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

As to the persecutions that raged so violently under him, and what sufferings he with others endured for their piety towards the Supreme God, his own words shall declare, which he addressed to Germanus, one of the contemporary bishops that attempted to slander him. His words are as follows: “I apprehend that as I am forced to relate the wonderful providence of God respecting us, I shall be liable to much folly and insensibility. But, as it is said, it is honourable to conceal the secret of the king, and glorious to make manifest the works of God, I will face the violence of Germanus. I came to Æmilianus not alone, but in company with my fellow-presbyter Maximus, and the deacons Faustus, Eusebius, and Chæremon, together with a certain one of the brethren who had come from Rome. Æmilianus, however, did not at first say to me, Hold no assemblies, as this was superfluous, and was the last thing to one who was aiming at what was the first in importance; for he was not concerned about my collecting others, but that we should not be Christians, and from this he commanded me to desist, thinking, no doubt, that if I changed, others would follow my example. But I answered him not without good reason, and without many words, ‘We must obey God rather than man.’ I directly bore witness, that I could neither renounce the exclusive worship of the only true God, nor ever cease to be a Christian. Upon this he commanded us to go away to a neighbouring village of the desert, called Cephro.

“But hear the words that were uttered by both of us, as they were recorded. Dionysius and Faustus, Maximus, Marcellus, and Chæremon, being arraigned, Æmilianus, the prefect, said: ‘I have even personally reasoned with you on the clemency of our sovereigns, which you have also experienced. For they have given you the chance of saving yourselves, if you are disposed to turn to the course of nature, and worship the gods that have preserved them in their government, and to forget those practices which are so unnatural (των παρα φυσιν). What, then, say ye to these things? For neither do I expect that you will be ungrateful for their kindness, since they would dispose you to a better cause.’ Dionysius answered, ‘All the gods are not worshipped by all, but each worships those whom he thinks to be gods. We, therefore, worship the one God and Creator of all things, and the very same that has committed the government to their most excellent and sacred majesties, Valerian and Gallienus. Him we worship and adore, and to Him we incessantly pray that their reign may continue firm and unshaken.’ Æmilianus, the prefect, again replied: ‘But who prevents you from worshipping this one God, if He be a god, together with those that arc the natural gods? For you are commanded to worship the gods, and those gods which all know to be such.’ Dionysius answered: ‘We worship no other one.’ Æmilianus, the prefect, said, ‘I perceive that you are at the same time ungrateful, and insensible to the clemency of our Cæsars. Therefore you shall not remain in this city, but you shall be sent to the parts of Lybia, to a place called Cephro. For this place I have selected according to the orders of our Cæsars. But neither you, nor any others, shall in any wise be permitted, either to hold conventions, or to enter what you call your cemeteries. But if any one appear not to have gone to the place which I have commanded, or if he shall be found in any assembly, he will do it at his peril. For the necessary punishment will not fail. Remove, therefore, whither ye are commanded.’ Thus he compelled me, sick as I was, nor did he grant me a day’s respite. What leisure, then, had I to hold assemblies, or not to hold them?”

After other matters, he says again, “Neither did we keep aloof from assembling ourselves by divine assistance; but so much the more diligently did I gather those that were in the city, as if I were in their midst: absent, indeed, in the body, as I said, but present in spirit. In Cephro a large congregation collected with us, partly of the brethren that accompanied us from the city, partly of those that joined us from Egypt; and thus God opened a door for the word likewise there. And at first, indeed, we were persecuted, we were stoned; but, at last, not a few of the heathen, abandoning the idols, turned to God, for the word was then first sown among them, as they had never before heard it. And thus, as if God had conducted us for this cause to them, after we had fulfilled this ministry, we were again transferred to another part. For Æmilianus designed to transport us, as it seemed, to places more rough, and more replete with Lybian horrors (more Lybian-like), and he commanded those in the Mareotic district every where to collect, appointing them separate villages throughout the country. But our party, together with those that should be first taken, he commanded to be left on the way. For, no doubt, it was among his plans and preparations, that whenever he wished to seize us he might easily take us captive. And when I was first ordered to go away to Cephro, though I knew not the place where it was, having scarcely even heard the name before, yet I nevertheless went away cheerfully and calmly. But when it was told me to remove to the parts of Colluthion, those present know how I was affected. For here I shall accuse myself. At first, indeed, I was afflicted, and bore it hard. For though these places happened to be more known and familiar to me, yet they said that it was a region destitute of brethren and good men, and exposed to the insolence of travellers, and the incursions of robbers. However, I received comfort from the brethren, who reminded me that it was nearer to the city, and although Cephro brought us a great number of brethren promiscuously from Egypt, so that we could hold larger assemblies, yet there, as the city was nearer, we should more frequently enjoy the sight of those that were really beloved and most dear to us. For they would come, and would tarry, and, as if in the more remote suburbs, there would be still meetings in part. And so it was.”

After these, and other remarks, he proceeds to tell what happened to him again: “Germanus, indeed, may glory in his many confessions; he may have much to say of what happened to him: but how many sentences of condemnation against us may he enumerate; how many confiscations, proscriptions, spoliations of goods, loss of dignities, contempt of worldly honour, contempt of praise from the prefects or from counsellors, and the endurance of the opposite threats of outcries; what dangers, persecutions, exile, great trouble and various kinds of affliction, such as happened to me under Decius and Sabinus, such as I have suffered until the present persecution of Æmilianus. But where in the world was Germanus? What is said of him? But I will abstain from the great folly into which I have fallen on account of Germanus. And hence, also, I shall dismiss giving a particular account of what happened to the brethren, who already know the facts.”

The same writer, also, in the epistle to Domitius and Didymus, again makes mention of some particulars, in reference to the persecution, as follows: “It is superfluous for me to recount to you our brethren by name, as they are both numerous and unknown to you. But you must know that they are men and women, young and old, young virgins and aged matrons, soldiers and private men, every class and every age, some that obtained the crown of victory under stripes and in the flames, some by the edge of the sword. As to many, however, the lapse of a very long time was not sufficient to render them acceptable to God. And in my case it has not been sufficient, neither is it now. Therefore, I have been reserved for a time which he knows most suitable, who has said, ‘In the accepted time I have heard thee, and in the day of salvation I have assisted thee.’ But since you have inquired, and wish to be informed of all concerning us, you have fully heard how we fare; how we, that is, myself and Caius, Faustus, Peter and Paul were led away as prisoners by the centurion and magistrates, and the soldiers and officers that were with them, when a party came from Mareotis and took us away, and, as we were unwilling, dragged us by force. Now Caius and Peter, with myself, solitary and deprived of the rest of our brethren, are shut up in a wild and desert place of Lybia, three days’ journey distant from Parætonium.”

After some further remarks, he proceeds: “In the city some concealed themselves, secretly visiting the brethren; presbyters Maximus, Dioscorus, Demetrius, and Lucius. For Faustinus and Aquila, being more eminent in the world, are wandering about in Egypt. But of those that died of the sickness, the surviving deacons are Faustus, Eusebius, Chæremon. Eusebius, who was strengthened by the Lord from the beginning, and who was well qualified to fulfil the arduous and necessary duties to those confessors that were in prison, and to perform the dangerous office of burying those perfected and blessed men who suffered martyrdom. For, to the present day, the governor does not cease killing them, as I before said, in a most cruel manner, whenever they are arraigned, torturing some with scourging, wasting others with imprisonment and bonds, and commanding that no one shall go nigh them, and examining whether any is seen to do so. And yet God, by the alacrity and kindness of the brethren, has afforded some relief to the afflicted.” Such is the statement of Dionysius in this epistle.

Now it should be observed, that this Eusebius, whom he called a deacon, was not long after appointed bishop of Laodicea, in Syria; and Maximus, whom he called a presbyter, at that time succeeded Dionysius as bishop of the church at Alexandria. But Faustus, who was at that time greatly distinguished for his confession, being reserved until the persecution of our times, in a very advanced age, and full of days, was made perfect as a martyr, and was beheaded. Such were the events that happened to Dionysius at this time.








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