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

THE measures and the decrees of the cities against us, and copies of the imperial edicts appended to these, were engraved and erected on brazen tablets, a course never before adopted against us any where. The boys also in the schools had the names of Jesus and Pilate, and the acts forged in derision, in their mouths the whole day. And here appears to me the proper place to insert the epistle of Maximums, engraved on brass, that at the same time the boasting and haughty arrogance of the man’s hatred of God, and also God’s just and ever vigilant hatred of iniquity against the wicked may appear, which soon overtook him, and by which he was urged onwards; so that he did not long devise hostilities, and form decrees against us. The decree was as follows:—

Copy of the translated epistle of Maximinus, in answer to the ordinances (of the cities) against us, taken from the brazen tablet at Tyre

“Now at length the feeble powers of the human mind have prevailed so far as to shake off and to scatter the mists of every error, and dissipate the clouds of delusion, which before this had beset the senses of those who were more miserable than profane, and enveloped them in a destructive darkness and ignorance; thus leading us to acknowledge that it is regulated and strengthened by the good providence of the immortal gods: which things it is incredible to say how grateful, how delightful and pleasing it is to us, how powerful an evidence it has furnished of your pious resolutions, since before this it could be unknown to none, how much regard and reverence you cherished towards the immortal gods, to whom faith is exhibited not by mere empty words, but by a constant and eminent display of illustrious deeds. Wherefore, deservedly, may your city be called the seat and habitation of the immortal gods, for by many evidences it does appear most clearly that it flourishes by the presence and residence of the celestial gods. So then, your city, regardless of all local interest and advantage, and omitting the petitions formerly presented to us, for its own political affairs, when it perceived the votaries of an execrable vanity again insinuating themselves, and as a funeral pile long disregarded and smothered, again rising in mighty flames and rekindling the extinguished brands, immediately without delay it took refuge in our piety, as the metropolis of all religion, entreating some remedy and relief; which salutary mind it is evident the immortal gods have imparted to you on account of your faith and piety. Wherefore, that supreme and mighty Jove, he who presides over your most illustrious city, who has rescued your country’s gods, and wives, and children, and houses, and homes, from every destructive pest, has infused into you the happy counsel, showing and proving to you how excellent, and noble, and profitable it is to observe the worship, and the sacred rites of the immortal gods with becoming reverence. For who can be so bereft of understanding, and all sense, as not to perceive, that it has happened by the gracious benevolence of the gods, that neither the earth has refused the seed committed to it, and disappointed the hope of the husbandman with vain expectation; nor the presence of impious war has been inevitably fixed on earth, and under a corrupt atmosphere wasting bodies have been dragged and weighed down to death; nor the ocean swelling and rising on high, with the raging blasts of intemperate storms, nor unexpected tempests have burst and spread destruction around. Moreover, that neither the parent and nurturing earth has risen in dreadful tremblings, from its lowest depths, nor the superincumbent hills and mountains have sunk into its opening jaws. All which calamities, and worse than these, have, as we all know, frequently occurred. And all this in consequence of the destructive error of this hollow delusion of lawless men, when it began to take root in their minds, and we may say covered nearly all the world with infamy.” A little after he adds the following:

“Let them look at the flourishing crops in the wide extended fields waving with the loaded ears, and the meadows glittering with plants and flowers, from the seasonable showers, and the temperature of the air restored to a mild and placid state. Then let all rejoice, that by your piety, and sacrifices, and veneration of the gods, the divinity of omnipotent and mighty Mars has been propitiated, and hence let them enjoy tranquillity and solid peace, be filled with pleasure and joy; and as many as have abandoned that blind delusion and perplexing error, whoever they may be” and have returned to the right and sound mind, let these rejoice still more, as those who have been rescued from an unexpected storm or severe disease, and let them enjoy the delightful fruits the rest of their life. But should they still adhere to their execrable folly, let them be driven out and separated far from your city and territory, as you have desired. That thus agreeably to your zeal, so praiseworthy in this respect, your city, separated from all pollution and impiety, may attend to the sacred rites of the immortal gods, according to its natural disposition, with due veneration. That ye may also know how acceptable this request of yours respecting this matter has been, and how very prompt our mind is to confer benefits of our own voluntary kindness: Without decrees and without petitions, we grant to your devotedness to desire any privilege you please for this your pious purpose of mind. Present now your petitions to have this done and to receive it, for you shall obtain without delay. Which, indeed, when granted to your city, will be an evidence for ever of your devoted piety to the immortal gods, as also of the fact that you obtained by our kindness, merited prizes for this your purpose of life; an evidence which will be exhibited to your children and posterity.”

Such were the letters that were sent abroad against us in all the provinces, cutting us off from every hope of good, at least from men; so that, according to the holy Scriptures themselves, if it were possible, “the very elect would take offence.” And now, indeed, when the hope of most of us was almost extinct, all on a sudden, almost whilst the agents of this decree against us were in some places yet on the way to carry it into effect, that God, who is the defender of his church, all but stopping the pomp and boasting of the tyrant’s mouth, exhibited his heavenly interposition in our behalf.








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