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The Two Republics, or Rome and the United States of America

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    HADRIAN.

    The fanatical populace being forbidden by Trajan’s orders to proceed against the Christians in any but the legal way, had in many places taken to raising riots and wreaking their vengeance upon the Christians in this disorderly way. In A. D. 124, Hadrian made a tour through the Eastern provinces. The proconsul of Asia Minor complained to him of these riotous proceedings. The emperor issued a rescript commanding that the Christians should not be harassed, nor should informers be allowed to ply their trade in malicious prosecutions. If those who desired to prosecute the Christians could clearly prove their charges before the tribunal, “let them pursue this course only, but not by mere petitions and mere outcries against the Christians.” “If any one bring an accusation and can show that they have done anything contrary to the laws,” the magistrate was to judge of the matter “according to the heinousness of the crime;” but if any one should undertake a prosecution of the Christians “with a view to slander,” the matter was to be investigated “according to its criminality,” and if it was found that the prosecution had been made on false accusation, the false accusers were to be severely punished.TTR 120.2

    This rescript is as follows:—TTR 121.1

    “To Minucius Fundanus: I have received an epistle, written to me by the most illustrious Serenius Granianus, whom you have succeeded. I do not wish, therefore, that the matter should be passed by without examination, so that these men may neither be harassed, nor opportunity of malicious proceedings be offered to informers. If, therefore, the provincials can clearly evince their charges against the Christians, so as to answer before the tribunal, let them pursue this course only, but not by mere petitions, and mere outcries against the Christians. For it is far more proper, if any one would bring an accusation, that you should examine it. If any one, therefore, bring an accusation, and can show that they have done anything contrary to the laws, determine it thus according to the heinousness of the crime. So that indeed, if any one should purpose this with a view to slander, investigate it according to its criminality, and see to it that you inflict the punishment.” 9[Page 121] Eusebius’s “Ecclesiastical History,” book iv, chap. ix.TTR 121.2

    Hadrian’s leniency was not from any respect to the Christians as such, but from his own native respect for justice and fairness. He died A. D. 138, and was succeeded by—TTR 121.3

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