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105 [105]

Actes and Monumentes of the Churche.

life in the. 309. yeare after Christ. This straunge and marueilous alteration gaue occasion, and so came to passe, that within short space after there were in the Romaine commō wealth many Emperours at one tyme.

MarginaliaAn. 309.
The names of the tirantes.
Dioclesian, Maximiniā Emperours deposed.
Gale. Maximinus. Constantius Emperours.
Maximinus Seuerus Constantius Cæsars.
Maxenius, Emperour.
Licinius, Cæsar.
In the begynnyng of this persecution you heard how Dioclesian beyng made Emperour, tooke to him Maximinian. Also how these two gouernyng as Emperours together, chose other two Cæsars vnder them, to wyt, Galerius Maximinus, and Constantius the father of Constantine the great. Thus then Dicolesian raigning with Maximinian, in the. xix. yeare of his raigne began his furious persecution agaynst the Christians, whose raigne after the same continued not long. For so it pleased God to put such a snafle in the tyrants mouth, that within two yeares after he caused both him and Maximinian (for what cause he knoweth) to geue ouer the Imperiall function, and to to remaine not as Emperours any more, but as priuate persons. So that they beyng now displaced and dispossessed, the Imperiall dominion remained with Constantius and Galerius Maximinus, which two deuided the whole Monarchy betwene thē: so that Maximinus should gouerne the East countreys, and Constantius the West partes. But Constantius as a modest Prince, onely cōtented with the Imperiall title, refused Italy & Aphricke, contentyng him selfe onely with Fraunce, Spayne, & Britaine. Wherfore Galerius Maximinus chose to him his two sonnes Maximinus and Seuerus. Likewise Constantius tooke Constantinus his sonne, Cæsar vnder him. In þe meane tyme, while Maximinus with his two Cæsars were in Asia, the Romaine souldiours set vp for their Emperour Maxentius, þe sonne of Maximianiā, who had before deposed himselfe. Agaynst whō Maximinus the Emperour of the East sent his sonne Seuerus, whiche Seuerus was slayne in the same viage of Maxentius. In whose place then Maximinus tooke Licinius. And these were the Emperours and Cæsars, which succeedyng after Dioclesian and Maximinian, prosecuted the rest of that persecution, whiche Dioclesian and Maximinian before begon duryng neare the space of seuen or viij. yeares, which was to the yeare of our Lord. 318. Saue onely that Constantius with his sonne Constantinus, was no great doer therin, but rather a maintainer and a supporter of the Christians. MarginaliaThe commendation of Constantius. Whiche Constantius, surnamed Chlorus for his palenes, was þe sonne of Eutropius, a man of great nobilitie of the Romaine nation, as Lætus affirmeth. He came of the lyne of Æneas and Claudia the daughter of Claudius Augustus. This man had not the desire of great and mightie dominion, and therfore parted he the Empire with Galerius, and would rule but in Frānce, Britaine, and Spayne, refusing the other kyngdomes for the troublesome and difficult gouernment of the same. Otherwise he was a Prince, as Eutropius maketh descriptiō of him, very excellent, ciuil, meeke, gentle, liberall, and desirous to do good vnto those that had any priuate authoritie vnder him. And as Cyrus once sayd, that he gat treasure inough, when he made his frendes riche: euen so it is sayd that Constantius would often tymes say, MarginaliaO happy Constantius that it were better that his subiectes had treasure, then he to haue it in his treasure house. Also he was by nature sufficed with a litle, in so much that he vsed to eate and drincke in earthē vessels (which thyng was counted in Agathocles the Sicillian a great commendation) and if at any time cause required to garnish his table, he would send for plate and other furniture to his frendes. To these vertues he added yet a more worthy ornament, that is, deuotion, loue, and affection towardes the worde of God, as Euseb. Lib. 8. cap. 13. affirmeth, after which vertues ensued great peace and tranquilitie in all his Prouinces: MarginaliaConstantius gracyous to the Christians. By which worde he beyng guided neither leauied any warres contrary to pietie and Christian Religion, neither aided he any other that did the same: neither destroyed he the Churches, but commaūded that the Christians should be preserued and defended, and kept them safe from all contumelious iniuries. And when that in the other iurisdictions of the Empire, the congregations were molested with persecution, as Sozomenus declareth Lib. 1. cap. 6. he onely gaue licence vnto the Christians to lyue after their accustomed maner. This wonderfull acte of his followyng besides others doth shewe, that he was a sincere worshypper of the Christian Religion.

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Those which bare the chiefe offices among the Ethnickes, draue out of the Emperors court all the godly christians: wherupō this insued, that the emperours thēselues at the last were destitute of helpe: when such were driuen away, which dwellyng in theyr courtes, and liuyng a godly lyfe, poured out their prayers vnto God for the prosperous estate and health both of the Empire and Emperor. MarginaliaConstantius proueth who were true Christians in hys court and who were not. Constantius therfore mynding at a certayne tyme to try what sincere and good Christians he had yet in hys courte, called together all hys officers and seruauntes in the same, faynyng himselfe to chuse out such as would do sacrifice to deuils, and that those onely should dwell there and keepe their offices, and that those which would refuse to do the same, should be thrust out and banished the court. At this appointment, all the courtiars deuided themselues into companies: MarginaliaEx Euseb. in vita Constan. Lib. 1.
Ex Sozomeno. lib. 1. cap. 6.
False Christians discerned frō true.
The Emperor marked which were the most constantest & godliest from the rest: And when some sayd that they woulde willingly do sacrifice: other some openly and boldly denyed to do the same: Then the Emperor sharply rebuked those which were so ready to do sacrifice, & iudged them as false traitors vnto God, accounptyng them vnworthy to bee in his court, which were such traitors to God, & forthwyth commaunded that they onely should be banished the same. But greatly he commended them, which refused to do sacrifice and confessed God, affirmyng that they onely were worthy to be about a prince, forthwith commaundyng thē that thenceforth they should be the trusty counsellors and defendours both of his person and kyngdome, saying thus much more, that they onely were worthy to bee in office, whom he might make accompt of, as his assured frendes, and that he ment to haue them in more estimation, thē the substance he had in his treasurie. Eusebius maketh mention hereof in his first booke of the life of Constantius, & also Sozomenus in hys 1. booke, and 6. chap.

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MarginaliaMaximinus an enemye to the Christians. With this Constantius was ioyned (as hath bene aforesayd) Galerius Maximinus, a man as Eutropius affirmeth, very ciuill, and a passyng good souldior, furthermore a fauourer of wyse and learned men, of a quiet disposition, not rigorous, but in hys dronkennesse, whereof he woulde soone after repente hym, as Victor writeth, whether hee meaneth Maximinus the father, or Maximinus hys sonne, it is vncertayne. But Eusebius farre otherwise describeth the conditions of hym in hys viij. booke and first chapter. MarginaliaThe wickednes of Maximinus described. For he sayth that he was of a tyrannicall dispositiō: The fearfullest man that might be, and curious in all magical superstitiō, in somuch that without the diuinations & aunswers of diuils he durst do nothing at all: and therfore hee gaue great offices and dignities to enchaunters. Furthermore that he was an exactor and extorcioner of the Citizens, liberall to those that were flatterers, geuen to surfettyng & riote, a great drinker of wyne, & in his furious dronkēnesse most lyke a mad man, a Ribaud, an adulterer, which came to no Citie but he rauished virgins and defiled mēs wiues. To conclude he was so great an idolater, that he builte vp Temples in euery city, and repayred those that were fallen in great decay: and he chose out the most worthiest of hys politicall Magistrates to be the idols priests, and deuised that they should execute that their office with great authoritie and dignitye, and also with warlike pompe. But to Christian piety and religion he was most insensiue, and in the East Churches exercised cruel persecution, and vsed as executioners of the same Pencetius, Quintianus, and Theotechnus, beside others.

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MarginaliaA terrible plague sent by God to Maximinus. Notwithstandyng he was at length reuoked from that his cruelty by the iust iudgement and punishment of God. For he was sodainly vexed wyth a fatall disease most filthy and desperate, which disease to describe was very straunge, takyng the first beginnyng in hys flesh outwardly, frō thence it proceeded more and more to the inward partes of his body. For in the priuy members of hys body there happened vnto him a sodaine putrifaction, & after in þe bottome of the same a botchy corrupt byle, with a Fistula, consumyng and eatyng vp his entrals, out of the which came swarmyng foorth an innumerable multitude of lice, with such a pestiferous stinche, that no man coulde abide hym, and so muche more, for that all the grosenesse of his body by aboundaunce of meate before he fell sicke, was turned all into fat: which fat now putrified and stincking was so vgsome and horrible, that none that came to hym could abyde the sight therof. MarginaliaMaximinus killeth hys phisitions. By reason wherof,the Phisitions which had hym in cure, some of them not able to abide the intollerable stinch, were commaunded to be slain. Other some because they could not heale hym, beyng so swollen and past hope of cure were also cruelly put to death. At length beyng put in remembraunce that his disease was sent of God, he began to forethinke the wickednesse that he had done agaynst the saintes of God, and so commyng agayne to hymselfe, first confesseth vnto God all hys offences, then calling them vnto him which were about hym, forthwyth commaunded all men to cease from the persecutions of the Christians. Requiryng moreouer that they should set vp hys Imperiall proclamations, for the restoryng and reedifieng of their Temples: and that they would obtayne this of the Christiās, in theyr assembles (which without all feare & doubte they might bee bolde to make) that they would deuoutly

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