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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to www.million-books.com where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: CHAPTER IV THE POST-NICENE FATHERS (GREEK AND EASTERN) Though the conversion of the Empire did not create Christian literature, it gave to Christian writers a fuller scope and larger materials. Long before the Edict of Milan the riches of the Gentiles had begun to pour themselves into the treasury of the Church, as the labours of Lac- tantius, Arnobius, Minucius Felix, Cyprian, Tertullian, the Alexandrian Clement, Athena- goras, Justin, and Aristides abundantly shew. But from the time of Constantine, the Church attracted an increasing proportion of the higher intellects, until in the end all the best literature was professedly Christian. Moreover, the members of the Church, no longer harassed by persecution or by the anxieties of a precarious peace, were now at leisure to follow literary pursuits. Other causes helped to mature Christian letters during the fourth and fifth centuries. It was a time when great principles were at stake, and great leaders were raised up to expound and defend them in dogmatic treatises. Their works, unlike those of many of their predecessors, were carefully preEusebius of Ccesarea 75 served and still remain in their integrity. After the fifth century the theological questions debated in the Church turned on minor points which had little living interest for the ablest men, and the religious literature of the day is proportionately poor. Then the darkness of the Middle Ages began to set in, extinguishing independent thought and work, whether secular or ecclesiastical. Thus the golden age of ancient Church literature nearly synchronises with the period of the first four Councils, upon which we are now to enter. It will be convenient to deal first with the Greek and other Eastern literature, reserving the writings of the Latin West for another c...
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