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of character and action, among the Christians, which would arise from difference of temperament and condition in life. In the characters of Macer and Probus, we are presented with a striking contrast between religion, as it appears when engrafted upon a mind stern and impulsive, unregulated and unreflective, and upon one that has been disciplined by study and philosophy, and cultivated by the society of the learned and refined. Macer was the son of a keeper of the Vivaria, in Rome, and passed his early years in the purlieus of the amphitheatres. Since his arrival at manhood, he had served in the armies of his country, under successive emperors, and in almost every part of the world. Having become a convert to Christianity, he embraced the rigid doctrines of the Novatians,—the puritans of that early period of the church,—and believing himself under the special guidance of Heaven, he became one of those stern enthusiasts, who are to be found in every age, and under all religions, and who, by the severity of their manners and principles, and the vehemence of their denunciations, are sure to challenge hostility and persecution upon themselves and the cause whose misfortune it is to have them for its advocates. But the spirit of Macer will be best illustrated by some passages of the language he is made to use. He had been haranguing the people in the street, from the steps of the temple of Peace, just after he had been strongly rebuked, and rudely thrust from the tribunal of the prefect Varus, before whom he had come to prefer a complaint of injustice. The passages, which we select, present scenes that, in many of their features, were by no means uncommon, in those days of conflict of faith with faith. * As he was descending from the place of his harangue, one of the multitude furiously brings against him the common charge, that “he was an atheist, like all the rest of the Christians; they have no gods; they deny the gods of Rome, and give us nothing in their stead.”
«We deny the gods of Rome, I know,' replied Macer, “and who would not, who had come to years of discretion? who had so much as left his nurse's lap? A fouler brotherhood than they, the lords of heaven, Rome does not contain. Am I to be called upon to worship a set of wretches, chargeable with all the crimes and vices to be found on earth? It is this accursed idolatry, O Romans, that has sunk you so low in sin. They are your lewd, and drunken, and
* Neander's Church History, Vol. I, 151.
savage deities, who have taught you all your refinement in wickedness; and never, till you remove them, never, till you repent you of your iniquities, never, till you turn, and worship the true God, will you rise out of the black Tartarean slough in which you are lying. These two hundred years, and more, has God called to you by his Son, and you have turned away your ears; you have hardened your hearts; the prophets, who have come to you in his name, have you slain by the sword, or hung upon the accursed tree. Awake out of your slumbers! These are the last days. God will not forbear for ever. The days of vengeance will come; they are now at band; I can hear the rushing of that red right arm, hot with wrath
"Away with him! away with him! broke from an bundred voices! Down with the blasphemer!'- Who is he, to speak thus of the gods of Rome?'_ Seize the impious Galilean, and away with him to the prefect! These, and a thousand exclamations of the same kind, and more savage, were heard on every side, and at the same moment, their denial, and counter exclamations, from as many more.
« « He has spoken the truth !– He is a brave fellow !_He shall not be touched, except we fall first ! came from a resolute band, who encompassed the preacher, and seemed resolved to make good their words, by defending him against whatever assault might be made. Macer, himself a host in such an affray, neither spoke nor moved, standing upright and stiff as a statue ; but any one might see the soldier in his kindling eye, and that a slight cause would bring him upon the assailants with a fury that would deal out wounds and death. He had told them that the old legionary was not quite dead within him, and sometimes usurped the place of the Christian ; this they seemed to remember; and after showering upon him vituperation and abuse in every form, one after another, they withdrew, and left him with those who had gathered immediately around him. These, too, soon took their leave of him, and Macer, unimpeded and alone, turned towards his home.”—Probus, Vol. I, pp. 246, 247.
Again, when the Christians had been prohibited, on the severest penalties, from preaching to the people, or holding their assemblies in public, Macer ascends the steps of the capitol, and with the edict of the emperor staring him full in the face, begins an address to the multitude, ever ready to listen to his vehement and exciting eloquence. We quote the closing passage:
“Romans!' turning now, and addressing the crowd, the emperor, in his edict, tells me not to preach to you. Not to preach Christ in Rome, neither within a church, nor in the streets. Shall I obey him? When Christ says, “Go forth and preach the gospel to every creature,” shall I give ear to a Roman emperor, who bids me hold my peace? Not so, not so, Romans. I love God too well, and Christ too well, and you too well, to heed such bidding. I love Aurelian, too. I have served long under him, and he was ever good to me. He was a good, as well as a great general, and I loved
him. I love him now, but not so well as these ; not so well as you. And if I obeyed this edict, it would show that I loved him better than you; and better than these, which would be false. If I obeyed this edict, I should never speak to you again of this new religion, as you call it. I should leave you all to perish in your sins, without any of that knowledge, or faith, or hope in Christ, which would save you from them, and form you after the image of God, and after death, carry you up to dwell with him and with just men, for ever and ever. I should then, indeed, show that I hated you, which I can never do. I love you, and Rome, I cannot tell how much, -as much as a child ever loved a mother, or children one another. And therefore it is, that no power on earth, nor above it, nor under it, save that of God, shall hinder me from declaring to you the doctrine which I think you need, nay, without which your souls will perish, and dwell for ever and ever, not with God, but in fires eternal, of the lowest hell. For, what can your gods do for you? what are they doing? They lift you not up to themselves, they push you down, rather, to those fires. Christ, O Romans, if you will receive him, will save you from them, and from those raging fires of sorrow and remorse, which, here on earth, do constitute a hell, hot as any that burns below. It is your sins, which kindle those fires, and with which Christ wages war,—not with you. It is your sins, against which I wage war here, in the streets of Rome. Only repent of your sins, Romans, and believe in Christ, the Son of God, and, O how glorious and happy were then this great and glorious city. I have told you before, and I tell you now, your vices are undermining the foundations of this great empire. There is no power to cure these, but in Jesus Christ. And when I know this, shall I cease to preach Christ to you, because a man, a man like myself, forbids me? Would you not still prepare for a friend, or a child, the medicine that would save his life, though you were charged by another, never so imperiously, to forbear? The gospel is the divine medicament that is to heal all your sicknesses, cure all your diseases, remove all your miseries, cleanse all your pollutions, correct all your errors, confirm within you all necessary truth. And when it is this healing draught, for which your souls cry aloud, for which they thirst, even unto death, shall 1, the messenger of God, sent in the name of his Son, to bear to your lips the cup of which, if you once drink, you shall live for ever, withhold from you that cup, or dash it to the ground ? Shall I, a mediator between God and man, falter in my speech, and my tongue hang palsied in my mouth, because Aurelian speaks? What, to me, O Romans, is the edict of a Roman emperor? Down, down, accursed scrawl! nor insult, longer, both God and man.
"And saying that, he reached forth his hand, and seizing the parchment, wrenched it from its brazen frame, and rending it to shreds, strowed them abroad upon the air.”—Probus, Vol. II, pp. 98—100.
Scarcely was this act of high-handed contempt of the emperor's authority accomplished, when the Christian
was hurried again to the judgment-seat of the prefect Varus, where, with the fortitude of a soldier and a Christian, he offers up his life amidst the taunts of the multitude and the tortures of every instrument that cruelty could invent. But the vengeance of the populace is not thus satisfied. They hurry from the scene of Macer's sufferings and death, to the obscure dwelling of his wife and children,-an interesting group,—whom, to complete the symmetry of his character, the father is represented as having deserted (in obedience to the suggestions of his imaginary inspiration), and left for their support to the charity of friends or the scanty earnings of their own occasional labors. They are dragged forth from their humble home, and, amidst the most heart-rending entreaties, in a public square of the city consecrated to such uses, are given to the blood-hounds of the amphitheatre. The rising of this war of popular vengeance and its breaking upon the devoted family of Macer, constitute a scene which, for power and vividness of description, we have seldom seen surpassed.
We had intended to contrast with this reckless yet wellmeant enthusiasm, some passages from the eloquent defence of the Christians, which Probus makes in the presence of Aurelian, but our limits forbid, and we must refer our readers to the defence itself, as a clear and earnest, yet calm and well-reasoned exposition, of the nature of Christianity, and the rights of its disciples.
The literature of antiquity is singularly deficient in the incidents of private history. It opens here and there a glimpse, through which we may follow some literary or public man to the scenes of his familiar resort; but the numberless goings on of life in the ancient world, its daily intercourse, its loves and hates, and domestic relationships, are all shrouded in the veil which time so speedily throws over the unrecorded events of the past. This veil, Mr. Ware, we think, has been eminently successful in lifting from the period of Roman history which he describes. As we read, the age seems to rise around us. We are not merely distant and idle spectators of its varied scenes, but stand in their very midst. We move with the rushing multitudes through the streets of Rome, we are present at the shows of the amphitheatre, at the assemblies of the Christians, and in the palace of the emperor. We catch
a portion of the spirit of those degenerate times, and look into the hidden movements of that vast machinery of empire which holds the world in chains.
To one feature, alone, in the author's portraiture of the early Christians, we have to object. And to this, our objections arise, not so much from different views of the history of the period, as of the character and meaning of Christianity itself. It is, that in these pages the religion of Christ wears too much the appearance of a mere ethical system, whose heavenly origin was attested by the holy life and martyr-death of its founder, and to which converts were won by the power of argument and the impulses of feeling alone. Not a few of the speeches and conversations, which are here put into the mouths of the Christians, present a striking contrast, in this respect, to the addresses of a similar character recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, or to the strain of lofty fervor that runs through the epistles of the New Testament. There is no recognition of the sacrifice for sin, of “God manifest in the flesh," of the divinity veiled in humanity, which, in our apprehension, so deeply impressed the minds of the early Christians and give to the teachings of the Saviour, and the ordinances of his religion, their awful significance and sanction. Christianity, as here presented, is little else than Judaism softened and made milder by the principles of universal love. The object of worship it presents is still an abstraction. It is the far off, unapproachable Deity, sitting apart in the solitude of his glory, and commanding only the cold and distant reverence of men. A faith and an object of worship like these could commend themselves to the mind of the philosopher alone. The multitude, among whom our religion won its greatest triumphs, would never have felt its power. The human mind is ever demanding images embodying the abstract principles it is called upon to reverence. It must have them, or the principles themselves soon lose their hold on the affections and consciences of men. We see this strikingly illustrated in the ancient Jews. Their whole history is the almost unvarying record of a constant alternation between the worship of the abstract and universal Deity, and of the forms of nature in which he was suffered to exhibit his character. Neither the recollection of the terrific scenes of Sinai, nor the constant presence of