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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

WHEN the Persians heard of the death of Constantius, they became more bold, and carried war into the Roman territories. Julian, accordingly, determined to march against them, although he had not God for his protection. He first sent, however, to the oracles of Delphi, of Delos, of Dodona, and of other places, to enquire whether he ought to enter upon the war. The oracles desired him to undertake it, and promised him the victory. I shall here insert the reply of one of these oracles, in order to demonstrate the imposture practised. It was couched in these words: “We, the gods, are ready to bear the trophies of victory along the river which bears the name of a wild beast. I, the fierce and warlike Mars, will lead the others.” Those who style Apollo the god of eloquence and the patron of the Muses, must surely smile at the inanity of these words. I see through this imposture, and pity him who can be deceived. By the river bearing the name of a wild beast, Julian understood that the Tigris was meant. This river rises in the mountains of Armenia, flows through Assyria, and falls into the Persian gulph. The wretched emperor being thus deceived by the oracles, promised himself the victory, and resolved that after he had terminated the Persian war, he would commence another against the Galileans. He named the Christians Galileans in order to cast dishonour on them; but being a learned man he ought to have known that the mutation of a name could not lessen the estimation in which they were held. Had Socrates been called Critia, or had Pythagoras been named Phalaris, this change of appellation would have thrown no aspersion on them. Had Nereus been called Thersites, none of that beauty which nature had conferred would have been diminished. But Julian had forgotten all these facts, although he had formerly been made well acquainted with them; and he imagined that he was injuring us by giving us a name different from our own. He placed so much confidence in the lying oracles, that he threatened to erect on Christian churches the statue of the demon of licentiousness.








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