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the corruption that ensued. This corruption we find to have spread rapidly ; for the same Tertullian was enabled to furnish us with the extraordinary instance of manufacturers of idols being admitted into the ecclesiastical order. Many corruptions are also noticed in this century by other writers. Cyprian complained of them as they existed in the middle, and Eusebius as they existed at the end of it; and both attributed it to the peace, or to the ease and plenty, which the Christians had enjoyed. The latter gives us a melancholy account of their change. They had begun to live in fine houses, and to indulge in luxuries. But, above all, they had begun to be envious, and quarrelsome, and to dissemble, and to cheat, and to falsify their word, so that they lost the character which Pliny, an adversary to their , religion, had been obliged to give of them, and which they had retained for more than a century, as appears by their own writers.
That there were Christian soldiers in this more corrupt century of the Church, it is impossible to deny: for such frequent mention is made of them in the histories, which relate to this period, that we cannot refuse
our assent to one or other of the propositions, either that there were men in the armies who called themselves Christians, or that there were men in them who had that name given them by others. That they were Christians, however, is another question. They were probably such Christians as Dion mentioned to have been among the life-guards of Dioclesian and Maximian, and of Constantius and Maximus, of whom Maxi. milian observed, “ These men may know best what it is expedient for them to do; but I am a Christian, and therefore I cannot fight.” Indeed that real Christians could have been found in the army in this century is impossible ; for the military oath, which was full of idolatry, and the adoration of the standards, and the performance of sacrifice, still continued as services* not to be dispensed with by the soldiery. No one therefore can believe that men in the full practice of Pagan idolatry, as every le
* The military oath was not altered for Christians till the next century, when they were allowed to swear “by God, by Christ, and by the Holy Spirit, and by the Majesty of the Emperor, which, next to God, is to be loved and honoured by mankind."
gionary gionary soldier must then have been, were real Christians, merely because it is recorded in history that men, calling themselves Christians, were found in the army in those times. On the other hand, if any soldiers professed Christianity at this period, or are related by authors to have professed it, and yet to have remained soldiers, it may be directly pronounced, that they could only have been nominal or corrupted Christians.
That Christianity was more degenerate in the fourth than in the third century (which is the next position) we have indubitable proof. One of the first facts which strike us, is an extraordinary one related by Lactantius in his “Death of the persecuted,” namely, that there were Christians at this time who, having probably a superstitious belief that the sign of the cross would be a preventive of pollution, were present and even assisted at some of the Heathen sacrifices. But it is not necessary to detail these or other particulars. Almost every body knows that more evils sprung up to the Church in this century than in any other ; some of which remain at the present day, Indeed the corruption of Christianity was fixed as it were by law in the age now mentioned. Constantine, on his conversion, introduced many
of the Pagan ceremonies and superstitions, in which he had been brought up, into the Christian religion. The Christians, rejoiced at seeing an emperor of their own persuasion, under whom they had hopes of restoration to equal privileges with others, and of freedom from persecution, submitted, in order to please or flatter him, to his idolatrous customs and opinions,-thus sacrificing their consciences to their ease and safety. Many, on the other hand, who had always been Heathens, professed themselves Christians at once, out of compliment to their emperor, and without
real conversion of the heart. Thus there was a mixture of Christianity and Paganism in the Church, which had never been known before. Constantine, too, retained the blasphemous titles of Eternity, Divinity, and Pontifex Maximus, as they had been given to his predecessors. After his death he was considered also as a god. And, if Philostorgius is to be believed, the Christians, for so he calls them, prayed to and worshipped him as such.
Now in this century, when the corruption of the Church may be considered to have been fixed, we scarcely find any
mention of Christian soldiers, or we find the distinction between them and others gradually passing away. The truth is, that when the Christians of this
had submitted to certain innovations
upon their religion, they were in a fit state to go greater lengths; and so it happened: for as Heathens, who professed to be Christians out of compliment to their emperor,
had no objection to the military service,-so Christians, who had submitted to Heathenism on the same principle, relaxed in their scruples concerning it. The latter, too, were influenced by the example of the former. Hence the unlawfulness of fighting began to be given up. We find, however, that here and there an antient Father still retained it as a religious tenet; but these dropping off one after another, it ceased at length to be a doctrine of the Church.
Having now traced the practice of the Christians down to the fourth century, as far as the profession of arms is concerned, I shall state in few words the manner in which the Quakers make this practice sup