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

OF those prelates of the church, however, who suffered martyrdom in the most celebrated cities, the first of which we shall mention, recorded by the pious as a witness of the kingdom of Christ, is Anthimus, bishop of Nicomedia, who was beheaded. Of the martyrs at Antioch, we also name Lucian, that presbyter of this church, who during all his life was pre-eminent for his excellent character and piety. He had before, at Nicomedia, and in the presence of the emperor, proclaimed the heavenly kingdom of Christ, in the defence that he delivered, and afterwards bore testimony to its truth in his actions. Among the martyrs at Phœnice, the most noted of all were those pious and devoted pastors of the spiritual flocks of Christ, Tyrannio, bishop of the church at Tyre, Zenobius of Sidon, and Silvanus bishop of Emisa. The last of these was cast as food to wild beasts at Emisa, and thus ranked in the number of martyrs, and each of the former glorified the doctrine of God, by suffering with patience until death. The one, the bishop, was committed to the depths of the sea; Zenobius, the other, a most excellent physician, died with great fortitude under the tortures applied to his sides. Among the martyrs at Palestine, Silvanus, bishop of the churches about Gaza, was beheaded with thirty-nine others at the copper-mines of Phœno. Also, those of Egypt there, Peleus, and Nilus, who were bishops, suffered death by the flames. Among these must be mentioned the presbyter Pamphilus, a most admirable man of our times, and the glory of the church at Cæsarea, whose illustrious deeds we have set forth in its proper place. Of those that were prominent as martyrs at Alexandria, all Egypt and Thebais, the first whom we shall mention is Peter, bishop of Alexandria, a man wonderful as a teacher of the Christian faith, and the presbyters with him, Faustus, and Dius, and Ammonius, perfect witnesses of Christ. Phileas, Pochumius, Hesychius and Theodorus, bishops of churches in Egypt, with many others, are also mentioned as distinguished martyrs, by the churches in those places and regions. To give a minute description of the conflict which they endured in the cause of piety, throughout the whole world, and to give a full account of the circumstances respecting each, could not be expected in the present work. This would rather belong to those who were eye-witnesses of the facts. Those, indeed, at which I myself was present, I shall publish for the benefit of posterity in another work.

In the present work, however, I shall, to the above-mentioned facts, add the revocation issued by our persecutors, as also those events that occurred at the beginning of the persecution, believing that they will be read not without profit. To tell the state of the Roman empire before the war was waged against us, how long the emperors continued friendly and peaceable towards us, and how great was the abundance and prosperity of the empire, what description would suffice? Then, indeed, those who held the supreme command, who had been at the head of government ten and twenty, years, passed their time in festivities and shows, and joyous feasts and entertainments in peace and tranquillity. And in this state of uninterrupted and increasing prosperity and power, they suddenly changed our peaceful condition, and excited against us a most unjust and nefarious war. Scarcely had the second year of this war been passed, when a revolution taking place in the whole government, it was completely overturned. A disease of a most obstinate nature attacked the chief of the above-mentioned emperors, by which he was reduced to a state of insanity, together with him that was honoured with the second rank, and thus betook himself to a private life. These things had scarcely happened, when the whole empire was divided, a circumstance which, in the annals of history, never happened before, any where. It was not long before the emperor Constantius, who was all his life most kindly and favourably disposed towards his subjects, and also most favourably disposed toward the divine word, departed this life, leaving his son Constantine, a true copy of himself, as emperor and Augustus, his successor. He was the first of these emperors that was ranked among the gods by them, having every honour conferred upon him, after death, that was due to an emperor. He was the kindest and mildest of the emperors, and indeed the only one of them in our times, that passed his life consistently with the imperial dignity, and who likewise in all other respects exhibited the greatest condescension and benevolence to all, and had no share in the hostility raised against us, but even preserved and protected those pious persons under him free from harm and calumny. Neither did he demolish the churches, nor devise any other mischief against us, and at length he enjoyed a most happy and blessed death, being the only one who, at his decease, did peaceably and gloriously leave the government to his own son, as his successor; a prince who in all respects was endowed with the greatest moderation and piety. His son Constantine, therefore, in the very commencement, being proclaimed supreme emperor and Augustus by the soldiers, and much longer before this, by the universal sovereign God, resolved to tread in the footsteps of his father, with respect to our faith. And such, indeed, was he. But Licinius after this was appointed emperor and Augustus, by a common vote of the emperors. Maximums was greatly offended at this, since he had yet received only the title of Cæsar from all. He, therefore, being particularly of a tyrannical temper, arrogating to himself the dignity, was created Augustus by himself. In the mean time, being detected in a conspiracy against the life of Constantine, the same (Maximian) that we have mentioned as having resumed the imperial dignity after his resignation, was carried off by a most disgraceful death. And he was the first of these emperors whose statues and public monuments were demolished as commemorative of an impious and execrable man.








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