[ We commence with a certain severe persecution of the Christians in the East, instituted by Haumar, King of the Saracens, about A. D. 718.
Thereupon follows a note concerning said persecution; it is related that those of the East had long before separated from those of the West (that is, from the Roman church); mention is also made of the Thessalonian churches, which, from the time of the apostles, are said to have continued unchanged in religion; from which it is concluded that apparently also some of these true believers were put to death for the true faith, in said eastern persecution.
A very brief account of the great cruelty exercised by Elvelid, the Mohammedan, A. D. 739, against all Christian prisoners in the eastern countries, whom without mercy, he caused to be put to death, because of the Christian worship; upon which follows a note containing more particulars, and some explanation with regard to Eutichius, Peter of Damascus, Peter Mavimenus, and others, who were put to death for the Gospel, in the East, particularly at Damascus.
Albert of Gaul, and Clement of Scotland, follow the afore-mentioned persons, and reprove Boniface for introducing his superstitions; then it is related, of each separately, what happened on this account to Albert and Clement; and how they died, according to the most reliable testimony, about A. D. 748; a discrepancy among authors as to the time of their death; how the discrepancy can be reconciled.
Two followers of the afore-mentioned martyrs, Samson and Sydonius, as well as some others, whose names are not mentioned, maintain their doctrine against the papists, especially against Boniface, the afore-mentioned papal legate; but whether for this they were martyred or put to death, is not stated.
A circumstantial account of a severe and lamentable persecution instituted by Mady, King of the Arabians, against the Christian believers in the East, about A. D. 780.
A note touching said persecution, as well as how the Arabians proceeded in persecuting the Christians in other places; also, what might be adduced, as regards the matter of martyrization, from our account of baptism in this century. Conclusion.]
There was now considerable tranquility in the western countries, but in the East commotions began to arise; for about the year 718, Haumar,* King of the Saracens, issued bloody decrees for the persecution of the Christians. He prohibited wine, according to the laws of Mohammed, which, however, did not matter much; but the most grievous of all was this: he endeavored to compel the Christians to apostatize and deny Christ; he promised exemption from tribute and taxes to those who, forsaking Christ, should adhere to Mohammed; on the other hand, he threatened to punish with death, all those who should cling steadfastly to Christ. In the meantime he oppressed them with intolerable burdens, and deprived some of life, by various torments.**
He also made a law that the testimony of a Christian should not be valid, nor be accepted against a Saracen. In short, it is stated that by virtue of said decrees, many of the innocent and defenseless Christians became martyrs; but in default of faithful historians of that time, the names of said martyrs have not come down to us, save a few, as shall appear.
NOTE.-Above all, it must be observed in this account of the eastern martyrs, -that, as far as regards open churches or communities, those of the East had long before separated from those of the West, that is, from the Roman church, because they would not be subject to the power and dominion of the pope of Rome, who, already, A. D. 606, had been declared head of all the churches; but as such they would by no means recognize or accept him. This separation, in the course of time, assumed such proportions, that, as far as we know, they have not united again even to the present day.
Moreover, it is established by different writers, that, besides said separated churches, called the Greek, there are other churches in the East, principally in the region of Thessalonica, who are agreed in all respects with the Anabaptists of the present day, and have maintained such faith and practice uninterruptedly from the time of the apostles; of this, however, we shall speak more fully in the sixteenth century, in connection with baptism.
This being the case, it would not be surprising, if in said persecution of the Christians in the East, not only this or that single person, but, what is more, very many true believers were martyred and put to death for the true faith in Jesus Christ, and the sincere practice of the precepts of the Gospel. Nevertheless, we can tell no more than what the ancient writers have left us, and shall, therefore, proceed accordingly, adding, whenever we think it necessary, our own opinion in the margin or in a note.
It is stated that A. D. 739, in the 23d year of Leo Isaurus, the Mohammedan Prince Elvelid caused all the imprisoned Christians in every city to be put to death, on account of the Christian religion. Among them is mentioned one Eutichius, who was carried away to Karras, in Mesopotamia, and, at the time when said slaughter and martyrization of all imprisoned Christian believers occurred, offered up, because of the same faith and testimony, for his Saviour Jesus. Compare Paul. Diac., lib. 21, with A. Mellinus, 2d book, fol. 305, col. 2, 3.
NOTE.-Of said Eutichius we find no further account, touching the confession of his faith, save that, when the other martyrs were put to death, he, too, was offered up for Christ; which must also be understood of various others. See the above-mentioned authors, compared with what we have stated in the beginning of this century.
We will say nothing of Peter, Bishop of the church of Damascus, Peter Mavimenus, and others, who, at this time, were also put to death in the East, particularly at Damascus, for the testimony of the Lord Jesus, about the year 742; since the ancient writers have left us no definite information respecting their particular confession of faith, only a general statement, namely, that they suffered for Christ, and for the Christian or evangelical truth.
Hence it has come, that some who boast of Christ and His holy Gospel with their mouths, yet, by their singular expositions, yea, by their deeds and works, are very far therefrom, have nevertheless not hesitated, to claim as of their number, and produce as witnesses for their strange, and, in many respects, unchristian and unevangelical confessions, persons of whom we maintain, because of certain circumstances mentioned by ancient writers, that they believed and lived in perfect accordance with the true tenor of the holy Gospel, and, as a seal of this, testified to this with their blood and steadfast death.
Oh, how greatly it is to be lamented that the ancients have not left us more definite and clear information with regard to this! We feel confident, that it would still refresh many a well-meaning heart, and serve to confirm their faith, if they should see that in those .early, and not less turbulent times, many of their fellow brethren and sisters had such love for Christ, their beloved bloodbridegroom, and for His heavenly doctrine (which they confess with them), that they did not hesitate, the one in the fire, another in the water, some under the teeth and claws of wild beasts, others under the sword, the deadly halter, or otherwise, to bear testimony to it.
But we hope that in the right place, and throughout, we have given as much information and explanation in regard to it, .as will satisfy a true Christian and well-meaning soul. All things cannot be discussed in one place.
We will here leave this, and proceed from the East, of which we have hitherto spoken, to the West, where now we think we can find clearer information concerning several special points of the faith, namely, of such persons as did not suffer under the heathen, Mohammedans, Saracens, or the like, but under the pope of Rome, or the Roman church, where it was customary to con-
demn people on some particular articles of worship. But before we proceed to the martyrs who were punished as criminals and with death, we
deem it well, by way of introduction to, and preparation for, this matter, to show first, how this, as
by steps, took its rise; namely, how first a few persons, whom we shall name, about this time, opposed a certain papal Legate, with words and censures, for introducing certain superstitions; and what occurred to them, on this account, from the pope.
A certain Boniface, Archbishop of Mayence, having been sent out, as an apostle, ambassador and legate, by Pope Zacharias I, to convert the heathen to the Roman see (as it was called), and to inoculate to those who already belonged to it, the Roman ceremonies and superstitions, and cause them to observe the same, many bishops, overseers, or teachers, in Germany, Bavaria, and France, opposed it with spiritual weapons, namely, with reproofs from the Word of God, refusing to obey in this respect, either the pope or his legate.
Among those who thus refused, there are mentioned by name, Derthuin, Bertherius, Anobert, and Hunored. These men were accused to the pope, and charged not only with said matter, but, from envy, also with being avaricious, proud and desirous of filthy lucre. Thereupon they were all deposed from their ministry, by authority of the pope and his legate; but how it ended with them, is not stated, though it is to be presumed that some kind of ecclesiastical exclusion, anathematization or excommunication followed; however, since this is passed by in silence, we can conclude nothing certain concerning it.
In the meantime, there appears, on the one hand, the boldness of said persons in reproving the Roman superstitions, and, on the other hand, the shameless arrogance of the pope and his legate, in deposing and removing those who, loving the good, could not refrain, according to the doctrine of the Word of God, from reproving the evil. See A. Mell., fol. 328, col. 2, compared with Aventin. Annal. Boi., lib. 3.
It is stated that about A. D. 750, there lived two very eminent men, Albert, surnamed Gallus, that is, of Gaul or France, and Clement, surnamed Scotus, that is, of Scotland. Both opposed the superstitions of common popery in various points; Albert began first, in some part of France, and was followed by said Clement, who came from Scotland and joined him. In consequence of this, both, yet each separately, had to feel the sting of the pope, in such a manner as the sequel will show. In order to present this, together with the circumstances pertaining to it, in the most suitable way, we shall treat of each separately, beginning with Albert, since he was the first and principal one in said matter.
Enlightened by the heavenly radiance of the doctrine of the apostles, Albert, with voice and pen, had again and again reproved the errors, and superstitions of the Roman church, assertin, namely, that priests or teachers should not be prohibited from marrying; that the relics, or bones, of the saints ought not to be venerated; that images should not be worshiped or saluted as a religious service, and that the pope has no right to the primacy (or supremacy) over the church. He condemned the masses for the dead, purgatory, etc., as [human] inventions. Wicelius adds: He rejected as unnecessary and superstitious, ceremonies, the imposition of hands, the making the sign of the cross, confirmation, etc., and, in short, all such things as are practiced in popery for the purpose of confirming infant baptism.
Boniface, the papal legate, therefore, accused him to the pope, fabricating and disseminating many slanders, which were spewed out against him as bitter gall. The pope lost no time, nor sought to delay the matter, but immediately condemned him unheard upon these false accusations; and the above-mentioned articles, excommunicated him, and sent the sentence of excommunication to said false accuser, namely, to Boniface, his dear legate, that the latter should publish it against Albert throughout France. Hence it is, that the papists number him among the heretics, though they fail to show what heresy it was, for which he was condemned and thus shamefully excommunicated; which matter must be gleaned from other writers, except the testimony quoted above from Wicelius, according to A. M.
Having received said letter containing Albert's excommunication, from the pope, Boniface not only caused the same to be published throughout France, and deposed him from his ministry, but also incarcerated him in the monastery at Fulda, in which imprisonment he probably died of hunger, thirst, and divers wants. Compare Wilibald. in vita Bonifacii, Aventin. Annal., lib. 3. Nauc. Gen. 26, vol. 2. Balaeus. Cent. 14, cap. 30, 31, in Append. Epist. Zach. ad Bonif., Tom. 2, Concil Lutsenb. Haigiol. in vita Bon., with A. M., fol. 328, col. 3; also, 7. Gys., edition of 1657, fol. 30, col. 2, 3.
Most ancient writers, it seems, with whom also A. Mellinus agrees, fix the time of the excommunication and martyrdom of said Albert, about A. D. 750, A. M., fol. 329, col. 1, Seb. Franck fixes it ten years earlier, namely, A. D. 740. In Chron. Rom. Kett., fol. 64, col. 2.
However, this discrepancy can easily be reconciled, if a distinction is made between the time when Albert commenced to teach against the pope and, the Roman church, and the time when he was anathematized by the pope, and, ultimately, deprived of life in the dungeon at Fulda; for ten years can easily have intervened, and Seb. Franck may therefore have had regard to the time when he began to teach, while the other authors, including Mellinus, may have referred to the time of his death.
Regarding this it appears that John Gysius made a great error, either through incorrect authors, or for some other reason, when he fixes the time of the aforesaid martyr, A. D. 900. See in the margin of the place referred to above.
When Clement, having come from Scotland, had joined the aforesaid Albert as a companion, and united with him in regard to doctrine, he not only began, but ceased not, even as the friend whom he had found, to combat with the spiritual armor, and, if possible, to overcome, in an evangelical manner, the pope and the Roman church, in various points, touching mostly her ceremonies. Thereupon he was also accused, and put to death in such a manner as in the proper place, we presently hope to show.
The accusations brought against him were of the same nature as those preferred against Albert, his companion; which was not at all strange, since he had placed himself under Albert, not only as a friend and companion, but also as a disciple. For this reason, the pope, through the accusation of Boniface, the papal legate, pronounced the same excommunication against him.
But when he presented himself for the purpose of vindicating his conduct in a full synod, Boniface prevented him from taking this course, making the people believe that it were not lawful to admit a heretic who had been excommunicated or excluded from the church, to divine worship, or to a synodal assembly; yea, that such an one should not be permitted to have the benefit (in whatever this might consist) of the laws or ordinances of the church.
Seeing that by this pretense his lips were sealed, making it impossible for him to properly defend himself, he had recourse to his pen and wrote a book concerning this matter, against Boniface.
Finally, it is stated and maintained that this steadfast witness of Jesus Christ, was burned as a heretic by the Romanists, even against the will of pope Zacharias, about A, D. 750, or a little after. Compare this entire account of Clement with Willibaldi, Kaucleri, Aventini. Balae. Alij ubi supra. Also, Annal. Boj. Bernhard. Lutz, in Catal. Hceres., Tom. 2, Concil. Also, A. M., 2d book, H. M., 1619, fol. 328, 329. Hist. Mart. 1. S., 1645, fol. 30.
"In the year," etc.,"these two men drew to them much people in France, pretending to be followers of the apostles, and speaking great 'things of the mysteries of God, and the life and conduct of man. Boniface, Archbishop of France, wrote the whole matter to the pope, who, in a council of the bishops, laid it before them. They rejected the opinion of the (supposed) heretic from the church." Finally he says, "They were unanimously deposed and anathematized." Chron. Rom. Kett., fol. 64.
"Clemens Scotus, a faithful disciple of Bishop Adelbert, taught with great power in France and Germany, especially in Bavaria and Franconia, that the pope ought not to have so much power; that he (the pope) very improperly would forbid the priests (or teachers) to marry; that he introduced many new and unknown ceremonies into the church, and originated false doctrines. He (Clement) was condemned without a hearing or examination, and his writings or books were burned." Chron., page 258, col. 2, and 259, col. 1, from Joh. Munst., fol. 125. Aventin., lib. 3. Chron. Seb. Fr., fol. 54.
Samson was also a Scotchman by descent, and an elder and companion of said Clement. He and Sydonius, Bishop in Bavaria, and others of like purpose and belief, were as one heart and soul, to oppose with the Word of God, Boniface, the papal legate, who proposed to oppress the people with manifold superstitions and burdens. This, not only Samson, but also Sydonius and the others boldly did. They taught with word and pen, that the apostolical embassy (as it was called) of Bishop Boniface bore a closer resemblance to paganism or antichristendom, than to christendom. and that he had deformed rather than reformed, France and Germany. Again, that he was a sycophant and
flatterer of the pope of Rome, to whom he had not only bound, but completely sold himself, as a sworn slave.
This they were able to prove, since, by a solemn oath, he had sworn to the two popes, Zacharias I and Gregory II: That he would bring all the persons whom he should draw to him, also into obedience to the Roman see. These things were known from documents written by himself and transmitted to said popes.
They also censured him for his evil practices in the administration of baptism (that is, infant baptism), consisting in the saying of certain words, by way of exorcism. In this several questions were generally put to the unintelligent infants, namely, "Believest thou?" etc., whereupon the sponsors, in the child's name, answered, "Yea, I believe," etc.; which things certainly deserved no little censure, though without them, infant baptism had but little virtue or respectability.
They were also greatly offended, because he would forbid them to marry, as contrary to the institution of God, Gen. 1:27, 28, yea, as being a doctrine of devils, I Tim. 4:1-3. Finally it is stated, that said persons, and others, unable, in Germany as well as in France, to bring about any improvement with their doctrine, were greatly oppressed, partly through the tyranny of the popes of Rome, and partly through the authority of the kings of France, yea, were condemned in open synods, deposed from their ministry, and shut up in prisons and dungeons, and thus closely guarded that they might not escape. But as to what finally became of these persons, and others of like belief, A. Mellinus states, that the papistic historians are ashamed to tell. Compare Aventin. 3, Annal. Centur. Balaei., 14, cap. 31, and in Append., Tom. 2. Concil. in Deeret. Greg. 2, EQist. Bonifae. ad Zachar. Citante Balaeo. Hist. Boj., lib. 3, with A. Mell., 2d book, fol. 329, eol. 1, 2.
About A. D. 780, in the fifth year of Leo IV, son of Constantine Copronymus, Mady, King of the Arabians, greatly devastated the church of
God in the East, constraining the innocent and defenseless Christians to apostatize, especially the servants and slaves. To this end he had given full power to one Thesias, surnamed Zelotes, to inflict upon the Christians all manner of oppression. The latter, upon coming to Emesas, promised to constrain no one to apostatize, or to become marked with the sign of Mohammed, except the Jews, or those who had long before not been Christians, but unbelievers. But when the Jews and the Christians had been separated, he commenced to torment the Christians far more cruelly than had ever been done by the Governors Lysias and Agricolaus, under the heathen Emperors; so that he put to death many of them, men as well as women, for the name of Jesus Christ.
In the meantime something remarkable occurred here. Certain women whom he visited with various torments, to see whether he could not make them yield to his ungodliness, remained steadfast, overcoming, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, his fury with patience. He caused a thousand stripes to be given them, and had them scourged and tormented unto death, till they received from Christ the crown of victory.
Proceeding thence throughout Syria, he demolished, as far as Damascus, all the meeting places of the Christians, and ravaged the churches, thus breaking the promise made by the Arabians to those of Syria, viz.: That under their rule they should live in peace and tranquillity, and enjoy the free and unrestricted practice of their religion. But (as the apostle says) as then, he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it was now, Gal. 4:29. See Abr. Mell., 2d book, fol. 306, col. 1, compare with Paul. Diae., lib. 23, Hist. Rot&, in Leone 4. Sigibert. Chron., A. D. 781; others, however, fix it A. D. 780.
We commenced this century in the East, thence proceeded to the West, and have now returned to the East, namely, to the countries situated east from Italy, and, consequently, far from Rome, and the Roman see of papal dominion.
As regards the aforesaid persecutions, as well as the churches which existed in the East, especially in the Thessalonian regions, and the martyrs who fell there, namely, what and how much is to be held of them, can be gleaned from the explanation which we gave in the beginning, and to which we here refer the reader.
These Arabians proceeded and brought still more persecution and misery upon many Christian believers in other countries; however, for reasons already mentioned, we are again prevented from speaking more fully, or, at least, separately, of each person that may have been martyred there.
The account of holy baptism, which we have given for this century, would furnish us with not a little matter, to fill these hundred years to the very end with true professors of the true faith, also with such as, to all appearance, did not hesitate, in testimony of their upright and unwavering minds, to lay down their lives for the sake of Jesus Christ, which is the utmost that can be required of any martyr; but as we have not been able to find their names, they can have no place in this book. It is sufficient, we hope, that their names, by the hand of God, are written in the Book of Life and eternal salvation.