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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

IT was from these motives that Julian recalled from exile all Christians who, during the reign of Constantius, had been banished on account of their religious sentiments, and restored to them their property that had been confiscated. He charged the people not to commit any act of injustice against the Christians, not to insult them, and not to constrain them to offer sacrifice. He commanded that, if they should, of their own accord, desire to draw near the altars, they were first to appease the wrath of the demons whom the Pagans regard as capable of averting evil, and to purify themselves by the customary course of expiations. He deprived the clergy of the immunities, honours, and revenues which Constantine had conferred; repealed the laws which had been enacted in their favour, and re-enforced their civil liabilities. He even compelled the virgins and widows, who, on account of their poverty, were reckoned among the clergy, to refund the provision which had been assigned them from public sources. For, when Constantine adjusted the temporal concerns of the church, he devoted a portion of the taxes raised upon every city to the support of the clergy; and, to ensure the stability of this arrangement, he enacted a law which has continued in force from the death of Julian to the present day. These exactions were very cruel and rigorous, as appears by the receipts given by the receivers of the money to those from whom it had been extorted, and which were designed to show that the property received in accordance with the law of Constantine had been refunded. Nothing, however, could diminish the enmity of the emperor against religion. In his hatred against the faith, he seized every opportunity to ruin the church. He deprived it of its property, ornaments, and sacred vessels, and condemned those who had demolished temples during the reign of Constantine and Constantius, to rebuild them, or to defray the expenses of their re-erection. Many of the bishops, clergy, and other Christians, were cruelly tortured and cast into prison on this account.

It may be concluded from what has been said, that if Julian shed less blood than preceding persecutors, and that if he devised fewer punishments for the torture of the body, yet that he was equally averse to the church, and equally intent upon injuring it. He certainly recalled the priests who had been banished by Constantius, but he was actuated by the desire of introducing division into the church, and of increasing the existing disputes. He also contemplated the condemnation of Constantius, whose memory he thought to render odious to all his subjects by favouring the Pagans who were of the same sentiments as himself, and by showing compassion to those Christians who had been unjustly persecuted during the preceding reign. He expelled the eunuchs from the court, because the late emperor had been well-affected towards them. He condemned Eusebius, the governor of the palace, to death, from a suspicion he entertained that it was at his suggestion that Gallus his brother had been slain. He recalled Aetius from the region whither Constantius had banished him on account of suspicions which had been excited against him by the friendship formerly existing between him and Gallus; and to him Julian sent letters full of benignity, and furnished him with public conveyances to expedite his return. For a similar reason he condemned Eleusius, bishop of Cyzicus, under heavy penalties, to rebuild, within two months, and at his own expense, a church belonging to the Novatians which he had destroyed. Many other things might be mentioned which he did himself, or which, from hatred to his predecessor, he permitted to be done.








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