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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Chapter II.--The Martyrs, beloved of God, kindly ministered unto those who fell in the Persecution.

Church History by Eusebius Pamphilius

Chapter II.--The Martyrs, beloved of God, kindly ministered unto those who fell in the Persecution.

1. Such things happened to the churches of Christ under the above-mentioned emperor, from which we may reasonably conjecture the occurrences in the other provinces. It is proper to add other selections from the same letter, in which the moderation and compassion of these witnesses is recorded in the following words:

2. |They were also so zealous in their imitation of Christ, -- who, being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God,' -- that, though they had attained such honor, and had borne witness, not once or twice, but many times, -- having been brought back to prison from the wild beasts, covered with burns and scars and wounds, -- yet they did not proclaim themselves witnesses, nor did they suffer us to address them by this name. If any one of us, in letter or conversation, spoke of them as witnesses, they rebuked him sharply.

3. For they conceded cheerfully the appellation of Witness to Christ the faithful and true Witness,' and firstborn of the dead,' and prince of the life of God; and they reminded us of the witnesses who had already departed, and said, They are already witnesses whom Christ has deemed worthy to be taken up in their confession, having sealed their testimony by their departure; but we are lowly and humble confessors.' And they besought the brethren with tears that earnest prayers should be offered that they might be made perfect.

4. They showed in their deeds the power of testimony,' manifesting great boldness toward all the brethren, and they made plain their nobility through patience and fearlessness and courage, but they refused the title of Witnesses as distinguishing them from their brethren, being filled with the fear of God.|

5. A little further on they say: |They humbled themselves under the mighty hand, by which they are now greatly exalted. They defended all, but accused none. They absolved all, but bound none. And they prayed for those who had inflicted cruelties upon them, even as Stephen, the perfect witness, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.' But if he prayed for those who stoned him, how much more for the brethren!|

6. And again after mentioning other matters, they say:

|For, through the genuineness of their love, their greatest contest with him was that the Beast, being choked, might cast out alive those whom he supposed he had swallowed. For they did not boast over the fallen, but helped them in their need with those things in which they themselves abounded, having the compassion of a mother, and shedding many tears on their account before the Father.

7. They asked for life, and he gave it to them, and they shared it with their neighbors. Victorious over everything, they departed to God. Having always loved peace, and having commended peace to us they went in peace to God, leaving no sorrow to their mother, nor division or strife to the brethren, but joy and peace and concord and love.|

8. This record of the affection of those blessed ones toward the brethren that had fallen may be profitably added on account of the inhuman and unmerciful disposition of those who, after these events, acted unsparingly toward the members of Christ.

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