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

PEACE having been scarcely established, he returned, indeed, to Alexandria; but as sedition and war again broke out, so that it was impossible for him to superintend all the brethren then divided into different parties, he again addressed them by letter at the passover, as if he were still an exile from Alexandria. He also wrote, after this, another paschal letter to Hierax, a bishop of Egypt, in which he makes mention of the sedition then prevailing at Alexandria, as follows: “But what cause of wonder is there, if it be difficult for me also to address epistles to those that are so very remote, when I am at a loss to consult for my own life, or to reason with myself. For, indeed, I have great need to send epistolary addresses to those who are as my own bowels, my associates and dearest brethren and members of the same church. But how I shall send these I cannot devise. For it would be more easy for any one, I would not say to go beyond the limits of the province, but even to travel from east to west, than to go from Alexandria to Alexandria itself. For the very heart of the city is more desolate and impassable than that vast and trackless desert which the Israelites traversed in two generations, and our smooth and tranquil harbours have become like that sea which opened and arose like walls on both sides, enabling them to drive through, and in whose highway the Egyptians were overwhelmed. For often they appear like the Red Sea, from the frequent slaughters committed in them; but the river which washes the city, has sometimes appeared more dry than the parched desert, and more exhausting than that in which Israel was so overcome with thirst on their journey that they exclaimed against Moses, and the water flowed for them from the broken rock, by the power of Him who alone doeth wondrous works. Sometimes, also, it has so overflowed, that it has inundated all the country round; the roads and the fields, seeming to threaten that flood of waters which happened in the days of Noah. It also flows always polluted with blood and slaughter, and the constant drowning of men, such as it formerly was, when, before Pharaoh, it was changed by Moses into blood and putrid matter. And what other purification could be applied to water, which itself purifies all? Could that vast and impassable ocean ever wash away this bitter sea? or could that great river itself, which flowed from Eden, though it poured the four heads into which it was divided, into one Gihon, wash away this filth? When will this air, corrupted as it is by the noxious exhalations every where rising, become pure and serene? For there are such vapours from the earth, and such storms from the sea-breezes, from the rivers and mists coming from the harbours, that make it appear as if we should have for dew, the gore of those dead bodies that are putrefying in all the elements around us.

“Then, and notwithstanding all this, men wonder, and are at a loss to know whence come the constant plagues; whence these malignant diseases; whence those varied infections; whence all that immense destruction of human lives; and wherefore it is, that this mighty city no longer cherishes within it such a number of inhabitants, from speechless children, to the aged and decrepid, as it formerly had of those whom it could pronounce firm and vigorous in years. Those of forty years and up to seventy, were so much the more numerous once, that their number cannot now be made up, if even those from fourteen to eighty were inserted and enrolled among the receivers of the public grain. And those who in appearance are but the youngest, are now as of an age with those formerly the oldest. And yet, though they constantly see the human race diminishing, and constantly wasting away, in the very midst of this increasing destruction, and this annihilation, they are not alarmed.”








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