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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Chapter XXVI.--Melito and the Circumstances which he records.

Church History by Eusebius Pamphilius

Chapter XXVI.--Melito and the Circumstances which he records.

1. In those days also Melito, bishop of the parish in Sardis, and Apolinarius, bishop of Hierapolis, enjoyed great distinction. Each of them on his own part addressed apologies in behalf of the faith to the above-mentioned emperor of the Romans who was reigning at that time.

2. The following works of these writers have come to our knowledge. Of Melito, the two books On the Passover, and one On the Conduct of Life and the Prophets, the discourse On the Church, and one On the Lord's Day, still further one On the Faith of Man, and one On his Creation, another also On the Obedience of Faith, and one On the Senses; besides these the work On the Soul and Body, and that On Baptism, and the one On Truth, and On the Creation and Generation of Christ; his discourse also On Prophecy, and that On Hospitality; still further, The Key, and the books On the Devil and the Apocalypse of John, and the work On the Corporeality of God, and finally the book addressed to Antoninus.

3. In the books On the Passover he indicates the time at which he wrote, beginning with these words: |While Servilius Paulus was proconsul of Asia, at the time when Sagaris suffered martyrdom, there arose in Laodicea a great strife concerning the Passover, which fell according to rule in those days; and these were written.|

4. And Clement of Alexandria refers to this work in his own discourse On the Passover, which, he says, he wrote on occasion of Melito's work.

5. But in his book addressed to the emperor he records that the following events happened to us under him: |For, what never before happened, the race of the pious is now suffering persecution, being driven about in Asia by new decrees. For the shameless informers and coveters of the property of others, taking occasion from the decrees, openly carry on robbery night and day, despoiling those who are guilty of no wrong.| And a little further on he says: |If these things are done by thy command, well and good. For a just ruler will never take unjust measures; and we indeed gladly accept the honor of such a death.

6. But this request alone we present to thee, that thou wouldst thyself first examine the authors of such strife, and justly judge whether they be worthy of death and punishment, or of safety and quiet. But if, on the other hand, this counsel and this new decree, which is not fit to be executed even against barbarian enemies, be not from thee, much more do we beseech thee not to leave us exposed to such lawless plundering by the populace.|

7. Again he adds the following: |For our philosophy formerly flourished among the Barbarians; but having sprung up among the nations under thy rule, during the great reign of thy ancestor Augustus, it became to thine empire especially a blessing of auspicious omen. For from that time the power of the Romans has grown in greatness and splendor. To this power thou hast succeeded, as the desired possessor, and such shalt thou continue with thy son, if thou guardest the philosophy which grew up with the empire and which came into existence with Augustus; that philosophy which thy ancestors also honored along with the other religions.

8. And a most convincing proof that our doctrine flourished for the good of an empire happily begun, is this -- that there has no evil happened since Augustus' reign, but that, on the contrary, all things have been splendid and glorious, in accordance with the prayers of all.

9. Nero and Domitian, alone, persuaded by certain calumniators, have wished to slander our doctrine, and from them it has come to pass that the falsehood has been handed down, in consequence of an unreasonable practice which prevails of bringing slanderous accusations against the Christians.

10. But thy pious fathers corrected their ignorance, having frequently rebuked in writing many who dared to attempt new measures against them. Among them thy grandfather Adrian appears to have written to many others, and also to Fundanus, the proconsul and governor of Asia. And thy father, when thou also wast ruling with him, wrote to the cities, forbidding them to take any new measures against us; among the rest to the Larissæans, to the Thessalonians, to the Athenians, and to all the Greeks.

11. And as for thee, -- since thy opinions respecting the Christians are the same as theirs, and indeed much more benevolent and philosophic, -- we are the more persuaded that thou wilt do all that we ask of thee.| These words are found in the above-mentioned work.

12. But in the Extracts made by him the same writer gives at the beginning of the introduction a catalogue of the acknowledged books of the Old Testament, which it is necessary to quote at this point. He writes as follows:

13. |Melito to his brother Onesimus, greeting: Since thou hast often, in thy zeal for the word, expressed a wish to have extracts made from the Law and the Prophets concerning the Saviour and concerning our entire faith, and hast also desired to have an accurate statement of the ancient book, as regards their number and their order, I have endeavored to perform the task, knowing thy zeal for the faith, and thy desire to gain information in regard to the word, and knowing that thou, in thy yearning after God, esteemest these things above all else, struggling to attain eternal salvation.

14. Accordingly when I went East and came to the place where these things were preached and done, I learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, and send them to thee as written below. Their names are as follows: Of Moses, five books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy; Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth; of Kings, four books; of Chronicles, two; the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, Wisdom also, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job; of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah; of the twelve prophets, one book ; Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. From which also I have made the extracts, dividing them into six books.| Such are the words of Melito.

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