Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Roman Emperor

I found history in school boring when it concerned politics but fascinating when it centered on people. I love 'people watching'. No two people are ever the same, isn't it amazing? And yet we ARE all the same in how we think and feel and relate to the world around us. Have you ever thought about it, that if we weren't the same we could never learn from each other because one person's experiences would not be applicable to another ?

People's lives and experiences always interest me ....but there is an added fascination when those lives and experiences can be viewed through the lens of time.
For me, some of the preserved written accounts of events that happened thousands of years ago hold extreme value.

I came across one such account yesterday and while it wasn't new to me, it thrilled me again and I thought perhaps it might be a first read for some of you -- my friends online. I want to share it with you.

The following account was recorded by Justin Martyr , an early Church father, who lived 110-165 AD.
Think about it... the edict - that you are about to read - by a Roman Emperor was written about a hundred years after Jesus was crucified.

OK... here is it ....

The Emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelus Antoninus Germanicus, Parthicus Armaticus, to the People of Rome and to the sacred Senate… Greeting…

I explained to you my grand design and what advantages I gained on the confines of Germany, with much labour and suffering , in consequence of the circumstance that I was surrounded by the enemy - I myself being shut up in Carnuntum by seventy-four cohorts, nine miles off.

And the enemy being at hand, the scouts pointed out to us and our general Pompeianus showed us that there was close on us a mass of a mixed multitude of 977,000 men, which indeed we saw, and I was shut up by this vast host, having with me only a battalion comprised of the first, tenth, double and marine legions.

Having then examined my own position and my host, with respect to the vast mass of barbarians and of the enemy, I quickly betook myself to prayer to the gods of my country .
But being disregarded by them I summoned those who among us go by the name of Christians.

And having made inquiry I discovered a great number and vast host of them and raged against them which was by no means becoming; for afterwards I learned their power.

Wherefore they began the battle, not by preparing weapons, nor arms nor bugles, for such preparation is hateful to them, on account of the God they bear about in their conscience.
Therefore it is probable that those whom we suppose to be atheists, have God as their ruling power entrenched in their conscience.
For having cast themselves on the ground, they prayed .. not only for me, but also for the whole army as it stood, that they might be delivered from the present thirst and famine, For during five days we had got no water, because there was none; for we were in the heart of Germany, and in the enemy’s territory.
And simultaneously with their casting themselves on the ground and praying to God (a God of whom I am ignorant), water poured from heaven, upon us most refreshingly cool, but upon the enemies of Rome a withering hail.
And immediately we recognized the presence of God following on the prayer – a God unconquerable and indestructible.

Founding upon this, then , let us pardon such as are Christians, lest they pray for and obtain such a weapon against ourselves. And I counsel that no such person be accused on the ground of his being a Christian.
But if any one be found laying to the charge of Christian that he is a Christian, I desire that it be made manifest that he who is accused as a Christian and acknowledges that he is one, is accused of nothing else than only this , that he is a Christian, that he who arraigns him be burned alive.

And I further desire that he who is entrusted with the government of the province shall not compel the Christian , who confesses and certifies such a matter, to retract, neither shall he commit him.

And I desire that these things be confirmed by a decree of the Senate. And I command this my edict to be published in the Forum of Trajan, in order that it may be read. The perfect Vitrsius Pollio will see that it be transmitted to all the provinces round about, and that no one who wishes to make use of or to posses it be hindered from obtaining a copy from the document I now publish.
(anteNicen Fathers Vol. I pg 187)

Do you realize to what extent this Emperor's desires were met ? To the degree that you and I thousands of years later are still not "hindered from obtaining a copy" of the document this Emperor published !!
I love how God preserved this record of His intervention on behalf of the prayers of His people. In the words of a Roman Emperor, our God is indeed "unconquerable and indestructible."


Betty said...

Yes and it always amazes me how people like you find these things! Thank you for the meaningful posts you always publish! It gives me something to ponder...

I gave you an award today on my blog. I hope you have time to check it out and pass it along.

Lovella said...

That is very cool. . I read it slowly .. (thinking. .boy I sure don't use such delightful language) .. and savouring its meaning.
We surely do need to pray for our governments. . more.

Vicki said...

Amazing! How do you find things such as this?

I never cared for history while in school, either, but so much of it is fascinating to me today. Thank you for sharing this account!

Demara said...

I don't know what to say, except that I'm here, visiting, and that was interesting.

how are you Julie?

Yankee Doodle said...

You make a very important point, one which I think we need to have made to us again and again, in different ways, because it is so easy to lose sight of the power and benevolence of the Lord, even though His power and benevolence are in plain sight and surround us all the time.

Great post!