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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driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the
judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous : but the way
of the ungodly shall perish. Why do the heathen rage, and
the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth
stood up, and the rulers took counsel together, against the
Lord, and against His Christ : Let us break their bonds

' The First Apology of J2cstin Martyr. (49)

asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth
in the heavens shall laugh : the Lord shall have them in
derision. Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and
vex them in His sore displeasure. Yet have I set my King
upon my holy hill of Sion. I will declare the decree : the
Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son ; this day have I
begotten Thee. Ask of me, and I shall give Thee the heathen
for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for
Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron ;
Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Be wise
now therefore, O ye kings : be instructed, ye judges of the
earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Obey His doctrine, lest the Lord be angry, and ye perish from
the right way, when His wrath shall be kindled on a sudden.
Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him." ^

LH. And again, in another prophecy, which the prophetic
Spirit delivered by the same David concerning Christ's king-
dom, which was to commence just after His crucifixion. He
speaks in this wise : " Sing unto the Lord all the whole earth,
and be telling of His salvation from day to day. For the Lord
is great, and cannot worthily be praised : He is more to be
feared than all gods, for all the gods of the heathen are but
the idols of devils ; but it is the Lord that made the heavens.
Glory and worship are before Him, power and honour are in
His sanctuary. Ascribe unto the Lord, the Father everlasting,
worship and power ; bring presents, and come into His courts.
Let the whole earth stand in awe of Him, and be made so fast
in His worship that it cannot be moved. Let them rejoice
among the nations, for the Lord reigneth from the tree " ^ (Ps.
xcvi. i-ii).

^ Ps. i. and ii.

2 Vid. Dial, cum Tryph. p. 298. And in allusion to the Cross are those
words in the Book of Wisdom, "Blessed is the Word whereby righteous-
ness Cometh " (Wisd. xiv. 7).

(5o) The First Apology of Justin Martyr.

LI II. But because the prophetic Spirit speaks of futurities
and things past, and lest this should prove any offence in the
reader's way, I shall clear it a little more particularly. I say,
then, that what the Spirit knows must certainly come to pass
He declares as already fulfilled; and that we are thus to
understand His words will be very evident, if you reflect a
little upon the passages I have quoted; for David, about iioo
years ^ before the crucifixion of Christ in our flesh, gave out the
prophecies aforesaid, and not one, either of his predecessors or
successors, were ever crucified, or brought such glad tidings to
the Gentile world. But our Jesus Christ, after His crucifixion
and death, rose again and ascended into heaven and entered
upon His kingdom ; and what He proclaimed to all nations by
His apostles spreads a universal joy upon the hearts of such
as are in expectation of that immortality which is brought to
light by His gospel.

LIV. But lest any should collect from what has been said
that we are assertors of fatal necessity, and conclude that pro-
phecy must needs infer predestination,^ we shall clear ourselves
as to this point also. For we learn from these very prophets

' A«i3}5 £T£(r; Xi^xloii kx] vivTaxoffloi;. Here again Dr. Grabe has wiped
off a sad blemish, which the aforesaid John Daille would fix upon Justin in
point of chronology, and has plainly proved it to be an error in the scribe.
See the notes upon this passage.

2 That the pagans were very much inclined to infer, with the Stoics, a
fatal necessity from the prediction of things to come, is evident from what
Origen replies to Celsus upon this subject. Orig. contra Cels. lib, ii. p. 72.
I know that our Martyr is thought hardly of for magnifying the power of
man's will, but this is notoriously evident to have been the current doctrine
of the Fathers, through all the first ages till the rise of the Pelagian con-
troversy, though they all acknowledged x'^P'^ l^xiptvov a mighty assistance
of divine grace to raise up the soul for divine and spiritual things. And
Justin tells his adversary, that it is vain for man to think of rightly
understanding the prophets unless he be assisted ^£t« f^iyxX'/is x^piro; rvit
-Trctpk @icv, "by a mighty grace derived from God." Dial, aim Tryph.
P- 319-

The First Apology of Justin Martyr, (51)

that rewards and punishments are to be distributed in propor-
tion to the merits of mankind, and it is a truth we ourselves
profess. For if it be not so, but all things are determined
by fate, then farewell freedom of will; and if this man is
destined to be good, and that evil, then neither the one nor the
other can be justly approved or condemned ; so that unless we
suppose that mankind has it in his power to choose the good
and refuse the evil, no one can be accountable for any action
whatever. But to prove that men are good or evil by choice,
I argue in this manner. We see in the same person a transi-
tion to quite contrary actions ; but, now, was he necessitated
either to be good or bad he would not be capable of this
contrariety, nor so often vary from one to the other; besides,
there would not be this diversity of virtuous and vicious in the
world; for either we must say with you that destiny is the
cause of evil, — and then destiny would act contradictorily to
herself in being the cause of good, — or else I must say, what I
have said already, that you conclude virtue and vice to be in
themselves nothing, but to receive their estimate of good or
bad from the opinions of men only, which, according to right
reason, is a consummate piece of impiety and injustice.

LV. But this, I will tell you, is destiny, inevitable destiny,
that those who choose to walk in the paths of virtue shall meet
with proportionate returns of honour, and those who prefer the
contrary course shall be punished accordingly; for God has
not made man like trees or beasts, without the power of
election ; for he that has no hand in making himself good or
bad, but is born so ready made, is no proper subject for. the
distributions of justice ; for neither the good nor the evil are
such by themselves, but only as they are framed by the hand
of destiny.

LVI. Moreover, the Holy prophetic Spirit has instructed us
in the doctrine of free-will by Moses, who introduces God,

(52) The First Apology of Jttstin Martyr.

speaking to the new-made man in this manner : " Behold,
good and evil is before you; choose the good."^ And again,
by another prophet, Isaiah, He speaks to the same effect in
the person of God, the Father and Lord of the universe :
"Wash ye, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings,
learn to do well, judge the fatherless, and plead for the
widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the
Lord : Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as
snow ; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the
land : But if ye refuse and rebel, the sword shall feed upon
you: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it" (Isa. i. 16-20).
And whereas it is said that the " sword shall feed upon you,"
and not that the disobedient shall be cut off by swords, I must
tell you, by the by, that the " sword of God " is fire, which
shall prey upon those who have made wickedness their choice,
and therefore He says, " The sword shall feed upon you ; the
mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." Whereas had He spoken
of a common sword which cuts off, and despatches in a
moment. He would not have used the word "feeding upon,"
which intimates a gradual destruction.

LVII. When Plato therefore said " that the blame lies at
his door who wills the sin, but God wills no evil,"^ he borrowed
the saymg from Moses ; for Moses is older than any of your
Greek writers;^ and as to all their notions about the immortality
of the soul, and punishments after death, and their divine
theories, and such-like doctrines, the philosophers and poets
plainly took their hints from the prophets, which they con-
sulted and built upon, and by this means the seeds of truth

^ Deut. XXX. 15, 19, See Dr. Grabe's notes upon this.

2 Plat, de Repub. lib. x. p. 617, edit. Henr. Stephani.

^ At the easiest computation, between Moses and Homer there are above
600 years ; nay, Cadmus, the first inventor of letters among the Grecians,
was some ages junior to Moses.

The First Apology of Justin Martyr. (53)

seem to be scattered about the world ; but it is evident they
understood them not as they should do, from the manifold
contradictions amongst them.

LVIII. By maintaining, therefore, that future events have
been foretold by the prophets, we do not maintain that the
things foretold came to pass by any fatal necessity, but from
that divine prescience which foresees all the actions of men,
without necessitating them to act. And since a just retri-
bution of rewards and punishments is a current opinion in the
world, God has been pleased to second this notion by the
prophetic Spirit, the more to awaken mankind and to print a
future judgment perpetually upon their minds, and withal to
show that His providence is concerned about us, and observes
all our actions.

LIX. But it was brought about by devil-craft to be made a
capital crime to read the books of Hystaspes Sibylla,^ and the

^ The great objection against the Sibylline oracles, etc., is, that they so
plainly and expressly foretell Christ to the heathen world ; as plainly, if not
more than the prophets did to the Jews ; but was not Christ as manifestly
foretold by Balaam, the Aramitic sorcerer, as by the prophet Isaiah ? Did
not Job, who was not of Israel, speak of the great article of the resurrec-
tion ? (xix. 25). Did not Daniel in his captivity communicate his pro-
phecies to the Gentiles as well as the Jews ? And was not a prophet sent
to Jeroboam, an Israelite indeed by birth, but a pagan in religion ? All
which plainly prove that God never delivered Himself more plainly by His
prophets than when He transacted with Gentiles, and not with Jews.
And this likewise proves what Clemens Alexandrinus tells us in Stjv. c. vi.
p. 270, that as God raised up prophets among the Jews to bring them to
salvation, " Sic et selectissimum quemque e Paganis servare voluisse,
prophetas ipsis proprios, propria ipsorum dialecto excitando ; " and to these
Sibyls, Justin, Clemens, Origen, Eusebius, Lactantius, send the heathen
for the truth of Christianity, and laid so great a stress upon them, that they
were called Sibyllists. But now, had all these books of the Sibyls been
Christian forgeries (not to mention the baseness of such pious frauds
abominated by the first Christians), they would never have been so sillily
impudent as to have appealed to them before the emperors, and to the

(54) The First Apology of Justin Martyr.

prophets, upon a presumption that men would not venture upon
such books for better information at the peril of their lives, but
rather sit down contented slaves to the powers of darkness.
But the devils missed their aim, for we are not only afraid to
read these scriptures, but, as you see, frankly offer them to
your perusal, presuming they may be well accepted by all \ but
if we gain a few only, we shall be great gainers, for God will
look upon us as good husbandmen, who have done our best,
and will reward us accordingly.

LX. But to return from this digression to the prophecies

whole world. And Origen would never have challenged Celsus, or any of
the heathens, to give a considerable instance where these books were inter-
polated by Christians, which, no doubt, they would have triumphantly
produced, had they any such interpolations to produce, Orig. contr. Cels.
lib. i. Moreover, it is certain that in Cicero's time the Sibylline pro-
phecies were interpreted by some in favour of Cassar, as predicting a
monarchy, Cic. Di7}. 1. ii., '^' Eum, quem revera regem," etc. "That if we
would be safe, we should acknowledge him for a king who really w^as so."
Which interpretation Cicero after Csesar's death was so much offended
with, that he quarrelled with the oracles and the interpreters, "Quamobrem
Sibyllam quidem sepositam," etc. " Wherefore let us shut up the Sibyl, and
keep her close ; that according to the decree of our ancestors, her verses
may not be read without the express command of the Senate." And then
adds, " Cum Antistitibus," etc. '* Let us also deal with the Quindecimviri
and the interpreters of these Sibylline books, that they would rather pro-
duce anything out of them than a king." And that in the Eclogue of
Virgil, "Ultima Cumaei venit," etc., written about the beginning of
Herod the Great, and flatteringly applied to Pollio's son Saloninus, speaks
of such a golden age and reuuvallon of eiU things, as cannot be fulfilled in
the reign of any earthly king, and in a strain prophetic. The same year
that Pompey took Jerusalem, one of the Sibyl oracles made a mighty
noise, viz., " That Nature was about to bring forth a king to the Romans."
And Suetonius, in his Life of Augustus, says, " That this so terrified the
Senate that they made a decree that none born that year should be educated,
and that those whose wives were with child applied the prophecy to them-
selves." And Appian, Plutarch, Sallust, and Ciceroall say that it w-as this
prophecy of the Sibyls which stirred up Cornelius Lentulus at that time,
he hoping ihat he was the man designed for this king of the Romans.

The First Apology of Justin Martyr. (55)

concerning Christ, it was prophesied, that after His resurrection
God the Father of all things should take Him up into heaven,
there to reign till He had put down His spiritual enemies, the
whole host of darkness, under His feet, and till the number
should be fulfilled which He foreknew would be men of piety
and virtue, for whose sake He suspends the general conflagra-
tion. Hear the words of the prophet David to this purpose,
" The Lord saith unto my Lord, Sit Thou at my right hand until
I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. The Lord shall send the
rod of Thy strength out of Sion : rule Thou in the midst of

The words of Suetonius in the Life of Vespasian are very remarkable,
*'Percrebuerat oriente toto vetus et constans opinio, esse in fatis, ut eo
tempore Judsea profecti rerum potirentur ; " and to the same purpose are
those of Tacitus {Hist. 1. v.), " Pluribus persuasio inerat, antiquis Sacer-
dotum literis contineri, eo ipso tempore fore, ut valesceret oriens, pro-
fectique Judsea rerum potirentur." Now that which I look upon as the
most probable account of these express prophecies concerning Christ, I
mean how they came to be so rife among the heathens, is this, that the
Jews in their dispersion took all occasions to speak the most magnificent
things of their expected Messiah ; and that these prophecies, by the more
than ordinary grace of God, shone brighter and clearer upon their minds
during their captivity, as the great support to them under their exile ; and
that the Jewish oracles came to be admitted into the Sibylline books laid
up in the Capitol, I believe, was upon this occasion. Now the books of
Sibyls were of two kinds, those bought by Tarquin, and burnt with the
Capitol in the time of Sylla ; and these we find from Livy were full of
nothing but idolatry and superstition. But after the rebuilding of the
Capitol, there were others brought from Erythrsea by the' three ambassadors
deputed for that purpose ; and afterwards upon the same design were others
sent by Augustus, as Tacitus tells us, Annal. lib. vi., " Qusesitis Samo, Ilio,
Erythris, per Africam etiam et Siciliam et Italicas Colonias Carminibus
Sibyllas, datum Sacerdotibus negotium, quantum humana ope potuissent,
vera discernere." And to the same purpose Suetonius, Aug. c. 31. Now
who can doubt but in this search after the Sibylline oracles, many of the
Jewish prophecies were picked up (especially those famous ones concern-
ing the new king), and carried with the rest to Rome ; for after the first
were burnt with the Capitol, who could possibly distinguish the one from
the other ? And therefore Tacitus cautiously adds in the afore-cited passage,
"quantum humana ope potuissent."

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Thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of
Thy power, in the beauties of holiness ; from the womb have
I begotten Thee before the morning star " (Ps. ex. 1-3).
Now these words, "The Lord shall send the rod of Thy
strength out of Jerusalem," are predictive of that most powerful
doctrine, which the apostles after their departure from Jeru-
salem proclaimed to the whole world ; which very doctrine
we embrace and teach everywhere, though we know it is death
by your law to teach it, or so much as profess the name of
Christ. But if the Christian profession must still meet with
such bitter treatment, remember what I told you before, that
the farthest you can go is to take away our lives ; but the loss
of this life will certainly be no ill bargain to us. You, indeed,
and all such wicked enemies, without repentance, shall one day
dearly pay for this persecution in fire everlasting.

LXI. But lest men of perverse minds for the staggering of
Christian converts should object, that we ourselves allow Christ
not to have been born above an hundred and fifty years, in the
time of Cyrenius, and that He broached His doctrine under
Pontius Pilate ; and from hence cry out that all mankind
before the birth of Christ must consequently have been inno-
cent, I shall by way of prevention solve this doubt. One
article of our faith then is, that Christ is the First-begotten of
God, and we have already proved Him to be the very Logos,
or universal Reason, of Which mankind are all partakers ; and
therefore those who live by reason are in some sort Christians,^

^ For the better understanding of this passage, which is so severely
excepted against by Daille, Casaubon, and others, you are to observe in
what sense our Justin uses the word \oyoi ; and his notion is plainly this,
that Christ was the Eternal Xoyoi or Wisdom of His Father, the -koyo;
I'thiaiiTOi Kx, olffiwh;, the inward substantial Word of His Father, the
Fountain of Reason, as the sun is the fountain of light, and that from Him
there was a X'oyos or Reason naturally derived into every man, as a beam
and emanation of light from that sun ; to which purpose Origen, who is
exactly of the same opinion, expounds that of St. John, " In the beginning

The First Apology of Jits tin Martyr. (57)

notwithstanding they may pass with you for atheists. Such
among the Greeks were Socrates and HeracHtus, and the like ;
and such among the barbarians were Abraham, and Ananias,
and Azarias, and Misael, and Ehas, and many others, whose
actions, nay, whose very names, I know, would be tedious to
relate, and therefore shall pass them over ; so, on the other
side, those who have lived in defiance of reason, were un-
christian, and enemies to the Logos, and such as lived
according to Him; but they who make reason the rule of
their actions are Christians, men of undaunted courage and
untroubled consciences, for whose sake the Logos, by the will
of God, the Father and Lord of all, was by the very power of
Himself made man in the womb of a virgin, ^ and was named

was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God.
That was the true Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the
world," Orig. Cotii. in Joan. p. 25, "vide eliaui, p. 40. Upon this same
occdiSion ]\xsi\n, m hi?, Seco7id Apology, p. 46, calls Christ the toZ Tavro;
x'oyov, " the universal Word or Reason." And Heraclitus, and those who
lived according to reason in part, are here said to live xaTo. ffrip[/.a.TtKoZ
Xoyov fiipo;, according to the seminal word sown in their nature. Now, in-
asmuch as by this " Logos all things were created, that are in heaven and
that are in the earth " (Col. i. 16), the effect must in some measure par-
take of the efficient. The case then, in short, is no more than this, every
man is naturally endued with reason, as a light kindled from Him who is
the Logos or Wisdom of His Father, and may be so far said to partake of
Christ, the original Wisdom ; and so far as they live "after the image of
Him that created them," may be said xaru. Xoyov jiiouv, and in this sense
be called Christians, But Justin nowhere affirms that the Gentiles might
be saved without the entertainment of Christianity ; for in many places
in this Apology you find him denouncing eternal fire against such as
refuse to embrace the faith ; but only so far as those who never heard
of the gospel lived up to reason, so far were they akin to the original
Logos, and in some sort Christians. And that whatever was rightly taught
by Socrates among the Greeks, or by others among the barbarians, was in
effect done by the Logos Himself, " the Word made flesh."

^ A/a Ivvk/xsm; tov Xoyov. Section 43, " The Spirit and Power of
God " which overshadowed the virgin, our Justin interprets to be the
Spirit and Power of the very Logos. And here again he says, the Logos

(58) The First Apology of Justin Martyr.

Jesus, and was crucified, and died, and rose again from the
dead, and went again into heaven ; all which I have proved at
large, and is very intelligible to any person of honest under-
standing. And because enough has been said upon this
head, I shall proceed to others, which at present seem more

begot Himself; and that of St. Luke i. 35, '^rnZf^'/. uyiov and ^vvetfin
v-^itrrov, " the Holy Spirit and the Power of the Most High." Tertullian
likewise expounds of the very Logos, adv. Prax. c. 26. This, I confess,
seemed to me at first sight a very harsh interpretation, but finding, upon
second thoughts, that it related not to His eternal generation, but only to
that in time and in the womb of a virgin, I concluded that these Fathers
could mean no more than what the Scriptures plainly say, viz. that He
took upon Himself our flesh, and made Himself man in the womb of a
virgin. But then this interpretation manifestly overthrows what the
author of the Reasonableness of Christianity would insinuate, pp. 199, 200,
201, and elsewhere, that Christ was only the Son of God, because He was
conceived in the womb of a virgin by the immediate power of God :
"Adam," says he, "is called the son of God (Luke iii. 38), and had this
part of his Father's image, viz. that he was immortal ; but Adam trans-
gressing, forfeited his immortality, and begot children after his own image,
mortal like their father ; but God willing to bestow eternal life on mortal
men, sends Jesus Christ into the world, who being conceived in the
womb of a virgin by the immediate power of God, was properly the
Son of God, according to what the angel declared to His mother (Luke
i. 30-35). And being the Son of God, and not having forfeited that
Sonship by any transgression, He was the Heir of Eternal Life, as Adam
should have been, had he continued in his filial duty." But now, not
to ask how Christ can be said to be the only, and the only begotten Son of
God upon the account aforesaid, when Adam was the first man, and
without either father or mother, immediately formed by God Himself, and
therefore called expressly the son of God (Luke iii. 38) ; not to ask this,
I say, our Martyr, who most certainly was fully acquainted with this grand
article of the Christian faith, has put it beyond dispute, that Christ was
not properly the Son, the only begotten Son of God, because conceived by
the power of the Most High ; for He interprets this " Most High" of the
very Logos Himself, and more than once. And if Christ is God, as Justin
in this Apology expressly calls Him, and above twenty times in his other
writings, then His human generation may very justly be ascribed to Him-
self as God.

The First Apology of JiLstin Martyr. (59)

LXII. Because then it was foretold by the prophetic Spirit
that the land of the Jews should be laid desolate, hear the
words of the prophecy, which personate a people in a maze at
what had befallen them : " Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a
desolation, our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers
praised Thee, is burnt up with fire, and all our pleasant things

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