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of hands', and was afterwards admitted, by the initiatory rites of baptism, into the number of the faithful". The Christianity of Constantine must be allowed in a much more vague and qualified sense; and the nicest accuracy is required in tracing the slow and almost imperceptible gradations by which the monarch declared himself the protector, and at length the proselyte, of the church. It was an arduous task to eradicate the habits and prejudices of his education, to acknowledge the divine power of Christ, and to understand that the truth of his revelation was incompatible with the worship of the gods. The obstacles which he had probably experienced in his own mind, instructed him to proceed with caution in the momentous change of a national religion; and he insensibly discovered his new opinions, as far as he could enforce them with
5 That right was always used in making a catechümen (see Bingham's Antiquities, l. x. c. 1, p. 419. Dom. Chardon, Hist. des Sacremens, tom. i. p. 62.) and Constantine received it for the fift time (Euseb. in Vit. Constant. l. iv. c. 61.) immediately before his baptism and death. From the connection of these two facts, Valefius (ad loc. Euseb.) has drawn the conclusion which is reluctantly admitted by Tillemont (Hist, des Empereurs, tom. iv. p. 628.), and opposed with feebie arguments by Mosheim (p. 968.).
• Euseb. in Vit. Constant. I. iv. c. 61, 62, 63. The legend of Constantine's baptism at Rome, thirteen years before his death, was invented in the eighth century, as a proper motive for his donation. Such has been the gradual progress of knowledge, that a story of which Cardinal Baronius (Annal. Ecclesiast. A. D. 324. No. 43–49.) declared himself the unblushing advocate, is now feebly supported, even within the verge of the Vatican. See the Antiquitates Christianæ, tom. ii. p. 232. ; a work published with fix approbations at Rome, in the year 1751, by Father Mamachi, a learned Dominican,
5 - safety 8 Cod. Theodos. l. ii. tit. viii. leg. r. Cod. Justinian. l. iii. tit. xii. leg. 3. Constantine styles the Lord's day dies solis, a name which could not offend the ears of his Pagan subjećts.
of his reign, the stream of Christianity flowed with a gentle, though accelerated, motion: its general direction was sometimes checked, and sometimes diverted, by the accidental circumstances of the times, and by the prudence, or pos. sibly by the caprice, of the monarch. His ministers were permitted to signify the intentions of their master in the various language which was best adapted to their respective principles 7; and he artfully balanced the hopes and fears of his subjećts, by publishing in the same year two edićts; the first of which enjoined the solemn observance of Sunday", and the second directed the regular consultation of Aruspices". While this important revolution yet remained in suspense, the Christians and the Pagans watched the condućt of their sovereign with the same anxiety, but with very opposite sentiments. The former were prompted by every motive of zeal, as well as vanity, to exaggerate the marks of his favour, and the evidences of his faith. The latter, till their just apprehensions were changed into despair and
9 Cod. Theodos. 1. xvi. tit.x. l. 1. Godefroy, in the chara&ter of a commentator, endeavours (tom. vi. p. 257.) to excuse Constantine; but the more zealous Baronius (Annal. Eccles. A. D. 321, No. 1 3.) censures his profane condućt with truth and asperity.
Vol. III. R resent
c H A P. resentment, attempted to conceal fron the world, * , and from themselves, that the gods of Rome could no longer reckon the emperor in the number of their votaries. The same passions and prejudices have engaged the partial writers of the times to connect the public profession of Christianity with the most glorious or the most ignomini- . ous aera of the reign of Constantine. - - His pagan Whatever symptoms of Christian piety might so- transpire in the discourses or ačtions of Constantine, he persevered till he was near forty years of age in the pračtice of the established religion ”; and the same condućt, which in the court of Nicomedia might be imputed to his fear, could be ascribed only to the inclination or policy of the sovereign of Gaul. His liberality restored and enriched the temples of the gods: the medals which issued from his Imperial mint are impressed with the figures and attributes of Jupiter and Apollo, of Mars and Hercules; and his filial piety increased the council of Olympus by the solemn apotheosis of his father Constantius". But the devotion of Constantine was more peculiarly direčted to the genius of the Sun, the Apollo of Greek and Roman mythology ; and he was pleased to be represented with the symbols of the
God of Light and Poetry. The unerring shafts of that deity, the brightness of his eyes, his laurel wreath, immortal beauty, and elegant accomplishments, seem to point him out as the patron
of a young hero. The altars of Apollo were crowned with the votive offerings of Constantine;
and the credulous multitude were taught to be-
ful favourite *.
* * The panegyric of Eumenius (vii. inter Panegyr. Vet.), which was pronounced a few months before the Italian war, abounds with the most unexceptionable evidence of the Pagan superstition of Congantine, and of his particular veneration for Apollo, or the Sun; to which Julian alludes (Orat. vii. p. 228. xoroxtoray art.). See Commentaire de Spanheim sur les Césars, p. 317. 13 Constantin. Orat. ad Sanétos, c. 25. But it might easily be fliewn: that the Greek translator has improved the sense of the Latin R 2 4. original; o- 4. •
He prote&ts the Christians of Gaul, A.D. 306, –312.