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

THE consequences, however, of the king’s attempts against the apostles, were not long deferred, but the avenging minister of divine justice soon overtook him after his plots against the apostles. As it is also recorded in the book of Acts, he proceeded to Cæsarea, and there on a noted festival, being clad in a splendid and royal dress, he harangued the people from an elevation before the tribunal. The whole people applauding him for his harangue, as if it were the voice of a god, and not of man, the Scriptures relate, “that the angel of the Lord immediately smote him, and being consumed by worms, he gave up the ghost.” It is wonderful to observe, likewise, in this singular event, the coincidence of the history given by Josephus, with that of the sacred Scriptures. In this he plainly adds his testimony to the truth, in the nineteenth book of his Antiquities, where he relates the miracles in the following words: “But he (i. e. Herod) had completed the third year of his reign over all Judea, and he came to the city of Cæsarea, which was formerly called the tower of Strato. There he exhibited public shows in honour of Cæsar, knowing it to be a kind of festival for his safety. At this festival was collected a great number of those who were the first in power and dignity throughout the province. On the second day of the shows, being clad in a robe all wrought with silver, of a wonderful texture, he proceeded to the theatre at break of day. There, the silver irradiated with the reflection of the earliest sunbeams, wonderfully glittered, inspiring admiration and awe in the beholders. Presently the flatterers raised their shouts in different ways; such, however, as were not for his good, calling him a god, and imploring his clemency in such language as this: ‘We have feared thee thus far as man, but henceforth we confess thee to be superior to the nature of mortals.’ The king did not either chide them or disclaim the impious flattery. After a little while, raising himself, he saw an angel sitting above his head. This he immediately perceived was the sign of evil, as it had once been the sign of good. And he felt a pain through his heart, and a sudden pang seize his bowels, which began to torment him with great violence. Turning, then, to his friends, he said, ‘I, your god, am now commanded to depart this life, and fate will soon disprove your false assertions respecting me. He whom you have called an immortal, is now compelled to die, but we must receive our destiny as it is determined by God. Neither have we passed our life ingloriously, but in that splendour which is so much extolled.’ Saying this, he laboured much with the increase of pain. He was then carried with great haste into the palace, while the report spread throughout the people, that the king at all events would soon die. But the multitude with their wives and children, after their country’s custom, sitting in sackcloth, implored God in behalf of the king; all places were filled with lamentation and weeping. But the king, as he lay reclining in an elevated chamber, and looking down upon them falling prostrate to the ground, could not refrain from tears himself. At length, overpowered by the pain of his bowels, for four days in succession, he ended his life, in the fifty-fourth year of his age and seventh of his reign. He reigned, therefore, for four years under Cains Cæsar, had the tetrarchy of Philip three years, and received that of Herod in the fourth year, reigning subsequently three years under Claudius Cæsar.” Thus far Josephus: in which statement, as in others, so in this, I cannot but admire his agreement with the divine Scriptures. But if he should appear to any to differ, in regard to the epithet of the king; yet the time and the fact show that it was the same individual, whether it happened by an error in writing that the name was changed, or in consequence of a double name applied to him; such as was the case with many.








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