Early Church Fathers
Persecutions threaten, p. 116.
We have reserved this heroic tract to close our series of the ascetic essays of our author because it places even his sophistical enthusiasm in a light which shows much to admire. Strange that this defiant hero should have died (as we may infer) in his bed, and in extreme old age. Great man, how much, alike for weal and woe, the ages have been taught by thee!
This is the place for a tabular view of the ten persecutions of the Ante-Nicene Church. They are commonly enumerated as follows:61 -
1. Under Nero a.d. 64.
2. Under Trajan a.d. 95.
3. Under Trajan a.d. 107.
4. Under Hadrian (a.d. 118 and) a.d. 134.
5. Under Aurelius (a.d. 177) and Severus a.d. 202.
6. Under Maximin a.d. 235.
7. Under Decius a.d. 250.
8. Under Valerian a.d. 254.
9. Under Aurelian a.d. 270.
10. Under Diocletian (a.d. 284 and) a.d. 303.
Periods of Comparative Rest.
1. Under Antoninus Pius a.d. 151.
2. Under Commodus a.d. 185.
3. Under Alexander Severus a.d. 223.
4. Under Philip a.d. 248.
5. Under Diocletian a.d. 284 till a.d. 303.
In thus chastising and sifting his Church in the years of her gradual growth "from the smallest of all seeds," we see illustrations of the Lord's Epistles to the seven churches of the Apocalypse. Who can doubt that Tertullian's writings prepared the North-African Church for the Decian furnace, and all believers for the "seven times hotter" fires of Diocletian?
To the fearful, p. 120.
In the Patientia62 Tertullian reflects the views of Catholics, and seems to allow those "persecuted in one city to flee to another." So also in the Ad Uxorem,63 as instanced by Kaye.64 In the Fuga we have the enthusiast, but not as Gibbon will have it,65 the most wild and fanatical of declaimers. On the whole subject we again refer our readers to the solid and sober comments of Kaye on the martyrdoms and persecutions of the early faithful, and on the patristic views of the same.
Enormous gains from numbers, p. 124.
Christians were now counted by millions. The following tabular view of the Christian population of the world from the beginning has been attributed to Sharon Turner. I do not find it in any of his works with which I am familiar. The nineteenth century is certainly credited too low, according to the modern computists; but I insert it merely for the centuries we are now considering.
Growth of the Church in Numbers.
1. First century 500,000
2. Second century 2,000,000
3. Third century 5,000,000
4. Fourth century 10,000,000
5. Fifth century 15,000,000
6. Sixth century 20,000,000
7. Seventh century 24,000,000
8. Eighth century 30,000,000
9. Ninth century 40,000,000
10. Tenth century 50,000,000
11. Eleventh century 70,000,000
12. Twelfth century 80,000,000
13. Thirteenth century 75,000,000
14. Fourteenth century 80,000,000
15. Fifteenth century 100,000,000
16. Sixteenth century 125,000,000
17. Seventeenth century 155,000,000
18. Eighteenth century 200,000,000
19. Nineteenth century 400,000,000