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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

WHEN the Temple of Serapis was torn down and laid bare, there were found in it, engraven on stones, certain characters which they call hieroglyphics, having the forms of crosses. Both the Christians and Pagans on seeing them, thought they had reference to their respective religions: for the Christians who affirm that the cross is the sign of Christ’s saving passion, claimed this character as peculiarly theirs; but the Pagans alleged that it might appertain to Christ and Serapis in common; “for,” said they, “it symbolizes one thing to Christians and another to Heathens.” Whilst this point was controverted amongst them, some of the heathen converts to Christianity, who were conversant with these hieroglyphic characters, interpreted that in the form of a cross to signify Life to come. This the Christians exultingly laid hold of, as decidedly favourable to their religion. But after other hieroglyphics had been deciphered containing a prediction that When (the character in the form of a cross, representing) Life to come should appear, the Temple of Serapis would be destroyed, a very great number of the Pagans embraced Christianity, and confessing their sins, were baptized. Such are the reports I have heard respecting the discovery of this symbol in form of a cross. But I cannot imagine that the Egyptian priests foreknew the things concerning Christ, when they engraved the figure of a cross. For if the mystery of our Saviour’s advent was hid from ages and from, generations, as the apostle declares; and if the devil himself, the prince of wickedness, knew nothing of it, his ministers the Egyptian priests are likely to have been still more ignorant of the matter. Providence doubtless purposed that in the inquiry concerning this character, there should something take place analogous to what happened heretofore at the preaching of Paul. For he, made wise by the Divine Spirit, employed a similar method in relation to the Athenians, many of whom he brought over to the faith, when on reading the inscription on one of their altars, he accommodated it to his own discourse. Unless indeed any one should say, that the Word of God wrought in the Egyptian priests, as it did on Balaam and Caïaphas, causing them to utter prophecies of good things in spite of themselves.








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