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

BUT since we have mentioned Phileas, as highly estimable for his great proficiency in foreign literature and science, we will let him bear witness for himself, whilst he may also show us who he was, and also what martyrdoms happened at Alexandria, all which he can state more accurately than ourselves, in the extract we here present.

From the epistle of Phileas to the inhabitants of Thmuis. “As all these signs, examples, and noble precepts are presented to us in the Holy Scriptures, those holy martyrs with us did not hesitate, whilst they sincerely directed their mental eye to that God who rules over all, and in their minds preferred death for their religion, and firmly adhered to their vocation. They had well understood that our Lord Jesus Christ became man for us, that he might remove all sin, and furnish us with the means of entering into eternal life. For he thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but humbled himself, taking upon him the form of a servant, and being found in the fashion of man, he humbled himself unto death, even the death of the cross.” Hence, also, these Christ-bearing martyrs, zealously strove to attain unto better gifts, and endured every kind of trial, every series of tortures, not merely once, but once and again, the second time; and though the guards assailed them with every kind of threat, not merely in words, but vied with one another in violent acts, they did not surrender their faith, because ‘perfect love casteth out fear.’ And what language would suffice to recount their virtues, and their fortitude under every trial? For as every one had the liberty to abuse them, some beat them with clubs, some with rods, some with scourges, others again with thongs, others with ropes. And the sight of these torments was varied and multiplied, exhibiting excessive malignity. For some had their hands tied behind them, and were suspended on the rack, and every limb was stretched on machines. Then the torturers, according to their orders, applied the pincers to the whole body, not merely, as in the case of murderers, to the sides, but also to the stomach and knees and cheeks. Some, indeed, were suspended on high by one hand, from the portico, whose sufferings by reason of the distension of their joints and limbs, were more dreadful than any. Others were bound face to face to pillars, not resting upon their feet, but forced down by the weight of the body, whilst the pressure of their weight also increased the tension of their cords. And this they endured, not merely as long as the governor spoke to them, or as long merely as he had leisure to hear, but nearly the whole day; for when he passed on to others, he left some of his subordinate officers to attend to the former, to observe whether any of them seemed so overcome by the torments as to surrender. He also gave orders to proceed without sparing, to bind with bonds, and afterwards, when they had breathed out their life, to drag them on the ground, for they said that there should not the least regard be paid to us, but that they should think and act with us as if we were nothing at all.

Our enemies, therefore, had devised this second torture beside the scourging. But there were some, also, after the tortures, placed in the stocks, stretched by both feet to the fourth hole, so that they were of necessity obliged to keep in a lying posture on their back, not being able to have any command of their mangled bodies, in consequence of the blows and scourges they had received. Others, again, being cast on the ground, lay prostrated by the accumulated tortures which they had endured, exhibiting a still more dreadful spectacle in that condition than when under the actual infliction of the torture, and bearing on their bodies the various and multiplied proofs of the ingenuity of their torturers.

Whilst these things were doing, some indeed died under their torments, covering their enemies with shame by their perseverance. Others, again, almost dead, were thrust into prison, and before many days ended their life through incessant pain. The rest, however, somewhat recovering by the application of remedies, by time and their long detention in prison, became more confident. Thus, then, when ordered to take their choice, either, by touching the unholy sacrifice, to remain without further molestation, and to obtain the execrable sentence of liberation from them, or else, without sacrificing, to expect the sentence of death, they without delay cheerfully embraced the latter. They well knew what had been anciently prescribed in the sacred Scriptures: “For he that offereth sacrifice to other gods,” saith the Scriptures, “shall be destroyed.” And, again, “Thou shalt have none other gods but me.” These are the expressions of a martyr, who was at once a sound philosopher and one devoted to God. These he addressed, before the final sentence, whilst yet in prison, to the brethren of his church, at the same time representing his own condition, and exhorting them to adhere firmly, even after his death, which was close at hand, to the Christian religion. But why should we say much, and add one new species of struggle after another, as they were endured by these pious martyrs throughout the world; especially when they were no longer assailed in a common way, but regularly invaded as in war?








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