Melito

, an ancient Christian father, was bishop of Sardis in Asia, and composed several works upon the doctrine and discipline of the church; of which we have nothing now remaining but their titles, and some fragments preserved by Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical Hist, book IV. The most valuable of these is part of an humble petition, which he presented to the emperor Marcus Antoninus; in | which he beseeches him, “to examine the accusations which were brought against the Christians, and to stop the persecution, by revoking the edict which he had published against them.” He represents to him, that “the Roman, empire was so far from being injured or weakened by Christianity, that its foundation was more firmly established, and its bounds considerably enlarged, since that religion had taken footing in it;” that “the Christian religion had been persecuted by none but the worst emperors, such as Nero and Domitian that Adrian and Antoninus had granted privileges in its favour and that he hoped from his clemency and goodness, that they should obtain the same protection of their lives and properties from him.” This petition was presented, according to Eusebius, in the year 170; but other authors give it the date of 175 or 177, and Dupin 182. Melito died before the pontificate of Victor, probably about the year 192, as we learn from a letter of Polycrates to that pope, where he speaks of Melito as of a man dead, and in the following terms: “What shall I say of Melito, whose actions were all guided by the operations of the Holy Spirit? who was interred at Sardis, where he waits the resurrection and the judgment.” He passed, it seems, for a prophet in his day; that is, for a man inspired by God; according to the testimony of Tertullian, as Jerome represents it. The same Tertullian observes also, that he was an elegant writer and a good orator; which, however, it would not be easy to discover from the fragments that remain of him. 1

1

Dupin. Mosheim. Lardner’s Works.