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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

BUT he fled again, saying to his friends, “Let us retire for a little while; it is but a small cloud which will soon pass away.” He then immediately embarked, and crossing the Nile, hastened with all speed into Egypt, closely pursued by those who sought to take him. When he understood that his pursuers were not far distant, and his attendants were urging him to retreat once more into the desert, he had recourse to an artifice that enabled him to effect his escape. He persuaded those who accompanied him to turn back and meet his adversaries, which they instantly did; and on approaching them they were simply asked whether they had seen Athanasius: to which they replied that he was not a great way off, and that if they hastened they would soon overtake him. Being thus deluded, they started afresh in pursuit with quickened speed, but to no purpose; for Athanasius making good his retreat, returned secretly to Alexandria, and remained there concealed until the persecution was at an end. Such were the perils to which the bishop of Alexandria was exposed, after having been before subjected to so many afflictions and calamities, arising partly from Christians, and partly from, the heathen. In addition to these things, the governors of the provinces taking advantage of the emperor’s superstition to feed their own cupidity, committed more grievous outrages on the Christians than their sovereign had given them a warrant for; sometimes exacting larger sums of money than they ought to have done, and at others inflicting on them corporal punishments. The emperor was not ignorant of these excesses, but connived at them; and when the sufferers appealed to him against their oppressors, he tauntingly said, “It is your duty to bear these afflictions patiently; for this is the command of your God.”








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