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101 [101]

Actes and Monumentes of the Churche.

Bore before he should be Emperour. He takyng effect at these wordes, vsed muche with hand to kill wilde Bores: but seeyng no successe to come thereof, vsed this prouerbe: Ego Apros occido, alius pulpamento fruitur, that is, I kill the Bores, but other do eate the flesh. At length the sayde Dioclesian beyng nominate to be Emperour, and seeyng MarginaliaAper slayne which slew Numerianus. Aper (who had killed Numerianus the Emperour) standing therby, sware to the souldiours that Numerianus was wrongfully killed, and forthwith runnyng vpon Aper with his sword, slewe hym. Vopisc. MarginaliaAn. 290.
Maximianus, Herculius fellow Emperor wyth Dioclesian.
After this he beyng stablished in the Empire, and seyng on euery syde diuers and sundry commotions rising vp agaynst hym, which he was not wel able hymself to sustayne, in the first beginning of his raigne he chuseth for his Colleage Maximianus surnamed Herculius, father to Maxentius. Which two Emperours, because of diuers warres that rose in many prouinces, chose to them two other noble men, Galerius, & Constantius, whome they called Cæsars. MarginaliaGalerius, Constauntius, Cesars vner Dioclesian & Maximinian Of whom Galerius was sent into the East partes agaynst the Persians. Constantius was sent ouer to Britannie to this our country of England, to recouer the tribute. MarginaliaHelena daughter of Coil, maryed to Constantius. Where he toke to wyfe Helena þe daughter of king Coil, which was a mayden excelling in beauty, and no lesse famously brought vp in the study of learnyng, of whom was borne Constantinus the great.

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All this while hitherto no persecution was yet styrred of these 4. princes agaynst the church of Christ, but quietly and moderately they gouerned the common wealth: wherefore accordingly God prospered their doynges, and affayres, and gaue them great victories, Dioclesian in Egipt, Maximinian in Aphricke and in Fraunce, Galerius in Persia, Constantius in England and in Fraunce also. By reason of which victories Dioclesian and Maximinian pufte vp in pride, ordeyned a solemne triumph at Rome, after whiche triumph Dioclesian gaue commaundement that he would be worshipped as God, saying, that he was brother to the Sunne and Moone, and adourning his shoes with golde and precious stones commaunded the people to kysse hys feete. MarginaliaPride in Dioclesian.

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MarginaliaCrueltie foloweth pride.
An. 308.
Persecution agaynst the Christians.
And not long after by the iudgement of God, for certayne enormities vsed in the church, aboue touched, began the great and greuous persecution of the Christians, moued by the ragious cruelty of Dioclesian, which was about the 19 yeare of his raygne, who in the moneth of Marche, when the feast of Easter was nye at hande, commaunded all the churches of the Christians to be spoyled and cast to the earth, and the bookes of holy scripture to be burned.

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MarginaliaChristian temples destroyed. Thus most violent edictes and proclamations were set forth, for the ouerthrowyng as is sayde, of the Christians temples throughout all the Romaine Empyre. Neyther did there wante in the officers any cruell execution of the same proclamations. For their temples were defaced euen when they celebrated the feast of Easter. Euseb. lib. 8. cap. 2. And this was the first edict geuen out by Dioclesian, MarginaliaBookes of the scriptures burned. the next proclamation that came forth, was for the burning of the bookes of the holy scripture, which thyng was done in the open market place as before. MarginaliaChristian Magistrates displaced. Then next vnto that were edictes geuen forth for the displacing of such as were Magistrates, and that with great ignominie, & all other whatsoeuer bare any office. MarginaliaChristian subiectes imprisoned. Imprisonyng suche as were of the common sorte, if they would not abiure Christianitie, and subscribe to the heathen religion. Euseb. lib. 8. cap. 3. & Nicephorus lib. 7. cap. 4. Zonoras also in hys seconde tome. And these were the beginning of the Christians euils.

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It was not long after, but that new edictes were sent forth, nothyng for their cruelty inferiour to the first: for the castyng of the elders and bishops into prison, MarginaliaBishops & Elders constrayned wyth tormentes to sacrifice. and then constrayning them with sundry kindes of punishments to offer vnto theiy idoles. By reason whereof ensued a great persecution amongst the gouernors of the church, amongst whom many stood manfully, passyng through many exceedyng bytter tormentes, neyther were ouercome therewith, beyng tormented and examined diuers of them diuersly: some scourged, all theyr bodies ouer with whips & scourges: some with rackes rasings of the flesh intollerable were cruciated: some one way, some another way put to death. Some againe violently were drawen to the vnpure sacrifice, and as though they had sacrificed, when in deede they did not, were let go. Other some neither commyng at all to theyr aulters, nor touchyng any peece of theyr sacrifices, yet were borne in hand of them that stood by, that they had sacrified, and so sufferyng that false infamatiō of their enemies, quietly went away. Other as dead men were caried and cast away, beyng but halfe dead. Some they cast downe vpon the pauement, and trayling them a great space by the legs, made the people beleue that they had sacrificed. Furthermore, other there were which stoutly withstood them, affirming with a loud voyce that they had done no such sacrifice. Of whom some sayd, they were Christians, & gloried in the profession of that name: some cryed saying, that neyther they had, nor would euer be partakers of that idolatry. And those beyng buffeted on the face and mouth with the handes of the soldiours, were made to hold their peace, and so thrust out wyth violence. And if the Saintes dyd seme neuer so little to doe what the enemies would haue them, they were made muche of. Albeit all this purpose of the aduersary, dyd nothyng preuayle agaynst the holy and constaut seruauntes of Christ. Notwithstandyng, of the weake sort innumerable there were, which for feare & infirmity fell and gaue ouer, euen at the first brunt.

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MarginaliaThe noble courage and constancie of a Christian Martyr. At the first commyng downe of these edictes into Nicomedia, there chaūced a deede to be done, much worthy of memory, of a Christian, beyng a noble man borne, whiche moued by the zeale of God, after the proclamation made at Nicomedia was set vp, by and by ran and tooke downe the same, and openly tare and rent it in peeces, not fearyng the presence of the two Emperoures, then beyng in the Citie. For which acte he was put to a most bitter death, whiche death he with great fayth and constancy endured euen to the last gaspe. Euseb. lib. 8. cap. 3. &. 5.

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After this the furious rage of the malignaunt Emperours, beyng let loose agaynst the Saintes of Christ proceded more & more, makyng hauocke of gods people, through out all quarters of the world. First Dioclesian, whiche had purposed with himselfe to subuert the whole Christian religion, executed his tiranny in the East, and Maximianus in the west. But wily Dioclesian began very subtilly: MarginaliaPersecution first beginnyng in the Emperours campe. for he put the matter first in practise in his owne campe, among whom the Marshall of the field, as Euseb. lib. 8. cap. 4. affirmeth: put the christian souldiours to this choyse, whether they would obey the Emperours commaundement in that maner of sacrifice he commaūded, and so both to kepe their offices, and lead theyr bandes, or els to lay away from them their armour and weapons. MarginaliaNotable religion and fayth in soldiours. Whereunto the Christen men couragiously aunswered, that they were not onely ready to lay away their armour and weapons, but also to suffer death if it should wyth tiranny be enforced vnto them, rather thē they would obey the wicked decrees and commaundements of the Emperour.

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There might a man haue seene very many which were desirous to lyue a simple and poore lyfe: and whiche regarded no estimation and honour in comparison of true pietie and godlynes. And this was no more but a subtile & wily flattery in the beginnyng, to offer them to be at theyr own libertye, whether they would wyllingly abiure theyr profession or not: as also this was an other, that in the beginnyng of the persecution, there were but a few tormented with punishment, but afterward by little and little he began more manifestly to braste out into persecution: It can hardly be expressed with wordes what number of Martyrs, and what bloud was shedde throughe all cities and regions for the name of Christ. Euseb. in hys 8. booke, and 7. chap. sayth, that he himself knew the worthy Martyrs þt were in Palestina. MarginaliaMartyrs of Tyre in Phœnicia. But in Tire of Phenicia he declareth in the same place a marueilous martyrdome made, where certaine Christians beyng geuen to most cruell wylde beastes, were preserued without hurt of them, to the great admiration of the beholders, and those Lions, Beares, and Lybardes (kept hungry for that purpose) had no desire to deuour them: which notwithstādyng most vehemently raged agaynst those by whome they were brought into the stage, and stoode as they thought without daunger of them, such were first deuoured. But the Christian Martyrs, because they could not be hurt of þe beastes, beyng slayne with the sword, were afterward throwen into the sea. At that tyme were martyred the Bishop of Sidon. But Syluanus the bishop of Gazensis with 39. other were slayne in the mettal mynes of Phenicia. MarginaliaPamphilius Bishop of Cesarea martir. Pamphilius the elder of Cesarea, beyng the glory of that congregation, died a most worthy Martyr, whose both lyfe and most commēdable martirdom, Eusebius oftentymes declareth in his 8. booke, and 13. chap. in so much that he hath writen þe same in a booke by it selfe. MarginaliaMartyrs of Syria. In Syria all the chiefe teachers of the cōgregation were first committed to prison, as a most heauy and cruell spectacle to behold, as also the Byshops, Elders, and Deacons, which all were estemed as menquellers and perpetratours of most wicked factes. Euseb. lib. 8. cap. 6. MarginaliaTirannion Martyr.
Zenobius a Phisition Martyr.
After that we read of an other, whose name was Tirannion, which was made meate for the fishes of the sea, and of Zenobius, which was a very good Phisition, which also was slayne with brickebats in the same place. Euseb. lib. 8. cap. 13.

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Furthermore he maketh mention in the same place of

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