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

THE revocation of the imperial edict that had been issued, was published every where, and in all places throughout Asia, and its provinces. This being done, accordingly, in this way, Maximums, the tyrant of the east, the most impious of men, and most hostile to the religion which acknowledges only the supreme God, by no means satisfied with these mandates, instead of issuing an edict, gave verbal commands to the rulers under him, to relax the war against us. For as he had no power to oppose or to pursue a different course, and place himself in opposition to the judgment of his superiors, he suppressed the edict; and designing that it should not be made public in his province, he gives orders, without writing to his governors, to relax the persecution against us. These communicated the mandate to one another by letters. Sabinus, who held the highest rank and power among the provincial rulers, communicated the imperial will to the respective governors of the provinces, in a Latin letter, the translation of which is as follows:

“With a most persevering and devoted earnestness, their majesties, our sovereigns and most august emperors, had formerly directed the minds of all men to live and conduct themselves according to the true and holy way, that even those who appeared to pursue practices foreign to the Roman, should exhibit the proper worship to the immortal gods. But the obstinacy and most unconquerable determination of some, rose to such a pitch, that they could neither be induced to recede from their own purpose by a due regard to the imperial command, nor be deterred by the impending punishment inflicted. Since, then, it has happened that many incurred danger from a practice like this, their majesties our sovereigns, the most powerful emperors, in their peculiar and exalted piety deeming it foreign to the purpose of their majesties, that men should be thrust into so great danger for such a cause, have commanded (me in) my devotedness to address (you in) your wisdom, that if any of the Christians be found to observe the worship of their people, that you should abstain from molesting or endangering them, nor determine that anyone should be punished on such a pretext; as it has been made to appear by the lapse of so long a time, that it has been impossible to induce them in any manner to abandon their obstinate course. It is incumbent, therefore, on your attentive care, to write to the governors and magistrates, and to the prefects of the districts of every city, that they may know that it is not necessary for them to pay any further regard to this edict (or business).”

After this, the rulers of the provinces thinking that the resolution contained in these writings, was truly set forth to them, communicate by letter the imperial will to the controllers, magistrates, and prefects of the different districts. Nor did they urge these things only by writing, but much more by their acts, to execute the imperial mandate; conducting those forth who had been imprisoned by them on account of their faith, they set them at liberty, and dismissing those who had been consigned as a punishment to the mines. For this in mistake they supposed to be the true intention of the emperor. When these things had thus been executed, all on a sudden, like a flash of light blazing from dense darkness, in every city, one could see congregations collected, assemblies thronged, and the accustomed meeting held in the same places. Every one of the heathen was not a little astonished at these appearances, both amazed at the singular change of affairs, and exclaiming that the God of the Christians was the only great and true God. Those of our brethren who had faithfully and manfully passed through the conflict of persecution, also again obtained great privileges with all. And those who had deserted their faith, and had been shaken in their souls by the tempest, eagerly hastened to their remedy, supplicating and entreating the strong to give them the right hand of safety, and imploring God to be merciful unto them. Then, also, these noble wrestlers of religion, liberated from the hardships of labouring in the mines, were dismissed every one to his own country. Joyous and cheerful they proceeded through every city, filled with an inexpressible pleasure and a confidence which language is inadequate to explain. Numerous bodies thus pursued their journey through the public highways and markets, celebrating the praises of God in songs and psalms. And they who a little before had been driven in bonds under a most merciless punishment, from their respective countries, you could now see regaining their homes and firehearths, with bright and exhilarated countenances; so that even they who before had exclaimed against us, seeing the wonder beyond all expectation, congratulated us on these events.








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