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things which are contrary to nature.” Dionysius answered, “ All men do not worship all gods, but men worship variously according to their sentiments. But we worship the One God the maker of all things, who gave the empire to the most clement emperors Valerian and Gallienus, to whom we pour out incessant prayers for theit prosperous administration.” " What can be the meaning,” says Æmilian, “why you may not still adore that God of yours (supposing him to be a God) in conjunction with our gods?”. Dionysius answered, “ We worship no other God.” ?
From this remarkable question of the Prefect, it is evident that men might have been tolerated in the worship of Jesus, if they had allowed idolaters also to be right in the main, by affociating idols with the true God. The firmness of christians, in this respect, provoked their enemies. The quarrel is the same at this day against real christians; they must be condemned as bigors, because they cannot allow the world to be right in the eyes of God.
Æmilian banished them to a village near the desart called Cephro.. And thither Dionysius, though fickly, was constrained to depart imme. diately. “And truly,” says Dionysius, " we are not absent from the church,” (meaning, I suppose, his own church at Alexandria) “ for I still gather such as are in the city as if I were present; abfent indeed in body, but present in spirit. And there continued with us in Cephro a great congregation, partly of the brethren which followed us from the city (Alexandria) and partly of them which came from Egypt. And there God opened a door to me to speak his word. Yet at the beginning we suffered persecution and stoning, but at length not a few of the pagans forsook their idols and were converted. For here we had an opportunity to preach the word of God to a people who had never heard before. And as God had brought us among them, after our ministry was there completed, he removed us to another place. I hearing that Æmilian had ordered that we should depart from Cephro, and not knowing the place whither we were to go, yet took my journey cheerfully. Understanding that. Colluthio was the place, I felt much distress. It was reported to be deftitute of all the comforts of society, infested by thieves, and exposed to the tumults of travellers. My companions know well the effect this had on my mind. I proclaim my own shame ; at first I grieved immoderately. It was a consolation however that it was nigh to a city. I was in hopes from the nearness of the city, that we might enjoy the company of dear brethren, and that particular assemblies for divine worship might be established in the suburbs, which indeed came to pass.”
Amidst this scantiness of information, and conveyed in no great perspicuity or beauty of style, as far as appears from the flight specimens we have of Dionyfius, it appears that the Lord was with him, and made his sufferings to tend to the furtherance of the gospel. His confession of his own heaviness of mind does honour to his ingenuousness, and the strength of Christ was made perfect in his weakness.
In another epistle he gives a brief account of the sufferings of others; it deserves to be tranfscribed as a monument of the greatness and violence of Valerian's perfecution.
“ It may seem fuperfluous to recite the names of our people ; for they were many, and to me unknown. Take this however for certain: There were men and women, young men and old men, virgins and old women, soldiers and vulgar per
sons, of all sorts and ages. Some after stripes and fire were crowned victors, fome after the sword, some others fufficiently tried in a small time, were acceptable sacrifices to the Lord. You all heard how I and Caius, and Faustus, and Peter, and Paul, when we were led bound by the centurion and his soldiers, were seized by certain men of Mareota, and drawn away by violence, against our 'wills. And I, and Caius, and Peter, alone deprived of the other brethren, were shur up in a desart and dreary part of Lybia, distant three days journey from Parætonium, in the defart and dreary country.” I suppose the rest of the company were rescued by the mob. Afterwards he says, “. In the city there hid themselves some who visited the brethren secretly: of the ministers, Maximus, Diofcorus, Demetrius, Lucius. For two others of greater note, Faustinus and Aquila, now wander, I know not where, in Egypt. And of the deacons, the reit dying of diseases, there remained alive Faustus, Eusebius, and Chæremon. God strengthened and instructed Eufebius from the beginning to minister diligently to the confessors in prison, and to bury the bodies of the holy martyrs, not without great danger. The president to this day ceases not cruelly to flay fome that are brought forth, to tear in pieces others by torments, to consume others more flowly by bonds and imprisonments, commanding that none come nigh them, and inquiring daily if any such persons appear.
Yet God still refreshes the afflicted with confolation and the attendance of the brethren.'
This Eufebius, here honourably mentioned, was some time after bishop of Laodicea in Syria, and Maximus the presbyter was successor to Dionyfius in Alexandria, And Faustus was reserved to the
days of Dioclelian again to suffer, even to blood.
At Cæsarea in Palestine three persons were devoured by wild beasts, Prifcus, Malcus, and Alexander. These perfons led an obscure life in the country ; but hearing of the multitude of executions, they blamed themfelves for their noch, came to Cæfarea, went to the judge, and obtained the object of their ambition. A woman, inclined to the heresy of Marcion, of the fame city, suffered likewise. Cyprian of Carthage, and above all our Divine Master, condemned the too forward zeal of the foriner, which yet was, it is hoped, not without the real love of his name; and Marcion's heresy might more nominally than really clcave to the latter.
After three years employed in persecution, Valerian was taken prisoner by Sapor king of Persia, who detained him the rest of his life, and made use of his neck when he mounted his horse, and ar length had him fead and salted. This event belongs to fecular rather than church-history. But as it is perfectly well attested, and no one that I know of, but Mr. Gibbon, ever affected to difbelieve it, it cannot but strike the mind of any one who fears God. Valerian had known and re. spected the christians: his persecution must have been a sin against the light, and it is common with Divine Providence to punish such in a very ex. emplary inanner.
The church was restored to rest after Valerian's captivity. About the year (wo hundred and fixty-two Gallienus his son and successor, in other respects no reputable emperor, proved a fincere friend to the christians, itopped the persecution by edicts, and had the condcicension to give the bishops his letters of licence to return to their paftoral charges. Here follows one of them pre
ferved by Eusebius. “ The emperor CæsarGallienus to Dionysius, (I suppose the bishop of Alexandria then in exile) Pinna, Demetrius, with the rest of the bishops. The benefit of our favour we command to be published through the world, and I have therefore ordered every one to withdraw from such places as are devoted to religious ufes; so that you may make use of the authority of my edict against any moleftation; and I have some time since granted what you may now freely enjoy ; wherefore Cyrenius the governor of the province will observe the rescripc which I have sent.” He directed also another ediet to other bishops, by which he restored to them the places in which they buried their dead.
Were it needful at this day to refute the rash calumnies of Tacitus and others against the chriftians, one might appeal to these two edicts of Gallienus. It is impossible that either of them could have taken place, had it not been undeniable that the christians, even to the time beyond the middle of the third century, were men of probity and worthy the protection of government. As it is impossible to avoid this conclusion, the deepest stain rests on the characters of Trajan, Decius, and Valerian, men highly respected in secular history, for treating with favage ferocity subjects of the best characters. But God, who. has the hearts of all men in his hand, provided a protector for them in Gallienus, after an unexampled course of heavy persecution for the three laft reigns. Gallienus himself seeins to have been more like a modern than an ancient sovereign, a man of taste, indolence, and philosophy; disposed to cherish every thing that looked like knowledge and liberty of thinking; by no means so kind and generous in his constant practice as his profession