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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

“IN preserving the holy faith I enjoy the light of truth, and by following the light of truth I attain to greater knowledge of the faith. I adhere to that most holy religion which inculcates the recognition and worship of one God. By the powerful protection of that God, I came at first from the furthest boundaries of the ocean, and have now filled the whole empire with hope of deliverance from trouble. All the provinces which were suffering from the oppression of tyrants have been rescued, and their property restored. This I declare to be the work of God. My soldiers believe in this God; they bear his standard, and through him they gain the most famous victories. I confess that God is ever in my mind; that my spirit dwells upon the contemplation of his elevation and glory, and that I simply kneel when I call upon him; shunning the effusion of blood, the odour arising from victims, the light kindled by means of earthly materials, and all the other evil superstitions and awful errors, by means of which the heathen are destroyed: for God does not permit those gifts to be abused which, in his good Providence, he has bestowed upon men for the supply of their wants. He only requires of men purity of mind and a spotless conscience: their virtues and their piety are weighed by Him. He is pleased with modesty and with gentleness; he delights in meekness, and hates those who excite contentions: he loves faith, visits unbelief with chastisement, and takes vengeance upon those who, arrogant of power, are haughty and contumelious. He abases those who are proud, and rewards the humble-minded and the forbearing. He protects those kings who exercise justice, increases their power, and blesses them with peace. I do not deceive myself, my brother, when I confess that God is the Ruler and the Father of all men. Many who preceded me upon the imperial throne were so deluded by error as to deny this truth. But their latter end was so dreadful, that they are held up as a fearful warning to deter all others from the commission of similar iniquity. That man was one of them who was driven hence by Divine vengeance like a thunderbolt into your country, where he raised a memorial of his infamy. But the age in which we live is distinguished by the open and manifest punishments which have been inflicted on such persons. I myself have witnessed the end of one of those who had enacted unjust laws against the people who serve God. Hence it is that I more especially thank God for having now, by a peculiar dispensation of his Providence, restored peace to those who observe his law. I am led to expect future happiness and security from the circumstance, that God has in his goodness united all men in the exercise of the one pure and true religion. I rejoice exceedingly to hear that multitudes have become Christians, and that the finest provinces of Persia are honoured with their residence. I hope that they, and you likewise, will be blessed with prosperity in all that concerns you both, and that you may experience the favour and the goodness of the Ruler of the universe. I commend the Christians to your care, and leave them in your protection; treat them, I beseech you, with benevolence. Your fidelity in this respect will be attended by results incalculably beneficial to yourself as well as to us.”

This excellent emperor held all who had embraced the true religion in such high estimation, that lie not only watched over the believers who resided in his dominions, but also assisted those who were located in other and distant regions. For this reason he was blessed with the special protection of God, so that although his dominions extended throughout Europe, and Africa, and the greater part of Asia, his subjects were all obedient, and attached to his government. All foreign nations recognised his power, some spontaneously, others from having been overcome by him in war. Trophies were erected every where to honour him, and he was universally proclaimed the conqueror: but his praise has been resounded by many other writers. We must resume the thread of our history. This emperor, who deserves the highest fame, devoted his whole mind with zeal worthy of the apostles to ecclesiastical matters, while those who had been admitted to the sacerdotal dignity not only neglected the church, but endeavoured to up-root it from the very foundations. They invented false accusations against all those who most firmly maintained the doctrines taught by the apostles, in order that they might depose and banish them. Their envy was not satisfied by the infamous falsehood which they had circulated against Eustathius, but they had recourse to every artifice to effect the ruin of the other great bulwark of religion. I shall relate these occurrences as concisely as possible.








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