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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Chapter XVII.--Transactions of that Period, and Progress of Christian Doctrine through the Joint Efforts of Emperors and Arch-Priests.

The Ecclesiastical History Of Sozomenus by Sozomen

Chapter XVII.--Transactions of that Period, and Progress of Christian Doctrine through the Joint Efforts of Emperors and Arch-Priests.

Those who presided over the churches at this period were noted for personal conduct, and, as might be expected, the people whom they governed were earnestly attached to the worship of Christ. Religion daily progressed, by the zeal, virtue, and wonderful works of the priests, and of the ecclesiastical philosophers, who attracted the attention of the pagans, and led them to renounce their superstitions. The emperors who then occupied the throne were as zealous as was their father in protecting the churches, and they granted honors and tax exemptions to the clergy, their children, and their slaves. They confirmed the laws enacted by their father, and enforced new ones prohibiting the offering of sacrifice, the worship of images, or any other pagan observance. They commanded that all temples, whether in cities or in the country, should be closed. Some of these temples were presented to the churches, when either the ground they stood on or the materials for building were required. The greatest possible care was bestowed upon the houses of prayer, those which had been defaced by time were repaired, and others were erected from the foundations in a style of extraordinary magnificence. The church of Emesa is one most worthy to see and famous for its beauty. The Jews were strictly forbidden to purchase a slave belonging to any other heresy than their own. If they transgressed this law, the slave was confiscated to the public; but if they administered to him the Jewish rite of circumcision, the penalties were death and total confiscation of property. For, as the emperors were desirous of promoting by every means the spread of Christianity, they deemed it necessary to prevent the Jews from proselyting those whose ancestors were of another religion, and those who were holding the hope of professing Christianity were carefully reserved for the Church; for it was from the pagan multitudes that the Christian religion increased.
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