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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Chapter XIII.--The Bishops of the Church that evinced by their Blood the Genuineness of the Religion which they preached.

Church History by Eusebius Pamphilius

Chapter XIII.--The Bishops of the Church that evinced by their Blood the Genuineness of the Religion which they preached.

1. As for the rulers of the Church that suffered martyrdom in the principal cities, the first martyr of the kingdom of Christ whom we shall mention among the monuments of the pious is Anthimus, bishop of the city of Nicomedia, who was beheaded.

2. Among the martyrs at Antioch was Lucian, a presbyter of that parish, whose entire life was most excellent. At Nicomedia, in the presence of the emperor, he proclaimed the heavenly kingdom of Christ, first in an oral defense, and afterwards by deeds as well.

3. Of the martyrs in Phoenicia the most distinguished were those devoted pastors of the spiritual flocks of Christ: Tyrannion, bishop of the church of Tyre; Zenobius, a presbyter of the church at Sidon; and Silvanus, bishop of the churches about Emesa.

4. The last of these, with others, was made food for wild beasts at Emesa, and was thus received into the ranks of martyrs. The other two glorified the word of God at Antioch through patience unto death. The bishop was thrown into the depths of the sea. But Zenobius, who was a very skillful physician, died through severe tortures which were applied to his sides.

5. Of the martyrs in Palestine, Silvanus, bishop of the churches about Gaza, was beheaded with thirty-nine others at the copper mines of Phæno. There also the Egyptian bishops, Peleus and Nilus, with others, suffered death by fire.

6. Among these we must mention Pamphilus, a presbyter, who was the great glory of the parish of Cæsarea, and among the men of our time most admirable.

7. The virtue of his manly deeds we have recorded in the proper place. Of those who suffered death illustriously at Alexandria and throughout Egypt and Thebais, Peter, bishop of Alexandria, one of the most excellent teachers of the religion of Christ, should first be mentioned; and of the presbyters with him Faustus, Dius and Ammonius, perfect martyrs of Christ; also Phileas, Hesychius, Pachymius and Theodorus, bishops of Egyptian churches, and besides them many other distinguished persons who are commemorated by the parishes of their country and region.

It is not for us to describe the conflicts of those who suffered for the divine religion throughout the entire world, and to relate accurately what happened to each of them. This would be the proper work of those who were eye-witnesses of the events. I will describe for posterity in another work those which I myself witnessed.

8. But in the present book I will add to what I have given the revocation issued by our persecutors, and those events that occurred at the beginning of the persecution, which will be most profitable to such as shall read them.

9. What words could sufficiently describe the greatness and abundance of the prosperity of the Roman government before the war against us, while the rulers were friendly and peaceable toward us? Then those who were highest in the government, and had held the position ten or twenty years, passed their time in tranquil peace, in festivals and public games and most joyful pleasures and cheer.

10. While thus their authority was growing uninterruptedly, and increasing day by day, suddenly they changed their peaceful attitude toward us, and began an implacable war. But the second year of this movement was not yet past, when a revolution took place in the entire government and overturned all things.

11. For a severe sickness came upon the chief of those of whom we have spoken, by which his understanding was distracted; and with him who was honored with the second rank, he retired into private life. Scarcely had he done this when the entire empire was divided; a thing which is not recorded as having ever occurred before.

12. Not long after, the Emperor Constantius, who through his entire life was most kindly and favorably disposed toward his subjects, and most friendly to the Divine Word, ended his life in the common course of nature, and left his own son, Constantine, as emperor and Augustus in his stead. He was the first that was ranked by them among the gods, and received after death every honor which one could pay to an emperor.

13. He was the kindest and mildest of emperors, and the only one of those of our day that passed all the time of his government in a manner worthy of his office. Moreover, he conducted himself toward all most favorably and beneficently. He took not the smallest part in the war against us, but preserved the pious that were under him unharmed and unabused. He neither threw down the church buildings, nor did he devise anything else against us. The end of his life was honorable and thrice blessed. He alone at death left his empire happily and gloriously to his own son as his successor, -- one who was in all respects most prudent and pious.

14. His son Constantine entered on the government at once, being proclaimed supreme emperor and Augustus by the soldiers, and long before by God himself, the King of all. He showed himself an emulator of his father's piety toward our doctrine. Such an one was he.

But after this, Licinius was declared emperor and Augustus by a common vote of the rulers.

15. These things grieved Maximinus greatly, for until that time he had been entitled by all only Cæsar. He therefore, being exceedingly imperious, seized the dignity for himself, and became Augustus, being made such by himself. In the mean time he whom we have mentioned as having resumed his dignity after his abdication, being detected in conspiring against the life of Constantine, perished by a most shameful death. He was the first whose decrees and statues and public monuments were destroyed because of his wickedness and impiety.

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