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Objection to the foregoing statement; namely, that
the idolatry, which was then connected with the military service, and not the unlawfulness of war, was the reason why Christians declined it idolatry admitted to be a cause—instance in Marinus--but the belief of the unlawfulness of fighting was another and an equally powerful cause-instances in Maximilian-MarcellusCassian-Martin-the one scruple as much, then, a part of the Christian religion as the other.
As an objection may be made to the foregoing statement, I think it proper to notice it in this place.
It will be said that the military oath, which all were obliged to take alike in the Roman armies, and which was to be repeated annually, was full of idolatry; that the Roman standards were all considered as gods, and had divine honours paid to them by the soldiery ; and that the images also of the emperors,
which were either fixed upon these standards, or placed in the midst of them in a temple in the camp, were to be adored in the same manner. Now, these customs
were interwoven with the military service. No Roman soldier was exempted from them. It will be urged, therefore, that no Christian could submit to these services. Indeed, when a person was suspected of being a Christian in those tiines, he was instantly taken to the altars to sacrifice; it being notorious that, if he were a Christian, he would not sacrifice though at the hazard of his life. Is it not therefore to be presumed that these idolatrous tests operated as the great cause why Christians refused to enter into the army, or why they left it when converted, as described in the former section?
That these tests operated as a cause, we must allow; and let this be considered as an insuperable argument against those, who contend that there were Christian soldiers in these times; for no Christian could submit to such idolatrous homage; but if so, no Christian could be a soldier.
That these tests must have operated as a cause, we may infer from the history of Marinus. Marinus, according to Eusebius, was a man of family and fortune, and an officer in a legion, which in the year
260 was stationed at Cæsarea of Palestine. One
of the centurion's rods happened to become vacant in this legion, and Marinus was appointed to it. But just at this moment, another, next to him in rank, accused him before the tribunal of being a Christian, stating, “that the laws did not allow a Christian, who refused to sacrifice to the emperors, to hold
any dignity in the army.” Achæus, the judge, asked Marinus if it was true that, he had become a Christian. He acknowledged it. Three hours were then allowed him to consider, whether he would sacrifice or die. When the time was expired, he chose the latter. Indeed so desirous were the early Christians of keeping clear of idolatry in every shape, that they avoided every custom that appeared in the least degree connected with it. Thus, when a largess was given in honour of the emperors L. Septimius Severus the father, and M. Aurelius Caracalla the son, a solitary soldier, as we learn from Tertullian, was seen carrying the garland, which had been given him on that occasion, in his hand, while the rest wore it upon their heads. On being inter, rogated by the commander why he refused wearing it, he replied, that " he had be
come a Christian *"
He was immediately punished before the army, and sent into prison. What became of him afterwards is not related. But it must be clear, if he lived and cherished his Christian feelings, that when the day of the renewal of his oath, or of the worshipping of the standards, or of any sacrifice in the camp, should arrive, he would refuse these services, or abandon his profession.
But though unquestionably the idolatrous services required of the soldiers of those times hindered Christians from entering into the armies, and compelled those who were converted in them to leave them, nothing is more true, than that the belief that it was unlawful for Christians to fight occasioned an equal abhorrence of a military life. One of the first effects, which Christianity seems to have produced upon its first converts, when it was pure and unadulterated, and unmixed with the interpretations of political men, was a persuasion that it became them, in obedience to the Divine commands, to abstain from all manner of
* The priests wore the garland when they sacrificed to the Heathen gods.
violence, and to become distinguishable as the followers of peace. We find accordingly from Athenagoras and other early writers, that the Christians of his time abstained when they were struck from striking again, and that they carried their principles so far as even to refuse to go to law with those, who injured them. We find also from the same Athenagoras, and from Theophilus Antiochenus, Tatian, Minucius Felix, and others, that they kept away from the shows of the gladiators. This they did, not only because these shows were cruel, but because, as Theophilus says,
« lest we should be. come partakers of the murders committed there." A similar reason is also given by Athenagoras on this occasion :
" Who is there,” says he,“ that does not prize the shows of the gladiators, which your emperors make for the people? But we, thinking that there is very little difference whether a man be the author or spectator of murder, keep away from all such sights.” And here it may be observed, that the gladiators themselves were generally prisoners of war or reputed enemies, and that the murder of these was by public authority,