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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

THE dissensions among heretics contributed greatly to the extension of the church; which was daily increased by the accession of malcontents from the heretics, and of converts from the Pagan multitudes. The emperor having observed that the practice of idolatry had been greatly promoted by the facility of constant ingress and egress to and from the temple, directed the entrances of all temples to be closed; and eventually he commanded the total demolition of these edifices. When the Pagans found themselves deprived of their own houses of prayer, they began to frequent our churches; for they did not dare to offer sacrifices in secret, there being a law prohibiting the practice, under the penalty of death and of confiscation of property.

It is said that the river of Egypt did not overflow its banks this year at the proper season, and that the Egyptians angrily ascribed this circumstance to the laws that had been enacted, prohibiting sacrifices from being offered to it. The governor of the province, apprehensive lest the general discontent should terminate in sedition, sent a message to the emperor on the subject. But the emperor, far from attaching more importance to the temporary fertility produced by the Nile, than to the fidelity he owed to God and the interests of religion, replied as follows: “Let the river cease to flow, if enchantments are requisite to ensure the regularity of its course; or if it delights in sacrifices, or if blood must be mingled with the waters that derive their source from the paradise of God.” Soon afterwards, the Nile overflowed its banks with such violence, that the highest eminences were submerged. The fears of drought and scarcity that had prevailed throughout Egypt, were now converted into dread lest the city of Alexandria and part of Lybia should be destroyed by the inundation. The Pagans of Alexandria, irritated at this unexpected occurrence, exclaimed in derision at the public theatres, that the river, like an old man or fool, could not moderate its proceedings. Many of the Egyptians were hence induced to abandon the superstitions of their forefathers, and embrace Christianity.








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