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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

VALENS having deprived the flock of their pastor elected a wolf to fill his office. But as all the inhabitants left the city to hold their assemblies elsewhere, he also quitted Edessa. He commanded Modestus, who was then a prefect, to assemble the soldiers who usually levied the taxes, and also the armed men who were in the neighbourhood, for the purpose of dispersing the multitudes; and this he desired him to effect by beating them with sticks, or, if necessary, by attacking them with warlike weapons. The prefect prepared from the break of day to carry this command into execution. As he was passing the market-place he saw a woman hastening along with an infant in her arms. She had broken through the ranks of the officers, whom she utterly contemned. For when the soul is warmed by divine zeal, it knows not the fear of man, and laughs at human power. The prefect on seeing her, went up to her and asked her where she was going. “I have heard,” replied she, “of the evil designs which have been formed against the holy servants of God, and I am going to join those who are one with me in faith, that with them I may suffer the cruel persecution which you are about to raise against them.” “But why do you take the infant?” asked the prefect. “In order,” replied she, “that it may die with me in this blessed cause!” The prefect, on hearing these sentiments expressed by the woman, and on reflecting that the resoluteness of the others might be inferred from the courage evinced by her, went to the emperor and told him that the slaughter which he contemplated would be fruitless. “Ignominy alone,” said he, “could result to us from such an act, while the zeal of the people would not be extinguished.” By these words the prefect warded off the blow which was about to have been inflicted on the people. But as to the presbyters and deacons, he was directed either to persuade them to enter into communion with the wolf, or else to drive them from the city, and send them to the most distant regions. After having accordingly assembled them, he addressed them in the kindest manner, endeavouring to persuade them to obey the injunction of the emperor; and he told them that it was madness for a handful of men to oppose the will of an emperor possessed of such unbounded power.








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