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Tertullian, a Presbyter in Carthage, who flourished about the middle of the second century, and wrote probably not more than twenty years after Irenaeus, gives a larger account, and mentions Britain by name. Quoting the words of David, Psal. xix. 4. as applicable to the apostles, “ Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” “In whom,” says he, “ have all the nations of the earth believed, but in Christ P* Not only Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Lybia and Cyrene, and strangers at Rome, Jews and proselytes, and the other nations; but also the boundaries of the Spaniards, all the different nations of the Gauls, and those parts of BRITAIN which were inaccessible to the Romans, are become subject to Christ.” He goes on to say, after enumerating other nations, “In all which the name of CHRIST reigns, because he is now come; before whom the gates of all cities are set open, and none shut ; before whom doors of brass fly open, and bars of iron are snapt asunder ; that is, these hearts once possessed by the Devil, by faith in CHRIST are set open.” "
Origen, the famous Presbyter of Alexandria, who flourished about the year of our Lord 220, speaking of the prophecies which the Jews themselves allowed to refer to the advent of the Messiah, and particularly on the words, the whole earth shall shout for joy, he says, “The miserable Jews acknowledge that this is spoken of the presence of Christ; but they are stupidly ignorant of the person, though they see the words fulfilled. * Quando enim terra Britanniae ante adventum Christi, in unius Dei consensit religionem ; when, before the advent of Christ, did the land of Britain AGREE in the worship of one God? When did the land of the Moors—when did the whole globe at once agree in this? But now, on account of the churches, which are spread to the uttermost bounds of the world, the whole earth, with rejoicing, invokes the God of Israel.” ” Origen tells Celsus what was the cause of this extensive and rapid spread of the Christian religion: “The first preachers who planted Christian churches, their sermons had a mighty force of persuasion above those who taught the philosophy of Plato, or of any other man endowed only with the power of human nature; but the persuasion of the apostles of Jesus Christ was given of God, persuading men to believe by the efficacy and power of the Holy Spirit; and therefore quickly and swiftly did their word run through the world, or rather the word of God, by their ministry converting many sinners from the evil of their ways, whom no man could have changed by whatever punishments, but the word of God converted them according to the will of God.”" Eusebius, a learned and inquisitive historian, says, “Innumerable multitudes of people, in all cities and countries, like corn in a well filled granary, being brought in by the grace of God that brings salvation. They whose minds were heretofore distempered and overrun with the error and idolatry of their ancestors, were cured by the sermons and miracles of our Lord's disciples: so after shaking off these chains of darkness and slavery, which the merciless demons had put upon them, they freely embraced and entertained the knowledge and service of the only true God, the great Creator of the world, whom they worshipped according to the rites and rules of that Divine and wisely contrived religion which our Saviour had introduced.” In the third book of his Evangelical Demonstration, having named Romans, Persians, Armenians, Parthians, Indians, and Scythians, as people among whom the apostles preached the gospel of Christ, he mentions particularly, that some of them passed over the ocean to the British islands. That some of the apostles preached the gospel in the British islands, he was probably informed by Constantine himself, to whom he was well known ; or received it from some of the emperor's countrymen, who were then in his court ; or of the British bishops, summoned to the council of Nice, where, in all likelihood, some of them made their appearance.
* Adversus Judaeos, cap. vii. pag. m. 98.
At what precise period of time, and by what means, the Christian religion was first introduced into Britain, are matters which have often engaged the pens of historians; but whose records do not always agree, and sometimes plainly contradict each other. We shall collect from various and the best sources of information, what appears the most authentic, both as to dates and instruments.
Some writers state, that St. Paul was the first instrument employed in converting the Britons to Christ. The testimony of Theodoret, a learned and judicious church historian, is important; for among the nations converted by the apostles, he expressly names the Britons. Having mentioned Spain, he affirms, that St. Paul brought the gospel to the islands that lie in the ocean, that is, to the British islands. And St. Jerome says, that St. Paul, after his imprisonment, preached the gospel in the western parts. That by these western parts, the British islands were chiefly understood, will appear from the testimony of Clemens Romanus, who writes, that St. Paul preached righteousness through the whole world, and in so doing went to the utmost bounds of the west. This passage will necessarily take in Britain, if we consider what, among the ancients, was meant by the bounds of the west. Plutarch, speaking of Caesar's expedition into Britain, says, he was the first that brought a fleet into the western ocean, that is, the British ocean. Eusebius several times calls this ocean the western; and, elsewhere, he mentions Gaul, and the western parts beyond it; by which he means Britain. And Theodoret reckons up the inhabitants of Spain, of Britain, and Gaul, (who, says he, lie between the other two,) as those, who dwell in the bounds of the west. And among these, the Britons must be the utmost bounds, because the Gauls lie in the midst. Though these testimonies may, in the opinion of some, be deemed sufficient to prove that there was a church planted here by some of the apostles, and that St. Paul, the great apostle of the Gentiles, was probably the individual employed in this great work; yet, we may notice some circumstances that will add weight and evidence to the above-mentioned authorities. It is certain, therefore, in the first place, that St. Paul wanted neither leisure nor opportunity to come over into Britain, and preach the gospel. For Eusebius, St.Jerome, and others of the ancients agree in this, that he suffered martyrdom at Rome, in the fourteenth year of Nero. Now he was sent to Rome, when Festus was made procurator in Judea, in the room of Felix, which was, according to the same authorities, in the second of Nero. But considering the circumstances of his voyage, we will, with Massutius, allow, that he could not come to Rome till the third of Nero. We know, from St. Luke, that he abode there two years. So that in the fifth year he was set at liberty, probably on occasion of favours showed to prisoners and exiles, on the murder of Agrippina. From this time till his returning to Rome, where he suffered, (which was about eight years,) he went to various parts preaching the gospel. Sure we are, from Scripture, that he did not return to the East. For in the last of his three peregrinations, related in the Acts of the Apostles, at Miletus, we find him sending for elders of the church, taking his solemn leave of them, and telling them, that they should see his face no more. Which words do not only concern the church of Ephesus, but all the other churches planted by him in the East: and this he speaks, not in the way of conjecture, but from certain knowledge.
* Hist. Eccl. lib. ii. cap. 3.
Agreeable to this divine testimony, we have all the ancient fathers unanimously affirming, that from the time of his being set at liberty to that of his suffering, he continually preached the gospel in the western parts only. We have showed before, that Britain is contained in, if not the principal place meant by, the western parts. And we know from Gildas, that the gospel was received here before the fatal defeat of the Britons by Suetonius Paulinus, which was, according to Petavius, in the eighth year of Nero; so that St. Paul, being at liberty the fifth year, had time and convenience enough to found a Christian church in Britain.