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

MAXIMINUS CÆSAR, who was afterwards raised to the government, as if to exhibit the evidences of his innate hatred to God and his aversion to piety, armed himself to persecute with greater violence than those before him. Hence, as there was no little confusion raised among all, some scattered here and others there, and endeavouring by all means to escape the danger; and as there was the greatest tumult throughout the empire, what description would suffice to give a faithful account of that divine love and that freedom of confession, that distinguished the martyr Apphianus, that blessed and truly innocent lamb? He was scarcely twenty years old, when he presented a wonderful instance of solid piety toward the one only God, as a kind of spectacle to all before the gates of Cæsarea. And first, when, for the purpose of pursuing Greek literature, as he was of a very wealthy family, he passed the most of his time at Berytus, it is wonderful to tell how, in the midst of such a city, notwithstanding the enticements of youthful passions, he was superior to all, and was neither corrupted in his morals by the vigour of his body, nor his association with young men, but embraced a modest and sober life, walking honestly and piously, and regulating his conversation as one who had embraced the Christian faith. Were it necessary to mention his country, and thus to celebrate the place that gave birth to so noble a wrestler in the cause of religion, we could cheerfully do it. Pagas, a city of Lycia, of no mean account, and which may be known to some of my readers, was the place whence this youth derived his origin. After his return from his studies at Berytus, though his father held the first rank in his country, being unable to bear residing with him and the rest of his kindred, because they did not approve of living according to the laws of piety, as if impelled by the divine Spirit and by a kind of natural, rather say an inspired and genuine philosophy, deeming it better than what is considered glory in life, and despising the soft pleasures of the body, he secretly fled from his friends. And without any concern for his daily expenses, in his trust and faith in God, he was conducted as if led by the Holy Spirit, to the city of Cæsarea, where was prepared for him the crown of martyrdom, for his piety. Having associated with us there, and having studied the holy Scriptures as much as could be for a short time, and having prepared himself most cheerfully by the proper exercises and discipline, he finally made so illustrious an end, as could not be witnessed again without amazement.

Who could listen without wonder to the freedom with which he spoke, behold his firmness, and before this, the courage and the energy of this youth, who gave evidence of a zeal for piety and a spirit more than human? For when a second excitement was raised against us by Maximinus, in the third year of the persecution, and the edicts of the tyrant to this effect were first issued, that all persons every where should publicly offer sacrifices, and that the rulers of the cities should see to this with all care and diligence, when the heralds also were proclaiming throughout all Cæsarea, that men, women, and children, should come to the temples of the idols, at the command of the governor; and, moreover, the military tribunes were calling upon each one by name, from a list, and the heathen were rushing in an immense crowd from every quarter, this youth fearlessly and without imparting his purpose to any, stealing away from us who dwelt in the same house, and unobserved by the military band around the governor, approached Urbanus, who happened then to be making libations. Fearlessly seizing his right hand, he suddenly interrupted him in the act of sacrificing. Then he counselled and exhorted him in a solemn and serious tone to abandon his error, saying it was not right that we should desert the one only and true God, to sacrifice to idols and demons. This was done by the youth, as is very probable, under the impulse of a divine power, which by this deed gave a kind of audible testimony, that the Christians, those to wit that were really such, were so far from abandoning the religion which they had once embraced, that they were not only superior to all the threatened dangers, and the punishments consequent on these; but, over and above this, acted with still greater freedom, and declared themselves with a noble and fearless utterance, and were it possible that their persecutors could be delivered from their ignorance, even exhorted them to acknowledge the one only and true God. After this, he of whom we are now speaking, as might be expected in the case of an act so daring, was immediately seized and torn by the soldiers, like ravenous beasts, and after suffering most heroically innumerable stripes on his whole body, was cast into prison until further orders. There, being stretched by the tormentor with both feet a night and a day, on the rack, he was the next day brought to the judge, and when force was applied to make him sacrifice, he exhibited an invincible fortitude in bearing pain and horrid tortures. His sides were not only once or twice, but often furrowed and scraped to the very bones and bowels, and at the same time he was beaten with so many blows on the face and neck, that by reason of his bruised and swollen face, he was no more recognised by those who had known him well. But as he did not yield even to this, they covered his feet with linen steeped in oil, and at the command of the governor the tormentors applied fire to these. The suffering which this blessed youth then endured, seems to me to exceed all power of description. The fire, after consuming his flesh, penetrated to the bones, so that the humours of the body, liquefied like wax, fell in drops; but as he did not yield even to this, his antagonists being defeated, and now only at a loss to account for his more than human perseverance, he was again committed to prison. At last he was summoned the third day before the judge again, and still declaring his fixed purpose in the profession of Christ, already half dead, he was thrown into the sea and drowned.

What happened immediately after this, would scarcely be credited by any who had not seen with his own eyes; but notwithstanding this, we cannot but record the events. As we may say, all the inhabitants of Cæsarea were witnesses of the fact. There was no age that was not present at this wonderful sight. As soon as this really blessed and holy youth was cast into the deepest parts of the sea, suddenly a roaring and uncommon crashing sound, pervaded not only the sea, but the whole surrounding heavens, so that the earth and the whole city was shaken by it; and at the same time with this wonderful and sudden shaking, the body of the divine martyr was cast by the sea before the gates of the city, as if unable to bear it. And such was the martyrdom of the excellent Apphianus, on the second day of the month Xanthicus, or, Roman style, the fourth of the Nones of April, on the day of the preparation, or Friday.








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