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Introductory Note

to the

Instructions of Commodianus.


[a.d. 240.]  Our author seems to have been a North-African bishop, of whom little is known save what we learn from his own writings.  He has been supposed to incline to some ideas of Praxeas, and also to the Millenarians, but perhaps on insufficient grounds.  His Millenarianism reflects the views of a very primitive age, and that without the corrupt Chiliasm of a later period, which brought about a practical repudiation of the whole system.18411841    He gives us a painful picture of the decline of godliness in his days; of which see Wordsworth’s Hippolytus, p. 140.  Of his writings, two poems only remain, and of these the second, a very recent discovery, has no place in the Edinburgh series.  I greatly regret that it cannot be included in ours.

As a poetical work the following prose version probably does it no injustice.  His versification is pronounced very crabbed, and his diction is the wretched patois of North Africa.  But the piety and earnestness of a practical Christian seem everywhere conspicuous in this fragment of antiquity.

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