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

Now let us, also, subjoin translations from the Latin, of the imperial ordinances of Constantine and Licinius.

Copy of the imperial ordinances, translated from the Latin language

“As we long since perceived that religious liberty should not be denied, but that it should be granted to the opinion and wishes of each one to perform divine duties according to his own determination, we had given orders, that each one, and the Christians among the rest, have the liberty to observe the religion of his choice, and his peculiar mode of worship. And as there plainly appeared to be many and different sects added in that edict, in which this privilege was granted them, some of them, perhaps, after a little while, on this account shrunk from this kind of attention and observance. Wherefore, as I, Constantine and Augustus, and I, Licinius Augustus, came under favourable auspices to Milan, and took under consideration all affairs that pertained to the public benefit and welfare, these things among the rest appeared to us to be most advantageous and profitable to all. We have resolved among the first things to ordain those matters by which reverence and worship to the Deity might be exhibited; that is, how we may grant likewise to the Christians, and to all, the free choice to follow that mode of worship which they may wish, that whatsoever divinity and celestial power may exist may be propitious to us and to all that live under our government. Therefore, we have decreed the following ordinance, as our will, with a salutary and most correct intention, that no freedom at all shall be refused to Christians, to follow or to keep their observances or worship; but that to each one power be granted to devote his mind to that worship which he may think adapted to himself, that the Deity may in all things exhibit to us his accustomed favour and kindness. It was just and consistent that we should write that this was our pleasure, that all exceptions respecting the Christians being completely removed, which were contained in the former epistle that we sent to your fidelity, and whatever measures were wholly sinister and foreign to our mildness, that these should be altogether annulled; and now that each one of the Christians may freely and without molestation, pursue and follow that course of worship which he has proposed to himself: which indeed, we have resolved to communicate most fully to your care and diligence, that you may know we have granted liberty and full freedom to the Christians, to observe their own mode of worship; which as your fidelity understands absolutely granted to them by us, the privilege is also granted to others to pursue that worship and religion they wish, which it is obvious is consistent with the peace and tranquillity of our times; that each may have the privilege to select and to worship whatsoever divinity he pleases. But this has been done by us, that we might not appear in any manner to detract any thing from any manner of religion, or any mode of worship. And this we further decree, with respect to the Christians, that the places in which they were formerly accustomed to assemble, concerning which we also formerly wrote to your fidelity, in a different form, that if any persons have purchased these, either from our treasury or from any other one, these shall restore them to the Christians, without money and without demanding any price, without any superadded value, or augmentation, without delay or hesitancy. And if any have happened to receive these places as presents, that they shall restore them as soon as possible to the Christians, so that if either those that purchased or those that received them as presents, have any thing to request of our munificence, they may go to the provincial governor, as the judge, that provision may also be made for them by our clemency; all which, it will be necessary to be delivered up to the body of Christians, by your care, without any delay. And since the Christians themselves are known to have had not only those places where they were accustomed to meet, but other places also, belonging not to individuals among them, but to the right of the whole body of Christians, you will also command all these, by virtue of the law before mentioned, without any hesitancy, to be restored to these same Christians, that is to their body, and to each conventicle respectively; the aforesaid consideration, to wit, being observed; namely, that they who as we have said restore them without valuation and price, may expect their indemnity from our munificence and liberality. In all which it will be incumbent on you, to manifest your exertions, as much as possible, to the aforesaid body of Christians, that our orders may be most speedily accomplished, that likewise in this provision may be made by our clemency, for the preservation of the common and public tranquillity. For by these means, as beforesaid, the divine favour with regard to us, which we have already experienced in many affairs, will continue firm and permanent at all times. But that the purpose of this our ordinance and liberality may be extended to the knowledge of all, it is expected that these things written by us should be proposed and published to the knowledge of all, that this act of our liberality and kindness may remain unknown to none.”

Copy of another Ordinance which was issued by the Emperors, indicating that the benefit was conferred solely on the catholic (universal) church

“HAIL, our most esteemed Anulinus. This is the course of our benevolence; that we wish those things that belong justly to others, should not only remain unmolested, but should also when necessary be restored, most esteemed Anulinus. Whence it is our will, that when thou shalt receive this epistle, if any of those things belonging to the catholic church of the Christians in the several cities or other places, are now possessed either by the decurions, or any others, these thou shalt cause immediately to be restored to their churches. Since we have previously determined, that whatsoever these same churches before possessed, shall be restored to their right. When, therefore, your fidelity has understood this decree of our orders to be most evident and plain, make all haste to restore, as soon as possible, all that belongs to the churches, whether gardens or houses, or any thing else, that we may learn thou hast attended to, and most carefully observed this our decree. Farewell, most esteemed and beloved Anulinus.”

Copy of the Emperor’s Epistle, in which he ordains a council of bishops to be held at Rome, for the unity and peace of the church

“CONSTANTINE AUGUSTUS to Miltiades bishop of Rome, and to Marcus. As many communications of this kind have been sent to me from Anulinus, the most illustrious proconsul of Africa, in which it is contained that Cæcilianus, the bishop of Carthage, was accused, in many respects, by his colleagues in Africa; and as this appears to be grievous, that in those provinces which Divine Providence has freely entrusted to my fidelity, and in which there is a vast population, the multitude are found inclining to deteriorate, and in a manner divided into two parties, and among others, that the bishops were at variance; I have resolved that the same Cæcilianus, together with ten bishops, who appear to accuse him, and ten others, whom he himself may consider necessary for his cause, shall sail to Rome; that you, being present there, as also Reticius, Maternus, and Marinus, your colleagues, whom I have commanded to hasten to Rome for this purpose, may be heard, as you may understand most consistent with the most sacred law. And, that you may have the most perfect knowledge of these matters, I have subjoined to my own epistle copies of the writings sent to me by Anulinus, and sent them to your aforesaid colleagues; in which your gravity will read and consider in what way the aforesaid cause may be most accurately investigated and justly decided; since it neither escapes your diligence, that I show such regard for the holy catholic church, that I wish you, upon the whole, to leave no room for schism or division. May the power of the great God preserve you many years, most esteemed.”

Copy of the Epistle in which the Emperor commanded another council to be held, for the purpose of removing all the dissensions of the bishops

“CONSTANTINE AUGUSTUS to Chrestus bishop of Syracuse. As there were some before who perversely and wickedly began to waver in the holy religion and celestial virtue, and to abandon the doctrine of the catholic (universal) church, desirous, therefore, of preventing such disputes among them, I had thus written, that this subject, which appeared to be agitated among them, might be rectified, by delegating certain bishops from Gaul, and summoning others of the opposite parties from Africa, who are pertinaciously and incessantly contending with one another, that by a careful examination of the matter in their presence, it might thus be decided. But since, as it happens, some, forgetful of their own salvation, and the reverence due to our most holy religion, even now do not cease to protract their own enmity, being unwilling to conform to the decision already promulgated, and asserting that they were very few that advanced their sentiments and opinions, or else that all points which ought to have been first fully discussed not being first examined, they proceeded with too much haste and precipitancy to give publicity to the decision. Hence it has happened, that those very persons who ought to exhibit a brotherly and peaceful unanimity, are disgracefully and detestably at variance with one another, and thus give this occasion of derision to those that are without, and whose minds are averse to our most holy religion. Hence it has appeared necessary to me to provide that this matter, which ought to have ceased after the decision was issued by their own voluntary agreement, now, at length, should be fully terminated by the intervention of many.

“Since, therefore, we have commanded many bishops to meet together from different and remote places, in the city of Aries, towards the Calends of August, I have also thought proper to write to thee, that taking a public vehicle from the most illustrious Latronianus, corrector of Sicily, and taking with thee two others of the second rank, which thou mayest select, also three servants to afford you services on the way; I would have you meet them within the same day at the aforesaid place. That by the weight of your authority, and the prudence and unanimity of the rest that assemble, this dispute, which has disgracefully continued until the present time, in consequence of certain disgraceful contentions, may be discussed, by hearing all that shall be alleged by those who are now at variance, whom we have also commanded to be present, and thus the controversy be reduced, though slowly, to that faith, and observance of religion, and fraternal concord, which ought to prevail. May Almighty God preserve thee in safety many years.”








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