THE

APOLOGY OF TERTULLIAN

Translated and Annotated by

WM. REEVE, A.M.

SOMETIME VICAR OF CRANFORD, MIDDLESEX

AND THE

MEDITATIONS OF THE EMPEROR

MARCUS AURELIUS ANTONINUS

Translated by

JEREMY COLLIER, A.M.

[The latter work has been omitted from this webpage]

Griffith, Farran, Okeden & Welsh
Newberry House
LONDON & SYDNEY

The Ancient & Modern Library of Theological Literature, vol. 31.  Price 1s. 6d.


[Publication details (inserted here in the online text by the transcriber):

Originally:-The apologies of Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Minutius Felix, in defence of the Christian religion, with the commonitory of Vincentius Lirinensis concerning the primitive rule of faith, tr.: with notes [&c.] by W. Reeves. London 1709. 2 vols. ; 8o. Reprinted in a second edition 1716/1717. (Details from Bodleian online catalogue)

This reprint:-English: The Apology of Tertullian, tr. and annotated by W. Reeve; and the Meditations of the emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, tr. by J. Collier. pp. xvi. 270. [1889.] Series: Ancient and modern library of theological literature 31. (Details from BL online catalogue)(Details from Bodleian online catalogue).  Tertullian portion only contained here.]


CONTENTS.
—o—

PAGE
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICES vii
PREFACE TO M. AURELIUS'S MEDITATIONS [Omitted] xiii
CHAP. 
I.  THAT THE GENTILES' HATRED TO THE CHRISTIANS IS NOTORIOUSLY UNJUST, 1
II.  CONCERNING THE MALICE AND PERVERSENESS OF THE JUDGES, IN THE WAY OF CONDEMNING OR ABSOLVING THE CHRISTIANS, 6
III. CONCERNING THE ODIOUS TITLE OF CHRISTIAN, 11
IV.  THAT HUMAN LAWS MAY ERR, AND THEREFORE MAY BE MENDED, 13
V.  THAT THE WISEST OF THE EMPERORS HAVE BEEN PROTECTORS OF THE CHRISTIANS, 16
VI. THAT THE ROMANS ARE MIGHTY PRAISERS OF THE ANTIQUITY OF THEIR RELIGION, AND YET ADMIT OF NOVELTIES INTO IT EVERY DAY, 20
VII. THAT COMMON FAME IS BUT AN ILL EVIDENCE, 24
VIII. THAT THE CRIMES CHARGED UPON THE CHRISTIANS ARE NEITHER POSSIBLE NOR PROBABLE, 27
IX.  THAT THE PAGANS ARE GUILTY BOTH IN PRIVATE AND PUBLIC OF THE SAME CRIMES THEY CHARGE UPON CHRISTIANS, 30
X.  THAT THE GODS OF THE GENTILES ARE NO GODS, 35
XI.  THAT THE FANCY OF MAKING GODS OF DEAD MEN IS A VERY FOOLISH FANCY, 38
XII.  CONCERNING THE VANITY OF IMAGE-WORSHIP, 40
XIII.  CONCERNING THE IRREVERENCE OF THE HEATHEN TO THEIR GODS, 42
XIV.  THAT THE HEATHENS DO BUT MOCK THEIR GODS IN OFFERING THE REFUSE AND THE VILEST PARTS OF THE SACRIFICE, 45
XV.  CONCERNING THE SHAMEFUL REPRESENTATION OF THE GODS UPON THE STAGE AND AMPHITHEATRE, 47
XVI.  CONCERNING THE ASS'S HEAD, AND OTHER SUCH LIKE VANITIES CHARGED UPON THE CHRISTIANS, 49
XVII.  CONCERNING THE GOD OF CHRISTIANS, 53
XVIII.  CONCERNING THE SEPTUAGINT, OR THE WRITINGS OF THE PROPHETS TRANSLATED INTO GREEK BY THE ENDEAVOURS OF PTOLEMY PHILADELPHUS, 55
XIX.  CONCERNING THE ANTIQUITY OF THE WRITINGS OF THE PROPHETS, 57
XX.  THAT THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE PROPHECIES IN HOLY SCRIPTURES PROVE THEM TO BE OF AUTHORITY DIVINE, 59
XXI.  CONCERNING THE BIRTH AND CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS CHRIST, 61
XXII.  CONCERNING DEMONS, THEIR POWER, AND THEIR WAYS OF OPERATION, 69

Contents.

CHAP. PAGE
XXIII.  CONCERNING THE SUBJECTION OF EVIL SPIRITS TO THE COMMAND OF CHRISTIANS, 74
XXIV.  THAT THE ROMANS ARE THE CRIMINALS IN POINT OF RELIGION, AND NOT THE CHRISTIANS, 80
XXV.  THAT THE ROMAN GRANDEUR IS NOT OWING TO THE ROMAN RELIGION, 82
XXVI.  THAT KINGDOMS ARE ONLY AT HIS DISPOSE WHO IS THE TRUE GOD, 86
XXVII.  THAT THE GENTILES ARE SET AGAINST CHRISTIANS BY THE INSTIGATION OF EVIL SPIRITS, 87
XXVIII.  THAT THE ROMANS HAVE THEIR EMPERORS IN GREATER VENERATION THAN THEIR GODS, 89
XXIX.  THAT THE EMPERORS MAINTAIN THE GODS RATHER THAN THE GODS THE EMPERORS, 90
XXX.  CONCERNING THE GOD OF CHRISTIANS, BY WHOM KINGS REIGN, AND THE PRAYERS OF CHRISTIANS FOR THE LIFE OF THE EMPERORS, 91
XXXI.  THAT CHRISTIANS ARE COMMANDED TO LOVE THEIR ENEMIES, 94
XXXII.  CONCERNING ANOTHER REASON OF THE CHRISTIANS IN PRAYING FOR THE EMPERORS, 95
XXXIII.  A FURTHER ACCOUNT OF CHRISTIAN LOYALTY, AND THEIR REFUSING TO CALL THE EMPEROR BY THE TITLE OF GOD, 96
XXXIV.  CONCERNING AUGUSTUS CAESAR, 98
XXXV.  CONCERNING THE DIFFERENT OBSERVATION OF PUBLIC FESTIVALS BETWEEN THE CHRISTIANS AND THE HEATHENS, 99
XXXVI.  CONCERNING THE CHRISTIAN DUTY OF LOVING ENEMIES, 102
XXXVII.  A CONTINUATION OF THE UNLIMITED LOVE OF CHRISTIANS, 103
XXXVIII.  THAT CHRISTIANS CAN NEVER BE JUSTLY SUSPECTED OF DESIGNS AGAINST THE STATE, 106
XXXIX.  CONCERNING THE DISCIPLINE OF CHRISTIANS AND THEIR EMPLOYMENT AND WAYS OF LIVING, 107
XL.  THAT THE CAUSES OF PUBLIC EVILS ARE MOST MALICIOUSLY THROWN UPON THE CHRISTIANS, 114
XLI.  CONCERNING THE CAUSE AND REASON OF PUBLIC CALAMITIES, 116
XLII.  THAT THE CHRISTIANS ARE A VERY USEFUL SORT OF PEOPLE, 118
XLIII.  A FURTHER VINDICATION OF THE USEFULNESS OF CHRISTIANS TO THE PUBLIC, 120
XLIV.  THAT THE CHRISTIANS ARE CONDEMNED MERELY UPON THE ACCOUNT OF THEIR NAME, 121
XLV.  CONCERNING ONE GREAT REASON FOR THE INNOCENCE OF CHRISTIANS ABOVE THAT OF ALL OTHER PEOPLE, 122
XLVI.  THAT CHRISTIANS HAVE A BETTER RIGHT TO A TOLERATION THAN PHILOSOPHERS, 124
XLVII.  THAT THE HEATHEN POETS AND PHILOSOPHERS STOLE MANY OF THEIR NOTIONS FROM THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, 129
XLVIII.  CONCERNING THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY, 135
XLIX.  THAT THE CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE OUGHT NOT TO BE PERSECUTED, BECAUSE THE WORLD CANNOT BE WELL WITHOUT IT, 139
L.  THE CHRISTIAN TRIUMPH, 140

____________

THE CONVERSATION OF THE EMPEROR MARCUS ANTONIUS: A DISCOURSE WITH HIMSELF,   [Omitted] 145

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICES.
—o—

WITHIN the present volume we have given two of the most
interesting and important works of the days of early Christianity.
The one is the great Apology of the most eloquent of the early
Fathers of the Church—" the father of Latin Christianity," as Dean
Milman calls him; the other is the ethical treatise of the pure-
souled Stoic Emperor, the first great general persecutor of the
Christian Church. A few prefatory words are needed upon each,
but the reader is referred to the previous volume of this series—
Bishop Kaye's account of Tertullian—for fuller details about him.

The life of Tertullian is only known to us through his writings.
He was born at Carthage about A.D. 160, and died about 240; but
the precise dates are uncertain. He was trained as a lawyer, but
was converted to Christianity in 192, and became a priest. He
was married, but childless. It was probably about ten years after
his conversion that he became a Montanist, moved, as Bishop
Kaye believes, by the laxity of the clergy that he saw around
him, and the longing to find a stricter life. The same learned
writer shows that his Montanist writings are among the most
valuable, simply because, in his unsparing attacks on what he held
to be faulty in the practices and discipline of the Church, he
unconsciously preserves for our information what these were.

The work before us is the greatest of Tertullian's writings. The
deeply religious heathen Emperor, M. Aurelius, died in 180, and
was succeeded by his unworthy son, Commodus. He was followed
by Septimius Severus, the first of the " Barrack Emperors." in other
words, of those military adventurers who held the Roman Empire
down to the days of Dioclesian, following one another rapidly, and,
with hardly a single exception, dying violent deaths. The golden
age of the Empire was gone, it was the iron age now. But the
Christian Church, after a period of silent growth, after worship in

                                    vii


viii                         Biographical Notices.

caves and catacombs was now a recognised power in the Empire.
It had a new philosophy to offer men, and a nascent literature;
it boldly put forth its claims to obedience, and made converts among
the rich and learned. M. Aurelius had done his utmost to crush
it; Commodus had not done so, some of his courtiers were Christians,
and persuaded him to leave their co-religionists alone. And Sept.
Severus pursued in the main the same policy.

But the African Church was an exception to the general immunity.
Much depended everywhere on the disposition of the several pro-
consuls towards the faith. There had been laws in existence
against it ever since the days of Nero, and it depended altogether
on the various governors whether these laws should stand in abey-
ance or be put in vigorous exercise. There were by this time many
thousands of believers in Africa; and now heathen fanaticism,
which had been long smouldering, broke out. The priestesses of
the " Dea Coelestis " had raised seditious mobs, and allied heathens
and Jews had destroyed Christian churches, and rilled and
desecrated their burial-places. Caricatures of Christ were paraded
through the streets, and the usual ridiculous charges of incest and
cannibalism were brought against his disciples. It was all this
which produced Tertullian's Apology.

He first addresses himself (chaps, i.-vi.) to this general argument,
that the rulers at Carthage are persecuting a body of men, who are
undeserving of condemnation. Trajan's counsel to Pliny, that
Christians were not to be sought out, but if brought before him
were to be punished, as the apologist rightly maintains, was
illogical and confused. But the present action of the governing
power was yet worse ; it was persecuting a religion which confessedly
was a strong agent in tne reformation of popular morals. He then
goes on to state what are the charges brought against Christians,
and to assert their falsity (vii.-ix.), then takes them in detail. First,
"sacrilege" and "treason." He meets the first by declaring that
the gods of the heathen are no gods (x.-xv.), and then by demon-
strating that Christians have a devout worship of their own, and
profound reverence for Him whom they recognise as their God,
and in doing this he refutes certain calumnies which have been
brought against this worship (xvi.-xxiii.). These chapters are full
of information concerning early Church customs. He goes on to
say that it is the heathens and not the Christians who are really the
impious, and that it is not true that Christians are enemies of the
Commonwealth, seeing that the greatness of Rome owes nothing to


                            Biographical Notices.                                     ix

its heathen faith. And he retorts upon them the charge of impiety,
by declaring that they hold Caesar in greater dread than they do
their gods, whilst the Christians pray to their God for Csesnr's
welfare, though they will not pay that Ctcsar lying honour. Then
our apologist, dealing with details, argues passionately and grandly
on behalf of a body of men who do not take vengeance for the
wrongs that they are suffering. It has been many a time within
their power to have raised the whirlwind against the government,
but they have refrained; but they are strong in the knowledge of
their coming victory. And he demands that therefore they should
at once be admitted amongst the licensed "sects." Gathering
strength as he is carried along on the stream of his majestic
eloquence, and with the consciousness that he is gaining the better
of his opponents at every turn, he breaks out into a magnificent
peroration, partly of the deepest feeling, partly of wither'ng scorn,
and ends in a climax of impassioned and confident appeal.

The author of the present translation, as I learn from a letter
sent to me by the present Rector, was Rector of Cranford from
1694 to 1726.

[...]


TERTULLIAN'S1 APOLOGY

ON BEHALF OF THE CHRISTIANS.
—o—

CHAPTER I.

THAT THE GENTILES' HATRED TO THE CHRISTIANS IS NOTORIOUSLY
UNJUST.

IF you, the guardians of the Roman empire,2 presiding in the very
eye of the city, for the administration of public justice ; if you must
not examine the Christian cause, and give it a fair hearing in open
court ; if the Christian cause is the only cause which your lordships
either fear or blush to be concerned for in the public ; or lastly, if

1 Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus. These several appellations suffici-
ently distinguish our Tertullian from Tertullus the consul, Tertylianus the
civilian, and Tertullinus the martyr, with which our apologist is sometimes
confounded. The praenomen Quintus may perhaps be given upon the account
of his being the fifth child of his parents. He was called Septimius, because
descended from the Gens Septimia, a tribe of quality among the Romans, being
first regal, afterwards plebeian, and last of all consular and patrician ; Florens,
from some particular family of that house, so called ; and Tertullianus from
Tertullus, perhaps his father, as Octavianus from Octavius, Septiminus from
Septimius, etc.

2 Romani Imperii Antistites in ipso fere vertice Civitatis praesidentes ad
judicandum.
Baronius is of opinion, Bar. 201, that this Apology was written at
Rome, and not at Carthage, wherein he is generally followed, but not by
Pamclius, as the author of the notes upon Du Pin too hastily charges him, nor
by Dalix, Du Pin, Dr. Cave, or Tillemont. Baronius's reason for this opinion
is that Tertullian often speaks as being at Rome, and that he addresses in these
words, To the Roman Senate. But these words neither prove it to be written at
Rome, nor presented to the Senate of Rome, for they are with much better reason
applicable to the proconsul and governors of Africa ; for he says they preside in
vertice Civitatis, and our apologist never calls Rome by the name of Civitas but

A


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

your odium to this sect has been too much fermented by your late
severities 1 at home upon your Christian servants, and you bring this
domestic ferment into the courts of judicature;—if these, I say, are
the bars in our way to justice, be pleased at least to tolerate thus
far, to let truth wait upon you in private, and to read the Apology
we are not suffered to speak.

We enter not upon defence in the popular way,2 by begging your

Urbs. He speaks likewise of Rome and the Romans as being neither in their
city nor amongst them ; cap. 9, 21, 24, 35, 45. And speaking of the cruel and
sanguinary devotions of the heathen in many places, especially, says he, in
illa Religiosissima Urbe Aeneadarum piorum,
etc., by which undoubtedly he
means Rome ; and the manner of the expression plainly determines him not
to be there at the time of his writing; for had he been at Rome at this
time he would have said in hac Urbe, and not in illa Urbe, cap. 9. And
in the same chapter, recounting the bloody rites in the Scythian worship, he
urges,—But I need not go so far as Scythia, for we have now at this day as
barbarous ceremonies at home, that is, at Carthage. Besides, cap. 45, he speaks
of the proconsul as the sovereign magistrate, and every one knows the proconsul
to have been the premier magistrate of Africa, and to have had his residence at
Carthage. Moreover, it is very probable that he addressed to the governors of
Africa, and not to the Senate of Rome,—firstly, because there is not one word of
the senate in this whole Apology ; secondly, because, cap. 45, he lashes those to
whom he wrote, for endeavouring to gain the good graces of the proconsul, by
signalizing their cruelty against the Christians; and thirdly, because he con-
stantly gives them the title of presides, cap. 2, 9, 30, 50, a title very much
aflected by every officer under the proconsul of the province. And neither
presides nor proconsul were titles that did belong to any magistrate of Rome ;
for in danger of war in the provinces, the prrefecti Ccesariis were chosen by the
emperor himself, and sent to reside in the metropolis, but the proconsuls were
chosen by lot after their consulship, into the several provinces. And therefore
Dio expresseth Claudius his restoring Macedonia into the hands of the senate, by
a0pe/doken to&te tw~| klh&rw|, he put it to the choice of the senate again. Dio, His.
lib. lvii. So that we are not to understand Antistities Imperii to be the same with
Pontifices, according to Zephyrus, nor by vertici Civitatis the capitol, according
to Rigaltius ; though it is likely he might mean the Byrsa of Carthage, according
to that of Silius Italicus :

Quaesivitque diu qua tandem ponerit arce
Terrarum fortuna caput——

1 Domesticis Judiciis. By these words I understand with Rigaltius the
severities exercised at home by the presidents upon their domestics and children
for turning Christians, which private severities contributed very much to prejudice
and exasperate them, even in open court, against the Christians in general.

2 Deprecari. It is a law term, and properly signifies to intercede with the
king for pardon, or to plead with a judge in excuse of the criminal, according to
that of Tully, pro Ligario, Ignoscite Judices, erravit, lapsus est, non putavit, etc.
But here the Christian advocate pleads only for rigid justice, as the martyr Justin
had done before him. lie understood the Christian cause too well, to think it
stood in need of oratory, and the arts of excusing. Vid. A. Gell. lib. vi. cap. 16,
concerning the signification of the word Deprecor.


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         3

favour, and moving your compassion, because we know the state
of our religion too well to wonder at our usage. The truth we
profess, we know to be a stranger upon earth, and she expects not
friends in a strange land; but she came from heaven, and her abode
is there, and there are all our hopes, all our friends, and all our
preferments. One thing indeed this heavenly stranger warmly pleads
for in arrest of judgment, and it is only this, that you would vouchsafe
to understand her well before you condemn her. And what can the
laws suffer in their authority by admitting her to a full hearing?
Will not their power rise in glory for the justice of a hearing ? But
if you condemn her unheard, besides the odium of flaming injustice,
you will deservedly incur the suspicion of being conscious of some-
thing that makes you so unwilling to hear—what, when heard, you
cannot condemn.

First, therefore, we lay before you ignorance as the chief root
of your unjustifiable bitterness to the Christian name; and this very
ignorance, which you may flatter yourselves with as a title to excuse,
is the very thing that loads your charge, and binds the heavier
guilt upon you. For show me a grosser piece of iniquity than for
men to hate what they understand not, supposing the thing in
itself deserves to be hated; for then only can a thing deserve from
us to be hated when we are apprised of its deserts. If not acquainted
with the merits of the cause, what can we possibly urge in the
defence of hatred which is not to be justified by the event, or
because the passion may happen to be right, but by the principle
of conscience upon which it is founded ?

When, therefore, men will thus be hating in the dark, why may
not the blind passion fall foul upon virtue as well as vice ? So that
we argue against our adversaries upon two articles, for hating us
ignorantly, and, consequently, for hating us unjustly. And that
you hate us ignorantly (which still, I say, does but aggravate your
crime) I prove from hence, because all who hated us heretofore
did it upon the same ground, being no longer able to continue our
enemies than they continued ignorant of our religion ; their hatred
and their ignorance fell together.

Such are the men you now see Christians manifestly overcome
by the piety of our profession, and who now reflect upon their lives
past with abhorrence, and profess it to the world; and the numbers
of such professors are not less than they are given in; for the
common cry is, the city is infested, town and country overrun with


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

Christians. And this universal revolt in all ages, sexes, and qualities
is lamented as a public loss; and yet this prodigious progress of
Christianity is not enough to surprise men into a suspicion that
there must needs be some secret good, some charming advantage
at the bottom, thus to drain the world and attract from every
quarter. But nothing will dispose some men to juster thoughts,
or to make a more intimate experiment of our religion. In this
alone human curiosity seems to stagnate, and with as much com-
placency to stand still in ignorance as it usually runs on in the
discoveries of science.

Alas! how would poor Anacharsis1 have been struck at such
proceedings, to see the very judges of religion entirely ignorant of
the religion they condemn, who looked upon it so absurd for the
rewards of a fiddler to be adjudged by any but the masters of the
science. But such are our enemies, that they choose to indulge
their ignorance merely for the growth of their hatred; foreboding
within themselves that what they hate without knowledge may
chance to be a thing of so lovely a nature, that should they come
to know it, they would be in danger of losing their hatred ; whereas
hatred is not to be kept a moment longer than it has justice on its
side: if so, spare not, not only give a present loose to your re-
sentments, but also persevere in a passion thus seconded and
strengthened by the authority of justice.

But it is objected that the number of Christians is no argument
of the goodness of their cause. For how many change from better
to worse ? How many deserters to the wrong side ? And who
denies this ? But yet, are any of those men, who are pressed away
to sin by the violence of appetites, are they hardy enough to appear
in the defence of wickedness, or appeal to public justice for the
patronage of notorious evil ? For every evil is by nature dyed in grain
with shame and fear. The guilty hunt for refuge in darkness, and
when apprehended, tremble ; when accused, deny; and are hardly
to be tormented into a confession ; when condemned, they sink
down in sadness, and turn over their number of sins in confusions
of conscience, and charge the guilt upon the stars or destiny; -

1 Anacharsis. See his life in Diog. Laertius.

2 Fato vel Astris imputant. Guilt is an ugly, frightful, and uneasy thing ; and
this it was that put men at first upon contriving an expedient how to satisfy their
conscience, in spite of their sin ; and the expedient was this, to lay the blame
upon fate, or the stars, or anything but themselves. Predestination in the rigid
sense is not one jot better than fate in the sense of the Stoics. And though it


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         5

unwilling to acknowledge that as their own act which they acknow-
ledge to be criminal.

But do you see anything like this in the deportment of
Christians ? Not one Christian blushes or repents, unless it be for
not having been a Christian sooner. If a Christian goes to trial,
he goes like a victor, with the air of a triumph ; if he is impeached,
he glories in it; if indicted, he makes no defence at bar; when
interrogated he frankly confesses, and when condemned returns
thanks to his judges.

What a monster of wickednessJ is this, that has not one shape or

occasioned at one time so much feud and bitterness all about us, and the con-
troversy ordered by authority to die, yet it is now again revived,1 as the ramparts
and bulwarks of Christianity, and the rarest contrivance in the world, to make
us not only almost but altogether one kirk ; for which, no doubt, the doctor
expects the thanks of the united nations. The generality of the clergy he stig-
matizes apostates, for being assertors of free will ; and if so, what will become
of the Fathers of the first four centuries, I cannot tell. Sure I am, poor Justin
Martyr is an apostate with a witness, Apol. i. sec. 54. But if the doctor would
but follow his own advice, that is, in one word, let us be moderate, and give his
brethren hard reasons instead of hard names, it would make much more for
union, I dare say, than his doctrine of predestination ; which should it take
effect, we should not have one criminal that goes to be hanged, but, as Tertullian
says, would be cursing his stars, and laying all the fault upon destiny, that is,
God.

1 Quid hoc mali est, quod naturalia mali non habet? Naturalia, is the same
here as Natura, for he says, Quod hoc malum est in quo natura mali cessat ? ad
Nat,
p. 461. But that which is more remarkable is, that here we have an
admirable description, and a most sensible proof, both of the truth and the
power of the Christian religion ; for did ever any impostor set up a religion so
ill calculated to the passions and relish of mankind ? Did he ever propose a
doctrine to the world, without one worldly motive to recommend it, without one
external comfort to hope for, or one arm to defend it ? Did Judas discover the
secret when he betrayed his Master ? or had it been a cheat, would the traitor
have hanged himself for his treason? Was there ever such a noble army of
martyrs, who died so calmly and deliberately, and expressed so much innocence,
so much joy and assurance in their sufferings, as they did? So that either we
must suppose Christ to have been the shallowest of impostors (which the wisdom
of His precepts will not admit) to set up a religion so ungrateful to flesh and
blood, without any visible force or reward to maintain it; and withal, that good
part of the world, of all sorts and sizes, happened luckily to be stark staring mad
for suffering, and to continue so for above 300 years together; or else we must
suppose that Christ came down from heaven, and that the sufferers had all the
reason imaginable to believe it, and therefore by help of divine grace, and the

_________________

1 John Edwards, D.D., his sermon upon the Union, May 1, 1707, entitled One
Nation and one King.


6         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

feature of wickedness belonging to it ? Nothing of fear, or shame,
or artifice, or repentance, or the desponding sighs of criminals
attending on it. What a strange-natured evil or reverse of wicked-
ness is this! that makes the guilty rejoice, and ambitious of
accusation, and happy in punishment. Nor can you charge these
odd appearances as the effects of madness, since you are altogether
unacquainted with the powers of the Christian religion.

                                   —o—

                               CHAPTER II.

CONCERNING THE MALICE AND PERVERSENESS OF THE JUDGES, IN
    THE WAY OF CONDEMNING OR ABSOLVING THE CHRISTIANS.

BUT if it is resolved we must be guilty, pray what is your reason for
treating us differently from other criminals ? For it is a rule in law
that where the case is the same, there the procedure of court ought
to be the same also. But when we and heathens are impeached
upon the same articles, the heathen shall be allowed the privilege
of the council, and of pleading in person for setting off his inno-
cence,1 it being against law to proceed to sentence before the
defendant has put in his answer; but a Christian is permitted
nothing, not to speak what is necessary, either to justify his cause,
defend the truth, or prevent the injustice of his judges. On the
contrary, nothing is attended to in his trial, but how to inflame the
mob, and therefore the question is about his name only, and not

power of conviction, they despised everything here below for the joy that was
set before them. This argument is likewise prosecuted by Arnobius, adv. Gent,
lib. ii. p. 21, as a mighty instance of the divinity of the Christian faith, that in
so short a time it should be too hard for the wisdom and pleasures of the world,
and work so with men of the greatest parts and learning, and of the greatest
fortunes, as to make them part with their notions and estates, and submit to any
torments rather than part with the Christian faith ; and that the Gentiles did not
think it advisable to venture their skin for their doctrine. That Plato, in his
Academy introduced a dark and ambiguous way of delivering his opinions, for
fear of going the way of Socrates. And Origen tells Celsus that Aristotle quitted
Athens, and left his philosophy to shift for itself, as soon as he understood that
the Athenians intended to call him to an account. So little could philosophy
prevail against self-preservation.

1 Quando nec liceat indefensos et inauditos damnari. He alludes to the
law de Requir. Reis, made by Severus a little before the publication of this
Apology.


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         7

the nature of his crime : whereas if you sit in judgment upon
another criminal, and he pleads guilty to the indictment, suppose
of homicide, sacrilege, incest, or rebellion (to instance the common
heads of your libels1 against us), upon such confession, I say, it is
not your method forthwith to proceed to sentence, but you have
patience to examine the nature of the fact in all its circumstances,
viz.—the place, the time, the manner, and the accomplices of the
action: but in the trial of a Christian, all these forms of justice are
overruled. But let me tell you, would you acquit yourselves with
any appearance of equity, you ought on both sides to be equally
severe in the examination of fact, and see to the bottom of those
reports, so frequently and so falsely thrust upon us. For instance,
to bring in a true list of how many infants every Christian has
killed and eaten, what incests committed in the dark, what cooks we
had for the dressing these children's flesh, and what pimping dogs
for putting out the candles.2

Oh ! what immortal glory would a proconsul gain among the
people, could he pull out a Christian by the ears that had ate up a
hundred children ! But we despair of any such glorious discovery,
when we reflect upon the edict against searching after us. For
Pliny the second,3 in his proconsulship of Asia, having put many
Christians to death, and turned others out of their places, and
being still astonished at our numbers, sends to the Emperor Trajan
for orders about proceeding for the time to come; alleging withal
that for his part, after the strictest inquiry, he could find nothing
more in our religion, but obstinacy against sacrificing to the gods,
and that we assembled before day to sing hymns to God and Christ,

1 Ut de vestris Elogiis loquar. Elogium is a civil law term which frequently
occurs in this author, particularly lib. ad Scap. de cor. Mil. cap. 5, etc., and is
the same among the civilians as Epistolae, Notoria, Relationes, a libel or declara-
tion, setting forth the crimes of the person indicted ; it was provided by the law
de custo et exhi. Reorum, ne quisquam puniatur ex Epistolis et Actis Pedanei
et minoris Judicis.
And therefore Pudens, who had a mind to favour the
Christians, sent back a Christian prisoner because there appeared against him
no witness or proof, but the Elogium, or epistle from an inferior judge. Pudens
missum ad se Christianum, in Elogio concussions ejus intellecta dimisit, Scisso
codem Elogio sine accusatore negans se auditurum hominem secundum mandatum.
Vid. Gab. Altaspin., not. ad Scap.

2 For a fuller explication of this passage, and the foundation of this horrid
slander, see my notes upon Justin Martyr's Apology, Apol. i. sec. 35. The dogs
which are said to be tied to the candlesticks, and to have crusts thrown them
just beyond the reach of their string, in order to make them leap and strain
and pull down the candles, are by Tertullian, cap. 7, called Luminum Eversores
et Lenones,
which to follow his own biting way I translate pimping dogs.

3 Vid. Plin. Epist. lib. x. ep. 97.


        Tertullian s Apology for the Christians.

and to confirm one another in that way of worship; prohibiting
homicide, adultery, fraud, perfidiousness, and all other sorts of
wickedness. Upon which information Trajan writes back, that
such kind of men as these were not to be searched after, but yet
to be punished if brought before him. Oh perplexity between
reasons of state and justice! be declares us to be innocent, by
forbidding us to be searched after, and at the same time commands
us to be punished as criminals. What a mass of kindness and
cruelty, connivance and punishment, is here confounded in one
act! unhappy edict, thus to circumvent and hamper yourself in
your own ambiguous answer ! If you condemn us, why do you give
orders against searching after us? And if you think it not well to
search after us, why do you not acquit us ? Soldiers are set to
patrol in every province for the apprehending of robbers, and every
private person justifies taking up arms against traitors and enemies
to the commonwealth; and moreover is obliged to make inquiry
after all the conspirators; but a Christian only is a criminal of
that strange kind, that no inquiry must be made to find him, and
yet when found may be brought to the tribunal; as if this inquiry
was designed for any other purpose but to bring offenders to
justice. You condemn him therefore when brought, whom the
laws forbid to be searched after; not that in your hearts you can
think him guilty, but only to get into the good graces of the people,
whose zeal has transported them to search him out against the
intention of the edict.

This also is very extraordinary in your proceedings against us,
that you rack others to confess, but torment Christians to deny :
whereas, was Christianity a wicked thing, we, no doubt, should
imitate the wicked in the arts of concealment, and force you to
apply your engines of confession. Nor can you conclude it need-
less to torture a Christian into a confession of particulars, because
you resolve that the very name must include all that is evil. For
when a murderer has confessed, and you are satisfied as to the fact,
yet you constrain him to lay before you the order and circumstances
of the whole action. And what makes the thing look worse yet
is, that notwithstanding you presume upon our wickedness, merely
from our owning the name, yet at the same time you use violence
to make us retract that confession, that by retracting the bare name
only, we might be acquitted of the crimes fathered upon it. But
perhaps I am to imagine your excessive tenderness to be such,
that you are willing to acquit the very persons you conclude the
greatest villains in the world ; and perhaps it may be your custom


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         9

to say to a murderer, " deny the murder," and to command the
sacrilegious to be put to the rack for persevering in his confession
of sacrilege.

But now, if your process against us and other criminals is
notoriously different, it is a shrewd sign you believe us innocent;
and that this very belief of our innocence is the spring which sets
you at work for our deliverance, by forcing us to deny our name,
which though in justice you know you cannot, yet 'or reasons of
state you must condemn. A man cries out upon tne rack, I am
a Christian ; you hear him proclaim to the world what really he
is, and you would fain have him say what really he is not. That
ever judges, who are commissioned to torture for the confession of
truth, should abuse it upon Christians only, for the extortion of a
lie ! You demand what I am, and I say I am a Christian; why do
you torture me to unsay it ? I confess, and you rack on; if I
confess not, what will you do? If other malefactors deny, it is
with difficulty you believe them ; but if Christians deny, you acquit
them at a word. Certainly you must think yourselves in the wrong
for such proceedings, and be conscious of a secret bias upon your
judgments, that makes you run thus counter to the forms of court,
the reasons of justice, and the very intent of the laws themselves.
For if I mistake not the laws are very express, that criminals
should be discovered, and not concealed; and that upon confession
they should be condemned, and not acquitted. The acts of the
senate and the edicts of the emperors prescribe this. These are
the maxims of that government you are ministers of, and your
power is defined by these laws, and not arbitrary and tyrannical.

Tyrants indeed have no respect to the proportions of justice in
the distributions of punishment, but apply tortures at pleasure.
But you are restrained by law; and to apply them only for the
confession of truth, preserve this law in full vigour, and for the end
it was made. For if the accused confess, it is absurd to put them
to the question; the law of tortures is answered, and you have
nothing to do in this case but to consider the nature of the fact,
and punish it accordingly. For every malefactor is a debtor to the
law, and to be wiped out of the public accounts: upon paying his

1 Debito poenae nocens expungendus est. This is a very familiar phrase with
our author, and the ground of it is this. The executioner had a roll of the
names of the condemned, and the punishment they were to suffer; and a
criminal being a debtor, when he had paid his punishment was expunged, or
crossed out of the roll: and so dare Poenas is to pay the pain an offender owes
to the public.


10        Tertullian's  Apology for the Christians.

punishment, and not discharged merely upon the confession of his
fault. No judge attempts openly to acquit a criminal barely upon
his pleading guilty, nor can he justify a thought of so doing;
and therefore no one can be justly served with torments to deny,
when the law was designed only to make him confess.

You look upon a Christian as the sum total of iniquity, a despiser
of the gods, emperors, laws, morality, and, in one word, an enemy
of human nature; and yet this is the man you rack, that you may
absolve, because without racking him into a denial of his name
you cannot absolve him. This, or nothing, is prevaricating with
the laws; you would have him plead not guilty, for you to pro-
nounce him innocent, and discharge him from all past crimes,
whether he will or no. But how can men be so perverse as to
imagine that he who confesses a thing freely is not more to be
credited than he who denies it by compulsion ? Or cannot a man
speak truth, without the help of a rack ? And being absolved upon
a forced denial of his religion, he must needs conclude such external
applications of cruelty, very foolish things for the conversion of the
mind, when in spite of all these impressions upon his body he
finds himself still a Christian in his conscience.

Since therefore you treat us differently in everything from other
criminals, and what you chiefly push at is the destruction of our
name (and we ourselves destroy this, by doing what the heathens
indulge themselves in)—since this, I say, is the main thing you con-
tend for, you cannot but see that our name is the greatest crime
in our indictment; in the persecution of which name, men vie
hatred, and are ambitious to excel each other in malice; and this
emulation is the chief reason why they are so stedfast in ignorance;
therefore they devour all reports of us without chewing, and are so
averse to any legal inquiry, for fear these reports should prove to
be false, which they would have pass for true, that the hated name
of Christian might be condemned upon presumption, without the
danger of a proof; and that the confession of this name might
serve for a sufficient conviction of the crimes charged against it.
Hence it is that we are tortured against law for confessing, and
tormented on for persisting in that confession; and against law
absolved for denying, because all the dispute is about our name
only.

But after all, when you proceed to judgment, and read over the
table or catalogue of crimes you pass sentence against, why do you


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         11

mention the Christian only ? Why do not you mention the murder,
the incest, and the rest of that train commonly imputed to us?
We alone are the persons you are ashamed to condemn, without
signifying the actions you condemn us for; if a Christian is accused
of no crime, the name surely must be of a strange nature to be
criminal in itself only !

                                   —o—

                              CHAPTER III.

                 CONCERNING THE ODIOUS TITLE OF CHRISTIAN.

WHAT an unaccountable thing is it for so many men to blindfold
themselves on purpose to fall foul upon Christianity ! And to such
a degree that they cannot talk about the noted probity of any
Christian without allaying his character with a dash of his religion !
Cajus Sejus (says one) is a very good man, but—he is a Christian.
I will tell you what (says another), I wonder that Lucius the philo-
sopher is all of a sudden turned Christian. And none has sense
enough in his passion to put the question right, and argue in this
manner. Is not Caius so good, and Lucius so wise, merely from
the influence of their religion ? Or was it not the probity of one,
and the wisdom of the other, that prepared the way, and brought
them over to be Christians ?

Thus indeed they praise what they know, but vilify what they
know not; they blot the fairest examples of virtue shining in their
very eyes, because of a religion they are entirely in the dark about;
whereas certainly, by all the rules of reason, we ought to judge of
the nature of causes we see not, by the effects we see, and not
pre-condemn apparent goodness for principles we understand not.
Others, discoursing of some persons, whom they knew to be
vagrants, and infamously lewd before they came over to our
religion, drop their praises upon them in such a manner, that they
stigmatize them with their very compliments; so darkened are they
with prejudice that they blunder into the commendation of the
thing they would condemn. For (say they) how wanton, and how
witty was such a woman ! how amorous and frolicsome was such
a young gentleman ! but now they are Christians : thus undesignedly
they fix the amendment of their lives upon the alteration of their
religion.


12         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

Some others are arrived to that pitch of aversion to the very name
of Christian, that they seem to have entered into covenant with
hatred, and bargained to gratify this passion at the expense of all
the satisfactions of human life, acquiescing in the grossest of
injuries rather than the hated thing of Christian should come
within their doors. The husband, now cured of all his former
jealousy by his wife's conversion to Christianity, turns her and her
new modesty out of doors together, choosing to dwell with an
adulteress sooner than a Christian; the father, so tender of the
undutiful son in his Gentile state, disinherits him now when he
becomes obedient by becoming a Christian; the master, heretofore
so good to his unfaithful slave, discards him now upon his fidelity
and his religion. So that the husband had rather have his wife
false, the father his son a rebel, the master his servant a rogue, than
Christians and good : so much is the hatred of our name above all
the advantages of virtue flowing from it.

Now, therefore, if all this odium arises purely upon the account
of our name, pray tell me how a poor name comes to be thus to
blame, or a simple word to be a criminal ? Unless it be that the
word is barbarous, or sounds ominously, reproachfully, or obscenely.
But Christians is a Greek word, and means nothing more than a
disciple of Christ, which by interpretation is the Anointed; and
when you misname it Chrestian1 (for so far are you from under-
standing our religion, that as yet you know not our true name), even
then it implies nothing worse than a benignity and sweetness of
temper; thus outrageous are you at the sound of a name as inoffen-
sive and harmless as those who bear it. But do men use to let
loose their passions at this rate against any sect merely from the
name of its founder ? Is it a new thing for scholars to be named
from their masters? Is it not from hence that philosophers are
called Platonists, Epicureans, Pythagoreans, etc.? Do not the Stoics
and academics derive their names from the porch or academy,2
the places where they meet and discourse together ? And do not

1 Sed et cum perperam Chrestianus pronunciatur a vobis. See the notes
upon Justin's First Apol. sec. 3, concerning the word Chrestus ; I only add here
that Marcellus Donatus conjectures this Chrestus to have been some seditious
Jew called by that name, for which he produces several inscriptions wherein that
name occurs, but not one wherein it is given to a Jew, which ought first to have
been produced to justify his conjecture ; but the Christian apologists prove it
a mistake beyond dispute. Vid, Donat. Dilucid. in Sueton. in Claud, cap.
25.

2 Stoics from Stoa\, a porch or gallery.


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         13

physicians glory in the title of their Erasistratus,1 and grammarians
in that of Aristarchus ?2 And are not even cooks themselves not a
little proud of the name of Apicius ?3 Nor in any of these instances
are you offended with the name transmitted from the founder of
the sect; but if you could prove any sect to be vicious in principle,
and consequently the author of it to be so too, there is reason enough
to hate the name upon the account of both. In a word, before we
give entertainment to hatred against any sect whatever, upon
account of its name, we ought in the first place to have competently
examined the nature of the institution, and traced out its qualities
from the author, or the author from them ; but both these ways of
inquiry are quite neglected, and our enemies storm and fire at a
word only. Our heavenly Master and His heavenly religion are
both unknown, and both condemned, without any other considera-
tion but that of the bare name of Christian.

                                   —o—

                                CHAPTER IV.

                THAT HUMAN LAWS MAY ERR, AND THEREFORE MAY
                                           BE MENDED.

THUS far I have been something severe, as it were, by way of
preface, to make men sensible if I could of the injustice of the

1 Erasistratus. This physician is mentioned by our Tertullian, lib. de an.
cap. 15 ; Pliny fixes his life, An. urb. cond. 450, lib. xiv. cap. 7, and mentions
his school, lib. xx. cap. 9, and again, lib. xxix. cap. 2, makes him the disciple
of Chrysippus, and Aristotle's daughter's son, who for the cure of King Antiochus
had of his son Ptolemy a fee of an hundred talents.

2 Aristarchus. A noted grammarian of Alexandria, Aristotle's contemporary,
tutor to the son of Ptolemy Philometer, celebrated by Tully, ad Appium
Pulchrum,
lib. iii. epist. n, for distinguishing the genuine verses of Homer,
and so likewise by Ovid :—

Corrigere at res est tanto magis ardua, quanta
      Magnus Aristarcho major Homerus erat. Ov. Pont.

And so again by Horace, ad Pisones,

Arguet ambigue dictum, mutanda notabit,
Fiet Aristarchus.

3 Apicius. An epicure of famous memory, styled by Pliny Nepotum omnium
altissimus Gurges ;
and so again by Juvenal:—

Quid enim majore cachinno
Excipitur vulgi, quam pauper Apicius ?


14         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

public odium against us; and now I shall stay awhile upon the
subject of our innocence. And here I shall not only refute the
objections against us, but retort those very objections against the
objectors themselves, to let the world see that Christians are not
the men they take them to be, nor sullied with those crimes they
are conscious of in themselves; and to sec also whether I can
make our accusers blush, not by charging them in general, as the
worst of men accusing the best, but supposing us both upon the
level of iniquity. I shall touch upon all the particulars we are
taxed with for committing in private, and for which we are publicly
branded as immoral, superstitious, damnable, and ridiculous;
these very crimes, I say, which you grant we have not the forehead
to do without the protection of darkness, we find our enemies
hardy enough to commit in the face of the sun.

But because we meet you with unanswerable truth at all your
turnings, your last resort is to the authority of the laws, as more
inviolable than truth itself; and it being so frequently in your
mouths, either that nothing ought to be revoked after once con-
demned by law; or that your sworn obedience is a necessity upon
your actions, weightier than that of justice. I shall first enter
upon the obligation due to human laws with you who are the sworn
protectors of them.

First then, when you rigidly insist upon this, that Christianity
is against law, and prescribe against dispensing one jot with the
letter upon any considerations of equity, this, I say, is acting
iniquity by law; and you sit rather like tyrants than judges of a
court, willing a thing to be unlawful, because you will, and not
because it is so. But if your will is regulated by the measures of
good and evil, and you forbid a thing because it ought to be
forbidden, then certainly, by this rule of right reason, you cannot
license evil, nor forbid the obligations of doing good. If I find
a prohibition issued out against the laws of nature, do not I
conclude such a prohibition to be invalid? Whereas, if the matter
of it be lawful, I never dispute my obedience,1 nor think it strange

1 Quod si malum esset, jure prohiberet. Here we have the measures of obedience
due to human laws briefly stated byTertullian : " For," says he, " where nothing
is commanded, either against the law of nature, or the positive law of God, I
never dispute my obedience." Had the primitive Christians refused obedience
to the civil magistrate, in matters indifferent, Christianity, humanly speaking,
had never been a national religion, and if our dissenting brethren would be
decided by this rule, and, according to Tertullian, comply with the magistrate's
commands, in everything not unlawful in itself, or with respect to the plain


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         15

if your laws are sometimes in the wrong, since they are but the
composures of men, and not the commands of God. Is it so
strange to see mortals out of the way in making laws, and wiser
upon experience, and repealing what they once approved ? Did
not the laws even of Lycurgus suffer amendments? Was not their
severity sweetened by the Spartans, and better accommodated to
civil use ? And did not this alteration go so near the great law-
giver's heart that he quitted his country in a pet, and pined himself
to death, being his own judge and his own executioner ? Does not
your experience light you every day to the mistakes and rubbish of
antiquity? And have you not cut down a huge and horrid wood of
old laws, and planted the new edicts and rescripts of the emperors
in their stead? Did not Severus, of all the emperors least given to
change, lately alter the Papian law,1 vainly solicitous about the
propagation of children before the time allowed for matrimony by
the Julian law without any respect to the venerableness of antiquity?
And insolvent debtors, by the laws, were to be chopped in pieces
by their creditors;2 but these sanguinary statutes were by succeed-
ing ages repealed, and the capital punishment commuted into a
mark of infamy, together with the sale of their goods, it being

Word of God, they would then, and not till then, fulfil the apostle's injunction of
doing all that is possible, and as much as lieth in them to live peaceably with all
men. But if the magistrate cannot lawfully command in things where neither
the natural nor the positive law of God interpose to the contrary, he can
command in nothing, because such things only can be subject to his disposal.

1 Vanissinias Papias leges quae ante liberos suscipi cogunt, quam Jul. Matr.
contr.
Concerning these laws, see Rigaltius and Pamelius upon this place.
But that which I remark is, that Scaliger would infer from the following words
that this Apology was not composed till a little after the death of Severus, because
it is said, heri Severus, etc., exclusit; but I confess I cannot see why lately
repealing may not agree to a living prince as well as a dead one. But I shall
show this opinion to be evidently a mistake of Scaliger in the sequel of this
Apology.

2 Judicatos retro in partes secari a Creditoribus Leges erant. Here he evi-
dently alludes to the law of the twelve tables, cap. viii. de nexis; for thus it
runs, Tertiis nundinis capite poenas luito, aut trans Tiberim peregre ilo, est si
plures erunt rei, tertiis nundinis. Partis. secanto. si. plus minus. ve. secuerunt. sc.
fraude. esto.
The meaning of which, as it is explained by A. Gellius, Noct. Att.
lib. xx., is this: Debt was a captital crime by law, and the creditor might either
have the life of the insolvent, or send him beyond Tibur to be sold for a slave ;
but if the insolvent was indebted to more than one, the creditors might cut him
into pieces in proportion to every one's debt. And this barbarity he justifies
only by the end and design of the lawgivers, which was not so much to punish
as to prevent men from running into debt by the severity of the punishment, for
he tells us he never read of one debtor dissected, Quoniam saevitia ista Poenae
contemni non quita est;
but for bonds and imprisonment rogues value them not,
and run in debt continually.


16         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

looked upon better to put the offender to open shame than to let
out his blood for debt. And how many laws think you are still
behind which want revising, that are not valuable for their number
of years, or the dignity of their founder, but upon the account of
justice only? And therefore if they are found not to be according
to this standard arc deservedly condemned, although we are con-
demned by them. And if they punish for a mere name, they are
not only to be exploded for their iniquity, but to be hissed off the
world for their folly. But if the laws are to take cognizance of
actions only, why are we punished for the name of our sect, when
no others are so punished ? I am guilty of incest, or have killed a
child, suppose, why don't you make inquiry after my crimes, and
extort them from me by confession upon the rack? I have injured
the gods or emperors, why am I not to be heard on these points ?
Surely no law can forbid the discussion of what it is to condemn,
because no judge can justly proceed to sentence before he is well
apprised of the illegality of the fact; nor can a citizen justify his
obedience to a law, while he apprehends not the quality of the
action it is to punish ; for it is by no means sufficient that a law be
good in itself, but that goodness also must be made appear to him
who is to put it in execution ; and that law is much to be suspected
that does not care to be looked into, but is notoriously tyrannical, if
after it is looked into would reign a law still in defiance of reason.

                                       —o—

                                  CHAPTER V.

            THAT THE WISEST OF THE EMPERORS HAVE BEEN PROTECTORS
                                      OF THE CHRISTIANS.

BUT to see the rashness and injustice of the laws against us, let us
cast an eye back upon their original, and we shall find an old
decree,1 whereby the emperor himself was disabled from consecrat-

1 Vetus erat Decretum ne qui Deus ab Imperatore consecraretur nisi a Senatu
probatus
. Rigaltius mentions something like this extant in the fragments of
Ulpian, and Pamelius gives the decree itself from Crinitus de hon. discipl. lib.
x. cap. 3. Separatim nemo sit habeas Deos novos sive Advenas, nisi publice
adscitos privatim colunto.
By virtue of this ancient decree it was that the
people, notwithstanding any edicts of the emperors to the contrary, persecuted
the Christians. Vid. Euseb. Hist. lib. ii. cap. 2. Where upon the account given
by Pontius Pilate, Tiberius applied to the senate to make him a god.


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         17

ing a new god, without the approbation of the senate. M. Aemilius
learnt this with a witness, in the case of his god Alburnus.1 And
this makes not a little for the honour of Christianity, to see the
heathens in consult about making gods; and if the god is not
such a deity as they like, he is like to be no God for them.
Strange ! That the god is first to pray the man to be propitious,
before the man will allow of his godship. By virtue of this old
decree it was that Tiberius,2 in whose reign Christianity came into
the world, having received intelligence from Judea about the
miracles of Christ, proposed it to the senate, and used his pre-
rogative for getting Him enrolled among the number of their gods.
The senate, indeed, refused the proposal, as having not maturely
weighed His qualifications for a deity; but Caesar stood to his
resolution, and issued out severe penalties against all who should
accuse the worshippers of Christ.

Consult your annals,3 and there you will find Nero4 the first
emperor who dyed his sword in Christian blood, when our religion
was but just arising at Rome ; but we glory in being first dedicated
to destruction by such a monster: for whoever knows that enemy
of all goodness will have the greater value for our religion, as
knowing that Nero could hate nothing exceedingly, but what was
exceedingly good. A long time after, Domitian, a limb of this
bloody Nero, makes some like attempts against the Christians; but
being not all Nero, or cruelty in perfection, the remains of struggling
humanity stopped the enterprize, and made him recall the Christians
he banished. The Christian persecutors have been always men of
this complexion, divested of justice, piety, and common shame;

1 De Deo suo Alburno. This Alburnus is mentioned, lib. adv. Marcion, cap.
18, and seems to have been consecrated in the consulship of M. Aemilius, an.
urb. cond.
638. He was called Alburnus from a mountain in Lucania of the
same name.

Est Lucus silari circum, ilicibusq.; virentem
Plurimus Alburnum volitans,
etc. Virg. Geo. 3.

2 Tiberius ergo, cujus tempore nomen Christianum in saeculum introivit. This
is to be understood of the resurrection of Christ, when the Christian faith first
began to be published to the Gentile world.

3 Consulite commentarios vestros. He alludes to the annals of Tacitus, lib. xv.,
or rather to Suetonius in the Life of Nero.

4 Caesariano gladio primum ferocisse. It is agreed upon by all writers, that
the first general persecution began under Nero, as likewise that the second did
under Domitian ; for that in Judea and Samaria, mentioned in the Acts,
cap. viii., was but a particular persecution in some parts only, and not set on
foot by the Gentiles but the Jews.


18         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

upon whose government you yourselves have set a brand, and
rescinded their acts,1 by restoring those whom they condemned.

But of all the emperors down to this present reign, who under-
stood anything of religion or humanity, name me one who perse-
cuted the Christians. On the contrary, we show you the excellent
M. Aurelius for our protector and patron ; for if you look into his
letters,2 you will find him there testifying that his army in Germany
being just upon perishing with thirst, some Christian soldiers which
happened to be in his troops, did by the power of prayer fetch
down a prodigious shower to the relief of the whole army; for
which the grateful prince, though he could not publicly set aside
the penal laws, yet he did as well, he publicly rendered them in-
effectual another way, by discouraging our accusers with the last of
punishments, viz. burning alive.

Reflect a little now, I pray you, upon the nature of these laws,
which only the most consummate villains in impiety, injustice,
filthiness, folly, and madness ever put in execution against us ;
which laws Trajan 3 in part evacuated by his edict against searching
for Christians; and neither Hadrian4 the inquisitive, whose genius

1 Quos et ipsi damnare consuestis. The edicts of Nero and Domitian both
were rescinded by the senate, and Nerva their successor. But the old law was
still in force, which forbade the worshipping of any new god, without the
approbation of the senate.

2 Si Litere Marci Aurelii requirantur This rescript of Marcus Aurelius you
will find annexed to Justin's First Apology; and though it is disputable whether
that rescript be genuine, yet it is evident beyond dispute, both from Justin and
Tertullian, that there was such a rescript in favour of the Christians.

3 Quas Trajanus ex parte frustratus est. It is not without good reason that
Tertullian says in part evacuated, for the third persecution commenced under
Trajan. It is true, indeed, he published no general edict against the Christians,
but the manner of his answer to Pliny (viti. Plin. lib. x. ep. 103, p. 633,
wherein, as Tertullian smartly remarks, the rescript did combat, and contradict
itself, in forbidding Christians to be searched after, and yet punished when
found) was abundantly sufficient to reinflame magistrate and people, who were
ready to take tire upon the least encouragement against the Christians. Besides,
he issued out solemn edicts to his officers to suppress all private cabals and
associations; and this occasioned fresh searches after Christians, and prevented
their ordinary assemblies. Vid. Plin. ep. 35, 99, 123 ; cp. 104, p. 632. In
this reign, strict inquisition was made after all the descendants from David, and
Simeon, bishop of Jerusalem, was therefore taken up and murdered. Euseb. lib.
iii. cap. 32, p. 104. And though this was a very grievous persecution, yet was
it not universal. Euseb. lib. iii. cap. 33, p. 105, cap. 32, p. 103.

4 Quas nullus Adrianus. Sulpicius Severus, and he alone, places the fourth
persecution under Adrian. Vid, Sulp. lib. ii. cap. 45, p. 150. But whatever
this persecution was, it is plain from Tertullian and Melito, bishop of Sardis,


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         19

no doubt led him into the curiosities of our religion, nor Vespasian,1
who must know something of it too by conquering the Jews, nor
Pius,2 nor Verus 3 ever took the advantage of the laws against us;
and therefore were we Christians, in truth, the worst of men, you
cannot think we should have been thus spared, and protected

vid. Euseb. lib. iv. cap. 26, p. 148, that it was not occasioned by any imperial
edict. Adrian was initiated in all the Graecian rites, and especially in the
Eleusinian Mysteries, which St. Jerome remarks as the principal cause of this
persecution, Adr. vit. p. II. He was extremely addicted to judicial astrology,
and to all sorts of divination, even to magic, Dio, lib. 69, p. 793, insomuch that
he is severely censured by the heathens themselves for his extravagant supersti-
tion, Amm, lib. xxv. p. 294. And if magic raised a persecution under Valeri-
anus, who in the beginning of his reign was so great a friend to Christians, and
whose family so abounded with men of piety, that his house seemed to be the
church of God, Euseb. lib. vii. cap. 10, we need not wonder that this black art
should have the same influence upon Adrian. But this persecution was happily
put an end to, by the Apologies of Quadratus and Aristides, Euseb. lib. iii.
cap. 37, p. 209. The eloquence and reason of these two apologists was
seconded by a letter from Serenius Granianus, proconsul of Asia, Euseb. lib. iv.
cap. 8, p. 122, and many other governors followed this example, Euseb. lib. iv.
cap. 13, p. 127. Adrian, unable to resist these just and pressing solicitations,
wrote to Minucius Fundanus, Granianus's successor, not to punish a Christian
but upon good proof of some crime against the public; and to punish the false
accuser just as the Christian should have been had he been found guilty. This
rescript was very famous among the ancients; it is celebrated as very advantage-
ous to the Christian cause, not only by Eusebius in his Chronic., but by S. Severus
lib. ii. cap. 45, p. 150, by Orosius, lib. vii. cap. 12, and annexed by Justin to his
Apology, and translated into Greek by Eusebius, lib. iv. cap. 9, p. 123.

1 Nullus Vespasianus. Vid. Joseph. deBell.Jud. lib. iii. iv. v. vi. vii.

2 Nullus Pius. This was Antoninus, to whom Justin Martyr addresses his First
Apology,
and whose rescript to the commons of Asia he annexes to it, and is
translated into Greek by Euseb. lib. cap. 13. And though there was no edict of
Pius out against the Christians, yet by the authority of 'he old decree, they
suffered very much in many places, which occasioned Justin's First Apology.

3 Nullus Verus. It is a matter of some difficulty to determine who this
emperor was, for the cognomen Verus was given to M. Aurelius as well as to
Lucius. Vid. Jul. Capitol, in vit. M. Aurelii. But it is most probable that M.
Aurelius was the emperor, especially if Lucius Verus was dead before the per-
secution, as some imagine, Nicephor. lib. iii. cap. 14. And it is observable, that
Athenagoras dedicates his Apology to M. Aurelius and Lu. Commodus, and not
to Lucius Verus. However this be, certain it is that this was a most bloody
persecution, in which Polycarp and Justin, and the martyrs of Vienna and Lyons
were put to death ; the reading of the prophets, and the sibyls, and whatever
else might serve the Christian cause was forbidden, says Justin, upon pain of
death, Apol. i. sec. 59. This is counted the fourth persecution by all but
S. Severus, who calls it the fifth. But then it is observed by Eusebius, lib. v.
cap. I, that it was set on foot, not by any edict of Aurelius, but by popular
tumult. If we read Severus instead of Verus, as Pamelius is most inclined to,
then is it evident that when this Apology was written, Severus had issued out
no edict against the Christians.

if)


2O         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

against law, by the best of princes, and struck at root and branch
only by our brethren in iniquity.


                                       —o—

                                  CHAPTER VI.

                 THAT THE ROMANS ARE MIGHTY PRAISERS OF THE ANTIQUITY OF
                      THEIR RELIGION, AND YET ADMIT OF NOVELTIES INTO IT
                                             EVERY DAY.

BUT now I would argue the case a little with these scrupulous
gentlemen who are such mighty sticklers for the observation of old
laws; I would know whether they themselves have religiously
adhered to their forefathers in everything, whether they quitted no
law, nor have gone one step out of the ancient way. Nay, whether
they have not made ineffectual some of the most necessary and
proper rules of government; if not, what is become of those
excellent laws for the bridling luxury and ambition ? Those laws
which allowed not above a noble1 for an entertainment, and but
one hen, and that not a crammed one, for a supper. Those laws
which excluded a senator the house, as a man of ambitious designs,
for having but ten pound weight of silver plate in his family; which
levelled the rising theatres - to the ground immediately, as semin-
aries only of lewdness and immorality; and which under severe
penalties forbade the commons to usurp the badges and distinctions
of the nobility. But now I see the enormous entertainments, with

1 Centum aera non amplius This was the Lex Licinia vel Fannia called
Centussis, according to that of Lucilius, Fanni Centussique, misellos. Vid. A.
Gell. lib. ii. cap. 24. To what Zephirus in his paraphrase, and Pamelius in his
notes, have said concerning the sumptuary laws, and against canvassing for places,
I add, that C. Orchius the third year before Cato was censor, preferred a law to
moderate the number of guests only. Twenty-two years after, C. Fannius being
consul, enacted another for moderating the expenses of ordinary feasts, allowing
not more denis assibus. Licinius Crassus revived the Fannian law. The Lex
Cornelia,
and the Lex Antia, were to the same purposes of frugality. Whoso-
ever desires to see more de Legibus Sumptuariis ct de Ambitu, may read Stuc.
conviv,
lib. i. cap. 3 ; A. Gell. lib. ii. cap. 24; Macrob. Saturn, lib. iii. cap.
17 ; Alex. ab Alexan. Genial. Di. lib. iii. cap. 2, p. 685, tom, i., and likewise cap.

17, p. 755.

1 Theatra stuprandis moribus orientia statim destruebant. P. Cornius Nasica
after the second Punic war demolished the theatre as the school of wickedness
and effeminacy. Vid. Alexand. ab Alex.. tom. i. lib. iv. cap. 25, p. 1193.


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         21

new names from their extravagance ; a centenarian supper, so called
from the hundred sestertias expended on it, that is about seven
hundred and eighty-one pounds five shillings for a meal.; and I see
mines of silver melted into dishes, not for the table of senators
only, for that would be tolerable, but for such fellows as are but
just made free, and hardly out of the lash of slavery. I see also
theatres in abundance,1 and all indulgingly covered over. The
hardy Lacedemonians, I suppose, were the first authors of this soft
invention, for fear Venus should take cold in the winter without a
covering; and that odious heavy cloak of frieze, which in time
of war was to screen the Spartans from the injuries of weather,
was chiefly designed no doubt to defend the Romans at the
enjoyment of their sports. Moreover, I see now no difference in
habit between a lady of quality and a common strumpet;2 all
those wise institutions about women are fallen to the ground,
wherein your ancestors made such provisions for modesty and
temperance; when a woman was to wear no more gold about her
than the wedding-ring upon her finger;3 when women were so
strictly prohibited to the use of wine, that a matron was starved to

1 Video Theatra nec singula satis esse. In the time of Augustus there were
hut three theatres, and one amphitheatre; but as they grew in vices, they
increased in theatres; and then we read of the theatre of Marcellus, and one of
Scaurus so capacious that Pliny affirms it large enough to hold 80,000 men.
Plin. lib. xxxvi. cap. 15. Concerning the number of theatres, vid. Just. Lipsii
Amphitheatrum, et Tertull. de Spectac. et Vitruv.
lib. v. cap. 3.

2 Inter Matronas Clique Prostibulas nullum de habitu discrimen. The Stola,
Flammeum, Vitta, and Reticulum were the distinctions of matrons of repute,
from prostitutes who had the Toga, and were not allowed the Flammeum and
Vitta. More of this you may see in Alex. ab Alexand. tom. ii. lib. v. p. 216.

3 Cum aurum nulla norat praeter unico digito quem sponsus oppignorasset
pronubo annulo.
The ring in matrimony has been a very general and ancient
ceremony: Digito pignus fortasse dedisii, Juven. sat. 6. This nuptial ring was
put upon the finger next the least, on the left hand, out of an imagination that
there was a particular vein there which went directly to the bottom of the
heart. Aul. Gell. lib. x. cap. 10, Macrob. lib. vii. cap. 13. And this, I sup-
pose, may be the Unicus Digitus in Tertullian. The primitive Christians made
no scruple of complying with this ancient ceremony of the ring in matrimony,
for, says Tertullian, de Idol. de nullius Idoli honore descendit, it did not arise from
any honour given to an idol. And Clemens Alexandrinus sets forth, not only the
rite, but the reason of it, Clem. Alex. Paed. lib. iii. cap. 2. St. Ambrose brings in
St. Agnes, mentioning the wedding-ring, Amb. lib. iv. ep. 34. In the year
611, Isidore Hispalensis, Etymol. lib. xx. and de devin. Off. lib. ii., proves it to be
in use, and all the offices of the Western Churches since that time prove the
same. As to the Greek Churches, we find by the Eucologicon, that they used
two rings, one of gold, which was given to the man, another of silver, which
was given to the woman. Vid. ord. Sponsalior. And therefore it was not
without good authority that our wise reformers did retain this innocent, ancient
ceremony, approved of even by Bucer himself. Buceri Censur. p. 48.


22         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

death by her friends for breaking the seals of a cellar where the
wine was kept ;1 and Mecenius in the reign of Romulus was acquitted
for killing his wife far the same attempt; and for the same reason
parents were by law obliged to kiss their children, in order to dis-
cover them by their breath. Where is now the happiness of a
conjugal state, maintained of old by rugged virtue, in so long and
perfect harmony, that from the foundation of the city for almost
six hundred years together,2 we read not of a divorce in any family ?
But now, instead of wedding-rings only, women are so begolded
over, that every limb labours under the burthen; and so addicted
to wine, that you shall not receive a salute without a smack of the
bottle; and divorces are now become the object of your desires,
and looked upon as the constant fruit of matrimony. But this is
not all, for what your fathers have bravely decreed, even about the
worship of the gods, you with all your obedience have rescinded.
The consuls with the authority of the senate banished father Bacchus3

1 Cum mulieres usque adeo vino abstinerentur, ut matronam ob resignatos cellae
vinariae loculos sui inedia necarint.
This story, and almost the very words, are
taken out of Pliny's Natural History, lib. iv. cap. 13, where he says likewise that
Egnatius Metellus (here called Mecenius) killed his wife with a club for drinking
wine. The drinking of wine was interdicted women under the severest penalty.
Vid. Dionys. Halicarn. lib. ii., Polyb. lib. vi., Cicer. lib. de nat. Deor. It was as
capital a crime for a woman to be taken in wine as in adultery. It was by the
law of Romulus made one of the conditions for a divorce. Cneus Domitius
deprived a woman of her dowry for drinking more liberally than her health
required. The law mentioned here by Tertullian, which obliged relations to
salute women to find whether they did not smell of wine, was overruled by an
edict of Tiberius Caesar. Via. Sueton. vit. Tiber. See more to this purpose in
Alexand. ab Alex. tom. i. lib. iii. cap. 2, pp. 672 and 673.

2 Per annos ferme sexcentos ab urbe condita, nulla repudium domus scripsit.
P. Carvillius Ruga, or Spurius Carbilius, as he is called by Valer. Maximus, lib.
ii. cap. I, was the first who divorced his wife upon pretence of barrenness,
though divorces afterwards upon the most trifling occasions came to be a common
practice. L. Antonius was noted by the censors, and turned out of the senate
for putting away his wife upon no reason but his humour. Vid. Val. Max.
lib. it. cap. 4. Tiberius Caesar degraded a censor upon the like occasion, Sueton.
in vit. Tib. Q. Antistius and C. Sulpitius divorced their wives merely upon a
pet. Val. Max. lib. vi. cap. 3. And Maecenas is severely taxed by Seneca upon
the like occasion, Sen. lib. de Divin. Provid. So that it is not without reason
that Tertullian affirms divorces in his time to be the constant fruit of matrimony.
By the laws of Romulus a man could not divorce his wife, but either for adultery,
for attempting to poison him, for false keys, or for drinking of wine. The form
of divorces between parties only contracted was in these words—Conditione tua
non utar.
This was properly Repudium ; that between a married couple was
called Divortium, and ran in this form—Res tuas tibi habeto.

3 Liberum Patrem cum mysteriis suis. The Bacchanalia or Nyctileia grew to
that excessive lewdness, that they were forbid in all parts of Italy under a severe
penalty. Vid. Alex. ab Alex. tom. i. lib. vi. cap. 7, p. 650.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         23

and his mysteries, not out of Rome only, but all Italy, and Serapis,1
and Isis, and Harpocrates, with his dog's head of a god Cynocephalus,
were excluded the capitol, the palace of your deities, during the
consulship of Piso and Gabinius, who were not Christians, and all
their altars levelled to the ground, in order to suppress this rabble
of deities, and the abominable filthincsses attending on them; but
these gods you have recalled from banishment, and restored them
to their original worship. Where now is your old religion, and the
great veneration you pretend to have for your ancestors ? You
have degenerated from them in your habit, in your modes of living,
in your furniture,2 and in the riches and revenues you allow to the
different ranks of men, and in the very delicacy of your language.
You are eternal praisers of antiquity, and yet every day in a new
fashion ; which is a plain proof that it is your peculiar talent to be
in the wrong, to forsake your ancestors where you should follow,
and to follow where you should forsake them. And although you
may take yourselves for zealous defenders of the traditions of your
fathers, especially in those things for the neglect of which you
principally accuse the Christians, namely, the worship of the gods,
in which point your ancestors have been the most unhappily
mistaken; although you have rebuilt the altars of Serapis, and
made him now a Roman god; although Bacchus now has his
frantic sacrifices offered him in Italy;—notwithstanding all this, I
say, I will show in its proper place that you have not in truth this
warm affection for the gods of your forefathers, but that you have
despised, slighted, and destroyed them, in spite of all your loud
pretences to the obligations of antiquity. In the meantime, I shall
return an answer to those infamous objections against our actions
in secret, in order to make way for the vindication of those things
we do in the face of the world.

1 Serapidem et Isidem, et Harpocratem cum suo Cynocephalo, etc. Serapis
and Isis were celebrated idols of Egypt. Harpocrates is said to be born of Isis
and Osiris, and coming unluckily before his time, was born mute, and for that
reason made the god of silence, according to that of Ovid—Quinque premit
vocem, digitoq.; silentia suadet.
Cynocephalus was an Egyptian god with a
dog's head, under which shape Mercury is said to have been worshipped,
according to that of Virgil, Aenead. 8, Omnigenumq.; Deum monstra, et
Latrator Anubis.
See more of this and their expulsion out of Italy in Alex. ab
Alex.
tom. i. lib. ii. cap. 19, p. 431.

2 Censu. I conclude this word should be written with a c, and I have
translated it accordingly; but if it is to be written with an s, as it is both in
Rigaltius and Pamelius, I would translate it opinion; but Rigaltius in his
Animadversions has corrected his text, and writes Censu, Vid. Rigal. Anim-
adver. juxta fin.


24          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

                               CHAPTER VII.

                          THAT COMMON FAME IS BUT AN ILL EVIDENCE.

It is the common talk that we are the wickedest of men, that we
murder and eat a child in our religious assemblies,1 and when we rise
from supper conclude all in the confusions of incest. It is reported
likewise that for this work we have an odd sort of clogs, as
officious as bawds in putting out the candles, procurers of darkness
for the freer satisfactions of our impious and shameless lust. This
is the common talk, and the report is of long standing, and yet not
a man attempts to prove the truth of the fact. Either, therefore, if
you believe report, examine the grounds, or if you will not examine,
give no credit to the report. And this dissembled carelessness of
yours against being better informed plainly speaks that you your-
selves believe nothing of it; you seem to care not to examine, only
in truth because you dare not; for were you of opinion that these
reports were true, you would never give such orders as you do
about the torturing of Christians ; which you prescribe, not to make
them confess the actions of their life, but only to deny the religion
they profess. But the Christian religion, as I have already intimated,
began to spread in the reign of Tiberius; and the truth pulled
down a world of hatred in its very cradle ; for it had as many
enemies as men without the pale of revelation, and even those
within, the very Jews, the most implacable of any, out of a blind
passion for the law. The soldiers from dragooning our persons,
come to hate our religion, and from a baseness of spirit, our very
domestics are as much bent upon our destruction as they. Thus
are we continually invested on every side, and continually betrayed—
nay, very often we arc surprised and taken in our public meetings
and assemblies; and yet did ever any one come upon us when the
infant was crying under the sacrificer's hand ? - Who ever catched

1 Dicimur sceleratissimi de Sacramento Infanticidii. That this charge of
devouring a child in the sacrament was by the heathens commonly laid upon
the Christians is evident, because Justin, Athenagoras, Tatian, Minutius, and the
rest of the apologists insist so much upon it. The nature of the institution and
the practice of Simon Magus, Menander, Basilides, Carpocrates, and other
heretics, who passed under the name of Christians, most probably gave rise to
this horrid story, as I have shown at large in my notes upon Justin's Apology.

2 Quis unquam taliter vagienti Infanti supervenit. The Christian sacrifice of
bread and wine was never omitted in the first ages of the Church in their public


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         25

us, like a Cyclops or Siren, with mouths besmeared in human blood,
and carried us in that cruel pickle before a judge? And as for
incest, who ever discovered any relic of immodesty in his wife after
she became a Christian ? And who can think that a heathen would
connive at wickednesses of this monstrous size in any Christian, had
he eyes to spy them out ? Or that he can be bribed in our favour,
who seems never so well pleased as when he is hauling us to
punishment? If you say that these abominations are always done
in secret, pray when and by whom came you to this knowledge ?
Not by the guilty themselves, for you know that the persons
admitted into the mysteries of all religions are by the very
form of admission1 under the severest obligations to secrecy; the
Samothracian and Eleusinian2 mysteries you know are covered in
profound silence, how much more reasonable is it therefore to
think that such as these will be kept in the dark, which not only
treasure up divine wrath against the day of judgment, but if once
discovered will whet human justice to the highest pitch of
vengeance ? If, therefore, Christians betray not themselves, it
follows that they must be betrayed by those of another religion ;
but how shall strangers be able to inform against us, when even the
most pious mysteries3 are defended from the approaches of the

worship: they looked upon their service as not so perfectly Christian and
acceptable without it, that the Holy Spirit did in an especial manner descend
upon the consecrated elements, that God was better pleased with their prayers
for this commemoration of His Son, and that this was the principle of union
between a Christian and the ever Blessed Trinity; and, therefore, whenever the
heathens broke into their assemblies, they would be sure to find this sacrifice of
a child, was there any such thing.

1 Ex Forma omnibus Mysteriis silentii Fides debeatur. What silence was
thought due to sacred rites we may understand by Horace's Favete linguis ;
by Ovid's Ore favent Populi nunc cum venit aurea Pompa ; by Virgil's Fida
Silentia Sacris;
by Festus's Linquam pascito, i.e. coerceto ; by the Egyptians
setting up the image of Harpocrates in the entrance of their temples, and by the
Romans placing the statue of Angerona on the altar of Volupia. Vid. Brisson,
de Formulis, lib. i. p. 8.

2 Elensinia reticentnr. Horace protests that he would not stay in the house,
or sail in the ship, with a person that should divulge the mysteries of Ceres—

Vetabo, qui Cereris sacrum
Vulgarit arcanae, sub iisdem
Sit trabibus fragilemque mecum
Solvat phaselum.

Alcibiades and his companions for exposing the rites of Ceres were not only
excommunicated all religious and civil intercourse at Athens, but solemnly
cursed by the priests, and priestesses — a practice not unlike to the Jewish
Anathema. Vid. Plutar. Alcibiad.

3 Cum etiam piae Initiationes arceant Prophanos. I know nothing more


26         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

stranger and the profane ? Unless you conclude the Christian rites
to be the wickedest of any, and withal conclude that the wicked are
less cautious about the divulging of such rites than those of a
better religion. And thus you must be forced to acknowledge you
know nothing of our profession, but by common fame; and the
nature of fame is too well known by every one to be credited in
haste. Your own Virgil tells you, Fama malum quo non aliud
velocius ullum:
Fame is an ill, the swiftest ill that flies.

Why does he call fame an ill ? Because of her swiftness ? Or
because she is an informer ? Or because she is a common liar ?
For the last reason without question. For she never lets even
truth come out of her mouth without being sophisticated, without
detracting, adding, or brewing it with one falsehood or another.
Moreover, the nature of fame is such that she cannot keep herself
upon the wing without the assistance of lies; for she lives by not
proving; when she proves, she destroys her being. She hovers no

practised all the heathen world over, than the excommunicating profane persons
from all holy mysteries. Hence that of Virgil—

Procul, o procul este Prophani
Conclamat Vates,

And that of Horace also—

Odi Prophanum
Vulgus et arceo.

The Flamens had a commentaculum, a kind of rod in their hands to keep off
impure persons. Vid. Brisson, de Formulis, lib. i.; Selden, de Syned. lib. i. cap.
10. Among the Greeks that old form from Orpheus continued,—e3kaj e3kaj e4ste
be/bhloi. At Athens the herald cried out tij th~deWho is here? To which the
people answered, polloi\ kai\ a0gaqoi\Many and good men. Vid. Suid. in tij th~de.
And we read in Livy, Decad. 4, lib, i., of two young men of Arcanania, who for
not being initiated and crowded into the Eleiisinian mysteries, were slain ; for it
was a capital crime to be present without due purification ; and such purifying
rites were men of all ranks and qualities obliged to perform before they could
approach the altars and statues. Not Nero himself could prevail with his
conscience to let him be present at these rites of Ceres, after the Herald had
made the usual proclamation for the wicked to depart. Vid. Sueton. Ner, cap. 34.
But Antoninus the philosopher, to show his innocence, went to the temple of
Ceres, and into the very Sacrarium by himself. Vid. Capitolin. in vit. Antonin.
Philos.
And was there but a little more of the natural reverence of heathens to
holy things among Christian people, and did Christian priests exert the power
that God has given them with as much vigour as the idol priests did, men even
as wicked as Nero would not dare to approach our altars merely upon the invita-
tion of a place. But as matters stand, it might go hard with the priest to make
a notorious offender lose his preferment, by refusing him the sacrament, and the
common law might go near to nail the canon.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         27

longer like fame, but being as it were out of her office, certainty
succeeds in the place of report. And then it is no longer said, for
example, that such a thing is famed to have been acted at Rome,
or such a person to have got the government of such a province,
but that such things are actually so and so. Fame is a doubtful
sound, and lodges only among uncertainties; and would ever any
man of common reflection build much upon this uncertain puff?
For let a story be never so general and diffusive, and never so
confidently asserted, it is always to be remembered that it had a
beginning, and from that time has crept into a world of ears, and
out of a world of mouths; and so the story very little at its first
planting, and naughty perhaps in the very seed, comes at length to
be so overgrown and darkened by variety of rumours, that men
care not to be at the pains of tracing it up to the original mouth,
and to see whether it came not first into the world a very lie ; which
often happens, either from the disposition and genius of hatred, or
the licence men usurp of improving suspicions, or which is no new
thing, the very pleasure of lying, which some people seem marvel-
lously turned for, even by nature.

Well is it, therefore, I am sure, for Christians, what is so
proverbially in the mouth of heathens, that time brings everything
to light, according to that order of nature which will permit nothing
to lie long hid; no, not even that which never came within the lips
of fame. I shall leave it to you, therefore, to judge whether you
have reason to proceed with this severity against Christians merely
upon the testimony of fame; for this is the only witness you
produce against us, and which looks so much the worse, because
of all the stories she has been sowing about the world, and been
so long a-watering and nourishing up into credit, she has not to
this day been able to prove one.

                                           —o—

                                    CHAPTER VIII.

             THAT THE CRIMES CHARGED UPON THE CHRISTIANS ARE NEITHER
                                      POSSIBLE NOR PROBABLE.

I SHALL now appeal to the testimony of nature, and argue whether
it is credible that she is capable of such inhumanities as common
fame charges upon Christians ; and for argument sake, I will


28          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

suppose a Christian promising you eternal life, and tying caution
for the performance, upon consideration of your obedience. I will
suppose likewise that you believe this promise, and the question
now is, whether upon such a belief you could find in your hearts to
be barbarous enough in spite of nature to accept of eternal life at
this inhuman price. Imagine, therefore, a Christian addressing you
in this manner: Come hither, friend, and plunge your dagger into
the heart of this innocent, who can deserve no punishment, who
can be no man's foe, and who may be every man's son, considering
our indiscriminate embraces. Or if another is to officiate in this
bloody service, suppose yourself applied to after this sort: Come
hither, and stand by only while I make the sacrifice; behold me
despatching an infant off the stage in the very first act of life ; see
me sending the new soul flying out of the body before it was well
in; do you gather up the rude indigent blood, and sop your bread
liberally in that wine, and indulge freely upon the flesh ; and while
you arc at supper be sure to cast a wishful eye upon your mother
and sister; mark exactly where they sit, that you are guilty of no
mistake when the clogs have put out the candles. For it is as much
as our immortality is worth if you should miss of incest; if you are
thus initiated, and continue firm in the practice of these rules, you
shall live for ever. Answer me now to the question proposed, Can
you purchase heaven upon these terms? If not, if you feel nature
recoil, and your soul shrink at the proposal of such things, you can
never think them credible in us. Did you but believe them, I am
confident you would not do them ; but did you believe them, and
had an inclination to do them, I am of opinion that your very
humanity would not suffer you to perpetrate such facts ; and if you
find too many misgivings in yourselves for the performance of such
commands, why do you not conclude the same reluctance in others ?
Or if you cannot be unnatural enough for these things, why should
you judge others can?

But Christians, I suppose, are not men. What! do you take us
for monsters like the Cynopse or Sciapodes,1 with different rows of
teeth for devouring, and different instruments for incest, from all
other men ? Certainly, if you believe such actions possible for
others, you may believe them possible for yourselves, you being men,

1 The Cynopae, or Cynopes or Cynocephali, are reported to be a sort of wild
men in the mountains of India, with heads like a dog, Plin. vii. 2 ; and the
Sciapodes of Aethiopia to be a people of such a monstrous make, that in hot
broiling days lie upon their backs, and cover their whole bodies from the sun
with the shadow of the bottoms of their feet, Plin. vii. 1.


         Tertullian's  Apology for the Christians.         29

as we Christians are ; but if you feel this impossible in nature, you
ought to give no credit to the report, because Christians and
heathens have the same humanity.

But you pretend that the ignorant only are decoyed and tricked
into our religion, such as have not met with any of these stories
against us, but are catched before they have time to consider and
examine with that accuracy which every man is obliged to upon
changing his religion. But allowing it possible for a man to be
ignorant of common fame, yet if any one is desirous to be initiated,
it is the constant custom, as I take it, for such a person to go to the
chief priest, to be instructed in what is necessary for such an
initiation. And then, if these stories are true, he will instruct him
in this manner : Friend, in order to communicate with us you must
provide a child tender and good, too young for any sense or notice
of death; such a child as will smile into my face under the fatal
knife. You are likewise to provide bread to suck up the blood,
and candlesticks and candles, and some dogs with some morsels to
throw to those dogs just out of their reach, that by striving to come
at them they may pull down the candles and candlesticks to which
they are tied. Above all things, you must be sure not to come
without your mother and sister. But what if they will not comply,
or suppose the convert has no sister or mother, nor any relation of
our religion ? Why, he cannot be admitted; for to have a sister or
a mother are necessary qualifications, no doubt, to make a Christian.
But if you will suppose all this furniture got ready beforehand. without
the knowledge of him who is to communicate, yet certainly after he
has communicated he must needs know all; and yet he still con-
tinues firm in our communion without a word of the imposture.
But he dares not discover perhaps, for fear of punishment, when
such a discovery would be meritorious. Whereas a man of probity,
after he had found himself thus abused, and tricked into so horrid a
religion, would rather choose to die than live longer with such a
conscience. After all, I will grant that such a man dares not discover
for fear of punishment; but pray then give me a reason why the
same person should persevere in defiance of torments; for I think
it natural to conclude that you would not continually stick close to
a religion under such disadvantages, which you would never have
embraced had you but known it before you embraced it,


                                           —o—


30          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

                                    CHAPTER IX.

       THAT THE PAGANS ARE GUILTY BOTH IN PRIVATE AND PUBLIC
             OF THE SAME CRIMES THEY CHARGE UPON CHRISTIANS.

BUT for a fuller confutation I come now to prove that the heathens
are guilty both in the dark, and in the face of the sun, of acting the
same abominations they charge upon Christians, and their own
guiltiness, perhaps, is the very thing which disposes them to believe
the like of others. Infants have been sacrificed to Saturn publicly
in Africa,1 even to the proconsulship of Tiberius, who devoted the
very trees about Saturn's temple to be gibbets for his priests, as
accomplices in the murder, for contributing the protection of their
shadow to such wicked practices. For the truth of this I appeal
to the militia of my own country, who served the proconsul in the
execution of this order. But these abominations are continued to
this day in private. Thus you see that the Christians are not the
only men who act in defiance of your laws; nor can all your
severity pull up this wickedness by the roots, nor will your immortal
alter his abominable worship upon any consideration; for since
Saturn could find in his heart to eat up his own children, you may
be sure he would continue his stomach for those of other people
who are obliged to bring their own babes, and sacrifice them with
their own hands, giving them the tenderest of words, when they
are just upon cutting their throats, not out of any bowels of com-
passion, but for fear they should unhollow the mystery, and spoil
the sacrifice with tears. And now, in my opinion, this parricide of

1 Infantes penes Africam Saturno palam immolabantur, etc. The heathens had
a notion (however they came by it is not to my present purpose to conjecture) that
repentance alone was not sufficient to atone the Divine wrath without a bloody
sacrifice, and therefore the blood of man and beast was brought in to supply the
deficiency. Accordingly among the Phoenicians and Carthaginians it had been
an ancient custom to choose by lot some children of the best quality for a sacrifice,
and for those upon whom the lot fell there was no redemption. And they were
likewise dressed according to their quality in the richest apparel to make the
sacrifice more splendid. And having omitted these human sacrifices for some
time, and during that omission being overcome by Agathocles, they offered two
hundred sons of the nobility upon their altars to atone the deity for the neglect
of human sacrifices. Vid. Plat. dial, entitled Minos Dionys. Halicar. lib. i.,
Diodor. Sic. lib. xx., Lactan. lib. i. cap. 21, Euseb. Praepar. Evang. lib. iv.,
and Silius Ital. at the end of the fourth book speaks thus of Carthage :—

Mos fuit in populis, quos conditit advena Dido.
(Infandum dictu) Parvos iinponere natos.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         31

yours, or slaughtering your own children, outdoes the simple
homicide charged upon us by many degrees of barbarity. But
infants are not the only offerings, for the Gauls cut a man to
pieces upon the altars of Mercury,1 in the flower of his strength. I
omit the human sacrifices at Diana's Temple2 in Taurica Chersone-
sus, which are the arguments of your tragedies, and which you seem
to countenance by being so often at the theatres. But behold ! in
that most religious city of the pious descendants of pious Aeneas,
there is a certain Jupiter,3 whom at your religious games you pro-
pitiate with human blood in abundance. But these, say you, are
bestiarian men, criminals already condemned to die by beasts.
Alas-a-day ! these are not men, I warrant ye, because they are
condemned men; and are not your gods wonderfully beholden to
you for offering to them such vile fellows ? However that be, this
is certain, it is human blood. O brave Christian Jove! your
father's only son and heir in cruelty, worshipped with human blood,
as the God of the Christians is falsely reported to be. But because,
if you kill a child, it is not a farthing difference whether you kill it
for a sacrifice, or for your own will (for killing a child will be always
a crime, though not always equal, parricide being worse than mere
homicide), since this, I say, is so, I shall now apply myself upon
this subject unto the people of all ranks and conditions. How
many about me might I justly reproach upon this head, not only
of the mob continually blooded with Christians, and continually

1 Major aetas apud Gallos Mercurio prosecatur. Cicero in Orat proM. Fonteio,
speaking of the Gauls, has these words:—Quis enim ignorat eos usque ad hanc
diem retinere illam immanent ac barbaram consuetudinem hominum unmo-
landorum?
And in his third book, de Divinat., he mentions five Mercurys
and makes Mercury Theutates the fifth who slew Argos, and for that flew into
Egypt, and there instructed the Egyptians in laws and letters, from which
Theutates the first month of their year, that is September, was called Theuth.
This was the Mercury the Gauls sacrifice to, and which Lucan in his first book
refers to.

Ex quibus immitis placatur sanguine diro
Thentates, horrensque feris Altaribus Hesus,

See more in Lactantius, lib. i. sec. 21, 50, Liv. 3, dec. lib. vi., Caesar, lib. vi.,
de bell. Gall.

2 Remitto Tauricas Fabulas. Herodotus in his fourth book says it was a
custom among the Tauri to sacrifice every year the hundredth captive to Diana ;
and Lucan having spoken of Theutates and Hesus, adds :—

Et Taranis Scythicae non mitior ara Diana.

See P. Orosius in his preface to his fifth book, and Lactan. lib. i. sec. 21, p. 50,
concerning the bloody rite of sacrificing strangers to Diana Taurica.

3 Jupiter quidam. Vid. Lactan. lib. i. sec. 21, p. 50. This was Jupiter
Latiaris.


32         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

gaping for more, but also of you, presidents of cities and provinces,
who have been the severest against us upon this very score? How
many, I say, of both sorts might I deservedly charge with infant-
murder? And not only so, but among the different kinds of death,
for choosing some of the cruellest for their own children, such as
drowning, or starving with cold or hunger, or exposing to the mercy
of dogs, dying by the sword being too sweet a death for children,
and such as a man would choose to fall by sooner than by any
other ways of violence.

But Christians now are so far from homicide, that with them it
is utterly unlawful to make away a child in the womb, when nature
is in deliberation about the man; for to kill a child before it is
born is to commit murder by way of advance; and there is no
difference whether you destroy a child in its formation, or after it
is formed and delivered. For we Christians look upon him as a
man, who is one in embryo; for he is in being, like the fruit in
blossom, and in a little time would have been a perfect man, had
nature met with no disturbance.

As for the inhuman customs of banqueting upon blood, and such
tragical dishes, you may read (for it is related by Herodotus,1 I
think) how that certain nations having opened a vein in their arm,
solemnly drank of each other's blood for the confirmation of treaties ;
and something like this Catiline2 put in practice in his conspiracy.

1 Est apud Herodotum opinor, etc. Herodotus in his first book reports that
it was the solemn way among the Medes and Lydians in making of leagues to
strike each other on the shoulders with a naked sword, and then for the parties
mutually to lick up the blood ; and in his fourth book he tells us that the
Scythian rite of entering into league was to fill a large cup of blood and wine
mixed together (the blood of both the parties confederating), and having dipped
their swords and arrows into it, to pledge each other in it, and so by turns drink
it off. And Possidonius, and from him Athenaeus, lib. ii. cap. 2, relates that
the Germans at their banquets opened a vein in their face, and the parties mutu-
ally drinking up each other's blood, mixed with wine, was the ratification of the
treaty. So much human blood was there spilt, especially in sacrificing to devils,
till Christ came and redeemed us from the powers of darkness, and put an end to
all bloody sacrifices, by that of Himself once made upon the cross.

2 Nescio quid et sub Catilina degustatum est. The words of Sallust concerning
Catiline are these—Fuere ea Tempestate, qui dicerent Catilinam oratione habitu,
cum ad jusjurandum Populares sceleric sui addicerent, Humani Corporis sanguinem
vino permistum in pateris circumtulisse ; inde cum post execrationem omnes degustas-
sent, sicuti in solemnibus sacris fieri consuevit, dicitur aperuisse consilium,
etc.
I have set down this of Sallust at large, because as it stands in the notes of
Pamelius it is printed or quoted false in two places, and the last part quite
omitted, which shows it to be a customary rite in some countries.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         33

It is likewise reported that in some Scythian families the surviving
friends eat up the dead ones.1 But I need not go so far as Scythia,
for we have now at this day as barbarous ceremonies at home;
Bellona's priests 2 lancing their thighs, and taking up their own sacred
blood in the palms of their hands, and giving it their communicants
to drink. Those epileptic persons also who flock to the amphi-
theatres for the cure of their disease, intercept the reeking blood as
it comes gushing from the gladiators' throats, and swill it off with
greediness. What shall we say of those who gorge themselves with
the beasts they kill upon the stage, who demand a piece of the boar,
or the stag that is covered over with their own blood in the combat ?
Nay, the very paunches3 of boars stuffed with the crude indigested
entrails of men are dishes much in vogue ; and so man belches up
man by surfeiting upon beasts fed with men. You who eat thus,
bless me, how differently do you eat from Christians ? But what
can we think of men so perfectly brutish as to lick up the very first
principles of life and blood, and so diet upon child and parent both
at the same time ? For shame therefore blush when you meet a
Christian, who will not endure a drop of the blood of any animal
among his victuals, and therefore for fear any should be lodged
among the entrails, we abstain from things strangled, and such as
die of themselves.

Lastly, among other experiments for the discovery of Christians
this is one, to present them with blood puddings, as very well
knowing our opinion about the unlawfulness of eating blood. This,
I say, is the stumbling-block and offence you lay in the way of
Christians; and what a strange thing is it, that you who are confi-
dent that the Christians are so religiously averse to the blood of
beasts, should imagine them so sharp set upon the blood of men ?

1 Apud quosdam gentiles Scytharum. Vid. Alex. ab Alex. tom. i. lib. iii.
cap. 2. And the notes of Tiraquell upon him.

2 Hodie isthic Bellonae sacratus sanguis de femore proscisso. In allusion to
which Lucan, lib. i.—

Diraque per populum Cumanae; Carmina vatis
Vulgantur, tum quos sectis Bellona lacertis
Saeva monet,
etc.

See more upon this in Beroaldus, and Lactan. lib. i. sec. 21.

3 Ursorum alvei appetuntur crudit antes adhuc de visceribus humanis. To
such a degree of luxury, or rather bestiality, were the Romans grown, that a bear's
paunch stuffed with the reeking viscera or guts of gladiators was reckoned a rare
dish, and by the sumptuary laws against luxury I find that Verrina and Abdomina
(which I take to be the same with these alvei} were forbidden at feasts. Vid.
Plin. lib. viii. cap. 51.

B


34         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

This could never be, unless you had tasted the blood of both, and
found that of men to be the sweeter temptation; which therefore
you should make like the censer of incense, to be another touch-
stone of a Christian; and so he might be detected as well by
accepting the blood as refusing the sacrifice, and in like manner be
put to death for tasting as he is now for sacrificing. And you the
judges of life and death, need never fear the want of human blood
to make the experiment. As for incest, where can you look to find
such human monster? so likely as among the worshippers of an
incestuous Jove ? We have the authority of CtesiasJ for the
Persians mixing with their mothers. And the Macedonians are
suspected, because when they first heard the tragical lamentations
of Oedipus for this sin with his mother Jocasta, they cried out in
ridicule—e1laune ei0j th_n mhte&ra,—Courage, noble warrior, and go
on bravely against your mother.

Recollect now with yourselves, and you will see what a licence
there is for incest, from some errors which must necessarily seduce
into it, by the help and fuel of lust and luxury. For, first, you
expose your sons to be taken up by the next passenger who happens
to come by with more bowels than yourselves, or you emancipate
them from all relation to you, in order to be adopted into nobler
families; and by both these kinds of alienation it cannot well be,
but that the knowledge of your children in some time must wear
out and vanish ; and for want of this knowledge, when the un-
natural mixture has once taken root, it spreads continually, and the
original stain diffuses itself from generation to generation. And
then also you have an inseparable companion of your lust in every
place; it sticks to you at home, and travels with you by land, and
takes shipping with you at sea; and by this ubiquitarian lust,
brothers and sisters may easily come together like the scattered seed
in a wide field, and as travellers often do by the help of commerce,
nnd mix in strange confusions, without the parties knowing anything
of the relation. But as for Christians, their inviolable chastity is a
hedge about them against such unhappy accidents; and by how

1 Persas cum Matribus misceri Ctesias refert. Some fragments of Clesias
were published by Henry Stephens ; but for the incest of the Persians it is
notorious. See Strabo, lib. v. ad fin., Curtius, lib. vii., and Catullus in Gellium
sings thus :—

Nascatur Magus ex Gelli Matrisque nefando
Concubitu, et discat Persicum aruspicium.
Nam Magus ex Matre et Nato gignatur oportet,

Si vera est Persarum impia Religio.


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         35

much the purer they keep themselves from fornication and adultery,
by so much the more, no doubt, are they preserved secure from the
chance of incest. Nay, some among us, for fear of such disorders,
have put themselves beyond the possibility of this sin, by a perpetual
virginity, by preserving the innocence of a child to the extremity of
age. If now, therefore, you would turn your eyes inward, and see
the guilt in yourselves, you would see innocence in us, for contraries
are best seen together; but you labour under a twofold blindness,
which is, not to see things that are, and to seem to see things which
really are not; the truth of this I will show in its proper place by
an induction of particulars, but at present I shall pass to matters of
more notorious evidence.

                                           —o—

                                       CHAPTER X.

                        THAT THE GODS OF THE GENTILES ARE NO GODS.

You say we are atheists, and will not be at the expense of a
sacrifice for the life of the emperors ; and if the first be true, the
consequence is just, for if we will not offer to the gods for our-
selves, it is not likely we should do it for others. It is upon this
account, therefore, that we are convened as guilty of sacrilege and
treason ; this I take to be the main article, and may be looked
upon as the sum of the charge against us, and therefore deserves a
particular discussion; and we doubt not to acquit ourselves in this
point, if prejudice and injustice be not our judges ; prejudice, I say,
which presumes things that are false to be true, and injustice, which
rejects evident truth when heard.

We profess, then, to have laid aside the worship of your gods,
from the time we knew them to be no gods ; that therefore which
you are to expect from us is, that we disprove them to be gods,
and consequently not to be worshipped ; for if they are gods,
devotion no doubt is their due, and the Christians ought to be
punished for deserting the gods, out of an opinion that they are
not gods, if it can be made appear that they are. But gods they
are, say you ; for the truth of this we appeal from your words to
your conscience, let that be our judge, and let that condemn us, if


36          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians,

you can deny all those you now worship for gods once to have
been men. If you can be hearty in this denial, you shall be con-
vinced of the mistake from your own antiquities testifying against
them to this day, from the cities where they were born, and the
countries where they left impressions of frailty; and alas! where
the very tombs of the immortals are shown.

But I will not presume to run over the whole inventory of deities,
their numbers are formidable; there are your new and old gods,1
Greeks and Barbarians, Romans, strangers, captives, adoptives,
proper, common, male and female, country, city, sea and camp
gods. A man must have wondrous little to do with his time to
give out their titles by retail, and so I shall lump them together,
and speak of them only in gross; and this not to improve your
knowledge, but only to quicken your memories, for you seem much
inclined to forget many of your gods.

First, then, Saturn with you is the eldest deity in worship ; from
him we are to begin our reckoning of all your gods, of the most
noted especially, and most in vogue, and he being the original god,
we may judge of all his posterity from him. As much therefore as
we can learn from history, we find that neither Diodorus the
Greek, or Thallus, or Cassius Severus, or Cornelius Nepos, or any
other commentator of antiquities speak of Saturn any otherwise
than as of a man. And if you would argue from things, I cannot
think of a place that can supply you with arguments so well as
Italy; for there you may trace Saturn in the most expressive prints
of man. After many expeditions from Greece, you will find him
landed in your own country, and there by the consent of Janus or
Janes (as the Salii call him) taking up his seat, the hill he inhabited
called after his own name Saturninus, and the city he founded,
Saturnia, to this day; and at length all Italy succeeded to this title,
after that of (Enotria. The invention of writing,2 and coining the

1 Novos Veteres, Barbaros, etc. After the most diligent collection, Varro has
mustered up an army of gods to the tune of above thirty thousand. The
explanation of the titles, and some instances of each of the sort of gods mentioned,
you may see in Pamelius upon this place; but for a fuller and more distinct
account I refer to Alex. ab Alex. lib. ii. p. 379, and lib. vi. cap. 4, pp. 433
and 436.

2 Ab ipso primum Tabulae, et Imagine signatus nummus et inde Aerario
praesidet.
This Aerarium or treasure-house, of which Saturn was president, was
not only the public exchequer, but in it likewise were kept the Acts of the Senate,
the books of records, and the Libri Elephantini, so called from their bigness, in
which all the names of the citizens were registered, and from these books,


        Tertullian s Apology for the Christians.         37

money with the king's image, you ascribe to Saturn; and for that
reason you make him patron of the public treasury, which is placed
in his temple. But now if Saturn was a man, and consequently
the son of a man, he could not properly be the son of heaven and
earth. And it was very natural for a person of an unknown race
to be fathered upon these two, whose children in some sense we
may be all said to be; for, considering how much our lives are all
owing to the concurrent influences of heaven and earth, who does
not by way of respect honour them with the title of common
parents? Or it might come to pass from a custom of saying a
person dropped from the skies, when he stepped in, unknown and
unexpected by those about him. And so Saturn, from his surprising
appearance in Italy, might be said to come from heaven. Besides,
a person of an uncertain family had usually the denomination of a
son of earth;1 not to mention the rudeness of those times when
the people were struck with the sight of a stranger as at the presence
of a god; since the refined spirits of this polished age have made
improvements of the folly, and raised them up into gods whom the
other day they solemnly attended to the funeral. This is enough
in reason to say about Saturn, though it is but little. I shall now
do as much for Jove, and show him to be a mere man, as well as

entituled Tabula publica, the treasury was called Tabularium. See Servius
upon that of Virgil, lib. ii. Georg.

————Aut Populi Tabularia vidit.

Imagine Signatus. Macrobius, Saturn, lib. i. cap. 7, reports that Janus having
entertained Saturn, who came to him by ship, and having made him co-partner
of his kingdom for the good instructions he received from him, the first money
he stamped (which was brass) he impressed on one side the image of himself,
and on the other the fore-deck of a ship, in memory of Saturn, according to that
of Ovid. i. fast.

Multa quidem didici; sed cur navalis in aere
Altera signata est, altera Forma biceps ?

At bona Posteritas puppem formavit in aere
Hospitis adventum testificata Dei.

Pliny in lib. xxxiii. cap. 3, says that Servius Tullius was the first who stamped
brass money with the image of beasts, and so from pecude the word pecunia.
Afterwards the images of the Caesars, with inscriptions and titles, were impressed
upon the coin ; so Nero in the habit of a harper. Sueton. in vit. Ner. and Alex-
ander Severus in the habit of Alexander the Great, etc.

1 Terra filios vulgus vocat, quorum genus est incertum. Thus is Tytius called
both by Homer and Virgil, 1Hgon e0poyo&menon tituo_n gaih&ion ui9o&n. Odyss. lib. vii.,

and so again, lib. xi., Kai\ tituo_n ei9don gai/hj e0riku&deoj ui9o&n.

Nec non et Tytium Terrae omnipotentis Alumnum.

Id est, filium, according to Servius. Virgil, Aeneid, lib. vi.


38         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

the son of a man, and consequently the whole swarm of divinities
mortal, and like father like son.


                                           —o—

                                     CHAPTER XI

               THAT THE FANCY OF MAKING GODS OF DEAD MEN IS A VERY
                                            FOOLISH FANCY.

AND because you have not the hardiness to deny but that your
gods were once men, and yet stand up for posthumous divinities, or
dead men turned into gods, I shall now consider the reasons for
such an imagination. In the first place, then, you will be forced to
grant some superior God who auctions1 out His divinity, and upon
good consideration makes gods of men ; for men cannot naturalize
themselves into gods; nor can any one else bestow the divine
nature upon them, but him who is the proprietor of it. But now,
if the supreme power itself cannot make gods, you then presume in
vain upon made gods without a maker. Certainly if men could
deify themselves, they would never have taken up with a human
being, when a divine one was in their power. Upon supposition,
therefore, that there is one who is able to make gods, I will examine
the reasons for making them; and upon consideration I can find
none, unless it be that the supreme God has too much business
upon His hands to manage as it should be, without some sub-gods
to assist Him. But, first, it is the most unbecoming idea of
Almighty power, to think it wants the help of a man, much less of
a dead one. And it is as unbecoming infinite wisdom, which could
not but foresee its wants, not to have made an assistant deity from
the beginning, rather than to tarry to the end of a man's life before
he can supply his necessities.

But I can see no room for any help-meet for God; for whether
you consider this great machine of the world as eternal with
Pythagoras, or made in time with Plato, you will find it from its
structure framed with all materials and movements necessary for
the order and government of this vast body; and He who gave this

1 Mancipem quendam Divinitatis. These mancipes were the chief among the
publicans, or the principal farmers of the public revenues. Vid. Cic. de Arusp.
respons., et
Alex. ab Alex. lib, ii, p. 520.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         39

perfection to everything could not want it Himself, or stand in
need of an assistant. He did not wait for a Saturn, or any of the
Saturnian race, to work under Him in the ordering of His world.
For men must be vain to the last degree to think that it did not
always rain, and the stars dart their rays, and the sun and moon
shine perpetually in their orbs, and the thunder bellow, and poor
Jove himself, in whose hands now you put the bolts, tremble at the
clap; and likewise that the fruits of the earth were not in being
before Bacchus, and Ceres, and Minerva, and even the first man
was formed out of it; because the world must be made and pro-
vided with all the necessaries of life before man can come to live
in it. Lastly, your gods are reputed to be the inventors, and not
the creators of these supports of life; but that which is found out
must have a being before it can be found, and that which is thus
in being cannot properly be said to be his who found it, but his
who made it; because it was in existence before it was found out.
But if Bacchus was consecrated for the discovery of vines, Lucullus,
methinks, had hard usage to miss of a consecration for the planta-
tion of cherry-trees in Italy; for he is celebrated as the author of
this new fruit, because he first brought it over with him from Pontus.

Wherefore, if the universe was well appointed with all its furniture
from the beginning, and everything was posted in its proper station,
and adjusted with proper powers for the execution of its office,
without any foreign assistance, this reason of yours for making of
gods falls to the ground; because the places and functions you
assign to them are supplied by nature, and all things would have
always been just as they are, whether you had created any gods or
no. But you turn over to another reason, and say that this confer-
ring of godships was intended for the rewarding of virtue. From
hence, I suppose, you will grant the god-making God Himself to be
virtuous in perfection, and consequently not to dispense these
divine honours at sixes and sevens, without having any respect to
the merits of the persons. I desire you therefore to sum up the
merits of those you worship for gods, and judge whether they are
likely to lift men up into heaven, or not rather press them down to
the very bottom of hell, which when the fit is upon you, you call
the prison of the damned. This is the dungeon where you thrust
the undutiful and incestuous, the adulterers, and ravishers of virgins,
and abusers of themselves with mankind, the savage and the
murderer, thieves and cheats, and whoever resembles some one
god or other of yours; for you cannot name one without a fault,
unless you disown him to have been a man. But they have left too


40          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

many prints of human frailty to deny them to be men, and such as
not only prove them men, but such also as prove it incredible they
should be made gods in another world.

If you sit upon the bench to punish such miscreants, and men of
honour spit at such nasty acquaintance, and the supreme God takes
up such fellows to associate with His Majesty, why then do you
condemn them whose colleagues in wickedness you adore? This
justice of yours is mere lampoon and satire upon heaven. If you
would get into the good graces of your deities, I would advise you
to consecrate the greatest rakes you can find, for certainly a conse-
cration of such rakes is doing honour to those they are like.

But not to dwell longer upon things so unbecoming the divine
nature, I will suppose your gods to have been good honest men,
yet how many better and more noted have you left in hell ? For
there have you not left the wise Socrates, the just Aristides, the
excellent General Themistocles, and Alexander the Great, Poly-
crates the fortunate, Croesus the rich, and Demosthenes the
eloquent? Which of your gods had more gravity and wisdom than
Cato, more justice and conduct, with courage, than Scipio, more
magnanimity than Pompey, more success than Sylla, more wealth
than Crassus, and more eloquence than Tully ? How much more
becoming had it been for him who had a foresight of these worthier
personages to have stayed till their death before his creation of
gods? But he was in haste, I suppose, for company, and having
taken up those you worship, he made fast the door, and so heaven
lies blushing now to see braver souls repining in hell.

                                           —o—

                                      CHAPTER XII.

                          CONCERNING THE VANITY OF IMAGE-WORSHIP.

BUT I shall push these things no further, and take another course to
set you right in the notions of your gods; for by demonstrating
what they are not, I shall show what they are. And as much as
I can learn of your gods, they have nothing of the venerable but
merely their names, imposed by some old people dead and gone.
I meet with no account of their lives but what is blended with


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         41

fables, and I find the whole fabric of your religion built upon a
pack of human inventions. As for your images, I shall only observe
that they are material, and often of the same matter with your
common utensils; and it is ten to one but the holy image has some
sister-vessel about the house, the pots and kettles being frequently
of the same metal and piece with the gods. Nay, oftentimes the
vessels themselves have the good luck to change their fate, and be
turned into gods, by the help of consecration, which alters the
property, and by the help of art, which alters the form, though not
without great sacrilege and contumely to any of the gods in their
very making. So that it is, indeed, a mighty consolation to us who
are punished for these gods, to find them suffer the like with us,
before they come to be worshipful; for Christians are fastened to
crosses and stumps of trees; and have you ever an image that has
not been so applied in its formation ? It is upon a frame of wood
in the form of a gibbet where the body first takes its degree of
divinity. Our Christian sides are torn with nails; but how is every
member of your poor gods mauled with hatchets, saws, and files ?
We lose our heads, and your gods have none, before the lead, and
the glue, and the nails set them on. We are drawn about by wild
beasts, and so Bacchus is drawn by tigers, Cybele by lions, and
Ceres by serpents. We are cast into the fire, and your gods are
cast and founded there also. We are condemned to the mines, and
are not your gods dug out from thence? We are banished into
islands, and there is not an island but is famous for the birth or burial
of some god or other. If these are the ways of deifying, then while
you are plaguing Christians you are only hammering them into
gods, and your punishing ought properly to be called a consecra-
tion. But in truth your gods have not the sense to feel the hard-
ships they undergo in making, nor the honours you pay them when
made. And here I expect you should cry out, O blaspemy! O
sacrilege ! but you may gnash and foam as you please ; yet remem-
ber that you yourselves are the admirers of that Seneca, who in his
book of superstition has been much severer against you upon this
head than I. If, therefore,1 we will not adore your statues and

1 Igitur si Statuas et Imagines frigidas mortuorum suorum simillimas non
adoramus.
This passage the Magdeburgenses, says Pamelius, have wrested
against the use of images in the Church, and takes it ill of Zephyrus for conclud-
ing that the Christians in Tertullian's time had only the sign of the cross above
the altar, and is so unfortunate in his zeal as to take occasion even from hence to
justify, not only the use of images, but the worship of them too, in a very long
note upon this place. But I shall not pretend to answer a person of such
hardiness, only leave it to any impartial reader, whether he can think it possible
that Tertullian would have been so merrily severe for this whole chapter together


42          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

images as cold as death, and in this so very like the bodies they
represent, do not we deserve panegyric rather than punishment for
leaving an acknowledged error? and which the very kites and
mice and spiders know to be dead as well as we.1 Is it possible we
can hurt those we are certain are not ? For that which is not, is
not capable of suffering, because it is not.

                                           —o—

                                    CHAPTER XIII.

              CONCERNING THE IRREVERENCE OF THE HEATHEN TO THEIR GODS.

BUT gods they are in your opinion, say you; and if so, how comes
it to pass that you use them so scurvily, with such profaneness,
sacrilege, and irreverence? How dare you despise what you
presume to be divine, and pull down the altars of them you fear,
and ridicule the deities you defend? Examine the charge, and
show where I falsify ; for if you worship, some one god, and some
another, how can it be but you must offend the god you overlook ?
For you cannot give the preference to one, without postponing
another; for in the election and reprobation of gods, as well as
men, honour and dishonour are inseparable relations. It is now,
therefore, evident that you must put a slight upon the deities you
reprobate, and that you cannot be afraid of offending those whom
you have the boldness to reprobate. For as I sharply observed before,
the fate of every god depends upon the vote of the senate, he must
pass the house before he comes to be a god, and the house ungods
him at pleasure. As for your domestic deities called Lares,2 you

upon the heathens for the worship of images, had the Christians of his time done
the like, by virtue of the Romish distinction between Dulia and Latria, without
saying one word of such a distinction.

1 Quas Milvi et Mures et Araneae intelligunt. Horace himself takes the
liberty of jesting in the like manner.

Mentior at si quid, merdis caput inquiner albis
Corvorum.

2 Domesticos Deos quos Lares dicitis. These Lares were painted in the form of
a dog, as having charge of the house committed to their custody, according to
that of Ovid. Fast. 5.

Pervigilantque Lares, pervigilantque Canes.

The custom in sacrificing to these domestic deities was to eat up all that was
offered. Hence that phrase, Lari Sacrificat, when a fellow eats up all before
him, he sacrifices to his household god.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         43

treat them I am sure but very homely; for these household gods are
pawned and sold and trucked like other household goods. Satura
is forced sometimes to serve in the kitchen, and Minerva in the
laundry; for when these images are worn out, or much battered by
long worshipping, they make a great many good implements; or if
the master is in want, he strips his Lares ; for necessity is the most
sacred and soonest served of any god about the house.

The gods of the public, by public order, are profaned just like
these gods of the house, for they are bought and sold at market
auctions, and entered into your books of account, and pay duties
for their deityships; for if the capitol and the herb-market are to be
leased out to farm, they are both proclaimed by the same crier, and
the prices of both adjudged under the same standard, and the farm
of the god registered by the treasurer, like any other public rent. But
the lands which are clogged with the greatest duties are the least
valuable, and the heads which pay capitation are most ignoble,
because these are marks of servitude. But among the gods I find
it otherwise, for they who pay most tribute are looked upon as the
most holy; or rather they have the most devotion paid them who
return the most custom. Your divine majesties are your mer-
chandize, and their worships are carried about to taverns and ale-
houses a-begging.1 You demand money for entrance, and money
for a place in your temple; it is not possible to serve your gods gratis;
you turn the penny with them all. Besides, what honours do you
confer upon your gods that you confer not upon dead men ? You
give to both, chapels, and altars, and images, habited and adorned
alike. The human image is dressed out to give an idea of the age,
the art, and profession of the person deceased, and the divine one
is apparelled with the same design, and in the same manner to
exhibit the god. How does a funeral banquet2 differ from a feast

1 Circuit cauponas Religio mendicans. Here Tertullian no doubt alludes to
the practice of the Corybantes, who with the picture of their goddess Cybele in
their hands went dancing about the streets with pipes and cymbals playing
before them, and keeping time to the thumps upon their breasts, and in this
posture they begged all they met; and from hence were called Cybeles circu-
latores,
the beggars or jugglers of Cybele, and in Greek—[f/irpKyvprai, from ftfatif,
which in this place signifies Cybele, the great mother of the gods, and xyvprns,
an alms-gatherer or beggar.

2 Quo differt ab epulo Jovis silicernium ? Silicernium was a funeral banquet
to which the oldest sort were invited, and it being the custom to celebrate this
feast upon a stone, the supper was termed Silicernium quasi Silicaenium, that is,
caena super silicon ; and hence this word came to signify an old man ready for
the grave, or a funeral banquet, or rather, as our own proverb has it, To give the
crow a pudding.


44         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

to Jove, or the vessels you make use of to pour out wine to the
gods above, from those you use for the shades below? What
difference between a soothsayer and an embalmer, for they are
both employed about the entrails of the dead? Nevertheless, I
must own you act consistently with yourselves in performing divine
honours to the dead emperors, because you did it to them living ;
and no doubt but the gods will acknowledge the favour, and thank
you for putting them and their masters, the emperors, upon the
level.

But when I see you adore Larentina,1 a public strumpet, with the
same honours as you do Juno, Ceres, and Diana, methinks I could
wish you had taken into your roll the more noted Lais and Phryne ;2
when you inaugurate Simon Magus3 with a statue and inscription,
To the most Holy God; when you canonize a certain Ganymede4
(I know not who), nursed up in apartments at court, although,
indeed, your old gods are not of a better family, yet they cannot
but take it very ill that you should offer to make gods at this rate,
now-a-days, as much as your forefathers did of old.

1 Larentinam publicam Scortum, etc. This Larentina I take to be the same
with Larentia in Lactantius, the wife of Faustulus, the nurse of Romulus, a noted
prostitute among the shepherds, afterwards worshipped by the Romans with
divine honours, as Faula, the mistress of Hercules, likewise was. Vid. Lactant.
lib. i. sec. 20.

2 Laidem. This same Lais was a celebrated strumpet of Corinth, of whom
A. Gellius tells this story : That Demosthenes went privily to her to know her
price, she asked him a thousand drachmae, or a talent, at which Demosthenes,
being astonished, replied, ou0k w0nou~mai muri/wn draxmw~n metame/leian, I will not buy
repentance at so dear a rate. Vid. A. Gell. lib. i. cap. 8. And hence that of
Horace—

Non cuivis homini contingit adire Corinthum.

3 Simonem Magum Statua et Inscriptione Sancti Dei inauguratis. Concerning
this statue and inscription to Simon Magus, for which the Fathers have suffered
so unjustly from some critics, I have spoken at large in my notes upon Justin's

Apology.

4 Nescio quem, etc. This nameless person struck at by Tertullian, Justin
Martyr speaks out: it was Antinous, Hadrian's Ganymede, and by his order
consecrated for this service.

                                           —o—


         Tertullian's  Apology for the Christians.         45

                                       CHAPTER XIV.

                 THAT THE HEATHENS DO BUT MOCK THEIR GODS IN OFFERING
                     THE REFUSE AND THE VILEST PARTS OF THE SACRIFICE.

I SHALL now take a review of the rites of your religion, but will not
insist upon the quality of your sacrifices, which you know to be the
oldest and scabidest beasts you can find; if they happen to be fat
and good, you chop off the hoofs and some outside bit?, and such
pieces only you vouchsafe your gods, which you bestow upon your
dogs and slaves. Instead of offering Hercules the tenth of your
goods,1 you hardly lay one third of it upon his altar; not that I
blame you for this, for believe me, I take it for a great instance of
your wisdom, to save some of that which otherwise would be all
lost.

But I shall turn to your writings; and, bless me! what strange
stuff about your gods do I find, even in your institutions of prudence,
and such books as are designed to polish a gentleman, and form
him to all the offices of a civil life ! Here I find your gods engaged
by pairs like gladiators, one against another, helter skelter, some for
Greeks, and some for Trojans. Venus wounded with a human

1 De Decima Herculis. Pliny in his Natural History, lib. xii. cap. 14,
mentions a law in Arabia which obliged every merchant to offer the tenth of
his frankincense, the product of that country, to the god Sabis. We find also in
Justin, lib. xviii. cap. 7, that the Carthaginians sent the tenth of their spoils,
taken in the Sicilian war, to Hercules of Tyre. The Ethiopians paid the tenth
to their god Assabinus. Vid. Plin. lib. xii. cap. 19. The Roman general
Sylla dedicated the tenth of all his estate to Hercules, and so likewise did M.
Crassus. Vid. Plutarch in Sylla et Crasso. Instances in abundance of this kind
are to be seen in Selden's Hist, of Tithes, cap. 3, Mountag. diatrib. p. I, cap. 3,
and in Spencer de leg. Hebr. lib. iii. cap. 10. Now from hence will arise a
question, how it is possible that nations so remote, and who never seem to have
had the least commerce or acquaintance with each other, should come to hit
upon the same notion as to dedicate an exact tenth, no more nor no less. This
proportion is certainly in itself a thing indifferent, and consequently not discover-
able by the light of nature, and the practice was too constant, regular, and
universal to be ascribed to humour or fancy ; nor can it with any probability be
thought to have spread over the world from the Jewish nation, a nation debarred
from corresponding with the Gentile world, and morally hated for the singularities
of their religion, and besides the custom of dedicating a tenth, was a custom long
before the Jews were an established people ; it seems therefore most reasonable
to believe that this custom-like sacrifice, priesthood and marriage, was derived
from Adam to Noah ; and from him continued by his posterity to the confusion
at Babel, and by means of that universal dispersion spread over all the world.


46          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

shaft in rescuing her son Aeneas1 from Diomedes, just upon the
point of killing him. The god of war in chains for thirteen
months, and in a very lamentable pickle ; and Jove by the help of
a monster narrowly escaping the like treatment from the rest of the
celestial gang. One while he is represented crying for his Sarpedon,
another while in the arms of his grunting sister, recounting his
amours, and protesting that of all his mistresses she is the darling.
Besides, which of your poets takes not the liberty to disgrace a god
for a compliment to his prince ? One makes Apollo King Admetus's
shepherd; another makes Neptune bricklayer to Laomedon; and
the man of lyrics, Pindar, I mean, sings of Aesculapius's being
thunderstruck for abusing his skill in physic out of covetousness.
But I must needs say that Jove did ill, if Jove was the thunderer,
in being so unnatural to his nephew, and so envious to so fine an
artist. However, these things, if true, ought not to be divulged;
nor invented, if false, by any who pretend so much zeal for the
gods and their religion. But neither tragedians nor comedians are
one bit more tender of the reputation of your deities ; for you shall
not meet a prologue that is not stuffed with the disasters and
excesses of the family of some god or other. I shall say nothing
of the philosophers—let the instance of Socrates serve for all—who
in derision of your gods swore by an oak, a goat, and a dog. But
Socrates, you say, was put to death for thus denying the gods ; it
must be confessed, indeed, that truth has always been on the suffer-
ing side, but yet since the Athenians repented of the sentence, and
revenged his death with that of his accusers, and erected to him a
statue of gold in their very temple; this, I say, is argument enough
that upon second thoughts they came over to Socrates, and ap-
proved his testimony against the gods. But Diogenes also rallies
very merrily upon Hercules, and the Roman cynic Varro2 as
waggishly introduces three hundred Joves or Jupiters without heads.

1 Quod filium suum Aeneam pene interfectum, etc. These words are not in
Rigaltius's edition, but being in that of Pamelius, and an illustration of the story,
I have translated them ; and the following fables, which the poets have told to
the eternal disgrace of the heathen gods, are so common, and so frequently occur
in all the Apologists, that I will not presume the reader ignorant.

2 Romanus Cynicus Varro. He reckons up forty-three Hercules, as well as
three hundred headless Joves. Vid. Tiraquell upon Alex. ab Alex. lib. ii. p. 379.

                                           —o—


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         47

                                       CHAPTER XV.

                    CONCERNING THE SHAMEFUL REPRESENTATION OF THE GODS
                                    UPON THE STAGE AND AMPHITHEATRE.

THE profane wits are continually at work to raise you pleasure at
the disgrace of the gods; when you see the farces of Lentulus or
Hostilius acted, tell me whether it be the mimics or the gods you
laugh at. You can sit out Anubis the adulterer,1 and see Luna-
masculus played, or Diana whipped, or the last will and testament
of dying Jove, or the three hunger-starved Hercules. But besides
these pieces of buffoonery, all your comedies and tragedies2 are
chiefly freighted with the uncleanness of your gods. It is a public
pleasure to behold Sol in sadness for the fall of his son Phaeton.
You can see without a blush the mother of the gods, old Cybele,
sighing after a coy shepherd. You can bear to hear all the titles
of Jove's adventures sung upon the theatre; and see with patience
Paris sit in judgment upon Juno, Venus, and Minerva. What a
lewd and infamous head is that which is masked over to personate
a god! What a prostitute body, formed for the stage by a long

1 Moechum Anubim, Lunam Masculum, etc. We may easily conjecture from
the several arguments of these farces, that they were a lampoon and public
mockery of the gods then in worship ; but none of those mentioned are extant as
I know of. The titles of all, but that of Luna Masculus, do in some measure
explain them ; and if it may be forgiven in a matter of no moment, and where
the commentators are silent, to put in my opinion, it is this,—There was in
Assyria among the Carrae a temple dedicated to Luna, in which whoever offered
his supplications to Luna was sure to be under petticoat government ; but he
who sacrificed to Lunus should continue master of his wife. Vid. Al. Spartian.
in Antonin. Caracalla. This no doubt was a subject comical enough for the
wits of the time to make merry with the goddess Luna, and the god Lunus,
which I take to be the Luna Masculus; though there may be another meaning
not fit to be mentioned.

2 Sed et Histrionum literae omnem foeditatem eorum designant. An. Urb. Cond.
400, there happened a great sickness, and the Romans superstitiously conceiting
that the wrath of the gods could no otherwise be propitiated than by the institu-
tion of some new games, sent for certain stage-players from Hetruria, which they
called Histriones, from the Hetrurian word hister, which signifies such a player.
Vid. Polydor. de Invent, lib. iii. cap. 13. These plays in time, especially the
Mimicae, grew to that excessive lewdness, that the pantomimi were put down by
Domitian. Vid. Sueton. in vita ejus, cap. 7. Afterwards expelled by Trajan ;
and the Histriones by Tiberius. Vid. Tacit, lib. iv., and even by Nero, Tacit,
lib. xiii., and Sueton. in vita ejus, cap. 13. And had Tertullian lived in our day,
and seen the heathenish freedoms of the stage in a Christian commonwealth, he
would have passed a severer censure upon the authors, players, and spectators,
who countenance them without a blush, than he did upon those in the age in
which he lived.


48          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

course of effeminacy, is that which plays Minerva or Hercules!
What profanation and violence is this to divine majesty! While
you applaud the actors, do you not hiss your gods out of the world ?
But may be I am to think you more religious in the amphitheatre,
where the gods are brought in dancing upon human blood, and
upon the dead bodies of criminals; the gods, I say, which supply
the fable, unless it be when the poor actors are forced to suffer to
the life, and be the very gods themselves. For we have seen an
actor truly suffer castration in personating the god Atys of Pessinus ;
and another playing Hercules in real flames; and among the ludi-
crous barbarities1 which are exhibited at noonday, for the entertain-
ment of those who are more greedy of them than dinner. I could
not forbear smiling to see Mercury going about with a rod of iron
red hot, probing the bodies to fetch out the souls, and Jove's brother
Pluto, in like manner, with his mallet in his hand to finish those
that were not quite dead, and make them ready for the ferry-boat.
But now if every one of these things, and many more of the same
complexion I could produce, notoriously tend to the disquiet of
your gods in possession, and to lay their divine honours in the dust,

1 Inter Ludicras meridianorum crudelitates. To understand this, we must
remember that in the morning men were brought forth upon the theatre to fight
with wild beasts, and these morning combatants were allowed arms offensive
and defensive. Another sort were brought forth about noon (called therefore
Meridiani) naked, with swords only in one hand cutting, and with the other
hand empty, grasping and tearing each other's flesh. Vid. Sueton. Claud. 34 ;
so that Seneca, Ep. 7, comparing these two sorts of combats, sayeth, Quicquid
antea pugnatum est, misericordia fuit.
But that which I think more material to
remark (especially since Pamelius and Rigaltius have not) is, the peculiar light
that this custom of Meridian cruellies lets into the 9th verse of the 4th chapter
of St. Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians. The words are these, "I think
God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed unto death ; for
we arc a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men." This verse runs
all in terms agonistical, e0sxa&touj, hath set forth us last, or as the Meridian
gladiators, the word a0pe/deicen is properly Ostendit. which signifies the author or
exhibitor of these inhuman sights ; and Lipsius makes Ostendere Munus in Tully
to be the same with Proponere Munus in Suetonius, both signifying the setter
forth or donor of these combats, Vid. Lips, in sat. lib. ii. cap. 18. God
hath set forth us the apostles last, e0piqanati/ouj, as men appointed unto death,
just as the last gladiators were; and qe/atron e0genh&qhmen, we are made a spectacle.
All which evidently relate to the Meridianorum crudelitates ; and Tertullian,
lib. de pud. p. 566, cites the aforementioned verse thus, Puta nos Deus
Apostolos novissimos elegit, velut Bestiarios;
"I think God has chosen out
us apostles last, as the bestiarii, or men condemned to be torn in pieces by wild
beasts." These being the last and bloodiest spectacles, which for that day ap-
peared upon the theatre, and for which many were so fond that they would stay
out noon and lose their dinner ; for this likewise Rigaltius would have included
in this expression, though I think without much reason. However, I have
translated it with this intimation.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         49

why then they cannot be looked upon as acted upon a public stage,
but merely in ridicule of religion, both by the actors and spectators
also, who delight in such plays. But these you will say are ludicrous
and pastimes only; but now if I give you an appendix of some
serious debaucheries, which your consciences will testify to be as
true as what I have just now spoken of with relation to the theatre,
how that adulteries are become a merchandise in the very temple,
and women picked up at the altars, and the lust fulfilled in the
apartments of the sacristans, and under the same pontific vestments,
the very incense still smoking before their eyes. If these, I say,
are abominations in vogue among the heathen, I do not see but the
heathen gods have more reason to put in their complaints against
them than against Christians.

The sacrilegious profaners of temples are only among yourselves ;
for Christians never enter your temples while you are serving your
idols ; if they worshipped your gods, they might serve them perhaps
as you do. But if Christians do not worship the things you worship,
pray what is it, say you, that they do worship ? This then is the
subject now under examination, that we Christians are the wor-
shippers of the true God, who do not worship your false ones, nor
go any longer astray after them, when our eyes have been opened
to see our error. Here then I shall present you with the whole
series of our religion, having first returned an answer to some
groundless objections against it

                                           —o—

                                     CHAPTER XVI.

                 CONCERNING THE ASS'S HEAD, AND OTHER SUCH LIKE VANITIES
                                    CHARGED UPON THE CHRISTIANS.

FOR some of you have dreamed yourselves into a belief that an
ass's head is the Christian's God. This was insinuated first by
Cornelius Tacitus,1 who in his fifth book, entering upon the Jewish

1 Cornelius Tacitus hanc suspicionem inseruit. This story concerning the
ass's head, and the ground of worshipping it, is not only reported confidently
by Tacitus, but also by Plutarch. Vid. Plut. Sympos. lib. iv. Quest. 5, p. 670,
and so likewise by Appio the Alexandrian many years before, in his books
against the Jews. And this fable has been as confidently taken up, and as


50          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

war under Vespasian, begins with the history of that nation, their
original, name, and religion, and giving a loose to his invention,
reports that the Jews being delivered, or as he will have it, banished
from Egypt, and being in great want of water in the deserts of
Arabia, put themselves under the conduct of some wild asses they
met by chance, concluding that they were going to drink after
pasture, and being in the very article of necessity thus luckily
revived, out of gratitude to their benefactors, consecrated a head
resembling that of the beasts who had befriended them in extremity.
This account I take to have bred the opinion about the ass's head;
because we, deriving our religion from the Jews, might well be
thought to be initiated in the worship of the same idol.

But yet this same author Cornelius Tacitus, in truth a great
broacher of lies, in the very same history relates that Cn. Pompey
having sacked Jerusalem, to gratify his curiosity in discovering the
mysteries of the Jewish religion, went into the temple, and found
not one statue or image therein ; whereas, had they worshipped
any graven image, he had certainly found it in the most holy place;
and so much the rather because there the vanity had been in no
danger of a discovery from strangers, that being a place which the
high priests alone were permitted to enter, and which was covered
with a veil that kept it from every other eye. As for the objection
of the ass's head, I cannot but admire you should insist upon it
against Christians, you who cannot deny but that you pay divine
honours to all the beasts of burthen, to asses' heads and bodies
both, together with their goddess Epona.1 But here, perhaps, lies
the crime, that among the worshippers of every animal we should

ridiculously improved by some modern atheists, to discredit the miracle of
Moses in making the waters flow out of the rock, who content themselves to
solve this mighty work only by saying with an air of assurance that Moses did
all lie did in this by the help of a wild ass, which he made to follow him. by
the sagacity of which thirsty ass he discovered a secret spring in the rock.

1 Cum sua Epona. This Epona was the goddess of stables, and is likewise
taken notice of, and read by Minutius Felix just as Rigaltius reads it. Though
there is a terrible dispute among the critics, a great cry, and very little wool,
about the spelling and quantity of this goddess's name; some spelling it
Ilippona, and making the middle syllable long ; others spelling it as Rigallius
does, and making the middle syllable short, and thus Prudentius in his
Apotheosi makes it,

Nemo Cloacinae aut Eponae super astra Deabus.

Whoever thinks it worth while may see this point fully cleared by Dr. Holyday
in his note upon that passage in the 8th Sat. of Juvenal.
Jurat solam Eponam.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         51

be the ass-worshippers only. I come now to another calumny,
which blackens us with the adoration of a cross;1 and here I shall
prove the calumniator himself to be a fellow-worshipper or sharer
in the scandal; for he that worships any piece of timber is guilty
of the thing charged upon us; for what signifies the difference of
dress and figure, while the matter and substance is the same—they
are wooden gods at best ? Yet where is the difference between a
plain cross and your Athenian Pallas, and Pharian Ceres, which

1 Sed et qui Crucis Religiosos nos putat. The primitive Christians (as I have
already observed upon Justin Martyr), from signing themselves in baptism with
the sign of the cross, and the constant use of it almost in the most common
actions of life in honour of their crucified Master, were defamed by the heathens
as worshippers of a cross. Tertullian therefore in this place sets himself to wipe
off this scandal from the Christians, and does it as effectually, I think, as words
can do it. And yet Pamelius is so very sanguine as to affirm that this passage,
however understood, most certainly makes for the worship of the cross. That
is, let Tertullian speak what he will against the worship of the cross, yet he
most certainly speaks for it; but let us consider the case. Our author is here
not only answering but retorting the objection of worshipping a cross upon the
objectors themselves, and to this purpose makes use of the argument ad hominem ;
and says that they of all men had the least reason to charge the worship of a
cross upon Christians, because there was not an image they erected but what
resembled a cross in part; and then with his usual smartness concludes that we
who worship an entire cross, if we do worship it, methinks have much the better
on it of you, who worship it only by halves. "If we do worship it," says this
commentator, is only a wise and wary expression, frequent with the primitive
Fathers ; for fear, had he confessed the worship of the cross freely, it might have
confirmed the heathen in their old idolatry. And this is so true, says Pamelius,
that in the 21 cap. Tertullian durst not speak out that the Christians worshipped
Christ, but God only through Christ. But wise reserves and wary expressions,
and such pious frauds, were strange things to primitive Christians. Idolatry was
the reigning sin of these times, and what all the Christian apologists you will
find labour most of all to expose and ridicule out of the world. Justin Martyr
spends great part of his First Apology in doing so, plainly and publicly affirming
that the Christians worshipped one God only in the Trinity of Persons, and
argues at the same rate against worshipping of crosses as Tertullian here does,
Minulius Felix does the very same likewise, and says in the person of Octavius,
Cruces etiam nec colimus, nec optamus; "as for crosses, we neither desire nor
worship them," p. 89. And our Tertullian is so bold a writer, so free and open
in his confessions, and so liberal of his satire upon all occasions, that he would
be the last man I should charge with reserve and caution. The useful distinction
between Latria and Dulia never entered into his head ; nor did any of the first
Fathers ever imagine that there was anything in the Christian religion which if
discovered might confirm the heathens in their idolatry. And in the very chapter
referred to by Pamelius, our author makes it his business to vindicate the
Christians from the charge of idolatry, by proving Christ to be the Logos, the
Son of God, and truly and properly God, and that this hypostatic union of
the divine with the human nature was the foundation of that divine worship
which Christians paid to Christ; to which excellent chapter I recommend the
reader.


52          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

are but rude, unpolished posts exposed without a stroke or im-
pression of the artist upon them ? There is not an image you erect
but resembles a cross in part; so that we who worship an entire
cross, if we do worship it, methinks have much the better on it of
you who worship but half a cross.

I have already mentioned how all your earthen gods derive
their divinity from a cross, the image-maker putting the clay upon
crosslike engines before he forms it; but you likewise adore your
goddess Victoria in this form, for crosses are the inward part of
this deity, your trophies being only poles laid across, and covered
over with the spoils of the enemy. For indeed the Roman religion
is entirely martial; they worship their standards, and swear by
their standards, and pay diviner respects to their standards more
than to any other god whatever. All the rich embossments and
embroidery of images upon your colours are but necklaces to a
cross, and the flags and streamers are but the robes of crosses; and
really I cannot but commend your care and tenderness in not
letting your crosses go naked, and not consecrating them till they
are in the best apparel. Others with a greater show of reason take
us for worshippers of the sun.1 These send us to the religion of
Persia, though we are far from adoring a painted sun, like them
who carry about his image everywhere upon their bucklers. This
suspicion took its rise from hence, because it was observed that
Christians prayed with their faces towards the east. But some of
you likewise out of an affectation of adoring some of the celestial
bodies wag your lips towards the rising sun; but if we, like them,

1 Alii plane humanius et verisimilius solem credant Deum nostrum. Here
again it is very observable (though Pamelius thought it his best way not to
observe it) that those who objected the worship of the sun to Christians, did it
with greater appearance of truth than those who objected the worshipping a
cross. The ground of this slander you have in the text; but that which I think
worthy our notice is this, that Tertullian in this place expressly says that the
Christians in his time worshipped towards the east; he says the same likewise
in his book ad Nat. lib. i. cap. 13, and so does Clemens Alexandrinus, Strom. 7.
And also Origen, Hom. 5, in Numer. cap. 4, p. 210. Their altars were usually
placed to the east, and when they worshipped they always turned to the altar.
And therefore when Socrates mentions the church of Antioch, in which he says
the altar stood towards the west, he withal adds that the situation of the altar
was inverted. Vid. Socrat. Hist. lib. v. cap. 22. As the Jews therefore bowed
themselves down towards the mercy-seat, so did the Christians in like manner
bow their faces towards the holy table, praying with the publican, "God be
merciful to me a sinner ;" as is evident from the liturgies of St. Chrysostom and
St. Basil. So little knowledge of antiquity, or so much wilful disrespect to the
best Christians in the purest ages, do some men show in condemning the most
primitive and reverential ceremony of bowing towards the table of the Lord.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         53

celebrate Sunday as a festival and day of rejoicing, it is for a reason
vastly distant from that of worshipping the sun; for we solemnize
the day after Saturday in contradistinction to those who call this
day their Sabbath, and devote it to ease and eating, deviating from
the old Jewish customs, which they are now very ignorant of.

But there is a strange edition of our God now exposed about
the city; the picture was published first by a rascally gladiator,
very notable for his dodging tricks in combating with beasts, and
published, I say, with this inscription—Onochoetes the God of
the Christians.1 He had the ears of an ass, with a hoof on one
foot, and holding a book in another, and clothed in a gown. We
could not forbear smiling both at the name and the extravagance
of the figure. But they certainly ought to fall down before this
biformous deity, upon his first appearance, who are used to worship
such monstrous compounds, branching out into the heads of a dog
and a lion, and with horns like a buck and a ram, and with haunches
like a goat, and shanks like a serpent, with wings upon their feet
and backs.

But this is over and above, because the world should see that
I have not omitted anything industriously, and not only answered
all the objections, but turned them upon our adversaries; and now
having wiped ourselves clean of their aspersions, I shall proceed
to the demonstration of the Christian religion.

                                           —o—

                                    CHAPTER XVII.

                               CONCERNING THE GOD OF CHRISTIANS.

THE God we worship is one God, that Almighty Being who
fetched this whole mass of matter, with all the elements, bodies
and spirits which compose the universe, purely out of nothing, by
the word of His power which spoke them into being, and by
that wisdom which ranged them into this admirable order, for a
becoming image and glorious expression of His divine majesty,

1 Deus Christianorum Onochoetes. Concerning the various lections of this
word, see Rigaltius upon this place, and Voss. de Idol. lib. iii. cap. 5, p. 563.


54          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

which world the Greeks call by a word implying beauty. This
same God is invisible, though we discern His infinite majesty in
all His works, and whom we cannot touch, though represented to
us by divine revelation, and united to us by His Spirit; and incom-
prehensible, though we come to some imperfect ideas of Him by the
help of our senses.

These are the characters of the true God, but that God which is
sensibly visible, palpable, and comprehensible is of less value than
the very eyes that see Him, and the hands that handle Him, and
the understanding that grasps Him; for that which is immense is
measurable by nothing but itself, the things that are, force the
knowledge of Him indeed in some measure upon us, but our
capacities can never hold Him. And thus by the evidence of His
works, and the immensity of His being, God becomes intelligible,
and at the same time passes all understanding. And this it is
that renders men without excuse, because they care not to retain
that God in their knowledge, whom they cannot avoid knowing.
For shall I show you Him in the vast variety of wonders which
encompass our beings, and preserve them, and which serve not
only to fill us with delight, but awe and wonder? Shall I show
you Him from the inward testimony of your very soul; which,
notwithstanding its pressure in this prison of the body; notwith-
standing it has been scribbled over by vicious institutions, or inclosed
by bad examples; notwithstanding it has been emasculated by
lust and concupiscence, and in bondage to the worship of false
gods. Yet nevertheless, I say, when the soul comes to herself, as
from a debauch, or after sleep, or a fit of sickness, and recovers
her health and reflection, she has recourse to the name of the God,
and invokes Him by the single name of the God. This being the
proper title, and emphatically expressive of the true God; the
great God, the good God. the God which is the giver of all good
things, are forms of speech in every one's mouth upon special
occasions. This God is appealed to as the Judge of the world, by
saying, God sees everything, and I recommend myself to God, and
God will recompense me. Oh ! what are all these sayings but the
writings of God upon the heart, but the testimonies of the soul
thus far by nature Christian? And when she has these words in
her mouth, she turns not her eyes to the capitol, but up to heaven,
as well knowing that to be the residence of the living God, and
that He is the author of her being, and heaven the place of her
original.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         55

                                 CHAPTER XVIII.

             CONCERNING THE SEPTUAGINT, OR THE WRITINGS OF THE PROPHETS
                     TRANSLATED INTO GREEK BY THE ENDEAVOURS OF PTOLEMY
                                              PHILADELPHIA.

BUT in order to bring men to a more perfect and powerful
knowledge of the divine nature, and also of the methods of His
wisdom, and the laws of His will, God has added to the light of
nature an instrument in writing of these things, for the instruction
of those who are willing to be at the pains of inquiring after Him,1
and desirous to find Him in their inquiries, and to believe Him
when found, and serve Him when believed. For this end, the most
just and innocent persons, such who have lived up most faithfully
to the instructions of nature, and consequently the most becoming
or the best prepared subjects for larger communications of divine
knowledge, such, I say, were sent out from the beginning with
mighty effusions of the Holy Spirit to preach to the world that there
is but one only God, that it is He who created all things and
formed man out of the earth (for He indeed is the true Prometheus),
who methodized the world into this variety of seasons, and in
succeeding ages published His divine majesty and vengeance by a
deluge of water, and fire, and brimstone from heaven, who has
positively determined the laws He will be served by, if we will serve
Him with acceptance ; which laws you know not and will not learn ;
but to the observers of them has destined rewards, who, when He
comes to judgment at the last clay, having raised all the dead2 that
have been dead from the beginning of the world, and restored to
every man his body, and summoned the whole world before Him
to examine and render to all according to their works, Pie will
recompense His true worshippers with life eternal, but will sentence
the wicked into perpetual running streams of fire everlasting.

1 Si qui velit de Deo inquirere, etc. Revelation was added for the assistance
of corrupted nature, but then it was so wisely tempered with light and darkness,
that those only who search the Scriptures with an honest heart, in order to
believe and obey what they find, will be the better for them. Whoever reads
them with such a disposition will find himself necessitated to believe them ;
according to that of our Saviour, " If any man will do His will, he shall know of
the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."

2 Suscitatis omnibus ab initio defunctis. Here again we find Tertullian, as
well as Justin Martyr, expressly against Mr. Dodwell's notion of a limited
resurrection founded upon the natural mortality of the soul.


56          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

These things were once the subject of our wit and drollery,1 as
they are now of yours; we have been heathens, as you are, for men
are not born, but made Christians. As to those excellent person-
ages I mentioned, so extraordinarily assisted to preach the world into
the notion of one only God, they were called prophets from their office
of foretelling things to come. The oracles they delivered, and the
miracles they wrought for the confirmation of divine truth, were con-
signed to writing, and the books treasured up, and are preserved to this
day ; for the most learned of the Ptolemys, surnamed Philadelphus,
and the most curious man living in all sorts of literature, and
rivalling Pisistratus,2 I suppose, in the glories of a library, among
other choice pieces which he hunted after, famed either for their
antiquity or the rarities they contained, by the advice of his library-
keeper, Demetrius Phalereus, the most approved grammarian and

1 Haec et nos risimus aliquando, de vestris fuimus. From these words we find
that Tertullian had been a heathen, and such a one too as had made very merry
with the Christian religion. He had as quick and pointed a wit, and as good a
knack at rallying and ridicule as the best of them, and his talent this way, and
his course of life (which by his own confession was none of the chastest), no doubt
provoked all his satire against a doctrine so new, and so cross to his inclinations.
However, upon serious consideration, and weighing matters well together, he was
overpowered by the goodness and evidence of divine truth, in spite of his passions.
And the libertines and unbelievers of our own age (who are by no means before-
hand with our Tertullian either in point of wit or reason), would they but as
impartially examine the proofs of Christianity, they would find themselves as
unable to withstand them as our author confesses himself to be.

2 Pisistratum opinor, etc. The libraries of Ptolemy and Pisistratus the tyrant
are both mentioned by A. Gellius, lib. vi. cap. 17, but Tertullian speaks doubt-
fully whether Ptolemy Philadelphus erected his library in imitation of Pisistratus
or no, and not without reason, because it is probable that the king of Pergamus,
in imitation of whom Ptolemy set up his library, was Eumenes. All the ancient
Fathers have believed after Josephus and Philo, that the version not only of the
Pentateuch but of the whole Bible commonly called the Septuagint, was com-
posed by seventy-two Jews sent to Ptolemy Philadelphus, who desired to have
the Jewish books in Greek to adorn his magnificent library at Alexandria, under
the care and supervisal of Demetrius Phalereus, an Athenian. What the critics
have since urged against this opinion of the Fathers, and against the authority of
Aristaeus and Aristobulus, upon whom (say they) the Fathers took this story in
trust, would be too tedious to insert here, and therefore I refer the reader to the
learned Du Pin's preliminary Dissertation about the authors of the Bible, vol. i.
sec. 3, p. 35. However, I cannot but say that I do verily believe that there
was a Greek version of the Bible made in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus ; for
to me it does not seem credible that the authors of the books which pass under
the titles of Aristaeus and Aristobulus entirely forged the whole story ; much more
reasonable is it to believe that these authors only dressed up a certain matter of fact
with some additions of their own. F. Simon conjectures that this version was
called the Septuagint, because it was approved by the Sanhedrim ; but this, like
most of his conjectures, is wild, and without any foundation. See likewise B.
Stillingfleet's Orig. Sac. lib. i. cap. 3.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         57

critic of his time, sent to the Jews for their sacred writings in their
own mother tongue, and which were in their hands alone; for the
prophets were raised up out of this nation, and the prophecies
addressed to them, as a peculiar people, chosen of God out of
respect to their forefathers. Those who are now called Jews went
heretofore by the name of Hebrews, and from hence is the title of
the Hebrew tongue. The Jews gratified the king in the request,
and not only sent him their Bible, but also for fear their language
should not be understood, sent seventy-two interpreters to translate
it into Greek. This is attested by Menedemus, the famous assertor
of a providence, who joined with the Jews in this notion, and was a
great admirer of their writings. We have likewise the testimony of
Aristaeus for the truth of this, who composed a book in Greek upon
the same subject. And in Ptolemy's library near the temple of
Serapis, among other curiosities are these sacred writings shown to
this day. And besides all this, the Jews frequently and publicly
on every Sabbath read the same; they are tolerated to do it, and
pay a tax for the toleration. Whoever hears them will find the
worship of one God, and whoever will be at the pains to under-
stand them will find himself necessitated to believe them.

                                           —o—

                                    CHAPTER XIX.

           CONCERNING THE ANTIQUITY OF THE WRITINGS OF THE PROPHETS.

ONE great argument for the authority of these sacred writings is
the greatness of their antiquity;1 an argument you yourselves are
pleased to make use of for the defence of your own religion. I say,
therefore, that before any of your public monuments and inscrip-

1 Primam Instrumentis istis authoritatem summa Antiquitas vindicat. The
strongest and shrewdest adversary Christianity ever met with was the philosopher
Porphyrius. He was a man too well versed in antiquity to depend upon the vain
pretences of the Graecians, and therefore made it his business to search after the
most ancient records, to find something to match the antiquity of Holy Scripture.
And after all his search, he could find no author to vie with Moses but Sanchoni-
athon ; and yet when he had made the most of him, he was forced to allow him
younger than Moses, though he made him older than the Trojan wars. Nay,
he goes about to prove the truth of Sanchoniathon's history by the agreement of
it with that of Moses, concerning the Jews both as to their names and places,
and so this Goliath fell by his own sword, and defended the cause he designed
to destroy. Vid. Euseb. Praep. Evang. lib. x. cap. 8, p. 285.


58          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

tions, before any of your forms of government, before the oldest of
your books, and the original of many nations, and foundation of
many famous cities, and the very greyest of historians ; and lastly,
before the invention of letters 1 (the interpreters of things, and the
most faithful repositories of action), and hitherto, methinks, I have
said but little, I say therefore before the very being of your gods,
your temples, oracles, and sacrifices, were the writings of one of our
prophets extant, which are the treasury of the Jewish religion, and
by consequence of the Christian. If you have heard of Moses the
prophet, I will tell you his age; he was contemporary with Inachus, the
first king of the Argives older by three hundred and ninety-three
years than Danaus, the oldest in your histories. About a thousand
years before the destruction of Troy, or as others reckon, about
five hundred years before Homer ; 2 the rest of the prophets, though
later than Moses, yet the latest of them fall in with some of the first
of your sages, lawgivers, and historians. The proof of these things
is not a matter of much difficulty, but only it would swell this

1 Ipsas denique effigies literarum, etc. Before the very use or knowledge of
letters. It is generally acknowledged by Herodotus, Philostratus, and the most
learned of the Greeks, that the Graecians received their very letters from the
Phoenicians by Cadmus ; and Parius, the author of the Greek Chronicle in the
Marmora Arundeliana, makes Cadmus's coming into Greece to be in the time
of Hellen, the son of Deucalion, which according to Cappellus was Anno Mun.
2995, though Mr. Selden sets it something lower, in the eleventh generation
after Moses, about the time of Samuel; and that the Greek alphabet came from
the Phoenician or Hebrew, is evident from the very sound of the names of the
letters, as well as their form and order. Thus the Greek a!lfa answers to the
Hebrew aleph, bh~ta to beth, ga&mma to gimel, de/lta to daloth, etc., all which,
both as to form, order, and name, you may see in a diagram exhibited by the
great Bochart. Geogr. lib. i. cap. 20. And for anything of history in Greece,
we meet with nothing before the beginning of the Olympiads, when the world
was above three thousand years' standing.

2 Quingentis amplius et Homerum. Five hundred years before Hom,
Josephus in his first book against Apion says that the Graecians of all nations,
though they boasted so much of antiquity, had the least reasons to do it; for
they were but of yesterday in respect of the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and
Phoenicians, and that notwithstanding they boasted of the invention of letters
from Cadmus, yet could they not produce any inscription or sign of letters in his
time, and that Homer was the most ancient book extant among them ; nor was
this left in writing, but learnt only by heart like other songs, and therefore we
find so many fragments and incongruities in his works when they came to be
committed to writing from bare memory. But herein Josephus is thought to
have strained the point too far, because of the inscription of Amphitrio at
Thebes, in the temple of Apollo Ismenius in the old Ionic letters, and two
others of the same age to be seen in Herodotus, and for some other reasons.
Vid. Bochart. Geog. lib. i. cap. 20. But however this be, certain it is that we
find no records of history in Greece till the world was full three thousand years
of age and more.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         59

discourse beyond the bounds of an Apology, it is more tedious than
hard; for abundance of volumes are to be carefully searched into,
to make the computation by a different gesture of the fingers.1
We must unlock the archives of the most ancient people, of the
Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Phoenicians. We must appeal to
the writers of those countries who obliged posterity with the
knowledge of these things, namely, Manethon the Egyptian,
Berosus the Chaldean, Iromus the Phoenician, King of Tyre, and
their followers, Ptolemy of Mendes, and Menander the Ephesian,
and Demetrius Phalereus, and King Juba, and Apion, and
Thallus, and Josephus, a Jewish writer of Jewish antiquities, who
either approved these authors or discovered their errors.2 We
must also compare the registers of Greece to see what things were
done, and when, in order to adjust the successive periods and
links of time, which is necessary to clear up history, and set actions
in their proper light. And yet, methinks, I have done this already
in some measure, and proved, in part, what I proposed, by giving
you here a sprinkling of those authors, where you may see the
proofs at large. But I conclude it better not to pursue this point
further, for fear that by being in haste, either I should not say
enough to set the matter beyond dispute, or else by pursuing it
particularly I should deviate too far from the main design of this
Apology.

                                           —o—

                                     CHAPTER XX.

              THAT THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE PROPHECIES IN HOLY SCRIP-
                       TURES PROVE THEM TO BE OF AUTHORITY DIVINE.

IF for the reasons aforesaid I have been shorter than you might
expect in my proofs of the antiquity of Holy Scripture, I shall

1 Multis instrumentis cum digitorum suppatariis gesticulis adsidendum est.
Abundance; of volumes are to be searched into to make the computation by
a. different gesture of the fingers. The multiplication table performed by a
different gesture of the fingers is now almost known to everybody ; but whether
it was in use in Tertullian's time, and referred to here by him, I will not say ;
but surely he has exactly expressed it. And the reason for calling the figures
from 1 to 9 digits, I believe, was from this computation by the fingers.

2 Manethon Aegyptius, et Berosus Chaldaeus, et Iromus Phoenix, Sectatores
quoque eorum Mendesius Ptolemaeus, et Maenander Ephesius et Demetrius
Phalerus.
Concerning this passage, and the antiquity and credibility of these
historians, I desire the reader to consult Bochartus, de Lingua Phoenic et Pun.
lib. ii. cap. 17, and likewise B. Stillingfleet's Orig. Sac. lib. i. cap. 2, 3, etc.


60          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

make you amends now with proofs of much greater importance; I
will show you the Majesty, the God that speaks in these writings;
I will demonstrate the divineness of their authority, if you are still
in doubt about their antiquity. Nor need I be long upon this
article, or send you a great way for instruction; the world before
you, this present age, and the events therein, shall be your in-
structors. For there is nothing of moment now done but what
has been foretold ; and what we ourselves see, our forefathers have
heard from the prophets. They have heard that cities should be
swallowed up of earthquakes, and islands invaded by seas, and
nations torn in pieces by foreign and intestine wars, and kingdom
split against kingdom, and famine and pestilence take their
inarches through the world, and every country swarm with proper
evils; that the beasts of the mountains should lay waste the plains,
that the weak and mighty should rise and fall by turns, that justice
should grow scarce and iniquity abound, that arts and sciences
should lie uncultivated, and the seasons of the year be unkindly,
and the elements take an exorbitant course, and the order of nature
be disturbed with monsters and prodigies ;—all these things were
written beforehand for our admonition. For while we suffer, we
read our sufferings; while we reflect upon the prophecies, we find
them a-fulfilling; and this I take to be a proper and most sensible
proof of the divine authority of these writings, to feel their predic-
tions verifying upon ourselves. Hence it is that we come to be so
infallibly certain of many things not yet come to pass, from the
experience we have of those that are; because those were
presignified by the same Spirit with these which we see fulfilling
every day. The very words and characters of both were indited
by the impulse of the very same spirit; and this prophetic spirit
sees everything always and at once, though men see only by pieces
and successions of time, and arc forced to distinguish between the
beginning of a prophecy, and the fulfilling it, to separate present
from future and past from present.

Wherein therefore I beseech you now, are Christians to blame
for believing things to come, who have two such motives to believe,
or two such mighty pillars to lean upon, as the past and present
accomplishment of the predictions contained in Holy Scripture ?

                                           —o—


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         61

                                     CHAPTER XXI.

                  CONCERNING THE BIRTH AND CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS CHRIST.

BUT because I have already declared the Christian religion to have
its foundation in the most ancient of monuments, the sacred
writings of the Jews; and yet many among you well know us to
be a novel sect risen up in the reign of Tiberius, and we ourselves
confess the charge; and because you should not take umbrage
that we shelter ourselves only under the venerable pretext of this
old religion, which is tolerated among you, and because we differ
from them, not only in point of age, but also in the observation of
meats, festivals, circumcision, etc., nor communicate with them so
much as in name, all which seems to look very odd if we are
servants of the same God as the Jews;—therefore I think it
necessary to explain myself a little particularly upon this head, and
especially because it is in every one's mouth that Christ was a man,
and a man, too, condemned to death by the very Jews, which may
naturally lead any one at first hearing into a mistake, that we are
worshippers of a man, and not of the God of the Jews. However,
this their wickedly ungrateful treatment of Christ makes us not
ashamed of our Master; so far from it, that it is the joy and
triumph of our souls to be called by our Lord's name and con-
demned for it; and yet for all this we think no otherwise of God
than the Jews did. To make out this, I am obliged to say
something of Christ as God.

The Jews once were a people in such favour with God, upon the
account of their forefathers' faith and piety, which was the root of all
their greatness, both with respect to the increase of their families,
and the advance of a kingdom, and their happiness was so
unparalleled, that God Himself did them the honour even with His
own mouth to prescribe them laws, whereby they might secure His
omnipotence on their side, and never turn it against them. But
how the degenerate children upon the stock of Abraham's faith, and
in confidence of their forefathers' virtue, how egregiously they pro-
voked God by deviating from His own positive institutions into
profaneness and idolatry; although the Jews themselves will not
confess this, yet the present calamities of that people are a sad and
standing testimony against them. For they are now a dispersed,1

1 Dispersi, palabundi, et soli ac caeli sui Extorres, etc. Justin Martyr in his
First Apology, sec. 62, takes notice that it was a capital crime for a Jew so much


62          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

vagabond people, banished country and climate, strolling about the
world without any show of government, either divine or human,
and so completely miserable that they have not the poor privilege
to visit the Holy Land like strangers, or set a foot upon their native
soil ; and while the sacred writings did forethreaten these calamities,
they did likewise continually inculcate that the time would come
about the last days when out of every nation and country God
would choose Himself a people that should serve Him more faith-
fully, upon whom He would shed a greater measure of grace in
proportion to the merits of the founder of this new worship. The
proprietor therefore of this grace, and the master of this institution,
this Son of Righteousness and tutor of mankind, was declared the
Son of God; but not so that this begotten of God might blush
at the name of Son, or the mode of His generation; for it was
not from any incestuous mixture of brother and sister, not from
any violation of a god with his own daughter, or another man's
wife, in the disguise of a serpent, or a bull, or a shower of
gold. These are the modes of generation with your Jove, and
the offspring of deities you worship ; but the Son of God we
adore had a mother indeed, but a mother without uncleanness,
without even that which the name of mother seems to imply, for
she was a pure virgin. But I shall first set forth the nature of
His substance in order to make you apprehend the manner of His
nativity.

I have already said that God reared this fabric of the world out
of nothing, by His word, wisdom, or power; and it is evident that
your sages of old were of the same opinion, that the Ao'yos, that
is, the Word, or the Wisdom, was the Maker of the universe, for

as to set a foot upon the Holy Land. And Eusebius from Aristo Pellaeus urges
likewise that by the law and constitutions of Adrian the Jews were prohibited
to cast even their eyes towards Jerusalem, Eus. lib. iv., Hist. Eccles. cap. 6.
Tertullian observes the same here ; and so likewise in his book against the Jews,
cap. 13, upon which you will see some remarks by Dr. Grabe in his Spicileg. Pat.
see. 2, p. 131, and certainly the distinguishing inisery of this vagabond people
even to this day is a strange living monument of the divine wrath ; a mark sot
upon them by God for the murder of His Christ, and their obdurate infidelity.
But then it ought also to be observed, that as God in judgment hath scattered
them through all nations, and not suffered them to have a foot of free land in all
the world, yet He hath preserved their name and nation in all places, as distinct
from all other people, as if they had continued in the Holy Land ; in which His
providence and goodness are conspicuous, that according to the prophecies at His
appointed time the veil may be taken away from their faces, that they may look
upon Him whom they have pierced, and be converted to that Jesus whom they
have crucified and ever since blasphemed.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         63

Zeno1 determines the Logos to be the creator and adjuster of every-
thing in nature. The same Logos he affirms to be called by the name
of Fate, God, Mind of Jove, and Necessity of all Things. Cleanthes2
will have the author of the world to be a spirit which pervades
every part of it. And we Christians also do affirm a spirit to be
the proper substance of the Logos, by whom all things were made,
in which He subsisted before He was spoken out,3 and was the
wisdom that assisted at the creation, and the power that presided
over the whole work. The Logos or Word issuing forth from that
spiritual substance at the creation of the world, and generated by that
issuing or progression, is for this reason called the Son of God, and
the God, from His unity of substance with God the Father, for God
is a Spirit. An imperfect image of this you have in the derivation
of a ray from the body of the sun; for this ray is a part without any
diminution of the whole, but the sun is always in the ray, because
the ray is always from the sun; nor is the substance separated, but
only extended. Thus is it in some measure in the eternal genera-
tion of the Logos ; He is a spirit of a spirit, a God of God,4 as one

1 Hunc enim Zeno determinat Factitatorum. Lactantius, lib. iv. sec. 9, p. 186,
justly says that the term lo&goj is much more expressive of the Maker of the
world, than the Latin Verbum or Sermo, as signifying both the Word and
Wisdom of God. And had we still continued the Logos instead of the Word in
our English translation, it had, methinks, been a term more majestic and more
expressive of the personality of Christ than the Word. This Logos was preached
up by Zeno as the disposer of nature and the framer of the world, and was
called sometimes Fate, God, Mind of Jove, etc., says Lactantius in the place
above cited, just as our author speaks here. Concerning this Zeno, the praeceptor
of Antigonus and founder of the Stoics, see Diog. Laer. lib. vii.

2 Haec Cleanthes in Spiritum congerit. Concerning the doctrine of Cleanthes,
Zeno's disciple, viii. Lactant. lib. i. sec. 5, p.12.

3 Cui et Sermo insit Pronuncianti, etc. There is a threefold generation of the
Son of God frequently mentioned by the primitive writers. The first is the
true and proper generation of the Son, which was from the Father before all
worlds. The second is the progression of the Logos from His Father at the
creation, which they call proe/leusij, e2reucij, etc. The third was at His incarnation
in the womb of the Blessed Virgin overshadowed by the power of the Most High.
The second kind of generation is that which Tertullian hints at in the words
cited. For the fuller satisfaction in this point I advise the reader to consult
Bishop Bull's incomparable Defence of the Nicene Faith, cap. v., concerning the
co-eternity of the Son. And so likewise, cap. 7, sec. 5, where he will find
several things in this place cleared, and our author vindicated beyond exception
as to the doctrine of the consubstantiality of the Son.

4 De Deo Deus, ut Lumen de Lumine. This similitude of a ray from the sun,
or a light from a light, is not to be looked upon as a full and adequate illustration
of the mode how the Son of God was generated by the Father, nor will anything
in nature give us a perfect representation of it. It is what Justin Martyr and
others have chosen to represent it by; nor do I know a better to make this
incomprehensible mystery apprehended, which is all they drive at ; and it serves


64          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

light is generated by another; the original parent light remaining
entire and undiminished, notwithstanding the communication of
itself to many other lights. Thus it is that the Logos which came
forth from God is both God and the Son of God, and those two are
one. Hence it is that a spirit of a spirit, or a God of God, makes
another in mode of subsistence, but not in number; in order of
nature, but not in numericalness or identity of essence ; and so the
Son is subordinate to the Father as He comes from Him as the
principle, but is never separated. This ray of God then descended,
as it was foretold, upon a certain Virgin, and in her womb was
incarnated, and being there fully formed the God-man, was born
into the world; the divine and human nature making up this
person, as soul and body does one man. The flesh being wrought
and perfected by a divine Spirit, was nursed and grew up to the
stature of a man, and then addressed the Jews, and preached and
worked miracles among them; and this is the Christ, the God of
Christians. If you please now you may receive this great truth in
the nature of a fable like one of yours, till I have given you my
proofs; though it is a truth that could not be unknown to those
among you who maliciously dressed up their own inventions on
purpose to destroy it. The Jews likewise full well knew from
their prophets that Christ was to come, and they are now in
expectation of Him ; and the great clashing between us and them
is chiefly upon this very account, that they do not believe Him
already come. For there being two advents of Christ described in
the prophets, the first which is discharged and over, namely His
state of humiliation and suffering in human flesh. The second,
which is at hand, too, Li the conclusion of the world, in which He
will exert His majesty, and come in a full explication of divine
glory. By not understanding the first, they fixed only upon the
second advent, which is described in the most pompous and glaring
metaphors, and which struck the carnal fancy with the most agree-
able impressions. And it was the just judgment of God upon them
for their sins that withheld their understandings from seeing this
first coming, which had they understood, they had believed, and by
believing had obtained salvation. And this judicial blindness they

sufficiently to declare their sense and notion of it, namely, that Christ from all
eternity did co-exist with the Father, as light does with the sun, that lie was God
of God, without any diminution of the divine substance, as one light is kindled
from another, etc. It is evident likewise from this expression of God of God,
as Light of Light, what the notion of the Fathers was about the divinity of Christ
before the establishment of the Nicene Fathers, who make use of this expression
in their creed.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         65

read of in their prophets,1 that their understandings should be
darkened, and their eyes and ears of no advantage for their
conversion.

Him therefore they could not see to be a God in the humble
disguise of a man; yet seeing the miracles He did, they cried Him
down for a conjurer, for dealing with the devil, when He was
turning the devils out of all their possessions at a word speaking;
and with the same word bid sight return to the blind, and it
returned, and cleansed the lepers, and new braced the paralytic
joints, and spoke the dead to life, and made the elements obey,
stilling the storms, and walking upon the seas, and demonstrating
Himself to be the Logos of God, that is, the ancient first oegotten
Word, invested with power and wisdom, and supported by the Spirit,
at whose doctrine the very doctors of the law stood aghast, and the
chief among the Jews were so exasperated against Him, especially
at seeing such numbers of people thronging after Him, that at
length, by mere violence and importunity of remonstrating, they
extorted sentence against Him to be crucified from Pontius Pilate,
then governor of Syria under Tiberius. And all this Christ Him-
self foretold they would do, which I will grant you to be an argument
not so considerable for the authority of His mission, had not all the
prophets long before concurred in every particular. At length
being fastened to the cross, and having cried out and commended
His spirit into the hands of His Father, He gave up the ghost of
His own accord, and so prevented the executioner's breaking His
bones, by dying in His own time, and fulfilled a prophecy by so
doing. Moreover, in the same moment He dismissed life, the light
departed from the sun,2 and the world was benighted at noonday,
and those men who acknowledged this eclipse, but were unac-
quainted with the prophecies that foretold it upon Christ's death,
and finding it impossible to be solved by the laws of nature, at last
roundly denied the fact; and yet this wonder of the world you have
related, and the relation preserved in your archives to this day.

1 " Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their
eyes ; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with
their heart, and convert, and be healed." Isa. vi. 10.

2 Diliquiunt utique putaverunt. An eclipse of the sun at a full moon (as this
was) is by the known laws of nature demonstratively impossible, and this it was
made it so much taken notice of by the ancient astronomers ; by Dionysius the
Areopagite, Apollophanes the Sophist, by Phlegon in his Olympiads, etc. Vid.
paraphrase of Zephyrus, and the notes of Pamelius, and especially the annota-
tions of Grotius upon Matt, xxvii. 45, where this passage of Tertullian is taken
notice of.

         C


66          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

Christ then being taken down from the cross, and laid in a sepulchre,
the Jews beset it round with a strong guard of soldiers, forearming
them with the strictest caution that His disciples should not come
and steal away the body unawares, because He had foretold that
He would rise again from the dead on the third day. But lo ! on
the third day, a sudden earthquake arose, and the huge stone was
rolled from the mouth of the sepulchre, and the guard struck with
fear and confusion; not one disciple appearing at the action, and
nothing found in the sepulchre, but the spoils of death, the linen
clothes He was buried in. Nevertheless, the chief priests, whose
interest it was to set such a wicked lie on foot, in order to reclaim
the people from a faith which must end in the utter ruin of their
incomes and authority among them, gave out that His disciples
came privily and stole Him away. For after the resurrection Christ
thought not fit to make a public entry among the people,1 because
He would not violently redeem such obstinate wretches from error,
and that a faith which proposes infinite rewards should labour under
some difficulties, that believing might be a virtue, and not a
necessity. But with some of His disciples He did eat and drink
forty days in Galilee, a province of Judea, instructing them in all
they should teach,2 and then having ordained them to the office of
preaching those instructions all over the world, He was parted from
them by a cloud, and so received up before them into heaven,
much more truly than what your Proculus's report of Romulus, and
some others of your deified kings. Pilate, who in his conscience

1 Nec ille se in vulgus eduxit, etc. These and the following words give the
true reason why Christ after His resurrection would not show Himself publicly
to all His crucifiers. Because He would not bestow upon such obstinate
offenders, who had abused all His former miracles, such an evidence as must in
a manner have forced them to believe, whether they would or no ; and therefore
it is said in the Acts of the Apostles, x. 40, "Him God raised up the third
day, and showed Him openly ; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen
before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after He arose from
the dead."

2 Docens eos qua docerent, dehinc Ordinatis eis ad Officium Praedicandi, etc.
It is very evident in this place that our author makes a notorious distinction
between Christ teaching His apostles in what they should instruct the world, and
His ordaining them to the office and authority of preaching those instructions ;
and as Christ was sent by His Father, so by the same authority did He commis-
sion His apostles to ordain others, and promises to be with them to the end of
the world. And therefore to say that the people have a natural right to ordain
their own ministers, is in effect to say they have a natural right to do a thing
when Christ has determined to the contrary. And because the apostles gave the
people a liberty to choose whom they would have for deacons, therefore they had
a right to ordain them to that office by prayer and imposition of their own
hands.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         67

was a Christian, sent Tiberius Caesar an account of all these
proceedings relating to Christ; and the Caesars had been Christians
too, could the ages have borne it, if either such Caesars had not been
necessary and unavoidable in such times, or could Christians have
come to be Caesars. The apostles, in obedience to their Master's
command, went about preaching through the world, persecuted
by the Jews to the last degree, but suffering victoriously, in full
assurance of the truth ; but at length the infidels taking the advan-
tage of the barbarous Nero's reign, they were forced to sow the
Christian religion in their own Christian blood. But I shall take
an occasion, by and by, to produce such witnesses as you yourselves
must think authentic for the truth of the Christian religion; for
I shall produce the gods you worship vouching for the God of
Christians. This must needs be surprising, you will say, that I should
bring in those to convert you to the faith, for whose sake it is that
you are infidels. In the meantime you are to look upon this as
the series and economy of the Christian religion. I have laid
before you an account of the original of our sect, of our name, and
of the author of it; let no man therefore now throw such dirt and
infamy upon Christians, nor harbour an opinion that this account is
not according to truth ; for it is not reasonable to believe that any
one should think it allowable to lie for his religion ;1 for every man
by saying he adores one, while in his mind he adores another,
denies the very deity he adores, and translates divine honour from
his own god to that other, and by such a translation unworships
the god he worships. But we say we are Christians, and say it to
the whole world, under the hands of the executioner,2 and in the

1 Quid nec fas est ulli de sua Religione mentiri. Pamelius brings forth this
passage in great state, as if it made notably for the papists against certain heretics
of his time, who justified lying for their religion. I do not know what heretics
he means, and if there be any that do so, they certainly do very ill, and against
the apostle's rule of not doing evil that good may come of it ; but had he con-
sidered some certain casuists of their own, he might have spared this reflection.

2 Dicimus et palam dicimus, et vobis torquentibus lacerati et cruenti vociferamur,
Deum colimus per Christum.
The primitive Christians were not ashamed or
afraid to proclaim, to proclaim it to the whole world, and under the hands of the
executioner, and weltering in their own blood, that they worshipped God through
Christ. Do we ever read of any generation of men so greedy of martyrdom
before, who thought it long till they were upon the rack, and so cheerful and
stedfast under the most intolerable torments? What a restless posture of mind
does Socrates betray, the wisest and best of heathens ! With what misgivings
and fits of hope and fear does he deliver himself in that most famous discourse,
supposed to be made by him a little before his death, about a future state ! Vid.
Plat. Phaed. Do we find that Phaedo, Cebes, Crito, and Simmias, or any of his
greatest friends, who were present at his death, condemning his murder in
the Areopagus, and asserting the worship of one god as the Christians did ? Did


68          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

midst of all the tortures you exercise us with to unsay it. Torn and
mangled and covered over in our own blood, we cry out as loud as
we are able to cry that we are worshippers of God through Christ.
Believe this Christ, if you please, to be a man, but let me tell you
He is the only man by whom and in whom God will be known and
worshipped to advantage. But to stop the mouth of Jews, I have
this to answer, that they received every tittle of their religion from
God by the meditation and ministry of the man Moses ; and as to
the Greeks, did not Orpheus upon Mount Pieria, and his disciple
Musaeus at Athens, and Melampus at Argos, and Trophonius in
Boeotia, were not all these men who initiated these several countries
in their religion? And to turn my eyes upon you, who are the
masters of the world, was it not the man Numa Pompilius, who
bound on these heavy burdens of ceremony and superstition upon
the Romans ? Why then, I pray you, must not Christ be tolerated
to give the world a commentary of that divinity 1 which is His own,
properly His and His alone ? He who did not begin His govern-
ment upon a wild uncultivated people, and astonish them into
subjection and civility by a multitude of imaginary gods, after the
example of your Numa, but addresses the most polished and

not Plato afterwards dodge about, and disguise himself under feigned names, and
say and unsay the most excellent truths for the security of his skin? And did
not all the academics afterwards keep much upon the reserve, for fear that
dogmatizing should send them after their master Socrates ? How then comes it
to pass that Christians, and Christians only, should dare to suffer at this rate above
all the philosophers in the world, and that the same generation of men should
hold on suffering for four hundred years together, till they had subdued the world
by dying for their religion? Had not Christians the same flesh and blood, the
same sense and feeling as other men ? and did they not desire happiness as
much as other men? If so, then nothing hut the clearest, the most powerful and
convincing arguments could possibly engage such numbers of men in a particular
worship, and support them under it in defiance of death in the most shocking
circumstances. And with what face could a Christian offer to persuade a heathen
to embrace such a persecuted religion, without the clearest convictions imagin-
able ? This argument from the primitive sufferings, and from the manner of
them, for the truth of Christianity I insist upon the longer, not only because it is
strong in itself, and so often appealed to in these Apologies, but because to me it
is more moving, and apter to take hold of the heart, than all the speculative
proofs in nature.

1 Licuerit et Christo commentari Divinitatem, rem propriam. Here it is
observable that Tertullian calls the divinity of Christ, Rein propriam, an expres-
sion which denotes our Saviour to be as truly and really God, as man can be said
to be the proprietor of anything in the sense of the law. Thus when our Saviour
said, " My Father worketh hitherto, and I work," the Jews sought to kill Him,
because ga.-rify. 'Kmi 'iX'.y- TO* 0so>, He said God was His own proper Father
in a sense incommunicable to any creature, making Himself equal to God, John
v. 17, 18.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         69

brightest people in the world, a people blinded and lost in their
own philosophy and wisdom, and helps them to eyes to see their
folly and the way of truth.

Inform yourselves carefully, therefore, whether the divinity of
Christ is not the true divinity you ought to worship, and which, if
once entertained, new makes the old man, and forms him to every
virtue, and consequently all divinities but Christ ought to be
renounced as false, and those especially, in the first place, which lie
lurking under the names and images of dead men, and by lying
signs and wonders and oracles pass for gods, when in truth they are
but devils, as I am now going to prove.

                                           —o—

                                   CHAPTER XXII.

                CONCERNING DEMONS, THEIR POWER, AND THEIR WAYS OF
                                               OPERATION.

WE say then that there are a certain kind of spiritual substances
existing in nature, which go by the name of demons, and the name is
not of a modern stamp; the name and the thing being both well known
to the philosophers, for Socrates undertook nothing without the privy
council of his demon. And no wonder, when this familiar is said to
have kept him close company from his childhood to the conclusion
of his life, continually, no doubt, injecting dissuasives from virtue.1
The poets likewise talk of demons, and even the illiterate vulgar

1 Dehortatorium plane a bono. The words immediately before concerning
this demon of Socrates are almost exactly transcribed by Lactantius, lib. ii. p,
105. However, I cannot but say that this character contradicts all the accounts
we have concerning the practice of this demon, from such persons as were best
able to understand the matter of fact, who represent it quite contrary to this
character of Tertullian. Nothing occasioned more speculations and amusement
in the time of Socrates than his demon, insomuch that one of his friends went to
consult the oracle about it. Vid. Plutarch of the demon of Socrates. Nor would
Socrates make Simias any answer upon the question, and therefore the rest of
his friends desisted for the future from asking him any more about it. But
Xenophon and Plato, who certainly were two of his nearest friends, and best
understood this matter, were far from imagining, as some since have done, that
this demon was nothing more than his natural sagacity or understanding. The
sum of the story, as we have it in the Dialogue entitled Theages, and elsewhere,
is this : the directions of this demon were only dehortatory, but not from good,
as Tertullian thinks, but from evil. The demon never advised him to do, but


70          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

frequently apply to them when they are in the cursing mood; for by
a secret instigation on their minds when they invoke these demons
in their imprecations, they do in effect invoke Satan,1 who is
the prince of the evil spirits. Plato himself is express for the being
of angels, and the magicians are ready to attest the same when they
have recourse to the names of angels and demons both, in their
enchantments. But how from a corrupted stock of angels, corrupted
by their own wills, another worse and more degenerate race2 of

only to forbear an action ; when it would he of ill consequence either to Socrates
or his friends, he heard a voice, which was the sign to forbear; when he heard
it not, it was always his warrant to proceed ; so that one would be apt from
hence to conclude that the voice was not articulate, but a bare sign only. And
Xenophon reports that of all the numberless predictions (of which, according to
Tully, Antipater collected a large volume) of disasters that would befall his
friends, not one of them failed in the event. But Plato's Apology of Socrates,
Camb. Edit. sec. 21, is very remarkable, where we have a very plain and
strange account of the operations and nature of this demon. " It is very strange "
(says Socrates, addressing his judges with incomparable calmness just before his
execution) "that the prophetic voice of the demon, which never failed before of
dissuading me in matters of the smallest moment, where the consequence would
be ill, ei ti me/lloimi mh_ o0rqw~j pra&cein, etc., should now in the worst of evils,
according to your opinion, be silent, and neither when I left my house in the
morning, nor when I went to the bar, nor all the time I have been pleading here,
should ever give me the wonted signal, ou0 ga_r e1sq o3pwj ou0k h0nantiw&qh a3n moi to_ ei0wqo_j
shmeion, ei0 mh& ti e3mellon e0gw_ a0gaqo_n pra&cein ; for it could not be but that I should
hear his usual dissuasive was I not upon doing my duty, or that which would
turn to my advantage." Now when I read the character of Socrates from those
who certainly were best acquainted with him, when I find him employing all his
reason to bring men off from barren speculations to the knowledge of themselves,
and the practice of substantial virtue, when I find him the greatest master of
his passions, the most judicious despiser of riches within his reach, the most
temperate, humble, courteous, inoffensive man living in the Gentile world, when
I find him encouraged by his demon to die for the profession of the one true
God; when Justin Martyr in his First Apology, sec. 5, says that the evil
demons contrived his death for his attempts to rescue mankind from the worship
of devils; that he, by his share of reason, did among the Greeks what the Logos
Himself did among the Barbarians, and that both were condemned for the same
good designs ;—who, after this, I say, can think Socrates possessed and governed
by an evil spirit? Why not rather divinely assisted to preach down idolatry,
and bring moral righteousness into practice, and by such means to prepare and
qualify the heathen world for the revelation of the Messiah ?

1 Nam et Satanam—execramenti voce pronunciat, etc. I do not find that the
Romans ever cursed expressly by the name of Satan, but by making use of the word
Malum or a mischief, take you, as we say ; and Satan being the prince of
mischief and virtually included in every such curse, they might be said in this
sense to pronounce Satan in their imprecations.

2 Sed quomodo do Angelis quibusdam sua sponte corruptis, corruptior Gens
Daemonum evascrit,
etc. This Old opinion we find in both the Apologies of
Justin Martyr, as well as in this of Tertullian, and so likewise in Athenagoras,
etc. The ground of it I take to be this : the Fathers were generally of opinion


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         71

demons arose, condemned by God, together with those they
descended from, and Satan the prince of them, whom I just now
mentioned, for the history of this, I say, I must refer you to the
Holy Scriptures.

But not to insist upon their generation, it will be sufficient to my
purpose to explain their operations, or their ways of acting upon the
sons of men. I say, then, that the ruin of mankind is their whole
employment; these malicious spirits were bent upon mischief from
the beginning, and fatally auspicious in their first attempt, in undoing
man as soon as he was made; and in like manner they practise the
same destructive methods upon all his posterity, by inflicting
diseases upon their bodies, and throwing them into sad disasters,
and stirring up sudden tempests and preternatural emotions in the
soul; and they are fitted by nature for both these kinds of evil,
the subtilty and fineness of their substance giving them an easy
access to body and soul both. These spirits certainly have great
abilities for mischief, and that they do it is apparent, though the
manner of effecting it is invisible, and out of the reach of human
senses; as, for instance, when a secret blast nips the fruit in the
blossom or the bud, or smites it with an untimely fall just upon its
maturity, or when the air is infected by unknown causes, and
scatters the deadly potions about the world; just so, and by a
contagion that walketh in the like darkness, do demons and evil
angels blast the minds of men, and agitate them with furies and

that evil spirits were clothed with a finer sort of body, which was fed and
refreshed from the nidours and steams of the sacrifices. They found these spirits
had a prodigious power over the bodies they possessed, and could not certainly
tell but this power might extend even to generation. And finding in Josephus,
lib. i. cap. 4, polloi\ a!ggeloi Qeou~, etc., that many angels of God mixing with
women begot a devilish wicked offspring, and perhaps meeting likewise an
ancient edition of the Septuagint, which read a!ggeloi where we read oi9 ui9oi\ tou~ Qeou~,
the angels of God, instead of the sons of God, went in to the daughters of men,
Gen. vi. 4. And meeting perhaps with something of the same nature in that
supposititious piece which went under the name of Enoch's prophecy, they
might by these means lie led into this mistake. However, St. Chrysostom, Hom.
22 upon Gen., St. Ambrose, lib. de Noe et Arca, cap. 4, have set this matter
right, by interpreting the sons of God to be the posterity of Seth. And though
some men, who think themselves well employed in raking this, and all they can,
to invalidate the authority of the Fathers, in order to serve their cause, may think
it reasonable not to depend upon such mistaken men, yet such mistakes, in my
opinion, do not in the least affect their authority in such cases, for which w:e
chiefly depend upon them ; for is there any consequence in this way of reason-
ing? Because the Fathers have sometimes been mistaken in matters of pure
reasoning, as the wisest and best of men may sometimes be, therefore they are
not to be credited in plain matters of fact, wherein they cannot be mistaken.


72         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

extravagant uncleannesses, and dart in outrageous lusts with a
mixture of various errors; the most capital of which errors is that,
having taken possession of a soul, and secured it on every side from
the powers of truth, they recommend to it the worship of false gods,
that by the nidours of those sacrifices they may procure a banquet
for themselves, the stench of the flesh and the fumes of the blood
being the proper pabulum or repast of those unclean spirits; and
what more savoury meat to them than to juggle men out of the
notion of the true God with delusions of divination, which delusions
I come now to unfold.

Every spirit, angel, and demon, upon the account of its swiftness,
may be said to be winged, for they can be here and there and
everywhere in a moment; the whole world to them is but as one
place, and any transactions in it they can know with the same ease
they can tell it; and this velocity passes for divinity among such as
are unacquainted with the nature of spirits; and by this means they
would be concluded the authors of those things sometimes of
which they are only the relators; and verily sometimes they are the
authors of the evil, but never of the good. They have collected
some designs of providence from the mouths of the prophets; and
to those sermons, whose sound is gone into all the earth, do they
apply at present to pick out something whereby to form their
conjectures about events to come; and so, by filching from hence
some revolutions which have succeeded in time, they rival the
divinity, and set up for gods, by stealing his prophecies. But in
their oracles,1 what dexterity they have showed in tempering their

1 In oraculis autem, quo ingenio ambiguitates temperent in eventus, sciunt
Croesi, sciunt Pyrrhi.
The notorious ambiguity of the heathen oracles in
general, and particularly in the cases of Croesus and Pyrrhus,

Aio te Aeacide Romanes vincere posse,
Intrepidus si Crasus Hylam,
etc.

This ambiguity, I say, together with the folly and flattery of the responses and
the like, made some of the heathens, who were most inclined to atheism, to
conclude it all pure priestcraft; and for no better reasons have some moderns, no
well-wishers to the doctrine of spirits, concluded the same also, and treated the
Fathers as a parcel of good-natured, easy men, who took everything upon trust.
But now I would ask these men of criticism and infidelity, what kind of proofs
will content them in matters of fact; was ever any fact butter and more univer-
sally attested even by the heathens themselves, than oracles and the cessation of
them? Was ever anything more notorious in the time of our Saviour than the
possessions of private persons? Was anything more commonly appealed to than
the dispossession of evil spirits, for some hundreds of years after, by the first
Christians? Does not Tertullian challenge the senate upon this article, and


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         73

responses with a convenient ambiguity for any question, the
Croesuses and the Pyrrhuses know with a witness. It was by virtue
of the forementioned velocity that Pythian Apollo, cutting through
the air in a moment to Lydia, brought back word that Croesus was
boiling a tortoise with the flesh of a lamb.1 Moreover, these
demons, by having their residence in the air, and by reason of their
neighbourhood and commerce with the stars and clouds, come to
know the dispositions of the heavens, and promise rain, which they
see falling when they promise. These demons likewise are very
beneficent no doubt in the cure of diseases, for they first inflict the
malady, and then prescribe the remedy, but remedies marvellously
strange, and contrary to the distemper; and after the patient has
used the recipe, the demon omits to afflict him, and that omission
passes for a cure. But why should I give more instances of their
wiles and strength in delusion, or mention the phantoms of Castor
and Pollux,2 or a sieve holding water,3 or a ship drawn by a girdle,

stake his life and the truth of his religion upon this proof, that upon a Christian's
adjuring a person possessed, the evil spirit shall not only come out of him, but
confess himself a devil in the presence of them all, as truly as before he had
falsely owned himself to be a god ; if so, I would fain see a good reason why an
evil spirit should not possess a Pythian priestess as well as any other person.
Sure I am that the kingdom of darkness was mainly supported by keeping up the
oracles; nothing therefore could hinder the devil from this but want of power ;
and why he should have so much power over private persons, and not over his
own priestesses, is hard to tell. That there was oftentimes much tricking and
human fraud in the management of oracles, I doubt not; but that it was all pure
priestcraft therefore is a consequence I can never allow, until men can prove
there is no good money because there is much counterfeit; whereas there
would be no counterfeit was there no reality for the ground of imitation. Had
but the heathen world known that our first parents were seduced by the devil;
had they but known the distinction of good and evil spirits, and that these latter
had been always intent upon the destruction and delusion of mankind, and that
one great reason of Christ's coming into the world was to destroy the worship of
devils, they would never have questioned the existence of oracles; nor would the
Fathers have been thus discredited in a matter of fact, for which they had the
testimony of their senses. But finding abundance of false and foolish things
reported of the oracles, and from thence justly concluding they could not come
from an all-wise and good being, and not considering that they might proceed from
ignorant and malicious spirits, and having no mind perhaps to such strong proofs
of another state, they ran into a common extreme from believing everything to
believe nothing, and to conclude the whole business of oracles to be mere trick
and imposture.

1 This story about the tortoise is told at large by Herodotus in his Clio.

2 The phantoms of Castor and Pollux are said to have acquainted the Romans
of the victory of the Macedonia war the same hour it was obtained.

3 Tucia is the vestal virgin, who is reported to have done this feat with a
sieve ; and Claudia the other, who dragged along a ship foundered on the Tyber
by the strength of her girdle.



74         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

or a beard turned red with a touch ?1 For all these are impostures
only of demons to keep idolatry in countenance, to make men take
stones for deities, and to detain them from any further inquiries
after the true God.

                                           —o—

                                   CHAPTER XXIII.

              CONCERNING THE SUBJECTION OF EVIL SPIRITS TO THE COMMAND
                                              OF CHRISTIANS.

MOREOVER, if magicians do set before your eyes a scene of spectres,
and, by their black arts, or direful forms in necromancy, call up
the souls of the dead ;2 if they throw children into convulsions,3

1 It was Domitian's black beard, which is here said to be turned red with a
touch of Castor and Pollux, to make him give credit to the news of the victory
they told him of, and from hence he was surnamed Aenobarbus or Rusty Beard.
One thing the reader can hardly forbear taking notice of in the conclusion of this
chapter, and that is, between the tricks and amusements of evil spirits and the
substantial miracles of mercy wrought by Christ and His apostles, between
discolouring a beard and curing the sick or raising the dead.

2 Defunctorum animas infamant, aliter inclamant. These several species of
magic you find mentioned by Justin Martyr, Apol. i. sec. 24. See more of this
in our author, de Anima, cap. 57, etc. Vid. Maxim. Tyr. Dissert. 22. This
kind of divination by the dead, called necromancy, was very ancient and very
familiar in the Gentile world. A memorable example of which we find, I Sam.
xxviii., where Saul being about to war with the Philistines, and God denying
to answer him either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets, he repairs to the
witch of Endor, and demands that Samuel might be raised up from the dead, to
tell him the issue of the war. This was performed sometimes by the magical use
of a bone of a dead body, with other black solemnities; sometimes by pouring
hot blood into the carcase to make it answer a question, as Erictho does in Lucan.

Dum vocem defuncto in corpore quaerit,
Protinus astrictus caluit Cruor, atraq. ; fovit
Vulnera.

Hence that of Horace—

Animas responsa daturas.

And in allusion to the same practice is that of Virgil—

Nec jam exaudire vocates.

3 Si pueros in eloquium Oraculi clidunt. Concerning this kind of divination,
see Apuleius, Apol. i., and Spartian. in vit. Jul. Hence that of Propertius,—

Rectulit in triviis omnia certa Puer.


        Tertullians Apology for the Christians.         75

and a while after make them vent the fury in oracles; if by their
juggling wiles they delude the senses with abundance of mock
miracles, and inject dreams in the dead of sleep,1 by first invoking
the assistance of their angels and demons, by whose sophistry even
goats and groaning boards2 are wont to divine: if then these evil

1 Si et Somnia imittunt. These are the same with those called by Justin, in
the section aforesaid, ovitfivep.vo}. As the God of Israel was pleased some-
times to communicate Himself to His prophets by dreams, so likewise the devil,
in imitation, had his dreamer of dreams among the Gentiles. The Lacedae-
monians kept men on purpose to sleep in the temple of Pasithea to watch for
dreams. The vanity of these sort of diviners Juvenal takes occasion to lash in
these words —

Nan Delubra Deum, nec ab aethere Numina mittunt,
Sed sibi quisque facit.

Whoever has a mind to amuse himself more upon this subject, may consult Tully,
de Divinat. lib. i., Valer. Max. lib. v. cap. 7, Plin. lib. vii. cap. 50, Macrob. de
Somn. Scip.
lib. i. cap. 3 ; Plutarch in Pompeio, concerning a dream of Mithri-
dates, and Fulgent. Mitholog. lib. i.

2 Per quos et Caprae, et Mensae divinare consueverunt. Of goats trained up to
divination we find mention in Eusebius, from a quotation out of Clemens Alex.,

ai0gej e0pi\ mantikh_n h0skhme/nai, Euseb. Praepar. Evang. lib. ii. Cap. 3, p. 62.
Why goats are particularly here specified for brutes of divination, I conjecture
the reason to be this : Before the oracle of Apollo came to be fixed at Delphos,
the place was nothing more than a common, and the goats which were grazing
about there coming to a den, large before with a little mouth at top, and looking
in, fell a-skipping and making an odd noise, not unlike perhaps the possessed
swine mentioned in the gospel, though not so fatal. The goat-herd (Coretas by
name, as Plutarch calls him) ran to the place to see what was the matter with
his flock, and fell into the same frolic, and likewise into a fit of prophesying ;
and so it fared with many others, who went afterwards to visit the place, and
many were strangled (says Tully) with terrae anhelitu, with the fumes of the earth.
Vid. Diodor. lib. xvi. Upon this hole of the earth therefore was the tripos, or
a three-footed stool placed, and a maid upon it consecrated for a priestess, who
received her inspiration from below, as the Scholiast upon Aristophanes in Avid,
describes, e0kaqhme/nh tw~| tri/podi, etc. These belly-prophets, who delivered
themselves in a tone like a speaking trumpet, were called e0ggastri/muqoii, and
thus Isaiah viii. 19, " Seek unto them which have familiar spirits, and unto
wizards that peep and mutter; " which the Septuagint, more to my purpose,
renders thus, zhth&sate tou_j e0ggastrimu&qouj, kai\ tou_j a0po_ th~j gh~j fwnou~ntas, tou_j
kenologou~ntaj, oi9 e0k th~j koili/aj fwnh&sousin. And more expressly yet, xxix. 4.
'' Thou shall speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust,
and thy voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit out of the ground, and
thy voice shall whisper out of the dust." Which words are still more expressive
of the Pythoness in the Septuagint, kai\ tapeinwqh&sontai ei0j th_n gh_n oi9 lo&goi sou, kai\
ei0j th_n gh_n oi9 lo&goi sou du&sontai, kai\ e1stai w9j oi9 fwnou~ntej e0k th~j gh~j h9 fwnh_ sou, kai\

tro_j ti_ e1dafoj h9 fwnh& sou a0sqenh&sei
. Now the Mensae in this place of Tertullian I
take to be the Tripodess, called by Virgil Mensae·, 2 Aen.

———Huc undique Troia Gaza,
Incensis erepta adytis, Mensaeq. ; Daeorum.

Sozomen in his sixth book, cap. 35, tells us that the Gentile philosophers, being


76         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

spirits will do so much at the impulse of men, what will they not
do by their own impulse, and for their own interest ? They will
surely collect the whole stock of malicious power into one effort for
the defence of themselves and the kingdom of darkness. Or if
angels and demons act the same with your gods, pray where is the
difference between them and Him you look upon as the Sovereign
and supremest of powers ? Is it not therefore more becoming to
presume those to be gods, who do the things which make others
pass for gods, than to bring down the gods to a level with demons ?
'But perhaps I am to think that it is the difference of places only
which causes the distinction of titles, and that your gods are to be
looked upon as gods only in their own temples, and he who flies
through a sacred turret is begodded ; but he who passes through a
common house, bedeviled. Or that the priest who cuts off his
privities, or lances his arms, is inspired ; but he who cuts his throat,
possessed; however, the fury of both has a like event, and the
instigation is the same.

Hitherto I have argued upon point of reason, and contented
myself with words only; I come now to things, and shall give you
a demonstration from fact to convince you that your gods and
demons both are but the same beings, though of different denomina-
tions. Let a demoniac1 therefore be brought into court, and the

extremely concerned at the increase of Christianity, made and consecrated a
tripod of laurel, with all the letters of the alphabet fastened to it, to know who
should he the man that was to succeed Valens in the empire ; a contrivance
perhaps in imitation of Urim and Thummim, which (as some say) consisted of
all the letters of the alphabet, which upon a question proposed did arise after a
strange manner, and joined themselves into words or syllables, and so returned a
complete answer.

1 Edatur hic aliquis sub Tribunalibus vestris, etc. This is the famous
challenge I just now referred to, and which I would not have the reader to pass
over without reflection ; for never was anything appealed to in more daring
words, or more easy to be detected, if an imposture. He challenges their
senses, their eyes, and their ears to be judges in the case ; he defies them to deny
it if they can ; he stands ready to answer for the experiment with his own blood,
that their celestial virgin, their Aesculapius, and all the rest of those they
worship for gods, shall not only quit the bodies they possess, but publicly in the
hearing of them all confess themselves to be devils, upon the demand of any
Christian. Hear what his scholar St. Cyprian says to Demetrianus, proconsul
of Africa, upon the same subject : O si audire eos velles, et videre quando a nobis
adjurantur, et torquentur Spiritualibus flagris, et verborum tormentis de
obsessis corporibus ejiciuntur, quando ejulantes et gementes voce humana,
et potestate Divina flagella et verbera sentientes, venturum Judicium confitentur ;
veni, et cognosce vera esse qua dicimus.
And a little after, Videbis sub manu
nostra stare vinctos, et tremere captivos quos in suspicis, et veneraris ut
Deminos.
Not to mention Lactantius, who speaks to the same purpose, de Just.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         77

spirit which possesses him be commanded by any Christian to
declare what he is, he shall confess himself as truly to be a devil
as he did falsely before profess himself a god. In like manner, let
one of those be produced, who is thought to labour with a god,
whom he conceived from the steams of the altar, and of which after
many a belch and many a pang he is delivered in oracles. Let
the celestial virgin, the great procurer of rain, or Aesculapius, the
great improver of medicine, who by the help of scordian, and other
sovereign and cordial medicines, recovered those who could not
have lived a day longer. If all these, I say, do not declare them-,
selves in court to be devils, not daring to lie in the presence of a
Christian, that Christian is willing to be taken for the cheat, and
stands ready to answer for it with his own blood. What now can
be more glaringly evident than this demonstration from fact ?
What proof more unexceptionable ? Here you have truth shining
full upon you in her native simplicity, without the colouring of
words, or any assistance but from her own proper virtue; suspicion
itself here will find no entrance. You may say this is done by magic
or some such sophistry, if your eyes and ears will give you leave to
say it; but what can be objected against that which is exposed in
its pure naturals, against mere naked truth ? Moreover, if on one
hand they are really gods, why should they be such silly liars as to
say they are devils ? What, in obedience to us ? Your gods then
are in subjection to Christians; but that surely is a very sorry god
which is subject to a man, and to a man too who is his professed
enemy, and when such a subjection makes so much to his disgrace.

lib. v. cap. 21. All the primitive Fathers assert the same fact, with the same
assurance. Let me ask then a few questions. Did ever any heathen priest or
magician make such a challenge at the hazard of their lives? Did the evil
spirits ever stand in awe of them, or any of the philosophers ? Will the critics
say that these long quotations are foisted into the text, when they are in every
primitive writer? And arc not these matters of fact, not of reason, wherein
Christians and heathens could not be imposed upon ? If so, what can be urged
against this demonstration of the truth of the Christian religion ? What stronger
evidence, what more sensible conviction, could the heathens have, than to see
and hear the gods they worshipped, howl and wail and fly, at the name of
Christ, and confess themselves to be all devils in the presence of their
worshippers? This kingdom of darkness was permitted to grow to its full
height, and the ruin of it then providentially reserved for the coming and
conquest of the Son of God ; and though the dispositions and confessions of
evil spirits recorded of Him and His apostles in the New Testament do
sufficiently prove Him to be sent from God, yet the exercise of the same power
in their Master's name before proconsuls and tribunals for many ages, makes the
argument still the stronger and more unexceptionable. For it is not possible for
a miracle of three or four hundred years' continuance in public to be suspected
for a cheat.


78          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

On the other hand, if they are demons or angels, how comes it to
pass that they personate gods, when they give their responses to
any but Christians? For as those who have the reputation of gods
would not say they are devils if they are truly gods, because they
would not divest themselves of their majesty, so those you know to
be demons durst never aspire to the titles of gods if there were any
gods of those titles they usurp, because no doubt they would be
afraid of smarting for that usurpation from those superior deities
they have thus affronted.

The consequence therefore is undeniable, that the deities you
worship are no deities; for if they were, the devils would never
presume to lay claim to the title of gods, or the gods disclaim it.
Since therefore both one and the other concur to the acknowledg-
ment of this truth, that the gods in worship are no gods, you must
confess them to be all of the same kind, that is devils. Bethink
yourselves now, and examine the gods on every side. For those
you presumed to be gods you plainly see to be devils; and by the
help of Christians, and by the help of your very gods, not only
confessing themselves, but all the rest also not to be gods, you will
presently learn which is the true God; whether it is He, and He
alone whom the Christians profess, and whether He is to be believed
and worshipped, according to the Christian rule of faith and wor-
ship. When we conjure these evil spirits in the name of Christ, let
them reply if they dare, Who is this Christ with His fable of a gospel ?
Let them say that He is of the common order of men; or will they
call Him a magician ? Or say that after He was buried, His disciples
came and stole away His body out of the sepulchre, or that He is
yet among the dead ? Or rather will they not own Him to be in
heaven, and that He will come down from thence, and put the
whole universe in a tremor at His coming, and all mankind, but
Christians, into horror and lamentation? Shining in His native
glory, as He is the power of God, and the Spirit of God, and the
Logos, and the Wisdom, and the Reason, and the Son of God. Let
the devils keep their votaries company in derision, and join you
with their wit and drollery upon these things. Let them deny that
Christ will come in judgment upon every soul from the creation,
having first restored its body. Let them declare, and in open
court if they think fit, that they are of a mind with Plato and the
poets, that it is the lot of Minos and Rhadamanthus to be judges of
the world. Let them wipe off the brand of their own ignominy and
damnation. Let them renounce themselves to be unclean spirits,
though this is evident from the nature of their food, from the


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         79

blood, and stenches, and putrid sacrifices of animals, and the
abominable forms made use of in divination. And lastly, let them
disown themselves to be in a damned state, and under dreadful
expectations of the final judgment, where they shall receive the
recompense of sins, together with their worshippers, and all such
workers of iniquity.

But now this power and dominion of ours over these wicked
spirits has all its efficacy from the name of Christ, and from our
reminding them of those judgments which are dropping upon their
heads from the hand of God through Christ, whom He has made
Judge of the world ; and the dread they have of Christ in God, and
God in Christ, is the thing which subjects them to the servants of
God and Christ. Thus therefore by a touch of our hand, or the
breath of our mouth, scorched as it were with the prospect and repre-
sentation of future flames, they go out of the bodies they possess
at our command, but sore against their will, and gnashing and red-
hot with shame, to quit their possessions in the presence of their
adorers.

Now then let me advise you to believe the devils when they speak
true of themselves, you who are used to credit them in their lies;
for no man is a fool to such a degree as to be at the pains of lying
to his disgrace, but only to his reputation ; and one is a thousand
times apter to believe men when they confess to their disadvantage
than when they deny for interest.

These testimonies then of your gods against themselves often
conduce to the making of Christians, because there is no believing
them, without believing in our Master Christ. The very devils
kindle in us the belief of Holy Scripture; the very devils are
edifying, and raise our hope to assurance. But you worship them,
and with the blood of Christians too, I well know; and therefore
they would by no means lose such good clients and devoted
servants as you are, not only for the sake of their honours and
offerings, but for fear, should any of you turn Christians, you
should dispossess and serve them as we do. They would never, I
say, baulk a lie, in so grand a concern, was it in their power to lie,
when a Christian interrogates them in order to give you a proof of
his religion by their own confession.

                                           —o—


80          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

                                   CHAPTER XXIV.

                      THAT THE ROMANS ARE THE CRIMINALS IN POINT OF
                               RELIGION, AND NOT THE CHRISTIANS.

THIS universal confession of the evil spirits, whereby they disclaim
the title of gods, and whereby they declare that there is no other
God but one, whose servants we profess to be ; this confession, I
say, is argument enough with a witness to discharge Christians from
the crime of irreligion, especially towards the Roman gods; for if
the Roman gods for a certain are no gods, then their religion for a
certain is no religion; and if theirs be no religion, because theirs
be no gods, then certainly we cannot be justly charged upon the
article of irreligion, with respect to the worship of the Roman deities.
But this reproach rebounds upon yourselves, for you who worship a
lie, and not only neglect the true religion of the true God, but
moreover join all your forces to fight it out of the world, are in
truth guilty of that which is most properly irreligion. For should
I grant those you worship to be gods, do not you likewise subscribe
to the common opinion that there is one most high and powerful
Deity, who is the Author and Sovereign of the world, of infinite
majesty and perfection ? For thus many among you have ranged
the gods, so as to vest the supreme power in one only, and make
the rest subaltern gods, and under-officers merely of this Almightiest
of deities; and thus Plato 1 describes great Jove as attended above
by an heavenly host of inferior gods and demons. Can you say,
then, that we must pay the same honours to his procurators and
prefects and presidents, as to the emperor himself? And pray
now, where is the crime to be ambitious of getting into the good
graces of Caesar only? and to acknowledge the title of God like
that of the emperor. His due alone who has the sovereign authority ?
since by your laws it is capital to call any one Caesar who is not
supreme, or to hear him so called by any other. I will grant you
there is a difference in the modes of worship between a worshipper
of God and a worshipper of Jove. Let us then suppose that one

1 Ut Plato Jovem magnum in caelo comitum exercitu describit Deorum pariter
et Daemonium.
This passage we have in Greek in Athenagoras, thus—9O de\ me/gaj
h9gemw&n eu0 ou0ranw|~ Zeu_j e0lau&nwn pthno_n a3rma prw~toj poreu&etai, diakosmw~n pa&nta, kai\
e0pimeloumenoj; tw|~ de\ e3petai stratia_ Qew~nte kai\ daimo&nwn. Athenat. Legat. pro
Christian.
The supremacy of one deity is what you will find by Minutius Felix
proved at large from all the philosophers,


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         81

man worships the true supreme God, another Jove; one prays with
suppliant hands lifted up to heaven, another lays them upon the
altar of Fides,1 another (if you will think them deities) prays looking
upon the clouds,2 others upon the stately roofs of the temple; one
devotes his own life to his god, another the life of a goat. But
you had best see to it whether this does not concur to the making
up of another article of irreligion against you—namely, to deprive
men of the liberty of worshipping after their own way, and to inter-
dict them the option of their deity; so that I must not worship the
god I would, but am forced to worship the god I would not; and
yet it is agreed upon on all hands, that forced or unwilling services
are not grateful either to God or man; and for this reason even the
Egyptians are tolerated in their superstition, which is the very
vanity of vanities : they are permitted to make gods of birds and
beasts, and to make it capital to be the death of any of these kinds
of deities. Every province and city has its proper gods, as Syria
the god Ashtaroth,3 Arabia has Disares, Bavaria Belinus, Africa the
Celestial Virgin,4 and Mauritania their kings. Now these pro-

1 Aram Fidei. Tully in his Offices, lib. iii., has these words—Fidem in Capitolio
vicinam Jovi Off. Max. Majores nostri esse voluerunt.
Hence that of Silius—

Ille etiam qua prisca Fides stat Regia, nobis
Aurea Tarpeia ponet Capitolia rupe.

There was likewise one Fidius, a Sabine god, whose temple was upon the Mons
Quirinalis. He was the god who took care of oaths, hence that of Plautus in
Asinar, Per Divum Fidium quaeris. This oath was afterwards contracted into
one word, Mediusfidius, though Festus Pompeius expounds it otherwise, quasi
deo&j; filius, lib. xi.

2 Nubes numeret orans. The wise and good Socrates was lashed by Aristo-
phanes in his Nubibus for a worshipper of the clouds, because he worshipped
the one true God with eyes lifted up to heaven like the Christians, who having
in a Gentile sense neither temple, image, nor altar, as the heathen in Minutius
objects, were charged, as Tertullian intimates, for adoring clouds ; but how that
in Minutius is to be understood, I refer the reader to my notes upon that
passage. Scaliger understands this of Juvenal of the Christians, and reads it
thus—

Nil praeter Nubes, et Caeli Numen adorant.

3 Syriae Astartes. Eusebius from Sanchoniathon will have it to be Venus,
Euseb. Praep. Evang. lib. i. cap. 10, p. 38. Suidas says this—0Asta&rth h9 par0
3Ellhsin 0Afrodi/th legome/nh, Qeo_j Sidwni/wn. This was the goddess of the Sidonians
whom Solomon himself went after, and to whom he built an house. I Kings
xi. 5 ; 2 Kings xxiii. 13. And in the house of Ashtaroth called by the LXX.
0Asta&rth did the Philistines hang up Saul's armour after his death. I Sam.
xxxi. 10.

3 Caelestis. This celestial virgin was peculiarly honoured at Carthage, and is
supposed by some to be Juno, though there is huge controversy about it. And
the rest of the idols here mentioned are so obscure, and so much disputed, that I
believe the reader will thank me if I say no more about them.


82          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

vinces (if I mistake not) are under the Roman jurisdiction, and
yet I do not find any of the Roman gods in worship among them ;
because the gods of these countries are as little known at Rome as
many of the municipal deities in several towns in Italy, as Del-
ventinus of Casinum, Visidianus of Narni, Ancaria of Ascoli,
Nursia of Volsinium, Valentia of Ocricoly, Nortia of Sutri, and
Juno of Monte Fiasco, who was worshipped by the name of Curetis
in honour of her father Cures. But we Christians, we alone are
the people who are not tolerated to enjoy a separate religion proper
to ourselves; we offend the Romans, and are not to be looked
upon as Romans, because we do not worship the God of the
Romans; however, we have this advantage, that God is the God
of all, whose we are all, whether we will or no; but there is a
universal toleration among you to pay divine honours to any but
the true God, as if this was not emphatically the God of all, whose
creatures we all are.

                                           —o—

                                   CHAPTER XXV.

                     THAT THE ROMAN GRANDEUR IS NOT OWING TO THE
                                            ROMAN RELIGION.

I HAVE now, in my opinion, given sufficient proofs of the false and
the true divinity; having not only disputed and demonstrated this
point from arguments drawn from reason, but also from the very
confessions of those you acknowledge for gods; so that nothing
more seems necessary to be reinforced upon that head. But
because the Roman greatness is an objection that comes properly
in my way, I will not decline the combat I am challenged to, by
the presumption of those who say that the Romans1 arrived to
such a pitch of grandeur as to be masters of the world, by the pure

1 Romanos pro merito Religiositatis diligentissimae in tantum Sublimitatis elatos.
That the Roman greatness war not owing to the Roman religion, Prudentius
proves at large, lib. ii. adver. Symmach.

Sed multi duxere Dii per prospera Romam,
Quos colit ob meritum magnis donata Triumphis,
Ergo age, Bellatrix, quae vis subjecerit, ede.

And Minutius is very particular upon the same head, but because he has borrowed
so many hints from Tertullian, and is subjoined to this Apology, I will not fore-
stall the reader. However, that the Romans valued themselves as extraordinary


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         83

dint and merits of their religion ; and consequently that theirs were
the right gods, inasmuch as they who served them out-flourished all
others in glory, as much as they surpassed them in devotion to
these deities; and this surpassing figure, no doubt, was the return
your own Roman gods made you for their worship; and these
proper gods, who have thus enlarged your borders must be Ster-
culus, and Mutunus, and Larentina; for it is not to be imagined
that strange gods should find in their hearts to be greater friends to
a strange nation than to their own; and that they should make
over their own native soil, in which they were bred, and born, and
buried, and deified, to an outlandish people. Let Cybele see to it,
whether she transplanted her affections to Rome for the sake of her
beloved countrymen the Trojans, screened from the Grecian arms
I warrant by her divine protection; let her say whether she went
over to the Romans upon this view, as foreseeing them the people
that would revenge her upon her enemies, and one day triumph
over Greece, as Greece had done over Troy; and to prove that
she did go over to the Romans upon this prospect, she has
given a most glorious instance of her foresight in our age, for M.
Aurelius being taken off at Sirmium the seventeenth day of March,1
her chief priest and eunuch on the twenty-fourth day of the same
month, having lanced his arms, and let out his impure blood upon
the altar, offered up his usual vows for the life of the emperor, who
was dead some days before. O leaden-heeled couriers ! O drowsy
dispatches ! not to give Cybele notice before the emperor was dead ;
in good troth, Christians must make a little merry with such a goddess.

But had kingdoms been at Jove's disposal, Jove surely had
never suffered his own Crete to have come under the Roman rod ;
unmindful of the Idean cave and the never-to-be-forgotten noise the
Corybantes made to drown his infant cries, and of the agreeable
sweets of his fragrant nurse the Goat Amaithsea. What! would
not he have preferred his own tomb before any capitol, and made
the country which contained Jove's ashes2 the mistress of the

favourites of heaven upon the account of their grandeur, is evident from that of
Valerius, lib. i. Non Mirum igitur si pro eo imperio augendo custodiendoq.;
pertinax Deorum indulgentia semper excubuit.

1 M. Aurelio—exempto, die decimo sexto Kalend. Aprilium. Thus Dion
Cassius of the same emperor says—th~ e9pta_ kai\ deka&th| tou~ Marti/on methllacen.

2 Qua cineres Jovis texit. There is hardly any one thing more talked of than
Crete by the poets and historians, and the Christians apologists, where Jove was
born, bred, and buried. Thus Virgil—

Dictaeo Coeli Regem pavere sub antro.

Thus St. Cyprian, de Idol. van. Antrum Jovis in Creta visitur. And in the


84          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

world ? Would Juno, do you think, could she have helped it,
suffered her beloved Carthage, more beloved than Samos, to have
been sacked and ruined by the detested race of Trojans; for I
know her passion for this city from your own Virgil:

--Here, here, this darling place,
Immortal Juno's arms, and chariot grace ;
And here to fix the universal reign
The mighty goddess strove, but strove in vain,
By mightier fate o'ercome.1

Poor unhappy Juno, wife and sister both to Jove, and yet not a
match for fate ! For, as another poet has it,

Even Jove himself must bend to fate.2

And yet the Romans cannot afford the fates who made them masters
of Carthage in spite of all the intrigues of Juno, half so much
honour as they pay to the most infamous of prostitutes, Larentina.
But it is certain that many of your gods reigned once upon earth :
if therefore kingdoms are now at their disposal, pray tell me from
whom did they themselves receive their crowns? Who was the
god that Saturn or Jove worshipped ? Some dunghill-god, Sterculus
I suppose; but this could not well be, for Saturn and Jupiter were
both dead long before Sterculus got his immortal honour at Rome
for teaching his countrymen the art of dunging their ground. But
though some of your gods never arrived to the honour of being
kings, yet others who were kings have not had the honour to be
gods. The disposal of kingdoms therefore must be lodged else-
where, and not in the kings themselves; because they are kings
before they have the good luck to be gods, or the disposers of
kingdoms. But how ridiculous a thing is it to ascribe the Roman
grandeur to the merits of the Roman religion, when the grandeur is
older than the religion ; or rather the religion increased and multi-
plied in proportion to the state. For though your superstitious

Alexandrian Chronic, we have this inscription,—ENQADE KEITAI QANWN
PIKOS KAI O ZEUS QN—HIC SITUS JACET PICUS

MORTUUS, QUI ET JUPITER, QUEM JOVEM VOCANT.

1 Hic illius arma,
Hic currus fuit, hoc Regnum Dea Gentibus esse,
Si qua Puta sinant, jam tum tenditq. ; fovetq. ;

Fato stat Jupiter ipse.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         85

curiosities had their first conception in Numa's brain,1 and yet
during his reign the Roman worship was without either statue or
temple, their old religion was a thrifty plain religion,2 without any
pompous rites, or any capitol vying with heaven;3 their altars
were rude and hasty, and of turf only; their sacred vessels of
Samian clay. And from hence the moderate steams of a slender
sacrifice ascended, and not the image of any god to be seen
amongst them ; for as yet the Grecian and Tuscan artists had not
overflowed the city with the invention of images ; and therefore it
is certain that the Romans were not so exceeding religious before
they were so exceeding great; and consequently their greatness
cannot be owing to their religion.

But with what forehead can men entitle their greatness to
religion, when their greatness stands upon the ruins of religion?

1 A Numa concepta est Curiositas Superstitiosa. It has been objected that the
consent of nations, if it argues anything, argues for Polytheism, that being more
universal, and consequently more natural than the worship of one god ; but
this is a very foolish objection ; for there is in all mankind a propensity to
religion in general, as there is an inclination to eat and drink in all; and as
it is left to the direction of our appetites what we should choose to eat and
drink in particular, so is it left to our reason what we should worship; but to
eat and drink and worship something, we are all inclined, though often abused
as to the object. It is this natural propensity to religion designing men strike
in with ; and they would never apply to it so universally did they not find all
mankind readily disposed for divine worship; for an atheist has been looked
upon as a monster in all ages. Thus it was that Numa Pompilius worked upon
his subjects, and procured an implicit veneration to all his institutions, by pre-
tending an acquaintance with the goddess Aegeria. Numa Pompilius, ut
Populum Romanum sacris obligaret, volebat videri sibi cum Dea Aegeria
congressus esse nocturnos, ejusque monitu accepta Diis Iinmortalibus sacra
instituere.
Valer. Max. lib. i. cap. 2.

2 Frugi Religio, etc. Varro says that the Romans worshipped their gods one
hundred and seventy years without any image, and thinks they had been better
served had there been no images made ; and this frugality in religion lasted to
the conquest of Asia, usque ad devictam Asiam, says Pliny, lib. xxxiv. Thus
Ovid, speaking of the ancient simplicity, says—

Jupiter exigua vix totus stabat in Aede,
Inque Jovis dextra fictile Fulmen erat.

In Fast. 3, and in like manner Juvenal—

Hanc rebus Latiis curam praestare solebat
Fictilis, et nullo violatus Jupiter auro.

Vid. Cicer. Paradox. I.

3 Capitolia certantia coelo. Capitols vying with heaven. Agreeable to which
Martial thus describes it—

Nec Capitolini summum penetrale Tonantis,
Quaeque nitent Coelo proximo. Templa suo.


86          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

For, if I mistake not, kingdoms or empires are got by wars, and
propagated by victories, and wars and victories for the most part
conclude in the captivity and desolation of cities. And this sort of
business is not likely to be despatched without treading upon
religion ; for the walls of a town and those of a temple are battered
both alike—priests and people slain without distinction; and the
plundering soldier will no more pardon the riches of the gods than
those of men. The Romans therefore may compute their sacrileges
by their trophies, and tell how many gods they have triumphed
over, by the nations they have conquered; and withal remember
that all the statues of the captive deities now in the temple are but
so many spoils of war. And yet these gods will endure to be
worshipped by such enemies, and decree them a perpetual empire1
for so doing, when in honour they ought to be revenged upon
their outrages, rather than be cajoled by their adoration ; but gods
who have neither sensation nor knowledge may be injured with as
much impunity as they are served with vanity. Certainly it cannot
enter into any one's head to imagine that the Romans grew to this
bulk of greatness by the influence of religion, who (as I have
suggested) one way or other always mounted to their greatness by
treading upon religion ; for even those whose kingdoms are melted
down, as it were, into one mass of Roman empire, those, I say,
when they lost these kingdoms were no more without religion than
they who got them.

                                           —o—

                                    CHAPTER XXVI.

              THAT KINGDOMS ARE ONLY AT HIS DISPOSAL WHO IS THE TRUE GOD.

CONSIDER therefore with yourselves, and see whether it must not
needs be Him who is the disposer of kingdoms, who is the maker
and proprietor of the world which is governed, and of the man who
governs it; whether it must not be Him who orders the revolutions
of empire in succeeding ages of time, who was before time itself,
and who of the several parts or links of ages composed the whole
body or chain of time; whether it is not He who raises up and

1 Illis Imperium sine fine decernunt. TerUillian frequently quotes Virgil
expressly, wliich makes it probable that in these words he alludes to a like
passage in that poet—

Imperium sine fine dedi.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         87

pulls down cities, under whom mankind once sojourned without
any cities at all. Why will you thus persist in error? For ancient
uncultivated Rome1 is ancienter than many of your gods. She had
her kings before she had such a circumference of her ground taken
up with a capitol. The Babylonians, and Medes, and Egyptians,
and Assyrians, and Amazons had all their kingdoms before your
Pontiffs, and Quindecemviri, and Salii, and Luperci were thought
of. After all, had the Roman gods been the dispensers of king-
doms, the ancient Jews had never risen to such an ascendant as to
reign in defiance of all the common deities all the world over; to
which god of the Jews you yourself have offered sacrifices, and to
whose temple you have presented gifts ; and which nation for a long
time you honoured with your alliance ; - and which, let me tell you,
you had never reigned over had they not finally filled up the
measure of their sins with their sin against Jesus Christ.

                                           —o—

                                   CHAPTER XXVII.

                   THAT THE GENTILES ARE SET AGAINST CHRISTIANS BY THE
                                     INSTIGATION OF EVIL SPIRITS.

THIS I take for a sufficient answer to that article which charges us
with treason against the gods, having demonstrated them to be no
gods, and consequently no harm done them. When therefore we
are called forth to sacrifice, we set conscience before to support us
against the order, which tells us what kind of beings those are
which these sacrifices are made to, that are made to the images
prostituted for worship, and to the consecrated names of men. But
some look upon it as madness, that when we might sacrifice
occasionally, and depart in a whole skin, or without hurting our
conscience, by virtue of an inward reserve to continue firm to our

1 Sylvestris Roma. Wild uncultivated Rome; in which state Virgil thus
describes it, Aen. 8—

Hinc ad Tarpeiam Sedem, et Capitolia ducit,
Aurea nunc olim Sylvestribus horrida dumis.

2 Foederibus. Concerning the alliance and frequent leagues of the Romans
with the Jews, vid. Machab. lib. i. cap. 8, lib. ii. cap. 11, etc. ; and Joseph,
lib. xiv. p. 486, lib. xvi. cap. 10, p. 562. But for offering; sacrifice to the god
of the Jews I cannot find, though Heraldus affirms it, and from Josephus.


88          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

religion, that we should be such blockheads as to prefer our
opiniatretč to our lives. Thus, forsooth, you give the counsel by
what means we are to abuse you; but well we know from whence
the suggestions come; who it is that is behind the scene and
prompts all this; and how he works sometimes by persuasive wiles,
and sometimes by dint of cruelty, and all to throw us off from our
constancy. It is verily the devil of an angel, a spirit divorced
from God, and for that reason our immortal enemy, and one who
gnashes with envy at the divine graces we enjoy, and plays all his
engines of destruction against us from your minds, as it were from
a citadel. Which minds of yours are by his secret injections
modified and suborned to that perverseness of judgment, and
savage injustice against us, which I mentioned in the beginning of
my Apology. For although the whole force of demons and such
kind of spirits is subjected to us, yet, like other rebellious slaves,
their fear is mixed with contumacy, and it is their meat and drink
to be hurting those whom otherwise they are afraid of, for servile
fear inspires hatred.

Besides, in this stage of rage and despair, they look upon
mischief as their whole comfort; and all the lucid interval1 they
have for this devilish enjoyment is but until the day of judgment;
and yet when we apprehend them, they surrender and submit to
their condition ; and whom they battle at a distance they beseech
at hand. Therefore when by their instinct you treat us like rebels,
and condemn us to workhouses, or prisons, or the mines, and such
like servile punishment; when thus, I say, by you their instruments
they break out against us, in whose power they are (for they know
their imparity full well, and their malice is but the more enraged at
their impotency), then we take another course, and engage these
odious spirits, as it were, upon equal terms, and resist with patience
impregnable; that being the quarter they attack us upon with all
their fury, and we never come off so triumphantly as when we
suffer victoriously, and resist unto death.

1 Fruendae iterum malignitati de Poenae mora. " And all the lucid interval they
have for this devilish enjoyment is but until the day of judgment." In these words
our author plainly alludes to the Second Epistle of St. Peter ii. 4—" For if
God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and
delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment." And this
allusion, in a point of doctrine, in some measure proves that this Epistle went for
genuine in our author's time.

                                           —o—


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         89

                                  CHAPTER XXVIII.

                     THAT THE ROMANS HAVE THEIR EMPERORS IN GREATER
                                   VENERATION THAN THEIR GODS.

BUT because it seems manifestly wrong to drag men to sacrifice
against the natural freedom of their wills, since, as I have else-
where declared, religion must be a pure act of the will, it must
needs be very foolish to press men to the service of the gods, whom
for their own sakes they ought to serve freely; and that it should
not be in a man's choice, which he has a right to by the liberty of
his will, to say, I will not have Jove for my god. Who are you,
pray, sir, that pretend to have my will in keeping? I care not a
farthing for Janus, let him turn his brows upon me from which
forehead he pleases. What have you to do with me in the choice
of religion ? But they which put you upon forcing us to sacrifice
to the gods are the same spirits which inform you to make us
sacrifice1 for the safety of the emperor; and so Caesar's safety
being twisted with the honour of the gods, you are by this stratagem
necessitated to compel, and we to suffer.

I come now to the second article of lese majesty, but majesty
more august with you than that of your gods ; for you are more
sincerely afraid and circumspect in your devotions to Caesar than
to Olympian Jove; and deservedly too if you understood it; for
what man alive is not preferable to a dead one ? But this difference
in your devotions is not grounded so much upon reason, or the
knowledge you have of your deities, as upon the consideration of
the emperor's present sensible power upon you; and it is upon
this account here I tax you with irreligion, because you stand more
heartily in awe of Caesar than of all your gods; for, in fine, you will
sooner invoke all your gods round to bear witness to a lie than
swear falsely by the single genius of Caesar.2

1 Pro salute Imperatoris sacrifuare. When Herod and his father Nicetes look
up Polycarp into their coach, they attempted to persuade him off of his resolu-
tion to suffer, in this form of words, ti/ gar kako&n e0stin ei0pein, ku&rie Kai/sar, kai\ qu~sai
kai\ diaswzesqai. "Where is the harm to say, O Lord Caesar, and to sacrifice, and
so save yourself? " And when the martyr was brought before the tribunal, the
proconsul charges him to swear by the genius of Caesar, o2moson tou~ Kai/saroj tuxh&n,
metano&hson, ei0pon ai0re tou~j a0qe/ouj, that is, swear by Caesar's genius, repent, say take
off the atheists, that is, the Christians. These and such like were the forms
upon which they tried Christians. Vid. Euseb. Ecc. Hist. lib. iv. cap. 15, p. 131.

2 Citius denique apud vos. Tutius per Jovis Genium pejerare, quam Regis It


90          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians,

                              CHAPTER XXIX.

         THAT THE EMPERORS MAINTAIN THE GODS RATHER THAN THE
                                    GODS' THE EMPERORS.

FIRST therefore make it appear that those you sacrifice to can
protect either kings or subjects, and then charge us with treason
against gods and men; for if angels or demons, spirits essentially
wicked or of the most destructive nature, can be the authors of
any good; if spirits lost and undone themselves can save others,
if the damned can give freedom, and lastly if the dead (as you
know in your conscience your gods to be) can defend the living,
pray why do they not defend in the first place their own statues and
images and temples, which in my opinion are defended by Caesar's
guards, who keep watch and ward for their security. But the
materials of these I think come from Caesar's mines; and the
temples depend on Caesar's nod ; and lastly, many of the gods have
felt Caesar's displeasure; and if he has been propitious to the gods,
and liberal, and bestowed privileges upon them, it still makes for
our cause. Thus then how is it likely that they who are at Caesar's
nod, as they all entirely are, should be the guardians of Caesar's
life ? Is it not more likely that the gods should be in Caesar's
keeping, than Caesar in theirs ? What! are we traitors to the
emperors because we do not set them below their own possessions ?
because we will not make mock addresses for their safety, con-
cluding it cannot be in the keeping of hands of lead. But you are
the only persons of religion who pray for their safety where it
cannot be had, and overlook Him who alone has it in His power.
But those who know how to ask it, and can obtain it too, because
they know how to ask it; those, I say, you are persecuting out of
the world.

is much safer, says Minutius, to swear falsely by the genius of Jove than
Caesar.

Jurandasque tuum per nomen ponimus aras, says Horace.

For he who swore falsely by the gods was noted only by the censors, and
exposed to shame. Vid. Ciceron. lib. iv. de Repub. But one perjured by the
genius of Caesar was severely bastinadoed, and exposed into the bargain. For
thus says Ulpian, lib. xiii., de Jure-jurando, Siquis juravent in re pecuniaria per
Genium Caesaris, et pejeraverit, etc. Imperator noster cum Patre rescripsis, fusti-
bus eum castigandum dimittere, et ita ei superdici, propetw~j mh_ o0mnuj, petulanter
ne jurato.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         91

                                CHAPTER XXX.

            CONCERNING THE GOD OF CHRISTIANS BY WHOM KINGS REIGN,
                 AND THE PRAYERS OF CHRISTIANS FOR THE LIFE OF THE
                                              EMPERORS.

THE God we pray to for the life of emperors is the eternal God,
the true God, the God of life, and whom above all the emperors
themselves principally desire to propitiate; they know by whom
they reign as kings and live as men. They are sensible that He is
the only God, and in whose power alone they are; and that they
themselves are, next under Him, supreme; and after Him the first
in honour above all men, and all your other gods too into the
bargain. And why not ? since they are above all men living, and
the living surely are above the dead. They consider how far their
power will go, and find it infinitely below the reach of heaven, and
so come to be sensible of a God above them ; and consequently
that the powers they have must be from God. Let an emperor
make war upon heaven, and pride himself with the thoughts of
leading captive heaven in triumph; let him set guards upon heaven,
and try to reduce it to a Roman province, and he will find his
weakness. He is therefore great, because he is but less than
heaven; for he is a creature of His who made heaven and every
creature that ever had a being. He made him an emperor who
made him a man ; the author of his life is the author of his power.

To this Almighty Maker and Disposer of all Things it is that we
Christians offer up our prayers, with eyes lifted up to heaven, un-
folded hands in token of our simplicity,1 and with uncovered heads,

1 Illuc suspicientes Christiani manibus expansis, etc. The primitive Christians
at their devotion did not only lift up their hands to heaven, for so we find the
heathens did, according to that of Virgil—

Et duplices tendens ad sidera palmas,

but they laid their expanded hands transverse in the form of a cross; and so we
are to understand our author here by his manibus expansis, and so likewise in
his book de Orat. cap. 11—Nos vero non attollimus tantum, sed etiam expandi-
mus, et Dominica Passione modulamur. Vid.
Not. Vales, in Euseb. Eccles. Hist.
lib. iv. cap. 14, p. 242. I cannot but take notice here of a most extraordinary
objection against set forms of prayer, urged by David Clarkson in his discourse
concerning liturgies, from this passage : "That the Christians then lifted up their
hands and eyes to heaven in prayer, which shows they had no books." It shows
it indeed just as much as our lifting up our hands and eyes shows now that we
have no Common Prayer-Book in our Church; but certainly both ministers and
people being constantly used to one form may have so much memory as to find
time to look off from their books, and look up to heaven at proper seasons.


92          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

because we have nothing to blush for in our devotion; and without
a prompter,1 because we pray with our hearts rather than our
tongues; and in all our prayers are ever mindful of all our
emperors and kings wheresoever we live, beseeching God for every
one of them without distinction, that He would bless them with
length of days and a quiet reign, a well-established family, a stout

1 Denique sine Monitore, quia de Pectore oramus. This is just such another
obscure passage as the o3dh Du&namij in Justin Martyr already mentioned;
but as dark as it is, yet with some men it is as clear as the day for the use of
extempore prayer in Tertullian's time. But before I enter upon this contro-
verted place, I desire the reader to take notice first, that though our author does
not give us the very form, because he wrote to unbelievers, yet in this chapter
he gives the heads of a stated prayer for the emperor, namely, a long life, a
quiet empire, a well-established family, a valiant army, a faithful senate, a
virtuous people, etc. Now he could not deliver in these particulars as a proof
of the Christian loyalty, unless they prayed constantly for these things, and that
must be by a constant settled form ; for extempore prayer is as uncertain as the
wind, and could have been no evidence in this or any other case. Secondly, by
this phrase, "without a monitor," cannot possibly be meant without any one to
dictate a form of words to them, because in all their public prayers the minister
was always the mouth of the congregation, and whether he prayed by a form, or
extempore, his words must be a form of words to the people who prayed after
him. Whatever therefore this dubious expression may mean, it cannot possibly
mean without a form, unless it means without a minister ; because, as I have
said, the prayers of the minister must be a form to the people. And now for the
phrase itself; we pray Sine Monitore, without a prompter or monitor, because
de Pectore, from the heart, that is extempore, as Mr. Clarkson and the anti-
formulists expound it. Bishop Bilson, in his Christian Subject, with great
modesty says, "This seems to be meant of the miraculous gift of prayer, which
dured in the Church unto his time." Vid. Christian Subj. part iv. p. 411. But
then he supposes withal that this extraordinary gift ceased soon after, and that
liturgies came into practice long before the time of St. Basil or Chrysostom ; so
that, allowing this conjecture, it will by no means follow that because ministers,
while divinely inspired, prayed without a form, therefore they ought to keep on
praying extempore when the days of inspiration are over. But with all respect
to this learned prelate, he seems not to reach the design and meaning of
Tertullian in this place ; and in order hereunto, it is to be remembered that
the heathen had abundance of deities, and every deity to be invoked in a several
form, for such blessings as lay within his particular province. Thus, for instance,
Bacchus was invoked in this wise, O Bacchus ! son of Semele, the giver of
riches, etc. Vid. Casaub. Exercit. lib. xvi. p. 42. And so again for Janus,
O Father Janus ! with this cake I offer thee my good wishes, etc. Vid. Fest.
in verb. Signif. And so again for Jupiter, Mars, and all the rest. Now in such
a swarm of deities and different invocations, a god might easily be passed over,
or the invocation ill worded, or ill pronounced (which was looked upon very
ominous, and hence perhaps that phrase of Bona Verba). For fear, I say, that
there should be any omission or blunder in these divine addresses, these several
forms of invocation were not only read out of the ritual by one priest, but there
was another priest also appointed, as a public monitor, to oversee and set them
right in their repetitions. And that this was the case seems very probable from
that of Pliny, lib. xxviii. cap. 2—Inprecationibus, ne quid Verborum praetereatur,


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         93

army, a faithful senate, an honest people, and a peaceful world, and
whatever else either prince or people can wish for.

But these are blessings I cannot persuade myself to ask of any,
but Him who I know can give them, and that is my God, and my
God only, who has them in His disposal; and I am one to whom
He has obliged Himself by promise to grant what I ask, if 7 ask as
I should do; for I am His servant, and serve Him only, and for

aut praeposterum dicatur de Scripto praeire aliquem, rursusque alium Custodem
dari, qui attendat. "
In certain prayers, lest any of the words should be omitted,
or preposterously repeated, there is one to dictate to the people out of a book,
and another appointed as overseer, to attend how they pronounce." Now this
last, whom Pliny calls the custos, or overseer, seems not unlikely to be the
monitor alluded to by Tertullian. We pray then without a monitor, because de
Pectore,
from the heart; which may either signify that we repeat not our prayers
aloud after the priest, as you do, but join with him in our soul; or else, that we
can say our prayers by heart, and so have no occasion for such a monitor, and
then de Pectore answers exactly to a0posthqi/zein and such Graecisms are much
affected by this writer. Vid. Thornd. Relig. Assemb. p. 237. Another learned
person understands this phrase de Pectore of those prayers which every private
Christian used in the solemn assemblies on the stationary days, in the intervals
between the public offices of the Church, while the congregation kept silence;
and considering that they stayed at these stations for nine hours together, and
that all this time was not taken up in reading, expounding, singing, and in
common prayers, it is not improbable but the interspaces were allowed for the
exercise of mental devotion. And then this phrase de Pectore can argue nothing
against set forms in public prayers. Besides, it was a custom, and taken notice
of by Plutarch, that while the priest was officiating, for another to go behind
him with this admonition, Hoc age quod agis, "Be sure to mind what you are
about;" and this perhaps might be the monitor. But Christians who prayed de
Pectore,
with all their hearts and souls, had no need of such an officer. Lastly,
if we consider that Tertullian is here proving the sincerity of the Christian
loyally above that of the heathens, it seems most agreeable to his design in my
opinion, and what the words will very well bear, to understand him thus : the
heathens were obliged to offer up their vows and sacrifices in public for the life
of the emperor ; and for fear they should omit to name him, either out of
negligence or malice; or name him only by way of imprecation, there was a
custos, or monitor, appointed to see that they rightly pronounced the form of
words dictated by another priest from writing. And to this Seneca no doubt
alludes in these remarkable words, lib. de Clement. cap. 19—Quid pulchrius
est, quam vivere optatibus cunctis, et vota non sub Custode nuncupantibus ?
"
What more lovely or desirable than to live in the hearts of his subjects, and to
have them all praying for him without the help of a monitor?" And therefore,
says our author, we pray sine Monitore, without an overseer, because de Pectore,
that is, ex animo, because we pray for emperors from our very heart and soul.
Thus then we see how many ways there are of expounding this obscure passage,
each of which is much more probable than that which is urged for the justifica-
tion of extempore prayer. And thus likewise we see how the authority of the
ancients is valued like an oracle, when they deliver themselves in agreeable
ambiguity ; but when they cannot be made to speak for the party, why then the
Fathers are very ordinary people.


94          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

whose service I am killed all the day long, and to whom I offer
that noble and greatest of sacrifices which He has commanded, a
prayer which comes from a chaste body, an innocent soul, and a
sanctified spirit; not a farthing's worth of frankincense, not the
tears of an Arabian tree, or two drops of wine; not the blood of
a discarded bull worn out with age ; and after all these defilements,
a conscience the most defiling thing of all. So that in truth, when
I reflect upon the pollutions of the sacrificers who are to examine
the qualifications of the sacrifice, I cannot but wonder why the
entrails of the beasts should be rather inspected than the inwards
of the priests.

Thus, then, while we are stretching forth our hands to our God,
let your tormenting irons harrow our flesh; let your gibbets exalt
us, or your fires lick up our bodies, or your swords cut off our
heads, or your beasts tread us to earth. For a Christian upon his
knees to his God is in a posture of defence against all the evils
you can crowd upon him.

Consider this,1 0 you impartial judges, and go on with your
justice, and while our soul is pouring out herself to God in the
behalf of the emperor, do you be letting out her blood.

                                           —o—

                                  CHAPTER XXXI.

              THAT CHRISTIANS ARE COMMANDED TO LOVE THEIR ENEMIES.

BUT perhaps our vows and intercessions with heaven for the life of
the emperor are to be looked upon merely as the spices of flattery,
and a trick only to elude the severity of the laws; but if you will
have it a trick, it has had this advantage, to procure us the liberty

1 Hoc agile, boni Praesides, extorquete animam Deo supplicantem pro Impera-
tore.
There is a most bitter .sarcasm implied in these words, Hoc agite, that is,
" be intent upon your sacrifice, and wrack out the soul of a Christian while it is
praying to God for the life of the emperor; " wherein our author manifestly
alludes to the custom just now mentioned from Plutarch, that while the priest
was sacrificing, the crier or praeco went behind with these words, Hoc age, mind
what you are about; for thus Plutarch tells us in Coriolano, o3tan ga_r a!rxontej
h0 i9ereij pra&ttwsi ti\ tw~n qei/wn, o9 kh~|ruc pro&teisi mega&lh fwnh~ bow~n, o9k a!ge, shma&nei ga_r
fwnh_, tou~to pra&tte, prose/xein keleu&ousa toij i9eroij, kai\ mhde\n ergon e0mbalein metacu_
mhde\ xreian a0sxoli/aj.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         95

of proving what we proposed to do in our justification. Thou
therefore that thinkest that the Christian religion expresses no
concern for the life of Caesar, look into the word of God, the word
we go by, and which we do not suppress in private, and which
many accidents have thrown into the hands of strangers, and there
you may see with what superabundant charity we are commanded
to love our enemies, to bless them that curse us, to do good to
them that hate us, and to pray for them which despitefully use us,
and persecute us, Matt. v. 44. And who such cruel persecutors of
Christians as the emperors for whom they are persecuted ? And
yet these are the persons we are commanded by the word of God
expressly, and by name, to pray for; for thus it runs—" I exhort
therefore, that first of all supplications and prayers, intercessions
and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings, and for all that
are in authority; that we may live a quiet and peaceable life in all
godliness and honesty," 1 Tim. ii. 1. For when the government is
shaken, the members of it feel the shock, and we (though we are
not looked upon as members by the people), yet we must be found
somewhere in the calamity of the public.

                                           —o—

                                  CHAPTER XXXII.

                CONCERNING ANOTHER REASON OF THE CHRISTIANS IN PRAYING
                                         FOR THE EMPERORS.

BUT there is another and more prevailing reason which determines
us to intercede with heaven for the emperors, and for the whole
estate of the empire, and their prosperity. And it is this, that we
are of opinion that the conflagration of the universe which is now
at hand, and is likely to flame out in the conclusion of this century,
and to be such a horrid scene of misery, is retarded by this inter-
position of the Roman prosperity;1 and therefore we desire not to

1 Quod vim maximam universo orbi imminentum, etc. Tertullian in this
passage alludes to that of St. Paul, 2 Thess. ii.—"And now ye know what
withholdeth, that he might be revealed in his time," etc. And so likewise in his
book de Resur. Carnis cap. 24—Jam enim arcanum iniquitatis agitur ; tantum
ut qui tenet, teneat, donec de medio fiat. Quis nisi Romanus Status?
etc. And
it was the current opinon of the Fathers that Antichrist should not come until
the Roman Empire was destroyed. To this purpose Theod. Chrysost. : Tine_j to_
kate/xon th_n 9Rwmaikh_n e0nohsqai basilei/an, tine\j de\ th_n xa&rin tou~ pneu&matoj, oi9 me\n tou~
pneu&matoj th_n xa&rin fasi\n, oi9 de\ th_n 9Rwmaikh_n a0rxh_n oi9j e!gwge ma&lista ti/qemai
. And


96          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

be spectators of dissolving nature; and while we pray for it to be
deferred, we pray for the subsistence of the Roman Empire.

But then as to your other objection concerning oaths; to this I
answer, that swear we do,1 and if not by the geniuses of the Caesars,
yet by their life, which is of more veneration to us than all the
genii put together. But you seem to be ignorant that the genii
are called demons, and from thence by a diminutive word demonia,
that is, little devils. We reverence the providence of God in the
persons of the emperors, who has made choice of them for the
government of the world. We know that the power they have, they
have by the will of God; and therefore we wish well to that which
God has willed to be; and we look upon that as a very sacred oath
which is made by so sacred a person; but as for demons, that is
genii, we are used to exercise them, and not to swear by them, for
fear of giving that honour to devils which is due only to God.

                                           —o—

                                  CHAPTER XXXIII.

           A FURTHER ACCOUNT OF CHRISTIAN LOYALTY, AND THEIR REFUSING
                          TO CALL THE EMPEROR BY THE TITLE OF GOD.

BUT what need I say more to show the sacred tie which binds on
the duty of allegiance upon Christian subjects? It is enough to

so again St. Jerome—Nisi, inquit, fuerit Romanum Imperium ante desolatum,
et Antichristus praecessarit, Christus non veniet. Hieron. Epist. ad Algas.
Qu. II, f. 60.

1 Sed et juramus, sicut non per Genios Caesarum, ita per Salutem corum, etc.
Here we have the lawfulness of an oath expressly asserted by our Tertullian,
though now gainsaid by some new-fashioned Christians (if the Quakers may
be called Christians), and an oath too by the life of the emperors ; and a very
sacred oath too it is, says our author, when so sacred a person is sworn by.
They would not swear by their genii indeed, because they looked upon that as
swearing by the devil and his angels; and thus we find that Joseph swore by the
life of Pharaoh. Some are of opinion that this custom of swearing by the safety
of the emperor was introduced by Augustus, from that of Horace,

Praesenti tibi maturos largimur honores,
Jurandasq. tuum per numen ponimus aras.

However this be, it is certain from Suetonius in Vita Tiberii, and from Cornelius
Tacitus, lib. i., that Tiberius forbade all such swearing either by his life or
genius. Vid. Dion. Rom. Hist. lib. lvii.


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         97

say that we look upon ourselves under a necessity to honour the
emperor as a person of God's election; so that I may very
deservedly say that we have much the greatest share in Caesar, as
being made emperor by our God. And therefore it is I who more
effectually recommend him to God,1 because I not only earnestly
ask it of Him who can give it, or because I am such a petitioner as
have the most reason to obtain it, but also because by setting Caesar
below his god, I set him higher in his affection, to which God
alone I subject him ; and I subject him to God, by not making him
his equal.

I will not give the title of god to the emperor,3 either because I
dare not speak against my conscience, nor ridicule him; or because
he himself will not endure the title. If he be a man, it is the
interest of a man to give place to God; let him content himself
with the name of emperor, for this is the most majestic name upon
earth, and it is the gift of God. He lays aside the emperor who
takes upon him the God; he must be a man to be an emperor.
When he is in the very prime of his glory sitting in his triumphal
chariot, even then he is admonished to know himself a man, by
one speaking from behind in these words, " Look back, and remember
yourself to be but man ; " 3 and he is then the more contented to find

1 Plus ego illi operor in Salutem. "It is I who more effectually recommend
him to God." This word operor I take to be very significative and emphatical
in this place; for as facere often is used for Rem sacram facere, to sacrifice; so
operari, when applied to religious matters, is the same with the Greek inpyuv,
by sacrifice or prayer to work upon God with energy, or efficaciously.

2 Non enim Deum Imperatorem dicam. "I will not call the emperor God."
Antiochus, king of Syria, arrived to the extravagant blasphemy of taking upon
him this title of God. Vid. Appian. in Syr. So likewise among the Romans,
Caligula commanded himself to be called Optimus Maximus and Jupiter
Latialis. See Sueton. in vita ipsius, cap. 22, and Philo in his Legatione ad
Caium.
And thus Tacitus, lib. iii., speaks of Domitian, Mox imperium adeptus,
Jovi Custodi templum ingens, seq,
; in sinu Dei sacravit. Vide etiam Sueton.
cap. 13. Hence that of Martial, lib. v. Epigr. 8—

Edictum Domini, Deiq. ; nostri.

And so again, lib. viii. Epigr. 2—

Terrarum Domino, Deoq. ; rerum.

3 Suggeriter enim ei a tergo, Respice post te, Hominem memento te. In the
same chariot, behind him who triumphed, was the public servant carried, who
held up a huge heavy crown above the head of the triumpher, both to express
his merits and his weakness by a glorious weight he could not bear, and with
the mortifying words just now mentioned. In allusion to this is that of Juvenal,
Sat. 10—

Quippe tenet sudans hanc Publicus, et sibi Consul.
Ne placeat, curru Servus portatur eodem.

D


98          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

himself on such a dazzling height of glory as to make it necessary
for him to be advised of his humanity. He is the weakest of
princes who can feel himself a man, and would be flattered as
Almighty; and he the Caesar truly great, that will bear the truth
that is designed to keep him within the bounds of mortality.

                                           —o—

                                   CHAPTER XXXIV.

                                  CONCERNING AUGUSTUS CAESAR.

AUGUSTUS,1 the founder of the Roman Empire, would by no means
admit of the style of Dominus, or lord, for this is the surname of
God. Nevertheless, I should not scruple to call the emperor
lord;2 but then it must be when I am not compelled to do it in a
sense peculiarly appropriated to God ; for I am Caesar's free-born
subject, and we have but one Lord, the Almighty and Eternal God,
who is his Lord as well as mine.

But why should you call him lord, who is styled the father of
his country ? Surely that name of affection sounds sweeter much
than that of power ; and they had rather be called fathers of great
families, than lords of slaves. But if Augustus would never assume
the title of lord, he would much less have thought it Caesar's due

1 Augustus, ne Dominum quidem dici se volebat. Suetonius in the life of
Augustus writes thus of his refusing the title of Dominus, or lord, cap. 53—
" Domini appellationem, ut maledictum et opprobrium semper exhorruit. Cum
spectante eo ludos, pronunciatum esset in mimo, O Dominum aequum et
bonum : et universi quasi de ipso dictum exultantes comprobassent: statim manu
vultuque indecoras adulationes repressit, et insequenti die gravissirno corripuit
edicto, Dominumque se posthac appellari, ne a liberis quidem aut nepotibus
suis, vel serio vel joco, passus est; atque hujusmodi blanditias etiam inter ipsos
prohibuit."

2 Dicam plane Imperatorem Dominum. sed more communi, etc. If the Quakers
would be determined by Tertullian, a person of great mortification, a mighty
stickler for anything which had the least appearance of extraordinary piety, and
withal an exceeding admirer of Montanus, and the false pretenders to the spirit
of that age, they might hear him in this place frankly declaring that he should
make no scruple to call the emperor Dominus, or lord, to own him supreme, or
as he in the foregoing chapter expresses it, subject to God only, provided this
term Dominus might be taken in the common sense, and noways intrench upon
the prerogative of God. And this proviso he had reason to make, because the
adoration of emperors was then grown into fashion.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         99

to have been styled god; a flattery not only most fulsome, but of a
most destructive influence to both parties. It is just as if you
should pass by the rightful emperor, and give his title to another;
would not this be an unpardonable offence in you who give the
title, and fatal to him who takes it ? Let me advise you therefore,
as you tender Caesar's safety, not to rob God of His attributes, to
bestow them upon Caesar; forbear to believe that there is any other
god, and to style him god who stands in need of God every
moment of his being. But if you are proof against all shame, and
can daub the emperor with such a lie of a title as you do by
calling such a mortal, god; at least, methinks, you should be afraid
of having such an ill-boding name in your mouths, for it is a kind
of imprecation against Caesar's life, to call him a god before the
time of his apotheosis.

                                           —o—

                                   CHAPTER XXXV.

          CONCERNING THE DIFFERENT OBSERVATION OF PUBLIC FESTIVALS
                      BETWEEN THE CHRISTIANS AND THE HEATHENS.

CHRISTIANS therefore lie under the odium of public enemies,
because they join not in the public flatteries, in the false fantastic
honours which are dedicated to emperors upon public festivals;
because the professors of the true religion celebrated such solem-
nities with sobriety of conscience, and not with the liberties of a
dissolute joy.1 A mighty instance of loyalty, no doubt! to make
bonfires, to bring out tables and feasts in the streets, and meta-
morphose the whole city into a tavern ;2 to make the conduits run
wine, and see the mob suck up dirt and liquor together, and run

1 Verae Religionis Homines etiam solemnia eorum, conscientia potius quam
lascivia celebrant.
Here you have another instance of the primitive Christians
complying with heathen solemnities, so far as was consistent with innocence.
The festival here mentioned seems to be a day of rejoicing for the suppressing
the faction of Niger and his adherents. The Christians made no scruple to
observe the day with a conscientious mirth, though they would not join in the
public debauchery.

2 Civitatem tabernae habitu abolefacere. " To metamorphose the city into a
tavern." Agreeable to this description is that of Martial, lib. vii.—

Tonsor, Caupo, Coquus, Lanius, sua limina servant,
Nunc Roma est, nuper magna Taberna fuit.


100         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

about in troops like mad into all the confusions of injury, im-
pudence and lust, their heated imagination prompts them to. Is
such a scene of public shame a proper expression of public joy ?
And are these becoming practices upon an holy day, which upon
any day are abominable? Shall they who seem so mighty devout
for Caesar's safety be so mighty drunk for Caesar's safety too ?
Shall licentiousness pass for loyalty, and luxury for religion ? Oh
the just condemnation of Christians ! For why should we dare to
be so singularly sober, chaste, and honest upon Caesar's birthday,
and be so unfashionably religious in discharging our vows and
rejoicings for him ? When all the world has given such a loose to
joy, why do we not do so too, and darken our gates with laurels,1
and put out the day with illuminations ? For certainly it is a very
fine figure to see your houses upon holy days dressed up in the
fashion of the stews.

But touching the religion upon these sacred festivals to Caesar,
who is the second majesty next to God, and upon whose account we
are convened as guilty of a second sacrilege, for not celebrating
these days according to your modes of worship, which temperance,
modesty, and chastity will not permit us to do. I would set this
matter, I say, in a better light, and lay before you your own allegi-
ance and sincerity, that we may judge whether they are not more
to blame in this point than Christians, who will not have us treated
as Romans, but as enemies of the State.

For the truth of this I convene the populace of Rome, the natives
of the Seven Hills, and let them answer whether their tongues, as
much Roman as it is, have spared any of their own Caesars? Let
the pasquils fixed upon the statue of Tiberius speak, and the Circus
too, that academy where beasts are sent to learn the art of killing
men with a better grace.

Had nature covered our breasts with transparent matter, so that
we might look into the people's heart, what heart should we see

1 Cur diu laeto non Laureis Postes obumbramus ? Juvenal, speaking in the
person of the people applauding the emperor's happiness upon the overthrow of
his enemy, says, Pone domi Lauros. Sat. 10. And so again, Sat. 6—

Ornentur Postes, et grandi Janua Lauro.

But this also (says our author in the words following) was the habit of the stews ;
and lib. ii. ad Uxor.-—Procedit de Janua Laureat a et lucernata, ut de novo
Consistorio libidinum Publicarum.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians,         101

that was not inscribed with a scene of Caesar's fresh and fresh
distributing the doles to the people, which are usual at their first
coming to the throne ? We should see these wishes, I say, in their
hearts for Caesar's death, even in the moment that their mouths are
full of cry for Caesar's life, according to that of the poet:1

Shorten my thread of life, good Jove ! from mine
Take many years to lengthen Caesar's line.

But a Christian dares no more take their words in his mouth than
their wishes in his heart; but this you will say is mob, and to be
considered as mob only. But let me tell you, this mob are Romans,
and the worst too of enemies we have; the Romans then of better
rank are certainly better subjects, and their fidelity greater in
proportion to their quality; not a man of the senatorian or
equestrian order but is all subjection; and not a breath of re-
bellion ever comes from camp or court. If so, whence came the
Cassiuses, the Nigers and Albinuses ?2 Whence those who set upon
the Emperor Commodus between the two laurel groves at Lauretum ?
and those who got him strangled at his exercise with his wrestling-
master Narcissus ? Whence those who broke into the palace, sword
in hand, and murdered Pertinax, in a more audacious manner than
Domitian was by the Sigeriuses and Partheniuses ? Now these
parricides (if I mistake not) were men of rank, and Romans; and
not a Christian among them. And these traitors just before the
perpetration of this horrid impiety offered sacrifice for Caesar's life,
and swore by Caesar's genius, with religion in their faces, and
murder in their hearts, and branded the Christians with the
character of public enemies. But the principals and abettors of
this wicked conspiracy against Severus which are daily detected,
and picked up as the gleanings after a vintage of rebellion.3 Bless
me ! with what loads of laurel did they signalize their gates on

1 De nostris annis Jupiter augeat annos.

2 Unde Cassii, et Nigri, et Albini? Whoever has a mind to see a
particular account of these Tyranni, and those that adhered to them, may read
the life of Avidius Cassius in Vulcatius, the life of Niger in Spartianus, and that
of Albinus in Capitolinus. See also the preface of Baldwinus before Minutius
Felix.

3 Post Vindemiam Parricidarum Racematio Superstes. How this passage
determines the time of this Apology, I have already mentioned ; and that relates
not to the death of Plautianus, according to Baronius, tom, ii., Annal. p. 264,
and according to Mr. Dodwell, Cyp. diss. xi. cap. 51, p. 282, but to the
death of Pertinax, is to me most probable from the history of Zosimus, lib. i.,
where he gives this account—kai\ pro&ge a0pa&ntwn, etc., Ante omnia (Severus)
de Militibus qui Pertinacem necaverant, et Juliano tradiderant Imperium,
acerba Supplicia sumpsit.


102          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

Caesar's birthday! With what extraordinary illuminations did
their porches overcast the sun !1 With what exquisite and stately
tables did they take up the forum ! Not in truth to celebrate the
public joy, but to take omens from hence of their own future empire,
and to inaugurate this image of their hopes, even upon Caesar's
festival, by calling themselves in their hearts by the name of Caesar.
They likewise pay the same observances who are so officious in
consulting astrologers, and soothsayers, and augurs, and magicians
about the life of the emperors;2 for these fortune-telling arts delivered
by fallen angels, and interdicted by God, the Christians never apply
to in any cause of theirs. For what business has a man to be so
curious about Caesar's life, who has no design against it, or expecta-
tions from it? For we seldom ask questions about our dearest
friends, with the same intent as we do about our masters; and the
solicitude of relations, and the curiosity of slaves, are generally upon
very different principles.

                                           —o—

                                  CHAPTER XXXVI.

                   CONCERNING THE CHRISTIAN DUTY OF LOVING ENEMIES.

IF the case be thus, that such as are found traitors in the very fact
shall be indulged the title of Romans, why are we denied the
benefit of that title who are only thought traitors ? Can we not be
Romans without being rebels, because so many Romans have been
found guilty of rebellion? That piety, veneration, and loyalty

1 I.ucernis vestibula enubilabant. It was the manner of the Grecians to
express the celebration of festival days by fwsi\ kai\ stefanw&masi, by illuminations
and coronets of flowers. And Persius, speaking of Herod's birthday, has these
words—

Unctaq. ; fenestra.
Disposita pinguem nebulam vomuere Lucernae.

But the Christians would not express their joy by lights and laurels; and for
candles, we find an express prohibition against them in the Apostolical Canons,
can. 70—Si quis Christianis oleum tulerit ad sacra Gentilium, vel Synagogam
Judaeorum, Festis ipsorum diebus, aut lucernas accenderit, de Societate pellatur.

2 Qui Astrologos ct Aruspices, et Augures, et Magos de Caesarum capite
consultant.
Our author mentions these several sorts of conjurors, because many
of them had been put to death upon this account by Severus. For thus
Spartianus in his life of Severus, Multos etiam, quasi Chaldaeos, aut vates, de sua
salute consulissent, interemit.


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         103

therefore which is due to emperors, does not consist in the fore-
mentioned shows of duty, which even rebellion cloaks herself in to
pass undiscovered, but in such virtues as civil society finds
necessary to be practised sincerely towards prince and people.
Nor are these actions of a virtuous mind looked upon by us as a
tribute due to Caesar only; for we have no respect of persons in
doing good, because by so doing we do good to ourselves, who
catch at no applause or reward from men, but from God only, who
keeps a faithful register of our good works, and has ample rewards
in store for this universal charity; for we have the same good wishes
for emperors as for our nearest friends. To wish ill, to do ill, to
speak ill, or to think ill of any one, we are equally forbidden with-
out exception. What is injustice to an emperor is injustice to his
slave; and that which is unlawful against the meanest is much
more so against the greatest of men; and him too especially who
came to this greatness by the appointment of God.

                                           —o—

                                  CHAPTER XXXVII.

                   A CONTINUATION OF THE UNLIMITED LOVE OF CHRISTIANS.

IF then (as I have elsewhere declared) we Christians are expressly
commanded by our Master to love our enemies, whom then have
we left to hate? And if when hurt we must not return the evil,
for fear of being like the rest of the world, where shall we find a
man to hurt? How well we practise this command of our Master,
you yourselves can tell with a witness ; for how many times, partly
in compliance with a brutish passion, partly in obedience to the
laws, have you judges showed a most savage cruelty to Christians !
How often without your authority has the hostile mob of their own
mere motion invaded us with showers of stones and fire ! The
mob, I say, who acted with the furies of a Bacchanal spare not
even a dead Christian, but tear him from the quiet of a tomb, the
sacred refuge of death, and mangle the body, hideously deformed
already, and rotting to pieces ; and in this rueful condition drag
it about the streets. But now in all this conspiracy of evils against
us, in the midst of these mortal provocations, what one evil have
you observed to have been returned by Christians ? Whereas we
could in a night's time with links and firebrands in our hands have


1O4          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

made ourselves ample satisfaction by returning evil for evil, had we
not thought it unlawful to quit the score of one injury with another.
But God forbid that any of this divine sect should seek revenge
by fire, after the manner of men, or grudge to suffer what is sent
to refine them.

But if we would not revenge ourselves, in the dark, but as
professed enemies engage you in the open field, do you think we
could want forces ? The Moors, and Marcomans, and Parthians,
which you have lately conquered, or any other people within the
bounds of a country, are more numerous perhaps than those who
know no other bounds than the limits of the world. We are but of
yesterday, and by to-day are grown up, and overspread your empire ;
your cities, your islands, your forts, towns, assemblies, and your
very camps, wards, companies, palace, senate, forum, all swarm
with Christians. Your temples indeed we leave to yourselves, and
they are the only places you can name without Christians. What
war can we now be unprepared for ?1 And supposing us unequal

1 Cui bello non Idonaei, etc. ? In the preliminary discourse to this Apology, I
have shown at large from this and the foregoing chapters that it was not for
want either of strength or courage that the primitive Christians sat still and
suffered ; but purely the reverence they bore to the character of God in the
emperor, tied their hands and secured their passions, and perfectly got the
better of self-preservation. It was the doctrine and example of their suffering
Master which made them content to go this rugged way to heaven ; and 1
cannot but think this extraordinary, supernatural patience, a mighty, strong, and
moving argument for the truth of Christianity, to see its professors in such
numbers, and for some ages, so willingly comply with a religion which, as
Tertullian says, taught men they must choose rather to be killed than to kill.
But because the measures of Christian obedience to the supreme powers are no-
where better argued and more clearly stated both from Scripture and antiquity,
and from these passages, than by the Right Reverend and learned Bishop of Sarum
himself in his four Conferences, printed at Glasgow in the year 1673, I
recommend the reader for fuller satisfaction on this head to those excellent
dialogues. However, for fear they should be out of print, I shall give him a
taste for his encouragement to read the whole. Thus then he expresses his zeal
with a justifiable primitive warmth, p. 17—"Whatever other cases allow of,
certainly the defence of religion by arms is never to be admitted ; for the nature of
the Christian religion is such that it excludes all carnal weapons from its defence.
And when I consider how expressly Christ forbids His disciples to resist evil,
Matt. xxv. 39, how severely that resistance is condemned by St. Paul, and
that condemnation is declared the punishment of it, I am forced to cry out, Oh !
what times are we fallen in, in which men dare against the express laws of the
gospel defend that practice upon which God hath passed this condemnation—' If
whosoever break the least of these commandments, and teach men so to do,
shall be called the least in the kingdom of God,' what shall their portion be
who teach men to break one of the greatest of these commandments, such as are
the laws of peace and subjection? And what may we not look for from such


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         105

in strength, yet considering our usage, what should we not attempt
readily? we whom you see so ready to meet death in all its forms
of cruelty, was it not agreeable to our religion to be killed rather
than to kill.

We could also make a terrible war upon you without arms, or
fighting a stroke, by being so passively revengeful as only to leave
you; for if such a numerous host of Christians should but retire
from the empire into some remote region of the world, the loss of
so many men of all ranks and degrees would leave a hideous gap,
and a shameful scar upon the government; and the very evacuation
would be abundant revenge. You would stand aghast at your
desolation, and be struck dumb at the general silence and horror
of nature, as if the whole world was departed. You would be at a
loss for men to govern, and in the pitiful remains you would find
more enemies than citizens; but now you exceed in friends, be-
cause you exceed in Christians.

Besides, whom would you have left to deliver you from the
incursions of your invisible enemies, who lay waste both body and
soul ? From the devils I mean, from whose depredations we defend
you gratis; and had we a spirit of revenge, it would make the
passion full amends only to abandon you freely to the mercy of
those impure beings; but without the least touch of gratitude for
the benefit of so great a protection, you declare a sect of men,
which are not only not burdensome, but necessary, to be public
enemies; as we are indeed, but not in your sense, enemies not of
human kind but of human errors only.

teachers, who dare tax that glorious doctrine of patient suffering, as brutish and
irrational ; and though it be expressly said, I Pet. ii. 21, that Christ by
suffering for us left us His example how to follow His steps, which was followed
by a glorious cloud of witnesses, yet in these last days, what a brood hath
sprung up 'of men who are lovers of their own selves, traitors, heady, high-
minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness,
but denying the power thereof, who creep into houses, and lead captive silly
women laden with sins !' It is our sins that provoked God to open the bottom-
less pit, and let loose such locusts; but were we turning to God, and repenting
of the works of our own hands, we might hope that their power should be taken
from them, and that their folly should be made known unto all men." Thus that
great prelate.

                                           —o—


106         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

                         CHAPTER XXXVIII.

       THAT CHRISTIANS CAN NEVER BE JUSTLY SUSPECTED OF DESIGNS
                               AGAINST THE STATE.

THE Christian sect therefore for a certain ought to meet with
kinder treatment than it does, and to be tolerated among other
lawful societies,1 because it is a sect from whom nothing hostile ever
comes, like the dreadful issue of other unlawful factions. For, if I
mistake not, such a multiplicity of sects is suppressed upon reasons
of State, that the city should not he split into parties, for such
breaches would let in a general disorder into all your popular
elections, councils, courts, assemblies, and public sights, by the
ambitious clashings of the contending factions; and never more
reason to provide against such disorders than now, when the parties
are sure not to want violent hands for any design; if they want not
money to pay them.

But for us who are stark cold and dead to all the glories upon
earth, what occasion can we have for caballings? And in good
truth nothing is further from our soul than the thoughts of mixing
in State affairs, or in any private designs ; for we look upon ourselves
as citizens of the world.

We renounce your sports as much as we condemn their original,2

1 Inter licitas Factiones. The politicians and statesmen troubled not their heads
much about any religion, but only to support that which was by law established,
and there being a law against the Heteriae already mentioned, they prosecuted
the Christians under the notion of a society dangerous to the State, among the
rest without distinction. These Christian meetings, ubi congregabantur oraturi,
et verbi divini interpretationem accepturi, ac sacras Syntaxes, habituri,
they
called Conventicula. saith Heraldus, Vid. Observat. in. Arnob. lib. iv.

2 Spectaculis vestris in tantum renunciamus, etc. This charge of sequestering
themselves from the public sports and pleasures is urged against the Christians
by the heathen in Minutius ; and it is certain they thought themselves obliged so
to do by their baptismal vow, vhich was an engagement upon their admission to
renounce the devil and all his works, pomps, and pleasures, that is, saith St.
Cyril, Cat. Myst. i. p. 510, the sights and sports of the theatre, and such like
vanities. They looked in good truth upon these public pastimes, not only as
scenes of folly and lewdness, but of idolatry ; as places where the devil eminently
ruled, and reckoned all his own who came there ; and accordingly Tertullian, de
Spect.
cap. 26, p. 83, tells us of a Christian woman who, going to the theatre,
was there possessed by an evil spirit, who upon his ejectment being demanded
how he durst set upon a Christian, immediately replied, "I did but what was
just and fitting, for I found her upon my own ground."


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         107

which we know is owing to superstition and idolatry, and never are
present at any of your diversions. We have nothing to do with the
madness of the Cirque, with the obsceneness of the stage, and the
cruelty of the amphitheatre, and the vanity of the Xystus.1 The
Epicurean sect is tolerated in the exercise of their pleasures, and
why are we such intolerable offenders for non-conforming with
you in point of pleasure? Nay, if mortification is the Christian
pleasure, where is the harm to you ? if it be a harm, it is to ourselves
only. But thus it is, your pleasures are our aversion, and ours
affect not you.

                                           —o—

                                   CHAPTER XXXIX.

                 CONCERNING THE DISCIPLINE OF CHRISTIANS, AND THEIR
                                  EMPLOYMENT AND WAYS OF LIVING.

HAVING vindicated our sect from the calumnies of rebellion, etc.,
I come now to lay before you the Christian way and fashion of
living.

We Christians then are a corporation or society of men 2 most
strictly united by the same religion, by the same rites of worship,

1 Cum Xisti vanitate. The Xystus was a gallery or portico of great length
and breadth, and planted about with trees, where in the winter time the athletae
performed. Vid. Alex. ab Alex. tom. ii. cap. 9, p. 659. It was certainly a place
too where philosophers and men of learning met, for here it was Justin Martyr
met and disputed with Trypho the Jew.

2 Corpus sumus de conscientia Religionis, et Disciplinae Unitate. "We are one
body by our agreement in religion and our unity of discipline." I know nothing
less understood, or less regarded, than unity of discipline, as if that was no part
of Church unity ; forms of worship and government are now to be passed over
with moderation, though the ancient and best of Christians reckoned unity of
discipline, as well as faith, necessary to make them members of the same body.
Dr. Barrow, a truly moderate and good man, in his excellent discourse concern-
ing the unity of the Church, says, " That all Christians are one by a specifical
unity of discipline, resembling one another in ecclesiastical administrations,
which are regulated by the indispensable sanctions and institutions of their
sovereign. That they are all bound to use the same sacraments, according to
the forms appointed by our Lord, not admitting any substantial alteration.
They must uphold that sort of order, government, and ministry, on all its
substantial parts, which God did appoint in His Church." And a little after he
says, " That no power ought to abrogate, destroy, infringe, or violate the main form


108         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

and animated with one and the same hope. When we come to the
public service of God, we come in as formidable a body as if we
were to storm heaven by force of prayer, and such a force is a most
grateful violence to God. When this holy army of supplicants is
met and disposed in godly array, we all send up our prayers for
the life of the emperors,1 for their ministers, for magistrates, for
the good of the State, for the peace of the empire, and for retarding
the final doom.

We meet together likewise for the reading of Holy Scriptures,2
and we take such lessons out of them as we judge suit best
with the condition of the times, to confirm our faith either by

of discipline constituted by divine appointment. Hence the Meletians rejected
by the Church for introducing ordinations. Hence was Aerius accounted a
heretic for meaning to innovate in so grand a point of discipline as the subordina-
tion of bishops and presbyters. Upon which grounds " (says he at the conclusion
of his discourse) " I do not scruple to affirm the recusants in England to be no
less schismatics than any other separatists ; they are indeed somewhat worse, for
most others do only forbear communion, these do rudely condemn the Church to
which they owe obedience, they strive to destroy it, they are most desperate
rebels against it." Another person too of known learning, the Right Reverend
author of the Conferences abovesaid, thus argues for unity of discipline, Conf.
iii. p. 275—"If therefore the worship of God among us continue undefiled, even
in the confession of all; if the sacraments be administered as before; if the
persons who officiate be ministers of the gospel, then certainly such as separate
from our public meetings do forsake the assemblies of the saints, and so break
the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace." And page 280 he goes on—"But
if separation be a sin, it must have a guilt of a high nature, and such as all who
would be thought zealous watchmen ought to warn their people of. And what
shall be said of those (even Churchmen) who, at a time when the Jaws are sharply
looked to, do join in our worship ; but if there be an unbending in these, they
not only withdraw and become thereby a scandal to others, but draw about them
divided meetings ; are not those time-servers? For if concurrence in our worship
be lawful, and to be done at any time, it must be a duty which should be done
at all times ; and therefore such masters of conscience ought to express an
equality in their ways, and that they make the rules of their concurrence in
worship to be the laws of God, and not the fear of civil punishment." Whoever
would see more concerning the nature of Church unity, and the sin of occasional
conformity, let him read the whole Conference.

3 Oramus etiam pro Imperatoribus, pro Ministris corum, etc. This, not
without good reason, is thought to be the "common prayer" mentioned by St.
Justin just before the communion, and much the same with that in our
Communion Service for the Church Militant; the form whereof in the Apostolical
Constitutions is described at large, Const. Apost. lib. ii. cap. 57, p. 881, and so lib.
viii. cap. 10, p. 1011 which is still a further proof that the passage sine monitore
ought not to be understood of extempore prayer.

2 Cogimur ad Divinarum literarum Commemorationem, etc. This is just the
same almost with what you had in the conclusion of Justin's Apology, and there-
fore the same note may serve for both.


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         109

forewarning us what we are to expect, or by bringing to our minds
the predictions already fulfilled. And certainly our spiritual life is
wonderfully nourished with reading the Holy Scriptures, our hopes
thereby are erected, and our trust fixed and settled upon God.
However, besides the bare reading, we continually preach and
press the duties of the gospel with all the power and argument we
are able; for it is in these assemblies that we exhort, reprove, and
pass the divine censure or sentence of excommunication ;1 for the
judgments in this place are delivered with all solemnity, and after
the maturest deliberation imaginable, as being delivered by men
who know they are pronouncing God's sentence, and act with
the same caution as if God stood visibly among them; and the
censures here pronounced are looked upon as an anticipation of
the judgment to come, and the sinner precondemned by God,
who has sinned to such a degree as to be shut out by his ministers
from the fellowship of the faithful, the communion of prayers and
sacraments, and the rest of that sacred commerce.

1 Ibidem etiam exhortationes, castigationes, et censura Divina,Summumque
futuri Judicii Prejudicium est, si quis ita deliquerit ut a Communicatione
Orationis et conventus et omnis Sancti commercii relegetur.
The Church subsisted
now purely as a spiritual society independent of the State, and while it did so,
and its censures were managed magno cum pondere, as our author speaks, with
great gravity and judgment, they were looked upon as divine, and an anticipation
of the judgment to come. And had this inherent power of the Church acted
still independently of the civil power, and the people been made sensible of the
necessity of the communion of the Church in order to salvation, I cannot see
why excommunication should not have as good an effect, and be as much
dreaded now, as in the primitive times, upon the same principles. However,
thus much is observable from this passage, that men were first admonished and
then reproved more severely, before the sentence of excommunication was passed.
Secondly, that this sentence excluded them from all religious intercourse. And
thirdly, that it was looked upon as the forerunner of future condemnation in the
world to come. To the same purpose St. Cyprian speaks—ad Pomponium,
Spiritali Gladio superbi, et contumaces necantur, dum de Ecclesia ejiciuntur:
neque enim vivere foris possent, cum Domus Dei una sit; et nemini salus esse,
nisi in Ecclesia possit. "
The proud and contumacious are slain with the spiritual
sword, by being cast out of the Church ; for they cannot live without (or be
admitted into any other Church), since the house of God is but one, and there
can be no salvation to any, but only in the Church." And thus again, de Orat.
Domin.
p. 192—Eucharistiam quotidie ad cibum Salutis accipimus, intercedente
aliquo graviore delicto, dum abstenti et non communicantes a Coelesti Pane
prohibemur; a Christi corpore separamur. "
We receive the Eucharist every day,
as the food that nourishes to salvation ; and while for any more grievous offence
we do not communicate, but are debarred from the heavenly bread, we are
separated from the body of Christ." So far was this martyr from thinking that
excommunication was little more than the loss of a grace-cup, or the Church
ministers refusing him that bread and wine which was not bought with his, but
other men's money.


110         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

The presidents or bishops1 among us are men of the most
venerable age and piety, raised to this honour not by the powers
of money, but the brightness of their lives; for nothing sacred is to
be had for money. That kind of treasury we have is not filled with
any dishonourable sum, as the price of a purchased religion; every
one puts a little to the public stock, commonly once a month,2 or
when he pleases, and only upon condition that he is both willing
and able; for there is no compulsion upon any. All here is a free-
will offering, and all these collections are deposited in a common
bank for charitable uses, not for the support of merry meetings, for
drinking and gormandizing, but for feeding the poor and burying
the dead, and providing for girls and boys who have neither parents
nor provisions left to support them, for relieving old people worn
out in the service of the saints, or those who have suffered by
shipwreck, or are condemned to the mines, or islands, or prisons,
only for the faith of Christ; these may be said to live upon their
profession, for while they suffer for professing the name of Christ,
they are fed with the collections of His Church.

But strange! that such lovely expressions of Christian charity
cannot pass with some men without a censure; for look ye, say
they, how these Christians seem to love each other, when in their
hearts they hate each other to death ! How forward are they to

1 Praesident probati quique Seniores, honorem istum non pretio sed testimonio
adepti.
The presiding elders here are undoubtedly the same with the ^fout-ruTt;
in Justin Martyr's foregoing Apology, that is, the bishops; for our author,
speaking of the power of excommunicating where it is lodged, tells us it was in
the president, ut extra Ecclesiam detur, inerat in Praesidentis officio, lib. de Pud.
cap. 14. And thus his scholar St. Cyprian, de Unitate Ecclesia, Tenere firmiter,
et vindicare debemus, maxime Episcopi qui in Ecclesia praesidemus.
They were
Probati Seniores, men of age, and publicly approved for their life and conversa-
tion. For thus again, St. Cyprian in Epist. ad FelicemQuod ad ipsum
videmus divina Auctoritate descendere, uti Sacerdos plebe praesente sub omnium
oculis deligatur, et dignus atque idoneus publico judicio et testimonio comprobetur.
Agreeable to the practice of the apostles, who left it to the congregation as the
most competent judges to choose fitting men, and then they ordained them to
the office of deacon by prayer and laying on of hands.

2 Modicum unusquisque Stipem menstrua die, etc. We have St. Paul, I Cor.
xvi. i, 2, giving order to the Churches of Galatia and Corinth for weekly
offerings for the saints, " That upon the first day of the week " (when they never
failed to receive the sacrament) " they should every one of them lay by him in
store according as God had prospered him." But I have already given an account
of these charities, and therefore only remark here, that according to St. Paul's
order, the collections were weekly to the time of Justin Martyr, but in the age
following, that of Tertullian, we find these offerings sunk to monthly, Menstrua
die,
etc.


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         111

stake down their lives for one another, when inwardly they could cut
one another's throats ! But the true reason of this defamation, upon
the account of styling ourselves brethren, I take to be this, because
the name of brother is found with these men to be only a gilded
expression of a counterfeit friendship. But you need not wonder
at this loving title among Christians, when we own even you your-
selves for brethren by the right of one common nature; although
indeed you have cancelled this relation, and by being inhuman
brethren have forfeited the title of men; but by what diviner ties
are we Christians brethren ! We who all acknowledge but one and
the same God as our universal Father, who have all drunk of one and
the same Holy Spirit, and who are all delivered as it were from one
common womb of ignorance, and called out of darkness into His
marvellous light. But maybe we cannot pass for right brothers
with you, because you want a tragedy about the bloody feuds of the
Christian fraternity; or because our brotherly love continues even
to the division of our estates, which is a test few brotherhoods will
bear, and which commonly divides the dearest unions among you.

But we Christians look upon ourselves as one body, informed as
it were by one soul; and being thus incorporated by love, we can
never dispute what we are to bestow upon our own members.
Accordingly among us all things are in common,1 excepting wives ;
in this alone we reject communion, and this is the only thing you
enjoy in common ; for you not only make no conscience in violat-
ing the wife of your friend, but with amazing patience and gratitude
lend him your own. This doctrine, I suppose, came from the
school of the Grecian Socrates, or the Roman Cato, those wisest of
sages, who accommodated their friends with their own wives, wives
which they espoused for the sake of children of their own begetting,
as I imagine, and not of other folks.

Whether the wives are thus prostituted with their own consent,
in truth I cannot tell, but I see no great reason why they should be

1 Omnia indiscreta sunt apud nos, etc. Dr. Potter observes from hence that
among many other reasons why a certain proportion for the maintenance of the
clergy was not fixed by the apostles, this was one, that there could be no occasion
to determine the portion then, when men laid all they had at their feet; and the
same reason held good to our Tertullian's time, for he says here that Christians
had all things in common but their wives. Vid. Dr. Potter's Discourse of Church
Government,
p. 434. I only observe further, what great veneration is due to the
writers of those ages, when men valued nothing but religion, and followed Christ
in the highest expression of charity, in selling all they had for the support of
Christians.


112         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

much concerned about that chastity which their husbands think not
worth keeping. Oh, never-to-be-forgotten example of Athenian
wisdom ! Socrates the great Grecian philosopher, and Cato the
great Roman censor, are both pimps.

But is it any great wonder that such charitable brethren as enjoy
all things in common should have such frequent love-feasts ? For
this it is you blacken us, and reflect upon our little frugal suppers,
not only as infamously wicked, but as scandalously excessive.
Diogenes, for aught I know, might have us Christians in his eye
when he said that the Megarensians feast as if they were never to
eat more, and build as if they were to live for ever ; but every one
sees a straw in another's eye sooner than a beam in his own ; or else
you must be sensible of your own beastliness in this case; for the
very air in the streets is soured with the belches of the people
coming from their feasts in their several wards. The Salii cannot
sup without the advance of a loan, and upon the feast of tithes to
Hercules the entertainment is so very costly that you are forced to
have a bookkeeper on purpose for expenses. At Athens likewise
when the Apaturia, or feasts in honour of Bacchus for a serviceable
piece of treachery he did, are to be celebrated, there is a proclama-
tion for all the choice cooks to come in and assist at the banquet;
and when the kitchen of Serapis smokes, what baskets of provisions
come tumbling in from every quarter! But my business at present
is to justify the Christian supper; and the nature of this supper you
may understand by its name; for it is the Greek word for love. We
Christians think we can never be too expensive, because we think
all is gain that is laid out in doing good; when therefore we are at
the charge of an entertainment, it is to refresh the bowels of the
needy, but not as you gorge those parasites among you who glory
in selling their liberty for stuffing their guts, and can find in their
hearts to cram their bellies in spite of all the affronts you can lay
upon them; but we feed the hungry, because we know God takes
a peculiar delight in seeing us do it. If therefore we feast only with
such brave and excellent designs, I leave you from hence to guess
at the rest of our discipline in matters of pure religion; nothing
earthly, nothing unclean, has ever admittance here; our souls ascend
in prayer to God before we sit down to meat; we eat only what suffices
nature, and drink no more than what is strictly becoming chaste
and regular persons. We sup as servants that know we must wake
in the night to the service of our Master, and discourse as those
who remember that they are in the hearing of God. When supper
is ended, and we have washed our hands, and the candles are


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.        113

lighted up, every one is invited forth to sing praises to God, either
such as he collects from the Holy Scriptures, or such as are of his own
composing ;: and by this you may judge of the measures of drinking
at a Christian feast. And as we began, so we conclude all in prayer,
and depart not like a parcel of heated bullies, for scouring the
streets and killing and ravishing the next we meet, but with the
same tenor of temperance and modesty we came, as men who have
not so properly been a-drinking as imbibing religion. This as-
sembly of Christians therefore is deservedly ranked among unlawful
ones, if it holds any resemblance with them ; and I will not say a
word against condemning it, if any man will make good any one
article against it which is charged upon other factions. Did we ever
come together to the ruin of any one person ? We are the same in
our assemblies as at home, and as harmless in a body as apart;
in neither capacity injuring or afflicting any person whatever.
When therefore so many honest and good, pious and chaste people

1 Post aquam manualem et lumina ut quisq. ; de Scripturis sanctis, vel de
proprio Ingenio potest, provocatur in medium Deo canere.
Pliny, lib. x. ep. 97,
reports it as a main part of the Christian worship, that they met together before
day to join in singing hymns to Christ as God. These hymns were taken either
out of the Holy Scriptures (and the compiler of the Apostolical Constitutions
mentions the 33rd Psalm, lib. viii. cap. 13, p. 1023), or else such as were de
proprio Ingenio,
of their own head, of their own composing ; for it was usual at
this time for any persons to compose divine songs in honour of Christ, and sing
them in the public assemblies, till tile Council of Laodicea ordered that no songs
composed by private persons should be recited in the church, Can. 59. The
dispute between us and the dissenters is about the sense of this phrase, de
proprio Ingenio,
which they will have to signify extempore raptures, in vindica-
tion of their own effusions ; against which the Reverend Mr. Rennet argues thus :
That allowing this hymn to be extempore, yet it made nothing to the purpose,
unless it could be proved that the congregation joined in it. Secondly, he
denies the fact that the psalm was extempore, because no such thing as an
extempore psalm was ever heard of; those of David, though inspired, were
notwithstanding precomposed. Nor does singing de proprio Ingenio psalms of
their own composing, imply that they were extempore psalms, for psalms de
proprio Ingenio
are in this place opposed to psalms de Scripturis Sanctis, taken
out of Scripture, and not to precomposed ones. Thus, that judicious person in
his very laborious and very valuable History of Set Forms of Prayer, p. 243,
which I had not the satisfaction to see till it was too late to add any improve-
ments from him to my own remarks upon that passage, Sine monitore quia de
Pectore,
and therefore I recommend the reader to his eighth chapter, p. 95,
where he will find this phrase largely and substantially treated. But after all,
supposing these hymns to have been extempore, yet it is granted on all hands
that the season of miracles and inspiration was not over in Tertullian's time, and
therefore it is great contempt of authority and presumption in them to pray the
same way, till they can prove they have the same gifts, especially since they
find all such effusions censured and forbid by the Council of Laodicea already
cited.


114         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

are met together, and regulated with so much discipline and order,
such a meeting, I say, is not to be called factious, but as orderly
an assembly as any of your courts.

                                           —o—

                                      CHAPTER XL.

                 THAT THE CAUSES OF PUBLIC EVILS ARE MOST MALICIOUSLY
                             THROWN UPON THE CHRISTIANS.

ON the contrary, faction is a name which belongs to those only who
conspire in the hatred of the good and virtuous, and remonstrate
full cry for innocent blood, sheltering their malice under this vain
pretence, that they are of opinion, forsooth, that the Christians are
the occasion of all the mischief in the world. If Tiber overflows,1

and Nile does not; if heaven stands still and withholds its rain,
and the earth quakes ; if famine or pestilence take their marches
through the country, the word is, Away with these Christians to the
lion ! Bless me ! what, so many people to one lion ! Pray tell me
what havoc, what a mighty fall of people has been made in the
world and Rome before the reign of Tiberius, that is, before the
advent of Christ ? We read of Hierannape, and Delos, and Rhodes,
and Co, islands swept away with many thousands of their inhabit-
ants. Plato tells of a tract of land bigger than Asia and Africa
together, devoured by the Atlantic Ocean. Besides, an earthquake
drank up the Corinthian Sea, and an impetuous force of water tore

off Lucania from Italy, and banished it into an island, which goes
now by the name of Sicily. Now these devastations of whole
countries I hardly believe you will deny to be public calamities.

1 Si Tiberius ascendit in Moenia, statim Christianos ad Leones. The overflow-
ing of Tibet was looked upon as an ill omen, as we see by that of Horace,

Vidimus flavum Tiberim retortis, etc.

That it was the hard fate of the Christians to be continually charged as the cause
of all the public calamities, we find by St. Cypr. ad Demetr. p. 197 ; and in the

very first page of Arnobius adv. Gent. Nay, so hot and lasting was this calumny,
that when the Goths and Vandals broke in upon the Roman empire, St. Austin
was obliged to write his books de Civil. Dei, to silence this objection. And so
likewise for the same reason did Orosius at St. Austin's request write his seven
books of history. And Melito, Bishop of Sardis, in that fragment of his oration
which we have in Eusebius, pursues the same design. Vid. Eus. H. Eccl. iv.
cap. 26, pp. 119, 120. Whoever has a mind to be more particularly acquainted
with the history of the following calamities will meet with references in abun-
dance in Pamelius, and therefore I shall say nothing to them.


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         115

But where now, I do not ask, were the Christians, the professed
despisers of your gods ? But where, I trow, were your gods them-
selves when the deluge blotted out the whole world, or, as Plato
will have it, the plains only? For that your gods were not in being
in the time of the deluge, the cities wherein they breathed their first
and their last, as well as those they founded, are a proof with a
witness; for had they existed before the flood, they had not continued
to this day, but been overwhelmed in the general ruin. As yet, the
Jews, the original of the Christian sect, were not gone from Egypt
into Palestine when the adjacent countries of Sodom and Gomorrah
were consumed by a storm of fire; the land smells of burning to this
day, and the apples that grow there are agreeable to the eye only,
but turn to ashes upon the touch. Besides, we have not a word
of complaint against the Christians from Tuscany or Campania, when
Heaven shot his flames upon Volsinium, and Vesuvius discharged
his upon Pompeium. Was there any worshipper of the true God at
Rome when Hannibal made such havoc of the Romans at Cannae, and
computed the numbers of the slaughtered gentry by bushels of rings
picked up after the battle ? Were not all your gods everywhere in
worship when the Gauls surprised the capitol? And it is really
worth observing that in all these public evils the towns and temples
both are involved in the same misfortune; which would not be,
methinks, had your gods anything to do in the matter, because they
would hardly have a hand in doing themselves a mischief.

But would you know the true reason of such judgments, you
must know that mankind has always served God very ill; first by
a stupid neglect of Him ; for when they might have understood the
divine nature in some measure, they would not pursue after it with
their understanding, but let their vain imaginations go after gods
of their own invention ; and secondly, because that when God had
been at the expense of revelation, they would not be at the pains of
inquiring after it, nor be ruled by that Master He had sent to teach
them righteousness ; and to take vengeance on their sins, God gave
them over to a reprobate mind to work all uncleanness with greedi-
ness. But had they went on as far as the light of nature, that
candle of the Lord, would have led them, they had certainly found
the God they looked for, and consequently would have served Him
only, whom they found to be the only God; and by this means
have experienced His mercies rather than His judgments. But
now they lie under His just judgments, and which too they have
felt long before the name of Christian had a being in the world, and
whose goods man enjoyed long before he had made himself any


116         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

gods. Why will he not be persuaded to think that the Being who
has done him the good without any thanks for his blessings, is the
same Being that does him the evil for his ingratitude, since every
person is so far guilty as he is unthankful ?

However, if we enter into a comparison of past and present
calamities, we shall find the account much abated since the coming
of Christianity ; for since that time the innocence of Christians has
tempered the iniquities of the age, and there have been a set of
men who knew the right way of deprecating the vengeance of God.
Lastly, when we are in great want of rain, and the year in anxiety
about the succeeding fruits, then you are at your baths and
debauches, and offering your water sacrifices to Jupiter,1 and
ordering processions on barefoot for the people. You look for
heaven in the capitol, and gape to the clouds upon the ceiling to
dissolve in rain, without ever turning your eyes to the true heaven,
and applying to the true God, who is the only help in time of need.
But then in this great drought, we Christians sympathize with the
world and dry up ourselves as it were with fasting, and are exceed-
ingly temperate in all respects, differing the most frugal meals of
life, and rolling in sackcloth and ashes; and in this pitiable posture
we knock aloud for admission of our prayers with as much im-
portunity as if we would bring odium upon heaven for denying our
petition; and when we have, as it were, extorted pity from our God
by the violence of prayer, then, forsooth, your Jove must have the
honour of the grant.

                                           —o—

                                     CHAPTER XLI.

                   CONCERNING THE CAUSE AND REASON OF PUBLIC CALAMITIES.

IT is not Christians therefore but yourselves who are the bane of
human affairs; you are the men who are continually drawing down
judgments upon the world, you who set aside the true God, and set
up images in His stead. For certainly it is more reasonable to

1 Aquilicia Jovi immolamus. These Aquilecia were the sacrifices offered to
Jupiter under great scarcity of water, propter aquam eliciendam ; and thence
called Jupiter Elicius, according to that of Ovid. Fast. lib. 3.

Eliciunt caelo te Jupiter, unde minores

Nunc quoq. ; te celebrant, Eliciunq. ; vocant.


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         117

believe that ours is the God provoked, who is in contempt among
you, and not those you have in worship. Or verily yours are
very unjust kinds of deities, who revenge themselves upon their
worshippers for the sake of Christians who will not worship them,
and make no distinction between friends and foes. But this, say
you, reflects equally upon the God of Christians, for He makes no
difference between them and heathens. But would you understand
the economy of His providence, you would forbear this reflection ;
for He who has once determined at the end of the world to give
every man his everlasting doom according to his works, will not
anticipate His own appointed season, and make that difference now,
which He has said He will not make till the conclusion of the world.
In the meanwhile, therefore, the divine providence smiles and
frowns upon all mankind without distinction, and scatters good and
evil with an indifferent hand, that the pious and the impious might
have both a taste of happiness and misery during this present state
of things; and because we know the reason of these proceedings
from God Himself, therefore we have a due sense both of His
kindness and severity, but both to you are contemptible; and
therefore it follows that all the evils which are sent by God upon
the world are sent for our admonition and your punishment. But
we are no ways concerned with what befalls us here, because in the
first place our great concern is to get out of the world as fast as we
can; and because in the next place what misfortunes do fall, we
know that they are your provocations which have pulled them
down; and when they do fall upon us, as without a miracle they
must, considering how we are blended together in this world, we
rejoice and are exceeding glad to find the miseries foretold verified
in ourselves; and this sensible fulfilling of divine prophecies gives
new life to our faith, and wing to our hope.

But if it be as you say, that they be the gods you worship who
do you all this mischief, and for our sakes too, why do you con-
tinue such ungrateful and unjust gods in worship, who are so
much obliged to vindicate and assist you to the utmost of their
almightiness against the Christians?

                                           —o—


118         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

                                     CHAPTER XLII.

                  THAT THE CHRISTIANS ARE A VERY USEFUL SORT OF PEOPLE.

ANOTHER article we are indicted upon is this, that we are a good-
for-nothing, useless sort of people to the world; but how can this
possibly be, since we converse with you as men, we use the same
diet, habit, and necessary furniture ? We are no Brahmins, or
Indian gymnosophists, who live in woods, and as it were in exile
from other men; and we act as men under the warmest sense of
gratitude to God our Lord, the Creator of all things; and we reject
nothing He has made for the use of man. We are indeed very
temperate in our enjoyments, and cautious in transgressing the
bounds of reason, and abusing the favours of His indulging pro-
vidence, therefore we come to your forum,1 we frequent your
shambles, your baths, your shops, your stalls, your inns, and your
marts, and all other kinds of commerce; we cohabit, we sail, we
war, we till, we traffic with you; we likewise communicate our arts
and work for the public; and notwithstanding all this, how we
should be of no service to the public is a thing quite past my
understanding.

But what if I do not frequent your festivals, I hope I may be a
man, and have hands and feet for the public at that time as well
as any other. If I do not bathe about night at your Saturn's feasts,2

1 Itaque non sine foro, non sine macello, non sine balneis, etc. You may
observe from hence that the Christians of old, as devout and religious as they
were, yet they conversed and traded with the heathen world, were active and
diligent in their secular professions, and refused no calling whatever that was
innocent in itself and useful to the public ; for had they been never so good, and
lived only to God and themselves, in woods and cloisters, they had not been
shining lights, but candles under a bushel. Fishers of men must converse with
multitudes, to spread their nets to greater advantage and for larger draughts;
and we find by all the apologists that they caught as many by their examples,
and preached as powerfully with their lives, as their sermons. And as the Jews
were hated for their reservedness, selfishness, and ill-nature, and therefore made
little progress, so, on the other hand, the Christians were as much admired even
by their enemies, for the sweetness of their temper, their patience and unbounded
charity, and therefore spread the more prodigiously.

2 Non lavor diluculo Saturnalibus, etc. The Saturnalia were noted feasts in
the month December, blessed times of liberty, wherein the servants all sat at
table and the masters waited. See more of this in Macrobius, Saturnal. lib. i.
cap. 7. And December being a cold season, our author jeeringly tells them that
he did not much like bathing so early, and that it was time enough for washing


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         119

it is because I am a better husband for the public than to wash
away day and night to so little purpose ; however, I bathe at proper
hours for my health's sake; it is time enough in conscience to grow
stiff and pale with washing when I am dead. I do not care for
feasting with you in public, upon the festivals of Bacchus, because
methinks I look like one of those condemned wretches who at
these feasts is supping his last, and when you have given him his
bellyful you throw him to your beasts. But however at this time,
somewhere or other I do eat, and of some such victuals too as you
eat. I lay out no money in chaplets of flowers to crown my
temples, and pray how is your interest concerned which way I
dispose of my flowers ? It is more agreeable to me to see them
free and loose and scattered about in a grateful confusion; but yet
when they are wreathed into a garland, even then it is my way
to apply them to my nose ; let them if they please apply them to
their head, who smell with their hair.1 We come not to your
sights, but if we want anything which is brought thither, we freely
go and buy it at those places where it is ordinarily sold. We buy
no frankincense, and if the Arabians complain, let the Sabaean
merchants know that we take off greater quantities of more costly
spices for the embalming our dead,2 than others do for incensing

and being made stiff with cold when he was dead, alluding to the custom of
washing the dead which was very ancient; according to that of Ennius—

Tarquinii Corpus bona foemina lavit et unxit.

The loutra_ panu&stata (as Electra in Euripides calls it), extreme washings, or wash-
ing the dead bodies, was counted so necessary a thing, that towards the conclusion
of Plato's Phado, sec. 47, Edit. Cantab. Select. Dial., we find that Socrates,
when he intended to drink his poison, thought it best to set about washing
himself beforehand to save the women the labour.—skedo_n ti moi w3ra trapeqai pro_j
to_ lutro_n.  Dokei~ ga_r h!dh belti/on e0nai lousa&menon piei~n fa&rmakon, kai\ mh_ pra&gmata
taij gunaici\ pare/xein nekro_n lou&ein.
   And we find this custom of washing the dead
in the Acts of the Apostles, ix. 37—"And it came to pass in those days,
that she (Tabitha) was sick and died; whom when they had washed, they
laid her in an upper chamber."

1 Non emo capiti coronam—Viderint, qui per capillum odorantur. In
reference to this, but in a more intelligible expression, is that of Minutius,—
Sane quod caput non coronamus; ignoscite, Auram boni Flores naribus ducere,
non occipitio capillisve solemus haurire.

2 Sciant Sabaei, pluris et carioris suas mercis Christianis sepeliendis, etc.
Thus again we have it in Minutius, Reservatis ungucnto Funeribus. The
primitive Christians were very careful about funerals, and very costly in their
spices and odours for embalming their dead ; and therefore when St. Polycarp
was put to death they burnt his body in spite to the Christians, who had begged
it of the proconsul, in order to embalm it and give it a solemn interment, where-
upon they gathered up the bones and decently committed them to the earth,
and there used to meet and celebrate the memory of that holy martyr. Vid.


120         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

their gods. Certainly, say you, the rates for the temple now come
to nothing, and who can brag of any collections for the gods ? And
really we cannot help it; for in good truth we are not able to
relieve such a parcel of beggars, both of gods and men ; we think
it very well if we can give to those that ask; and I will pass my
word that if Jupiter will but hold out his hand, he shall fare as well
as any other beggar. For we bestow more in the streets than you
with all your religion do in your temples. However, if your temple
wardens have reason to complain against Christians, the public, I
am sure, has not, but on the contrary very great reason to thank us
for the customs we pay with the same conscience as we abstain
from stealing. So that was the account fairly stated how much the
public is cheated in its revenues by the tricks and lies of those of
your religion, who bring in an inventory of their goods in order to
be taxed accordingly; you would soon find, I say, at the foot of
the account that what the temple may lose in her offerings by the
Christian religion, the State sufficiently gets in her taxes by the
Christian fidelity in their public payments.

                                           —o—

                                  CHAPTER XLIII.

                A FURTHER VINDICATION OF THE USEFULNESS OF CHRISTIANS TO
                                               THE PUBLIC.

BUT shall I tell you who the gentlemen be, if there be any in good
truth, who make these heavy complaints of the unprofitableness of

Euseb. H. Eccles. lib. iv. cap. 15, p. 135. "This cost" (says Dr. Cave, Prim.
Christian,
part iii. cap. 2, p. 275) "the Christians doubtless bestowed upon
the bodies of the dead, because they looked upon death as the entrance into a
better life, and laid up the body as the canditate and expectant of a joyful and
happy resurrection. Besides, hereby they gave some encouragement to suffering:,
when men saw how much care was taken to honour and secure the relics of their
mortality, and that their bodies should not be persecuted after death." And I
take leave to add, that considering how very careful the first Christians were to
follow the Scriptures even in ceremonies indifferent, I question not, but finding
how Joseph was embalmed, Gen. 1. v. ult, and especially considering how the
alabaster box of ointment of spikenard, very precious, was approved by our Lord
Himself for His own burial, in that of St. Mark xiv. 8, "She has done what
she could ; she is come beforehand to anoint my body to the burying ; "—I doubt
not, I say, but this prevailed very much with the first Christians to be so expensive
in their spices upon the dead.


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         121

Christians to the public? Why, first they are your panders, and
pimps,1 and filthy pliers about your baths;2 next, your cut-throats,
poisoners, and magicians; lastly, your soothsayers, wizards, and
astrologers! These the gentlemen we Christians are so useless
to, and I think it is very well for the public we are so; however, if
you are sufferers in anything by Christians, they make you ample
recompense another way ; for what a valuable blessing is it you are
in possession of, in having such a people among you who are not
only your defence against devils, and always upon their Knees to
the true God in your behalf; not to insist upon this, I say, what a
treasure is it barely to have such people to serve you as you are
sure will never do you any harm !

                                           —o—

                                    CHAPTER XLIV.

                  THAT THE CHRISTIANS ARE CONDEMNED MERELY UPON THE
                                         ACCOUNT OF THEIR NAME.

BUT your reason is so entirely blinded with prejudice that you
have not an eye left to see the public damage, a damage as visibly
great as true. Not a man weighs what the common injury amounts
to by thus depopulating the empire of the most just and innocent
subjects in it; it is hardly credible to imagine how many Christian
prisoners your judges destroy at every gaol delivery, but only their
trials are upon record. Among all this number of criminals, and
this variety of indictments, what Christians do you find arraigned
for assassinating, or for a pickpocket,3 or for sacrilege, or for
pilfering at the bath ? Do you hear at the trials any article

1 These Preductores are much the same with Lenones, according to that of
Horace—

                                  ——Putasne 
Perduci potent, tam frugi tamq. ; pudica?

2 Aquarioli. Filthy pliers about baths. Aquarioli, saith Festus, dicebantur
Mulieram impudicarum Asseclae.
And are what Martial calls Balneatores—
Certe Lucerna Balneator extincta
Admittat inter bustuarias moehas.

3 Manticularius. A pickpocket. Of this word Festus speaks thus : Manti-
cularum usus pauperibus in nummis recondendis etiam nostro saeculo fuit, unde
Manticularii dicebantur qui furandi gratia manticulas attrectabant.


122         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

against Christians, like that which other malefactors are charged
withal? Does not the prison sweat with your heathen criminals
continually ? Do not the mines continually groan with the load of
heathens? Are not your wild beasts fatted with heathens ? And
is not the whole herd of condemned wretches which some public
benefactors1 keep alive for the entertainment of the amphitheatre,
are not they all of your religion? Now, among all these male-
factors, there is not a Christian to be found for any crime but that
of his name only, or if there be, we disown him for a Christian.

                                           —o—

                                    CHAPTER XLV.

                CONCERNING ONE GREAT REASON FOR THE INNOCENCE OF
                    CHRISTIANS ABOVE THAT OF ALL OTHER PEOPLE.

WE then are the only harmless people among you, and where is the
wonder, if it cannot well be otherwise ? As in truth it cannot, con-
sidering our education ; for the innocence we are taught, we are
taught from God, and we know our lesson perfectly well, as being
revealed to us by the Master of all perfection, and we observe it
faithfully as the command of an all-seeing Lawgiver, who we know
is not to be despised but at the hazard of eternal happiness.
Whereas your systems of virtue are but the conjectures of human
philosophy, and the power which commands obedience merely
human; and so neither the rule nor the power indisputable, and
consequently the one too imperfect to instruct us fully, and the
other too weak to command us effectually, both which are abun-
dantly provided for by a revelation from God. Where is the
philosopher2 who can so clearly demonstrate the true good as to

1 Munerarii. Such sports and plays which were exhibited by private men at
their own charges in order to ingratiate with the people, were called Ludi
honorarii;
and those of this nature were for the most part either fencing or
stage-plays. Fencing is that which is here meant, and because freely bestowed,
called Munus, and the bestowers of them Munerarii. In allusion to this is that
of St. Jerome, Munerarius Pauperum, et Egentium Candidatus Epist. ad
Pammach.

2 Tanta est Prudentia Hominis ad demonstrandum bonum:, quanta Auctoritas
ad exigendum, tam illa falli facilis, quam ista contemni. "
Where is the philo-
sopher who can so clearly demonstrate the true good as to fix the notion beyond
dispute? and what human power is able to reach the conscience, and bring down


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         123

fix the notion beyond dispute ? and what human power is able to
reach the conscience, and bring down that notion into practice ?
For human wisdom is as subject to error as human power is to
contempt. And therefore let us enter a little into a comparison
between your laws and ours. Tell me then, which do you take to
be the fullest and completes! law, that which says, Thou shall do
no murder, or that which restrains the very passion of anger?
Which expresses greatest purity and perfection, the law which
prohibits the outward act of adultery, or that which condemns the
bare lust of the eye? Which is the wisest provision for innocence,
to forbid evil-doing, or not to permit so much as evil-speaking?
Which is the most instructing lesson for the good of mankind, to
debar men from doing injury, or not so much as to allow the
injured person the common privilege of returning evil for evil ?

But this is not all, for I must give you to understand that these
very laws of yours, which are but in the way to perfection, are no
more in good truth than a transcript of the old law of God, older
by much than any law of your making, but I have already laid
before you the antiquity of Moses.

But as our law is more perfect in its precepts, so is it more
cogent in its penalties; for pray tell me what is the force of human

the notion into practice? For human wisdom is as subject to error as human
power is to contempt." It is plain, in fact, from the sad state of darkness which
overspread the world at the coining of our Saviour, that human reason unassisted
was not sufficient for the establishment of true moral righteousness, or to make
one entire and perfect system of the law of nature. But supposing such a body
of ethics possible to be collected from the writings of the philosophers as we
find in the gospel, how far must such a collection fall short from a complete,
steady, indisputable rule of morality ! It is all at most but human wisdom, and
that (as Tertullian says) is as subject to error as human power is to contempt,
and both consequently subject to dispute. Had the sayings of Socrates, Plato,
Aristotle, etc., any authority ? They were only the sayings and opinions of mere
men, and so might be rejected or embraced as men thought fit; or if any part of
the doctrine of a philosopher must go for law, the whole must pass for such too,
or else his authority ceases. Such a system therefore of morality as was not
only perfectly agreeable to right reason, but also of divine indisputable authority
in every point, was wanting to the world before the coming of our Saviour,
allowing mere human philosophy as perfect as you please in point of truth.
Such a system, I say, was wanting which was not only right in every rule, but of
infallible wisdom and authority in every precept, and easy and intelligible in all
things necessary to every understanding ; and the gospel, and only the gospel, is
such a system, dictated by divine wisdom, and confirmed by divine authority, by
such a wisdom as is not subject to error, and by such a power as cannot be
disputed.


124         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

laws ? Which an offender has oftentimes a chance to escape either
by lying hid in his wickedness, or else by pleading inadvertency or
compulsion. Reflect likewise upon the shortness of human punish-
ment, which always ends with life; for this reason you see how
little Epicurus valued any kind of torment, by laying down this for
his maxim of comfort, that a little pain is contemptible, and a
great one is not lasting. But we who know we must account to a
God who sees the secrets of all hearts; we who have a prospect of
that eternal punishment He has in store for the transgressors of His
laws; we, I say, may well, be looked upon under so much revela-
tion, to be the only men who always take innocence in their way;
and considering the omniscience of our Law-giver, and that dark-
ness and light to Him are both alike, and withal weighing the
heaviness of future torment, torment not lasting only, but everlast-
ing, we proportion our fear and obedience accordingly, fearing Him
whom those judges ought to be afraid of, who condemn Christians
for standing more in awe of God than the proconsul.

                                           —o—

                                    CHAPTER XLVI.

              THAT CHRISTIANS HAVE A BETTER RIGHT TO A TOLERATION
                                           THAN PHILOSOPHERS.

I HAVE now, as I think, stood the whole charge, and replied to
every article, for which men have been so deadly clamorous for the
blood of Christians. I have likewise laid before you our whole
state, and the ground of our faith, namely, the antiquity of the
divine Scriptures most credibly attested, together with the testimony
and confession of the very devils themselves; he therefore that will
take upon him to refute me ought to disprove these facts in the
same method and simplicity as I have proposed them, and not to
fold himself in quirks of logic or the disguise of eloquence.

In the meantime, I cannot but take notice of the strange in-
credulity of some men, who notwithstanding they are convinced of
the excellency of our sect, which they are notoriously sensible of
by their conversation and dealings with us, yet they will not be
convinced that Christianity is of diviner original than mere human
philosophy. For, say they, philosophers prescribe and profess the


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         125

same doctrine as Christians, namely, innocence, justice, patience,
temperance, and chastity. But now if this comparison be just, and
Christianity and philosophy be the same things, pray, what is the
reason that we have not the same philosophic treatment? Why
are we not equalled to those in points of privilege and impunity, to
whom we are compared in points of discipline ? Why are not they
who are of the like profession with us put upon the same offices
with us, and which we for refusing run the risk of our lives ? But
what philosopher is compelled to sacrifice or swear by your gods,
or to hang out a parcel of insignificant lights at noonday upon your
festivals ? And yet these philosophers destroy your gods openly,1
and write against your superstitions, and with your approbation into
the bargain. Nay, many of them not only snarl, but hark aloud
against the emperors, and you bear it very contentedly; and not
only so, but give them statues and pensions instead of throwing
them to the beasts for so doing; and all this, no doubt, with great
reason, because they go by the name of philosophers, and not
Christians,—a name2 which gives no disturbance to the demons,
and how should it ? since the philosophers do these demons the
honour as to place them next the gods. For it was a constant
form in the mouth of Socrates, By my demon's leave I will do so
or so. Yet even this same philosopher after he had given such an
instance of his true wisdom in denying the divinity of your gods,
yet notwithstanding this (such was the inconstancy of the man) he

1 Quin imo et Deos vestros palam destruunt,—laudantibus vobis. These and
the following words are plainly an imitation, or rather a translation of those in

Justin Martyr, Apol. i. Sec. 4—kakei/nwn ta_ dida&gmata oi9 meterxo&menoi ou0k ei1rgontai
pro_j u9mw~n, a}qla de\ kai\ tima_j toij eu0fwnej u9brizousi toutoij h0qele
.

2 Nomen hoc Philosophorum Daemonia non fugat. When the more sober and
inquisitive heathens took a stricter view of the lives of the preachers of the
gospel, and of the genuine followers, instead of the common and rude name of
impostors, they gave them the more civil title of philosophers, as we find from
the beginning of this chapter : Sed dum unicuiq. ; manifestatur veritas nostra,
quod usu jam et de commercio innotuit, non utiq. ; Divinum negotiant existimant,
sed magis Philosophiae genus.
They could not but own Christianity to be a more
exalted kind of philosophy, when they saw the Christians live above the very
notions of the philosophers. But the difference between the life of a Christian
and a philosopher was not the only characteristic ; for, says our Tertullian,
Nomen hoc Philosophorum Daemonia non fugat. Philosopher is a name the
devils value not ; they stand in no awe of a philosopher's beard, nor will the hem
of his pallium cure any diseases. But Christians did not only outlive them in
virtue, but outdid them in power. For Christ was a name that made the very
devils tremble ; a thing which the philosophers with all their mighty wisdom
were so far from pretending to, that they worshipped those very demons next to
their gods. So that Christianity and philosophy differ just as much as heaven
and earth, as a name that can do everything, and a mere empty title.


126         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

ordered a cock to be sacrificed to Aesculapius1 just upon the point
of expiring, in gratitude, I suppose, to his father Apollo, who had
given him out for the wisest of mortals. O inconsiderate Apollo!
was you bewitched thus to ungod yourself, by crying up such a one
for the wisest of men, who cried down the whole race of heathen
gods ?

But forasmuch as men of corrupted minds have always a burning
hatred to truth, so her strictest followers must expect to meet with
the severest usage; but he who adulterates truth will be sure to
have the thanks of her enemies for his service. Accordingly, philo-
sophers affect truth only in appearance, and this affectation puts
them upon corrupting her, for the glorious vanity of a name; but
Christians are heartily and violently set upon pure truth, and
perform her commands sincerely, as men who have nothing to care
for here, but in order to their salvation hereafter; and therefore
Christians, both in respect of conscience and discipline, notwith-
standing your comparison, are very different persons. And for a
further proof of this difference, consider what was the answer that
Thales the prince of naturalists made Croesus, when he was pressed
by him plainly to declare his positive notions of the divine nature.
Bid not the philosopher put off the prince from time to time with
his " I will consider on it" ? But the meanest mechanic among
Christians apprehends God, and can answer the question, and can
assign substantial reasons, and very sensibly explain himself upon
all these disquisitions about the divine nature; though Plato
affirms it to be so difficult to find out the Creator of the universe,
and when found, to express himself intelligibly upon that subject.
But if you make a challenge between Christians and heathens, in
point of morals, let us enter the lists, and begin with chastity; and
in the trial of Socrates I read one article of the Athenians against
him for sodomy; but a Christian keeps inviolably to one sex
and one woman. I find also that Diogenes could not lie con-
tentedly in his tub without his mistress Phryne ; and I hear of one
Speusippus of Plato's school, slain in the very act of adultery : but
a Christian is a man only to his own wife. Democritus by putting
out his eyes, because he could not look upon a woman with
innocence, and was not easy within the bounds of chastity, suffici-
ently published his incontinence by his cure; but a Christian can

1 Aesculapio tamen gallinaceum prosecari in fine judebat. The last dying
words of Socrates we have in the conclusion of Plato's Phaedo, and they are
these—]W kri/twn, h!fh, tw~| 0Asklhpiw|~ o0fei/lomen a0lektruo&na, a0lla a0po&dote kai\ mh_
a0melh&sate.


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         127

look upon a woman securely, because his mind is blind to all
impressions of that nature. If the question is about probity or
sweetness of temper, behold Diogenes with his dirty feet treading
upon Plato's stately carpets, and crying he trampled upon Plato's
pride, though the sloven did it with a greater pride of his own; but
the Christian expresses not the least air of haughtiness to the
poorest man on earth. If we contend about moderation with
respect to worldly greatness, behold Pythagoras affecting tyranny
at Thurium, and Zeno at Priene! But a Christian has not the
ambition to aspire even to the office of an aedile. If we compare
equanimity, remember Lycurgus made away with himself because
he was unable to bear the thought of the Lacedemonians correcting
the severity of his laws ; but a Christian after condemnation is able
to return thanks to those who have condemned him. If you vie
with us in fidelity, there is your Anaxagoras who had not fidelity
enough to restore the strangers the goods they had deposited in
his trust; but a Christian has the name of faithful, even among the
enemies of his faith. If we dispute humility, I must tell you that
Aristotle could not sit easy until he proudly made his friend
Hermias sit below him ; but a Christian never bears hard, so much
as upon his enemy. The same Aristotle was as gross a dauber of
Alexander, to keep that huge pupil under his management, as Plato
was of Dionysius for the benefit of his belly. Aristippus in his
purple, and under the greatest show of gravity, was an arrant
debauchee; and Hippias1 was killed while he was actually in
ambush against the city, a thing which no Christian ever attempted
for the deliverance of his brethren, though under the most barbarous
usage. But perhaps it may be replied that some Christians are
far from living up to their profession, to which I reply again, that
then they are as far from having the reputation of Christians among
those who truly are so; but yet philosophers shall enjoy the name
and honour of philosophy among you in spite of the wickedness of

1 Hippias dum Civitati insidias disponit, occiditur ; hoc pro suis omni atrocitate
dissipatis nemo unquam Christianas tentavit.
Concerning the several crimes
charged upon the philosophers in this catalogue, the reader may find them
sufficiently dilated on by the commentators; but that which I think mostly
remarkable in this comparison between a philosopher and a Christian is, that
he concludes the whole with the instance of rebellion in Hippias, " a thing," says
he, " which no Christian was ever heard to have attempted for the rescue of his
brethren, though under the most provoking and barbarous usage." This upon
all occasions he shows to be the distinguishing character of Christians, this he
triumphs upon, and therefore concludes the period with non-resistance like an
orator who gradually rises higher and higher, and clinches all with that he thinks
most likely to leave the deepest impression.


128         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

their lives. And where is now the similitude between a philosopher
and a Christian ? between a disciple of Greece and of heaven ? a
trader1 in fame and a saver of souls ? between a man of words and
a man of deeds ? between a builder up of virtue and a destroyer of
it? between a dresser up of lies and a restorer of truth? between a
thief and a guardian of this sacred depositum ?

1 Famae Negotiator, et Vita. " A trader in fame, and a saver of souls." Philo-
sophus Gloriae Animal, et popularis aurae vile mancipium,
says Jerome ad
Julianum.
"A philosopher is an animal of fame, one who basely drudges for
the breath of the people." Lactantius is not a little severe with Cicero upon this
very score, for thus he delivers himself in his second book de Origine Erroris,
sec. 3, p. 67, Cantab. Edit., intelligebat Cicero falsa esse, etc. "Cicero," says he,
" was very sensible of the vanities in worship, and when he had said enough in
all reason utterly to overthrow the established religions, yet he concludes that
these were the truths not to be told the people for fear of unhinging the religions
of the State. Now what is to be done with a man who knows himself in an
error, and yet knowingly dashes upon a rock, that the people may do so too ?
who pulls out his own eyes to secure others in darkness; who neither deserves
well of those he permits to wander, nor of himself, whom he associates with
practices he condemns; who makes no use of his wisdom for the regulation of
his life, but wilfully entangles himself to ensnare others, whom as the wiser
person he was obliged to rescue from error. But, O Cicero ! if you have
any regard for virtue, attempt rather to deliver the people out of ignorance; it
is a noble enterprise, and worthy all your powers of eloquence ; never fear
but your oratory will hold out in so good a cause, which never failed you in the
defence of so many bad ones. But Socrates' prison is the thing you dread, and
therefore truth must want a patron. But certainly, as a wise man, you ought to
despise death in competition with truth ; and yon had fallen more honourably
by much for speaking well of truth, than for speaking ill of Antony. Nor will
you ever rise to that height of glory by your Philippics, as you would have
done by labouring to undeceive the world, and dispute the people into their
senses." This I take to be a just character, Socrates excepted, of all the heathen
philosophers; they were traders for fame, and enriched their heads only to fill
their pockets ; they never loved truth well enough to suffer for her, nor would
plead her cause before the Areopagus or Senate, at the hazard of their lives ; their
notions were inactive, and lay floating only on their fancies, nor were the people
nor themselves the better men for their philosophy; Socrates' prison spoiled all.
How unlike to this was the carriage of the apostles and their genuine followers !
How did they engage in the defence of truth ! With what zeal did they preach
their crucified Master before Sanhedrim and Senate, in the face of all the dis-
couraging tortures witty malice could invent! They accounted no hazards
comparable to the advantage the world would enjoy by the propagation of
Christian philosophy; they rejoiced that they were accounted worthy to suffer
for the name of Christ. This showed a truly noble and generous spirit, that
would not be discouraged from doing the world good, though the benefactors
met with such hard usage for their pains. This likewise showed the divine
power of the Christian religion, that it was able to raise its professors above all
considerations present, for the joy that was set before them. Such was the differ-
ence between a philosopher and a Christian, between a disciple of Greece and
a disciple of heaven.


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         129

                            CHAPTER XLVII.

            THAT THE HEATHEN POETS AND PHILOSOPHERS STOLE MANY OF
                       THEIR NOTIONS FROM THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.

THE antiquity1 of the divine writings which I have already
established would be a proper topic to insist upon here, in order
to convince you that those writings have been the treasury of all
succeeding wisdom; and this topic I would pursue at large, was it
not for fear of swelling this Apology to a volume. But, to be short,
which of your poets,3 which of your sophisters have not drank from

1 Antiquior omnibus, etc. Was it not for fear of swelling this tract beyond
the bounds of an Apology, Tertullian says, he would enter into a particular proof
of the antiquity of the Holy Scriptures. The reader will find this largely treated
by Eusebius in his Praepar. Evang., where in the fifth chapter, lib. x., you will
see that the Grecians had not so much as the use of letters till Cadmus the
Phoenician introduced them, which the Phoenicians had from the Syrians, that is,
the Hebrews, which bordered upon them. In this chapter you will see also, not
only the affinity between the Hebrew and Greek alphabet, which I have already
mentioned, but how all the two-and-twenty letters in the Hebrew have their
proper signification, which in the Greek have no meaning at all; which plainly
proves the one to be but an imperfect copy of the other, especially when the
letters are just almost the same in both, as Alph, Alpha, etc.

2 Quis Poetarum, qui non omnino de Prophetarum fonte potaverit? The
Grecian bards of old were the instructors of the people, and priests generally as
well as poets ; they travelled much into Egypt and other parts most noted for
antiquity and learning; and from thence freighted themselves with ancient
traditions, which they ?et their fancies to work upon, and so hacked and hewed
and disguised the originals, that it was hard to say from what country they came.
Graecia Mendax was a true motto. I will not go about to show particularly how
the poets have plundered the prophets, since Bochartus, Vossius de Idol., and
Bishop Stillingfleet, Orig. Sac., have so nicely traced the plagiaries and discovered
the foundation of almost the whole fabulous superstructure, in spite of all their
artifice to conceal it. However, it may not be amiss just to mention some of the
ways they took to conceal and colour the impostures. And one way was, to
alter the Hebrew name and put a Greek one in the place of like importance.
Thus Cham or Ham, who either for his minority or undutifulness had his share of
government allotted him in the barren sands of Africa, and was there for many
ages worshipped under the name of Jupiter Hamon, which the Egyptians by
leaving out the aspirate call 0Ammou~n or 0Amou~n, according to that of Herodotus in
his Euterpe, 0Ammou~n ga_r Ai0gu&ptioi kaleousi th_n Di/a. Thus I say, for [Hebrew] Ham,
which signifies fervidus from the radix [Hebrew] fervere, they put Zeuj, from
zew, which signifies the same in Greek with Ham in Hebrew. This Ammon
had a temple in the city of No, as we find from that of Jeremiah xlvi. 25 :
"Behold, I will punish the multitude of No, and Pharaoh and Egypt with their
gods." That which we render the multitude of No, is in the original Amon de No,

E


130         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

the fountain of the prophets ? It is from these sacred sources
likewise that your philosophers have refreshed their thirsty, in-
quisitive spirits. From hence also it is that philosophy has been
proscribed some countries, as Thebes, Sparta, and Argos, for the
monstrous issue she produced from the adulterous mixture of
divine truths with human inventions; and no wonder, since (as I
have said) these philosophers were men of glory only, and driven
on with the lust of eloquence. Accordingly, if they found any-
thing in our divine digests1 which hit their fancies, or might serve

the God Amon, whose temple was in the city No. Vid. Bochar. Phaleg. lib. i.
pp. 5; 6. Another way of disguising their thefts was by taking the Hebrew in its
literal and proper sense, thus finding Noah (whom Bochartus has demonstrated
to be the same with Saturn) to be called, Gen. xi. 20, [Hebrew], vir Terrae,
a husbandman, as Vir Sanguinis, Vir Pecoris, a bloody man, a shepherd,
2 Sam. xvi. 7, Gen. xlvi. 32. A most familiar phrase among the Hebrews, they
take vir Terrae or husbandman in a literal sense for a0nh_r th~j gh~j, the husband
of the earth ; and so Saturn, which was Noah, is reported to have married
Rhea, that is, the earth. Vid. Bochart. Phaleg. lib. i. cap. I, p. 3. And so
likewise where the Oriental languages were ambiguous or equivocal, by omitting
the obvious sense and following the obscure, they spun out strange stories. Thus
again the great Bochartus, lib. iv. cap. 31, has traced the fable of the Golden
Fleece, which was nothing but the robbing the treasury of the king of Colchis,
framed from the equivocal Syriac word [Hebrew], which signifies both a fleece and a
treasury ; and so the bulls and dragons which kept it were nothing but the
walls and brazen gates, for [Hebrew] signifies both a bull and a wall, and [Hebrew],
brass and a dragon. I shall mention but one Grecian artifice more, which was
by ascribing to some of their own nation what is recorded in the sacred history.
Thus the Thessalians make Deucalion to be the person who escaped the flood,
and from whom the world was peopled after it; and whoever compares the
relation of Deucalion's flood in Apollodorus, Biblioth. lib. i. p. 19, with that
of Moses, may easily turn Apollodorus's Greek into the language of Scripture by
only turning Greece into the whole earth, and Deucalion into Noah, Parnassus
into Ararat, and Jupiter into Jehovah. Vid. Bishop Stillingfleet's Orig. Sac.
lib. iii. cap. 5.

1 Si quid in Sanctis Scripturis offenderunt,pro instituto Curiositatis ad propria
opera verterunt.
In the foregoing Apology, Just in Martyr gives several instances
wherein Plato had stolen from Moses ; and Clemens Alexandrinus, Strom. I,
calls Plato, to_n 9Ebrai/wn filo&sofon. See St. Austin, de Doctr, Christ, lib. ii. cap.
28, de civit. Dei, lib. xviii. cap. 41, and lib. viii. cap. n. But above all, see this
philosopher hunted through all his coverts, and traced home to the prophets by
Eusebius in his Praepar. Evang. lib. xi. xii. xiii., and there you will find with
what good reason the Fathers charged the philosophers in general, and Plato in
particular, for shirking from the Holy Scriptures, according to that of Eusebius,
Praepar. Evang. lib. xi. cap. 10, ti/ ga_r e0sti Platwn, h2 Mwsh~j a0ttiki/zwn ; Quid est
aliud Plato, quam Moses Attice loquens?
Origen is of opinion that Plato by
conversing with the Jews in Egypt came acquainted with the history of the fall
of man, which after his enigmatical way he describes in his Symposiacs, where he
introduces Porus the god of plenty feasting with the rest of the gods ; after
supper Penia comes to the door a-begging ; Porus being drunk with nectar, goes
into Jupiter's garden, and there falls fast asleep ; Penia observing it steals to


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         131

their hypothesis, they took it and turned it and bent it to a com-
pliance with their own curiosity; not considering these writings to
be sacred and unalterable, nor understanding their sense, which
was then under a cloud to those carnal minds, as it is at this day
to the very Jews, to whom they were appropriated. For if in any
place truth appeared in its native simplicity without the disguise of
type or metaphor, worldly wisdom, instead of submitting her faith,
blended the certainties of revelation with her own philosophic
uncertainties; for having dipped in the Holy Scripture, and found
there is no other God but one, they presently divided into various
speculations about the divine nature, some asserting it to be incor-
poreal, others corporeal, as the Platonics and Stoics; some com-
posing him of atoms, and others of numbers, as Epicurus and

him, and by this cunning conceived by him. In this fable of Plato, Origen
observes the resemblance between Jupiter's garden and Paradise, and between
Penia and the serpent, etc. And he is the rather confirmed in his conjecture,
because he knew it to be Plato's custom to wrap up his sublimest notions in fable,
for fear of disobliging the fabulous Greeks, who hated the Jews, and who would
have themselves pass for the wisest, if not the most ancient people ; and I may
add, too, that nobody else might know from whence Plato had his notions. Vid.
Orig. cont. lib. iv. And as Plato purloined his divinest discoveries from the
prophets, and perplexed them on purpose to hide the theft, so is it very remark-
able that the latter Platonists, such as Jamblichus, Hierocles, Simplicius, etc.,
talk in a kind of evangelical strain, and as much above Plato as the apostles do
above the prophets ; and at the same time vilify the Christians for a blind to
make believe that there was nothing in the Christian doctrine worth borrowing,
just as their master Plato had done before them. For it is to be remembered
that Plotinus, Porphyrius, Jamblichus, and Hierocles were brought up under the
great Ammonius of Alexandria, as well as Herennius and Origen. This Ammo-
nius both lived and died a Christian, as Eusebius and Jerome testify, Hist. Eccles.
lib. vi. cap. 19, Hieron. de Script. Eccl., and so instructed his scholars in the
Christian mysteries, as well as the pagan philosophy at the same time. The
not observing therefore that the admirable discourses of these latter Platonists
had their rise from a Christian master, has been the ground of two scurvy
mistakes amongst some learned critics, namely, of overvaluing the Platonic
philosophy, as if in their notions of the origin of evil, and the degeneracy of our
souls from their primitive purity, etc., they outdid revelation, though it is
evident that their noblest flights took wing from the gospel. Secondly, of
charging the primitive Fathers with Platonizing, a charge (as I have proved)
they utterly deny, and on the contrary tax the philosophers with Christianizing,
or stealing from the doctrine of Christ; which they wrested only to serve their
hypothesis, and without telling a word whence they had the notion ; and not
only the philosophers, but the heretics (says Tertullian) had got a trade of
blending philosophy and Christianity together. And our author complains not
only here of this tampering with Scripture among Christians, but cries out in his
Prescription against Heretics, cap. 7—Viderint qui Stoicum et Platonicum et
Dialecticum Christianismum protulerunt.
And it is notorious of late years what
attempts have been made to reform religion by philosophy, instead of making
philosophy bend to revelation.


132         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

Pythagoras, and some of fire, as was the opinion of Heraclitus.
The Platonists likewise maintain his care and providence over his
creation; on the contrary, the Epicureans make him a careless,
inactive God, and, as I may say, nobody in the world. Again, the
Stoics place him without the world, and turning the globe about,
like a porter sitting without his wheel. The Platonists place him
within the world like a pilot of a ship steering the universal vessel
that contains him. In like manner we find these sages at variance
about the world itself, whether it was made or unmade, and whether
it would dissolve or last for ever. The same disputes we find
about the state of the soul, some contending for it to be of a divine
immortal nature, and others of a nature corruptible; every one
inferring and reforming as the maggot bit. Nor do I wonder to
find the philosophic wits play such foul pranks with the Old
Testament, when I find some of the same generation among our-
selves who have made as bold with the New, and composed a
deadly mixture of gospel and opinion, as the same philosophizing
vanity led them; and out of one plain road have cut a world of
labyrinths and inextricable mazes to confound men in the way of
salvation; which therefore I thought proper to advertise you of,
that this noted diversity of opinions among Christians should not
justify a parallel between us and philosophers, and make men
condemn truth itself from the contentions about it. But this in
short is my prescription 1 against these adulterers of the faith, to try
all their doctrines by the gospel, that rule of truth which came
from Christ, and was transmitted by His apostles, that, I say, is the

1 Expedite enim prescribimus Adulteris nostris, illain esse Regulam veritatis
quae veniat a Christo transmissa per comites ipsius.
I shall not here enter into
the necessary qualifications of a perfect rule of faith, and prove such qualifications
to be in Holy Scripture, but observe only, that supposing philosophers to be in
the right, yet all their reasonings were but the reasonings of mere men, and
therefore fallible. No one system of philosophy then could be collected from
their writings (granting all necessary truths to lie scattered amongst them) for a
standing authoritative rule in matters of controversy, for such a collection can be
of no more authority than the collector, and must want a sanction more than
human ; for all men have a natural right to reason for themselves, till God
determines it by a rule divine : the want of such rule therefore was a great
desideratum in the Gentile world ; and this was one of the great wants provided
for by Christ's coming into the world, who is emphatically said to have brought
life and immortality to light through the gospel. The heathens then of old, and
the deists at present, vainly object against Christianity the many differences about
it; for, says Tertullian, there is an infallible rule transmitted by Christ through
His apostles, which we apply to upon all occasions to measure doctrines by, and
which is wanting to the philosophers ; and therefore all the fundamental differ-
ences which arise among Christians do not rise for any fault in the rule but in
themselves.


         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         133

touchstone by which all the different opinions of succeeding
teachers is to be proved.

All the arrows1 that are shot at truth are taken from her own
quiver, for the heresies are to look with a gospel face in emulation
of divine truth, and the spirits of error have a great stroke in the
picture. These are they which suborn men to discolour the
doctrines of salvation, and stain them with their own inventions.
By the same spiritual wickednesses are fables foisted in, to invali-
date the credibility of our religion, or rather to procure this credi-
bility for themselves, that the doctrines of devils being dressed up
like truth might have the same veneration with the word of God;
so that either a man might disbelieve a Christian, because he
disbelieves a poet or a philosopher, or rather conclude he has the
greater reason to give credit to a philosopher or a poet, because he
cannot find in his heart to believe a Christian. From this sacri-
legious mixture it is that we are so ridiculed when we preach about
the day of judgment, for in imitation of this the poets and
philosophers have their tribunal in the infernal region; and if we
threaten them with hell, which is a subterranean treasure of secret
fire reserved for the punishment of the wicked, we are hooted at;
for thus they ape us too with their Puriphlegeton2 or burning river
among the shades below; and if we mention Paradise,3 a place of

1 Omnia adversus veritatem de ipsa veritate constructa sunt, operantibus
aemulationem istam spiritibus Erroris.
The Holy Scriptures being confessedly
of divine authority, the most effectual way of doing mischief is not to descry
them, but to put a crown on their head and a reed in their hands, and to bow-
before them, and cry, " Hail King of the Jews ! " to pretend a mighty deal of
reverence to the Scriptures, and then crucify them to their own sense. This was
always the way of heretics and designing men, set on foot, says our author, and
carried on by the agency of the spirits of darkness. And it is observable that
the old serpent took the same course in tempting the second Adam with a text
from Scripture ; and I know not any author that ever copied closer after the
devil in this very thing than the author of the Rights of the Christian Church,
who, with all the strength of delusion, has done his best to set up the kingdom of
darkness, and to unchurch Christendom from Scripture.

2 Sic enim Pyriphlegeton apud mortuos amnis est. From the 7th of Daniel and
the 10th verse, where it is said that " a fiery stream issued and came forth from
before him ; thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand limes ten
thousand stood before him, and the judgment was set, and the books were
opened ; " from this passage, I say, Eusebius shows the affinity between Plato
and the prophet as to the future judgment, and particularly that the Puriphlegeton
or burning river in Plato, peri\ yuxh~j, is plainly the fiery stream in Daniel.
Vid. Euseb. Praep. Evan. lib. xi. cap. 58.

3 Et si Paradisum nominemus, Locum Divina: amoenitatis recipiendis Sanct-
orum spiritibus distinatum, maceria quadam ignea illius Zonae segregatum.


134         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

divine pleasure, destined for the reception of the spirits of holy
men, and guarded from the notice of the common world by the
torrid zone or wall of fire, immediately they trump upon us with
their Elysium. From whence now, I pray, had your poets and
philosophers these resemblances ? Whence, if not from the books
of our sacred mysteries ? And if they copied from them, then they
have the prerogative of antiquity, and consequently are the more
credible; since you look upon an original of more authority than
the copy. But now, if they were the founders of these inventions,
then we must take our religion from them, which is as impossible in

Paradise, says Philo, de Plaut. Noae, p. 171, is sumbo&lon yuxh~j u9po_ plh_qouj kai\\
megisqouj xara~j a0naskirtw&shj, "The representation of a soul exulting for fulness and

excess of joy." By Paradise or Abraham's bosom, or Abraham's port, as the
Greek word ko&lpoj; truly signifies, the primitive Christians understood a place
of ease and divine happiness, next to heaven, but not heaven itself, or the
perfect fruition of the beatific vision ; they were of opinion that the departed
souls of just men in general ascended not into heaven till after the resurrection ;
which Irenaeus and Tertullian prove from the example of Christ, to which we
must be conformed ; for Christ Himself did not ascend into heaven till after His
resurrection, but as His body rested in the grave, so His soul went into the place
of departed souls, and when He rose again, then He ascended into heaven ; and
thus, say they, we must do also. Not that they affirmed no souls immediately
entered into heaven, for they believed the souls of martyrs did, and this belief
seems to have increased the passion so much for martyrdom in that age. Here
then the reader is desired to observe, that Tertullian asserts a middle state
without a Purgatory, for he asserts Paradise to be a garden of divine pleasure
prepared for the refreshment of holy souls till the resurrection ; and therefore our
author could not possibly imagine it to be a place of torment, to expiate the
temporal punishment due to sin, when the eternal punishment is remitted, which
is the popish Purgatory, an invention not only against the current doctrine of the
Fathers, but highly derogatory to the all-sufficient merits of our crucified Master,—
a most discouraging and barbarous representation of the Christian religion, and
such a one as had never been framed, had it not been a convenient engine to
make a way into the pockets of the people. This Paradise (says our author) is
guarded about with a wall of fire, like what the torrid zone is commonly
supposed to be, plainly alluding to the cherubim and the flaming sword which
turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life ; hereby intimating, as I
conceive, that as Paradise was the blissful seat of man in innocence, so Abraham's
bosom or port was such an Eden of happiness for righteous spirits ; and as that
was guarded from the re-entrance of sinful Adam and his posterity by those
ministering spirits, which the psalmist, and after him the author to the Hebrews,
calls a flame of fire, so was this blessed mansion of pure souls, this port after the
storms of life, secured by the same ministers from the incursion of evil spirits :
the devil they knew to be prince of the air, and this lower region to be filled
with his legions, who in the opinion of the Fathers stood always ready to seize
on a departed soul; and therefore as the soul of Lazarus was carried by the
angels into Abraham's bosom, so they concluded that every righteous soul in the
like manner was conducted in triumph through the dominions of the devil, and
lodged in the same port of happiness till the day of judgment.


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         135

nature as for a shadow to be before the substance,1 or the image
before the reality.

                                           —o—

                                  CHAPTER XLVIII.

                         CONCERNING THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY.

LET us now consider a little the different treatment of a philosopher
and a Christian. If a philosopher affirms, as Laberius from Pytha-
goras has done, that after death the soul of a man departs into a
mule, and that of a woman into a serpent, and turns all the sails
of eloquence to carry this absurd point, shall not he find credit,
and harangue some of you into abstinence even from the flesh of
animals ? And will not many scruple to eat a piece of beef, for
fear of eating a piece of their ancestors ? But now if a Christian
shall affirm that man shall be made man again after death, and
Caius rise the very same Caius again, he is in danger of being
mobbed, and having all the sticks and stones in the street presently
about his ears. But if you can find it reasonable to believe the
transmigration of human souls from body to body, why should you
think it incredible for the soul to return to the substance it first
inhabited ? For this is our notion of a resurrection, to be that
again after death, which we were before; for, according to the
Pythagorean doctrine, these souls now are not the same they were,
because they cannot be what they were not without ceasing to be
what they were. A man might be very merry upon this subject,
had he leisure and inclination to give himself a loose, and hunt

1 Nunquam enim corpus Umbra, aut veritatem Imago praecedit. It was a
mighty objection with the heathens, that Christianity was a novel upstart
religion, formed out of the corruption of the heathen mythology; but this
Tertullian argues to be as impossible as for the shadow to be before the sub-
stance, or an imitation before the reality. This very objection we find almost
continually in the mouth of Celsus the Epicurean ; for, says he, "the building of
the Tower of Babel and the confusion of tongues were patched up out of the
fable of the Aloidae in Homer's Odyssey ; the story of the flood, from Deucalion ;
Paradise, from Alcinous's gardens; the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah, from
the story of Phaeton; the folly of which objection Origen answerably demon-
strates by showing the far greater antiquity of those relations among the Jews,
than of these or any other fables among the Greeks; and therefore the corruption
of the tradition must be in them, and not in the Jews." Vid. Orig. cont. Cels.
lib. iv. pp. 174, 179.


136         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

after all the animals in which all the departed souls from the
beginning have taken up their lodgings.

But instead of digressing, I think it of more consequence to
establish this doctrine of the resurrection; and we propose it as
more agreeable to reason and the dignity of human nature to
believe that man will be remade man, and every person after death
himself again; so that the soul shall be habited with the same
qualities it was invested with in its former union, though the man
may receive some alteration in his figure. For certainly the reason
of a resurrection is only in order to judgment; and therefore it is
necessary that the bodies which have been instrumental to the
actions should be the same bodies which are summoned from the
grave to judgment, "that every one may receive the things done in
his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or
whether it be evil."

The graves then shall repay the bodies at the day of judgment,
because it is not conceivable perhaps how a mere soul should
be passible without a union with matter, I mean the flesh; but
especially because the divine justice will have souls suffer in
the body they have sinned. But perhaps you will ask how the
particles of a body dissolved to dust can be made to rally and
reunite after such a dissolution ? Reflect upon yourself, O man !
and in yourself you will find an answer. Consider what you were
before you had existence—you were nothing at all; for if you had
been a man, you might have remembered something of it. As
therefore you may be said to be nothing before you were in being,
to just such a nothing will you return again when you cease to be.
Why then cannot you be recalled from this second nothing, as you
think it, by the same Almighty word which called you from your
first ? Where now is the wonderful difference in these two cases ?
You who were not are made to be, and when you shall not be
again, God shall make you what you were. Be pleased now, if you
can, to solve me the mode of your creation, and then demand the
manner of your resurrection. And yet methinks you may easily
conceive the possibility of restoring you to a former being, since
you were with the same ease: made something out of nothing. Is
the power of that God to be disputed who raised this universe
from nothing, from nothing as it were but the death of privation or
pure void, and animated it with that spirit which is the universal
life ? And He has impressed upon this world for your conviction
many testimonials of the human resurrection. For the light which


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         137

daily departs rises again with its primitive splendour; and darkness
succeeds by equal turns; the stars which leave the world revive;
the seasons, when they have finished their course, renew it again;
the fruits are consumed and bloom afresh; and that which we sow
is not quickened except it die, and by that dissolution rises more
fruitful. Thus you see how all things are renewed by corruption,
and reformed by dying. And you, O man! did you but under-
stand the nobility of that title, and which you might have under-
stood even from Apollo's oracle, how could you imagine that man,
the lord of all these dying and reviving things, should himself die
for ever ? In what place soever therefore the cord of life is broken,
whatsoever element has your body in destroying, in abolishing, in
annihilating, it shall deliver up the pledge, and return you whole;
for pure nothing is as much at the divine word as His whole
creation.

But then, say you, here will be nothing but dying and rising in
endless succession. If the Sovereign of the world has ordered it
thus, you must have taken your destined turns whether you would
or no ; but now He has established a resurrection once for all, as
He has taught by His Word; that Word or Reason which composed
the universe of various elements, and made it a consistent har-
monious system by a due temperament of opposite principles, of
vacuum and matter, animate and inanimate, comprehensible and
incomprehensible, light and darkness, life and death. The same
Word who thus made and preserved the world has likewise so
pointed and distinguished time, that the first period from the
creation shall run out the determined stage of years, but the
succeeding space on which all our thoughts are fixed is endless
duration. But between these two there is an isthmus or middle
term of time,1 and when this period is over, and the beauty of this

1 Cum ergo finis, et limes medius qui interhiat adfuerit, etc. "Between the
conclusion of this world and the commencement of the world eternal there is an
isthmus or middle term of time." By which he undoubtedly means the Chiliasm,
or thousand years' reign upon earth ; for this he maintains in his books against
Marcion,
lib. iii. cap. 23, p. 411. Now this is an error (if it be one) wherein
Tertullian stands not alone, but in the good company of Papias Bishop of
Hierapolis, Irrcneus Bishop of Lyons, Justin Martyr, Nepos, Apollinaris,
Victorious, Lactantius, and Severus Gallus, with many others. But then it is to
be remembered that this was an opinion they laid no stress upon, for Justin
Martyr confesses, and without any censure, that there were many sincere and
devout Christians who did not hold it, and many others also of the same mind
with himself, and so leaves it as a matter indifferent. Vid. Dial, cum Tryphones,
pp. 306, 307, 369. This notion seems to be first set on foot by the forementioned
Papias, a very good man but of no great reach, as Eusebius remarks, Eccl, Hist.


138         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

new world likewise had its season, which is but a goodly curtain
between us and eternity, then all human kind shall be restored to
life, to answer for their several works, whether they be good or evil;
and then consigned over to a state of immense perpetuity; and then
death and resurrection shall be no more, but we shall be the same
we now are, and the same for ever. The worshippers of God shall
be clothed upon with a substance proper for everlasting duration,
and fixed in a perpetual union with God; but the profane and
the hypocrite shall be doomed to a lake of everflowing fire, and
fueled with incorruptibility from the divine indefectible nature of
that flame which torments them. Philosophers are not unacquainted
with the difference of secret and common fire; the fire which serves
for the use of man is quite of another nature from that which
ministers to the justice of God; whether it be that which shoots
the thunderbolts from heaven, or that which belches from the
bowels of mountains, for it burns without consuming, and repairs
what it preys upon; the mountains therefore burn, and maintain
themselves by burning, and the man who is blasted from heaven is
insured from being burnt to ashes ; and this may be a testimony of
the eternal fire, an emblem of those flames which are decreed to
nourish the damned in torment. The mountains burn with per-
petual fire, and are mountains still; why, therefore, may not the
wicked and the enemies of God bum like these ?

lib. iii. cap. 39, p. 112, who by not seeing into the mystical meaning of the
apostle's discourses, ran presently away with it as an apostolical tradition ; just
perhaps as we find from the misunderstanding of our Saviour's words to St.
Peter : " If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou
me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple
(namely John) should not die." Now from a doctrine so harmless in itself and
consequences, according to the sense of the orthodox (though abused indeed by
Corinthus and his followers), recommended by the venerable antiquity of an
apostolical person, as Papias was, an opinion that has so much to be said for it
from Scripture, from the Revelation especially, as appears by the learned Mr.
Mede and others, and which we are freely left to believe or disbelieve at our
discretion ; is it not, I say, very disingenuous as well as very trifling in Mr.
Daille to argue from hence against the authority of the Fathers ? As if their
authority was the less valuable in matters of faith wherein they are all unanimous
and pressing, and in matters of fact wherein they cannot be mistaken, because,
forsooth, in some cases of tradition or reasoning it is possible they may be
mistaken, and wherein they expressly declare that it is no matter of consequence
if they are.

                                           —o—


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         139

                                   CHAPTER XLIX.

               THAT THE CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE OUGHT NOT TO BE PERSECUTED,
                       BECAUSE THE WOULD CANNOT BE WELL WITHOUT IT.

THESE things then are decried as groundless whimsy and capricious
in us alone ; but in the philosophers and poets who stole them from
us are deemed prodigious attainments, the brightest discoveries and
noblest flights of human wit; for the same things, tney are the
sages and we the simpletons; they are laden with respect, and we
with derision, and what is worse, with punishment. But allowing
our tenets to be as false and groundless presumptions as you would
have them, yet I must tell you that they are presumptions the world
cannot be well without; if they are follies, they are follies of great
use, because the believers of them, who under the dread of eternal
pain, and the hope of everlasting pleasure, are under the strongest
obligations possible to become the best of men. It can never
therefore be a politic expedient to cry down doctrines for false and
foolish, which it is every man's interest to presume true; it is upon
no account advisable to condemn opinions so serviceable to the
public. You, then, are the presumptuous and impertinent, and not
we ; you who rashly adventure to pass sentence against principles
so palpably conducing to general good ; however, if you will upbraid
our religion with folly and impertinence, yet certainly you can never
charge it with mischief to any person breathing; you can at most
but look upon it like abundance of other romances, which by the
laws are not penal, and which, though vain and fabulous, are not
criminal, but as harmless stories, without accusation or punishment,
pass freely among you. For errors of such inoffensive nature at
worst should only be condemned to ridicule, and not to fire and
sword, gibbets and beasts; at which savage executions, not only the
mob are transported with insolence and cruel satisfaction, but even
some of you magistrates pride yourselves in the same barbarities,
the better to recommend yourselves to the populace; as if the
whole of your power against us was not dependent upon our own
will, and defeatable at pleasure. For instance, I am certainly a
Christian because it is my will and pleasure so to be, then you
shall condemn me, if I please to be condemned; and if you could
not condemn me if I would not persist in my religion, it is plain
your power depends upon my will. In like manner, the people
show as much folly as brutishness in rejoicing at the sufferings of
Christians; for these sufferings which give them only a malicious


140         Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

pleasure, a pleasure they usurp without a title, feed the Christian
sufferers with just and substantial comforts, who choose to be con-
demned rather than to fall from their affiance in God, and the
expectations of the other world; for would these people act conse-
quently who thus hate us, they ought rather to grieve than rejoice
at our torments, because these torments put us in possession of our

heart's desire.

                                           —o—

                                       CHAPTER L.

                                          THE CHRISTIAN TRIUMPH.

WHAT reason then, say you, have we Christians to complain of our
sufferings, when we are so fond of persecution ; we ought rather to
love those who persecute us so sweetly to our heart's content. It
is true, indeed, we are not against suffering, when the Captain of our
salvation calls us forth to suffer: but let me tell you, it is with us in
our Christian warfare as it is with you in yours, we choose to suffer as
you choose to fight;1 but no man chooses fighting for fighting sake,
because he cannot engage without fear and hazard of life. Yet,
nevertheless, when the brave soldier finds he must engage, he
battles it with all his power, and if he comes off victorious is full of
joy, though just before not without his complaints of a military life,
because he has obtained his end, laden with glory, laden with spoil.

Thus it is with Christians we enter into battle, when we are cited
to your tribunals, there to combat for truth with the hazard of our

1 Plane volumus pati, verum eo more quo et bellum miles, nemo quippe libens
patitur. "
We choose to suffer as you choose to fight, but no man chooses fighting
for fighting's sake." Some of the blinder and perverser sort of heathens derided
the primitive martyrs (as their passive followers since have been) for a sect of
besotted, infatuated fellows, who did neither know nor feel what it was they
underwent. But our author tells them that the flesh and blood of Christians
was like other folks, that they understood natural rights and liberties, had the
same aversion to suffering, the same passion for preservation and pleasure that
the heathens had ; and whereas they alone were the people who seemed to have
forgot humanity, by their enduring the most exquisite torments not only with
patience, but with joy and thanksgiving, yet this was far from the effect of any
stoical apathy, but purely the strength of their faith, which overcame the reluct-
ance of nature, the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life, which
enabled them to despise the life present, and that light affliction which is but for
a moment, and which worketh for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight
of glory.


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         141

life. To set up truth is our victory, and the victor's glory is to
please his God, and the precious spoil of that victory is eternal life ;
and this life we certainly win by dying for it, therefore we conquer
when we are killed, and being killed are out of the reach of you
and all other vexations for ever.

Give us now what names you please from the instruments of
cruelty you torture us by; call us Sarmenticians and Semaxians,
because you fasten us to trunks of trees, and stick us about with
faggots to set us on fire;1 yet let me tell you, when we are thus
begirt and dressed about with fire, we are then in our most
illustrious apparel. These are our victorious palms and robes of
glory, and mounted upon our funeral pile we look upon ourselves
in our triumphal chariot. No wonder then such passive heroes
please not those they vanquish with such conquering sufferings;
and therefore we pass for men of despair, and violently bent upon
our own destruction. However, that which you are pleased to
call madness and despair in us are the very actions which under
virtue's standard lift up your sons of fame and glory, and emblazon
them to future ages. Thus Mutius Scaevola immortalized himself

1 Haec Palmata vestis, etc. This among the Romans was the triumphal robe,
all over embroidered with palm branches in token of victory. A Christian then,
says Tertullian, never thinks himself so fine, never so illustrious as at the stake,
with fire and faggot about him ; he then is in his triumphal chariot going to
heaven in state. Eusebius tells us it was a most charming sight to behold the
martyrs in prison, to see how their misery became them, how they adorned
their fetters, and that they looked as captivating in chains as a bride in all her
glories at the day of marriage. Vid. Eus. Hist, Ecc. lib. v. cap. I, p. 160. So
far were they from complaining of providence, that they blessed God the more
for the honour of suffering, and gave thanks to their judges for condemning
them ; so far from being ashamed of their bonds, that they gloried in them, and
therefore we find that Babylas the martyr ordered the chains he wore in prison
to be buried with him. Vid. Chrys. l. de S. Bab. tom. i. p. 669. Here then
we see a Christian triumph, the true spirit of the first ages, nor would I interpose
any cold criticisms on this last and most excellent chapter, that my reader might
not be interrupted, but go off with a full impression, with all the fire and
devotion of the writer ; for in the Bishop of Sarum's words, " I confess there is
no piece of story I read with so much pleasure as the accounts that are given of
these martyrs, for methinks they leave a fervour upon my mind, which I meet
with in no study, that of the Scriptures being only excepted." I conclude all
with that admirable collect of our own Church upon the festival of St. Stephen,
so exactly conformable to the primitive spirit, "Grant, O Lord, that in all our
sufferings here upon earth for the testimony of Thy truth, we may stedfastly look
up to heaven, and by faith behold the glory that shall be revealed, and being
filled with the Holy Ghost, may learn to love and bless our persecutors, by the
example of Thy first martyr St. Stephen, who prayed for his murderers to Thee,
O blessed Jesus, who standeth at the right hand of God to succour all those
that suffer for Thee, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen. Amen."


142          Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.

by voluntarily sacrificing his right hand to the flames for mistaking
the eneny. O exaltation of mind ! Empedocles offered his whole
self to the flames of Aetna near Catana; O vigour of soul! the
foundress of Carthage bequeathed herself to the fire, to avoid a
second marriage; O monument of chastity ! Regulus not willing
to put his country to the expense of redeeming himself alone, with
the liberty of many enemies, chose to go back and suffer all the
torments they could inflict upon every part of his body; O brave
Regulus, in captivity conqueror! Anaxarchus while the executioner
was pounding him like barley in a mill; Pound on, pound on, says
he, for you pound not Anaxarchus but his budget. O notable
magnanimity of the philosopher, who had presence of mind enough
to pun while he was pounding! I mention not those who seem to
have contracted for praise at the price of cutting their own throats,
or despatching themselves by some sweeter method; for lo! you
crown as meritorious even a mere spiteful contention for degrees
of torture: for a strumpet of Athens having quite tired out her
executioner, at length, to her immortal honour, bit off her tongue,
and spit it in the tyrant's face, that so she might put it out of her
power to discover the conspirators should the torments chance to
get the better of her resolution. Zeno Eleates being demanded by
Dionysius the use of philosophy, told him it was to raise men to a
contempt of death, and by the tyrant's order was whipped to death
for an experiment, and ratified his doctrine with his blood. The
Lacedaimonian method, of enuring their people to hardiness, is to
put them into a course of scourging, and to double their discipline
in the presence of any of their friends, who read the scholars a
lecture of patience while they are under the lash; and every
scholar carried home a quantity of honour, according to the
quantity of blood he left behind him. O true glory, because of
human stamp and fashion! not one of all these contemners of
death and cruelty in its several shapes have had their actions
sullied with the imputation of despair and madness. A man shall
suffer with honour for his country, for the empire, for a friend,
what he is not tolerated to suffer for his God. Strange ! that you
should look upon the patience of Christians as such an inglorious
thing, and yet for the persons aforesaid cast statues, and adorn
figures with inscriptions and magnificent titles, to perpetuate the
memory of their actions to eternity, to such an eternity as monu-
ments can bestow; and by this means give them a kind of resurrection
from the dead. On the contrary, he who expects a real resurrection,
and in hopes of this suffers for the word of God, shall pass among
you for a sot and a madman.


        Tertullian's Apology for the Christians.         143

And now, O worshipful judges, go on with your show of justice,
and, believe me, you will be juster and juster still in the opinion of
the people, the oftener you make them a sacrifice of Christians.
Crucify, torture, condemn, grind us all to powder if you can ; your
injustice is an illustrious proof of our innocence, and for the proof
of this it is that God permits us to suffer; and by your late
condemnation of a Christian woman to the lust of a pander, rather
than the rage of a lion, you notoriously confess that such a pollution
is more abhorred by a Christian than all the torments and deaths
you can heap upon her. But do your worst, and rack your
inventions for tortures for Christians—it is all to no purpose; you
do but attract the world, and make it fall the more in love with
our religion; the more you mow us down, the thicker we rise; the
Christian blood you spill is like the seed you sow, it springs from
the earth again, and fructifies the more. Many of your philosophers
have set themselves to write the world into patience and a con-
tempt of death, as Cicero in his Tusculan questions, Seneca in his
remedies against accidents, Diogenes, Pyrrhon, and Callinicus; but
their pompous glitter of words has not made the tithe of disciples
that our lives have done. That which you reproach in us as
stubbornness has been the most instructing mistress in proselyting
the world; for who has not been struck at the sight of that you
call stubbornness, and from thence pushed on to look into the
reality and reason of it ? And who ever looked well into our
religion but came over to it? And who ever came over, but was
ready to suffer for it, to purchase the favour of God, and obtain the
pardon of all his sins, though at the price of his blood ? for martyr-
dom is sure of mercy. For this reason it is that we thank you for
condemning us, because there is such a blessed emulation and
discord between the divine and human judgment, that when you
condemn us upon earth, God absolves us in heaven.

[The remaining pages, 145-270, containing Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, have been omitted]

Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press
SPIonic font, free from here.
A few letters of Hebrew have been omitted


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