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expressly and laboriously applied to the investigation of the origin and history of the Church of Christ. His intimate acquaintance also with Constantine the Great, whose father Constantius governed and died in Britain, and who was himself proclaimed Emperor there by the army, must have given him the means of superior information on this particular question.
But who among the Apostles are alluded to by Eusebius, is a question less easy of solution. Nicephorus, speaking of the provinces chosen by those holy men, says that one went to Egypt and Libya, and another to the extreme countries of the ocean, and to the British Isles. From the plural term used by Eusebius it might be argued that this was true. of more than one of them. But there is a remarkable coincidence of circumstances which renders it not improbable that the first missionary to Britain was St. Paul.
St. Paul was sent to Rome, according to Eusebius, in the second year of Nero, that is, A.D. 56, and he stayed there, according to St. Luke, two years.
Caractacus, the British chief, upon his defeat by the Romans, was sent, as Tacitus has recorded, prisoner to Rome, where his magnanimous behaviour procured him better treatment than was usually bestowed upon captive princes. A very ancient document, the British Triads, published in the Myvyrian Archæology, states that the father of
Caractacus went to Rome, as a hostage for his son, with others of his family, and that on his return he brought the knowledge of Christianity to his countrymen from Rome. That the family of Caractacus were sent with him to Rome, about the year 51, to grace the triumph of Ostorius, and remained there several years, we know from Tacitus; consequently, it is probable they were there during the period of St. Paul's residence in that city, and some of them might therefore have been among his auditors.
There were two distinguished ladies at Rome at this period, both natives of Britain, who had embraced Christianity: the one was Pomponia Græcina, the wife of Aulus Plautius, the first Governor of the Roman province in Britain, of whom Tacitus * says, that she was accused of having imbibed a "foreign superstition," and that her trial for this crime was committed to her husband. was pronounced innocent, he adds, of any thing immoral, and lived many years afterwards, “but always a gloomy, melancholy kind of life." Such is the description which a Pagan writer would very naturally give of the manners of a Christian convert. It is therefore highly probable that Christianity was the foreign superstition alluded to, and that Pomponia had become acquainted with it in Rome before the arrival of St. Paul, or during his first residence there.
*Tacit. Ann. xiii. 32.
The other lady was Claudia, mentioned with Pudens (2 Tim. iv. 21.), and supposed to have been Claudia Rufina, the wife of Pudens, a lady of whom Martial has spoken in terms which convey the strongest impressions of her beauty and accomplishments, and to whom he alludes as a native of Britain.*
Claudia cæruleis cum sit Rufina Britannis
Edita, quam Latiæ pectora plebis habet!
Quale decus formæ ! Romanam credere matres
Italides possunt, Atthides esse suam. Lib. ii. Epig. 54.
Claudia, Rufe, meo nubit Peregrina Pudenti :
Macte esto tædis, O Hymenæe, tuis! Lib. iv. Epig. 13.
Those who know how diffusive a principle Christian zeal is, will not doubt that these distinguished converts would be anxious to communicate, by every means in their power, to their native country, the blessings of which they had been made the happy partakers.
Britain was, at this time, an important Roman province, and London and Verulam were become large, rich, and flourishing towns, crowded with Roman citizens. The communication between the colony and the capital of the mother-country must have been constant. It is, therefore, by no means improbable, that the attention of St. Paul should have directed itself to Britain, as an interesting and extensive field of labour, nor that the British
*The Reverend W. L. Bowles, in a very interesting little Treatise, entitled "Pudens and Claudia of St. Paul," has placed in strong relief the argument glanced at above.
converts in Rome should have pleaded in its behalf with the Apostle.
The detention of the British captives who accompanied Caractacus, was not only coincident with St. Paul's residence at Rome as a prisoner, but there is evidence to render it probable that they were released from confinement in the self-same year in which he himself was liberated, and no opportunity can be imagined more convenient for a visit from the Apostle to Britain, if it ever took place.
From the time that St. Paul was set at liberty, A. D. 58, to that when, according to Eusebius, he suffered martyrdom at Rome, A.D. 67, in the last year of Nero, an interval of nine years elapsed. What were the occupations of the great Apostle of the Gentiles during this long period? St.Chrysostom, among the Fathers, and some eminent modern authorities, favour the idea that he returned to Greece and the East, but this is an opinion unsupported by any authentic data. The Asiatic Churches, as he himself said in his exquisitely touching address to the Elders of the Church of Ephesus, were to "see his face no more."* Yet his ardent mind must have been actively employed in the service of his great Master in some quarter; and we know, on his own testimony, it was his delight to preach the Gospel in countries where its sound had never been heard, "that he might not build on another man's foundation."
* Acts, xx. 25.
The desire which he expresses to visit Spain, naturally directs our attention to the West; and the tradition that he visited both that country and Britain, is supported by ancient and venerable authorities, whereas the traditions of a similar description respecting St. James the Less, St. Peter, and Joseph of Arimathea, are in the highest degree fabulous and absurd. Stillingfleet, in his Origines Britannica, has collected many early testimonies in favour of this hypothesis.
Theodoret, who, in common with Eusebius, has been cited as stating that Christianity was introduced into Britain in the days of the Apostles, insinuates that the Apostle Paul preached the Gospel in this island, as well as in Spain, and other countries of the West.
Clemens Romanus and Jerome relate, that after his imprisonment in Rome he carried the Gospel to Spain, "and to the utmost bounds of the West, and to the islands that lie in the ocean."
That he did visit Spain, is supported by the authority of Athanasius and Chrysostom, as well as of Theodoret; and the latter affirms, that he also brought salvation (ωφελειαν) ταις εν τω πελαγει διακειμεναις νήσοις — which is in perfect accord. ance with the assertion of Jerome, that after his Spanish mission, he went from sea to sea, and preached the Gospel in the West. The language of St. Clement, in describing his final travels to the confines of the West, is επι το τερμα της δύσεως.