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

THUS struggling with so many miseries, he had some compunctions for the crimes that he had committed against the pious. Turning, therefore, his reflections upon himself, first of all he confessed his sin to the supreme God; then summoning his officers, he immediately ordered that, without delay, they should stop the persecution against the Christians, and by an imperial ordinance and decree, commanded that they should hasten to rebuild the churches, that they might perform their accustomed devotions, and offer up prayers for the emperor’s safety. This decree was immediately followed by its effects; the imperial decrees were published in the cities, embracing the following revocation with regard to us.

EMPEROR CÆSAR GALERIUS VALERIUS MAXIMIANUS, INVICTUS, AUGUSTUS, PONTIFEX MAXIMUS, GERMANICUS MAXIMUS, ÆGYPTIACUS MAXIMUS, THEBAICUS MAXIMUS, SARMATICUS MAXIMUS, the fifth time, PERSICUS MAXIMUS, CARPICUS MAXIMUS, the second time, ARMENIACUS MAXIMUS, the sixth time, MEDICUS MAXIMUS, ADIABENICUS MAXIMUS, TRIBUNE OF THE PEOPLE XX. EMPEROR XIX. CONSUL VIII. FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY, PROCONSUL: and, EMPEROR CÆSAR FLAVIUS VALERIUS CONSTANTINUS, PIUS, FELIX, INVICTUS, AUGUSTUS; PONTIFEX MAXIMUS, TRIBUNE OF THE PEOPLE V. EMPEROR V. CONSUL, FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY, PROCONSUL: also, EMPEROR CÆSAR VALERIUS LICINIANUS, PIUS, FELIX, INVICTUS, AUGUSTUS; PONTIFEX MAXIMUS, TRIBUNE OF THE PEOPLE IV. EMPEROR III. CONSUL, FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY, PROCONSUL; TO their subjects in the Provinces send greeting:

“AMONG other matters which we have devised for the benefit and common advantage of our people, we have first determined to restore all things according to the ancient laws, and the public institutions, of the Romans. And to make provision for this, that also the Christians, who have left the religion of their fathers, should return again to a good purpose and resolution. For by some means, such arrogance had overtaken and such stupidity had beset them, that they would not follow the principles anciently prescribed to them, which in all probability their ancestors had established, but they began to make and follow laws, each one according to his own purpose and his own will, and thus different multitudes assembled with different opinions and of different sects. Hence, when a Decree of this kind was issued by us, that they should return again to the established usages of their forefathers, vast numbers were subjected to danger, and many, when threatened, endured various kinds of death. But though we saw the great mass still persevering in their folly, and that they neither gave the honour that was due to the immortal gods, nor heeded that of the Christians, still having a regard to our clemency and our invariable practice, according to which we are wont to grant pardon to all, we most cheerfully have resolved to extend our indulgence in this matter also: that there may be Christians again, and that they may restore their houses in which they were accustomed to assemble, so that nothing be done by them contrary to their profession. In another epistle we shall point out to the judges, what they will be required to observe; whence, according to this condescension of ours, they are obligated to implore their God for our safety, as well as that of the people and their own. That in every place the public welfare may be preserved, and they may live unmolested in their respective homes and hearths.”

Such was the purport of this ordinance, which, according to our ability, we have translated from the Latin into the Greek. But the affairs after this we are now farther to consider.

A fragment appended in some copies to the Eighth Book.

THE author of this edict after this acknowledgment soon after was liberated from his pains, and terminated his life. It is agreed he was the original cause of the miseries of the persecution, as he had, long before the movements of the other emperors, attempted to seduce the Christian soldiers of his own house from their faith, degrading some from their military rank, and insulting others in the most abusive manner, even punishing them with death, and at last exciting his associate emperors to a general persecution against all. Nor have I thought proper, that the death of these emperors should be passed over in silence. As there were four, therefore, that held the sovereignty divided among them, those that were advanced in years and honours, after nearly two years from the persecution, abdicated the government, as we have already shown; and thus passing their days in common and retired life, ended their life in the following manner. The one, indeed, who preceded the others in honour and age, was at length overpowered by a long and distressing disease, but the next to him in dignity destroyed himself by strangling, suffering thus according to certain demoniacal prognostics, on account of the innumerable crimes that he had committed. Of the two after these, the last, whom we have mentioned as the leader of the whole persecution, suffered such things as we have already stated. But he that surpassed them all in kindness and condescension, the emperor Constantius, who had conducted his government the whole time consistently with the imperial dignity, and who exhibited himself a most gracious and benevolent prince in other respects, also, had no hand in raising the persecution against us, but even protected and patronised those pious persons that were under him. He neither demolished the buildings of the churches, nor devised any thing in opposition to us; and finally enjoyed a death really happy and blessed, being the only one of the four that in the midst of a tranquil and glorious reign, at his death, transmitted the government to his own son as his successor, a prince most eminent in all respects for his wisdom and piety. He, at the very beginning, was proclaimed supreme emperor and Augustus, by the armies, and exhibited himself a generous rival of his father’s piety, with regard to us. Such, then, was the issue of the life of the four emperors, at different times. Of these the only one that yet left the above-mentioned confession, was he whom we mentioned above, together with those whom he had afterwards associated with him in the government, which confession also, he sent abroad in his proclamation to all.








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