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126 [126]

Actes and Monumentes of the Churche.

MarginaliaConstantine sometyme by meanes of hys wyfe was an Idolater.the allurement of Fausta his wife: in so much that he dyd sacrifice vnto thē: after the discomfite of Maxentius in battaile, he vtterly abiured. But baptisme he deferred euē vnto his olde age, because he had determined a iourney into Persia, and thought in Iordan to haue bene baptised. Euseb. lib. 4. de vita Constantini.

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As touchyng his natural disposition and wit, he was very eloquent, a good Philosopher, and in disputatiō sharpe and ingenious. He was accustomed to say, MarginaliaThe commō saying of Cosntantinus. that an Emperour ought to refuse no labour, for the vtilitie of the common weale: yea and that to aduenture the mangling of hys body for the remedy therof, but if other wayes it may be holpen, to cherish the same. This, Aurelius Victor, Pomponius Letus, and Ignatius write of him. And Ælius Lampridius saith, writing vpon the life of Heliogabalus, that Constantinus was wont to say, that an Empire was geuen by the determinate purpose of God, and that he to whome it was geuen, should so employ his diligēce, as he might be thought worthy of the same at the handes of the geuer. Which same saying also Augustine noteth in his 3. booke agaynst Cresconius, epist. 49. and. 50.

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MarginaliaThe raigne of Constantinus. He first entred into the Empire, by the mercyfulnes of God, myndyng after long waues of dolefull persecution to restore vnto hys church peace and tranquilitie an. 311. as Eusebius accompteth in his Chronicle. His raigne continued, as Eutropius affirmeth, 30. yeares, Letus sayth, 32. yeares, lacking 2. monthes. MarginaliaThe effect of some of his constitutions. Great peace and tranquilitie enioyed the Churche vnder the raigne of thys good Emperour, which tooke great payne and trauell for the preseruation thereof. Fyrst, yea and that before he had subdued Licinius, he set forth many edictes for the restitution of the goodes of the church, for the reuokyng of the Christians out of exile, for taking away the dissention of the Doctors out of the Church, for the settyng of them free from publike charges, and such lyke: euen as the copies of hys constitutions, here vnder declare, which Eusebius in hy 10. boke, and 5 chapter, repeateth in this 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 louyng subiectes inhabityng throughout the East partes, sendeth greetyng. The thyng it selfe, which in the sure & most firme law of nature is conteyned, doth geue vnto all men (euen as God hath ordeyned the same) sufficient perceueraunce and vnderstandyng, both of suche thinges as man ought to foresee, as also what thinges presently he ought to meditate. Neyther is there any thyng therin to be doubted, of such as haue theyr mindes directed to the scope or marke of perfect vnderstandyng:
MarginaliaThe law of nature made perfect, compared with the knowledge of God. so that the perfect comprehēdyng of sound reason, and the perceueraunce therof, be compared with the knowledge of God, beyng the true & perfect vertue. Wherfore let no wyse man be troubled, although he see diuers men of diuers dispositiōs. For wisdom which springeth of vertue, can not abide, or acquaynte her selfe wyth fonde idiotes, vnlesse that (on the other side) the malice of peruerse lithernes, MarginaliaLithernes the nurse of ignoraunce, & & ignoraūce the enemy to wisedome. prolong her dayes, and cause the same Ideocie to suruiue. Wherfore assuredly the crowne & price of vertue lyeth open vnto all men, and the most mighty god ordereth the iudgement of the same. I vndoubted, as manifestly as possible is, wyll indeuour my selfe to testifie & confesse vnto you all, the hope which is in me. MarginaliaTyranny depriueth Emperours. I thinke verily, that the Emperours which before this tyme haue lately bene, euen for their tiranny had the Empire taken from them: and my father onely exercising and vsing all mekenesse and lenitie in his affayres, callyng vpon God the father, with great deuotion and humilitie, hath bene exalted to the same. MarginaliaBloudy tyrantes make ciuile wars. And all the rest, as men wantyng theyr wits, and in comparison as sauage beastes, rather did geue themselues to lyke cruelty, then vnto any lenitie and gentlenesse, towardes theyr subiectes: in which tiranny euery one for hys time beyng nooseled, vtterly subuerted the true & vnfallible doctrine. And so great malice was there kyndled in theyr brestes, that when all thinges were in peaceable trāquilitie, they made and raysed most cruell and bloudy intestine or ciuil warres. MarginaliaApollo gaue answere out of a caue in the ground, that he was disquyeted by the Christians. It is credibly informed vs, that in those dayes, Apollo gaue aunswers: but not by any mans mouth, but out of a certayne caue and darke place (saying) that he was much disquieted by those that were the iust men & lyuers vpon the earth, so that he could or would not for them declare a truth of such thynges as others demaunded: and hereby it came to passe that such false diuinations were geuen from the golden tables in Apollos temple. And this thyng did hys propheticall priest complayne of, when he tooke vp agayne the heare of his hed, that other had contemptuously cast downe: and that the neglecting of his diuination was the cause of so many euils amongest men. But let vs see what was the ende hereof: we now boldly and without all feare inuocate and worship the omnipotent God: When I was a chylde, I heard, that he which then was chiefe Emperour of Rome, vnhappy, yea most vnhappy man beyng seduced, and brought into error, by hys souldiours: curiously inquired who were those iust men vpon the earth that Apollo ment. And one of his priestes which was neare about hym, made aunswer that they were the christians. This aunswer hereupon, vnto him beyng as delectable, as hony vnto the mouth, MarginaliaThe sword geuen for to be auenged vpon malifactours. drew the sword (geuen vnto hym to be a reuenger vpon euill doers and malefactours) against the professors of the irreprehensible sanctimony and religion. And straight way he gaue forth a Commission (to bloudy homicides as I may well call them) and gaue commaundement to al the Iudges, that they should endeuour themselues with all the cunning they had to the deuising of more greuouser and sharper punishmentes agaynst the poore Christians. Then, then, I say, a man myght haue seene, how greatly the honest professors of that religion were molested with cruelty, & daily suffred no smal iniuries and contumelies: and that also they suffred and sustayned the same with such temperancie, as though they had had no iniuries done vnto thē at all. MarginaliaA great commēdation of the Christians. Which temperancie and patience of theirs, was the cause why the furious citizens were the more madder and raging against them. What fires, what tortures, what kynde of torments were there, but that they without respect either of age or sexe were enforced to feele.

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MarginaliaThe earth bewayled the martyrs deathes. Then dyd the earth without doubt, her selfe bewayle her children and the rounde worlde which contayneth all things beyng sprinckled and imbrued with their bloude made dolefull lamentation for them, yea and the day it selfe prouoked for to mourne, was made amased for them. But what is this to purpose. Now the very barbarous nations reioyce for theyr sakes which receaued and harbored thē, when they were afrayd and fled from vs: kepyng them as it were in most louyng and amiable captiuity. And they saued not onely their lyues, but also were a defence for theyr religion. And now also the Romaine nation remembreth and hath before their eyes this blame and spotte, which the Christians that were of that tyme, worthely gaue vnto them, when they by them were banished (as vnfitte members in their common wealth) amongest the barbarous people. What nedeth to make further rehearsall of þe mournyng lamentation, which the heathen people themselues through all the worlde, made for the pitifull murther and slaughter of thē. MarginaliaThe authors of all mischiefe punished. After this it came to passe that they which were authors of all these mischiefes dyed also, & were committed for their reward to the most filthy & horrible dungeon of hell. MarginaliaApollos lying oracles the cause of so many martyrs deathes. They being so intangled with intestine and ciuile warres, left alyue neither name nor kinsmen of theyr owne: which thyng vndoubtedly had not chaunced vnlesse the wicked diuination of Apollos oracles had deceiued and bewitched them. MarginaliaConstant. prayer. To thee therefore now I praye, oh most mighty God, that thou wilt vouchsafe to be mercifull, and pardon all the East partes and inhabitauntes of the same, beyng oppressed with present calamitie: and that by me thy seruaunt thou wilt of thy goodnes helpe and releue the same. And these thynges rashly craue I not at thy handes: Oh Lord, most mighty and holiest God of all. For I beyng perswaded by thy onely oracles, haue both begon and also finished wholesome and profitable thinges: and further, by the bearing and shewyng of thy ensigne, haue ouercome a myghty and strong hoste, and when any necessitie of the common weale (to my charge committed) requireth therunto, (following those signes & tokens of thy vertue) I boldly go forth and fight agaynst mine enemies: MarginaliaConstantines fayth confirmed by the myracles of the crosse. & for thys cause haue I sacrificed my soule vnto thee, purified & clēsed both with thy loue and feare. Ye truely, thy name do I sincerely loue, and thy power do I reuerence, which by many tokens and wonders, hast shewed & confirmed therby my belief & faith. Therfore will I do my endeuour, & bend my selfe therunto, þt I maye redifie thy most holy house which those wicked & vngodly Emperors haue with so great ruine layd waste. Thy people do I desire to bryng and stablish, in firme peace and tranquilitie, and for that the publique vtillitie of all the inhabitauntes of the earth. MarginaliaThe clemenciy of a good Emperour. Those whiche yet erre and are out of the way, enioy the benefite of peace and quietnesse, with, and amongest, the number of the faythfull sorte: for I trust the restitution of like societie and participatiō, may be a meanes to bring them also that erre, into þe perfect way of veritie. Let no mā therfore be grieuous one vnto an other: but what euery mā thinketh beste, that let him do. For such as are wise ought throughly to be perswaded, that they

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