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An Ecclesiastical History To The 20th Year Of The Reign Of Constantine by Eusebius

THE emperor Cæsar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, Armenicus, Pontifex Maximus, Tribune of the people XV. Consul III. sends greeting, to the Assembly of Asia: “I know, indeed, that the gods themselves will take care that such men as these shall not escape detection. For it would more properly belong to them to punish those that will not worship them, than to you. And whilst you drive them into a tumult, you only confirm them the more in their mind, by accusing them as impious. And thus, to them it would be more desirable when arraigned, to appear to die for their God, than to live. Whence also, they may come off in triumph, when they yield up their lives in preference to a conformity with those things which you exact of them. But as to those earthquakes which have taken place and still continue; it is not out of place to admonish you who are cast down whenever these happen, to compare your own deportment with theirs. They, indeed, become on these occasions so much the more cheerful towards God, but you, the whole of this time in which you seem not to have correct knowledge, neglect both the gods and other duties, especially the worship of the Immortal. But the Christians who worship Him, you expel and persecute to death. Respecting these, however, many of the governors of the provinces also wrote to our most divine father. To whom, also, he wrote in reply, not to trouble them at all, unless they appeared to make attempts against the Roman government. Many also have sent communications to me respecting them, to whom also I wrote in reply, following the course pursued by my father. But if any still persevere in creating difficulties to any one of these because he is of this description, (i. e. a Christian,) let him that is thus arraigned be absolved from crime, although he should appear to be such, but let the accuser be held guilty.” This was published at Ephesus in the public convention of Asia. To these events Melito bears testimony, who was then bishop of Sardis, and well known at that time. This is clear from what he has said in that most excellent defence of our faith which he wrote and addressed to the emperor Verus.








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