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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

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shall not thrive long in your idolatrous course ; that Logos,
Who next to God His Father we know to be the supreme and
justest of Kings, and above all the principalities and powers in
nature. For as all men are shy of taking up with poverty,
suffering, or disgrace, merely for the sake of custom, so is
every person of sense equally unwilling to do what reason
declares is not to be done, notwithstanding it has the plea of
custom for its practice.

XIV. Our Master Jesus Christ, from Whom we take the
name of Christians, the Son and Apostle ^ of that God who is
the Supreme Lord and Maker of the universe, has foretold

1 'Atoo-toXos. Christ is called the Apostle of God from His being sent
by Him into the world, and is so styled in Heb. iii. I : " Consider the
Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus."



( i6) TJic First Apology of Just in Martyr.

our sufferings ; which to us is a manifest confirmation of the
truth of all His other doctrines, because we see these things
fulfilled according to His prediction ; for this or nothing is the
work of God, to declare a thing shall come to be, long before
it is in being, and then to bring about that thing to pass
according to the same declaration.

XV. And now I m.ight spare myself the trouble of saying a
word more, considering the truth and justice of our proposals ;
but because I am sensible how difficult a task it is for men
bowed down with aged ignorance to be set straight in a
moment, and for a further satisfaction to the lovers of
truth, I shall enlarge in its defence, knowing it not impos-
sible to get the better of ignorance by setting matters in a
fuller light.

XVI. In the first place, then, it is certain we cannot justly
be branded for atheists, we who worship the Creator of the
universe, not with blood, libations, and incense (which we are
sufficiently taught He stands in no need of) ; but we exalt Him
to the best of our power with the rational service of prayers
and praises,^ in all the oblations we make unto Him ; believing

' Aayw ivx^ii Ka) lu^ocpiffTtois. What the Latin translator means by his
Orafwne Precum ac gratiartwi actionis, I cannot well tell ; bvit I think he
can by no means be right in the translation of these words. The sacrifices of
old, both of Jew and Gentile, were offered in a corporeal way, by slaughter,
fire, and incense, but the sacrifice of Christians is offered only Xoyw ilx^s
Ko.) ih^a.pKTTU?, "by way of prayer and thanksgiving," as Mr. Mede translates
these words, p. 358. So that according to this learned person these
words are to be understood of the manner of offering ; the bread and wine,
the matter of the Christian sacrifice, are offered Xoyixu? spiritually ; which
the Fathers in the first Council of Nice call a.6vrui 6ui<r^Ki, " to be sacrificed
without sacrificing rites." And this sense is further confirmed by what
follows, where Justin argues againit the gross way of the Gentiles sacrific-
ing, by consuming in fire what God made for our nourishment. "0<ryi
IvvK^uis, which I translate, " to the best of our power," I take notice of only
by the by in this place because I shall have occasion to explain it more



The First Apology of Justin Alartyr. (17)

this to be the only honour worthy of Him ; not to consume
the creatures which He has given us for our use, and the com-
fort of those that want, in the fire by sacrifice, but to approve
ourselves thankful to Him, and to express this gratitude in the
rational pomp of the most solemn hymns ^ at the altar in
acknowledgment of our creation, preservation, and all the
blessings of variety in things and seasons ; and also for the
hopes of a resurrection to a life incorruptible, which we are
sure to have for asking, provided we ask in faith. Who that
knows anything of us will not confess this to be our way of
worshipping ? And who can stigmatize such worshippers for
atheists ? The Master Who instructed us in this kind of wor-
ship, and Who was born for this very purpose, and crucified
under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, in the reign of
Tiberius Caesar, is Jesus Christ, Whom we know to be the
Son of the true God, and therefore hold Him the second in
order, and the Prophetic Spirit the third ; ^ and that we have

fully hereafter ; only I believe the impartial reader will hardly conceive
this passage to be a good proof for extemporary prayer.

^ Yiof^TUi xou vfAvovs. Dr, Grabe observes that the word no/nTh often
signifies that public pomp and pageantry which was exhibited at the
heathen sports ; and from hence concludes that it is translated hither to
signify those prayers which are recited with more than ordinary solemnity
at the celebration of the Eucharist. The mention of hymns in this place,
and not one word of them in that where Justin is giving an account of
their way of public worship, is a plain argument that he did not design to
acquaint them with every particular they did at their religious assemblies ;
for there is no doubt but singing of psalms was a part of divine service,
and as a main part too mentioned by Pliny in his Letter to Trajan — Secuin
invicem canere — *' they sang psalms together, or alternately, or by turns ;"
for so perhaps the words may signify. These psalms were partly David's,
partly extemporary raptures while inspiration lasted, or set compositions
taken out of the Holy Scriptures, or of their own composing, as you find
in Tertul. Apol. c. 39; and this continued till the Council of Laodicea
ordered that no psalms composed by private persons should be recited in
the church, Can. 59.

- Here again you see the sacred Trinity of Divine Persons mentioned in
their order, and the Prophetic Spirit in the third place, which evidently



( 1 8) The First Apology of Justin Martyr,

good reason for worshipping in this subordination, I shall
show hereafter. For here they look upon it as downright
madness to assign to a crucified man the next place to the
immutable, eternal God, Parent of all things,^ being entirely
in the dark as to the mystery of this order; and therefore
I advise you to give diligent attention while I expound it
to you.

XVII. But first I am to caution you against those spirits,
which I have already accused for practising upon you, that
they do not delude and pervert you from reading and under-
standing what I am now proposing to your consideration ; for
to hold you in slavery and bondage is the prize they contend
for, and sometimes by visions in sleep, sometimes by magical
impostures, they make sure of all such as are little concerned
about their salvation. I could wish you would follow our
example, who by the persuasions of the Logos have revolted
from these spiritual wickednesses, and come over to the obedi-
ence of the only unbegotten God, through His Son Jesus Christ.
We, who heretofore gave ourselves a loose to women, ^ now

shows that the interposition of angels, sect. 6, must be looked upon only
as in a parenthesis, and that St. Justin no more interided those ministering
spirits for the objects of Christian worship than he intended they should
take the place of the Holy Ghost in the order of worship.

^ The reader will find in this Apology God continually called ysvvjjra/ja
ru)) ToivTuv and TXTipa. tuv oXav, "Maker of all things and Father of the
universe ; " and therefore he is desired once for all to take notice that our
author repeats this attribute so often, because some heretics in his time
denied God to be the Maker of heaven and earth, and he expressly men-
tions Marcion for one, sect. 35, who taught another god greater than the
Creator of the world.

2 0/ tuXki f/Xv 'xapvuxts x.'^ipovn?, etc. This wonderful change in manners
is often appealed to by the primitive converts ; and that men so long bent
to lust and passion should be set upright in a moment, I look upon as a
miracle in morality ; for nothing but the mighty grace of God, and the
brightest hopes of future happiness, could prevail with all sorts of men
'bus to embrace the Christian faith at the certain expense almost of their



The First Apology of Justin Martyr. ( 1 9)

strictly contain within the bounds of chastity \ we, who devoted
ourselves to magic arts, now consecrate ourselves entirely to
the good unbegotten God ; we, who loved nothing .like our
possessions, now produce all we have in common, and spread
our whole stock before our indigent brethren ; we, who were
pointed with mutual hatred and destruction, and would not so
much as warm ourselves at the same fire with those of a
different tribe upon the account of different institutions, now
since the coming of Christ cohabit and diet together, and
pray for our enemies ; and all our returns for evil are but the
gentlest persuasives to convert those who unjustly hate us,
that by living up to the same virtuous precepts of Christ they
might be filled with the same comfortable hopes of obtaining
the like happiness with ourselves, from that God Who is the
Lord of all things.

XVIII. But before I enter further into the explication of the
Christian mysteries, it will not be amiss to give you a taste of
the very doctrines delivered by Christ Himself, to show that
we are no cheats, nor have any design to trick upon you in
this matter, and I shall leave it to you to examine, as princes
who are well able, whether this is not the very doctrine of
Christ, and the same we preach to the world. His discourses
are short and sententious, for He was no trifling sophister, but
Christ the Power of God, and the Wisdom of God. Thus
then He delivered Himself concerning chastity : " Whoso
looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath committed
adultery with her already in his heart before God " ^ (Matt.
V. 28). "And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out; it
is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of heaven with

lives ; and from the bitterest enemies, and the lewdest of men, to become
the most loving, forgiving, and chastest people in the world.

' "O; «v ifjt.^Xi-^n, In Scripture quotations you are to observe that
Justin does not tie himself to the very words of the text, but their sense
only.



(2o) The First Apology of Jtistin Martyr.

one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell
fire. And whosoever shall marry her that is divorced from
her husband committeth adultery" (Matt. v. 29, 32, xix. 9).
" And there are some which are made eunuchs of men, and
some who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of
heaven's sake ; but all cannot receive this saying " (Matt. xix.
IT, 12). So that such kind of second marriages of persons
divorced, and the very looking upon a woman to lust after
her, which are not criminal by human laws, by our Master's
laws are adultery ; ^ for not only the adulterer in fact but in will
is condemned by Christ. And for good reason, because the
inward desires, as well as the outward actions, are equally
manifest to God. And I can produce abundance of both sexes
who have from their childhood been disciplined unto Christ,*^

^ In times of persecution very many Christians abstained from marriage,
to be freer from the cares of the world, and more expeditious in the service
of God and their brethren ; and those who married, did it (as our Martyr
elsewhere says) only for the sake of children, and the bringing them up in
the Christian religion ; but the first Fathers were extremely severe against
second marriages, looking upon them but as a better kind of adultery ; and
by the apostolical canons such as engaged in second marriages after
baptism were made incapable of any degree in the ministry. However, this
severity is much abated, if it is to be understood (as some say it is) of such
only as had two wives at once ; for we are told by a learned person that
there were three sorts of bigamy — the first, a man's having two wives at
once, this was condemned by the Roman laws ; the second, when the
former wife being dead, the man married a second time ; a third, when
for any slight cause a man put away his wife by a bill of divorce, which
was but too frequently done, and allowed by the laws of those times, but
condemned by the Church ; and of this last sort of bigamy many of the
ancient canons are to be understood.— F/a^. Justell. Not. in Can. i. Cone.
Lacd.

'^ O'J IK rct/^cov ifxahriVYKriv. This passage, I think, is hardly capable of
being wrested to signify less than the baptism of children ; for the Martyr
speaks of such as had been discipled unto Christ from their childhood, and
this discipling, we know, was by baptism (Matt, xxviii. 19, where we have
the same word //.uhTivu) ; and these disciples, he says, also continued virgins
all their time, which is another argument of their being baptized from their



The First Apology of Justin Alartyr. (21)

and lived in a constant course of spotless virginity to sixty or
seventy years of age ; and I cannot but glory in being able to
produce so many instances of Christian purity out of every
nation. But why should I go about to muster up a numberless
multitude of such who have taken leave of their intemperance,
and come over to the Christian institution ? For Christ called
not the just, and temperate, but the impious, incontinent, and
unjust to repentance, according to His own saying, " I came
not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance " (Matt,
ix. 13) ; for our heavenly Father delights not in the correction,
but the amendment of sinners.

XIX. Concerning the duty of universal love, He thus
teaches : " If ye love them which love you, what do ye more
than other men ? For sinners do the same. But I say unto
you. Pray for your enemies, love those that hate you, and do
good to them which curse you and despitefully use you "
(Matt. V. 44, 46). Concerning giving alms to the poor, and
against vainglory in doing them. He commands thus : " Give
to every one that asketh, and from him that w^ould borrow
turn not away" (Matt. v. 42). "And if ye lend to them of
whom ye hope to receive again, what thanks have ye ?
Do not publicans the same ? " (Luke vi. 34). " Lay not
up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and
rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and
steal ; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where

childhood ; but, above all, the opposing the children to such as had changed
from intemperance, and consequently were men, and converted and
baptized upon a due consideration of the Christian principles. This
opposition, I say, makes it plain to me that he meant such persons as
were discipled into Christ, before they were capable of learning the Chris-
tian doctrine by instruction. Now this Apology is not fifty years younger
than St. John's Revelation, and if a person of Justin's learning and curio-
sity was able to know such a plain matter of fact as baptism, and if the
Martyr had sincerity enough to declare it ingenuously, then I take this to
be a very strong proof for infant baptism.



(2 2) The First Apology of Justin Martyr,

moth and rust doth not corrupt " (Matt. vi. 19, 20). "For
what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world,
and lose his own soul, or what shall a man give in exchange
for his soul?" (Matt. xvi. 26; Luke ix. 25). "Be ye kind
and merciful, as your Father is kind and merciful, who maketh
His sun to rise upon sinners, on the evil and on the good "
(Matt. V. 45, 48). " Take no thought what you shall eat,
or what you shall put on ; are you not much better than
birds and beasts? And yet God taketh care of them. Be
not therefore solicitous what you shall eat, or wherewithal ye
shall be clothed, for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye
have need of these things. But seek ye the kingdom of God,
and all things shall be added unto you. For where your
treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt. vi. 21, 25,
26? Z'i)' "Take heed that ye do not your alms to be a
spectacle to men, otherwise ye have no reward of your Father
which is in heaven " (Matt. vi. i).

XX. Concerning patience, submission, and meekness, these
are our Master's rules: "Whosoever shall smite thee on thy
right cheek, turn to him the other also ; ^ and him that taketh
away thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also " (Matt. v.
39, 40). " Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause
shall be in danger of hell-fire" (Matt. v. 21). "Whosoever shall

^ '' Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the
other also." Isidore the Pelusiote upon this passage {Ep. 127, 1. 3, p. 269)
has so truly expressed the primitive spirit, and the turn is so engaging, that
I will not ask pardon for setting it down. ' ' The King of Heaven," says he,
"came down to instruct the world in the laws of an heavenly conversation,
which He has proposed in a way of conflict, quite contrary to that in the
Olympic games, for there he that fights and conquers wins the garland ;
here he that is beaten and bears it with patience receives the crown ; there
he that is smitten and returns blow for blow ; here he that turns the other
cheek is celebrated the victor in the theatre of angels ; for the Christian
victory is measured not by revenge but patience. This is the new law of
crowns ; this the new way of conflict and contention. "



The First Apology of Jtistin Martyr, (23)

compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain" (Matt. v. 41). "Let
your Hght so shine before men, that they may see your good
works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. v. 16).
A Christian hand must by no means be lifted up in resistance;
for Christ wnll not have His disciples like the rest of the world,
but orders them to shine with a distinguishing patience and
meekness, and to win men over from their sins by such gentle
arts of conversion. And I could give you a pfoof of the
influence of such bright examples from many converts among
us, who from men of violence and oppression were transformed
into quite another nature, perfectly overcome by the passive
courage of their Christian neighbours, or by observing the new
astonishing patience of such injured Christians as they chanced
to travel with, or the experience they had of their fidelity in
their dealings.

XXI. Concerning swearing not at all, and a perpetual
regard to truth in all our communication, He thus ordains :
" Swear not at alV but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay;
for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil" (Matt.

^ Some of the ancient Fathers from this text, "Swear not at all," held
the taking of an oath unlawful ; but far the greatest part of them were
of another opinion, and interpreted this prohibition, of swearing by the
creatures (which was the case of the Jews, and which our Saviour and St.
James principally aim at, and which is countenanced by the text when
rightly pointed), and of vain, rash, and false swearing. It would be well,
indeed, if the honesty of Christians now-a-days did supersede the necessity
of oaths, and that their majesty was not prostituted by their multitude
and the meanness of the occasion ; but that it is lawful to take an oath, we
have our Master's practice, who answered upon oath ; and St. Paul's often
calling God to witness, to justify the thing, and the military oath taken by
the Christian soldiers, put it out of doubt ; the form of which is thus set
down by Vegetius, an heathen, viz. — " They swore by God, Christ, and
the Holy Spirit, and the majesty of the emperor, which next to God is to
be loved and honoured by mankind." And this you will find exactly
agrees with the account given long before of the Christians by Tertullian,
Apol. c. 32.



(24) The Fit's I Apology of Justin Martyr.

V. 37). Concerning the worship of God only, He thus
appoints : " This is the first Commandment, Thou shalt
worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve
with all thy heart and with all thy strength" (Matt. iv. 10),
the Lord thy God Which made thee. And a certain person
coming to Him, and addressing Him in these words, " Good
Master," He returned him this answer, " There is none good
but God only" (Matt. xix. 16, 17), Who made all things.

XXH. But those now who are found not to make His
precepts the rule of their lives are to be looked upon as no
Christians, let them say never such fine things of His law ; for
it is not the sayers, but the doers, that shall be justified. " Not
every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the
kingdom of heaven ; but he that doth the will of my Father
which is in heaven. Whosoever heareth these sayings of
mine and doeth them, heareth Him that sent me. Many
will say unto me, Lord, Lord, have we not eaten and drunk
in Thy name, and done wonders ? And then will I say
unto them. Depart from me, ye that work iniquity " (Matt,
vii. 21-24). "Then shall there be wailing and gnashing of
teeth, when the righteous shall shine forth as the sun, but
the wicked shall be turned into everlasting fire" (Matt. xiii.
42, 43). " Many shall come to you in my name in sheep's
clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall
know them by their fruits. But every tree that bringeth
not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire "
(Matt. vii. 15, 16, 19). But Christians in word only, who
talk these precepts, but live them not, such we beg may smart
for their hypocrisy.

XXHL As to tribute and custom,^ no men living take such

' To this purpose TertuUian argues, Apol. c. 42, that though they would
not pay taxes for the maintenance of the heathen temples, yet they made
sufficient amends for this in their faithful payments of all the rest. The



The First Apology of Justin Martyr. (25)

pains to pay their collectors so faithfully as we do, who pay
them in obedience to our Lord's command ; for when some
came to Him with this question, " Is it lawful to give tribute
unto Caesar or not ? Tell me (says He) whose image this
money bears ? They say unto Him, Caesar's. Then saith He
unto them. Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are
Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's " (Matt,
xxii. 17, 20, 21). Accordingly, therefore, we render unto God
only the tribute of worship,^ and to you a cheerful obedience
in all things else, acknowledging you to be emperors and
rulers upon earth, and withal praying that imperial majesty
may be always found in the company of true wisdom. ^ But
if neither our prayers, nor all our contributions for the good of
the public, will touch you with any concern for Christians, we
shall be no losers ; for we believe, or rather are fully assured,
that every one according to his demerits shall suffer in eternal
fire, and shall give a strict account to God in proportion to the
power he is intrusted with, as Christ has declared, " For unto
whomsoever God has given much, of him shall be much
required " (Luke xii. 48).

XXIV. Turn back your thoughts upon the past emperors,
and you will find they all died like other men ; and could you
but discover one to be in a state of insensibility, you would

truth is, the primitive Christians were strictly conscientious in everything,
but in nothing more (as you will find in these Apologies) than in what
related to the public, and concerned their duty and obedience to rulers
and governors, and those too very often the worst of men.

^ ©£o» fjtXt f^ovav TpaffKvvoufjiiv. We worship God alone. Angels, therefore,
are not to be worshipped, and Christ and the Holy Ghost Which are
worshipped are consequently God.

■^ Teitullian, likewise, Apol. c. 39, tells us, " It was a solemn part of
the Church in his time to pray for the happiness and prosperity of the
princes under whom they lived. And the Church of England is so truly
primitive in this point, that her liturgy has been thought too much clogged
with prayers for kings."



(26) The First Apology of Justin Martyr.

make a welcome discovery to the wicked world ; but since all
departed souls continue in sensation/ and everlasting fire is
treasured up for the unrighteous, let me advise you to look
well about you, and lay these things seriously to heart. For
even necromancy,^ and the inspection of the entrails of sound
children, and the calling out the souls of dead men, and what
the magicians term dream-senders and familiars, and many
other practices of the dealers in this black art, may induce you
to believe that souls after death are in a state of sensation ;
and, moreover, those persons who are violently caught up, and
dashed down again by departed spirits,^ and who pass among
you all for demoniacs and mad, and likewise the Amphilochian,
Dodonaean, Pythian, and other like oracles, and also the
doctrines of many of your writers, such as Empedocles,
Pythagoras, Plato, and Socrates, and Homer's Ditch^ and
Ulysses's Visit to the Infernal Shades^ ajtd their Confahulatiotis


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