صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

A. M. 4067,

Nero, the emperor, was a professed patron of magicians, and of all such as maintain&c. or 5474. ed a secret commerce with the infernal powers. He had a particular dislike to the

Ann. Dom.

63, &c.

doctrine of Christianity likewise, as being so very repugnant to the lusts and passions which he indulged; and was not a little offended at the many conversions which St Peter had made, in persons of some distinction, from a vicious and dissolute course of life, which the emperor admired in any: So that he not only commanded him and St Paul (who was at this time at Rome) to be apprehended and cast into prison, but, by a public edict, raised the † first general persecution against the church, wherein Christians of all orders and degrees were treated with the utmost contempt and cruelty.

In this common calamity, Andrew, the apostle, and (as most think) the younger brother of St Peter, was called to suffer. He, having preached the Gospel, wrought many miracles, and suffered many hardships in the wild northern countries of Scythia and Sogdiana, and after that, in some of the provinces of the Lesser Asia, came at length into + Epirus and Achaia ||, two provinces of Greece, where he still added more con

alone, as some will have it; but by Peter and Paul in conjunction, according to the report of others. Nor is it a small discredit to this story, that the ancients of the three first centuries, who speak much of Simon's being at Rome, and having his statue erected there, should say nothing of his flight or his fall, though they had just reason to speak of them, had they believed them true: " Nor is it credible," (saith Hornius) "that all the Roman writers of those times, Suetonius, Tacitus, Pliny, &c. should pass over so memorable a thing in silence," especially if Simon was so honoured by Claudius, and beloved by Nero, as some authors of this story say he was. This is the substance of what is alleged against it; and yet, according to others, it is fully attested by the Apostolic Constitutions, hinted at in the recognitions, taken for a known fact by such as lived nearest to Rome, viz. Arnobius, Ambrosius, and St Jerom de Script. Eccles. fully mentioned by Eusebius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Epiphanius, and many others; contradicted by no one ecclesiastical writer, and yet supposed to be alluded to in that passage of Suetonius, where he tells us, that Icarus, "primo statim conatu juxta cubiculum Neronis decidit, ipsumque cruores respersit," i. e. "Icarus," or one that flew in the air," in his first attempt, fell down near the emperor's pavilion, and sprinkled his blood upon him." Whitby's Preface to the 2d Epistle to the Thessalonians, and Whiston's Answer to the Grounds and Reasons of the Christian Religion.

Before the Roman empire was converted to Christianity, there are commonly reckoned ten general persecutions. The first in the 10th year of Nero, A. D. 64. the second in the 14th of Domitian, A. D. 95. the third in the 3d of Trajan, A. D. 100. the fourth in the 2d of Antoninus Philosophus, A. D. 165. the fifth in the 4th of Severus, A. D. 197. the sixth in the 1st of Maximinus, 235. the seventh in the 1st of Decius, A. D. 249. the eighth in the 4th of Valerian, A. D. 257. the ninth in the 4th of Aurelian, A. D. 274. and the tenth in the 19th of Dioclesian, A. D. 303. till at length Christianity came to be established by human laws, A. D. 313. Echard's Ecelesiasti al History.

As to the particulars of this persecution, Tacitus

tells us, that at first several were seized, who made profession of this new religion, and, by their confes sion, infinite numbers of others were detected, and executed, and, in the manner of their execution, were treated with all the instances of scorn and bar. barity. Some of them were wrapt up in the skins of wild beasts, and worried and devoured by dogs; others were crucified; and others burnt alive, in paper coats dipped in pitch, wax, and other combustible matters, that when day-light failed, they might serve for torches, and illuminations in the night. Nero exhibited these spectacles in his own gardens, impiously joining to them the diversions of the cirque, and appearing himself publicly in the habit of a charioteer, sitting in his chariot, which yet the people entertained more with pity than pleasure, as knowing they were not done for the public benefit, but merely to gratify the tyrant's private rage and malice. Echard's Ecclesiastical History, 1. i. c. 7.

This is a province of Greece, in its largest acceptation, lying along the coast of the Ionian Sea, and having for its bounds on the north, Albania; on the north-east, Thessaly; on the south-east, Achaia; and on the west, the Ocean. This country was anciently governed by its own princes, then united to the kingdom of Macedon; after that subjected to the Romans; then restored to its own princes; but is now in the possessions of the Turks, except some few places which the Venetians regained in a late war. The Complete Geographer.

The ancient name of this country was Hellas, which the Latins changed into Græcia, and the Turks now call Rumelia. It was used by common writers to denote Macedonia, Epirus, Thessaly, Hellas, or Greece properly so called, and the Peloponnese, now Morea; but the Romans distinguished all these into two provinces only, viz. Macedonia and Achaia, under the former of which they comprehended Epirus and Thessaly, and under the latter, Greece, properly so called, and the Peloponnese. The word Greece, in the Old Testament, generally occurs in its larger acceptation; and in its less in the New: But as for the country itself, it was anciently the most celebrated region of the universe, surpassing all others in arms, arts, and sciences. For many ages it

verts to the Christian faith.

At last, in † Patræa, a city of Achaia, Egeas, the pro- From Acts i. consul, observing the multitudes that, by the apostle's preaching, had fallen off from 10. to the end. Paganism and embraced Christianity, and being not a little offended at his opposing his mandates for the re-establishment of idolatry, and undauntedly persisting in his publication of the doctrine of a crucified Saviour, condemned him to the death which he so much extolled. After seven lictors therefore had cruelly torn his naked body, he was led out with great chearfulness and serenity of mind to be crucified. But his cross was not of the usual form: It was made of two pieces of timber, crossing each other in the middle, in the shape of the letter X, (which ever since has been known by the name of St Andrew's cross) and to this he was fastened, not with nails, but cords, to make his death more painful and lingering. In this condition he hung for the space of three days, all the while teaching and instructing the people; exhorting them to constancy and perseverance in that religion which he had delivered to them; and when great intercessions were made to the proconsul for his life, earnestly requesting of our Lord in prayer, that he might on that day (which was the last of November) depart, and seal the truth of his religion +2 with his blood.

How the two apostles Peter and Paul escaped out of prison from the rage of this persecution, we have no account *; but from the writings of the latter, some have gathered, that returning from Rome into Judea, and there continuing a short time, he thence passed into Asia, where Timothy met him at Ephesus; that from thence he made a visit to the Colossians, whom he had never seen before; and after a considerable stay, returning to Ephesus again, (a) excommunicated Hymeneus ** and Alexan

was divided into small kingdoms or states, until Philip, king of Macedon, and after him Alexander his son, reduced it all under their subjection, and made it a monarchy. This kingdom was afterwards destroy ed by the Romans, and made a province of the empire, in which condition it continued (though sorely mangled by the Goths and Huns) till the Turks (who are its present masters) over-ran it, and have long since effaced all its ancient and magnificent monuments, as well as reduced the people to a state of the utmost slavery and stupidity. Wells's Geography of the New Testament, and the Complete Geographer. + This city is seated on an hill near the sea, at a little distance from the mountain formerly called Cerynea, and not above ten miles from the mouth of the gulph Lepanto. It is a place of good trade, very populous, especially of Jews. It is defended with a strong castle, and has the honour to be an archbishop's see, which has at present, a thousand churches under its jurisdiction. In ancient times the goddess Diana was worshipped here in a cruel manner, having a most beautiful young man and maid every year sacrificed to her, till, by the preaching of St Andrew, Eurypilus was converted to Christianity, and then that horrid superstition was laid aside. The Complete Geographer.

+ His body, being taken down from the cross and embalmed, was decently and honourably interred by Maximilla, a lady of great quality and fortune; but afterwards, by Constantine the Great, it was solemnly removed from Patræa to Constantinople, and there buried in a great church which he had built in honour of all the apostles. Cave's Lives.

[It does not appear to me that St Peter and St Paul were ever prisoners together at Rome but un

der the reign of Nero, when they both suffered mar-
tyrdom. St Paul, indeed, was twice a prisoner there;
but that St Peter was twice a prisoner likewise, seems
to rest on no other evidence, than that, as his first e-
pistle is dated from Babylon, by which Rome is sup-
posed to be meant, and as a considerable portion of
time is supposed to have elapsed between the writing
of his first and his second epistle, he must have been
in Rome before the reign of Nero. It has been shown
however by Michaelis, that the Babylon from which
he dates his first epistle was certainly either the an-
cient Babylon on the Euphrates, which was even then
a populous city, or Seleucia on the Tigris, sometimes
called New Babylon; and it is indeed in the highest
degree improbable in itself, that any man would date
a serious epistle from any place designed by a mys-
tical name, by which that place is not generally
known. It seems therefore little less than certain, that
St Peter did not go to Rome till some time after St
Paul's liberation from his first imprisonment there,
about the year 63 or 64; and that his first epistle was
written at least some years before that period.] Mi-
chaelis's Introduction, vol. iv. and Lardner's Supple.

(a) 1 Tim. i. 20.

This Hymeneus was, very probably, a citizen of Ephesus, who, being converted by some of St Paul's first sermons, fell afterwards into the heresy of those who denied the resurrection of the body, and affirmed that there was no other resurrection than that of the soul, which, by faith and baptism, is revived from sin to grace. The Alexander who was his colleague in this heresy, was doubtless the copper-smith, whom St Paul, in his second epistle to Timothy, loudly com. plains of, as greatly obstructing the good effect of his

Ann. Dom. 64, &c.

A. M. 4068, der, for denying the resurrection of the dead and other articles of faith; that from &c. or 5475. thence, designing to go into Macedonia, he enjoined Timothy, whom (as we said before) he had constituted bishop of Ephesus, (a) to have his residence in that large city, and to take the charge of all the proconsular Asia; that arriving in Macedonia, (b) he visited Philippi, where he stayed a considerable while, and from hence, very probably, sent his first episle || to Timothy; (c) " Wherein he lays down the duties and qualifications of a bishop, as well in respect of his ministry as of his private conversation, and instructs him in the office of a true Christian pastor."

From Macedonia St Paul, intending to remove to Nicopolis* in Epirus, there to pass his winter, wrote his epistle † to Titus, then in Crete, to meet him there; "Where

preaching, chap. iv. 14. but whether he was the same Alexander who would have addressed himself to the multitude, which Demetrius the silver smith of Ephe. sus had drawn together, Acts xix. 24. is a matter of some doubt. However this be, it is certain, that their notion of no other resurrection than a spiritual one, was destructive of the very foundations of Christianity, which are laid in the hopes of a resurrection from the dead; and therefore the apostle thought it expedient to have them excommunicated, i. e. separated from the society of the faithful, and deprived of the privileges of being present at religious assemblies, of partaking of the Lord's supper, and joining in such other holy offices as linked Christians together in one and the same society and communion. Whitby's Annotations on 2 Tim. ii. 17. iv. 14. and Calmet's Dictionary under the word.

(a) 1 Tim. i. 3.

(b) Philip i. 25, 26.

Among the learned there is no small disagreement as to the time when this epistle was written. That it was written after St Paul's departure from Ephesus to Macedonia, some have gathered from these words, "When I went into Macedonia, I besought thee to abide at Ephesus," 1 Tim i. 3. And that it was written when he was in expectation of returning shortly thither, they conclude from these, "I write to thee, hoping to come to thee quickly." 1 Timothy iii. 14. From whence they argue, that it must have been written before he came to Miletus, because there he seems to have laid all thoughts of returning any more to Ephesus; as he tells the clergy of that place, "And I know that all you, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more," Acts xx. 25. And therefore they conclude that it was written while he was in Macedonia, i. e. in the first of Nero, and in the year of our Lord 55. Others allow indeed, that this epistle was written after that St Paul was gone into Macedonia; but then they contend, that this journey into Macedonia was none of those that are recorded in the Acts of the apostles. In his first journey Timothy went with him, but then the apostle had never seen Ephesus, Acts xvi. 10, &c. In his second, though he went from Ephesus, yet so far was he from leaving Timothy there, that he sent him and Erastus before him, Acts xix. 21, 22. And in the third, he did not go from Ephesus, but from Greece into Macedonia, whence Timothy accompanied him, first to Jerusalem, and then to Rome, Acts xx. 3, 4. So that there could be no possibility for St Paul to leave

Timothy at Ephesus, while himself departed into Macedonia, till after the time of his return from Rome. They therefore suppose, that after he was released from his confinement he returned into Asia, and having made some stay at Ephesus, went from thence into Macedonia; that this is the time when he besought Timothy to abide still at Ephesus, and consequently that this epistle was written to him about the 10th of Nero, and in the year of our Lord 63. For since, in the course of the history of the Acts (which extends as far as St Paul's imprisonment), we can find no room to place this epistle, we must necessarily refer it to the time which was subsequent to his releasement, and when he went to revisit the churches which he had planted in the east. Whitby's and Beausobre's Preface to the First Epistle to Timothy. [See likewise Marsh's Michaelis, vol. iv.]

(c) 1 Tim. passim.

Nicopolis, by the Turks called Sciltaro, stands on the Danube, at the mouth of the Iatrus or Ischar, twenty-five miles north from Silistria. It was built by the emperor Trajan, in memory of his victory over king Decebalus; and near this place Sigismund king of Hungary was unfortunately defeated by Bajazet the Turkish emperor, A. D. 1136, which was owing more to the divisions among the Christians than the bravery of the Turks; for of the latter there fell sixty thousand, but of the former only twenty, as history relates. [There were many cities called Nicopolis; but it is self-evident that the Nicopolis built by Trajan could not be the city from which St Paul wrote to Titus. Michaelis thinks, and his opinion is at least as probable as any other that I have met with, that Nicopolis in Epire, which was built by Augustus, in memory of his victory over Antony, was that city. The same learned author seems to have proved that the epistle to Titus was written some time before St Paul's first imprisonment in Rome, and before he wrote his second epistle to the Corinthians.] The Complete Geographer, and Marsh's Michaelis, vol. iv.

There is some dispute among the learned concerning the time when this epistle was written. That it was written after the time that St Paul had left Titus at Crete, Titus i. 5. cannot be denied ; but then the question is, when St Paul was at Crete, since in all the Acts of the Apostles we find no footsteps of his being there. In his voyage to Rome, indeed, the vessel in which he sailed touched at the Fair Havens belonging to Crete; but as that was no commodious

in he describes to him (as he had done to Timothy) the qualifications which a bishop From Acts . ought to have, and more especially a bishop of Crete, where some sharpness and se-10. to the end. verity was necessary, amidst a people of their perverse and obstinate tempers; wherein he admonishes him not to suffer the flock committed to his charge to be led away by the delusions of Judaizing Christians; and wherein he lays down precepts for people of all conditions of life, even not forgetting servants, because Jesus Christ has poured out his grace upon all men."

From Nicopolis (as soon as winter was over) St Paul went a third time to Corinth, where (a) he appointed Erastus to continue: Thence crossing the sea into Asia, he came to Ephesus, where, upon his departure, he left Timothy in tears, and so proceeded to Miletum, where he left Trophimus sick. From Miletum he travelled northward to Troas, and lodged with Carpus |, one of his disciples, where (b) he left his cloak †, some books, and parchment-rolls; and, in all probability, about this time it was that he suffered those persecutions and afflictions at Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra, (c) whereof he makes mention to Timothy, and thanks God for his deliverance from them. But though God was pleased to deliver him from these afflictions, yet it was not long before he discovered to him the near approach of his death, and gave him to know particularly, that at Rome he was to suffer martyrdom; which was so

harbour, she soon set sail from thence, in hopes to make Phenice, another port in the same island, but by contrary winds was drove another way. Whether St Paul, at this time, had Titus in company with him it nowhere appears; but the short stay which he made at the Fair Havens (which was only to consult whether they should winter there or not), will not permit us to think, (especially considering, that at this time he was a prisoner in bonds) either that he attempted to preach the Gospel there, or that he had any occasion to leave Titus in the island, "to set in order the things that were wanting, and to ordain elders in every city." As therefore we said before, in relation to the epistle to Timothy, viz. that after St Paul was restored to his liberty he returned into the East to visit the churches which he had planted; in his voyage from Rome to Jerusalem he might conveniently enough call at Crete; after he had staid and preached some time there, leave Titus behind him, to regulate such matters as he had not time and opportunity himself to do; and in a year or two after (i. e. in the 12th of Nero, and of our Lord 65.) send him this letter to renew his instructions, and to request his company. For, that this epistle was writ ten after the apostle had obtained his discharge, is manifest from his making no mention of his bonds and temptations, as he does in his epistle to the E phesians chap. vi. 20.; to the Philippians i. 7.; to the Colossians iv. 18.; to Philemon ver. 9.; and in his second to Timothy chap. i. 8.: and whoever compares this epistle to Titus with the two to Timothy, will find such an affinity in their subjects, the same sentiments, and the same instructions, occasioned by the sanie set of men who began now to appear in the East, and spread their fables and impostures every where, as will easily convince him that they were all written much about the same time, though the first to Timothy, seems to be of prior date to that to Titus, even as that to Titus may be thought to precede the second to Timothy. In relation to Titus (for this is the

last time we shall meet with him in our history), after
having preached the Gospel in Dalmatia, 2 Tim. iv. 10.
he is said to have returned into Crete; to have pro-
pagated the Christian religion in the neighbouring
islands; and, dying in the ninety-fourth year of his
age, and being buried in Crete, to have had the ca-
thedral church of the island dedicated to his name.
Whitby's and Beausobre's Preface to the Epistle
to Titus, Calmet's Commentary, and the preceding

(a) 2 Tim. iv. 20.

We know very little of the life of Carpus, only
that he must be a different person from St Polycarp,
bishop of Smyrna, and from that other Carpus, whom
the false Dionysius, in his letter to Demophilus makes
mention of. The Greeks tell us a great many parti-
culars of him which are far from being certain. They
affirm, that he was one of the seventy disciples; that
he propagated the truth in several places; that he
wrought abundance of miracles; that he was St Paul's
assistant in preaching the Gospel, and was employed
by him in carrying his epistles. They make him bi-
shop of Beræa, and say that he died in peace. Cal-
met's Commentary and Dictionary under the Word.
(b) 2 Tim. iv. 13.

What we are to understand by St Paul's cloak,
will best be resolved in our answers to the following
objections. We have only to observe here,―That
the time when he left this cloak, was not when he
went from Troas to Assos in his journey to Jerusalem,
for then (as Bishop Pearson says) he could have no
cause to leave any thing of moment, having so many
to accompany him in his journey, as well as a ship to
attend him, Acts xx. 4. 6. 13. but it was in his tra-
vels, after he was set at liberty, and had left Rome,
or rather in his return to Rome again, that, in the
hurry of his departure, he left some things with Car-
pus, which he afterwards found he wanted. Whitby's
Annotations, and Calmet's Commentary.
(c) 2 Tim. iii. 11.

A. M. 4069, far from retarding, that it made him hasten his journey with joy and alacrity to that

&c. or 5476. Ann. Dom.

65, &c.


It was about the twelfth or thirteenth year of Nero's reign when he came to Rome the second time, where, meeting and joining with Peter, they both used their utmost endeavours to instruct the Jews in their synagogues, and to convert the Gentiles in all public places and assemblies. This soon raised the malice and indignation of the magistrates, especially of the governor (d) Helius, whom Nero, at his departure into Greece, left invested with exorbitant powers, which he exercised after as exorbitant a manner. It was crime enough for these two apostles that they were Christians; but the particular prejudice against Peter is said to have been his defeating Simon Magus, and that against Paul, his converting one of the emperor's concubines. However this be, apprehended they both were, and cast into prison, where they spent their time in the most solemn acts of devotion, and, as occasion offered, preached the Gospel to their guards and fellow-prisoners, among whom it is said that they converted Processus and Martinian, two captains of the guard, with seven and forty others.

During the time of the apostle's confinement, St Peter wrote his second general epistle to the converted Jews who were dispersed in the several provinces of Asia ; "Wherein he endeavours, by earnest exhortations, to prevail with them to persevere in the doctrine which they had received, and to testify the soundness and sincerity of their faith, by a Christian life comporting therewith: Wherein he forewarns them of the false teachers † that would shortly spring up among them; foretels their sad and miserable destruction; and describes them by their odious characters, that they might avoid them: Wherein he vindicates the doctrine of Christ's coming to judgment, which the heretics of those times denied, that thereby they might encourage men the more securely to pursue their lewd courses; and wherein he describes the great and terrible


(d) He is called Cæsarianus, as being the emperor's freed man, and by the apostle the lion, 2 Tim. iv. 17. by reason of his cruelty against Christians.

* That this epistle was written by St Peter, is evident both from the inscription it bears, and the concurrence of circumstances in it, relating to that apostle, and none else; and therefore we may suppose, that the true reason of its late reception into the list of the Holy Scriptures, was, not so much its difference of style, as its not being addressed to any particular church, that might have taken care to preserve it, and in due time to have entered its claim for a place in the canon: And that it was indited, not after the destruction of Jerusalem, as some will have it, but a little before the author's death (not improbably in the 13th of Nero's reign, A. D. 67.), may be justly concluded from this declaration of his, " I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to put you always in remembrance of these things, knowing, that shortly I shall put off this tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewn me," 2 Pet. i. 12, 13, 14. Beausobre's, Whitby's, and Hammond's Preface to the 2d Epistle of St Peter; Sherlock's First Dissertation at the end of his Discourses on Prophecy, and Marsh's Michaelis, vol. iv.

There are three sorts of people which the apostle cautions his converts against in this epistle. 1st, The Solifidians, who talked of attaining salvation by the strength of their faith, or a right belief of the doctrines of Christianity, without any regard to a virtuous life. 2dly, The Nicolaitans, who turned the "grace

of God into lasciviousness," and, upon the presumption of their being spiritual persons, and the seed of election, averred, that they contracted no guilt, and could receive no pollution from any evil action they did. And, 3dly, The scoffers at the promise of Christ's coming to judgment, which they looked upon as a thing that could never be verified, and which the continuance of their persecutions gave the Christians small hopes of expecting. Whitby's Preface to the Second Epistle of St Peter.

It is the opinion of the reverend and judicious Dr Hammond and Dr Lightfoot, that St Peter, in the third chapter of his second epistle, does not discourse of our Lord's coming to the general judgment of all mankind; but only of his coming to execute his judgement on the Jews in the final destruction of their church and nation: But, besides that this notion is entirely new, and contrary to the sentiments of all the ancients, who have commented upon this epistle, it seems obvious at first sight, that "the day of the Lord, in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burnt up," can mean no other than the great day of judgment: For, to interpret these words of the destruction of Jerusalem only, is to turn them into a metaphor and allegory; whereas St Peter says plainly, that as the old world was destroyed by water, so shall the world that now is be destroyed by fire, 2 Pet. iii, 6, 7. It is usual indeed with the prophets, to represent God's judgments on the enemies of his church

« السابقةمتابعة »