C. Dodgson, Tertullian Vol. 1. Apologetic and Practical Treatises. (1842). pp.142-149. Ad Scapulam
|142 Expostulation with Heathen not for Christians sake, but their own.
Christians charged as impious and disloyal; found among neither. 143
14 4 Loyalty of Christians; could avenge; known but for peace and piety.
Present judgments, types of future; confessions of Persecutors. 145
146 Mildness shewn to Christians by individual governors;
or in gratitude for miraculous cures and intercessions. 147
148 Hopelessness of exterminating (Christians, from their number,
and as gaining converts through endurance. 149
[The ad Scapulam is placed at the very beginning of the reign of Caracalla, A.D. 214, on the ground that Severus is spoken of "as the father of Antoninus," so that the latter probably was the then Emperor; (Severus is also spoken of in the past, c. 4.) but Caracalla at the beginning of his reign recalled those whom his father had banished, (Dio Cass. 1. 77. c. 3.) and so, we may suppose, stopped persecutions. Nor are persecutions spoken of in his reign. The "defect of the sun's light in the district of Utica," c. 3. is supposed to have been an eclipse, A. 210. Hilarian (ib.) was the President of Africa, under whom Perpetua and Felicitas became martyrs, A.D. 203. see Lumper, 1. c. §. 14. The beginning of this Treatise is an epitome almost of the Apology.]
I. IT is not that we are terrified; it is not that we have any great dread of those things which we suffer from ignorant men; seeing that we have joined ourselves unto this way, taking, of course, upon ourselves its conditions, and covenanting that we would encounter these conflicts, pledged in the service even to our very lives; desiring to obtain those things which God promiseth in return, and fearing to suffer those things which He threateneth to a contrary course of life. Finally, we battle with all your cruelty, even of our own accord rushing to the charge, and rejoice more when condemned than when acquitted 1. We have sent you this letter then, as fearing not for ourselves but for you, and for all our enemies, not to say our friends. For so are we commanded by the law of our Religion, to love even our enemies, and to pray for them which persecute us,2 that this our goodness may be perfect,3 and specially our own, not the goodness of the world in general 4. For to love their friends, belongeth to all; but to love their enemies, to the |143 Christians only. We then who grieve for your ignorance, and have compassion for human error, and look forward unto things to come, and behold the signs thereof daily threatening 5, we must of necessity force our way even in this manner, that we may set before you those things which ye choose not to hear openly.
II. We worship one God, Whom ye all by nature know, at Whose lightnings and thunders ye tremble, in Whose benefits ye rejoice. The rest ye also think to be gods, whom we know to be demons 6. Nevertheless it appertaineth to man's proper right and natural privilege, that each should worship that which he thinketh to be God; nor cloth the Religion of one man harm or profit another.7 But neither is it the part of Religion to compel men to Religion, which ought to be taken up voluntarily, not of compulsion, seeing that sacrifices also are required of a willing mind. Thus even if ye compel us to sacrifice, ye shall render no service thereby to your gods; for they will not desire sacrifices from unwilling givers, unless they be contentious; but a God is not contentious. Finally, He that is the true God bestoweth equally all His gifts on unholy men, and on His own people.8 And therefore hath He appointed an eternal judgment for the thankful and the unthankful 9. Yet us, whom ye think to be sacrilegious, ye have never taken even in theft, much less in sacrilege. But all they, who spoil your temples, both swear by the gods, and worship the same, and are not Christians, and yet are convicted of sacrilege 10. It would be tedious to recount in what other ways all the gods are mocked and despised, even by their own worshippers 11. So too we are defamed as touching the majesty of the Emperor 12; yet no disciples of Albinus, or of Niger, or of Cassius 13, could be found among the disciples of Christ. Nevertheless those very men, who even up to the day before had sworn by the gods of the Emperors, who had both offered and vowed sacrifices for their health, who had often condemned the Christians, were found to be their enemies. The |144 Christian is an enemy to no man, much less to an Emperor, whom knowing to be ordained by his own God 14, he must needs by the same rule love, and reverence, and honour, and wish him well, with the whole Roman empire, as long as the world shall stand, for so long shall it stand 15. In such wise therefore do we honour the Emperor, as is both lawful for us and expedient for him, as a man next in place to God, and having from God received whatsoever he be, and inferior to God alone 16. This too he himself will desire, for thus is he greater than all, in being less than the true God only; thus is he greater even than the gods themselves, in that they also are within his power 17. Wherefore also we offer sacrifice for the health of the Emperor, but only to Him Who is our God and his, and only as God hath commanded us, with pure prayer 18. For God, the Maker of all things, needeth not the savour or the blood of any creature, seeing that these are the food of demons;19 but demons we not only reject, but we also prevail against them, and daily expose them, and cast them out of man, as is well known to very many 20. Therefore we pray more than others for the health of the Emperor, in asking it of Him, Who is able to give it 21. And surely it may be sufficiently clear to you that we live according to the rule of godly patience, when being so vast a multitude of men, almost the greater portion of every state 22, we live silently and modestly, known perhaps more as individuals than as a body, and to be known by no other sign than the reformation of our former sins. For far be it from us to be angry because we suffer those things which we desire, or to contrive of ourselves any of that vengeance which we look for from God 23.
III. Notwithstanding, (as we have said before,) we must needs grieve, because no state will bear unpunished the guilt of shedding our blood 24. As it was also under the president Hilarian; when they had cried out concerning the courts of |145 our burying places, Let there be no "areae 25," there were no "areae 26"----to themselves, for they gathered not their harvest. Moreover in the rain also of the past year it was made manifest, what mankind hath deserved, because that the flood of old also was on account of the unbelief and the iniquities of men: and what the fires threatened, which lately hung over the walls of Carthage through the night, they know who saw them; and what the former thunderings uttered, they know who hardened themselves against them. All these are the signs of the wrath of God hanging over us, which we must of necessity, in whatever way we may, both proclaim and teach, and in the meanwhile pray that it may be only local; for the universal and final, they shall feel at the appointed time, who in any other way interpret the ensamples of it. For that sun too, which in the district 27 of Utica had its light all but extinguished, was such a prodigy, that it could not have suffered this effect from an ordinary eclipse, being situate in its own altitude and house. Ye have astrologers to enquire of. We can in the same way set before you the ends also of certain Presidents, who, at the close of their lives, remembered that they had sinned, in that they had persecuted the Christians 28. Vigellius Saturninus, who first drew the sword against us in this country, lost his eyes. Claudius Herminianus in Cappadocia, when, being angry because his wife had gone over to this sect, he had treated the Christians cruelly, and when in the solitude of his palace, being wasted with disease, he had broken out, while alive, with worms, said, 'Let no one know it, that the Christians rejoice not in hope.' Afterwards, when he came to know his sin in causing some, by means of torture, to fall away from their purpose, he died, almost a Christian. |146 Caecilius Capella at this catastrophe of Byzantium 29, cried out, "Christians, rejoice 30." But even they, who seem to thee to be without punishment, shall come unto the day of Divine judgment. To yourself also we wish that it may be only a warning, that, after your condemnation of Mavilus of Adrumetum to the beasts, this your affliction immediately followed, and now cometh again from the same cause 31, as the cry of blood for justice. But remember the future.
IV. We who fear thee not, would not alarm thee; but I would that we could save you all, by warning you not to fight against God.32 Thou canst discharge the duties of thine office, and at the same time remember those of humanity, if it be only because ye yourselves also live under the sword. For what more is committed unto thee than to condemn the guilty when they have confessed, and to bring to the torture those who deny? Ye see then how ye yourselves act against your own instructions, to compel those who have confessed, to deny. Thus ye confess that we are innocent, whom ye will not condemn at once on our own confession; but when ye strain every point to stifle us, it must needs be innocence that ye are striving to storm us out of 33. But how many presidents, more determined and more cruel than thee, have from such reasons used dissimulation 34, as did Cincius Severus, who at Thysdris himself furnished a plan of escape, through which the Christians might make such an answer that they might be set at liberty: as did Vespronius Candidas, who dismissed a Christian on the pretence that it would be a breach of the peace to satisfy the wishes of his people: as did Asper, who when one was but slightly tortured, and straightway fell from his faith, did not even force him to offer sacrifice, and who had before publicly declared, in the midst of advocates and assessors, that he was very sorry to have chanced upon this case. Pudens also, when a Christian was sent before him, perceiving at once from the indictment that the charge was |147 vexatious, tore that same indictment and dismissed him, refusing, according to his instructions 35, to hear the man without an accuser. All these things might be suggested to thee, both by thine own duty, and by those very advocates, who themselves feel the good services of the Christians, though they cry out against us as they list: for the secretary of a certain man, when he was thrown down by a devil, was delivered from it, as was also a kinsman and a little boy belonging to certain others. And how many honourable persons (for I speak not of common men) have been healed either of devils or of infirmities! Even Severus himself, the father of Antoninus, was mindful of the Christians. For he sought out also Proculus a Christian, who was surnamcd Torpacion, the steward of Euodia, who had once cured him by means of oil, and kept him in his own palace even to his death: whom also Antoninus very well knew, nursed as he was upon Christian milk 36. But moreover Severus, knowing that certain most illustrious women and most illustrious men were of this sect, not only did not harm them, but even honoured them by his own testimony, and openly withstood the people, when they were mad against us. Marcus Aurelius also in his German expedition, when prayer had been made to God by his Christian soldiers, obtained rain in that drought which he was suffering 37. When have even droughts failed to be removed by our kneelings and fastings 38? Then too the people crying out "to the God of Gods Who Alone is mighty," hath, under the name of Jupiter, borne witness to our God. Besides these things, we deny not the deposit committed to our charge 39, we defile the marriage of none 40, we treat our wards righteously 41, we refresh the needy 42, we recompense to no man evil for evil 43. As for those who falsely pretend to our Religion, and whom we ourselves disown, let them see to that 44. Finally who complaineth of us on any other score? |148 What other trouble doth the Christian suffer than that which cometh of his Religion? which Religion no one in all this time hath ever proved to be incestuous or cruel 45. For so much innocence, for so much goodness, for our justice, for our chastity, for our faith, for our truth, for the living God, we are cast to the flames, a thing which neither men guilty of sacrilege nor those true 46 enemies of the public weal, nor the many guilty of treason, are wont to suffer. For now also the Christian name is persecuted by the president of Leon and the president of Mauritania, but only by the sword, as it was from the first also commanded, that such should be punished. But the greater the conflict the greater the rewards which follow.
V. Your cruelty is our glory. Only take heed and consider whether in this our very endurance of such things, we do not shew that we burst out, for the single purpose of proving this very point, that we do not fear these things, but of our own accord invite them. While Arrius Antoninus 47 in Asia was earnestly persecuting us, all the Christians of that state presented themselves in one body before his judgment-seat, when he, having ordered a few to be led away 48, said to the rest, 'Wretched men! if ye wish to die, ye have precipices and halters.' If it should be determined that the same thing should be done here also, what wilt thou do with so many thousands of human beings, so many men and women, of every sex, of every age, of every degree 49, giving themselves up to thee? Of how many fires, of how many swords will there be need! What will Carthage itself, which thou must needs decimate, endure, when every man recognizeth there his own kinsmen and comrades, when he beholdeth perchance, in the number, the men and matrons even of thine own degree, and all the chief persons, and even the kinsmen and friends of their own friends? Spare then thyself, if not |149 us: spare Carthage, if not thyself: spare the province, which, as soon as thy design was perceived, became exposed to false accusations both from the soldiery and from each man's private foes. We have no master save God alone 50. He is before thee, and cannot, be hidden, but He is one to Whom thou canst do nothing. But those, whom thou thinkest to be thy masters, are men, and must themselves one day die. Notwithstanding, this our sect shall never fail; for know that it is then the more built up, when it seemeth to be stricken down 51. For every man that beholdeth so much endurance, being struck with some misgiving, is kindled with the desire of enquiring what is the cause of this, and, as soon as he discovereth the truth, himself also immediately followeth it.
[Footnotes and marginalia moved to the end and numbered]
1. a Apol. c. 1. 21. 49. 50.
2. Matt. 5. 44.48.
3. v. 46.
4. b Ib. c. 31. (Apol.)
5. c Ib. c. 20.
6. d Ib. c. 23.
7. e Ib. c. 24. 28.
8. Matt. 5, 25.
9. f Ib. c. 41. (Apol.)
10. g Ib. c. 15. 44.
11. h Ib. c. 12. 14. 15.
12. i Ib. c. 28.
13. k Ib. c. 35.
14. l Ib. c. 33.
15. m Ib. c. 32.
16. n Ib. c. 30. 33. 34.
17. 0 Ib. c. 13. 29. 30.
18. p Ib. c. 30.
19. q Ib. c. 22. 23.
20. r Ib c. 23. 32. 37.
21. s Ib. c. 30. 33.
22. t Ib. c. 37.
23. u Cypr. ad Demetr. c. 10.
24. x Ib.
25. y The open spaces before the cities used as burial grounds; S. Cyprian was buried in the "area" of Macrobius Candidus the Procurator, (life by Pontius.) By Statius it is used of the place of the funeral pile. Theb. vi. 57. The Christians had burial places distinct from the heathen; a Synodical letter of S. Cyprian to some Spanish Clergy and people, mentions it as a very heavy charge against Martial, a Bishop, that he had "deposited his sons in a heathen College, after the manner of those without, in profane sepulchres, and buried them with aliens." Ep. 67. (al. 68.) de Basil. et Martial.
26. z The open spaces used for threshing.
27. a conventus. The tract subject to its jurisdiction, civil and subsequently ecclesiastic.
28. b Eus. i. 50. iv. 12.
29. c Its recent capture, by Severus, after a three years siege; having taken the part of Pescenninus Niger. Herodian, M. Glycas, ap. Pam.
30. d A congratulatory formula, used on victory; so, on a gold coin of Maximian, ap. Rig. "Gaudete Romani."
31. e renewed attacks of some sickness, Rig. conjectures.
32. Acts 5, 39.
33. f Apol. c. 2.
34. g Tatian, c. 27.
35. f Trajan, Ep. ad Plin.
36. g Spartian mentions his playmate being a Jewish [Christian, see on Apol. c. 16. p. 36. note g.] boy.
37. h Apol. c. 5.
38. i Ib. c. 40.
39. k Plin. Ep. ad Traj.
40. l See on Apol. c. 9. n. h. i.
41. m Contrast Juvenal's warn ing,vi. 628. Vos ego, pupilli, moneo, quibus amplior est res, Custodite animas,et nulli credite mensae.
42. n Sec Apol. c. 39. p. 81.
43. o Apol. c. 36. 37. Rom,12. 14.
44. p Ib. c. 44. 46.
45. n Ib. c. 2. 7. 8.
46. 1 veri restored
47. o There were two proconsuls of Asia, of this name; the one under Adrian, "maternal grandfather to Antoninus Pius, twice Consul;'' Capitolin. in Antonin. init. who calls him "vir sanctus;" he publicly compassionated Nerva for having come to a throne; (Pliny panegyrizes him, Ep. 1. iv. ep. 3.) the other under Commodus, who having put him to death on false accusation, was obliged to give up his accuser to popular justice, Lamprid. in Comm. Hist. Aug. Scriptt. p. 48. see Casaub. ad Capitolin.
48. p to execution.
49. q See Apol. c. 1. p. 2, 3. and note g.
50. r Apol. c. 34.
51. s Ib. c. 50.
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