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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

JULIAN continued to oppose religion with greater and greater boldness and effrontery, while he assumed the specious appearance of clemency, in order to lay snares to entrap men, and seduce them to irreligion. He cast things offered to idols into the fountains of the city of Antioch, and into those of Daphne, so that no one could drink of the streams without partaking of the hateful sacrifices. He defiled in the same way every thing that was sold in the market-place; for he had water which had been offered to idols sprinkled on the bread, meat, fruit, herbs, and all the other articles of food. The Christians wept and lamented at witnessing these abominations, yet they partook of the food according to the precept of the apostle; for it is said, “Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake” (1 Cor. 10:25). Two of the emperor’s guards, who were his shield-bearers and companions in arms, vehemently deplored, at a certain convivial party, the perpetration of such hateful deeds, and borrowed the admirable words used by the young man who gained so high a celebrity at Babylon; “You have delivered us,” they said, “to a monarch who is more wicked than all the nations of the earth.” One of those at table acquainted the emperor with this speech. The emperor sent for these two men, and asked what it was that they had said. This question giving them an opportunity of speaking freely, they, in the warmth of their zeal, made the following reply: “Having been brought up, O emperor, in the true religion, and having been accustomed to obey the admirable laws enacted by Constantine, and by his sons, we cannot but be deeply grieved at witnessing every thing filled with abominations, and the very food contaminated by being mixed with the sacrifices offered to idols. We have lamented over this in our own houses, and now, in your presence, we publicly express our regret. This is the only cause of sorrow which we experience under your government.” On hearing these words the mildest and wisest of emperors, as he is called by those who resemble him, threw off the mask of clemency, and disclosed his real impiety. Such excruciating tortures were at his order inflicted on these two men, that they expired under them; or, rather, they obtained a release from the misery of the age, and received the crowns of victory. It was declared, that their boldness of speech, and not the religion which they defended, was the cause of their execution: they were punished, it was said, because they had insulted the emperor. This account of the transaction Julian ordered to be universally circulated; for he was apprehensive lest these champions of truth should obtain the honour of being regarded as martyrs. Their names were Juventius and Maximus. The church of Antioch honoured them as defenders of religion, and interred them in a magnificent tomb; and even to this day an annual festival is celebrated in their honour.








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