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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

OTHER persons, who had attained to high and honourable offices, gained the same crown by speaking with similar boldness. Valentinian ascended the throne a short time subsequently: but he was, at this period, the commander of the soldiers who guarded the palace; he did not dissemble the zeal which he felt for religion. One day, as the emperor was entering the temple of Fortune with great exultation, while two priests stood on each side of the door to sprinkle water on whoever they might deem fit; some of the water was thrown upon the robe of Valentinian, who was walking before the emperor. He immediately struck the priest, and told him that he had defiled instead of cleansing him. By this act he deserved to obtain both empires. Julian, who witnessed the deed, banished him to a fortress situated by a desert. But scarcely had one year and a few months elapsed, when his fidelity to the faith was rewarded by the possession of the imperial authority. It is not only in this life that piety is rewarded by Divine Justice. Yet even here, good works receive those recompenses which are as a foretaste and the earnest of the future blessedness for which we hope.

The tyrant adopted another stratagem against religion. It was an ancient usage for the emperor to sit upon his throne, and to distribute pieces of gold among his soldiery. But, contrary to custom, he ordered incense and fire to be placed on a table near the altar; and he commanded, that whoever should come forward to receive the gold, should first throw incense upon the altar, and should then receive the gold from his hand. Many persons did not discern the trap which was laid for them: those who did perceive it avoided the snare by feigning illness. Others, grasping after the money, neglected their own salvation. Others, from cowardice, betrayed their religion.








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