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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

IN the document above quoted, Libanius clearly states that the emperor fell by the hand of a Christian; and this, probably, was the truth. It is not unlikely that some of the soldiers who then served in the Roman army might have conceived the idea of acting like the ancient slayers of tyrants, who exposed themselves to death in the cause of liberty, and fought in defence of their country, their families, and their friends, and whose names are held in universal admiration. Still less is he deserving of blame, who, for the sake of God and of religion, performed so bold a deed. But I know nothing further concerning the death of Julian besides what I have narrated. All men, however, concur in receiving the account which has been handed down to us, and which evidences his death to have been the result of divine wrath. It appears that one of his friends had a vision, which I shall now proceed to describe. He had, it is related, travelled into Persia, with the intention of joining the emperor. While on the road, he found himself so fur from any habitation that he was obliged, on one night, to sleep in a church. He saw, during that night, either in a dream or a vision, all the apostles and prophets assembled together, and complaining of the injuries which the emperor had inflicted on the church, and consulting concerning the best measures to be adopted. After much deliberation, two individuals arose in the midst of the assembly, desired the others to be of good cheer, and departed, as if to deprive Julian of the imperial power. He who saw this vision did not attempt to pursue his journey, but awaited, in horrible suspense, the conclusion of the revelation. He laid himself down to sleep again, in the same place, and again he saw the same assembly: the two individuals who had appeared to depart the preceding night to effect their purpose against Julian, returned and announced his death to the others.

On the same day, a vision was sent to Didymus, an ecclesiastical philosopher, who dwelt at Alexandria; and who, being deeply grieved at the apostasy of Julian and his persecution of the churches, fasted and offered up supplications to God continually on this account. From the effects of extreme vigilance and want of food, he fell asleep in his chair. Then being, as it were, in an ecstasy, he beheld white horses traversing the air, and heard a voice saying to those who were riding thereon—“Go, and tell Didymus that Julian has just been slain; and let him arise and eat, and communicate this intelligence to Athanasius the bishop.” I have been credibly informed that the friend of Julian and the philosopher beheld those things. Results proved that neither of them were far from having witnessed the truth. But if these instances do not suffice to prove that the death of Julian was the effect of divine wrath on account of his persecution of the church, let the prediction of one of the ecclesiastics be recalled to mind. When Julian was preparing to enter upon the war against the Persians, he boasted that, on the termination of the war, he would treat the Christians with so much severity, that the Son of the Carpenter would be unable to aid them: the ecclesiastic above-mentioned thereupon rejoined, that the Son of the Carpenter was then preparing him a coffin. Julian himself was well aware whence the mortal stroke proceeded, and what was the cause of its infliction: for, when he was wounded, he took some of the blood that flowed from the wound, and threw it up into the air, as if he had seen Jesus Christ, and intended to throw it at him, in order to reproach him with his death. Others say, that he was angry with the sun, because it had favoured the Persians, and had not rescued him, although, according to the doctrine of the astronomers, it had presided at his birth; and that it was to express his indignation against this luminary that he took blood in his hand, and flung it upwards in the air. I know not whether, on the approach of death, and while his soul was in the act of being separated from the body, he might have become invested with superhuman powers, and so have beheld Christ. Few allusions have been made to this subject, and yet I dare not reject this hypothesis as absolutely false; for God often suffers still more improbable and astonishing events to take place, in order to prove that the Christian religion rests not on the wisdom or the power of man. It is, however, very obvious that, throughout the reign of this emperor, God gave manifest tokens of his displeasure, and permitted many calamities to befall several of the provinces of the Roman empire. He visited the earth with such fearful earthquakes, that the buildings were shaken, and no more safety could be found within the houses than in the open air. From what I have heard, I conjecture that it was during the reign of this emperor, or, at least, when he occupied the second place in the government, that a great calamity occurred near Alexandria in Egypt—namely, an inundation of the sea, of such violence that the land was completely overflowed; and afterwards, on the retreat of the waters, boats were found lodged on the roofs of the houses. The anniversary of this inundation, which is regarded as the effect of an earthquake, is still commemorated at Alexandria by a yearly festival; a general illumination is made throughout the city; the rites of religion are celebrated in the most solemn and pompous manner; and the Alexandrians return thanks to God for their deliverance. An excessive drought also occurred during this reign; the plants perished, and the air was corrupted; and, for want of proper sustenance, men were obliged to have recourse to the food usually eaten by other animals. To the famine succeeded a pestilence, by which many lives were lost. Such was the state of the empire during the administration of Julian.








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