How many lapsed are restored by a glorious confession! They stood firm; and by the very grief of their penitence were made more magnanimous; their foriner fall may now appear to have been the effect of sudden tremor: they now return to themselves, collecting real faith and strength from the fear of God, and pant for martyrdom.

As much as possible we exhort our people not to cease to be prepared for the approaching contelt, by watching, fasting, and prayers. Let our groans and supplications

be frequent. These are our celestial arms; these our fortresses and wea

pons. * A plain proof of the pasiveness of christians, fill continued from the Apostolic age, under the most unjust treatment.

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