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who insisted on his returning home again, which he did. He, nevertheless visited Cæsarea, not long afterwards, where he received ordination, which gave such offence to Demetrius, that from that time he did every thing in his power to injure him, particularly by exposing the rash action mentioned above; though when it was communicated to him in confidence, he had promised never to divulge it, and at that time did not even blame him for it, but encouraged him to apply with vigour to the duties of his profession.

Demetrius at first got him banished from Alexandria, in a council held A. D. 231, though on what pretence does not distinctly appear. In a second council he was deposed from the priesthood and excommunicated ; and the sentence was of course ratified by distant churches. Still, however, he was received at Cæsarea, and by other bishops who became greatly attached to him, and undertook his defence. While he resided at Cæsarea, numbers resorted to him from distant quarters for instruction; and among others Gregory, afterwards bishop of Neocesarea, and his brother Athenodorus, whom he persuaded to abandon profane literature for the study of Theology'; and they attended his lectures five years. Firmilian, also bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, a distinguished character in his time, was so attached to Origen that he strove to prevail upon him to remove into his province and reside with him.

In this situation he composed his commentaries on the scriptures, dictating, it is said, to seven notaries and sometimes more, and employing as many scribes to take fair copies, the expence of which was cheerfully defrayed by Ambrosius, whom Origen had brought over from the Valentinians to the catholic church. When he was turned sixty, he permitted scribes to copy after him as he delivered his discourses from the pulpit. It was in this

SECT. III.] Life of Origen,

197 period of his life that he drew up his excellent books against Celsus, in defence of Christianity. This latter was an Epicurean philosopher, who undertook to calumniate Christianity, in the most outrageous manner. Origen most ably answered all his objections, and vindicated the truth of his own religion, by the prophecies concerning Christ, by the evidence of miracles, and by an appeal to the holy influence of the gospel evinced in the lives of his disciples. This is considered by the learned to be the most valuable of all his writings, which were certains ly very voluminous, for Eusebius says he wrote five and twenty volumes upon the gospel by Matthew! It must be remembered, however, that the ancients gave the title of volume to very small tracts.

In the persecution under Maximin, Origen concealed himself by retiring to Athens, where, however, he was not idle, but continued to write commentaries. In the persecution under Decius, he was apprehended, and though then far advanced in life, he shewed an example in his own conduct of that fortitude which he had so early in life, and so often afterwards, recommended to others. He was confined in the interior part of the prison, and there fastened with an iron chain, his feet stretched in the stocks to the fourth hole, a circumstance evidently mentioned by the historian to intimate that it was a posture of extreme pain, and where he was kept for several days. He bore, with invincible fortitude, a great variety of tortures to which his persecutors subjected him, taking care that they should not absolutely deprive him of life; and at length he was threatened to be burned alive. But nei. ther what he felt, nor what he feared, at all moved him. He survived this persecution--and lived to write letters afterwards highly edifying to those of his persecuted brethren who were brought into similar circumstances;

and, at the advanced age of seventy, in the year 254, died at Tyro, a natural death.

From the death of Maximin to the reign of Decius, the Christians enjoyed considerable repose, and the gospel made an extensive progress. Indeed, with the exception of the short reign of Maximin, they suffered but little persecution for nearly half a century, and the effects were but too manifest in the melancholy state of the churches at this time,---in the laxity of their discipline, and the general lukewarmness which had come upon them in their profession. The simplicity and purity of the Christian religion was greatly corrupted, and the usual concomitants of a season of worldly ease and prosperity, viz. ambition, pride, and luxury, too generally prevailed both among pastors and people. In such a state of things, it cannot surprize a reflecting mind, that He who walks in the midst of the golden candlesticks, and holds the stars in his right hand—who has declared that he will make all the churches to know that it is He who searches the reins and hearts, and will give to every one according to his works-should interpose at this time to vindicate his own cause, and reclaim the wanderings of his people.

No sooner had Decius ascended the throne than a tem, pest was raised, in which the fury of persecution fell in a dreadful manner upon the church of Christ. Whether it were from an ill-grounded fear of the Christians, or from a violent zeal for the superstition of his ancestors, does not appear; but it is certain that he issued edicts of the most dreadful kind, commanding the prætors, on pain of death, either to extirpate the whole body of Christians without exception, or to force them by torments of various kinds to return to the pagan worship. Hence in all the provinces of the empire, during a space of two years,

SECT. 111.]

Persecution under Decius.


multitudes of Christians were put to death by the most horrid punishments which an ingenious barbarity could invent.

This trying state of things was continued, with more or less intermission, during the reigns of Gallus, Valerian, Diocletian, and others of the Roman emperors; but the detail is harrassing to the feelings, and instead of prosecuting it circumstantially, I shall dismiss the subject by an extract from Dr. Chandler's History of Persecutions, relating to this period. “The most excessive and outrageous barbarities,” says he, “were made use of upon all who would not blaspheme Christ and offer incense to the imperial gods. They were publickly whipped,-drawn by the heels through the streets of cities,-racked till every bone of their body was disjointed,—had their teeth beat out,-their noses, hands, and cars cut off,--sharp pointed spears run under their nails,—were tortured with melted lead thrown on their naked bodies,—had their eyes dug out,—their limbs cut off,—were condemned to the mines,-ground between stones,-stoned to death,—burnt alive,-thrown headlong from the high buildings,-beheaded,--smothered in burning lime kilns,--run through the body with sharp spears,-destroyed with hunger, thirst, and cold, -thrown to the wild beasts,---broiled on gridirons with slow fires,-cast by heaps into the sea,-crucified, --scraped to death with sharp shells,-torn in pieces by the boughs of trees,-and, in a word, destroyed by all the various methods that the most diabolical subtlety and malice could devise.” *

When the persecution arose under the emperor Decius, or rather, as it is expressed by a late writer," when the gates of hell were once more opened, and merciless executioners were let loose upon the defenceless churches, who deluged the earth with blood” (A. D. 249.), Cyprian was presbyter of the church of Carthage, having beeri ordained the preceding year. He was soon marked out as a victim to imperial fury, but he prudently fled from Carthage, in consequence of which he was proscribed, and his effects were seized. He was censured by some persons as a deserter of his flock; but the firmness and Christian piety with which he afterwards (under the reign of Valerian, A.D. 258.) laid down his life, afford a presumption that he had not retired for want of courage. His works, which consist of a collection of his epistles, eighty-three in number, and several tracts, contain much information respecting the state of Christianity at that period, at the same time that they display a benevolent and pious mind, and evince much of the character of the Christian pastor, in the affectionate solicitude with which he watched over his flock. The letters which he wrote during his retirement, give a distressing picture of the effects which had been produced upon the churches by that state of tranquillity and exemption from suffering, which, with little interruption, they had enjoyed from the death of Severus, in 211, to the reign of Decius in 249,a period of about forty years.

* Introduction to Limborch's History of the Inquisition, vol. 1. sect. 1. p. 14. Should any suspect Dr. Chandler of having overcharged the picture in this dreadful detail, I must entreat them to look into any of the larger histories of this period, and they will soon be undeceived.

“ It must be owned and confessed," says he, “ that the outrageous and heavy calamity, which hath almost devoured our flock, and continues to devour it to this day, hath happened to us because of our sins, since we keep not the way of the Lord, nor observe his heavenly commands, which were designed to lead us to salvation. Christ, our Lord, fulfilled the will of the father, but we neglect the will of Christ. Our principal study is to get money and es. tates; we follow'after pride; we areat leisure for nothing but emulation and quarrelling, and have neglected the sim

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