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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part I: Chapter III.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter III.

However, as we have already remarked, it cannot but distress us that no state shall bear unpunished the guilt of shedding Christian blood; as you see, indeed, in what took place during the presidency of Hilarian, for when there had been some agitation about places of sepulture for our dead, and the cry arose, “No areæ—no burial-grounds for the Christians,” it came that their own areæ449 their threshing-floors, were a-wanting, for they gathered in no harvests. As to the rains of the bygone year, it is abundantly plain of what they were intended to remind men—of the deluge, no doubt, which in ancient times overtook human unbelief and wickedness; and as to the fires which lately hung all night over the walls of Carthage, they who saw them know what they threatened; and what the preceding thunders pealed, they who were hardened by them can tell. All these things are signs of God’s impending wrath, which we must needs publish and proclaim in every possible way; and in the meanwhile we must pray it may be only local. Sure are they to experience it one day in its universal and final form, who interpret otherwise these samples of it. That sun, too, in the metropolis of Utica, 450 with light all but extinguished, was a portent which could not have occurred from an ordinary eclipse, situated as the lord of day was in his height and house. You have the astrologers, consult them about it. We can point you also to the deaths of some provincial rulers, who in their last hours had painful memories of their sin in persecuting the followers of Christ. 451 Vigellius Saturninus, who first here used the sword against us, lost his eyesight.  Claudius Lucius Herminianus in Cappadocia, enraged that his wife had become a Christian, had treated the Christians with great cruelty: well, left alone in his palace, suffering under a contagious malady, he boiled out in living worms, and was heard exclaiming, “Let nobody know of it, lest the Christians rejoice, and Christian wives take encouragement.” Afterwards he came to see his error in having tempted so many from their stedfastness by the tortures he inflicted, and died almost a Christian himself. In that doom which overtook Byzantium, 452 Cæcilius Capella could not help crying out, “Christians, rejoice!” Yes, and the persecutors who seem to themselves to have acted with impunity shall not escape the day of judgment. For you we sincerely wish it may prove to have been a warning only, that, immediately after you had condemned Mavilus of Adrumetum to the wild beasts, you were overtaken by those troubles, and that even now for the same reason you are called to a blood-reckoning. But do not forget the future.



[An obvious play on the ambiguity of this word.]


[Notes of the time when this was written. See Kaye, p. 57.]


[Christians remembered Herod (Acts xii. 23) very naturally; but we may reserve remarks on such instances till we come to Lactantius. But see Kaye (p. 102) who speaks unfavourably of them.]


[Notes of the time when this was written. See Kaye, p. 57.]

Next: Chapter IV.

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