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Fagan (Duvianus andFaganus), returned with the British envoys Elvan and Medwy to Britain ; by whose holy labours, if we may believe the monkish chronicles, idolatry was abolished throughout Britain, and eight and twenty dioceses formed in a trice. Mr. Lingard's version of the story, ' after deducting from the
account of Nennius and his brethren every improbable circum(stance,' is as follows: That Lucius was a believer in the Gos
pel ; that he sent to Rome Fagan and Dervan, to be more per
fectly instructed in the Christian faith; that these envoys were « ordained by the pope, Evaristus or Eleutherius, and at their re« turn, under the influence of their patron, increased the number of
the proselytes by their preaching, and established the British, af« ter the model of the continental churches. But, independently < of their authority,' he adds,' we have undoubted proof that • the believers were numerous, and that a regular hierarchy • had been instituted before the close of the third century. For « by contemporary writers the church of Britain is always put
on an equality with the churches of Spain and Gaul, and in ( one of the most early of the western councils, that of Arles . in 314, we meet with the names of three British bishops, of · Eborius of York for the province of Maxima, of Restitutus • of London for that of Flavia, and of Adelphius of Richborough for that of Britannia Prima.'*
This legend reads very smoothly. But how came King Lucius to have it in his power to divide the whole Island into dioceses, by the help of Fagan and Dervan, when it is quite certain that he had as little authority in London apd York as he had in Gaul or Spain? There could have been at this period not even a petty provincial sovereign who was not a vassal of the Romans ; and King Lucius was no more than this. Mr. Hughes says :
• Archbishop Usher has found in an old Saxon Chronicle, a narration respecting this affair, which makes Lucius king of the BritWalli or the Britons of Wales, which is a more probable account of him than that which makes him King of Britain: for there never was in ancient times any one monarch of Britain, excepting that the various princes occasionally elected some popular leader to be their supreme ruler and generalissimo upon extraordinary emergencies. He was in fact a Silurian prince, upon good terms with the Ronians, and beloved by his people. "He is styled in the Triads, one of the three blessed princes, (the other two being Brân and Cadwallader,) on account of his being the founder of the first church, or place of Christian worship, which he erected at Llandaff; and he publicly acknowledged and afforded legal protection to all who professed the Christian faith. His territory extended not beyond the present county of Monmouth
Hist. of England. Vol. 1. p. 49.
and a part of Glamorgan. Being descended from a race of princes who had in former ages been elected to exercise sovereign power over the confederated Britons, le might, perhaps, among his own people, be honoured with the style and title of King of the Britons.
Vol. II. pp. 45, 6. The con version of King Lucius, then, cannot be considered as the era of the first introduction of Christianity into Britain, as the Romish writers pretend, nor does it give us the date of the English hierarchy. Although a fact of considerable historical interest, its importance was chiefly local. The very circumstance of Lucius’s sending envoys to Roine, proves, that he was previously acquainted with the Christian religion, that Christianity bad already an existence in that part of the Island; while it strengthens the probability of the statement, that it had been originally brought from Rome by bis immediate ancestors, to which place, as the supposed source of the traditional faith, he would naturally send for further instruction. But, for the first propagation of Christianity in the eastern and central parts of the Island, we must look to other and more general circumstances connected with the early history of England.
Although we have no authentic account of any Apostolic mission to Britain, although it is altogether matter of bypothesis, who the two Israelites and the supposed Aristobulus were, who accompanied the Silurian prince on bis return from Rome, still, the concurrent testimony of the Fathers is decisive, that Britain was one of the countries which were favoured with the light of the Gospel in the Apostolic age. The assertion of Eusebius, that “some of the Apostles passed over the ocean to the Bri'tish isles,' is too vague to be relied on in any other sense than, that some of the preachers of the Apostolic age visited Britaio. The intercourse between this country and Rome, at once explains, however, how Christianity of necessity made its way into those parts of the Island which were subjugated by the Romans. Further details, could they be obtained, might gratify an innocent curiosity, but could answer no higher purpose. Both Pomponia Græcina, the wife of the proconsul Aulus Plautius, and Claudia, a British lady, who had married the senator Pudens, are, on very plausible grounds, believed to have been Christians. The former is supposed by Bishop Stilingfleet, to have been one of St. Paul's converts : she was charged with having embraced a strange and foreign superstition, and her trial was entrusted to her husband, who appears to have connived at ber alleged crime, rather than to have investigated the charge with severity. But we have no means of ascertaining whether those solitary instances of supposed conversion, led to any important results. They are interesting chiefly as sery. Vol. XVI, N. S.
ing to illustrate the indirect and incidental way in which, by means of intermarriages between tbe Roinans and the conquered' nation, the return of British prisoners, or the influx of Roman colonists inio Britain, ayd, possibly, of refugees in the times of persecution, the Christian doctrine would silently but certainly diffuse itself, so that before the close of the second century, it had penetrated among the independent tribes of the North Brittannorum in. yecessa Romaniș loca, Christo vero subditą. (Tertullian.)
The persecution under Diocletian was, in Britain, singularly mild, owing to the enlightened governipent of Constantius. The church es in every district, indeed, we are told by the monkisha writers, were levelled with the ground, and many hundreds of Christians are said by them to have suffered both torture and death; but the British inartyrology of this period is so exceedingly scanty, as to warrant the suspicion, either that the Christians were comparatively few, or that the persecution was very paruial. The name of Alban, a citizen of Verulam, and those of Ju, lius and Aaron, citizens of Caerleon upon Usk, have been alone preserved by Gildas ; and it is remarkable that all these were Roman citizens. Alban is stated to have been a person of con, siderable rank, descended from Roman ancestors, and an officer under the Roman goverpment. He was accused of sepreting a Christian teacher from Caerleon, the Amphibalus of the Brisish Chronicles; and, refusing to give up his guest, whe had, it seems, been the instrument of his conversion to the faith, be was hipself brought before the heathen tribunal, and, on his professing himself a Christian, condemned to death. Amphibalus is said to baye suffered at the neighbouring town of Redburn. He is conjectured by Mr. Hughes to have been one of the two citizens of Caerleon mentioned by Gildas; Amphibalus, a word denoting an upper garment, being given to bim in the Chronicle by mistake. Julius or Julian, he supposes to be the St. Sulien to whom some churches in Wales are dedicated : Aaron was probably Caran or Garan. Verulam and Caerleon are the only places which appear to have furnished at this period a martyr. The number of those who suffered at Verulam, is indeed said to have been no less than a thousand; and the same round number of persons are mentioned as suffering in some part of Wales. But, remarks Mr. Hughes, ! as the storm soon blew over, and it does not appear that it raged with any great violence in this Island, the accounts which speak of such a host of martyrs must be considered as utterly fabulous, the device of the monks of the middle ages. This persecution, in all probability, extended only to a few of the most zealous professors of Christianity. What confirms this is, that in those old Welsh fragments of the British saints and martyrs, we have no account of any who suffered in the Dioclesian persecution ; and, by every thing which we can find, the
Roman citizens were the only sufferers. The native Britons were still under the government of their own princes, and left to follow their own domestic regulations, provided they acknowledged themselves subject to the supreme rule of the Romans. “We have before observed that, first of all, owing to the usurpationis
, of Carausius and Alectus, the British Church escaped the provincial persecutions raised by Galerius; and then, owing to the mildness of Constantius, the storm never raged violently here. In Spain and Gaul, the persecution raged to that degree, that the emperors flattered themselves that they had utterly extirpated the Christian religion, as appears by certain monuments, the inscriptions on which are preserved in Gruterus, containing these words; Nomine Christianorum deleto; upon another, Superstitione Christi ubique deleta. When Constantius attained the imperial dignity, the persecution was immediately put a stop to in the western provinces : this good prince, during the two years in which he enjoyed the supreme power, proved a father to the Britons and the Christian Church among them.”
Under the reign of the Emperor Constantine, á rapid adVancement in civilization took place in this country, and the Roman literature, the Roman arts, and Roman" luxury found their way to the towns of the once rude and hardy Britons.
From this time,' says Bishop Stillingfleet,' we may date the
flourishing condition of the British Church. As the best comment on this assertion, we insert Mr. Hughes's judicious remarks on this period of our ecclesiastical history:
It has been generally supposed that, during the reign of Constantine the Great, the Christian religion took deep root in Britain, and shared the royal patronage in common with other provinces of the empire. The British Christians improved in the external splendour which marked the progress of religion during this sunshine of its prosperity: the edifices appropriated for public worship were rendered decorous, and perhaps had a degree of magnificence suited to the established religion of the empire; and the clergy were treated with respect, and dignified with the notice of great' men. But the hierarchy which flourished in other countries, under the fostering wing of Imperial favour, did not meet with a soil so congenial in this Island ; and it is not easy to decide whether a regular diocesan church government obtained here during this century. There were bishops, it is true, in several of the great towns and cities; but these were not yet loaded with temporal honours and large revenues. We may form some conjecture respecting their situation, from what is related of the British Bishops at the council of Ariminum; for while all the others bore their own expenses, they alone accepted of the Emperor's bounty, and had their charges defrayed at the public cost.
• Druidism, although formally proscribed by the Romans, and opposed by Christianity, was still adhered to in the secluded parts of the country, while even too many who professed the true religion, were more heathens than Christians at heart. We cannot find there were any men of a truly apostolic spirit in this age, who nobly stood
up on behalf of the Gospel, and, like burning luminaries, diffused the knowledge and practice of its benign religion among their countrymen.'
• Those among the Britons who were enrolled among the Roman citizens, and acquired the language and the literature of the empire, which was now nominally Christian, were possessed of many advantages over those who still remained under the more immediate government of their own princes. The latter enjoyed but little cultivation either in civil or religious matters; and it is doubtful whether they had yet the word of God in their native language, if they had any Christian worship at all, except among the Silurian Britons. Our accounts of the state of religion in Britain during this age, (the fourth century,) are very confused; and there is reason to thiok that even the forms of Christianity were not generally adopted within the province. The luxury and the heathen propensities of the Roman Britons, and the rude fierceness of the natives, presented very powerful obstacles to the spread of the religion of Christ. The religious characters of the age were more disposed to flee from the world, than to combat its vices and its errors, and bear an open testimony for the truth of Christ. Such were Kebius and others.
At what period ' a regular hierarchy' was nominally instituted in Britain, and the country laid out into dioceses, it is quite immaterial to inquire, since this would assist us but little in our researches into the religious state of the kingdom. The signatures of three English bishops to the acts of the council held at Arles, prove that, under the Imperial government, an episcopacy had been established in the parts of Britain subject to the Romans ; but they prove nothing more. « There were as yet,' Mr. Hughes remarks, 'no archbishops and metropolitans, at • least among the British clergy;' the ' regular hierarchy,' therefore, was far from being perfected. Nor does it appear that the western parts of the Island were represented at the couneil; although Bishop Stillingfleet conjectures, that the third signature, (De Civitate Col. Londin.) which is by Spelman and Usher supposed to stand for Camalodunum (Colchester or Maldon), while others have referred it to Lincoln, and, as in Lingard, to Richborough,—was for Isca Silurum or Caerleon. But nothing can be wikler than the supposition that, prior to the reign of Constantine, there existed among the petty sovereignties into which Britain was subdivided,-among tribes of different origin and speech, who were still, for the most part, heathen, a connected bierarchical episcopacy. By the British Church, we must understand at ibis period, the Roman Church in Britain. The council or assembly at Arles, was summoned by the Emperor, who selected the judges at his pleasure; and there can be little doubt that these British bishops owed their creation, as certainly they owed their appointment as delegates, to the Imperial favour. It was but natural that Constantine