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153 [140]

Actes and Monuments of the Church.

raygne continued, as Eutropius affirmeth, 30. yeares, Letus sayth, 32. yeares, lacking. 2. monethes. MarginaliaThe effect of some of hys constitutions.Great peace and tranquilitie enioyed the Churche vnder the raygne of thys good Emperour, whyche tooke great payne and trauel for the preseruation therof. Fyrst, yea and that before he had subdued Licinius, he set foorth many edictes for the restitutiō of þe goods of the church, for the reuoking of the Christiās out of exile, for taking away the dissention of the Doctors out of the Churche, for the setting of them free from publicke charges, and suche like: euen as the coppies of his Constitutions here vnder declare, which Eusebius in his. x. booke and fyft chapter, repeateth in thys wyse.

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¶ The copy of an Epistle of Constantinus, sent to his subiectes, inhabiting in the East.

VIctor Constantinus Maximus, Augustus, to our louing subiects inhabiting throughout þe East partes, sendeth greeting. The thing it selfe, which in the sure & most firme law of nature is contayned, doth geue vnto all men (euen as God hath ordayned the same) sufficient perseuerance and vnderstanding, both of such things as man ought to foresee, as also what thinges presently he ought to meditate. Neither is there any thing therin to be doubted, of such as haue their mindes directed to the scope or marke of perfect vnderstanding: MarginaliaThe law of nature made perfect, compared with the knowledge of that the perfect comprehending of sounde reason, and the perseueraūce therof, be compared with the knowledge of God, being the true and perfect vertue. Wherfore let no wise man be troubled, althoughe he see diuers men of diuers dispositions. For wysdome which spryngeth of vertue, can not abide, or acquaynt her selfe with fond idiots, vnles that (on the other syde) the malice of peruers lythernes, MarginaliaLiternes the nurse of ignoraunce, and ignoraunce the enemy to wisedome.prolong her dayes, and cause the same Ideocie to suruiue. Wherfore assuredlye the crowne and prize of vertue lyeth open vnto all men, & the most mighty God ordereth the iudgement of the same. I vndoubted, as manifestly as possible is, wyl indeuour my selfe to testifye and confes vnto you all, the hope which is in me. MarginaliaTirannie depriueth Emperours.I thinke verelye, that the Emperours which before thys tyme haue latelye bene, euen for their tyrannye had the Empyre taken from them: and my father onelye exercising and vsing all meekenes and lenitie in hys affaires, calling vpon God the father, with great deuotion and humilitie, hath bene exalted to the same. MarginaliaBloudy tyrants make ciuile warres.And al the rest, as men wanting their wyts, and incomparison as sauage beastes, rather did geue them selues to like cruelty, then vnto any lenitie and gentlenes, towardes theyr subiectes: in which tiranny euery one for his time being nooseled, vtterly subuerted the true and vnfallible doctrine. And so great malice was there kindled in theyr brestes, that when al thinges were in peaceable trāquilitie, they made and raysed, most cruell and bloudye intestine or ciuil warres. MarginaliaApollo gaue answere out of a caue in the ground that he was disquieted by the Christians.It is crediblie informed vs, that in those dayes, Apollo gaue answers: but not by anye mans mouth, but out of a certaine caue and darke byplace (sayīg) that he was much disquieted by those that were the iust men and liuers vpon the earth, so that he coulde or woulde not for them declare a truth of suche thinges as others demaunded: and hereby it came to passe that such false diuinations were geuen from the golden tables in Apollos temple. And this thing did hys prophetical priest complayne of, whē he tooke vp againe the heare of his heade, that other had contemptuouslye cast downe: & that the neglecting of his diuination was the cause of so many euils amongest men. But let vs se what was the ende hereof: we now boldly and without all feare inuocate and woorship the omnipotent God: when I was a childe, I heard, that he which then was chiefe Emperour of Rome, vnhappy, yea most vnhappy man being seduced, and brought into errour, by his soldiours: curiously inquired who were those iust men vpōthe earth that Apollo ment. And one of his priests which was neare about him, made answer that they were the Christians. This answer hereupon, vnto him beyng as dilectable, as hoony vnto the mouth, MarginaliaThe sword geuē for to be auenged vpon malifactours.drew the sword (geuen vnto him to be a reuenger vpon euil doers and malefactours) agaynst the professors of the irreprehensible sanctimonye and religion. And straight waye he gaue forth a Commission (to bloody homicides as I may wel cal them) and gaue commaundement to al the Iudges, that they should endeuour them selues with al the cunning they had to the deuising of more greuouser & sharper punishmentes agaynst the poore Christians. Then, then I say, a man might haue sene, how greatly the honest professors of that religion were molested with continual cruelty, and daylye suffered no smal iniuries and contumelies: and that also they suffered and sustayned the same with such temperauncie, as thoughe they had had no iniuries done vnto them at al. MarginaliaA great cōmendatiō to the christians.Which temperancie and pacience of theirs, was the cause why the furious Citizens were the more madder and ragyng agaynst them. What fyres, what tortures, what kynde of tormentes were there, but that they wythout respect eyther of age or sexe were inforced to feele.

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MarginaliaThe earth bewayled the martirs deathes.Then did the earth without doubt, her selfe bewail her children & þe round world which containeth al things being sprinckled & imbrued with their bloud made dolefull lamentatiō for thē, yea & the day it selfe prouoked for to mourne, was made amased for them. But what is thys to purpose. Nowe the verye barbarous nations reioyce for their sakes which receaued and harbored them, whē they were afraid & fled from vs: keping them as it were in most louing and amiable captiuitie. And they saued not onelye their lyues but also were a defence for theyr religion. And now also the Romaine nation remembreth and hath before their eyes thys blame and spotte, which the Christians that were of that tyme, worthelye gaue vnto them, when they by them were banished (as vnfitte members, in their common wealth) amongst the barbarous people. What needeth to make further rehersall of the mourning lamentation, which the heathē people thē selues through all the worlde, made for the pitiful murther and slaughter of them. MarginaliaThe autors of all mischiefe punished.After this it came to passe that they which were autors of all these mischiefes dyed also, and were committed for their reward to the moste filthye and horrible dungeon of hell. MarginaliaApollos lying oracles the cause of so many martyrs deathes.They being so intangled with intestine and Ciuile warres, left aliue neither name nor kinsmen of their owne: which thyng vndoubtedly had not chaunced vnlesse the wicked diuination of Apollos oracles had deceiued and bewitched them. MarginaliaConstant. prayer.To thee therfore now I pray, oh most mightie God, that thou wilt vouchsafe to be mercifull, and pardon all the East partes and inhabitauntes of the same, being oppressed with present calamitie: and that by me thy seruaunt thou wilt of thy goodnes helpe and releue þe same. And these thinges rashely craue I not at thy handes: Oh Lorde, most mightie and holiest God of all. For I being perswaded by thy onely oracles, haue both begonne and also finished wholesome and profitable thinges: and further, by the bearing and shewing of thy ensigne, haue ouercome a myghtie and strong hoste, and when any necessitie of the common weale (to my charge committed) requireth therunto, (following those signes and tokens of thy vertue) I boldly goe forth and fyght against mine enemyes: MarginaliaCōstātines faith confyrmed by the miracle of the cros.and for thys cause haue I sacrificed my soule vnto thee, purified and clensed both with thy loue & feare. Ye truely, thy name do I sincerely loue, and thy power do I reuerence, which by many tokens & wonders, hast shewed and confyrmed thereby, my beliefe and fayth. Therefore will I doe my endeuour, and bend my selfe therunto, that I maye reedifie thy moste holy house, which those wicked & vngodlye Emperours haue with so greate ruine layd waste. Thy people do I desire, to

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