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

SUCH, then, was the divine and celestial grace, exhibited by the interposition of our Saviour. And such too the abundant blessings imparted to us by the peace, and in this manner our affairs were finally crowned with gladness and festivity. But malignant envy, and the demon of iniquity, were not able to endure the exhibition of this spectacle.

When, therefore, the events that befel the aforesaid tyrants were not sufficient to bring Licinius to sound reason, who as long as his government was prosperous, being honoured with the second rank after the emperor, Constantine the great, and also by intermarriage and affinity of the highest order, nevertheless abandoned imitating a good example, and on the contrary rivalled the wickedness of the impious tyrants. And thus, although he had seen their end with his own eyes, he was resolved to follow their counsels rather than remain faithful to a better disposition and friendship. Stimulated, therefore, by envy, he waged a most oppressive and nefarious war against the common benefactor of all, not regarding the laws of nature, nor leagues, nor consanguinity, nor paying any regard to covenants. For Constantine, as a most gracious emperor, exhibiting the evidences of a true benevolence, had not refused affinity with him, and had not denied him the illustrious marriage with his sister, and had honoured him as a sharer in that eminent nobility of the imperial family, which he derived from his fathers, and had shared with him the government of the whole empire, as his kinsman and partner, granting him the power to rule and govern no less a part of the empire than himself. But he, on the contrary, pursued a course directly opposite to this, by plotting every kind of mischief against his superior, and inventing all manner of artifices, as if to return the kindness of his benefactor with evils. And first, he attempted to conceal his preparations, and pretended to be his friend, and having frequently waylaid him with treachery and deceit, hoped that he would very easily gain his object. But God was the friend and the viligant protector and guardian of the emperor (Constantine), who bringing these plots formed in darkness and secresy to light, foiled them. So much excellence has that powerful armour of piety, to repel our enemies and to preserve our own safety. Our most divinely favoured emperor, fortified by this, escaped the multifarious and complicated plots of the iniquitous man. But the other, when he saw that his secret preparations by no means succeeded according to his wish, as God detected every artifice and villany to his favoured prince, no longer able to conceal himself, commenced an open war. And in thus declaring war against Constantine, he now also proceeded to array himself against that supreme God, whom he knew him to worship. Afterwards he began gradually and imperceptibly to assail those pious subjects under him, who had never at any time troubled his government. This too, he did, violently urged on by the innate propensity of his malice, that overclouded and darkened his understanding. He did not bear in mind those that had persecuted the Christians before him, nor those whose destroyer and punisher he himself had been appointed, for their wickedness. But departing from sound reason, and as one might say, seized with insanity, he had determined to wage war against God himself, the protector and aid of Constantine, in place of the one whom he assisted. And first, indeed, he drove away all the Christians from his house; the wretch thus divesting himself of those prayers to God for his safety, which they are taught to offer up for all men. After this he ordered the soldiers in the cities to be cashiered and to be stripped of military honours, unless they chose to sacrifice to demons.

But these were small matters compared with the subsequent greater ones that were superadded. Why should we here relate particularly and minutely the deeds perpetrated by this enemy of God? how, as a violator of all law, he also devised illegal laws? For he enacted that no one should exercise humanity towards the unhappy individuals in prison, by imparting food, and no one compassionate those perishing with hunger, in bonds, so that there should be no good man tolerated, or any good thing done, and that too, even when nature herself powerfully attracts our sympathy towards our fellow-men. Indeed, this was a most shameless and inhuman law, calculated to expel every sense of humanity implanted by nature. Beside this, the punishment was attached to those who exercised commiseration, that they should be made to suffer the same things with those they commiserated; and that those who had performed the offices of humanity should be thrust into prisons and bonds, to sustain the same punishment with the worst malefactors. Such were the ordinances of Licinius. Why should we, moreover, recount his innovations in marriage, or his novelties in regard to the dying? by means of which he dared to restrict the ancient and wisely established institutions of the Romans, and to introduce as a substitute certain barbarous, savage, unlawful, and truly lawless laws. He also invented innumerable pretexts of exaction against the people subject to him, and every variety of method to extort silver and gold, new measurements of lands, and means of gain by way of penalty,| from those in the country, who were no longer living, but had long since died. Who can tell the expatriations that this enemy of mankind devised besides these, the banishment of nobles and illustrious men, those too, whom he separated from their youthful wives, consigning the latter to be shamefully abused by certain miscreants of his own; with how many females, married and unmarried, he, though in the last stages of advanced age, gratified his unbridled passions? Why, I say, should I stay to recite those things, when the excessive wickedness of his last deeds make the first to appear as trifles, and a mere nothing? He at last proceeded to such an extent of madness, as to attack the bishops; regarding them as the servants of the Supreme God, hostile to his measures; yet not openly, for fear of his superior (Constantine): but commencing his operations in a clandestine and crafty manner, by means of his governors and magistrates, he insidiously destroyed the most distinguished and approved of these. And the manner of the murder itself, perpetrated upon them, was strange, and such as had never before been heard of; but the excesses perpetrated at Amana, and other cities of Pontus, surpassed all others in savage cruelty. There, some of the churches of God were razed to the ground, some were closed, so that no one accustomed to frequent them could get into them, nor render God the worship that we owe. For he did not suppose that prayers were offered up for him, reasoning thus in his bad conscience, but persuaded himself that we did all and propitiated the Deity only for the divinely-favoured emperor. Hence also he directed the violence of his fury against us, and at the same time when his parasitical governors perceived that they were doing what was gratifying to the execrable tyrant, they subjected some of the bishops to the same punishments as the worst criminal. Those then, who had done no evil, were led away to punishment without any pretext, just like murderers and assassins. Some also endured a novel kind of death, having their bodies cut into many small pieces, and after this savage and horrible spectacle, were thrown as food to the fishes into the depths of the sea. Again the worshippers of God began to flee; again the open fields, the deserts, forests, and mountains, received the servants of Christ. When these things had succeeded with the impious tyrant, after this manner, he finally contemplated to renew the persecution against all. And no doubt he would have prevailed in his determination, and there was nothing to hinder him to proceed in his work, had not God, the defender of his own servants, anticipated him, and led forth Constantine, his servant, with a mighty arm and amid these events, and suddenly, as in the dense and impenetrable darkness of a gloomy night, caused a light and a deliverer to arise to all.








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