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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

THE superstition of the emperor became still more apparent in his further attempts to molest the Christians. Being fond of sacrificing, he not only himself delighted in the blood of victims, but considered it an indignity offered to him, if others did not manifest a similar taste. And as he found but few persons of this stamp, he sent for the Jews and enquired of them why they abstained from sacrificing, since the law of Moses enjoined it? On their replying that it was not permitted them to do this in any other place than Jerusalem, he immediately ordered them to rebuild Solomon’s temple. Meanwhile he himself proceeded on his expedition against the Persians. The Jews who had been long desirous of obtaining a favourable opportunity for rearing their temple afresh in order that they might therein offer sacrifice, applied themselves very vigorously to the work; and conducting themselves with great insolence toward the Christians, threatened to do them as much mischief, as they had themselves suffered from the Romans. The emperor having ordered that the expenses of this structure should be defrayed out of the public treasury, all things were soon provided; so that they were furnished with timber and stone, burnt brick, clay, lime, and all other materials necessary for building. On this occasion Cyril bishop of Jerusalem, calling to mind the prophecy of Daniel, which Christ also in the holy gospels has confirmed, predicted in the presence of many persons, that the time would very soon come in which one stone should not be left upon another in that temple, but that the Saviour’s prophetic declaration should have its full accomplishment. Such were the bishop’s words: and on the night following, a mighty earthquake tore up the stones of the old foundations of the temple, and dispersed them all together with the adjacent edifices. This circumstance exceedingly terrified the Jews; and the report of it brought many to the spot who resided at a great distance: when therefore a vast multitude was assembled another prodigy took place. Fire came down from heaven and consumed all the builders’ tools: so that for one entire day the flames were seen preying upon mallets, irons to smooth and polish stones, saws, hatchets, adzes, in short all the various implements which the workmen had procured as necessary for the undertaking. The Jews indeed were in the greatest possible alarm, and unwillingly confessed that Christ is God: yet they did not his will; but influenced by inveterate prepossessions they still clung to Judaism. Even a third miracle which afterwards happened failed to induce a belief of the truth. For the next night luminous impressions of a cross appeared imprinted on their garments, which at day-break they in vain attempted to rub or wash out. They were therefore blinded as the apostle says, and I cast away the good which they had in their hands: and thus was the temple, instead of being rebuilt, at that time wholly overthrown.








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