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An Ecclesiastical History To The 20th Year Of The Reign Of Constantine by Eusebius

IN these times, also, flourished Melito, bishop of the church in Sardis, and Apollinaris, the bishop of Hierapolis. Each of these separately addressed discourses as apologies for the faith, to the existing emperor of the Romans already mentioned. Of these, the following have come to our knowledge. Of Melito, two works “On the Passover,” and “On the Conduct of Life, and the Prophets.” One, “On the Church,” and another discourse “On the Lord’s-day.” One, also, “On the Nature of Man,” and another, “On his Formation.” A work “On the Subjection of the Senses to Faith.” Besides these, a treatise “On the Soul, the Body, and the Mind.” A dissertation also, “On Baptism;” one also “On Truth, and Faith, and the Generation of Christ.” A discourse “On Prophecy,” and “On Hospitality.” Treatises entitled “The Key,” “On the Devil,” “The Revelation of John,” “On the Incarnate God.” And last of all, the discourse addressed to Antonine. In the work on the passover, he shows the time in which he wrote it, beginning with these words: “When Servilius Paulus was proconsul of Asia, at which time Sagaris suffered martyrdom, there was much discussion in Laodicea, respecting the passover, which occurred at that time in its proper season, and in which, also, these works were written.” This work is also mentioned by Clement of Alexandria, in his own work on the passover, which, he says, he wrote on occasion of Melito’s work. But in the book addressed to the emperor, he relates the following transactions against those of our faith, under this emperor. “What, indeed,” says he, “never before happened, the race of the pious is now persecuted, driven about in Asia, by new and strange decrees. For the shameless informers, and those that crave the property of others, taking occasion from the edicts of the emperors, openly perpetrate robbery; night and day plundering those who are guilty of no crime.” And afterwards, he says, “If these things are done by your orders, let them be done at least in a proper way. For a just ruler should never form unjust decrees. We, indeed, cheerfully bear the reward of such a death, but we only urge upon you this request, that you yourself would first take cognizance of these plotters of mischief, and justly judge, whether they deserve death and punishment, or safety and security. But if this decree, and this unheard of ordinance, which ought not to be tolerated even against barbarous enemies, have not proceeded from you, so much the more do we entreat you not to overlook us in the midst of this lawless plunder of the populace.” After a few other remarks, he adds, “The philosophy which we profess, first, indeed, flourished among the barbarians, but afterwards, when it grew up also among the nations under your government, under the glorious reign of Augustus your ancestor, it became, to your administration, an auspicious blessing. For since that time, the Roman power has grown in greatness and splendour. Whose desired successor you have become, and will be, together with your son, if you preserve that philosophy which has been nurtured with the empire, which commenced its existence with Augustus, and which also your ancestors did honour, with other religions; and one of the greatest evidences that our doctrine flourished, to the advantage of a reign so happily begun, is this, that nothing disastrous has occurred to the empire, since the reign of Augustus; on the contrary, all things have proceeded splendidly and gloriously according to the wishes of all. Nero and Domitian, alone, stimulated by certain malicious persons, showed a disposition to slander our faith. From whom it has happened also, that this falsehood respecting Christians has been propagated by an absurd practice of waylaying and informing. But your pious fathers corrected what was done through such ignorance, by frequently reproving in writing, as many as dared to attempt any opposition against those of our religion. Your grandfather Adrian evidently wrote, among others, to Fundanus the proconsul of Asia. But your father, also, when you held the government with him, wrote to the cities, forbidding any strange movements against us. Among these were the ordinances to the Larissæans, to the Thessalonians, and Athenians, and all the Greeks. But as you cherish the same opinion on these matters, and, indeed, have still more benevolent and more philosophical views, we are so much the more confident you will do what we entreat.” This passage is given in the discourse before mentioned. But in the selections made by him, the same writer in the beginning of his preface, gives a catalogue of the books of the Old Testament acknowledged as canonical. This we have thought necessary to give here, literally, as follows:

“Melito sends greeting to his brother Onesimus. As you have frequently desired in your zeal for the Scriptures, that I should make selections for you, both from the law and the prophets, respecting our Saviour, and our whole faith; and you were, moreover, desirous of having an exact statement of the Old Testament, how many in number, and in what order the books were written, I have endeavoured to perform this. For I know your zeal in the faith, and your great desire to acquire knowledge, and that especially by the love of God, you prefer these matters to all others, thus striving to gain eternal life. When, therefore, I went to the east, and came as far as the place where these things were proclaimed and done, I accurately ascertained the books of the Old Testament, and send them to you here below. The names are as follows: Of Moses, five books, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth. Four of Kings. Two of Paralipomena, (Chronicles,) Psalms of David, Proverbs of Solomon, which is also called Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job. Of prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah. Of the twelve prophets, one book. Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. From these I have, therefore, made the selections which I have divided into six books.” Thus much of Melito’s writings.








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