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inseparable from God's love, and withstood all temptation arising through children and wife and domestics. and possessions." It is to be noted also that those who exalted the virginal above the married state intended by this verdict no disparagement of woman. The basis of their preference for the single life was its freedom from distraction, and also the idea that fleshly indulgence was opposed to the greatest advance in holiness.

If monastic tendencies encouraged a special praise of virginity, there were at the same time in the Church. those high ideas of marriage which ultimately assigned to it the character of a sacrament. Such aberrations on the side of ascetic theories, as have been noted, by no means prevented a beautiful ideal of home life from being commonly entertained. In fine, it was a positive and glorious regeneration which Christianity wrought in the domestic sphere. It raised woman from a position of comparative slavery to a position of dignity, sanctity, and comparative equality. The words of an ancient formula for the initiation of a deaconess, "Thou didst not disdain that thy only begotten Son should be born of a woman," 2 are one among many significant indications of a transformed estimate of woman's position. She was regarded as a candidate for the same spiritual ideal as man. "In this perfection," wrote Clement of Alexandria, "it is possible for man and woman equally to share."3 Childhood received in like manner an augmented sanctity and importance, and the abuses of the parental relation current among the heathen are mentioned by the early Christian writers

1 Strom., vii. 12. 2 Const. Apost., viii. 20.

8 Strom., iv. 19.

only with abhorrence. The bonds of family were regarded as cemented and sanctified by the common relations of its members to the same God and Saviour. "We must regard the woman's crown," says Clement of Alexandria, "to be her husband, and the husband's crown to be marriage, and the flowers of marriage the children of both. The glory of children is their fathers, and our glory is the Father of all, and the crown of the whole Church is Christ."1 "Whence are we to find words enough," asks Tertullian, "to tell the happiness of that marriage which the Church cements, and the oblation confirms, and the benediction signs and seals; which the angels report back to heaven, which the Father holds for ratified? What kind of a yoke is that of two believers of one hope, one desire, one discipline, one and the same service? Both brethren, both fellow-servants; no difference of spirit or of flesh. Together they pray, together prostrate themselves, together perform their fasts; mutually teaching, mutually exhorting, mutually sustaining." 2 As Tertullian's description indicates, the home was counted a sanctuary, and united worship of its inmates one of the great privileges of the home life. Tertullian even lays down the rule, that a Christian brother who has chanced to call ought not to be dismissed from the house without prayer.3

Christianity gave also to labor a new sanctity. The old theory that manual toil was unworthy of a freeman was cast aside. This was a great stride forward. Indeed, St. Paul's principle, that, "if a man work not, neither shall he eat" (2 Thess. iii. 10), was really the

1 Pæd., ii. 8.

2 Ad Uxorem, ii. 8.

8 De Orat., xxvi.

corner-stone of a new civilization. It involved conditions essential to Christian democracy and brotherhood. In the theory of Christians, the dignity of labor found a hearty acceptance. With the lives of their illustrious leaders before them, they could not do otherwise than honor all honest employment. Hence, the Apostolic Constitutions points to the example of the apostles, who labored as tent-makers, fishermen, and husbandmen, and exhorts to labor, saying, "The Lord our God hates the slothful."1

Finally, we may mention, as characteristic of early Christianity in the sphere of life and practice, the cheerful and hopeful temper which it breathed into its adherents. A line of sombre hue began indeed to be drawn across that life by the asceticism which, from the rise of Montanism, made increasing progress in the Church. There was a tendency thereafter to put a greater discount upon the natural order of things, than is in harmony with the spirit of the New Testament. One manifestation of this was in the imposition of fasts.2 But even back of this asceticism there was a freshness and enthusiasm which tempered the element of gloom in it; and taking Christian life as a whole, in the first three centuries, it was peculiarly buoyant, cheerful, and hopeful. There was a sense of enrichment at the hands of Christ, and an expectancy of eternal fruition,

1 ii. 63.

2 "In the time of Tertullian," says Pressensé, "the Church still used large liberty in this respect. There was no compulsory fast, except that of the great Easter week, on the night commemorative of the entombment of Christ. The rules for fasting, however, were soon multiplied; and the custom of observing as days of vigil the Wednesday and Friday in each week, in memory of the Passion, became more and more general." (See Tertullian, De Jejun., ii.)

which in a marked degree conquered adversity and banished heaviness of heart. Many a convert from the darkness and emptiness of paganism could enter heartily into the triumphant refrain of Clement of Alexandria : "He hath changed sunset into sunrise, and through the cross brought death to life; and, having wrenched man from destruction, He hath raised him to the skies, transplanting mortality into immortality, and translating earth to heaven." Joy was considered not only the birthright, but the duty, of Christians. "Remove grief from you," says the Pastor of Hermas, "and crush not the Holy Spirit which dwells in you. For the Spirit of God which has been granted to us to dwell in this body does not endure grief or straitness. Wherefore put on cheerfulness, which always is agreeable and acceptable to God."2 Nor was it merely while looking at the life beyond that the eyes of Christians were able to discern brightness. They dwelt, no doubt, mainly upon God's supernatural order; but they were not by any means wholly blinded to the revelation of God in nature. We find, for example, Clement of Rome, indulging a glowing description of the Divine harmony and beneficence. stamped upon nature. The regular worship also of the Christian congregations paid tribute to God as the God of nature. "The eucharistic prayer never fails to unite in one act of thanksgiving both the natural and supernatural gifts of God, -the bountiful providence which makes the harvest ripen, and the gracious forgiveness with which the prodigal is welcomed home." 4

1 Cohort., xi. 2 Command, x. 2. 8 Epist. ad Corinth., xx.
4 Pressensé, Christian Life, Book II., chap. i.


De Rossi, a leading investigator of the Catacombs in recent times, finds good evidence that at least three or four of them were commenced within the first century; and Christian burial-places of this kind were probably preceded by Jewish. Their chief, if not their sole, design at first was to provide suitable resting-places for the bodies of the dead. This was the original aim in their excavation. The old theory that they were deserted quarries or sand-pits, which the Christians appropriated, is untenable, being clearly contradicted by the structure, of which narrow corridors and sharp angles are characteristic features. It is also a mistake to suppose that primarily the use of the catacombs as places of refuge was an influential motive in their construction. The attempt at secrecy in their structure did not become prominent till in the third century. This was clearly the case with the Roman Catacombs. They were, like the pagan tombs, situated on the high roads entering the city. Their entrances were frequently protected and adorned by elegant structures of masonry, such as that which is still visible at the Catacomb of St. Domitilla."1 So far as the mere purpose of burial was concerned, these cemeteries could claim the protection of that respect which classic antiquity generally awarded to the resting-places of the dead. The decrees that were finally issued against visiting them (such as the Valerian edict in 257) had probably more


1 W. H. Withrow, The Catacombs of Rome, Book I., chap. ii.

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