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my constant custom, sir, to refer myself to you, in all matters concerning which I have any doubt. For who cán better direct me when I hesitate, or instruct me where I am ignorant ? I have never been present at any trials of Christians ; so that I know not well what is the subject-matter of punishment, or of inquiry, or what strictness ought to be used in either. Nor have I been a little perplexed to determine whether any difference ought to be made on account of age, or whether the young and tender, and the full-grown, and robust, ought to be treated all alike; whether repentance should entitle to pardon, or whether all who have once been Christians ought to be punished, though they are now no longer so ; whether the name itself, although no crimes be detected, or crimes only belonging to the name, ought to be punished. Concerning all these things I am in doubt.

“ In the mean time, I have taken this course with all who have been brought before me, and have been accused as Christians. I have put the question to them, whether they were Christians ? Upon their confessing to me that they were, I repeated the question a second time, threatening to punish them with death. Such as still persisted, I ordered away to be punished; for it was no doubt with me that contumacy, and inflexible obstinacy, whatever might be their opinion, ought to be punished. There were others of the same infatuation, whom, because they are Romans, I have noted down to be sent to the city.

“In a short time, the crime spreading itself, even whilst under persecution, as is usual in such cases, divers sorts of people came in my way. An information was presented to me, without mentioning the author, containing the names of inany persons, who, úpon examination, denied that they were Christians, or had ever been so ; who repeated after me an invocation of the gods, and with wine and frankincense made supplication to your image, which, for that purpose, I had caused to be brought and set before them, together with the statues of the deities. Moreover, they reviled

the name of Christ, none of which things, as is said, they who are really Christians can by any means be compelled to do. These, therefore, I thought proper to discharge.

“ Others were named by an informer, who at first confessed themselves Christians, and afterwards denied it ; the rest said they had been Christians, but had left them-some three years ago,

some longer, and one, or more, above twenty years. They all worshipped your image, and the statues of the gods; these also reviled Christ. They affirmed that the whole of their fault, or error, lay in this, that they were wont to meet together, on a stated day, before it was light, and sing among themselves alternately, a hymn to Christ as God; and bind themselves by an oath, not to the commission of any wickedness, but not to be guilty of theft, robbery, or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor to deny a pledge committed to them, when called upon to return it.

When these things were performed, it was their custom to separate, and then to come together at a meal, which they ate in common without any disorder; but this they had forborne since the publication of my edict, by which, according to your commands, I prohibited assemblies,

“ After receiving this account, I judged it the more necessary to examine, and that by torture, two maidservants, which were called ministers. But I have discovered nothing beside an

vil and excessive superstition. Suspending, therefore, all judicial proceedings, I have recourse to you for advice ; for it has appeared to me a matter highly deserving consideration ; especially upon account of the great number of persons who are in danger of suffering; for many, of all ages, and every rank, of both sexes likewise, are accused, and will be accused. Nor has the contagion of this superstition seized cities only, but the lesser towns also, and the open country. Nevertheless, it seems to me, that it may be restrained and corrected. It is certain that the temples, which were almost forsaken, begin to be more frequented; and the sacred solemni


ties, after a long intermission, are revived. Victims likewise are every where bought up, whereas for some time, there were few purchasers. Whence it is easy to imagine what numbers of men might be reclaimed, if pardon were granted to those who shall repent.”

To this epistle, the emperor sent the following reply: • Trajan to Pliny, wisheth health and happi

-You have taken the right method, my Pliny, in your proceedings with those who have been brought before you as Christians ; for it is impossible to establish any one rule that shall hold universally. They are not to be sought for. If any are brought before you, and are convicted, they ought to be punished. However, he that denies his being a Christian, and makes it evident in fact, that is, by supplicating to our gods, though he be suspected to have been so formerly, let him be pardoned upon repentance. But in no case, of any crime whatever, may a bill of information be received, without being signed by him who presents it; for that would be a dangerous precedent, and unworthy of my government.

By this epistle it will appear that Christianity had rapidly been spread almost over the then known world ; that the Christians bore all their sufferings with noble fortitude, peculiar to none but Christians; that their purity and innocence is fully attested; and against whom, after the strictest examination, their enemies could find nothing of which they were guilty, save that they professed and maintained the character of Chris. tians,


The tradition which has been most generally receive ed by our ancient historians, and by the nations at large, says Dr. A. Clarke, is that which attributes the introduction of the Christian religion into Britain, to

* Pliny's Epist. Lib. X

Joseph of Arimathea. The substance of this history is as follows :- About sixty-three years after the incarnation of our Lord, and thirty after his ascension, Joseph of Arimathea, who had buried our Lord's body in his own tomb, was furnished by Philip the evangelist with eleven disciples, and sent into Britain to introduce the gospel of Christ in place of the barbarous rites of the Druids. With these rites, as well as with the character of the people, the Roman empire had become well acquainted, through the writings of Julius Cæsar.

These holy men, on their landing, applied to Arviragus, a British king, for permission to settle in a rude and uncultivated spot, called Yuswytryn by the British, Avaloai by the Romans, and Glaestingbyrig by the Saxons, and is still known by the name of Glastonbury. Their petition was granted, and twelve hides of land were assigned for their support; and the place to this day is denominated the twelve hides of Glas. tonbury. Here, according to this tradition, the standard of the cross was first erected ; and a chapel made of wicker work was the first church, or oratory of God in Britain. The walls of this church, according to Malmsbury, were made of twigs twisted together. The length of it was sixty feet, and the breadth of it twentysix feet. The roof, according to the custom of the Britons, was of straw, hay, or rushes. The extent of the yard was so large as to contain, according to Melkinus, who lived in the year A. D. 550, a thousand graves.

That this nation was converted to the faith of Christ by those who had been disciples of our Lord, was the early and constant belief of our forefathers. This runs through all our histories, and even through some of our regal acts. In the charter granted by Henry II.,. in the year of our Lord 1185, for the rebuilding of Glastonbury church, which had been burnt, it is styled " the mother and burying place of the saints, founded by the very disciples of our Lord,” and adds, o it has the venerable authority of the ancients ;" and else

where the same charter continues, " which is incon trovertibly acknowledged to be the fountain and origin of the whole religion of England." This church was the head of all ecclesiastical authority in those nations, till the year 1154, when Pope Adrian IV. transferred that honour to St. Alban's.

It is stated by several authorities, that when the church built by Joseph of Arimathea was decayed by time, Deni, a Welsh or British bishop, erected a new one in the same place; that this also, in time, falling away in decay, twelve men came from north Britain, and put it in good repair. And, lastly, king Ina, donor of the Peterpence, pulled down the old one, and built a stately church, to the honour of Christ. St. Peter and St. Paul were filletted under the highest coping, with heroic verses in Latin, celebrating the memory of the founder, and the saints to whom it was dedicated. But afterwards, this church was, by the renowned Dunstan, converted to a monastery of Benedictine monks, himself being sometimes abbot there ; and so it continued till the reign of Henry VIII., when it shared in the downfall of monastic establishments.

The story of Lucius, king of Britain, who, in A. D.. 156, is said, by the venerable Bede, to have embraced the Christian faith, and who is called the first Christian king, is generally known. Historians say, that this king sent Elwan and Medwin to Eleutherus, the twelfth bishop of Rome, praying that he might be instructed in the Christian faith; which was accordingly done.

Lucius, when convinced of the truth himself, and being confirmed therein, by the preaching of some persons well versed in the doctrines of Christianity, took on him the profession of that religion, and used his influence for the promotion of it among the people, with whom his example must have had considerable weight. Idolatry hitherto prevailed among the Silurian Britons, but now the religion of Christ was publicly sanctioned, and the idolaters became ashamed of their practices.

The ministers of the true religion

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