"The primitive Christians condemn pleasure and luxury"

The acquisition of knowledge, the exercise of our reason or fancy, and the cheerful flow of unguarded conversation, may employ the leisure of a liberal mind. Such amusements, however, were rejected with abhorrence, or admitted with the utmost caution, by the severity of the fathers, who despised all knowledge that was not useful to salvation, and who considered all levity of discourse as a criminal abuse of the gift of speech. In our present state of existence the body is so inseparably connected with the soul, that it seems to be our interest to taste, with innocence and moderation, the enjoyments of which that faithful companion is susceptible. Very different was the reasoning of our devout predecessors; vainly aspiring to imitate the perfection of angels, they disdained, or they affected to disdain, every earthly and corporeal delight. (88) Some of our senses indeed are necessary for our preservation, others for our subsistence, and others again for our information; and thus far it was impossible to reject the use of them. The first sensation of pleasure was marked as the first moment of their abuse. The unfeeling candidate for heaven was instructed, not only to resist the grosser allurements of the taste or smell, but even to shut his ears against the profane harmony of sounds, and to view with indifference the most finished productions of human art. Gay apparel, magnificent houses, and elegant furniture were supposed to unite the double guilt of pride and of sensuality: a simple and mortified appearance was more suitable to the Christian who was certain of his sins and doubtful of his salvation. In their censures of luxury the fathers are extremely minute and circumstantial; (89) and among the various articles which excite their pious indignation, we may enumerate false hair, garments of any colour except white, instruments of music, vases of gold or silver, downy pillows (as Jacob reposed his head on a stone), white bread, foreign wines, public salutations, the use of warm baths, and the practice of shaving the beard, which, according to the expression of Tertullian, is a lie against our own faces, and an impious attempt to improve the works of the Creator. (90) When Christianity was introduced among the rich and the polite, the observation of these singular laws was left, as it would be at present, to the few who were ambitious of superior sanctity. But it is always easy, as well as agreeable, for the inferior ranks of mankind to claim a merit from the contempt of that pomp and pleasure which fortune has placed beyond their reach. The virtue of the primitive Christians, like that of the first Romans, was very frequently guarded by poverty and ignorance.


Among the reasons for the rise of Christianity in Rome.

Folksonomies: history christianity

/religion and spirituality/christianity (0.986853)
/religion and spirituality/christianity/orthodoxy (0.794194)
/religion and spirituality/christianity/protestantism (0.792507)

Christianity (0.941843): dbpedia_resource
Sense (0.681424): dbpedia_resource
Psychological manipulation (0.642285): dbpedia_resource
Sin (0.626096): dbpedia_resource
Olfaction (0.600775): dbpedia_resource
Salvation (0.593553): dbpedia_resource
Reason (0.584823): dbpedia_resource
Virtue (0.580618): dbpedia_resource

 The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 15
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book Chapter:  Gibbon, Edward , The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 15, Retrieved on 2021-10-06
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  • Folksonomies: history