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

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with him, — these, I say, all argue the immortality of human

1 Here we have two things express!)' asserted by Justin Martyr ; one,
that all departed souls are in a state of sensation, against Dr. Coward's
notion of their being in the same senseless state with the body till the
resurrection ; the other, that all the wicked whatsoever shall suffer eternal
torments, against the learned Mr. Dodwell, in his Epistolary Discourse,
" proving from the Scriptures and the First Fathers that the soul is a
principle naturally mortal," etc.

2 The several species of magic you will find mentioned by Tertullian,
Apol. c. 23. The sum of what he drives at in this section is to prove the
immortality of human souls from the practice of magicians, in raising up,
and conversing with departed spirits ; the inspection of the entrails of
young children supposes that the souls of these children stood by and assisted
the inspectors in the revelation of things to come. For a more particular
account of this horrid practice, and for the meaning of the words ovupo-rofA'jroi
and -rupihfiot, I refer the learned reader to Dr. Grabe's Notes upon this

^ Such were the two demoniacs in the country of the Gergesenes, who
came out of the tombs, "exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by
that way" (Matt. viii. 28); and from their dwelling only among tombs,
these spirits were concluded to be the souls of dead men.

The First Apology of Justin Alartyr, (27)

souls, and several others of the same opinion about spirits
with ourselves, with whom we desire the like treatment, as
having not a less, but a much greater faith in God than they
ever had, being under a full expectation of being restored to
these bodies, after they are dead and rotten, because we know
that with God nothing is impossible. -

XXV. And truly what to any considering person would
seem more incredible, were it not that we ourselves are in a
body, than to be told that it is possible for bones and nerves
and flesh to be spun out from a seminal drop, into such a
thing as we see man to be ; I speak this by way of hypothesis ;
supposing, I say, before you were in the state you now are,
and generated of such parents, any one should come and
show you this seminal drop and the picture of man, and
withal aver it to be possible for such a creature to rise out of
such a principle, which of you would think it credible before
he saw the production ? Not one, I daresay, would deny it to
be impossible. In the same manner you are now possessed
with a disbelief of a resurrection, because you never saw a
person rise again from the dead : but as at first you would
not believe it possible for this little speck to work itself into a
man, though now you see it true in fact, so ought you to
conclude it as practicable for human bodies covered in the
earth, and dead like seed, to spring again in their season at
the Almighty Word, and put on incorruption. But how suit-
able such a power is to God which those cut out for Him who
affirm everything to depart into that original matter from
whence it came, and after that departure to be gone for ever,
and irrevocable even beyond the call of God Himself; whether
this, I say, is a becoming notion of Almighty Power, I will not
now inquire ; but this I will venture to say, that these gentle-
men would never have believed it possible that themselves
and the whole world could have been what they now find
they are, and from such principles.

(28) The First Apology of Jiistin Mm^tyr.

XXVI. But we have justly presumed it the most rational
to believe what may seem inconsistent with the nature of
things, and to men impossible, rather than stand out and
imitate others in a foolish infidelity, especially since our
Master Christ hath taught us,^ "That the things which are
impossible with men are possible with God" (Luke xviii. 27) ;
and likewise given orders, " Not to fear them that kill the
body, and after that have no more that they can do ; but fear
Him who after He hath killed is able to destroy both soul and
body in hell" (Matt. x. 28).

XXVn. Now hell is that place where the wicked livers,
and such as disbelieve the revelations of God by Christ,
shall suffer ; and the Sibyl and Hystaspes hath both given
out that this whole system of corruptibles shall be destroyed
by fire ; ^ nay, the Stoics have a conceit that God Himself shall
be resolved into fire, and that there shall rise a new world
refined from the ruins of the old ; but we conceive far more
honourably of God than to range the Creator of the universe
among things subject to alteration.

XXVni. If, then, we hold some opinions near of kin to the
poets and philosophers in greatest repute among you, and
others of a diviner strain, and far above out of their sight,
and have demonstration on our side into the bargain, why are
we to be thus unjustly hated, and to stand distinguished in
misery above the rest of mankind ? For in saying that all things

' This great philosopher and Christian martyr was so far from thinking
with our modern reasoners, that his faith ought to go no further than clear-
ness and connection of ideas, that he thought it reasonable, and becoming
finite minds, to believe beyond the ken of mortal eye, and to conclude that
possible to God which to us might seem impossible.

2 ** Esse quoque in fatis reminiscitur affore tempus,
Quo Mare, quo Tellus, correptaque Regia Cseli
Ardeat, et mundi moles operosa laboret."

— Ovid, Mefain. lib. i.

The First Apology of Justin Martyr. (29)

were made in this beautiful order by God, wliat do we seem
to say more than Plato? When we teach a general con-
flagration, what do we teach more than the Stoics ? When we
assert departed souls to be in a state of sensibiHt)^, and the
wicked to be in torments, but the good free from pain and in
a blissful condition, we assert no more than your poets and
philosophers. By opposing the worship of the works of men's
hands, we concur with Menander the comedian, and such as
affirm the workman to be greater than his work ; and by
declaring the Logos, the First-begotten of God, our Master
Jesus Christ, to be born of a Virgin without any human
mixture, and to be crucified and dead, and to have rose again
and ascended into heaven, we say no more in this than what
you say of those whom you style the sons of Jove.

XXIX. For you need not be told what a parcel of sons
the writers most in vogue among you assign to Jove ; ^ there
is Mercury, Jove's interpreter, in imitation of the Logos,
in worship among you, and your grand teacher ; there is
^sculapius, the physician smitten by a bolt of thunder, and

' The kingdom of darkness had well-nigh overcast the wliole world
when the Sun of Righteousness rose upon it. The worship of false gods
obtained everywhere but among the Jews, and this universal idolatry
being one of the greatest obstructions to the light of the gospel, and the
prevailing sin of these times, the reader must be content to find the first
Christian apologists very large upon this head, in order to root out this
pack of vanities, and to ridicule and argue them out of the world ; and be-
cause the worship of a crucified man was that which they mostly stuck at,
Justin makes a parallel, and shows that this Christ, the God of Christians,
neither as the Son of God, nor of a Virgin, nor as a crucified man, could
justly be objected against and denied divine worship by those who had
so many sons and daughters of Jove, and such too as suffered death, in
constant worship amongst themselves. But this kind of idolatry being
now quite out of doors, I shall not trouble the reader with any notes upon
the gods of the heathen, as thinking it altogether unedifying, and there-
fore, once for all, refer the more curious to the remarks of Dr. Grabe in
his edition of this Apology.

G '

(30) The First Apology of Justin Martyr.

after that ascending into heaven ; there is Bacchtis, torn to
pieces ; and Hercules, burnt to get rid of his pains ; there are
Pollux and Castor, the sons of Jove by Leda, and Perseus by
Danne, and the mortal Bellerophon, who fell from his Pegasus ;
not to mention Ariadne, and others like her, translated into
constellations, according to your writers. Moreover, I would
fain know why you always deify the departed emperors, and
have a fellow at hand to make affidavit that he saw Caesar
mount to heaven from the funeral pile? Nor can I think
there is any need of repeating to such knowing persons the
extravagances recorded of every son of Jove, only to put you
in mind that they are recorded for the better corrupting and
improving young students in the arts of debauchery ; for every
one thinks it noble to equal the gods in wickedness. But far
be it from men of sense to harbour such opinions of the gods,
namely, that their Jove, the supreme and father of all the gods,
should be a parricide, and the son of a parricide, and be
captivated by the vilest lusts, and descended upon Ganimede
and a crew of notorious adulteresses, and beget children after
his own likeness. But as I have said, these are the stratagems
of wicked spirits ; whereas we teach that such only should be
crowned with a blessed immortality who have imitated God
in virtue ; and those who have lived wickedly, and not re-
pented to the amendment of their lives, we believe shall be
punished in fire everlasting.

XXX. As to the Son of God called Jesus, should we allow
Him to be nothing more than man, yet the title of the Son of
God is very justifiable upon the account of His wisdom ; for is
not God styled by your own writers. Father of Gods and Men ?
But now if we say that the Logos of God is properly the
l^egotten of God, by a generation quite different from that of
men, as I have already mentioned, yet even this I say is no
more than what you might very well tolerate, considering you
have your Mercury in worship under the title of the Word and

The First Apology of Jitstin Martyr. (31)

Messenger of God. As to the objection of our Jesus being
crucified, I say that suffering was common to all the fore-
mentioned sons of Jove, but only they suffered another kind
of death ; so that Christ does not seem at all inferior to them
upon the score of the difference of His suffering, but much
superior even in this very respect of His passion, as I shall
prove in the following discourse, or rather indeed have proved
already; for the excellency of every one is to be judged of by
the nature and end of his actions. As to His being born of
a Virgin, you have your Perseus to balance that; as to His
_ curing the lame and the paralytic, and such as v^ere cripples
from their birth, this is little more than what you say of your

XXXI. But in order to make it more plain that whatever
we have declared from Christ and His preceding prophets is
true and older than any of your writers, and that we desire to
be believed, not because we deliver many the same things
with them, but because we deliver the truth, and nothing but
the truth, and that Jesus alone is properly the Son of God, as
being the Logos, and First-begotten, and Power of God, and
by His counsel was made man, and taught these doctrines
for the conversion and restoration of mankind, before Whose
coming in our flesh these same evil spirits, by their instru-
ments, the poets, dressed up fables to represent these things
as already past and over, on purpose to defeat the good
designs of His coming; just such another pack of scandalous
wicked lies they have at present invented to render Christians
odious, for which they cannot produce one witness, nor any-
thing like proof, as I shall presently make appear.

XXXn. But first, I cannot but take notice that though we
hold some opinions like those of the Greeks, yet the name of
Christ is the only thing we are hated for, and though never
so innocent, yet we are dragged to execution like criminals ;

(32) The First Apology of Justin Martyi',

while others in other places have the liberty of worshipping
trees, and rivers, and mice, and cats, and crocodiles, and
many other such like silly animals; nor do the same things
neither pass universally for deities, but different countries have
different gods; insomuch that they charge each other with
irreligion for not worshipping the same deities ; and yet, for-
sooth, the only thing you accuse us for is for not worshipping
the same gods, for not offering libations, and the nidors of
fat, and plaited garlands, and victims to departed spirits
and you need not be told that the same deities obtain not
everywhere, for what serves some for a god serves others for
a sacrifice.

XXXIII. I must tell you in the next place that we
Christians out of all parts of the world, who formerly were
worshippers of the sons of Semele and Latona, Bacchus and
Apollo, whose abominable amours and practices with men it
is a shame to mention, and who, ^adored Proserpina and
Venus, a brace of goddesses whose mysteries you now cele-
brate, one stark, staring mad for Adonis, the other ravished
by Aidoneus or Pluto ; we who adored ^sculapius; or any
of those who pass among you for gods, now through Jesus
Christ have them all in the greatest contempt, though at the
utmost peril of our hves ; but dedicate ourselves to the ser-
vice of the Unbegotten Impassible God, who never had, we
are sure, any affair with Antiope and such like, nor anything
to do with Ganimede, nor ever stood in need of the help of
the hundred-handed giant which your Jove is said to have
obtained at the suit of Thetis, nor ever solicitous to show his
gratitude for his deliverance that her son Achilles should have
ample satisfaction for being deprived of his harlot Briseis, and
revenge the affront at the expense of many of the Grecians'
lives. We heartily pity those who can believe such stuff about
the gods they worship, but we know that the wicked spirits
are at the bottom of all these impostures.

The First Apology of Justin Martyr. (33)

XXXIV. Thirdly, it is notorious that after Christ's ascen-
sion into heaven, these same accursed spirits furnished out a
set of men who gave out themselves to be gods ; and yet
were you so far from punishing such villains that you did them
the greatest honour. For there is Simon, a certain Samaritan
of the village Gitthon, who in Claudius Caesar's time, by his
magic arts with the powers of darkness, did such wonderful
feats in the imperial city of Rome, that he gained the reputa-
tion of a god, and accordingly is honoured by you, like your
other gods, with a statue erected upon the Tiber between the
two bridges^, with this Latin inscription, " Simoni Deo Sancto,"
"To Simon the Holy God.''^ And the Samaritans, almost in

1 John Daille, in his Abuse of the Fathers (for that ought to be the
title of the book),— instead of recommending the authority of such men,
who lived so near the apostles both in point of time and virtue, instead of
insisting upon their general agreement in articles fundamental, and other
truly admirable and edifying excellences in their writings,— this author, I
say, chiefly pleases himself in picking holes, and exposing what he calls
faults, in the best light for a malicious eye ; like an ill-natured painter,
who draws a shade over all the beauties of a face, and mainly employs his
pencil to magnify scars and pockholes ; and this passage, among others, he
has pitched upon for the discredit of Justin Martyr. " The good Father,"
says he in his fleering way, "was mistaken, and instead of Semoni read
Simoni, and for Sanco, Sancto ; whereas our learned critics now inform
us it was only an inscription to one of the pagan demi-gods, ' Semoni Deo
Sanco.' " The learned Dr. Grabe, who is just the reverse of John Daille,
and employs his learning to keep us upon the ancient bottom, and justify
the Fathers from the errors of transcribers, yet even he is of opinion that
our Justin was imposed upon in this inscription; and Valesius himself
concludes so likewise ; and the main grounds they go upon is, that in the
last 'age there was a statue dug up with this inscription, "Semoni Sango
Deo Fidio Sacrum." If this should be a mistake of our Justin, it is no
great matter ; but it is a mistake wherein Irenasus, Tertullian, Eusebius,
Augustin all concur. But when I consider that our Martyr himself was
a Samaritan, and lived in the next age ; that he was a person of great
learning and gravity, of a genius wonderfully inquisitive about matters
of this nature ; that he was at this time at Rome, where every one,^ no
doubt, could inform him (if he had not Latin enough for the inscription)
what strange god this was the statue of, as easily as any one about London


(34) The First Apology of Justin Martyr,

general, though very few of other nations, confess and wor-
ship him as the first and principal god ; and a certain Helena
who strolled about with him at that time, and had been a
common prostitute in the stews, they entide the next intelli-
gence to him; and one Menander likewise, a Samaritan, of
the village Capparetasa, and a disciple of Simon, set on work
by the same demons, and residing at Antioch, imposed upon
many by the same magic arts, as we very well know, and
wrought up his followers into a persuasion that they should
never die ; ^ and there are some of his sect who are possessed
with the same frenzy to this day.

could tell now whose the statue is at Charing Cross ; that he presented this
Apology to the Emperors and Senate of Rome, to whom he would be
careful what he said, and not in two different places insist upon the same
thing, and press for the demolishing of this statue, which, if not the statue
of Simon Magus, must needs be resented as a bold and notorious fable,
and have a very ill effect upon his Apology and the Christian cause; when
I consider these things, I say, they weigh much more with me on the side
of Justin, and the other Fathers, than a conjecture merely grounded upon the
statue lately dug up does against them. Moreover, we learn from Baronius
and Gruter that there were other statues to this Semoni Sango in several
places of Italy, besides that in the Tiberine Island, and so the Fathers
could not be easily mistaken about this pagan demi-god ; and Lactantius
and St. Augustin expressly mention this Sangus as the god of the Sabines ;
and the Christian writers do likewise affirm that the statue of Simon
Magus was erected by public authority, whereas this to Sangus was of
private donation by Sextus Pompeius ; the statue of Sangus was of stone,
that of Simon Magus of brass. So that here we have two statues of
different materials, and with different inscriptions, and yet they must be
one and the same, because the Fathers are to be discredited. Unless,
therefore, Daille and le Clerk can prove that the Tiberine Island could
not hold two statues, they prove nothing to the purpose ; but some men
never think they make a good figure but when they stand upon the
ruins of Christian antiquity. See this matter fully cleared in a book
called Defensio S. Aiigustini adversus Joan. Phereponi Anitnadversiones,
p. 176.

^ A doctrine much perhaps of the same complexion with what Mr.

A ill broached lately, though not, I believe, with the same success of


The First Apology of Jttstin Martyr. (35)

XXXV. There is one Marcion, also of Pontus, who at this
time instructs his disciples in the doctrine of another god,
greater than the Creator of the world, and who, by the assist-
ance of the evil spirits, has spread this poison so effectually
about every nation as to prevail upon many to subscribe to
the blasphemy, and deny the Maker of the universe to be
God, professing another greater deity, and a creator of greater
worlds; and yet all this sort of men ,go by the name of
Christians, as I have already said ; just like the philosophers
who, though they differ never so much in principles, yet all
take upon them the common title of philosopher. But whether
these heretics are really guilty of those cursed and scandalous
actions, which are industriously spread abroad about Chris-
tians, such as putting out the candles, and promiscuous
copulations, and the devouring of human flesh, I cannot say ;
but this I am sure of, that you do not harass and destroy them
as you do us for these detestable doctrines.^ But I have

^ Because the reader will meet with this horrid charge against Christians
in all these Apologies, of promiscuous mixtures, and devouring an infant at
their meetings, I think it will not be impertinent in this place to acquaint
him Avith the grounds of such false and malicious accusations. Origen
fathers them upon the Jews, as if they had invented them on purpose to
bring Christianity into disgrace ; "and these lies," said he, "succeeded so
well, that even some in his time would not hold the least conversation with
a Christian ; but though the Jews had malice enough to invent anything to
the prejudice of Christians, yet I can hardly be persuaded that all this
was pure lie and invention without any ground. We know that in the
most early times of the gospel there were several sorts of heretics, such
as Simon Magus, Menander, Marcion, Marcus, Basilides, etc., who all
covered themselves over with the gilded name of Christians, and yet were
all guilty of these horrid abominations charged upon Christians in general.'
Irenaeus, adv. Hares, lib. i. c. i. p. 28, and c. ix. p. 70, reports that they
debauched in private the woman which they had perverted and brought
over to their sect (as many with shame and sorrow acknowledged upon
their return to the Church) ; and not only so, but they openly married
the women they had seduced from their husbands, and laughed at the
chaste and orthodox Christians as a parcel of blockheads, styling them-
selves the pure, the perfect, and the seeds of election, Clemens Alex-

(36) The First Apology of Justin Martyr.

composed a treatise of all these heresies, which I am ready to
produce for your satisfaction, if you are ready to peruse it.

XXXVI. But we who are truly Christians are so far from
maintaining any unjust or ungodly opinions, that exposing of
infants, which is so much in practice among you, we teach to
be a very wicked practice; first, because we see that such
children, both girls and boys, are generally all trained up for
the service of lust ; for as the ancients bred up these foundlings
to feed cows, or goats, or sheep, or grass-horses, so now-a-days
such boys are brought up only to be abused against nature ;
and accordingly you have a herd of these women and effeminate
men, standing prostitute for sale in every nation ; and you
traffic with such kind of cattle, and take toll and custom for

andrinus, likewise, Strom, lib. iii. p. 430, tells the same story of the
Carpocratians that Minutius Felix does of the Christians, namely, that
both men and women used to meet at supper in imitation of the love-
feast, and after they had been w'ell warmed with meat and drink, put out
the candles and promiscuously mixed with one another. And Epiphanius
tells us of the Gnostics, Hceres. xxvi. p. 42, that they had their wives in
common, and when a stranger of their own sect came to them, both men
and women had a sign to know one another by ; for by stretching out
their hands by way of salutation, and by tickling each other in the ball of
their hand, they knew the stranger to be of their party. Amongst their
brethren, the Carpocratians, they were wont to mark their disciples and
proselytes under the right ear with a slit or hole ; and this agrees with the
charge of the heathens, that they knew one another at first sight by privy
marks and signs, which perhaps is referred to Minutius Felix. Besides,
Epiphanius, Hceres. xxvi. p. 43, tells us that the Gnostics at their meetings
were wont to take an infant begotten in their promiscuous mixtures, and
beating it in a mortar, to season it with honey and pepper, and some other
spices and perfumes to make it palatable, and then like swine or dogs to
devour it, and this they accounted their " perfect passover. " Now this being
the practice of these abominable heretics, who had the forehead to style
themselves Christians, it is no wonder if both Jews and Gentiles, who were
greedy of any occasion to blacken the Christians, should load them all in
general with these detestable crimes, either not knowing them to be false,
or else not willing to distinguish between Christians true or false.

The First Apology of Justin Martyr. (37)

their wickedness, when all such monstrous practices ought to
be quite and clean rooted out of the world. And besides,
whoever has to do with such wicked creatures, not only defiles

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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 18 of 24)