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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

HE moreover interdicted such as would not abjure Christianity, and offer sacrifice to idols, from holding any office at court: nor would he allow Christians to be governors of provinces; “for,” said he, “their law forbids them to use the sword against offenders worthy of capital punishment.” He also induced many to sacrifice, partly by flatteries, and partly by gifts. Tried in this furnace as it were, it at once became evident to all, who were the real Christians, and who were merely nominal ones. Such as were Christians in integrity of heart, very readily resigned their commission, choosing to endure anything rather than deny Christ. Of this number were Jovian, Valentinian, and Valens, each of whom was afterwards invested with the imperial dignity. But others of unsound principles, who preferred the riches and honour of this world to the true felicity, sacrificed without hesitation. Such was Ecebolius, a sophist of Constantinople, who accommodating himself to the dispositions of the emperors, pretended in the reign of Constantius to be a very zealous Christian; while in Julian’s time he appeared an equally ardent Pagan: nay, after Julian’s death, he again made a profession of Christianity, prostrating himself before the church doors, and calling out, “Trample on me, for I am as salt that has lost its savour.” Of so fickle and inconstant a character was this person, throughout the whole period of his history. About this time the emperor became anxious to make reprisals on the Persians, for the frequent incursions they had made on the Roman territorities in the reign of Constantius, and therefore marched with great expedition through Asia into the East. But as he well knew what a train of calamities attend a war, and what immense resources are needful to carry it on successfully, he craftily devised a plan for replenishing his treasury by extorting money from the Christians. On all those who refused to sacrifice he imposed a heavy fine, which was exacted with great rigour from such as were true Christians, every one being compelled to pay in proportion to what he possessed. By these unjust means the emperor soon amassed immense wealth; for this law was put in execution, not only where Julian was personally present, but also throughout all parts of the empire. The Pagans at the same time assailed the Christians; and there was a great concourse of those who styled themselves philosophers. They then proceeded to institute certain abominable mysteries; and sacrificing children of both sexes, they not only inspected their entrails, but even tasted their flesh. These infamous rites were practised in other cities, but more particularly at Athens and Alexandria; in which latter place, a calumnious accusation was made against Athanasius the bishop, the emperor being assured that he was intent on desolating not that city only, but all Egypt, and that nothing but his expulsion out of the country could save it. The governor of Alexandria was therefore instructed by an imperial edict to apprehend him.








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