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sort of nominal Christians, who took every step to endear himself to the Pagans, and from whose favour they expected great things. We may therefore look upon this war as upon a struggle between Paganism and Christianity, in which the latter, by God's blessing, was superior, without ascribing the success to the orthodoxy of the emperor, and to the intervention of saints. See Tillemont, Hist. des Emp. v. 356, &c.
Theodosius, when he was to engage with Eugenius, shut himself in a church one night to pray, and falling asleep, he saw in a vision two men in white apparel, on white horses, who promised him that they would assist him; the one was St. Philip the Apostle, and the other St. John the Evangelist. Theodoret, v. 24.
In Tillemont's Hist. des Emp. t. v. this important vision is represented en taille-douce,' in a print, in the frontispiece, as the most signal occurrence in the fourth century.
The story seems to have been borrowed from the old Pagan story of Castor and Pollux, who fought for the Romans, and appeared equis candidis insidentes,' as the Roman historians inform us. The only thing wanted to complete the parallel was, that the apostles should have stroked the emperor's beard, and turned it red.
Whilst the battle was fought, a dæmoniac at Constantinople was raised up in the air, and began to curse John the Baptist, and to reproach him that he had been be headed, and to scream out, It is you who conquer me and destroy my army. Sozom. vii. 24.
Either the devil and Sozomen, or else Theodoret, seem to have made a mistake; for the two first ascribe the victory to John the Baptist, and the third to John the Evangelist.
The last Pagan prince who was a formidable enemy to Christianity, was Radagaisus, a king of the Goths. He threatened no less than the ruin of the Roman empire, and invaded it with an army, as it is said, of four hundred thousand men, about A. D. 405. The Romans were saved from the hand of this barbarian, and slew him, and obtained a most signal victory, which they ascribed to a
Philostorgius says that he was a Fagan, p. 538.
particular providence. Tillemont has collected with his usual accuracy what is recorded concerning this great deliverance. Hist. des Emp. v. 538. S. Basnage also hath given a large account of it, Annal. iii. 212.
Radagaisus had vowed to sacrifice all the Romans to his Gods. The Pagans in Rome and in Italy, who still were numerous, imputed these calamities to the introduction of Christianity, and to the suppression of Paganism, and were disposed to rebel and to re-establish their old religious rites.
But the Romans, commanded by Stilicho, obtained a complete victory, without any loss of men, and Radagaisus, together with his sons, was taken prisoner, and put to death.
Baronius assures us that the victory was owing to the assistance of Ambrose, though Augustin, and Orosius, who give the glory of it to God, might have taught him better.
If bigotry and political godliness did not eat up all shame, Christians would not presume to ascribe a wonderful deliverance to Ambrose, rather than to Jesus Christ, upon the authority of an obscure mortal, one Paulinus, who wrote a Life of Ambrose, full of lying miracles, and who yet has not affirmed it.
But, it seems, the Divine Providence can do nothing without the intercession of saints. Radagaisus besieged Florence. This city was reduced to the utmost streights, when Saint Ambrose, who had once retired thither, ( (and who had now been dead nine years) appeared to a person of the house where he had lodged, and promised him that the city should be delivered from the enemy on the next day. The man told it to the inhabitants, who took courage, and resumed the hopes which they had quite lost: and on the next day came Stilicho, with his army. Pauli nus, who relates this, learned it from a lady who lived at Florence. And this proves what Saint Paulinus says, that God granted the preservation of the Romans to the prayers of Saint Peter, Saint Paul, and the other martyrs and confessors who were honoured by the church throughout the empire.' Tillemont, Hist. des Emp. v. p. 540.
One might have asked Saint Paulinus, the bishop of Nola, Where wert thou, when the apostles and martyrs made supplication for the Romans? didst thou stand by
and hear them? Say no more about it, but go thy ways and cut chips out of the cross, which, as thou hast told us, grows again as fast as it is diminished.
Hunneric, the Vandal, was an Arian, a cruel prince, and a most inhuman persecutor of the Consubstantialists, A. D. 484. This barbarian spared not even those of his own sect, or his own friends and kindred. His end, as historians relate, was suitable to his iniquities, and such as he would have equally deserved if he had been a Consubstantialist, and had destroyed the Arians. His sufferings, supposing them to be divine judgments, prove nothing at all as to the controversy; but only this, that God hates tyranny and cruelty, the wickedness of which is a clear and uncontested point.
Dum diris cruciatibus ecclesiam Africanam lacerat Hunnericus, sensit non mortalibus, sed Christo injuriam se fecisse, elementis ipsis primum ad puenas impio irrogandas festinantibus. Pluvià negatâ, remansit lurida terræ facies: nullis arbores frondibus, nullis segetibus tellus cooperiebatur. Lues gravem animalibus et hominibus cladem immittebat. Juvenum, senum, adolescentium, adolescentularum, puerorum agmina simul et funera passim diffundebantur. Catervatim Carthaginem confluebant animata cadavera. Miseros ea urbe pelli rex e vestigio jubet, ne contagio deficientium commune pararet etiam exercitui ejus sepul chrum. Neque multo post regio corpori horrenda pœna irrogatur, quam Victoris verbis referemus: Tenuit sceleratissimus Hunnericus dominationem regni, annis septem, mensibus decem, meritorum suorum mortem consummans. Nam putrefactum et ebulliens vermibus non corpus, sed partes corporis ejus videntur esse sepulta. Multa de suo, vel ex falso rumore petita, tragica Hunnerici morti addidit Gregorius Turonensis: Hunnericus post tantum facinus arreptus a dæmone, qui diu de sanctorum sanguine pastus erat, propriis se morsibus laniabat. etiam cruciatu vitam indignam justa morte finivit. Dirum magni regis supplicium ubique locorum clamat,
• Discite justitiam moniti, nec temnite Christum.
S. Basnage Ann. iii. p. 570.
There is nothing improbable in Victor's account; but yet he is a writer who deals so much in the marvellous, that there is no trusting him. More credit ought to be given to the excellent Thuanus, who thus represents the barbarities and the death of some modern persecutors.
In the reign of Francis the first, the remainders of the Vaudois were massacred by the French Catholics, with the utmost brutality. The baron D'Oppede, who con ducted the affair, was called to account for it, and was screened and protected by some great men; but not long after, this inhuman wretch was seized with racking pains in his bowels, and died in most miserable anguish; and God, who suffered him to escape the punishment which his judges ought to have inflicted upon him, punished him himself in a severer manner.'
A Roman monk, called John, signalized himself at that time in persecuting these poor innocent people. • He invented a new kind of torment; he put their legs into boots full of boiling tallow, and then laughing at them, he asked them if they were not well equipped for their journey. Having heard that the parliament of Aix, by orders from the king, had condemned him, he fled to Avignon, where being screened from men, and from human courts of justice, he could not escape Divine Vengeance. He was stripped of all his effects by his domestics, and reduced to a state of beggary: his body was covered all over with loathsome ulcers, and he lived long in this horrible condition, often wishing for death, which came not, till he had endured dreadful torments.' See Le Clerc, Bibl. Ch. xxvii. 1.
Philip de Comines, who wrote the History of Lewis the eleventh of France, could not avoid observing that the divine vengeance was conspicuous in returning to this most wicked prince the evil which he had inflicted upon others, and in making his punishment suitable to his offences. Many memorable and striking instances of this kind might be produced from modern historians.
In the Scriptures there are examples of saints as well as of sinners, who suffered in this life according to the law of retaliation. St. Paul was consenting to the stoning of Stephen; and though God forgave him, yet he permitted VOL. M. U
him to be used by the Jews as he and the Jews had used Stephen and other Christians, and he was banished, im prisoned, beaten, scourged, and three times stoned.
It is observable, that from the beginning of the reign of Tiberius down to Constantine, the Romans, even omitting the colleagues of the emperors, and those usurpers who set themselves up against them, had no less than thirtyseven emperors, whose reigns, one with another, amount only to seven years for each. Take the same space of time in the English history, from William the Conqueror, and you have no more than eleven kings, and their reigns will be of twenty-seven years, one with another.
This very quick succession of the Roman emperors for the first three centuries, the violent and untimely death by which many of them perished, the empire often falling into the hands of persons not related to their predecessors, but their enemies and rivals, and not disposed to adopt their private views and animosities, was of singular advantage to Christianity, and made the persecutions less violent and less lasting than they would else have been, and may very reasonably be looked upon as providential.
Let us now see what the prophets have delivered concerning these events.
The hundred-and-tenth Psalm is a direct and literal phecy of Christ:
1. The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
2. The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
3. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.
4. The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek.
5. The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.
6. He shall judge among the Heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies: he shall wound the heads over many countries.
7. He shall drink of the brook in the way; therefore shall he lift up his head.'.