Justin Martyr's First Apology - Conclusion


68. If what we say seems to you reasonable and true, treat it with respect—if it seems foolish to you, then despise us as foolish creatures and do not decree the death penalty, as against enemies, for those who do no wrong. I have said before that you will not escape the future judgment of God if you continue unjust, while we will cry out, What God desires, let that be done. On the ground of a letter of your father, the great and illustrious Caesar Hadrian, we could demand that you order judgment to be given as we have asked. Yet we do not ask [for this] on the basis of Hadrian’s judgment, but since we know that what we ask is just, we have made this petition and explanation. I have subjoined a copy of the letter of Hadrian, so that you may know that I speak the truth in this matter. Here is the copy:
Hadrian to Minucius Fundanus. I have received the letter addressed to me by your predecessor the Honorable Serenius Granianus, and it does not seem right to me to pass over this report in silence, lest innocent people should be molested and false accusers given the opportunity of doing harm. So if the people of your province can formally support their petition against the Christians by accusing them of something before [your] tribunal, I do not forbid their following this course; but I do not permit them to make use of mere requests and clamorous demands in this matter. It is much more proper, if anyone wishes to bring an accusation, for you to take cognizance of the matters brought forward. Therefore if anyone brings an accusation and proves that the men referred to have done anything contrary to the laws, you will assign penalties in accordance with the character of the offenses. But you must certainly take the greatest care, that if anyone accuses any of these people merely for the sake of calumny, you will punish him with severe penalties for his offense.


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