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century, very likely in the year when the last of the Apostles died. He sprang from one of those Greek families which Vespasian sent to repair the ravages of the Jewish war, and which gave to the ancient Sichem the name of Flavia Neapolis. His father Priscus seems to have been a man of opulence; he gave his son the advantage of a liberal education, and left him the means of pursuing his studies under the best teachers the country afforded.
Justin's natural temperament was that of the Greek, inquisitive, enthusiastic, and vehement; but to this was superadded, what was rarely found among the Greeks of that age, a fearless and honest love of the truth for its own sake. No sincere and practical seeker of truth could at that time, and in that country, be long unvisited by the Spirit of truth. Doubtless, this Greek Samaritan was, long before he knew it, under the influence of One who had a hundred years before visited that benighted region in search of spiritual worshippers. But he was to seek the Teacher whom he needed in many schools, and many times turn away in bitter disappointment, before the voice reached his ears- S-I THAT SPEAK UNTO THEE AM HE.
The popular Paganism was to him, and to all like him, an exploded vanity. The only refuge was the esoteric teaching of the schools of philosophy; and these were adequately represented in the Greek colony of Samaria. Antoninus Pius was then Emperor, and under his patronage these schools were very pompous in their pretensions. Like his predecessor Hadrian, and his successor Aurelius, he did all in his power to revive the influence of the ancient philosophers. In every part of the empire were to be found men who, while they taught under various disguises the same principles of Scepticism, (the final form which Greek philosophy assumed before its Alexandrian alliance with religion,) dignified their lecturing-rooms with the names of all the ancient systems. Justin, in his search for truth, tested all their pretensions. The Stoics were foremost in their claims: the teachers of that sect were, perhaps, the most faithful to their ancient traditions, and, moreover, were strong in imperial sanction. But yet the philosophy of Zeno had no sympathy with Justin's deepest anxiety. He longed for the knowledge of God; the Stoic talked of reason, intellect, and the dignity of human nature. He turned to the Peripatetics ; but, after a few days' trifling with the principles of virtue, his new guide disgusted him by demanding his salary. then sought a celebrated Pythagorean ; but this representative of the ancient mathematical philosophy repelled him at once by detecting his deficiency in music, geometry, and astronomy,--studies without which the mind's eye could not be purged for the vision of eternal truth. There lived in his native town an eminent expounder of Platonism, and his instruction gave Justin the first foretaste of satisfaction. The doctrine of Ideas “lent his spirit wings” to leave the world of corporeal existences, and he thought day by day that he was rapidly advancing toward the vision of God. Thus he lived for some time in a world of fantasy ; reading, and imagining that he understood, the writings of Plato.
But the turning-point of his life had now come. One day, as he was musing in solitude by the sea-shore,-probably the Christian waters of Galilee,-he was accosted by a man of veteran religious aspect. Their conversation was brief, but it left in Justin's soul the germs of eternal truth. The stranger showed him the fatal flaw in the spirit and tendency of all his inquiries; pointed out the utter impossibility that Pythagoras, or Plato, or any of the philosophers, sbould impart that which must come, if it come at all, from a direct revelation of God Himself; told him that inspired Prophets had been sent to announce the coming of the Son of God, and that the eternal Word had Himself been in the world; and, finally, that according to His testimony humble prayer would open the eyes of the understanding, and bring to man light from above. The old man then departed, and Justin saw him no more. But his words wrought an entire revolation in the young philosopher's mind. The lesson he had learned was this, that God, to be known, must reveal Himself. He lost no time in seeking the writings which contained the external revelation; and, that being accepted, earnest prayer soon made it an inward revelation to his mind and heart.
Justin called to mind the rumours which he had heard of Jesus, and of His persecuted people. Nowhere in all the world was the Christian cause more unworthily represented at this time than in Christ's own country: the spirit of strife, insurrection, and lawlessness, which raged among the Jews, could not but reflect discredit upon the Christian population. But some sincere disciples were found, who confirmed his faith, and received him by baptism into the church. He found that all things were true which the mysterious stranger—whether man or angel, he knew not—had told him concerning the Divine philosophy. In Jesus he found rest, and the remainder of bis life was dedicated to the defence and diffusion of the truth which had made him free. The date of his baptism is uncertain; but the year usually assigned, A.D. 133, is, doubtless, near the mark. Supposing him to have been born at the commencement of the second century, we gather that he became a Christian when he was about thirty years of
age, Justin's conversion may be taken as the type of the conversion of many in the first generations of the church's history. He was a convert from without; not one of the children of the church herself. He was won from Heathenism, but not by the public preaching of the Gospel ; not drawn from the outer congregation into the fold within ; not the fruit of Missionary organization ; and not the seal of any individual's private ministry and effort. He was a philosopher who had for years sincerely longed for some empirical or dialectical method of attaining to the knowledge of God. This was his specific preparation for the Gospel, as it was that of great numbers in these first transitional centuries. So was it with Tatian, Irenæus, Dionysius, Theophilus of Antioch, Gregory Thaumaturgus, Hilary, and many more whose names are not known, or whose conversion is unrecorded. These all came to Christ, not as the suddenly revealed
Mediator whose blood alone could extinguish the sense of sin, but as the goal of a long series of intellectual aspirations, originating (as they would say) in that secret seminal light of the Logos spermaticus by which every soul is naturaliter Christiana ; leading them through the Prophets, in whom the Logos more directly uttered the Divine will; and bringing them finally to the New Testament, in which the Logos incarnate Himself speaks, and responds to every desire of the human soul. But, by whatever process they came to Him, His discipline was the same for them as for others. If the inquiry of the intellect was their original impulse, that inquiry was not satisfied till their hearts were humbled. If the Prophets brought them, they were sent back to the Law, from the threatenings of which alone the Prophets had predicted a Deliverer. The sense of sin, which their ascetic philosophy had not suffered to goad their consciences, was awakened by His word and His Spirit : they found rest for their wearied minds only by finding rest for their troubled hearts. The issue was the same to them as to others : their personal Christianity was the common fellowship of the Spirit. This one and unalterable Christian experience shines in all their pages; but it is at the same time impossible not to perceive that their earliest schoolmaster left a peculiar and indelible tinge upon all their Christian phraseology.
After his conversion, (but how long we know not,) Justin left the land of his birth, and entered upon a course of travels and labours which terminated only with his life. It is not probable that he took orders : had that been the case, tradition, or his own declaration, would have preserved the fact. Moreover, such an ecclesiastical position would not have been consistent with the philosophical pallium which he never threw off, or with the wandering and irregular character of his labours in the service of Christianity. But no ordination could have increased his zeal and fidelity. All his time was the Lord's : in His service he wandered up and down the Roman empire, teaching, writing, founding schools, and making disciples ; disputing with all kinds of enemies, and doing a large amount of good which has found but a slender record in earthly annals. Traces of him are found in Alexandria ; in Ephesus he conducted his celebrated Dialogue with Trypho the Jew ; Rome be visited twice, on each occasion tarrying long, and on the latter establishing the Christian school which gave birth to Tatian, and, we may hope, to many a worthier disciple. There also he published one at least of his two immortal “ Apologies ;” and there he sealed his fidelity by martyrdom, after about thirty years of indefatigable toil.
This slight sketch of a Christian career opens a very interesting glimpse into the religions activity of the second century ;-a kind of activity peculiar to this and the next age, of which Justin the philosopher may be regarded as the appropriate type. The canonical Scriptures not being complete,--or, if complete, not having yet had time to mould the Christian society, its ministry, and usages, into the absolute organization which afterwards distinguished the church,-there was much Jatitude in the second century, perhaps more than is generally allowed, for free and unregulated activity. Justin was only one among many who yielded themselves to the unrestrained impulse of the Spirit, to send them whithersoever He would send them. He was not the messenger of any church ; his philosopher's cloak concealed no priestly or diaconal vestments. Wherever he might be, he joined the Christian company, and taught all who might gather round him for instruction. He was an itinerant evangelist ; but could give no other account of bis call than this, that his Master's service was his only object in life, and that in his view the course he adopted was most likely to promote it. Yet, withal, Justin's first Apology shows that the church, with her sacraments and institutions, was to him not only an object of reverential love, but of rigid, dogmatic faith. It was a time of transition; and a multitude of spontaneous agencies were at work, which we find, so soon as the next century, brought under the strict and firm supervision of the church.
But Justin's ecclesiastical importance is mainly derived from his apologetic writings. These place him at the head of Christian apologists :-first, as being the earliest which are preserved in their integrity; and, secondly, as being the models after which subsequent defenders of the Christian cause moulded their writings.
After the pastoral writings of the apostolical Fathers, the Apology is the earliest type of uninspired Christian literature ; and Justin is the earliest representative of the Apology. It is true that he was not absolutely the first who pleaded the cause of Christianity before the tribunal of Heathenism ; but his were the first writings of this class which had inherent vigour enough to secure their transmission to posterity. A quarter of a century before, Quadratus and Aristides had presented to the Emperor Hadrian the first Christian protests against injustice : but these, with the exception of a few sentences which have floated down to us, have perished. This was a species of service thoroughly suited to Justin's character-impassioned, honest, and fearless ; moreover, his philosophical studies had given him a taste for dialectical pleading; and, lastly, the reputation of Antoninus for proficiency in the most dignified and righteous of all systems of philosophy would naturally encourage him to approach such an Emperor in the attitude of an advocate. Hence, not many years after his conversion, be published his first Apology, addressed to the Emperor, lis heirs, and the Senate and people of Rome.
This Apology, notwithstanding its early date, is, down to its sentences and words, one of the least contested remains of Christian antiquity. It commences with a long and earnest appeal to the justice of the Emperor and Government against the cruelty of their subordinates, who destroyed Christians because of their name. This is conducted with a happy union of respect for the earthly Sovereign and fidelity to the Lord of heaven. “We desire a fair trial, and no favour : if we are guilty, punish us ; if we are innocent, protect us. We do not desire you to punish our defamers: their own ignorance and wickedness is punishment enough."--The whole of the protest is consistent with this noble sentence. The persecutors of Christianity
are assured that they are striving to injure an immortal cause.
« We are slain, crucified, cast to wild beasts, bound with chains, tortured, and burnt : yet we are not only faithful to our professiou, but we multiply. The more we are persecuted, the more are added to our numbers. As a vine, by being pruned and cut close, puts forth new shoots, and bears a greater abundance of fruit, so is it with us who are the vine which God and His Christ bave planted.” But the Apology soon rises to a luminous statement of the Christian doctrine, and vindicates the worship of One who had been crucified, by all the arguments which a Christian convert from philosophy would be likely to use. Interwoven, however, with these arguments are many
others which show that Justin's aim was to publish something more than a mere defence. The calumnies which were everywhere circulated as to the secret assemblies of the Christians are indignantly repelled ; but, at the same time, a calm and rational account is given of Christian worship in all its parts. Pains are evidently taken to render the exbibition of Christianity complete.
The effect of the Apology has been variously estimated. The more probable account is, that it was fruitless as to obtaining any effectual relief. The Emperor's cold Rescripts were insufficient to check the capricious fury of his subordinates in distant parts; and, with all his philosophical dignity and philanthropy, Antoninus Pius despised the Christians, and resented their bold defiance of the religion of the empire. But, whatever may have been the controversial value of Justin's arguments, his honest and intelligent vindication of the morals and usages of his fellow-worshippers must have had a good effect upon all unprejudiced minds. His defence of the purity of Christian morals must have been irresistible; none could read his earnest document without feeling an impulse to inquire further and judge for himself.
Many years afterwards, Justin came forward once more as the advocate of Christianity. Marcus Aurelius was then Emperor : to him and the Senate of Rome the second Apology was addressed, on occasion of the unhappy sacrifice of Christian life in the city of Rome. The philosophical Emperor probably did not read, or weigh very attentively, the protest of one who was an apostate from Stoicism. He was entirely under the influence of the philosophers, who spared no pains to deepen bis contempt for the Christian cause. With all his affectation of sublime self-government, and with all his unquestionable excellence in other respects, he dealt ungenerously with his Christian subjects, and their enlightened and honest spokesman. It was his duty, both as a philosopher and as an Emperor, to read the Apologies addressed to him. If he did not read them, he betrayed his trust. If he did, it must have been in the spirit of blind prejudice ; for we find him in his " Meditations " extolling a stoical indifference to death, “but not through mere ostentation as do the Christians, but consistently, and with dignity, and without theatrical display.” The triple infamy of Polycarp's death in Smyrna, the martyrdoms in Gaul, and Justin's sacrifice in Rome, rests upon the