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

MANY instances might be related of those who exhibited noble alacrity in the cause of that religion which acknowledges only the one Supreme God, and that not only from the time that the general persecution was raised, but also long before, when all was yet in a state of peace. Then, when he who had received such power, was first roused as from a deep slumber, and had, secretly and unobserved, been plotting, after the times of Decius and Valerian, how to assault the churches; he did not all at once, nor in a mass, wage an open war against us, but as yet only made trial of those that were in the armies. For in this way he supposed that the rest could easily be taken, if he could first succeed in subduing these. Then one could see great numbers of the military, most cheerfully embracing a private life, so as not to renounce their reverence for the Supreme Creator of the universe. For when the general, whoever he was, first undertook the persecution against the soldiers, he began by a review and lustration of those that were enrolled in the army, and gave them their choice, either to enjoy the honour conferred upon them if they obeyed, or on the contrary to be deprived of it, if they disobeyed. Very many who were soldiers in the kingdom of Christ, without hesitating, preferred the confession of His name to that apparent glory and comfort which they enjoyed, and of these a few here and there exchanged their honours, not only for degradation, but even for death, for their perseverance in religion. These last, however, were not many, as the great instigator of these violent measures had, as yet, but moderately proceeded, and ventured only so far as to shed the blood of some only. The great number of the believers probably deterred and caused him to shrink from a general attack upon all: but when he began to arm more openly, it is impossible to tell how many and how eminent those were that presented themselves in every place and city and country, as martyrs in the cause of Christ.








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