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

To give a satisfactory account of the extent, and the nature of that glory and liberty, with which the doctrine of piety towards the supreme God, as announced to the world through Christ, was honoured among all, both Greeks and barbarians, before the persecution in our day, this, we say, were an undertaking beyond our power. As a proof, we might refer to the clemency of the Emperors toward our brethren, to whom they even entrusted the government of provinces, exonerating them from all anxiety as it regarded sacrificing, on account of that singular good will that they entertained toward the doctrine. Why should we speak of those in the imperial palaces, and the sovereigns themselves, who granted their domestics the liberty of declaring themselves freely, in word and deed, on religion, and I would say almost the liberty of boasting of their freedom in the practice of the faith? These, indeed, they eminently valued, and considered them as more acceptable than their associates in the imperial service.

Such was that Dorotheus, the most devoted and most faithful of all to them, and, on this account, exceedingly honoured beyond all those that had the charge of government, and the most honourable stations in the provinces. We may also add Gorgonius, equally celebrated with him; and so many others that were honoured with the same distinction as these on account of the divine word. The same privileges one could observe conferred on the rulers in every church, who were courted and honoured with the greatest subserviency by all the rulers and governors. Who could describe those vast collections of men that flocked to the religion of Christ, and those multitudes crowding in from every city, and the illustrious concourse in the houses of worship? On whose account, not content with the ancient buildings, they erected spacious churches from the foundation in all the cities. These, advancing in the lapse of time, and daily increasing in magnitude and improvement, were not restrained by any odium or hostility; nor was any malignant demon able to infatuate, nor human machinations prevent them, as long as the providential hand of God superintended and guarded his people as the worthy objects of his care. But when, by reason of excessive liberty, we sunk into negligence and sloth, one envying and reviling another in different ways, and we were almost, as it were, on the point of taking up arms against each other, and were assailing each other with words as with darts and spears, prelates inveighing against prelates, and people rising up against people, and hypocrisy and dissimulation had arisen to the greatest height of malignity, then the divine judgment, which usually proceeds with a lenient hand, whilst the multitudes were yet crowding into the church, with gentle and mild visitations began to afflict its episcopacy; the persecution having begun with those brethren that were in the army; and, as if destitute of all sensibility, we were not prompt in measures to appease and propitiate the Deity; some, indeed, like atheists, regarding our situation as unheeded and unobserved by providence, added one wickedness and misery to another. Some that appeared to be our pastors, deserting the law of piety, were inflamed against each other with mutual strifes, only accumulating quarrels and threats, rivalship, hostility, and hatred to each other, only anxious to assert the government as a kind of sovereignty for themselves. Then, as Jeremiah says, “the Lord in his anger darkened the daughter of Sion, and hurled from heaven to earth the glory of Israel. Neither did he remember his footstool in the day of his wrath. But the Lord also overwhelmed all the beauty of Israel, and tore down all his walls.” And, as it is predicted in the Psalms, “He overturned the covenant of his servant, and he prostrated his sanctuary to the earth,” by the demolition of the churches. “He has destroyed all his walls, and has made all his bulwarks fear. All the multitudes that pass through have ravaged him, and hence he has become a reproach to his neighbours. For he has exalted the right arm of his enemies, and has turned away the help of his sword, nor aided him in war. He has also deprived him of his purification, and his throne he has cast to the ground. He has shortened the days of his time, and has poured upon him all his disgrace.”








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