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But the emperor

that he would not sit down to table until he had received absolution. He sent to the bishop, beseeching him to request him who had imposed the restriction to remove it. The bishop replied that he ought not so readily to submit to such restrictions, and that none, in fact, existed. was not content with this absolution, until he who had excommunicated him had been found, which was not effected without great trouble, and had restored him to communion ; so strong was the emperor's faith in the holy laws.

He had the ruins of the idolatrous temple removed, and their very foundations destroyed, in order that posterity might not find the slightest vestiges of former errors. This reason is inserted in the edict. These good seeds were followed by an abundant harvest, for the emperor received the protection of the Lord of the universe. Roilas, the leader of one of the wandering tribes of Scythia, passed the Danube with an immense army, devastated Thrace, and threatened to besiege and capture the imperial city ; but thunders were launched against him, by which his army was destroyed. The same disaster happened to the Persians. For at a time when the Romans were occupied against other enemies, they violated the existing treaties, and invaded the neighbouring provinces, while the emperor, who had relied on the peace which had been concluded, had sent his generals and his troops to embark in other

God arrested the progress of the Persians by tremendous showers of rain and bail, so that in twenty days the cavalry were unable to advance as many furlongs, and the Roman ge

wars.

:

| Valesius remarks upon this story as follows: "This narrative is worthy of attention for many reasons : lst, because we can infer from it that the penance was not remitted by Nectarius. For we see that at that time excommunication was usual, and that it was followed by absolution, which cannot be given except after penance performed. Moreover this narrative confirms the rule of canon law which asserts that even an unjust sentence of excommunication is to be feared, since the emperor, though unjustly sentenced, does not make light of excommunication. Further, it shows that to loose is the privilege of him alone who has the power to bind; and that Theodoret praises the emperor for obeying herein the law of God. The person by whom Theodosius was excommunicated must have been a presbyter, though such is not stated to have been the case ; but it is rendered the more probable by the fact that the emperor requested the bishop to command him, as if he were one of his clerks. It would seem from this chapter that presbyters had no right of pronouncing excommunication except by commission from the bishop.”

nerals had time to assemble their troops and advance upon them. In a former war, likewise, when the same people were besieging the city which bears the name of the emperor, God exposed them to derision. Gororanes, the Persian king, had surrounded the city more than thirty days, and had directed battering-rams against it, and likewise thousands of other machines. The city was defended only by Eunomius, its holy bishop. He succeeded in rendering useless all the machines which were brought against the place; and, as our generals were afraid either to attack the enemy, or to engage with the besiegers, he sustained the conflict alone, and preserved the city. One of the princes who were subject to the king of Persia, having presumed to utter blasphemies similar to those pronounced by Rabshakeh and by Sennacherib, and having threatened to burn the church, the holy bishop was unable to bear with his folly, and ordered a machine, to which the name of St. Thomas the Apostle had been given, to be placed on the wall, and to be directed against the blasphemer. Immediately the mouth of the impious man was struck by the stone, his head was broken, and his brains were scattered upon the earth. On seeing this, the Persian king assembled his troops, raised the siege of the city, confessed himself vanquished, and, impelled by terror, readily agreed to peace. So graciously did the Almighty Ruler of the universe watch over the wel. fare of the faithful emperor, and reward his attachment to his service. This emperor had the remains of John, the great luminary of the world, transported to the city as we have already mentioned. But this did not happen till after the period of time at present under consideration.

CHAP. XXXVIII.—THEODOTUS BISHOP OF ANTIOCH. INNOCENT, an excellent bishop of Rome, was succeeded by Boniface. Zosimus succeeded Boniface, and his successor was Celestine. In Jerusalem, after the death of the admirable John, Praylius was intrusted with the government of the church: his meekness of disposition was in admirable accordance with the signification of his name. After the death of the holy Alexander, bishop of Antioch, Theodotus, a man of extraordinary wisdom, mildness, and sanctity, was appointed

Ilpailios, from 7paös, mild, gentle, meek.

to the bishopric of Antioch. He re-united the sectarians who had embraced the views of Apollinaris to the rest of the flock. Many of them, however, retained some of their former erroneous principles.

CHAP. XXXIX.—THE PERSECUTION IN PERSIA, AND THE

MARTYRDOMS WHICH TOOK PLACE.

About this period Isdegerdes, the Persian king, kindled a war against the churches. The following was the cause of this war.

There was a certain bishop named Abdas, who possessed many virtues: he was led by unrestrained zeal to destroy a Pyræum, for so the Persians call the temples dedicated to fire, which they worship as a god. The emperor being informed of this act by the Magi, sent for Abdas. At first he only reproved him in a kind manner, and desired him to re-erect the Pyroeum. Abdas having refused to obey, the emperor threatened to destroy all the Christian churches. He first ordered the holy man to be slain, and then proceeded to the demolition of the churches. I confess that the destruction of the Pyræum was quite mis-timed. When the holy apostle went to Athens, and saw idolatry established in the city, he did not destroy any of the idolatrous altars, but, by his discourses to the citizens, he proved their folly, and made truth manifest to them. I, however, greatly admire the firmness of Abdas, in consenting to die rather than to re-erect the temple which he had destroyed, and I judge that he thereby merited

Indeed it seems to me almost the same thing to erect a temple to fire, and to fall down and worship it as a deity. From this act of Abdas arose a tempest which raged with violence against all persons of piety, and which lasted no less than thirty years : its violence and long duration were mainly occasioned by the Magi. The Persians give the name of Magi to those who attribute divinity to the elements of nature. I have exposed the fables which they hold in another work, with the answers proper to be given to all their questions. Upon the death of Isdegerdes, the kingdom and, as if

. by hereditary succession, the war against piety devolved upon

Ità otoixeia. This word, as Valesius remarks, is frequently used, not only for the four elements of nature, but also for the sun and moon, and the signs of the Zodiac.

a crown.

son.

his son Gororanes, who, at his death, transmitted both to his

It is not easy to describe the various species of punishments which they invented to torture the faithful. Some had their hands flayed, and others their backs. Some had the skin torn off the face, from the forehead to the chin. Others had reeds, which had been split in half, fastened round their bodies, and bound on as tightly as possible from head to foot, then each of the reeds was dragged off with great force, bearing with it the adjacent skin. This operation occasioned great agony. The persecutors also dug pits, and filled them with mice; they then threw the pious defenders of the faith into these pits, after having first bound their hands and their feet, so that they could not drive off the animals. The mice, pressed by hunger, devoured their flesh, thus occasioning exquisite torture. Besides these cruelties, the persecutors devised and executed yet more barbarous punishments, which were suggested to them by the enemy of human nature and of truth. But nothing could shake the fortitude of these defenders of the faith. Some of them voluntarily surrendered themselves to the persecutors, desiring to receive the death which leads to immortal life. I shall relate the sufferings of two or three of these holy men, in order that their fortitude may convey an idea of that of the others. Hormisdas was descended from the illustrious race of Aclemenides, and was the son of a prefect. When the king heard that he was a Christian, he sent for him, and desired him to deny God the Saviour. But he told the king, that this command was neither just nor expedient. “Whoever," said he, can be easily induced to contemn and to deny the God of the universe, would be much more easily persuaded to despise kings, who are but men, and by nature subject to death. If it be a crime deserving capital punishment, О king," continued he, "to deny your power, how much more deserving of punishment is he who denies the Creator of all things.' The king, instead of admiring the wisdom of this admirable speech, deprived him of his possessions and of his honours, and commanded him to take charge of the camels of the army. After many days had elapsed, the king, as he was looking through a window, caught sight of this great man, and perceived that he had become tanned by the heat of the sun, and that he was covered with dust. Remembering his illustrious parentage, the king sent

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for him, and ordered him to be attired in a linen tunic. Then, thinking that his mind would be subdued by his former labour, contrasted with the present kind treatment afforded him, he said to him, “ Do not now persist in carrying on this contention, but renounce the Son of the carpenter.” Hormisdas, full of divine zeal, tore, in the presence of the king, the tunic which he had given him, and said to him, “ If, by this present, you thought to seduce me from religion, take back your gift.” The king, perceiving his fortitude, banished him, naked as he was, out of the kingdom.

The king, discovering that Suenas, a wealthy man possessed of a thousand slaves, would not consent to deny his Creator, asked him which of his slaves was the most wicked. To this very slave the king gave authority over the whole family, and desired that he should be waited on by his master. He also gave the wife of Suenas in marriage to this slave, hoping by these means to subdue the faith of this defender of the truth. But this hope was frustrated, for Suenas had built his house

upon a rock.

A certain deacon, named Benjamin, was seized, and cast into prison. Two years after, a Roman ambassador arrived in Persia, who was sent upon some special embassy. He heard of the imprisonment of the deacon, and entreated the king to release him. The king consented, on condition that Benjamin would promise not to instruct any of the Magi in the Christian doctrines. The ambassador promised in his own name, that Benjamin would comply with this condition. But Benjamin, on hearing the declaration of the ambassador, exclaimed, “I cannot refrain from communicating the light which I have received. The punishment of which those are worthy who hide their talents, is declared in the holy gospel.” The king, not being aware that such a reply had been made by Benjamin, commanded him to be released from captivity. After he had been set at liberty, he continued as usual to seek out those who were in the darkness of ignorance, and to lead them to the light of truth. About a year after, the king was informed of these proceedings; he sent for him, and commanded him to deny the God whom he worshipped. He asked the king what punishment would be merited by one of his subjects who should leave the kingdom, and prefer to dwell in some other region. The king having answered that he would be worthy

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