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recorded. It was symbolized in the ever recurring representations of the story of Jonah, and of the raising of Lazarus, and was strongly asserted in numerous inscriptions. As the early Christians laid the remains of the departed saint in their last long rest, the sacred words of the gospel, 'I am the resurrection and the life,' must have echoed with a strange power through the long corridors of that silent city of the dead, and have filled the hearts of believers, though surrounded by the evidences of their mortality, with an exultant thrill of triumph over death and the grave. This was a recompense for all their pains."1

4. The Catacombs witness to the central place of Christ in the faith and hopes of the early Church, and to the recognition of His divinity. His name appears distinctly combined with that of Deity in such expressions as, "God, the Lord Christ;" "God Christ Almighty;" "God, holy Christ, only light;""To Christ, the one holy God."

5. The Catacombs witness to the freedom of the early Church from any idolatrous veneration of the Virgin Mary. There is no apparent attempt to exalt her above the place which would naturally and necessarily be assigned to her in a full list of biblical representations. "In those earliest decorations of the Catacombs," says Marriott, "which De Rossi and other Roman antiquaries believe to be before the age of Constantine, representations of the Virgin Mary occur only in such connection as is directly suggested by Holy Scripture." To be sure, there is a class of figures in the

1 Withrow, Book III., chap. ii.

2 The Testimony of the Catacombs and other Monuments of Christian Art.

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attitude of prayer, the so-called oranti, that appear to Romish eyes to represent the Virgin in her office of intercession. But there is no proper ground for such an identification. Some of the praying figures are males, some in the garb of children and youths, - facts strongly favoring the conclusion that they were designed simply as memorials of the pious dead. Moreover, if a different application were to be assigned any of them, it would be quite as probable that they were intended to serve as symbols of the Church, as that they were meant to image the Virgin. Kraus, writing from the Romish stand-point, says, "We see the Church or the Virgin in these oranti, and, indeed, in most cases the latter rather than the former." A principal ground alleged for this verdict is, that female figures in the same attitude appear upon gilt glasses in connection with inscriptions which identify them with the Virgin. But there is no certainty that these glasses originated before the age of Constantine; and if they originated after that era, which marked a powerful acceleration of every tendency to exalt the Virgin, they are explained by the new conditions, and help very little toward deciding the intent of the primitive oranti. In the opinion of Marriott, the gilt glasses which present Mary in the form of an orante were not earlier than the fifth century.2 It might, however, be allowed that she was portrayed on this wise in the pre-Constantinian era, without thereby proving the existence within that era of the Romish theory and practice. To represent Mary under a form that was also applied to the commemoration of

1 Buch. IV., kap. v.

2 Schultze is pronounced for the same conclusion.

ordinary Christian women, is vastly different from portraying her as the crowned queen of heaven. There is nothing definite in the monuments in favor of mariolatry; and since the whole literature of the first three centuries is destitute of any evidence on the side of this form of idolatry, no indefinite monumental representation is to be warped into an indication of such idolatry within those centuries.

6. The Catacombs witness rather against than for the doctrine of purgatory. There is no such catalogue of petitions for the departed as might be expected to have sprung from any clear recognition of such a doctrine. The prayers recorded to have been sent after the dead, and in their behalf, are simply the spontaneous outbreathings of affection, such as might naturally be uttered apart from any theory of their special needfulness; prayers of sweet confidence and joyful hope, rather than anxious supplications for the relief of friends from a torturing purgatory.

7. The Catacombs in no wise disagree with the evidence supplied by patristic literature, that the custom of addressing prayers to the saints was not in vogue before the fourth century. That some brief petitions or ascriptions to the departed should be found only accords with the fact that many of the inscriptions belong to a later period. One of these, pertaining to the year 380, contains the cry of an orphaned girl for parental remembrance. A few undated inscriptions of similar import are found; but it remains to be proved that they were preConstantinian, and, if so, that they represent a custom.1

1 Schultze says this class of inscriptions cannot be proved to be earlier than the fifth century. (Katakomben, p. 269.)

"Until the fourth century," says Pressensé, "no name of any creature, angel or saint, ever entered into the prayers of the Church." 1

Surely it is no small distance which separates the Church of the Catacombs from the Church whose central sanctuary now overlooks the site of these ancient cemeteries. The teaching which is gathered from their symbols and inscriptions is in many points vitally contrasted with that which is published from St. Peter's and the Vatican. No doubt the papal Church surpasses the primitive Christian communion in splendor and majesty of externals; but before the mirror of Christ's teaching the more excellent glory is with the humble Church of the primitive age.


In treating of martyrs, apologists, and theologians, we have already portrayed most of the representative men of the era, as far as suits our purpose. But there are two who may well claim a somewhat fuller sketch, as being eminent exponents of peculiarly interesting types of character. We refer to Tertullian and Origen.

TERTULLIAN was born at Carthage, not far from the middle of the second century. He was the son of a centurion in the service of the proconsul. The advantages of a good education seem to have been supplied to him. He became sufficiently versed in the Greek to write treatises in that language. Eusebius speaks of him as a "man who made himself accurately ac

1 Christian Life, Book II., chap. iv.

quainted with the laws of the Romans."1 This may be taken as an indication that he pursued for a time the life of an advocate. The style of his writings is also strongly suggestive of training in such a vocation. Apart from the testimony of his numerous writings to his energetic use of his pen, few definite facts are given of his life after his conversion. Jerome speaks of him as "Tertullianus presbyter," and there are some indications in his own writings that he belonged to the clergy. He lived in marriage relations, and we have two letters from him addressed to his wife. His career as a Christian was divided into two sections by his espousal of Montanism; though as a Montanist he simply exhibited, in intensified form, the traits by which he had previously been characterized. Obscurity rests upon the close of his life. He probably died about the year 220.

Tertullian, no doubt, took no small element of character from the national stock. He was in native temperament a Carthaginian, filled with the ardor and passionate impulses congenial to the burning African soil. He gave his whole soul to whatever he espoused. Though we have no definite account of his conversion, we are justified in presuming that his conviction was no sooner enlisted on the Christian side than Christianity filled his whole horizon, and became the one object of his hopes and ambitions. Unreserved devotion to an object of his affection, and vehement opposition to an object of his dislike, were irrepressible tendencies of his nature. No virtue was so difficult for him to cultivate as patience. It was an oft-defeated struggle after this grace which led to his pathetic exclamation, "I, most

1 Hist. Eccl., ii. 2.

2 De Anima, ix.

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