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

IT is said that when Marcus Aurelius Cæsar, the brother of the former, was about to engage in battle with the Germans and Sarmatians, he and his army were suffering with thirst, and were greatly at a loss on this account. When those soldiers that belonged to the Melitine legion, as it was called, by a faith which has continued from that time to this, bending their knees upon the earth whilst drawn up in battle array against the enemy, according to our peculiar custom of praying, engaged in prayer to God. And as this was a singular spectacle to the enemy, a still more singular circumstance is reported to have happened immediately; the lightning drove the enemy into flight and destruction, while a shower came down and refreshed the army of those that then called upon God, the whole of which was on the point of perishing with thirst. This history is related by historians who are strangers to our doctrine, who, however, took an interest in the writings of those whom we have mentioned; and it is also stated by our own writers, whilst the wonderful event is also added by historians who differ from our faith, but who do not admit that this happened at the prayers of our brethren. But the fact is handed down on record by our brethren, as lovers of truth, in a plain and undisguised manner. Of these we might mention Apollinaris, who says that from that time, the legion, at whose prayers the wonder took place, received an appellation appropriate to the event, from the emperor, being called the fulminea, or thundering legion. Tertullian also might be cited as a suitable witness of these things, in the Apology that he addressed to the Roman senate for the faith, the work which has been already mentioned by us, in which he confirms the history with greater and more powerful proof, where he writes as follows: “There are epistles of the most learned emperor Marcus still extant, in which he himself bears testimony, that when his army was ready to perish for want of water, it was saved by the prayers of the Christians.” He says also, “that the same emperor threatened death to those that attempted to accuse us.” To which he also adds, “What kind of laws are those which the wicked, unjust, and cruel put in force against us alone? which neither Vespasian observed, although he conquered the Jews; which Trajan in part annulled, forbidding that the Christians should be hunted up; which not even Adrian, though very inquisitive in all matters, nor he that was surnamed the Pious, confirmed.” But every one may place these to what account he pleases. Let us proceed to the order of our history. Pothinus having died with the other martyrs of Gaul, in the ninetieth year of his age, he was succeeded by Irenæus in the episcopate of the church at Lyons. We have understood he was a hearer of Polycarp in his youth. This writer has inserted the succession of the bishops in his third book against the heresies, where he reviews the catalogue down to Eleutherus, whose times we are now examining, as he laboured with him in the production of this work, writing as follows.








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