Martyr Justin.

The first apology of Justin Martyr, addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius : prefaced by some account of the writings and opinions of Justin Martyr online

. (page 16 of 24)
Online LibraryMartyr JustinThe first apology of Justin Martyr, addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius : prefaced by some account of the writings and opinions of Justin Martyr → online text (page 16 of 24)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Platonis, lib. v., de Repub. And it being a saying also fainiliarly in
the mouths of these emperors, it is the more pertinently made use of by
the apologist.

The First Apology of Justin Martyr. (5)

any of your own religion are brought to trial, you never punish
before you convict them; but when a Christian is indicted,
you snatch at the shadow of his name for a substantial crime ; ^
whereas would you but give yourselves leave to consider that
name, you would find it more becoming to animadvert upon
the accusers than the accused; for we are indicted by the
name of Christians, but now xP^crros is a word for kind or
good; and such a word surely cannot be a just foundation of
hatred.2 Again, if any of the accused retract the name of
Christian, you take him presently at his word, and acquit him
as having nothing more criminal to charge against him ; but
he who has the courage to stick to the profession of his name
is certain to suffer for so doing, when the life of the professor
and the non-professor both ought to be the subject of your
inquiry, that the merits of both might be manifested by their

IV. But as some disciples ^ have so learned their Master

^ This is the general complaint which runs through all the ancient
Apologies, that they were accused, condemned, and executed merely for
the name of Christian ; and this name in truth was their boast, their
ornament of grace, the chain about their neck in which they gloried above
all the titles here below ; and therefore when the champion Attalus was
led about the amphitheatre in scorn, he had a table before him with this
inscription : "This is Attalus the Christian," Euseb. Hisl. lib. v. p. 162.
And when Christianity had well-nigh subdued the world, Julian the apostate
set himself to banish this name from the face of the earth, and always in
derision called the Christians Galileans ; and not only so, but made a law
that they should only be called by that name. Am. Inved. in Julian, i. p. 81.

2 The ignorance and malice of persecuting upon the account of this
name you will find in Terttdlian, chap. iii. ; Lactan. lib. iv. chap, vii.
Our Saviour is called Chrestos by Suetonius, in vitd Claudii ; but Tacitus,
who lived in the same age with him, is right in the name both of Christ
and Christians. " Quos vulgo Christianos appellabat," and then adds,
** Auctor nominis ejus Christus," — Tacit. Annul, lib. xv.

^ The lives of the primitive professors were one of the greatest and most
sensible arguments that by degrees subdued the heathen world to Christianity.
This was the motive that worked upon our Justin. He saw prodigious

(6) The First Apology of Jnstin Martyr.

Christ as to witness a good confession, and when put to the
question have, by their Christian bravery, so wrought upon
their enemies as to win them over, if not to embrace the faith,
yet at least to admire it, so, on the contrary, others by not
living up to their holy profession have given occasion to the
dissolute part of mankind to blaspheme Christianity in general
for their sakes. But neither is this right, for many among you
put on the name and habit of a philosopher whose lives are
not of a piece with their dress or suitable to their profession,
and you know very well that there have been those who have
held and propagated opinions contrary to the ancients, and
yet have all been clothed alike with the name of philosopher ;
nay, there have been professors of atheism, and your poets
have very liberally indulged their muse upon the uncleanness
of Jove and his family; and the succeeding wits who tread in
their steps, and espouse the same opinions, are so far from
being taken up and prosecuted, that you assign them public
pensions and honours for thus sweetly exposing your gods.

V. Why then may not we Christians meet with a little of
this good usage, we who will give security not to do any harm,
or to harbour any opinions that have a real tendency to
atheism ? But you hold not the scales of justice even ; for,
instigated by headstrong passions, and driven on also by the
invisible whips of evil demons, you take great care we shall
suffer, though you care not for what ; for ^ verily I must tell

sufferings and prodigious patience ; he saw that their principles were above
the standard of the best philosophy, and what they taught they lived, and
consequently that such good people must have good reason for what they
did and suffered so extraordinarily. "I thought with myself," saith he,
"that it was not possible for such persons to wallow in vice and sensuality,
it being the interest of the wicked and voluptuous to avoid death, to dis-
semble with princes and magistrates, and to do anything to save their
skins." And this, from a Platonic, brought him over to be a Christian.
— Apol. i., according to the Cologne ed. p. 50.

* This he also repeats in his other Apology ; and how current this opinion

The First Apology of Jtistin Martyr. (7)

you that heretofore these impure spirits, under various appari-
tions, went into the daughters of men and defiled boys, and
dressed up such scenes of horror that such r.s entered not into
the reasons of things, but judged by appearance only, stood
aghast at the spectres ; and, being shrunk up with fear and
amazement, and never imagining them to be devils, called
them gods, and invoked them by such titles as every devil was
pleased to nickname himself by. When Socrates, therefore,
by dint of true reason, diligently applied himself to bring these
hidden works of darkness to light, and to rescue mankind from
the impositions of devils, then these very devils struck in with
men of the same black spirit and delight in mischief, to get
Socrates taken off for an ungodly wicked fellow and an intro-
ducer of new demons.^ The same train have they laid against
us, and are working our ruin with all their might. For not only
Socrates employed his share of reason among the Greeks to
argue them out of these impostures, but even the very Logos,
or Reason itself, took upon Him the form and nature of a
man to destroy the same kingdom of darkness among the
barbarians ; upon Whose word it is that we aver these demons
to be not only not good, but evil and abominable spirits,
whose actions men of any affection for virtue would be

was before and after the time of Justin you may see in the Notes ad
Spicileg. Pair. Scec. i. p. 369. They concluded these evil spirits to have
a finer sort of body, which was refreshed from the nidours and streams of
the sacrifices ; and from the amazing power they exercised upon mankind,
together with a mistaken passage in Scripture, as I have shown in my
Notes upon Tertullian, chap, xxii., arose this opinion.

^ That when Socrates was setting up the worship of one God at Athens,
one article of Melitus against him was, that he was ^ A610;, an atheist, and
an introducer of strange gods, see the forementioned Apol. of Plato, p. 18 ;
and in what sense Socrates and other virtuous philosophers are said to have
been partakers of the Divine Logos, I will show hereafter. I keep to the
term Logos in the English, because I think it less ambiguous, and more
expressive of the personality of the Son of God than barely the Word, as
we render it in St. John, and because Justin Martyr is thought to be some-
thing in particular, as you will see anon, in the explanation of it.

(8) The First Apology of Jicstin Martyr,

ashamed to imitate ; and for this worshipful reason is it that
we are branded with the name of Atheist.^

VI. And thus far we frankly confess the charge, that with
respect to the gods in worship among you we are atheists ;
but far otherwise in respect of the most true God, the Father
of righteousness, purity, and every virtue, a God infinitely
removed from the least mixture or spot of evil : Him and His
only-begotten Son (Who has instructed us in what I just now
mentioned concerning these evil spirits, and likewise acquainted
us with another host of good and godlike ministering spirits),
both these, I say, together with the Spirit Who spake by the
prophets, we worship and adore, ^ and our way of worshipping
is in spirit and truth ; ^ and as we have been taught, so are we

^ Christianity was called "the atheism," and by the Emperor Julian is
seldom called by any other name. And thus Lucian ranks the Christians
with Atheists and Epicureans. — Pseudomant. p. 828, torn. xxi.

2 Ka) 5/^«|avT« 'VS? Tc/Aira. ko) tuv eixxuv, etc. Bellarmin Petavius, and
other doctors of the Romish Church, have notoriously played the Jesuit
upon this passage, and forced Justin to speak for the worship of angels in
this manner by the help of a comma after tuvto. : " God and His Son who
lias thus taught us, and the host of good angels, and the Spirit who spake
by the prophets, we worship," etc. So that here we have the Third
Person in the ever-blessed Trinity to be worshipped in the fourth place
after the angels. But to see how knavishly they have dealt with our author
in this place, and for a fuller explication of the words, I refer to the
excellent Bishop Bull in his Defens. Fid. Nic. p. 70, whose sense I have
followed ; but Dr. Cave translates it thus : " Him and His only-begotten
Son (Who instructed us and the whole society of good angels in these
divine mysteries)," Priynitive Christianity^ p. 13. And for this sense is
Dr. Grabe in his Annotations. It appears, indeed, from the apostle's
caveat in his Epistle to the Colossians, that angel-worship crept into the
Church very early, but it was always cried out against, and at last publicly
condemned by the whole Laodicean Council, Can. 35 ; and, besides, you
will quickly find Justin, in this very Apology^ saying that " God only is to
be worshipped," and repeating the Trinity of Persons as the object of
worship, without any mention of angels.

3 Aoya; x«« ctKnSua., I translate "spirit and truth," according to that of
St. John in wnvi^tx-Tt xaJ ukn^ilu, to which Sylburgh says they allude.

The First Apology of Justin Martyr. (9)

ready to communicate the same freely to every one that is
wiUing to learn.

VII. But perhaps it will be objected that some Christians
have been taken up and convicted as evil-doers. Well, I will
grant the objection and more ; not only that some, but many,
and at many times, have been thus duly convicted upon a fair
trial ; but then I must tell you again that you condemned not
the persons aforesaid as criminals, but as Christians. More-
over, we confess that as all the sects in general among the
Greeks went under the common name of philosopher, though
extremely different in opinions, so truly among the barbarians^
the professors of this new wisdom, whether in reality or appear-
ance only, go all by the same title, and are denominated
Christians ; wherefore we pray that all those who are indicted
by the name of Christian may be examined as to their actions,
and that every person convicted may suffer as an evil-doer, and
not as a Christian ;- and if he be found not guilty, that he may
be discharged as a Christian who has done nothing worthy of
punishment. And as to our false accusers, far be it from us
to desire you to punish them ^ — their own painful wickedness,
and utter ignorance of all that is good and amiable, is punish-
ment in abundance.

VIII. I could wish you would take this also into considera-
tion, that what we say is really for your own good ; for it is in
our power at any time to escape your torments, by denying the
faith when you question us about it. But we scorn to purchase

* ** Clemens Alexandrinus often calls the Jews * barbarians ; ' and Epi-
phanius calls Christianity 'the barbarism.'" — Lang.

2 "And not as a Christian," in allusion to that of St. Peter, i Pet.

iv. IS;

3 ah yap To7s xccTiyopovvTus KoXa,Z,iiv vfjLa; a^iu'crof/,iy. This relates to the
rescript of Adrian, wherein severe penalties are threatened to the false
accusers of Christians.

(lo) The First Apology of Justin Martyr.

life at the expense of a lie;^ for our souls are winged with a
desire of a life of eternal duration and purity, of an immediate
conversation with God the Father and Maker of all things ; ^
we are in haste to be confessing and finishing our faith, being
fully persuaded that we shall arrive at this beatific state if we
approve ourselves to God by our works, and express our
passion by our obedience for that divine life which is never
interrupted by any clashing evil. But to lay before you, in
short, what we expect, and what we have learned from Christ,
and what we teach the world, take it as follows : Plato and
we are both alike agreed ^ as to a future judgment, but differ
about the judges — Rhadamanthus and Minos are his judges,
Christ ours. And moreover we say that the souls of the
wicked, being reunited to the same bodies, shall be consigned
over to eternal torments, and not, as Plato will have it, to the
period of a thousand years only.^ But if you will affirm this to

^ Mental reservation was a thing unknown to the primitive Christians ;
they looked upon a lie as bad in all, but monstrous in a Christian — as being
a renunciation of that truth to which they had engaged themselves in
baptism, and therefore would not lie to save their lives. Accordingly
Tertullian rejects the notion of saving life by equivocating with the utmost
scorn and contempt. — Apol. c. 27.

- " A Christian," says Tertullian, " thanks his judges for condemning
him," Apol. c. 46. " And when Lucius was charged by Urbicus for being
a Christian, because he offered to speak for one he thought had hard
measure, he immediately confessed the charge, and was forthwith con-
demned, and thanked his judge for so doing. "—/wjA Mar. Apol. ii. p. 43.
"And when Arrius Antoninus, Proconsul of Asia, saw the Christians
voluntarily come thronging to execution, he ordered some few only to be
executed, crying out to the rest : ' O unhappy people, if you have such a
mind to die, have you not halters and precipices enough to end your lives
with, but you must come here for execution?'" — Tertul. ad Scap. c. iv.
p. 71. So certain their hopes and so strong their passions for the enjoy-
ments of the other world.

3 uxaruv Ti of^oius. — Vtd. Plat, in Gorgia, tom. i, edit. Serrani, p. 524,
and in Apol. Socrat.

* Oy,-^;« ;^<Xiavra£T^ Xfloioii. — Vid. Plat. Timcpum, p. 42, tom. 3, edit.
Serran. This passage of Justin is express from the eternity of hell torments,

The First Apology of Jtistin Martyr. ( 1 1 )

be incredible or impossible, there is no help but you must fall
from error to error, till the day of judgment convinces you we
are in the right.

IX. But we cannot vouchsafe to worship with numerous
victims, and garlands of flowers, the work of men's hands,^ —
what you must help into the temple, and being so placed
think fit to dub them gods ; for we know them to be senseless,
inanimate idols, and in nothing resembling the form of God
(for we cannot conceive God to be anywise like what is drawn
to represent and honour Him by), but in imitation only of
those evil spirits who have imposed upon the world under such
titles and apparitions. Biit what need I mention to such
knowing persons as you are how the artists manage the subject-
matter of their gods, how they hack and hew it, and cast it and
hammer it, and not seldom from vessels of dishonour; by
changing their figure only, and giving them another turn by
the help of art, out comes a worshipful set of things you call
gods. This we look upon not only as the highest flight of
human folly, but as the most injurious affront to the true God,

and is a clear comment upon that place of Justin in his TrypJio, where
this eternity of torments may seem doubtful. — A/ Ti {-^vxi^ai) Kokx^ovrai eVt*
av avTOis Kcti iivai, koc) KoXdZ^iffSai, o Bio; 0iXri, Dial. CltVl Tryph. 223.

^ 'axx' oVh\ htrixi; ToXXaTs kki • avSuv. "The primitive Christians
startled at everything that had but the least symbolizing with the heathen
idolatry ; they looked upon the very making of idols, without any design
to worship them, as an unlawful trade, and inconsistent with Christianity."
— Tertul. de Idolat. Can. 6, p. 88. '* The Council of Ancyra condemned
those to a two years' suspension from the sacrament, who sat down with
their heathen friends upon their festivals in their idol-temples, though they
touched not one bit that was offered to the idol." — Can. 7. "Nay, if a
Christian did but wear a garland (a thing usually done by the heathen
priests) he was excommunicated for two years ; nay, if he did but go up
to the Capitol to see the Gentile sacrifices, and did not see them, he was
punished as if he did."— C^/za7. Illiber. Vid. not. Albaspin. Can. 55, p. 69.
Can. 59, p, 71 : Happy had it been for Christendom had this aversion
to idols continued to this day.

( 1 2 ) The First Apology of Justin Martyr.

Who is a God of glory and form ineffable, thus to transfer His
incommunicable Name ^ upon such corruptible and helpless
things as wood and stone. Besides, the artificers of what you
worship are the lewdest of men, and, not to mention particu-
lars, practised in all sorts of wickedness, as you yourselves are
very sensible of; men who debauch the girls while they are
helping them to make your gods. Oh ! stupidity of men as
thunderstruck ! that ever you should let such beasts have a
hand in making your gods, and put them and the temples
which hold them under the protection of such villains, never
reflecting what an execrable crime it is, either to think or say,
that men have the care and keeping of the gods !

X. And while we look upon God as the Giver of all good
things, we can never think He stands in need of the material
and gross oblations of men; but we are taught, and most
firmly believe and know, that they only are the acceptable
worshippers of God who form their minds by the mind eternal,
and express it in temperance, justice, humanity, and such other
virtues as are the essential excellences of the Divine Nature, or
the more proper inmost perfections of Him Who is a God
unnameable ; ^ and this Almighty Being, so good in Himself,
made all things in the beginning for the good of man out of a

' "Of . . . \'7fo)io(t.otX,-.Tcn. To this purpose we find in the Book of Wisd.
xiii. and xiv. 21, " They did ascribe unto stones and stocks the incom-
municable Name."

^ *' A God unnameable." This is a title we have more than once in this
Apology, and is very frequent in the other writings of this martyr, particu-
larly in his first Apology according to the vulgar editions : ovafi.a, tea.) rf
fivTuv •xa.rfi 6itov uyivvTiTM c'vti, ovk 'iffTiv, etc., p. 44. In these and the
words following Justin teaches that God the Father and the Son have no
proper names, but appellations only, which we give them upon the account
of their good works and actions, etc. ; and the reason he gives for this
assertion is this :— that the unbegotten God being eternal, and His Son
eternally coexisting with the Father, there could be none before Them to
impose a name upon Them.

The First Apology of Justin Martyr. (13)

chaos of rude ill-favoured matter ; and they who walk accord-
ing to His will, and demonstrate their worthiness by their
works, we are sure will be admitted into the Divine presence,
there to reign with Him, where corruption and suffering never
come. For as He created us at first, when we were not, so by
the same power will He restore us to being again, and crown
with the immortal enjoyment of Himself such as have made
it their choice to please their Maker ; for though we had no
choice in our creation, yet in our regeneration we have ; for
God persuades only, and draws us gently in our regeneration,
by co-operating freely with those rational powers He has
bestowed upon us. And we are verily of opinion that it would
be for the interest of all men living not only to tolerate the
learning of the Christian faith, but to give it all the public
encouragement possible ; for that inward conscientious dis-
charge of our several duties, which human laws can never
reach, the wisdom which is from above would bring about
effectually, were it not for those false and atheistical accusa-
tions which are sowed about the world by diabolical spirits,
who take advantage to strike in with that original sin and
proneness to all evil that reigns in our nature, and which is
sure to enter into confederacy with them ; but of all their
accusations we are entirely innocent.

XI. But upon the first word you hear of our expectations of
a kingdom, 1 you rashly conclude it must needs be a kingdom

^ The primitive Christians were so warmed with the expectation of a
Kingdom in the Heavens, that they did little else but prepare to die, and
took the first opportunity they could of getting out of the world ; and
being continually discoursing of, and comforting one another with the
hopes of this Kingdom, were overheard by their enemies, and falsely accused
as treasonable affecters of the empire, when alas 1 (as Justin Martyr here
assures the emperors) they meant nothing less ; and what contributed very
much to this passion for death was an opinion they generally had of the
day of judgment being near at hand, a terrible day, which they earnestly
prayed they might not be spectators of. This opinion was started early, as

(14) The First Apology of Justin Martyr.

upon earth, notwithstanding all we can say that it is one in
Heaven, and though you have such an experimental proof to
the contrary from our professing ourselves Christians upon
examination, when we know death to be the certain conse-
quence of such a profession. But were our thoughts fixed upon
a kingdom of this world, we would surely deny our religion for
the safety of our lives, and have recourse to all the methods of
concealment to secure us in a whole skin against that good
day we expect. But since our hopes do not fasten upon things
present, the preservation of our lives is the least of our con-
cern, because we know our murderers can cut us short but a
few days ; for all must die.

XII. I must tell you likewise that of all men living we are
the greatest promoters of peace, and bring you in the most
powerful auxiliaries to establish it in your dominions, by teach-
ing that it is impossible for any worker of iniquity, any covetous
or insidious person, any one, either vicious or virtuous, to hide
himself from God ; and that every one is stepping forward into
everlasting misery or happiness according to his works. And if
all men were once fully possessed with a notion of these things,
who would make the bold adventure to embrace the pleasures
of sin for a season, with his eyes upon eternal fire at the end
of the enjoyment? Who would not strive all he could to
check himself upon the brink of ruin, and to adorn his mind
with such virtue as might give him admission to the good
things of God, and secure him from everlasting vengeance ?
But as to the penalties of your laws, offenders are not so careful
about lying hid from them, because they know you to be but
men, and therefore possible to be put upon, and upon the score

appears by that caution given by St. Paul to the Thessalonians about it
(2 Thess. ii. 3, 4) ; and it lasted for some ages after, as is evident from
several places in Tertullian, de cult, famin. lib. 2, c. 9, ad uxor. lib. i,
c. 5, which I mention here once for all, because the reader will meet with
this opinion in the Apology before him.

The First Apology of Jicstin Martyr. (15)

of that possibility are encouraged to sin on. But were they
fully persuaded of the impossibility of concealing anything from
God, not only the works of their hands, but even the motions
of their minds, the direful storm of wrath they see just dropping
upon their heads, would needs make them prepare with all
speed for a better course of life, as you yourselves will grant.

XIII. But you seem to be afraid that such a notion of
(jod's Omniscience should force every one to be good, and so
quite and clean spoil the trade of punishing. Executioners
perhaps may be afraid of this, but pious princes surely never
can. But such fears, I am verily persuaded, are the suggestions
of evil spirits, who get their sacrifices and worship by exacting
upon the follies of wicked men ; but you who set up for pious
and philosophers will not, we suppose, be drawn into the
same unreasonable practices. But if you, like other weak
people, will be borne down with the iniquity of the times, and
make truth give place to custom, do your worst ; but such
wicked princes as have no regard for truth can do no more
than robbers in a desert, for the Logos has declared you

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

Online LibraryMartyr JustinThe first apology of Justin Martyr, addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius : prefaced by some account of the writings and opinions of Justin Martyr → online text (page 16 of 24)