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131 [118]

Actes and Monuments of the Church.

of the Tyrant prouing al to be false and contrary, that in the brasen proclamation was contayned. MarginaliaThe proud and blasphemous proclamation of themperour proued false, & contrary.For where the foresayd edict boasted so much of the prosperitie and plenty of all thinges in the time of thys persecution of the Christians, sodenly befel such vnseasonable drouth with famine and pestilence among the people, besides also the warres with the Armeniās, that al was found vntrue that he had bragged so much of before. By reason of which famine & pestilēce the people wer greatlye consumed, insomuch that one measure of wheate was sold for two thousand and fiue hundred peeces of mony of Athens coyne, by reason whereof innumerable dyed in the Cities, but many more in the Country and villages, so that most part of the husbandmen and countreymen dyed vp with the famine and pestilence. MarginaliaEx Euseb. lib 9. cap. 8.Diuers there were which bringing out their best treasure, was glad to geue it for any kinde of sustinance, were it neuer so lytle. Other selling away their posssessions, fel by reason therof to extreme pouerty and beggarye. MarginaliaA terrible hunger among the heathen persecuters described.Certayne eatyng grasse, and feeding on other vnholsome herbes, were fayne to relieue them selues wyth suche foode as did hurt and poyson their bodies. Also a number of women in the Cities, being brought to extreame misery and penury, were constrayned to depart the Citie, and fall to begging through the country. Some other very weake and faynt (as images without breath) wandring vp and downe, and not able to stand for feablenes, fell downe in the myddle of the streetes, and holding vp their handes most pitiful, cried for some scraps or fragmentes of bread to be geuen them, and being at the last gaspe, redy to geue vp the ghost, and not able to vtter any other woordes, yet cryed out that they were hungry. Of the richer sorte diuers there were, who being weary with the number of beggers and askers, after they had bestowed largely vpon them, became hard harted, fearing least they should fal into the same miserie them selues, as they which begged. By reason wherof the market place, streetes, lanes, and alleyes lay full of dead and naked bodies, being cast out and vnburied, to the pitiful and greuous beholding of them that sawe them. Wherfore many were eaten of dogges, for which cause they that liued fel to the killing of dogs, least they running mad, should fal vpon them, and kyll them.

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MarginaliaPestilēce amōg the persecutorsIn like maner the pestilence scattering through all houses and ages of mē, did no lesse consume them, especially those which for plentie of vitayle escaped famine. Wherfore the rich Princes, Presidents and other innumerable of the Magistrats, being þe more apt to receiue the infection, by reason of their plenty, were quickly dispatched, and turned vp their heles. Thus the miserable multitude being consumed with famine and with pestilence, all places was ful of mourning, neither was ther any thing els sene, but wayling and weeping in euery corner. So that death, what for famine and pestilence in short time brake vp and consumed whole housholds, two or three dead bodies being borne out together frō one house to one funeral.

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These were the rewardes of the vayne bragges of Maximinus and hys Edictes, which he did publish in all townes and Cities agaynst vs, when it was euident to all men, how diligent & charitable the Christians were to them al in this their miserable extremitie. MarginaliaThe charity of the christiās to the enemies.For they onely in al this tyme of distres, shewing compassion vpon them, traueled euery day, some in curing the sycke, and some in burying the dead, which otherwyse of their owne sorte were forsaken. Other some of the Christiās calling and gathering the multitude together, whyche were in ieopardy of famine, distributed bread to them, wherby they ministred occasion to all men to glorifye the God of the Christians, and to confesse them to be þe true worshippers of God, as appeared by their workes. MarginaliaLet your lyght so shyne amōg mē, that they may see your good workes,By the meanes and reason hereof, the great God and Marginaliaand glorify your father which is in heauendefender of the Christians, who before had shewed hys anger and indignation agaynst al men, for their wrōgfull afflicting of vs, opened againe vnto vs the comfortable light of his prouidence, so that by meanes thereof peace fell vnto vs, as light to them that sytte in darkenes, to the great admiration of al men, which easely perceiue God himselfe to be a perpetual director of our doinges, who many tymes chasteneth his people with calamities for a tyme to exercise them, but after sufficient correction, agayne sheweth himselfe mercyfull and fauorable to them that with trust cal vpon him.By the narration of these thinges heretofore premised, taken out of the story of Eusebius, like as it is manifest to see, so is it wonderful to marke and note, howe those counsayles and rages of the Gentiles, atchiued against Christ & his Christians, when they seemed most sure against them, were most against them selues. And wherby they thought most to confound the Church and religion of Christ, the same turned most to their owne confusion, MarginaliaThe wysdē and policye of mā ouerthrowne in hys own turne
Qui cōprehendit sapi enter in astutia.
and to the profyt and prayse of the Christians, (God of his marueylous wysdome so ordering and disposing the end of things). For wher the brasen edict of the Emperour promised temperate weather, God sent drought, where it promysed plentye, God immediatlye sent vpon them famine and penurie: where it promised health, God stroke them euen vpon the same, with grieuous pestilence, and with other mo calamities, in suche sort, that the most reliefe they had, was chieflye by the Christians, to the great prayse both of them, and to the honour of our God.

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MarginaliaThe promyse of Christ verified. Mat. 6. the gates of hel shal not preuayle agaynst the church builded vpon the fayth of ChristThus most playnly and euidently was then verified the true promise of Christ to his Churche, affirmyng and assuring vs, that the gates of hel shall not preuayle agaynst his church buylded vpon his fayth: as sufficiētly may appeare by these ten persecutions aboue specified and described. Wherin as no man can denye, but that Satan and this malignant world haue assaied the vttermost of their power and might to ouerthrowe the Church of Iesus: so must all men needes graunt, that reade these stories, that when Satan and the gates of hel haue done their worst, yet haue they not preuayled agaynst this mount of Sion, nor neuer shall. For els what was here to be thought, where so manye Emperours and tyrantes together, Dioclesian, Maximiniā, Galerius, Maximinus, Seuerus, Maxentius, Licinius with their captaynes and officers, were let loose, like so many Lyons, vpon a scattered and vnarmed flocke of sheepe, which neither would, nor did resist, but the vtter subuersion of all Christianitie, and especially also whē lawes also were set vp in brasse against the Christians, as thing perpetuallye to stande: what was here to bee looked for, but a final desolation of the name & religion of Christians? But what folowed, partly ye haue herd, partly more is to be marked, as in the story foloweth.

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I shewed before how Maxētius the sonne of Maximinian, was set vp at Rome by the Pretorian Soldiours to be Emperour. Wherunto the Senate, although they were not consentyng, yet for feare they were not resistyng. Maximinian his father, who had before depryued hymselfe with Diocletian, hearyng of thys, tooke harte agayne to hym, to resume his dignitie, and so laboured to persaude Diocletian also to do the same: but when he could not moue hym therunto, he repayreth to Rome, thinkyng to wrast the Empyre out of hys sonnes hand but when the souldiour would not suffer that, of a crafty purpose he flyeth to Constantinus in France, vnder pretense to complayne of Maxentius hys sonne, but in very dede to kyl Constantinus. Notwithstanding that conspiracie being detected by Fausta the daughter of Maximinianus, whom Constantinus had maryed, so was Constantinus through the grace of God preserued, and Maximinian retyred backe. In the whych hys

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