Tracts for the Times/Record XIII

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Tracts for the Times by Justin Martyr, translated by Tractarian Movement (1833)
Record XIII

Publication dated April. 25, 1834.

(Ad Populum.)

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Justin Martyr.

Justin, surnamed the Martyr, was born at Sichem in Samaria, where was Jacob's well. His parents were heathens, and he grew up to man's estate, ignorant of the true God, yet dissatisfied with what the wise men of this world taught on the subject of religion. He was of an inquiring turn, and successively attached himself to various sects of philosophers, beginning with the Stoics, who are mentioned in Acts xvii. 18. At length he fancied he was making progress in the discovery of the unseen world, when one day he wandered out by the sea-side to enjoy his meditations undisturbed. To his surprise he found himself joined by an old man of grave but mild countenance. Justin stopped and steadily gazed on him. The other asked him if he knew him, that he eyed him so earnestly. On Justin's expressing surprise at meeting any one in so solitary a place, the old man accounted for the accident, and then fell into conversation with him, which ended in his preaching to him Jesus Christ, and Justin's receiving impressions which led to his conversion to the true faith. This took place, A.D. 132, about thirty years after St. John's death. About eighteen years after he fixed his abode at Rome, where he employed himself in various writings in defence of the Gospel. At length he was called upon to die for it, under circumstances which are detailed in the following ancient account.

Narrative of the Martyrdom of Justin the Philosopher, A.D. 167.

While the persecution raged against the Christians for their refusing to sacrifice to the idols, the holy men (Justin and his companions) were arrested and brought before Rusticus, the Prefect of Rome, who bade Justin believe in the gods and obey the Emperor. He answered, "It is safe and unexceptionable to obey the commands of our Saviour Jesus Christ." The Prefect asked, "What department of learning do you pursue?" Justin answered, "I have essayed all, but I have attached myself to that true philosophy which the Christians profess, however displeasing it may be to mistaken reasoners." "Miserable man," said Rusticus, "is that your learning?" The other replied, "Yes, verily, I profess it in all truth of doctrine." "What doctrine?" "A reverent acknowledgment of the God of the Christians, whom we account to be the One original maker and framer of the whole world, visible and invisible; and of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was foretold by the prophets as the herald of salvation, and the instructor of dutiful disciples. For myself, mortal as I am, I cannot hope to speak adequately of His infinite majesty, which is a gift peculiar to the prophets. For they foretold His coming, whom I have declared to be the Son of God."

The Prefect said, "Where is your place of meeting?" Justin answered, "Where each chooses, and is able to come. Do you think that we all meet at the same place? Not so, for the Christian's God is not bounded by space, but though invisible fills both heaven and earth, and every where receives the homage and praise of the faithful." The Prefect Rusticus replied, "Tell me where ye meet together, in what place thou assemblest thy disciples." Justin answered, "that he lodged near one Martinus, at the baths called Timiotine; that this was the second time he had sojourned in Rome, that throughout the whole period he had known no other place of meeting, that he had communicated the words of truth to any one who chose to visit him." Rusticus said, "Art thou not in short a Christian?" Justin answered, "Yea, I am a Christian."

Then the Prefect said to Charito, "Say, thou too, Charito,—Art thou a Christian?" Charito answered, "By God's command I am a Christian." He then said to Charitina, "And what sayest thou, Charitina?" She answered, "By God's gift I am a Christian." He next addressed Evelpistus, and said, "And what art thou?" He, being a slave of Cæsar's, made answer, "I too am a Christian, being made free by Christ, and am partaker by Christ's favour of the same hope." The Prefect said to Hierax, "And art thou a Christian?" Hierax said, "Yea, I am a Christian, for I reverence and adore the same God." Rusticus said, "Hath Justin made you Christians?" Hierax answered, "I was a Christian, and I will continue one." Then Pæon stood up and said, "I too am a Christian." The Prefect said, "Who was he that taught thee?" Pæon answered, "From my parents I received this good confession." Evelpistus said, "I too, though I have listened gladly to the preaching of Justin, was taught of my parents to be a Christian." Rusticus said, "And where are thy parents?" Evelpistus answered, "In Cappadocia." The Prefect asked Hierax where his parents were. Hierax made answer in these words: "Christ is our true father, and faith in Him our true mother. My earthly parents are dead, and I myself have been brought hither from Iconium in Phrygia." The Prefect Rusticus addressed Liberianus: "And what dost thou say?—art thou a Christian?—art thou too an unbeliever?" Liberianus said, "I too am a Christian, for I am a believer and a worshipper of the only true God."

The Prefect said to Justin, "Listen thou, who art accounted an orator, and supposest thyself skilled in true doctrine; if I should have thee scourged and beheaded, what is thy belief?—that thou wouldest ascend into heaven?" Justin said, "I do trust that if I endure these things, I shall receive rewards from Him, for I know that for them who have so lived, there remaineth the divine gift, till the times of the consummation of all things." The Prefect Rusticus said again, "Dost thou imagine, that thou shalt go up into heaven, and there receive a recompense?" Justin answered, "I imagine it not; for I know and am entirely persuaded that I shall." Rusticus said, "It remains then that we come to the matter in hand, which presseth us. Come, therefore, all of you together, and with one mind do sacrifice to the gods." Justin answered, "No man of right judgment falleth from religion to irreligion." Rusticus answered, "If ye will not obey me, ye shall be tortured without mercy." Justin replied, "We ask in prayer, that we may be tortured for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and be saved; for this shall be our salvation and our confidence, at that more terrible tribunal whereat all the world must appear, of our King and Saviour." In like manner said the other martyrs also. "Do what thou wilt, for we are Christians and do no sacrifice to idols."

Then the Prefect Rusticus gave sentence, saying, "Let such as refuse to do sacrifice to the gods, and to obey the decree of the Emperor, be scourged, and then led away to capital punishment, in pursuance of the laws." So the holy martyrs, giving glory to God, were led forth to the accustomed place, and were beheaded, giving full completion to their testimony by the confession of the Saviour. And certain of the faithful, when they had secretly taken up their bodies, deposited them in a meet place, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ working with them, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Justin's account of Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and the Public Worship of God[1].

We will state in what manner we are created anew by Christ, and have dedicated ourselves to God.—As many as are persuaded and believe that the things which we teach and declare are true, and promise that they are determined to live accordingly, are taught to pray, and to beseech God, with fasting, to grant them remission of their past sins, while we also pray and fast with them. We then lead them to a place where there is water, and there they are regenerated in the same manner as we also were; for they are then washed in that water in the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit. For Christ said, "Except ye be born again, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven;" and that it is impossible that those who are once born should again enter into their mothers' wombs is evident to all. Moreover, it is declared by the prophet Isaiah, in what manner they who have sinned and repent may escape the punishment of their sins. For it is said, "Wash you; make you clean; put away the evil from your souls; learn to do well; do justice to the fatherless, and avenge the widow: and come, and let us reason together, saith the Lord. Even if your sins should be as scarlet, I will make them white as wool: and if they should be as crimson, I will make them white as snow. But if ye will not hearken unto Me, the sword shall devour you: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken these things."

The Apostles have also taught us for what reason this new birth is necessary. Since at our first birth we were born without our knowledge or consent, by the ordinary natural means, and were brought up in evil habits and evil instructions, in order that we may not longer remain the children of necessity or of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and judgment, and may obtain in the water remission of the sins which we have before committed, the name of God the Father and Lord of the Universe is pronounced over him who is willing to be born again, and hath repented of his sins; he who leads him to be washed in the laver of baptism, saying this only over him:—for no one can give a name to the ineffable God; and if any man should dare to assert that there is such a name, he is afflicted with utter madness. And this washing is called illumination, since the minds of those who are thus instructed are illuminated. And he who is so illuminated is baptized also in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate; and in the name of the Holy Spirit, who by the prophets foretold all things concerning Jesus.

*** We, then, after having so washed him who hath expressed his conviction and professes the faith, lead him to the brethren, where they are gathered together, to make common prayers with great earnestness, both for themselves and for him who is now illuminated, and for all others in all places, that having learned the truth, we may be deemed worthy to be found men of godly conversation in our lives, and to keep the commandments, that so we may attain to eternal salvation. When we have finished our prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. After which, there is brought to the brother who presides, bread and a cup of wine mixed with water. And he, having received them, gives praise and glory to the Father of all things, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and gives thanks in many words for that God hath vouchsafed to them these things. And when he hath finished his praises and thanksgiving, all the people who are present, express their assent, saying Amen, which means in the Hebrew tongue, "So be it." He who presides having given thanks, and the people having expressed their assent, those whom we call deacons give to each of those who are present a portion of the bread which hath been blessed, and of the wine mixed with water, and carry some away for those who are absent. And this food is called by us the Eucharist (thanksgiving); of which no one may partake unless he believes that what we teach is true, and is washed in the Laver, which is appointed for the forgiveness of sins and unto regeneration, and lives in such a manner as Christ commanded. For we receive not these elements as common bread or common drink; but even as Jesus Christ our Saviour, being made flesh by the word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, even so we are taught, that the food which is blessed by prayer, according to the word which came from Him, (by the conversion of which into our bodily substance our blood and flesh are nourished,) is the Flesh and Blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the Apostles, in the Memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have related that Jesus thus commanded them; that, having taken bread, and given thanks. He said, "Do this in remembrance of Me—this is My Body;" and that, in like manner, having taken the cup, and given thanks. He said, "This is My Blood;" and that He distributed them to these alone …… After these solemnities are finished, we afterwards continually remind one another of them. And such of us as have possessions assist all those who are in want; and we all associate with one another. And over all our offerings we bless the Creator of all things, through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Spirit.

And on the day which is called Sunday, there is an assembly in one place of all who dwell either in towns or in the country; and the Memoirs of the Apostles or the writings of the Prophets are read, as long as the time permits. Then, when the reader hath ceased, the head of the congregation delivers a discourse, in which he reminds and exhorts them to the imitation of all these good things. We then all stand up together, and put forth prayers. Then, as we have already said, when we cease from prayer, bread is brought, and wine, and water; and our Head, in like manner, offers up prayers and praises with his utmost power; and the people express their assent by saying Amen. The consecrated elements are then distributed and received by every one; and a portion is sent by the deacons to those who are absent.

Each of those also, who have abundance, and are willing, according to his choice, gives what he thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with him who presides, who succours the fatherless and the widows, and those who are in necessity from disease or any other cause; those also who are in bonds, and the strangers who are sojourning among us; and, in a word, takes care of all who are in need.

We all of us assemble together on Sunday, because it is the first day in which God changed darkness and matter, and made the world. On the same day also Jesus Christ our Saviour rose from the dead.

The Feast of St. Mark.



Gilbert & Rivington, Printers, St. John's Square, London.

  1. Mr. Chevallier's translation has been generally adhered to in this extract.