[After the oppression exercised by the heathen and Arians, the Roman Pope also began to direct his arrows against the orthodox Christians. This forms the beginning of our account.
Bishop Adrian, of whom we have already related that he refused baptism to infants, is now criminally punished for this cause, A. D. 606.
Concerning the chapter of criminal matters, some further observations are made; also, as to whether said Adrian really suffered corporal or capital punishment.
Thereupon follows a notice concerning the following martyrs, noted by P. J. Twisck for the years 614 and 628, and recorded by us.
Many Christians apprehended by the Longobards, and put to death, A. D. 614, because they refused to eat, in honor of the idols, food offered to idols.
Of the sufferings of the Christians in Persia, and how a great many of them were delivered from imprisonment, given for the year 628.
Mention made of eight severe persecutions instituted against Christian believers, from A. D. 622, to the close of the century; the places where these persecutions happened, and the names of some of the tyrants who originated them.
Further observations concerning said persecutions and martyrs, which concludes the account of the martyrs of this century.
When first the heathen and then the Arians, the former by open, wicked violence, the latter by secret, tyrannical hypocrisy, had for a long time not only scattered the flock of Christ, but devoured with wolves' teeth, as it were, many of its innocent and defenseless lambs, then, in this century (a thing almost unheard of), the Roman Bishop, now called pope, began to arise as the forerunner of antichrist, seeking to destroy those who opposed the Roman church, not only by anathematizing, excommunicating, and awfully threatening them, which alone would have been sufficient to strike terror into the heart, but, besides this, it seems, by criminal and actual punishments, which generally touched the body or the life. Of this we hope presently to show an example from which the rest of his wicked deeds may be inferred.
In our account of baptism for the year A. D. 606, we made mention of the celebrated teacher and Bishop Adrian, and stated, from a certain letter sent by Gregory the Great to John, bishop of Larissa, that Adrian was accused of having refused baptism to infants. But it seems it did not stop, at said accusation, but that they, to all appearance, proceeded further and more severely and cruelly against him; for the above was imputed to him for a crime or a heinous sin. Hence he was criminally proceeded against, which criminal ,punishment sometimes related to property, but most frequently it was of a corporal, or capital nature.
Moreover, though said punishment was ordained for great crimes and criminals, yet in the case of Adrian, we can perceive, it was founded on nothing but his disregard and rejection of infant baptism, as appears from the sequel of Gregory's letter to John, which reads thus, "Pursuant to the chapter of criminal matters, a 'charge was preferred against Bishop Adrian, or brought against him by way of punishment, concerning the children which, by his orders, had been kept from baptism, and died in darkness, unbaptized (or unwashed) from the filth of sin." Compare with the account in Bapt. Hist., page 546.
If any one should object that said chapter of criminal matters, was not comprehensive and rigorous enough, and that therefore, Adrian was probably not really punished corporally or with death, by virtue of the same, with such a one we do not feel inclined to dispute. It suffices us, to have learned, on the one hand, that this teacher Adrian, did not hesitate, even though he should incur severe penalty, to speak against infant baptism, yea, what is still more, to reject infants from baptism, and to let them die unbaptized, as being under the grace of God; and on the other hand, that those of the Roman church were exceedingly dissatisfied with this, yea, to such a degree, that the chapter of criminal matters was opened and, apparently by form of sentence, set before this good man, either to send him (after preceding excommunication) into banishment, or to strip him of his property, or to punish him corporally or capitally. But whether said sentence was actually executed on him, is not clearly expressed;, hence we commit the truth of the matter to God.
In the meantime, there appears what we have said before, namely, that the pope or the Roman church did'not hesitate, not only to anathematize, as had formerly been customary, their opposers, especially those who spoke against infant baptism, but to proceed against them criminally or by way of corporal punishment. This was done with the said teacher Adrian, concerning whose departure we have a good hope, whether he died a natural or a violent death. The Lord knows His own, and shall in the hereafter not leave them unrewarded, who have suffered for testifying to His truth, and opposing error.
We have not been able to obtain certain or clear information as regards the confession of faith of the martyred persons of whom we shall presently speak; hence we dare not reckon them all indiscriminately among the true and orthodox confessors of the true faith; the more especially, as the sword of persecution then came upon all who bore the:Christian name (as had before, yea, frequently, been the case), in places where such persecutions occurred. Persons were also not examined so very closely With regard to this or that controverted point of the faith (I speak of those who were apprehended by the heathen), for these were things of which the persecutors knew nothing, while it was quite different with those who fell into .the hands of the papists mentioned above. The people were simply asked whether they would sacrifice, to the idols, renounce Christ, etc. Hence the reason, that in the confession of the martyrs who suffered among the heathen, but little is said regarding controverted matters of faith which are now discussed among Christians; but this is discussed more fully elsewhere:
The negligence of the writers of those times, the absence of the art of printing, and the violence of persecution, which caused people to flee and roam about, are also no small cause why so little can be adduced concerning the confessions of the martyrs. This has been more fully explained in our account of baptism.
Therefore we hold, according to the judgment and nature of love, that among the martyrs of whom we shall speak, there were, if not all, at least some, who viewed the matter aright, and whose martyrdom had for its foundation a good confession; but to accept them altogether, or to enter deeper .and more fully into the matter, we do not deem advisable, for:reasons already mentioned.
In order, then, to present the matter in the briefest and simplest' manner, we shall follow the account of P. J. Twisck, as being a summary of what the ,ancients have recorded concerning it.
"The Longobards," says Twisck,"apprehended many Christians, and sought to compel them, to eat meat which they had offered to their idols; and when they refused, they put them to death. They
also put to death four hundred who would not worship their gods." Chron., page 216, col. 1.
As to what might be adduced concerning the confession of faith of these slain persons, and how far we accept them as martyrs, see the foregoing notice.
Continuing in his account, the above-mentioned author finally speaks of the year 628, for which, in the beginning, he records these words, "About this time, the Christians had to suffer much also in Persia." He then relates that the Emperor Heraclius, having come into Persia, liberated many of the imprisoned Christians; the number, however, of those who suffered, as well as of those who were delivered from imprisonment, is not expressed, and hence we can add no further explanation. Chron. page 221, from Hist. Eccl. Hedio., lib. 5, cap. 18 and 19.
All explanation further necessary, concerning the imprisonment and the sufferings of said Christians in Persia., and how far they are recognized by us, must be looked for in the preceding notice.
It behooves us to record here, that from A. D. 622, to the close of this century, various other persecutions and severe oppressions were instituted against those who were called Christian believers, among whom, to all appearance, there were here and there, some who died upon a pure confession of faith; of which persecutions and oppressions of the Christian believers, among others, eight are enumerated, which we will briefly extract from A. Mellinus. Having spoken of the chronology of the Turks or Mohammedans, he proceeds to the year 622, and says
1."In Italy a new persecution arose against the Christians who resided there, under the Arian King of the Longobards.
2. "In France also some (namely, Christian believers) were made martyrs.
3. "Constantine, the son of Heraclius, having reigned four months, and Heracleonas six months, Constant, the son of Constantine, became Emperor, and reigned for twenty-seven years. He followed in the footsteps of his grandfather Heraclius, in espousing the cause of the Monothelites, and for the sake of this sect carried on a severe persecution (namely, against those Christians who held different views).
4."In the twenty-eight years during which said three Emperors reigned, the Arabians or Saracens conquered many countries and cities, and put to death a countless number of Christians (namely, of those who lived under said reign). There was also considerable commotion in France and England (understand, on account of the Christian religion). He afterwards says:
5."But in France, during the seventeen years of his reign several were put to death as martyrs."
After this, he speaks of the persecutions which, during the twenty-seven years comprising the reign of Justinian II, and the time of Leontius and Tiberius Apsimarus, arose against the Christians, through the Longobards as well as the Saracens. Finally he says, "Also in France, 6. in England, 7. in Germany, and in Spain 8. many became martyrs at this time." A. Mell., 2nd book, fol. 303, col. 1, 2.
What has been remarked concerning the martyrdom of those slain in the years 614 and 628, applies also to the eight persecutions just mentioned; hence, see the above-mentioned notice.
Here we are compelled to leave our account of the martyrs of this century, since the ancient writers have left us no further information respecting this matter; at least we have not found anything more that would shed light on the subject. However, it will be sufficient for the defense of the cross-bearing church of the Anabaptists and defenseless Christians; for, though among the great number of martyrs that have been noticed by us there are found but few open professors of the faith, but this diminishes neither the respectability nor the verity of said cross-bearing church; since already in our account of baptism throughout this century various, yea, many, professors of said faith have been presented, to prevent and oppose whom divers means were frequently resorted to. See the account of baptism for the years 610, 682, 699, etc.
Moreover, it seems hardly possible that all those who were, in such great numbers, it appears, designated Anabaptists, in the fifth century, and against whom bloody decrees were ordained, A. D. 413, should all have been slain and exterminated so that none were left remaining. This, we say, seems hardly possible, since even in the severest persecutions the persecuted, especially if their number is great, cannot be spied out so closely as to make it impossible for any to escape, or that not one or the other will be able to conceal himself. This being the case, those remaining (for it can scarcely be otherwise) allowed the living faith which was in them, to manifest and work out its power, in order to implant in the people of that age, but especially, in their children and decendants, the belief and doctrine which they themselves professed, and for the sake of which they had imperiled their
lives, escaping death however, through the grace of God.
It certainly appears that in the following (sixth) century there were again people of such belief and doctrine; and not only that, but such as to honor Christ their Saviour, did not hesitate, as true martyrs, to pour out their blood like water. Concerning this, both with respect to the confession and the martyrdom, our observations on the sixth century may be referred.
Is it a matter of surprise, then, that we hold it for certain, that the seventh century also was not destitute of persons who, having professed a good confession of faith, had to taste death thereupon? Certainly, we have no reason to doubt it; or the ancients must not have well instructed their cotemporaries and descendants, or there must have been no persecutions in this century. As regards the former, the very nature of love will lead us to believe otherwise; while the latter has already been sufficiently refuted, seeing we have shown that various persecutions occurred during that time. We will now conclude, since our object has been sufficiently explained above; besides, many of the confessors and martyrs noted for this century, will bear testimony to it.