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135 [122]

Actes and Monumentes of the Church.

and meetinges of the Christians to be cut of, ther were many of them spoyled & robbed of our Officials: which thing we also perceaue is now put in practise agaynst our subiectes, that they in like case maye bee spoyled of their goods and substance, which thing chieflye to preuent, is our onely indeuour. By our letters sent to the gouernours of euery prouince the yeare past, we ordained, that if any man were disposed to leane vnto the Christian religion, that he might without any iniurye done vnto him, accomplish his desire, neither to be of any man either let or molested: and that he might wythout any feare or suspicion, doo what soeuer he therein thought good. But now also we vnderstand that there be certayne iudges which haue neglected our commaūdement, and haue put our subiectes in doubt, whyther that hath bene our plesure or not, which thing they did, that such men might be the better aduised, how they entred into such religion: wherin they followed their own fantasy. To the entent therfore that after this, all suspicion, doubt, and feare may be taken awaye: we haue thought good to publish this our edict, whereby it maye be made manifest to euery man, that it shall be lawfull for al such as wyll follow that religion, by the benefyt of this our graunt and letters patentes, to vse what religion they lyke best. MarginaliaA large graunt of Maximinus to the christiās.And also hereby we graunt vnto them, licence to build them Oratories or Temples. And furthermore, that this our graunt may more amply extend vnto them, we vouchsafe to appoynt and ordaine, that what soeuer landes and substaunce before, belonging and appertayning to the Christians, and by the commaundement of our predecessors were transposed to our reuenew and eschecour, or els be in the possession of any Citie, by meanes of the franchises of the same, or els otherwyse sold or geuen to any man: all and euery parcel therof we commaunde shall be restored vnto the proper vse of the Christians agayne, whereby they may al haue in this matter more experience, of our godly deuotion and prouidence. Euseb. lib. 9. cap. 10.

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MarginaliaAn. 319.Maximinus thus being conquered of Licinius, and also plaged with an incurable disease in the guts, sent by the hand of God, was compelled by tormentes and aduersitie to confesse the true God, whom before he regarded not, and this Edicte to wryte in the fauoure of those Christiās, whom before he did persecute. Marginalia God maketh hys enemies to confesse hym.Thus the Lord doth make many times his enemies, be they neuer so sterne and stout, at length to stoupe, and mauger their hartes, to confesse hym, MarginaliaThe end and death of Maximinus.as thys Maximinus here did, who not long after, by the vehemencie of hys disease ended his life. Wherby no mo tyrauntes nowe were left alyue, to trouble the church, but onely Lincinius. Of which Licinius, and of his persecutions styrred vp in the east partes, against the sayntes of God, nowe remayneth in order of story to prosecute.

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MarginaliaThe persecutiō of the church vnder Licinius.This Licinius being a Dane borne, and made first Cesar by Galerius, as is aboue specified, was afterward ioyned with Contantinus in gouernment of the Empyre, and in setting forth the Edictes, which before we haue described: although it semeth al this to be done of hym with a dissemblyng mynde. For so is he in al histories described, to be a man passing all other in the desire of vnsatiable riches, geuen to lecherye, hastie, stubburne, and furious. MarginaliaAn enemie to learning.To learning he was suche an enemy, that he named the same a poyson and a common pestilence, and especiallye the knowledge of the lawes. He though no vice woorse became a prince, then learning, because he himself was vnlearned. Eutropius, Letus, Ignatius, Euseb. lib. 8. cap. 13.

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There was betwene hym and Constantinus in the beginning great familiaritie: and such agrement, that Constantinus gaue vnto him his syster Constantia in Matrimony, as Aurelius Victor writeth. Neither wold any many haue thought him to haue bene of anye otherreligion then Constantinus was of, he seemed in all thinges so well to agree with him. Wherupon he made a decree with Constantinus in the behalfe of the Christians, as we haue shewed. Euseb. lib. 9. cap. 9. And suche was Licinius in the beginning. But after arming him selfe with tyranny, beganne to conspire against the person of Constantinus, of whom he had receaued so great benefites, neyther fauourable to the law of nature, nor mindfull of his othes, his bloud, nor promises. MarginaliaLicinius Apostata.But whē he considered that in his conspiracies he nothing preuayled, for that he saw Constantinus was preserued & safely defēded of God: MarginaliaThe fountaine of Apostacie.And partly being puffed vp with þe victorye against Maximinus, he began vehmently to hate him, & not onelye to reiect the Christiā religion, but also deadly to hate the same. He sayd he would become an enemy vnto the Christians, for that in their assemblies and meetings they prayed not for him, but for Cōstantinus. Therfore, fyrst by litle and litle and that secretly, he went about to wrong and hurt the Christiās, and banished them his court, which neuer were by any means preiudicial to his kingdome. MarginaliaKnightes of the order depriued for not doing sacrifyce.Then he cōmaunded that al those should be depriued which wer knights of the honorable order, vnles they would do sacrifice to deuils. Euseb. lib. 10. cap. 8. The same persecution afterwards stretched he frō his court, into al his prouinces, which wt most wycked and deuised lawes he set foorth. Fyrst, that for no cause the byshops should in any matter communicate together: neither that any mā should come at the churches next vnto them, or to cal any assēblies, and consult for the necessary matters and vtilitie of the church.

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After that the men and women together should not come in companies to pray, nor that the women should come in those places where they vsed to preache & reade the woord of God, neither that they should be after that instructed any more of the bishops, but should chuse out such women amongest them as shoulde instruct them. MarginaliaA straight charge agaynst the releuing of the imprisoned Christians.The third most cruel & wyckedest of all was, that none should helpe and succour those that were cast in prison, nor should bestowe anye almes or charitie vpon them, though they should dye for hunger: & they which shewed any compassion vpon those that were condemned to death, should be as greatly punished, as they to whom they shewed the same should be: and they also that were in prison, shewing any reliefe to them, and taken wyth the maner, should be partakers of their affliction. Eusebius libro primo de vita Constantini. These wer the most horrible constitutions of Lincinius, which went beyond and passed the boundes of nature.

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MarginaliaSecret persecutiō for feare of CōstantinusAfter this he vsed violence against the Bishops, but yet not openly, for feare of Constantinus, but priuelye and by conspiracie: by which meanes he slew those that were the worthiest men amongest the Doctors and Prelates. And about Amasea and other Cities of Pontus, he rased the churches euen to the ground. Other some he shut vp, that no man shoulde come after their accustomed maner to pray and worship God: and therefore as we sayd before, hys conscience accusing him, al thys he did, for that he suspected they prayed for Constantinus, and not at al for hym. And from this place in the East parties vnto the Libiās, which bordered vpon the Egiptians, the Christians durst not assemble and come together for the displeasure of Licinius, which he had conceaued against them. Zozom. lib. 1. cap. 2.

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Furthermore, the flattering officers that were vnder him, thinking by this meanes to please him, slewe & made out of the way many bishops, and without anye cause put them to death, as though they had bene homicides and haynous offenders: and suche rigorousnes vsed they towardes some of them, that they cut their bodies into gobbets and smal peeces in the maner of a Boucher, and after that threw them into the sea to feede the

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