Excerpt from The Sunday Magazine, 1888, Vol. 17
(ii.) But one most interesting glimpse of the Church in its relation to the world in this reign comes to us in the year 112, in the province of Bithynia, into which Christianity had spread from Galatia, where Paul preached. The Governor of the province was the younger Pliny, who passed among his contemporaries for a most refined and gentle man. He writes to ask the Emperor how he is to treat the Christians. He knows that Christianity is a forbidden religion, but he has had no experience in dealing with it judicially. Is he to make any differences in punishing Christians 2 Are the young to be punished as severely as the Old, the weak as the strong? Are they still to be punished if they forswear their Christianity Are they to be punished merely for being Christians, or only for committing crimes as Christians 2 At present he has ordered to execution all who persisted in confessing Christ, thinking that, however innocent they might be, at least their pertinacity and inﬂexible obstinacy deserved correction. Many were accused to him anonymously. If, when brought before his tribunal, they were willing to offer incense to the image of the Emperor and to curse Christ he let them go. But he adds a splendid testimony to their blamelessness. Even those who became renegades, he says, and who professed to have long apostatised from Christianity, declared that the sum-total of their fault or error had merely been to assemble before the dawn and sing a hymn to Christ as to God, and then to bind them selves by a mutual oath or sacrament, not, as was said, for any evil purpose, but, on the.
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