AN ACCOUNT OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THE SIXTH CENTURY: SUMMARY OF THE MARTYRS OF THE SIXTH CENTURY
[The verse of Alcimus, reserved in the preceding account of baptism in this century, is now ad duced, as the first proof of the martyrization of this time, and circumstantially explained.
Mention is made of various severe persecutions that occurred about this time, of which fifteen are enumerated; it is also shown in what kingdoms, principalities, or countries they took place, as well as who the tyrants were by whom all this was committed against the Christian believers.
An explanation that it is hardly credible that all the countries in which the afore-mentioned fifteen persecutions occurred, were subject to the Roman See; which is amplified, and its signification shown.
Arnold, a teacher of the Gospel, martyred in a forest, in France, and buried by his wife, presented as a pious martyr in the year 511.
In the margin (in connection with Arnold) a severe persecution in Arabia, A. D. 520, is spoken of; what inference may be drawn from it.
The oppression of the church and the servants of God, under Granus, son of the King of France, is noticed, for the year 562; then, in the margin, mention is made of forty Christian peasants, who suffered under the Longobards; however, for certain reasons, they are not absolutely accepted.
After this, for the year 566, other forty persons are mentioned, the most of whom were put to death with the sword, because they would not commit idolatry, or forsake Christ; in the margin an explanation is given with reference to this, and they are recognized by us as true martyrs.
Golauduch, a Christian woman of Persia, put to death, by the Persian Priests, A. D. 598.
Some remarks respecting the time in which Evagrius lived, who has recorded the last mentioned instance of martyrdom.]
Here will be the proper place to sing, with mournful voice, the blood-red verse of Alcimus, mentioned by us on a former occasion; as the author of the history of holy baptism places Alcimus at the very beginning of this century, which arrangement meets our approbation. With regard to the oppression of the Christians of his time, he expresses, in the German language, as a song of mourning, the following lines
Der Kriegsknecht stach in Christi Seit;
Wasser sprang dus der Wunden weit
Den hc?lkern das die Tauf bedeut;
Der Martrer Blut such so fleuszt heut.
The soldier pierced the Saviour’s side
There gushed forth the wat’ry flood,
A sign* of the baptismal rite;
Thus flows today the martyrs’ blood.
The question now is, what Alcimus meant to say by this verse. He treats of two things:
1. of Baptism;
* The reader will please insert here,”to the peoples,” which is contained in the original, but had to be omitted in the translation, as the metre would not alow it. The words in question are virtually implied in the verse as translated, by us, and we would not have deemed it necessary to call attention to the circumstances, were it not for the fact, that van Braght bases part of his following argument on these very words.-Translator.
2. of Martyrdom, comparing thereto the water that flowed from Christ’s side, when a soldier had pierced it with a spear.
I. of Baptism.-Of this we shall say but little, since this subject has been sufficiently discussed in our preceding account of baptism as practiced in this century; yet, in order to proceed properly, and to pass by no part of said verse, we say that the resemblance which Alcimus here finds in the blood that flowed from Christ’s side, saying that it was to the people, or to the peoples, a sign of baptism, neither can nor may be applied as referring to infant baptism; for not only the sense, but even the words of the verse, would contradict this. As to the words, he does not say that said water is to infants, a sign of baptism, which he certainly must have said, had he meant infant baptism by it; but he says that it was to the people, or peoples, a sign of baptism, which word (people, or peoples), in holy Scripture as well as in secular authors, is generally understood to mean adult, or, at least, intelligent persons, who can be taught, or to whom something can be signified; as, for instance, Christ said to His disciples, “Go and teach all nations, baptizing them,” etc. Matt. 28:19. Moreover, that infants are unable to understand the signification of little things, even to say nothing of this great mystery of baptism, is so clear that it cannot, with truth, be controverted.
II. Of Martyrdom.-This is what we have chiefly had in view; for he says in the last line of the afore-mentioned verse, “Thus flows today the martyrs’ blood.” Certainly, here he indicates that at the time when he wrote this, the blood of the (believing) martyrs was shed; for this is indicated by the word, toddy, which generally is understood to mean the present day; but here properly signifies the present current time. Moreover, as to the persons whom Alcimus notices as martyrs, and of whom he says that their blood flowed today, they cannot be understood to have been other than orthodox martyrs, or, at least, such as held the same views and doctrines with him; for the first, ancient, and true Christians called none martyrs, but their fellow believers who had suffered or been put to death for the faith. From this, it would seem, has proceeded the old adage, which is still used: “Not the suffering, but the good cause from which he suffers, makes the martyr.”
Of the correct views of Alcimus, and, consequently, of those whom he calls martyrs, especially in regard to baptism, we have spoken before, and have also just now given some explanation with reference to it; which must suffice for the present. The impartial reader may decide for himself. In the meantime it behooves us to investigate and, if possible, show when, where, why, and how said martyrs suffered. But, not being able, on account of the scarcity of ancient writers, to ascertain all this, we shall content ourselves with what we do find in regard to it, and shall therefore endeavor to follow the most faithful and truthful records.