10. THE EIGHTH PERSECUTION UNDER VALERIAN
In the which persecution the chief administrators and actors were Emilianus, president of Egypt, Paternus and Galerius Maximus, proconsuls in Africa. Bergomensis also maketh mention of Paternus, vicegerent of Rome, and of Perennius. Vincentius speaketh also of Nicerius and Claudius, presidents, &c.
What was the chief original cause of this persecution partly is signified before, where mention was made of the wicked Egyptian; but as this was the outward and political cause, so St. Cyprian showeth other causes more special and ecclesiastical in his fourth book, whose words be these: "But we (saith he) must understand and confess, that this turbulent oppression and calamity, which hath wasted for the most part all our whole company, and doth daily consume it, riseth chiefly of our own wickedness and sins, while we walk not in the way of the Lord, nor observe his precepts left unto us for our institution. The Lord observed the will of his Father in all points, but we observe not the will of the Lord, having all our mind and study set upon lucre and possessions, given to pride, full of emulation and dissension, void of simplicity and faithful dealing, renouncing this world in word only, but nothing in deed, every man pleasing himself, and displeasing all others. And therefore are we thus scourged, and worthily; for what stripes and scourges do we not deserve, when the confessors themselves, (such as have bid the trial of their confession,) and such as ought to be an example to the rest of well-doing, do keep no discipline? And therefore because some such there be, proudly puffed up with this swelling and unmannerly bragging of their confession, these torments come, such as do not easily send us to the crown, except by the mercy of God; some, being taken away by quickness of death, do prevent the tediousness of punishment. These things do we suffer for our sins and deserts, as by the Lord's censure we have been forewarned, saying, If they shall forsake my law, and will not walk in my judgments; if they shall profane my institutions, and will not observe my precepts; I will visit their iniquities with the rod, and their transgressions with scourges. These rods and scourges (saith he) we feel, which neither please God in our good deeds, nor repent in our evil deeds." Wherefore the said Cyprian adding this exhortation withal, exhorted them to pray and entreat from the bottom of their heart and whole mind the mercy of God, which promiseth, saying, But yet my mercy I will not scatter from them, &c. Let us ask, and we shall obtain; and though (saith Cyprian) it be with tarriance, yet, forsomuch as we have grievously offended, let us continue knocking; for to him that knocketh it shall be opened, if our prayers, sighings, and weepings knock still at the door with continuance, and if our prayers be joined together with brotherly agreement. Moreover, what vices were then principally reigning among the Christians he further specifieth in the said epistle, which chiefly were "division and dissension among the brethren. For when it was spoken to them in a vision by these words, Pray, and ye shall obtain; afterward it was required of the congregation there present to direct their prayers for certain persons assigned to them by name: but they could not agree and condescend together on the names and persons of them which they should pray for, but were dissonant in their consent and petition; which thing (saith Cyprian) did greatly displease him that spake unto them, Pray, and ye shall obtain, for that there was no uniform equality of voice and heart, nor one simple and joint concord among the brethren, whereof it is written in the sixty-seventh Psalm, God which maketh to dwell in the house together men of one accord." And so by the occasion hereof he writeth unto them in the foresaid epistle, and moveth them to prayer and mutual agreement. "For (saith he) if it be promised in the gospel to be granted whatsoever any two consenting together shall ask, what shall then the whole church do agreeing together? Or what if this unanimity were among the whole fraternity? Which unanimity, (saith Cyprian,) if it had been amongst the brethren, these evils had not happened to the brethren, if the brethren had joined together in brotherly unanimity."
After the causes thus declared of this and other persecution, the said St. Cyprian, moreover, in the forenamed epistle, (worthy to be read of all men,) describeth likewise a certain vision, wherein was showed unto him by the Lord before the persecution came what should happen. The vision was this: "There was a certain aged father sitting, at whose right hand sat a young man very sad and pensive, as one with an indignation sorrowful, holding his hand upon his breast, his countenance heavy and uncheerful. On the left hand sat another person, having in his hand a net, which he threatened to lay to catch the people that stood about. And as he was marvelling that saw the sight thereof, it was said unto him, The young man whom thou seest sit on the right hand is sad and sorry that his precepts be not observed. But he on the left hand danceth and is merry, for that occasion is given him to have power of the aged father to afflict men. And this vision was seen long before this tempest of persecution happened, wherein is declared the same that before is said, The sins of the people to be the cause why Satan in this persecution, and all others, hath had, and hath still, such power with his net of destruction to rage against the blood of Christian men, and all because saith Cyprian we foreslack our praying, or he not so vigilant therein as we should; wherefore the Lord, because he loveth us, correcteth us; correcteth us to amend us, amendeth us to save us."
Furthermore, the same Cyprian, and in the same epistle, writing of his own revelation or message sent to him, thus saith: "And to his least servant. both sinful and unworthy, (meaning himself,) God of his tender goodness hath vouchsafed to direct this word: Tell him (saith he) that he be quiet and of good comfort; for peace will come, albeit a little stay there is for a while, for that some remain yet to be proved and tried, &c. And showeth also in the same place of another revelation of his, wherein he was admonished to be spare in his feeding, and sober in his drink, lest his mind, given to heavenly meditation, might be carried away with worldly allurements, or, oppressed with too much surfeit of meats and drinks, should be less apt or able to prayer and spiritual exercise."
Finally, in the latter end of the foresaid epistle mention also followeth of other revelations or showings: "Wherein the Lord (saith Cyprian) doth vouchsafe to many of his servants to foreshow to come the restoring of his church, the stable quiet of our health and safeguard; after rain fair weather, after darkness light, after stormy tempest peaceable calm, the fatherly help of his love, the wont and old glory of his Divine Majesty; whereby both the blasphemy of the persecutor shall be repressed, and the repentance of such as have fallen be reformed, and the strong and stable confidence of them that stand shall rejoice and glory." Thus much hath St. Cyprian written of these things to the clergy, lib. 4. epist. 4.
As touching now the crimes and accusations in this persecution laid to the charge of the Christians, this was the principal: first, because they refused to do worship to their idols and to the emperors; then for that they professed the name of Christ: besides, all the calamities and evils that happened in the world, as wars, famine, and pestilence, were imputed only to the Christians. Against all which quarrelling accusations Cyprian doth eloquently defend the Christians, like as Tertullian had done before, "And first touching the objection, for not worshipping idols, he cleareth the Christians both in his book against Demetrian, and also On the Vanity of Idols, proving those idols to be no true gods; but images of certain dead kings, which neither could save themselves from death, nor such as worship them. The true God to be but one, and that by the testimony of Sosthenes, Plato, and Trismegistus, the which God the Christians do truly worship. And as concerning that the Christians were thought to be the cause of public calamities, because they worshipped not the Gentiles' idols, he purgeth the Christians thereof, proving that if there be any defect in increase of things, it is not to be ascribed to them, but rather to the decrease of nature, languishing now towards her age and latter end. Again, for that it hath been so foresaid and prophesied, that towards the end of the world should come wars, famine, and pestilence. Moreover, if there be any cause thereof more proper than other, it is most like to be imputed to their vain idolatry, and to the contempt of the true God. Also that such evils be increased by the wickedness of the people, so that, to speak in his own words, famine cometh more by avarice of men than by drought of the air, but especially the cause thereof to proceed of the cruel shedding of the innocent blood of the Christians."
Thus with many other more probations doth Cyprian defend the Christians against the barbarous exclamations of the heathen Gentiles. Of which Cyprian, for so much as he suffered in the time of this persecution, I mind (Christ willing) to recapitulate here in ample discourse the full sum, first of his life and bringing up, then of his death and martyrdom, as the worthiness of that man deserveth to be remembered. Of this Cyprian therefore, otherwise named Statius, thus write Nicephorus, Nazianzenus, Jacobus de Voragine, Henricus de Erfordia, Volateranus, Hieronymus, and others: that he, being an African, and born in Carthage, first was an idolater and Gentile, altogether given to the study and practice of the magical arts; of whose parentage and education in letters from his youth no mention is made, but that he was a worthy rhetorician in Africa; of whose conversion and baptism he himself, in his first book and second epistle, writeth a flourishing and eloquent history. Which his conversion unto the Christian faith, as Jerome affirmeth in his Commentary upon Jonas, was through the grace of God, and the means of Cecilius a priest, whose name after he bare, and through the occasion of hearing the history of the prophet Jonas. The same Jerome, moreover, testifieth how he, immediately upon his conversion, distributed among the poor all his substance, and after that, being ordained a priest, was not long after constituted bishop of the congregation of Carthage. But whether he succeeded Agrippinus, of whom he often maketh mention, (which also was the first author of rebaptization,) or some other bishop of Carthage, it remaineth uncertain. But this is most true, he himself shined in his office and dignity with such good gifts and virtues, that, as Nazianzenus writeth, he had the government of the whole east church, and church of Spain, and was called the bishop of the Christian men.
And to the further setting forth (to the praise of God) of his godly virtues wherewith he was endowed, appearing as well in His own works to them that list to peruse the same, as also described by other worthy writers; he was courteous and gentle, loving and full of patience, and therewithal sharp and severe in his office, according as the cause required, as appeareth in his first book and third epistle. Furthermore, he was most loving and kind toward his brethren, and took much pains in helping and relieving the martyrs, as appeareth by his letters to the elders and deacons of his bishopric, that with all study and endeavour they should gently entertain and show pleasure unto the martyrs in his absence, as partly is touched before.
The third epistle of his first book doth declare of what stomach and godly courage he was in executing his office, and handling his matters. Neither was he void of prudence and circumspection, but was adorned with marvellous modesty, whereby he attempted nothing upon his own head and judgment, but with the consent of his fellow bishops and other inferior ministers; and that chiefly (among others) doth the tenth epistle of his third book witness. He was of a marvellous liberal disposition towards the poor brethren of other countries; for so often as he had cause of absence, he committed the care of those poor men to his fellow officers, and wrote unto them, that of their own proper goods they would help their banished brethren to that which was necessary for them, as witnesseth the twenty and fourth epistle of his third book. He recited among other gifts wherewith he was endued, as touching the visions and heavenly admonitions of the persecutions that should follow, and of other matters touching the government of the church, in his first book and third epistle, and fourth book and fourth epistle, where he reciteth and expoundeth the form or manner of a certain vision, which we have before sufficiently expressed.
He had, moreover, great skill in the foreknowledge of things that should chance, as may be gathered in the sixth epistle of his fourth book. Also Augustine doth attribute unto him many worthy virtues, who writeth much in setting forth his gifts of humility in his second book of Baptism, the fourth chapter, against the Donatists; and in his seventh book and eleventh chapter, of his long-sufferance and patience, also of his courtesy and meekness; by which virtues he concealed nothing that he understood, but uttered the same meekly and patiently. Also that he kept the ecclesiastical peace and concord with those that were of another opinion than he was of. Lastly, that he neither circumvented nor did prejudice any man, but followed that thing which seemed good in his judgment, it is manifest in St. Augustine's first book on Baptism against the Donatists. Neither is this to be passed with silence, that Jerome writeth that he was very diligent in reading, especially the works of Tertullian; for he saith that he saw a certain old man, whose name was Paulus, which told him he saw the notary of blessed Cyprian, being then an old man, when he himself was but a springall in the city of Rome, and told him that it was Cyprian's wont never to let one day pass without some reading of Tertullian, and that he was accustomed often-times to say unto him, Give me my master, meaning thereby Tertullian.
Now a few words touching his exile and martyrdom. Of his epistles which he wrote back to his congregation, leading his life in exile, mention is made above, wherein he showeth the virtue beseeming a faithful pastor, in that he took no less care as well of his own church, as of other bishops, being absent, than he did being present. Wherein also he himself doth signify that voluntarily he absented himself, lest he should do more hurt than good to the congregation, by reason of his presence, as is likewise declared before. Thus from the desolate places of his banishment, wherein he was oftentimes sought for, he writeth unto his brethren, as in his third book and tenth epistle is manifest, which thing seemeth to be done in the reign of Decius or Gallus. But after that he returned again out of exile in the reign of this Valerianus, he was also after that the second time banished of Paternus, the proconsul of Africa, into the city of Thurbin, as the oration of Augustine touching Cyprian showeth; or else, as Pontius the deacon saith, into a city named Furabilitana, or Curabilitana. But when Paternus the proconsul was dead, Galienus Maximus succeeded in the room and office of Paternus, who, finding Cyprian in a garden, caused him to be apprehended by his serjeants, and to be brought before the idols to offer sacrifice; which, when he would not do, then the proconsul, breaking forth in these words, said, Long hast thou lived in a sacrilegious mind, and hast gathered together men of a wicked conspiracy, and hast showed thyself an enemy to the gods of the Romans, and to their holy laws; neither could the sacred emperors Valerianus and Galie nus revoke thee to the sect of their ceremonies. At length the wicked tyrant condemning him to have his head cut off, he patiently and willingly submitted his neck to the stroke of the sword, as Jerome affirmeth. And so this blessed martyr ended this present life in the Lord, Xixtus then being bishop of Rome, as Eusebius noteth, in the year of our Lord two hundred fifty and nine. Sabellicus saith that he was martyred in the reign of Gaflus and Volusianus, Lucius being bishop of Rome; but that seemeth not like.
As we have hitherto set forth the commendation of Cyprian, this blessed martyr; so must we now take heed again that we do not here incur the old and common danger which the papists are commonly accustomed to run into, whose fault is always almost to be immoderate and excessive in their proceedings, making too much almost of every thing. So, in speaking of the holy sacraments, they make more of them than doth the nature of sacraments require; not using them, but abusing them; not referring or applying them, but adoring them; not taking them in their kind for things godly, as they are, but taking them for God himself; turning religion into superstition, and the creature to the Creator, the things signifying to the things themselves signified, &c. To the church likewise, and ceremonies of the church, to general councils, to the blessed virgin Mary, mother of Christ, to the bishop of Rome, and to all other in like case; not contented to attribute that which is sufficient, they exceed moreover the bounds of judgment and verity, judging so of the church and general councils, as though they could never, or did never, err in any jot. That the blessed mother of Christ amongst all women was blessed, and a virgin full of grace, the Scripture and truth doth give; but to say that she was born without all original sin, or to make of her an advocate or mother of mercy, there they run further than truth will bear. The ceremonies were first ordained to serve but only for order's sake, unto the which they have attributed so much at length, that they have set in them a great part of our religion, yea, and also salvation. And what thing is there else almost wherein the papists have not exceeded?
Wherefore, to avoid this common error of the papists, we must beware in commending the doctors and writers of the church, and so commend them, that truth and consideration go with our commendation. For though this cannot be denied, but that holy Cyprian, and other blessed martyrs, were holy men; yet, notwithstanding, they were men, that is, such as might have and had their falls and faults; men, I say, and not angels, nor gods; saved by God, not saviours of men, nor patrons of grace. And though they were also men of excellent learning, and worthy doctors, yet with their learning they had their errors also annexed. And though their books be (as they ought to he) of great authority, yet ought they not to be equal with the Scriptures. And albeit they said well in most things, yet it is not therefore enough that what they said must stand for a truth. That pre-eminence of authority only helongeth to the word of God, and not to the pen of man. For of men and doctors, be they never so famous, there is none that is void of his reprehension. In Origen, although in his time the admiration of his learning was singular, yet how many things be there which the church now holdeth not, but examining him by Scriptures, where he said well they admit him, where otherwise, they leave him. In Polycarp, the church hath corrected and altered that which he did hold in celebrating the Easter-day after the Jews. Neither can holy and blessed Ignatius be defended in all his sayings; as where he maketh the fasting upon the Sunday or the sabbath day as great an offence as to kill Christ himself; contrary to this saying of St. Paul, "Let no man judge you in meat and drink:" also where the said Ignatius speaketh concerning virginity, and of other things more. Irenæus did hold that man was not made perfect in the beginning. He seemeth also to defend free-will in man in those things also that be spiritual. He saith that Christ suffered after he was fifty years old, abusing this place of the Gospel," Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?" John viii. 57. Tertullian (whom St. Cyprian never laid out of his hands almost) is noted to be a Chiliast; also to have been of Montanus's sect. The same did hold also, with Justin, Cyprian, and others, that the angels fell first for the concupiscence of women. He defendeth free-will of man after the corruption of nature, inclining also to the error of them which defend the possibility of keeping God's law. Concerning marriage, We know (saith he) one marriage, as we know one God; condemning the second marriage. Divers other things of like absurdity in him be noted. Justin also seemeth to have inclined unto the error of the Chiliasts, of the fall of certain angels by women, of free-will of man, of possibility of keeping the law, and such others. Neither was this our Cyprian, the great scholar of Tertullian, utterly exempt from the blot of them who, contrary to the doctrine of the church, did hold with rebap tizing of such as were before baptized of heretics, whereof speaketh St. Augustine, misliking the same error of Cyprian. Upon the which matter there was a great contention between the said Cyprian and Stephen bishop of Rome, as partly afore is noted. Of Augustine himself likewise, of Ambrose, Hierom, Chrysostom, the same may be said, that none of them all so clearly passed away, but their peculiar faults and errors went with them, whereof it were too long, and out of our purpose, at this present to treat. And thus much concerning the story of Cyprian the holy learned martyr of Christ.
Albeit here is to be noted by the way, touching the life and story of Cyprian, that this Cyprian was not he whom the narration of Nazianzen speaketh of, (as is above mentioned,) who from art magic was converted to be a Christian, which Cyprian was a citizen of Antioch, and afterward bishop of the same city, and was martyred under Dioclesian; whereas this Cyprian was bishop of Carthage, and died under Valerianus, as is said. By the decrees of Gratian, it appeareth, moreover, that there was also a third Cyprian in the time of Julianus, the emperor apostate, long after both these aforenamed; for so giveth the title prefixed before the said distinction, Cyprian to the emperor Julian; the distinction beginning, Quoniam idem Mediator Dei et hominum, homo Christus Jesus, sic actibus propriis, et dignitatibus distinctis officia potestatis utriusque discernit, &c. Upon the which distinction the gloss cometh in with these words, saying that the popedom and the seat imperial have both one beginning of one, that is, Christ, who was both Bishop and King of kings. And that the said dignities be distinct, albeit the pope notwithstanding hath both the swords in his hand, and may exercise them both sometimes together. "And therefore although they be distinct, yet in exercise the one standeth lineally under the other; so that the imperial dignity is subject under the papal dignity, as the inferior is subject under the superior; that as there is one Ruler over the whole world, which is God; so in the church is one monarch, that is, the pope, to whom the Lord hath committed the power and lawful right both of the heavenly and terrene dominion."
Thus much I thought here to note by the way, because this distinction is fathered upon Cyprian, which is false; for this Cyprian was not in the time of Julian, not by two hundred years, and so likewise the other Cyprian, which died martyr under Dioclesian. Of any Cyprian besides these two we read not; neither is it credible, that if there were any such Cyprian, he would ever have written of any such matter, of the difference and mutual need of Christian emperors and Christian popes; whenas that emperor, being an apostate, neither regarded Christ, nor cared for any pope.
About this time, and under the same emperor Valerianus, suffered also Xistus, or Sixtus, the second of that name, bishop of Rome, who, being accused of his adversaries to be a Christian: was brought with his six deacons to the place of execution, where he, with Nemesius, and other his deacons, were beheaded and suffered martyrdom. Laurence in the same time, being also deacon, followed after, complaining to Xistus, (as one being grieved,) that he might not also suffer with him, but to be secluded as the son from the father. To whom the bishop answering again, declared that within three days he should follow after. In the mean time he willed him to go home, and to distribute his treasures, if he had any, unto the poor. The judge, belike hearing mention to be made of treasures to be given to the poor, and thinking that Laurence had great store of treasure in his custody, commanded him to bring the same unto him, according as in the discourse of his story hereunder written more fully may appear. Which history, because it is set forth more at large in Prudentius, Ambrose, and other writers, and containeth in it more things worthy to be noted of the reader, we have therefore with the more diligence here inserted the more ample description of the same, to the further admiration of his patience, and God's glory showed in him.
Now then, as order requireth, let us enter the story of that most constant and courageous martyr of Christ St. Laurence, whose words and works deserve to be as fresh and green in Christian hearts as is the flourishing laurel tree. This thirsty heart, longing after the water of life, desirous to pass unto it through the strait door of bitter death, when on a time he saw his vigilant shepherd Xistus led as a harmless lamb of harmful tyrants to his death, cried out with open mouth and heart invincible, saying, O dear father, whither goest thou without the company of thy dear son? Whither hastenest thou, O reverend priest, without thy deacon? Never wast thou wont to offer sacrifice without thy minister. What crime is there in me that offendeth thy fatherhood? Hast thou proved me unnatural? Now try, sweet father, whether thou hast chosen a faithful minister or not. Deniest thou unto him the fellowship of thy blood, to whom thou hast committed the distribution of the Lord's blood? See that thy judgment be not misliked, whilst thy fortitude is liked and lauded. The abasing of the scholar is the disgracing of the master. What! have we not learned that worthy masters have obtained most worthy fame by the worthy acts of their disciples and scholars? Finally, Abraham sacrificed his only begotten Isaac; stoned Stephen prepared the way to preaching Peter: even so, father, declare thy manifold virtues by me thy son. Offer thou him that proffereth himself; grant that the body of thy scholar may be sacrificed, whose mind with good letters thou hast beautified. These words with tears St. Laurence uttered, not because his master should suffer, but for that he might not be suffered to taste of death's cup which he thirsted after.
Then Xistus to his son shaped this answer: I forsake thee not, O my son; I give thee to wit that a sharper conflict remaineth for thee. A feeble and weak old man am I, and therefore run the race of a lighter and easier death; but lusty and young thou art, and more lustily, yea, more gloriously, shalt thou triumph over this tyrant: thy time approacheth, cease to weep and lament, three days after thou shalt follow me; decent it is that this space of time come between the priest and the Levite. It may not beseem thee, O sweet pupil, to triumph under thy master, lest it be said he wanted a helper. Why cravest thou to be partaker with me in my passion? I bequeath unto thee the whole inheritance. Why requirest thou to enjoy my presence? Let weak scholars go before, and the stronger come after, that those without master may get the victory, which have no need by master to be governed. So Helias left behind him his beloved Heliseus. I yield up into thy hands the succession of my virtues. Such was their contention, not unmeet for so godly a priest and so zealous a minister, striving with themselves who should first suffer for the name of Christ Jesus.
In tragical histories we have it mentioned, that through joy and admiration people clapped their hands, when Pilades named himself Orestes, Orestes (as truth it was) affirmed himself to be Orestes; Pilades wishing to die for Orestes, Orestes not suffering Pilades to lose his life for his sake; but neither of them might escape death; for both these lovers were guilty of blood, the one committing the fact, the other consenting. But this our Laurence, the martyr most constant, was by no means enforced to make this proffer, saving only by his ardent zeal and fervent spirit, who, thirsting after the cup of martyrdom, had it shortly after filled to the hard brim.
Illustration -- St. Lawrence being tortured
Now let us draw near to the fire of martyred Laurence, that our cold hearts may be warmed thereby. The merciless tyrant, understanding this virtuous Levite not only to be a minister of the sacraments, but a distributer also of the church riches, (whereof mention is made before in the words of Xistus,) promised to himself a double prey by the apprehension of one silly soul. First with the rake of avarice to scrape to himself the treasure of poor Christians; then with the fiery fork of tyranny so to toss and turmoil them, that they should wax weary of their profession. With furious face and cruel countenance the greedy wolf demanded where this deacon Laurence had bestowed the substance of the church? who craving three days' respite, promised to declare where the treasure might be had. In the mean time, he caused a good number of poor Christians to be congregated. So when the day of his answer was come, the persecutor strictly charged him to stand to his promise. Then valiant Laurence, stretching out his arms over the poor, said, These are the precious treasure of the church, these are the treasure indeed, in whom the faith of Christ reigneth, in whom Jesus Christ hath his mansion-place. What more precious jewels can Christ have than those in whom he hath promised to dwell? For so it is written, I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me to drink; I was harbourless, and ye lodged me. And again, Look what ye have done to the least of these, the same have ye done to me. What greater riches can Christ our Master possess than the poor people, in whom he loveth to be seen? Oh what tongue is able to express the fury and madness of the tyrant's heart? Now he stamped, he stared, he raged, he fared as one out of his wits; his eyes like fire glowed, his mouth like a boar foamed, his teeth like a hell-hound grinded. Now not a reasonable man, but a roaring lion, he might be called. "Kindle the fire (he cried); of wood make no spare. Hath this villain deluded the emperor? Away with him, away with him; whip him with scourges, jerk him with rods, buffet him with fists, brain him with clubs. Jesteth the traitor with the emperor? Pinch him with fiery tongs, gird him with burning plates, bring out the strongest chains, and the fire forks, and the grated bed of iron: on the fire with it, bind the rebel hand and foot; and when the bed is fire hot, on with him; roast him, broil him, toss him, turn him: on pain of our high displeasure do every man his office, O ye tormentors." The word was no sooner spoken but all was done.
After many cruel handlings, this meek lamb was laid, I will not say on his fiery bed of iron, but on his soft bed of down. So mightily God wrought with his martyr Laurence, so miraculously God tempered his element the fire, not a bed of consuming pain, but a pallet of nourishing rest, was it unto Laurence. Not Laurence, but the emperor, might seem to be tormented; the one broiling in the flesh, the other burning in the heart. When this triumphant martyr had been pressed down with firepikes for a great space, in the mighty Spirit of God he spake to the vanquished tyrant:
This side is now roasted enough, turn up, O tyrant great;
Assay whether roasted or raw thou thinkest the better meat.
O rare and unaccustomed patience! O faith invincible! that not only not burnest, but by means unspeakable dost recreate, refresh, stablish, and strengthen those that are burned, afflicted, and troubled. And why so mightily comfortest thou the persecuted? Because through thee they believe in God's promises infallible. By thee this glorious martyr overcometh his torments, vanquisheth this tyrant, confoundeth his enemies, confirmeth the
Christians, sleepeth in peace, and reigneth in glory. The God of might and mercy grant us grace, by the life of Laurence to learn in Christ to live, and by his death to learn for Christ to die. Amen.
Such is the wisdom and providence of God, that the blood of his dear saints (like good seed) never falleth in vain to the ground, but it bringeth some increase: so it pleased the Lord to work at the martyrdom of this holy Laurence, that, by the constant confession of this worthy and valiant deacon, a certain soldier of Rome, being therewith conscience stricken and converted to the same faith, desired forthwith to be baptized of him; for the which he, being called for of the judge, was scourged, and afterward beheaded.
Under the same Valerianus suffered also Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, much affliction and banishment, with certain other brethren; of the which he writeth himself, and is alleged in the ecclesiastical story of Eusebius, the words whereof tend to this effect. Dionysius, with three of his deacons, to wit, Maximus, Faustus, and Cheremon, also with a certain brother of Rome, came to Emilianus, then president, who were declared unto them, in circumstance of words, how he had signified unto them the clemency of his lords and emperors, who had granted them pardon of life, so that they would return to them, and worship the gods and keepers (as he called them) of their empire, asking them what answer they would give him thereunto; trusting, as he said, that they would not show themselves ungrateful to the clemency of them which so gently did exhort them. To this Dionysius answering, said, All men worship not all gods, but divers men divers gods; so as every one hath in himself a mind or fantasy to worship. But we worship not many nor divers gods, but only that one God who is the Creator of all things, and hath committed to our lords, Valerianus and Gallienus, the government of their empire, making to him our prayers incessantly for their prosperous health and continuance. Then the president said, And what hurt is it, sith that you may both worship your God, what god soever he be, and these our gods also? For you are commanded to worship such gods as all men know to be gods. Dionysius answered, We worship none other but as we have said. Emilianus, the president, said, I see ye are ungrateful men, and consider not the benignity of the emperor; wherefore you shall remain no longer in this city, but shall be sent out to the parts of Libya, unto a town called Cephro; for that place by the commandment of the emperor I have chosen for you. Neither shall it be lawful for you to convent your assemblies, or to resort as ye are wont to your burial-places. And if any of you shall be found out of your places whereunto you are appointed, at your peril be it. And think not contrary but ye shall be watched well enough. Depart, therefore, to the place, as is commanded you. And it followeth more, in the said Dionysius speaking of himself, And as for me, (saith he,) although I was sick, yet he urged me so strictly to depart, that he would not give me one day's respite. And how (said he, writing to Germanus) could I congregate or not congregate any assemblies? And after a few lines it followeth, And yet neither am I altogether absent from the corporal society of the Lord's flock, but I have collected them together which were in the city, being absent, as though I had been present; absent in body, yet present in spirit. And in the same Cephro a great congregation remained with me, as well of those brethren which followed me out of the city, as also of them which were remaining there out of Egypt. And there the Lord opened to me the door of his word: although at the first entrance I was persecuted and stoned among them, yet afterward a great number of them fell from their idols, and were converted unto the Lord. And so by us the word was preached to them which before were infidels; which ministry, after that we had accomplished there, the Lord removed us to another place. For Emilianus translated us from thence to more sharp and stricter places of Libya, and commanded us to meet all together at the city Mareota; thinking there to separate us severally into sundry villages, or thinking rather to take and prevent us by the way. After we were come thither, it was assigned to me (saith Dionysius) to go to Colluthion, which place I never heard of before, which was the more grief to me; yet some solace it was to me, that the brethren told me it was near to a city named Paretonium. For as my being at Cephro got me the acquaintance of many brethren of Egypt, so my hope was, that the vicinity of that place (where I should be) to the city might procure the familiarity and concourse of certain loving brethren, which would resort and assemble with us, and so it came to pass, &c.
Moreover, the said Dionysius in his epistle, to Domitius and Dydimus, making mention of them which were afflicted in this persecution of Valerian, recordeth these words, It were superfluous (saith he) here to recite the names peculiarly of all our brethren slain in this persecution, which both were many, and to me unknown. But this is certain, that there were men, women, young men, maidens, old wives, soldiers, simple innocents, and of all sorts and ages of men. Of whom some with scourges and fire, some with sword, obtained victory, and got the crown. Some continued a great time, and yet have been reserved. In the which number am I reserved hitherto to some other opportune time known unto the Lord, which saith, "In the time accepted I have heard thee, and in the day of salvation I have helped thee," &c. Now as concerning myself, in what state I am, if thou desire to know first how I, and Caius, and Faustus, Petrus and Paulus, being apprehended by the centurion, were taken away by certain of the town of Mareota, I have declared to you before. Now I, and Caius, and Petrus alone are left here included in a waste place of Libya, distant the space of three days' journey from Paretonium, &c. And in process further he addeth, In the city (saith he) were certain which privily visit the brethren; of priests, Maximus, Dioscorus, Demetrius, and Lucius. For they which were more notable in the world, Faustinus and Aquila, do wander abroad in Egypt. Of the deacons, besides them whom sickness hath consumed, Faustus, Eusebius, and Cheremon are yet alive. Eusebius hath God raised and stirred up to minister to the confessors lying in bands, and to bury the bodies of the blessed martyrs, not without great peril. Neither doth the president cease yet to this day, cruelly murdering such as be brought before him, tearing some with torments, imprisoning and keeping some in custody, commanding that no man should come to them, inquiring also who resorted unto them. Yet notwithstanding God with
cheerfulness and daily resort of the brethren doth comfort the afflicted.
Concerning these deacons above recited, here is to be noted, that Eusebius afterward was made bishop of Laodicea in Syria. Maximus the priest aforesaid had the ministration of the church of Alexandria after Dionysius. Faustus long after continued in great age, unto the later persecution, where he, being a very old man, at length was beheaded, and died a martyr.
As touching Dionysius himself, thus the stories report, that he surviving all these troubles and persecutions, by the providence of God, continued after the death of Valerian unto the twelfth year of the reign of Gallienus, which was about the year of our Lord two hundred threescore and eight; and so departed in peace in great age, after that he had governed the church of Alexandria the space of seventeen years, and before that had taught the school of the said city of Alexandria the term of sixteen years, after whom succeeded Maximus, as is above specified. And thus much touching the full story of Dionysius Alexandrinus, and of other also, martyrs and confessors of Alexandria.
In Cesarea Palestine suffered also the same time Priscus, Malchus, and Alexander, the which three dwelling in the country, and good men, seeing the valiant courage of the Christians, so boldly to venture, and constantly to stand, and patiently to suffer in this persecution, as men being grieved with themselves, began to repent and accuse their so great sluggishness and cowardly negligence, to see others so zealous and valiant, and themselves so cold and faint-hearted, in labouring for the crown of Christian martyrdom; and first consulting and agreeing with themselves, they came to Cesarea, and there stepping to the judge, declared themselves what they were, and obtained the end they came for, being given to the wild beasts. After which manner also, and in the same city of Cesarea, a certain woman, whose name Eusebius expresseth not, who had been before of the sect of Marcion, was brought before the president, and likewise obtained the same martyrdom.
Neither was the city of Carthage all this while free from the stroke of this persecution, if credit should be given to the speculative glass of Vincentius, who, citing it out of Hugo, recordeth of three hundred martyrs, of which three hundred martyrs the story saith thus: that the president setting before them coals and incense to do sacrifice by a lime kiln, which was there near at hand, offered unto them this condition, either to set incense to the coals for sacrifice to Jupiter, or else to go into the furnace of lime; whereupon they all together with a general motion suddenly rushed into the kiln, and there with the dusty smoke of the lime were smothered.
In Africa also, in the city of Tuburba, the said Vicentius, out of the Martyrology, inferreth mention of three constant virgins, Maxima, Donatilla, and Secunda; who, in the persecution of this Valerian and Gallienus, first had given for their drink vinegar and gall, then with scourges were tried, after that upon the gibbet were tormented and rubbed with lime, then were scorched upon the fiery gridiron, at last were cast to the wild beasts; who, being not touched of them, finally with the sword were beheaded.
In Simela, a city in Italy, under the Alps, one Pontius, being there apprehended, by the commandment of Claudius the president, was hanged first upon the rack, then was cast to the wild beasts, of whom he being nothing hurt, was after committed to the fire; and, finally, not touched therewith, (if the story of Vincentius be true,) was beheaded by the river's side, and his body thrown into the flood; where, immediately the same hour, the foresaid Claudius, with his assistant Anabius, were taken with wicked spirits, by whom they were so miserably vexed, that they bit off their tongues, and died.
Zenon, bishop of Verona, is said also in the same persecution to sustain martyrdom.
Moreover, in the same city of Alexandria aforesaid, Bergomensis in his eighth book, writing of the story of Valerianus, emperor, maketh mention of Philippus, bishop of the said see of Alexandria, who (as he saith) was under the said Valerian beheaded. But that is not to be found in any approved story, nor standeth it with the truth of time that any such Philip was then bishop of Alexandria, or any other, except only Dionysius. After whom next succeeded Maximus, who remained eighteen years, and after him Theonas, &c. So that, by the ancient records of old writers, it appeareth not that Philippus or any other of that name was bishop of Alexandria during this time signified by Bergomensis.
Although in some other later writers, as Equilinus, Antoninus, and Bergomensis, I find a certain history of one Philippus, president of Alexandria, about the same time of Valerian and Gallienus, elected by the emperor and senate of Rome to govern those quarters, where he was at length converted to the Christian faith, and after made priest, or bishop (as they say) of Alexandria; but that not to be so the testimony of ancient writers doth manifest. The history of this Philippus, witnessed in our later chronicles, is this: Philippus being promoted to the presidentship of Alexandria, came down with his wife Claudia, and his two sons, Avitus and Sergius, and with his daughter, named Eugenia; of the which Eugenia a long history full of strange and prodigious miracles is written of Antoninus and others, whereof many things I will cut off, and briefly touch the effect of the story, leaving to the judgment of the reader the credit of mine authors, as he shall see cause.
This Eugenia, daughter of Philippus, being of singular beauty, and diligently brought up by her parents in the study of science and learning, was by occasion of hearing Christians reduced and brought up to Christianity, with two other eunuchs, her school-fellows, called Prothus and Hiacinthus; with whom she taking counsel, upon occasion (whether to avoid the danger of persecution, or refusing to marry with a pagan) unknown to her parents and friends, did fly away; and because the more boldly she might resort to hear the readings of Helenus, then an aged bishop, and of others, she changed herself into man's apparel, and named herself Eugenius, under the which name she was at length admitted unto a certain monastery, or a society of Christians in the suburbs of Alexandria, (although I hardly believe that any monastery of Christians was then in the suburbs of Alexandria permitted,) where also, at the last, for her excellency of learning and virtue, she was made head of the place.
Here, by the way, I omit the miracles of the foresaid Helenus, bishop (as the story saith) of Hieropolis; how he carried burning coals in his lap, and how he adventured himself to go in the burning fire, to refel wicked Zereas, a pagan, remaining in the same unburned. Here also I omit the careful search of her parents for her, and of the answer of the Pythoness again unto them, that she was taken up to heaven among the goddesses. I omit moreover the miracles done by the said Eugenia, in healing the diseases and sicknesses of such as came to her, &c. The story proceedeth thus: Among others which were by this Eugenius cured and restored, there was a certain matron of Alexandria, named Melancia; who, after she had used the help and acquaintance of Eugenius, supposing her to be a man, fell into an inordinate love of her, seeking by all means how to accomplish the lust of her concupiscence. Insomuch that in her daily visiting of her, at length she began secretly to break her mind, and to entice her to her lewdness. Eugenius contrarily exhorted her to virtue and honesty, showing her the miseries of this life, and the peril of that folly. Melancia seeing that by no means she would be allured, nor by force drawn to her desire, and fearing moreover that she, in detecting of her, would bring her to shame, beginneth first to make an outcry of Eugenius, declaring how that she went about corruptly to deflour her; and so presented her accusation before Philippus the president, as well against Eugenius, as also against the rest of that company. This matter being heard, and the woman well known, the crime began to seem suspicious, and so much the more, because it was objected against the Christians. By reason whereof Eugenius with her fellow Christians was now not only in great hatred, but also in danger of present death and destruction. Then Eugenius purging herself and her honesty, although with sufficient probation, yet, notwithstanding, perceiving that whatsoever she said could take no place, and seeing no time now dissemble any longer, for the danger as well of her own self, as specially of her brethren, which troubled her more; she desired of the judge place and time to make manifest to him the truth, and so showed herself what she was, and how she was his daughter, the other to be Prothus and Hiacinthus, the two eunuchs, her school-fellows, uttering, moreover, to him and to her brethren, the cause of her departing from them. At the narration whereof, Philippus her father, and her two brethren, coming to the knowledge of her, conceived no little joy, in receiving their Eugenia again, whom they thought had been lost. No less gladness was among the people, to see the evidence of the matters so plainly to try out the truth of the one, and the falseness of the other. Whereat the malig nant accuser was with double shame confounded, first for her dishonesty falsely cloaked, secondly for the untruth of her accusation openly detected. Bergomensis addeth, moreover, that the said accuser was stricken presently with lightning. Thus Eugenia, trying her honesty to her parents and friends, was not only received of them again, but also, by the grace of the Lord working with her, in the space of time did win them to Christ. Whereby Philippus, the father of her by nature, now by grace was begotten of his own daughter to a more perfect life; and whom once he thought to have been lost, not only he found again, but also with her found his own soul and his own life, which before he had lost indeed. This Philippus (saith the story) was made afterward bishop of Alexandria, and there suffered martyrdom. Concerning whose martyrdom I deny not but it may be true; but that he was bishop of Alexandria, that cannot be admitted, as is before sufficiently proved out of Eusebius and other ancient historians.
Likewise it is said, that Eugenia, after the martyrdom of her father, returning to Rome with Prothus and Hiacinthus, by occasion of converting Basilla (who should have been married to a pagan husband, and was then beheaded) to the Christian faith, was assailed with sundry kinds of death: first being tied to a great stone and cast into Tiber, where she was carried up from drowning; then put in the hot baths, which were extinguished, and she preserved; afterward by famishment in prison, where they say she was fed at the hand of our Saviour: all which legendary miracles I leave to the reader to judge of them as shall seem good unto him. At last the story saith she was with the sword beheaded.
And because in this present history mention was made of Helenus, whom Antoninus with his fellows noteth to be the bishop of Hieropolis, here is to be understood and observed, by the way, that as Philippus in the foresaid history is falsely said to be bishop of Alexandria, so likewise untrue it is that Helenus was bishop of Hieropolis. For by Eusebius it appeareth, alleging the words of Dionysius, that he was bishop of Tarsus in Cilicia, and had there oversight of that church from the time of our Lord God two hundred fifty and four, to the year of our redemption two hundred seventy and four.
Aurelius Prudentius inferreth mention of Fructuosus. bishop of Tarraconia in Spain, who, with his two deacons. Augurius and Eulogius, suffered also martyrdom, being burned after six days' imprisonment under the foresaid emperors in this persecution. The cause of their punishment was for the profession of Christ's name; their judge and condemner was Emilianus; their imprisonment endured six days; the kind of death ministered unto them was fire; wherein they being all together cast with their arms bound behind them, their bands (as Prudentius writeth) were dissolved. their hands untouched with the fire, and their bodies remaining whole. The charge of this judge unto the bishop was this, that he should worship the gods whom the emperor Gallienus worshipped. To whom Fructuosus the bishop answering, Nay, (saith he,) I worship no dumb god of stocks and blocks, whom Gallienus doth worship; but I worship the Lord and Master of Gallienus, the Father and Creator of all times, and his only Son sent down to us. of whose flock I am here the pastor and shepherd. At this word Emilianus answering again, Nay, (saith he,) say not thou art, but say thou wast. And forth with commanded them to be committed to the fire, where (as is said) their hands and manacles being loosed by the fire, they lifted up their hands to heaven, praising the living God, to the great admiration of them that stood by; praying also that the element, which seemed to fly from them, might work his full force upon them, and speedily despatch them, which was after their request obtained. In mean space, as they were in the fire, there was a certain soldier in the house of Emilianus, who did see the heavens above to open, and these foresaid martyrs to enter into the same, which soldier likewise showed the sight the same time unto the daughter of Emilianus the president, who, beholding the same sight with the soldier, was a present witness of the blessedness of them whom her cruel father had condemned.
As this godly bishop was preparing to his death, (saith Prudentius,) the brethren approaching to him brought him drink, desiring him with much weeping to receive and drink with them; but that he refused to do, requiring them, moreover, to refrain their tears. With like readiness the brethren also were diligent about him to pluck off his shoes and hose, as he was addressing himself to the fire; but neither would he suffer any servants' help in that wherein he was no less willing than able to help himself. And thus this blessed and fruitful bishop Fructuosus, with his two deacons, Augurius and Eulogius, being brought to the fire, witnessed the constant confession of the name of Christ, with the shedding of their blood.
And thus far continued wicked Valerian in his tyranny against the saints of Christ. But as all the tyrants before, and oppressors of the Christians, had their deserved reward at the just hand of God, which rendereth to every man according to his works; so this cruel Valerian, after he had reigned with his son Gallienus the term of six or seven years, and about two years had afflicted the church of Christ, felt the just stroke of his hand, whose indignation before he had provoked, whereof we have to witness Eutropius, Pollio, Sabellicus, Volateranus: for making his expedition against the Persians, whether by the fraud and treason of some about him, or whether by his own rashness, it is doubtful; but this is certain, that he fell into the hands of his enemies, being about the age of fourscore years, where he led his wretched age in a more wretched captivity. Insomuch that Sapores, the king of the Persians, used him, (and well worthy,) not for his riding-fool, but for his riding-block; for whenso ever the king should light upon his horse openly in the sight of the people, Valerian, emperor, was brought forth instead of a block, for the king to tread upon his back in going to his horseback. And so continued this blockish, butcherly emperor with shame and sport enough unto his final end, as witnesseth Letus and Aurelius Victor.
Albeit Eusebius, in a certain sermon to the congregation, declareth a more cruel handling of him, affirming that he was slain, writing in these words: "And thou, Valerian, forsomuch as thou hast exercised the same crudelity in murdering of the subjects of God, therefore hast proved unto us the righteous judgment of God, in that thyself hast been bound in chains, and carried away for a captive slave with thy gorgeous purple and thy imperial attire; and at length, also, being commanded of Sapores, king of the Persians, to be slain, and powdered with salt, hast set up unto all men a perpetual monument of thine own wretchedness," &c.
The like severity of God's terrible judgment is also to be noted in Claudius, his president, and minister of his persecutions. Of which Claudius Henricus de Erfordia thus writeth: that he was possessed and vexed of the devil in such sort, that he, biting off his own tongue in many small pieces, so ended his life.
Neither did Gallienus, the son of Valerian, after the captivity of his father, utterly escape the righteous hand of God; for beside the miserable captivity of his father, whom he could not rescue, such portents, strange and out of the course of nature, such earthquakes did happen, also such tumults, commotions, and rebellions did follow, that Trebellio doth reckon up to the number of thirty together, which, in sundry places, all at one time, took upon them to be tyrants and emperors over the monarchy of Rome, by the means whereof he was not able to succour his father, though he would. Notwithstanding, the said Gallienus, being (as is thought) terrified by the example of his father, did remove. at least did moderate, the persecution stirred up by the edicts of Valerian his father, directing forth his imperial proclamation, the tenor whereof proceedeth after this effect, as is to be seen in Eusebius, lib. vii. cap. 13: "Emperor and Cæsar, Publius Licinius, Gallienus, Pius, Fortunatus, Augustus, unto Dionysius, to Pinna, and to Demetrian, and to all other the like bishops. The bountiful benignity of my gift I have willed and commanded to be proclaimed through the whole world, to the intent that such which are detained in banishment for discipline sake may safely return home again from whence they came; and for the same cause I have here sent to you the example of my rescript for you to peruse and to enjoy, so that no man be so hardy to vex or molest you; and this, which you may now lawfully enjoy, hath been long since by me granted. And therefore, for your more warrant in the same, I have committed the exemplar hereof to the custody of Aurelianus Cirenius, my chief steward, where you may fetch the copy to see at your pleasure."
This mandate above prefixed did Gallienus send to Dionysius Alexandrinus, and other bishops, as is premised. Another rescript also the said emperor sent to other Christian bishops, permitting to them full liberty to receive again their wonted places where they were wont to associate together.
By this it may appear, that some peace was granted then under this Gallienus to the church of Christ; albeit not so, but that some there were which suffered, of whom was one Marinus, mentioned in Eusebius. This Marinus being a warrior, and a nobleman in Cesarea, stood for the dignity of a certain order, which by all order of course was next to fall upon him by right, had not the envious ambition of him that should follow next after him supplanted him both of office and life; for he accused him to be a Christian, and thereforesaid that he was not to be admitted unto their offices, which was against their religion. Whereupon Achaius, then being judge, examined him of his faith; who, finding him to he a Christian indeed, and constantly to stand to his profession, gave him three hours to deliberate and advise with himself. There was the same time in Cesarea a bishop named Theotechnus, otherwise called Theodistus, who, perceiving him to stand in doubtful deliberation and perplexity in himself, took him by the hand and brought him into the house or church of the Christians, laying before him a sword (which he had under his cloak for the same purpose) and a book of the New Testament, and so willed hit to take his free choice which of them both he would prefer. The soldier immediately, without delay, ran to the book of the gospel, taking that before the sword. And thus he, being animated by the bishop, presented himself bodily before the judge, by whose sentence he was beheaded, and died a martyr.
Whose body, being dead, one Asyrius, a noble senator of Rome, and a man very wealthy among the chief of that order, (who in the same time was there present at his martyrdom,) took up and bare upon his own shoulders, wrapping it in a rich and sumptuous weed, and so honourably committed it to the burial.
Of which Asyrius the said author writeth moreover this story: how that in the foresaid city of Cesarea, the Gentiles used thereof an ancient custom to offer up a certain sacrifice by a fountain side, the which sacrifice by the working of the devil was wont suddenly to vanish out of their eyes, to the great admiration of the inhabiters by. Asyrius seeing this, and pitying the miserable error of the simple people, lifting up his eyes to heaven, made his prayer to Almighty God in the name of Christ, that the people might not be seduced of the devil any longer; by the virtue of whose prayer the sacrifice was seen to swim in the water of the fountain; and so the strange wonder of that sight was taken away, and no such matter could be there wrought any more.
And because mention is made here of Cesarea, there followeth in the next chapter of the same author a strange miracle, if it be true, which he there reporteth; how that out of the same city was the woman which in the Gospel came to our Saviour, and was healed of her bloody issue, her house being in the city of Cesarea. Before the door thereof was set up a certain pillar of stone, and upon the pillar an image was made of brass, of a woman meekly kneeling on her knees, and holding up her hands as one that had some suit. Against the which there was another image also of a man proportioned of the same metal, cunningly engraven in a short seemly vesture, and stretching forth his hand to the woman. At the foot of which pillar grew up a certain herb of a strange kind, but of a more strange operation, which growing up to the hem of his vesture, and once touching the same, is said to have such virtue, that it was able to cure all manner of diseases. This picture of the man (they say) represented the image of Christ. The history is written in Eusebius, as is said; the credit whereof I refer to the reader, whether he will think it true or false. If he think it false, yet I have showed him mine author: if he think it true, then must he think withal that this miraculous operation of the herb proceeded neither by the virtue of the picture, nor by the prayer of the other, being both dumb pictures, and engraven no doubt at that time by the hand of infidels; but to be wrought by some secret permission of God's wisdom, either to reduce the infidels at that time to the belief of the story, or to admonish the Christians to consider with themselves what strength and health was to be looked for only of Christ and no other advocate; seeing the dumb picture, engraven in brass, gave his efficacy to a poor herb to cure so many diseases. This picture (saith Eusebius) remained also to his time, which was under Constantinus the Great.
As touching the line and order of the Roman bishops hitherto intermitted, after the martyrdom of Xistus above specified, the government of that church was committed next to one Dionysius, about the year of our Lord two hundred sixty and six; who continued in the same the space of nine years, as Eusebius saith; as Damasus recordeth, but only six years and two months. Of his decretal epistles, because sufficient hath been said before concerning that matter, I omit to speak. After whom succeeded Felix, in the first year of Probus the emperor, about the year of our Lord two hundred and eighty, who governed that church five years, and died, as Platina saith, a martyr. After him followed Eutychianus, and then Gaius, both martyrs, as the histories of some do record.
About the time of these bishops lived Theodorus, bishop of Neocesarea, who is otherwise called Gregorius Magnus.
Thus Gallienus, the foresaid emperor, reigned, as is declared, with his father Valerian seven years, after whose captivity he ruled the monarchy alone about nine years, with some peace and quietness granted to the church.
The days of this Gallienus being expired, followed Claudius, a quiet emperor, as most stories do record. Although Vincentius affirmeth that he was a mover of persecution against the Christians, and maketh mention of two hundred sixty and two martyrs, which in his time did suffer; but because no such record remaineth to be found in Eusebius, who would not have omitted some memorial thereof, if it had been true, therefore I refer the same to the free judgment of the reader, to find such credit as it may. This Claudius reigned but two years, after whom came Quintilianus his brother, next emperor, and a quiet prince, who continued but only seventeen days, and had to his successor Aurelianus; under whom Orosius in his seventh book doth number the ninth persecution against the Christians.
Hitherto, from the captivity of Valerian, the church of Christ was in some quietness till the death of Quintilianus, as hath been declared; after whom Aurelianus, the next successor, possessed the crown; who in the first beginning of his reign (after the common manner of all princes) showed himself a prince moderate and discreet, much worthy of commendation, if his good beginning had continued in a constant course agreeing to the same. Of nature he was severe, and rigorous in correcting, dissolute in manners; insomuch as it was said of him in a vulgar proverb, that he was a good physician, saving that he gave too bitter medicines. This emperor being sick, never sent for physician, but cured himself with abstinence; and as his beginning was not unfruitful to the commonwealth, so neither was he any great disturber of the Christians, whom he did not only tolerate in their religion, but also in their counsels; and they being the same time assembled at Antioch, he seemed not to be against them. Notwithstanding in continuance of time, through sinister motion and instigation of certain about him, (as commonly such are never absent in all places from the ears of princes,) his nature, somewhat inclinable to severity, was altered to a plain tyranny; which tyranny first he showed, beginning with the death of his own sister's son, as witnesseth Eutropius. After that he proceeded either to move, or at least to purpose, persecution against the Christians; albeit that wicked purpose of the emperor the merciful working of God's hand did soon overthrow. For as the edict or proclamation should have been denounced for the persecuting of the Christians, and the emperor now ready to subscribe the edict with his hand, the mighty stroke of the hand of the Lord suddenly from above did stop his purpose, binding (as a man might say) the emperor's hands behind him, declaring (as Eusebius saith) to all men, how there is no power to work any violence against the servants of God, unless his permission do suffer them, and give them leave. Eutropius and Vopiscus affirm, that as the said Aurelianus was purposing to raise persecution against us, he was suddenly terrified with lightning, and so stopped from his wicked tynmny. Not long after, about the fifth or sixth year of his reign, he was slain between Bisance and Hieraclea, in the year of our Lord two hundred seventy and eight. Thus Aurelianus rather intended than moved persecution. Neither is there any more than this found concerning this persecution in ancient histories and records of the church; where fore I marvel the more that Vincentius, collecting out of the martyrologies, hath comprehended such a great catalogue of so many martyrs which in France and in Italy (saith he) suffered death and torments under this emperor Aurelianus; whereunto Orosius also seemeth to agree in numbering this to be the ninth persecution under the said Aurelian.
Next after Aurelianus the succession of the empire fell to Publius Annius Tacitus, who reigned but six months; him succeeded his brother Florianus, who reigned but threescore days; and after him followed Marcus Aurelius, surnamed Probus. Of whom more hereafter (God willing) shall appear.
In the mean time, within the compass of these emperors falleth in a story recorded of Eusebius, and not unworthy here to be noted, whereby to understand the faithful diligence of good ministers, what good it may do in a commonwealth.
Mention is made before of Eusebius, the deacon of Dionysius, whom God stirred up to visit and comfort the saints that were in prison and bonds, and to bury the bodies of the blessed martyrs departed, not without great peril of his own life, who after was made bishop (as is said) of Laodicea. But before he came to Laodicea to be bishop there, it chanced, the said Eusebius remaining as yet at Alexandria, the city to be besieged of the Romans, Pyruchius being their captain. In which siege half of the city did hold with the Romans, the other half withstood them. In that part which went with the Roman captain was Eusebius, being also in great favour with the captain, for his worthy fidelity and service showed: with the other half that resisted the Romans was Anatholius, governor or moderator then of the school of Alexandria, who also was bishop, after the said Eusebius, of Laodicea. This Anatholius, perceiving the citizens to be in miserable distress of famine and destruction, by reason of penury and lack of sustenance, sendeth to Eusebius, being then with the Romans, and certifieth him of the lamentable penury and peril of the city, instructing him, moreover, what to do in the matter. Eusebius, understanding the case, repaireth to the captain, desiring of him so much favour, that so many as would fly out of the city from their enemies might be licensed to escape and freely to pass, which was to him speedily granted. As Eusebius was thus labouring with the captain, on the other side Anatholius for his part laboured with the citizens, moving them to assemble together, and persuading them to give themselves over, in yielding to the force and might of the Romans. But when the citizens could not abide the hearing thereof; Yet (said Anatholius) with this I trust you will be contented, if I shall counsel you in this miserable lack of things to avoid out of your city all such superfluities and unnecessary impediments unto you, as old women, young children, aged men, with such other as be feeble and impotent, and not to suffer them here to perish with famine, whose presence can do no stead to you if they die, and less if they live, for spending the victuals which otherwise might serve them that be more able to defend the city. The senate hearing this sentence, and understanding moreover the grant of the captain promising them their safety, were well consenting thereunto. Then Anatholius, having a special care to them that belonged to the church of Christ, calleth them together with the rest of the multitude, and persuading them what they should do, and what had been obtained for them, caused them to void the city, and not only them, but also a great number of other more; who persuaded by him under that pretence, changing themselves in women's apparel, or feigning some impotency, so escaped out of the city. At whose coming out, Eusebius on the other side was ready to receive them, and refreshed their hungry and pined bodies, whereby not only they, but the whole city of Alexandria, was preserved from destruction.
By this little history of Eusebius and Anatholius, described in the seventh book of Eusebius, chap. 32, and briefly here set forth to thee, (gentle reader,) thou mayst partly understand the practice of the prelates, what it was in those days in the church, which was then only employed in saving of life, and succouring the commonwealths wherein they lived, as by these two godly persons Eusebius and Anatholius may well appear. Unto the which practice, if we compare the practice of our later prelates of the Church of Rome, I suppose no little difference will appear.
The next emperor to Florianus (as is said) was Marcus Aurelius Probus, a prince both wise and virtuous, and no less valiant in martial affairs than fortunate in the success of the same. During his time we read of no persecution greatly stirring in the church, but much quietness, as well in matters of religion as also in the commonwealth. Insomuch that, after his great and many victories, such peace infused, that his saying was, there needed no more soldiers, seeing there were no more enemies to the Commonwealth to fight against. It was his saying also, that his soldiers need not to spend corn and victual, except they laboured to serve the commonwealth. And for the same cause he caused his soldiers to be set a-work about certain mountains in Smyrna and in Messia to be planted with vines, and not so much as in winter suffered them to be at rest; therefore by them at length he was slain, in the year of our Lord two hundred eighty and two.
Carus, with his two sons, Carinus and Numerianus, succeeded next after Probus in the empire; the reign of which emperors continued in all but three years. Of the which three, first Carus, warring against the Persians, was slain with lightning. Of Numerianus his son, being with his father in his wars against the Persians, we find much commendation in Eutropius, Vopiscus, and other writers, which testified him to be a valiant warrior, and an eloquent orator, as appeared by his declamations and writings sent to the senate; thirdly, to be an excellent poet. This Numerianus, sorrowing and lamenting for the death of his father, through immoderate weeping, fell into a great soreness of his eyes; by reason whereof he, keeping close, was slain not long after of his father-in-law, named Aper; who, traitorously aspiring to the empire, dissembled his death with a false excuse to the people asking for him, saying, For the pain of his eyes he kept in from the wind and weather; till at length, by the stench of his body being carried about, his death was uttered.
In the Life of this emperor Carus aforesaid, written by Eutropius, in the later edition, set forth by Frobenius, I find (which in other editions of Eutropius doth not appear) that Numerianus, the son of this Carus, was he that slew Babylas, the holy martyr, whose history before we have comprehended. But that seemeth not to be like, both by the narration of Chrysostom, and also for that Urspergensis, declaring the same history, and in the same words as it is in Eutropius, saith that it was Cyrillus whom Numerianus killed, the story whereof is this: What time Carus the emperor, in his journey going toward the Persians, remained at Antioch, Numerianus his son would enter into the church of the Christians, to view and behold their mysteries. But Cyrillus their bishop would in nowise suffer him to enter into the church, saying that it was not lawful for him to see the mysteries of God, who was polluted with sacrifices of idols. Numerianus, full of indignation at the hearing of these words, not suffering that repulse at the hands of Cyrifius, in his fury did slay the godly martyr. And therefore justly (as it seemed) was he himself slain afterward by the hands of Aper.
Thus Carus with his son Numerianus being slain in the east parts, as is declared, Carinus, the other son, reigned alone in Italy; where he overcame Sabinus striving for the empire, and reigned there with much wickedness, till the returning home of the army again from the Persians, who then set up Dioclesian to be emperor; by whom the foresaid Carinus, for the wickedness of his life, being forsaken of his host, was overcome, and at length slain with the hand of the tribune, whose wife before he had defloured. Thus Carus with his two sons, Numerianus and Carinus, ended their lives, whose reign continued not above three years.
All this mean space we read of no great persecution stirring in the church of Christ, but it was in mean quiet state and tranquillity unto the nineteenth year of the reign of Dioclesian; so that in counting the time from the latter end of Valerian unto this aforesaid year of Dioclesian, the peace of the church; which God gave to his people, seemeth to continue above four and forty years. During the which time of peace and tranquillity the church of the Lord did mightily increase and flourish; so that the more bodies it lost by persecution, the more honour and reverence it won daily among the Gentiles in all quarters, both Greeks and barbarous; insomuch that (as Eusebius in his seventh book describeth) amongst the emperors themselves divers there were which not only bare singular good will and favour to them of our profession, but also did commit unto them offices and regiments over countries and nations; so well were they affected to our doctrine, that they privileged the same with liberty and indemnity. What needeth to speak of them which not only lived under the emperors in liberty, but also were familiar in the court with the princes themselves, entertained with great honour and special favour beyond the other servitors of the court As was Dorotheus, with his wife, children, and whole family, highly accepted and advanced in the palace of the emperor; also Gorgonius in like manner with divers others more, who, for their doctrine and learning which they professed, were with their princes in great estimation. In like reverence also were the bishops of cities and diocesses with the presidents and rulers where they lived; who not only suffered them to live in peace, but also had them in great price and regard, so long as they kept themselves upright, and continued in God's favour. Who is able to number at that time the might and innumerable multitudes and congregations assembling together in every city, and the notable concourses of such as daily flocked to the common oratories to pray? For the which cause they, being not able to be contained in their old houses, had large and great churches, new builded from the foundation, for them to frequent together. In such increasement (saith Eusebius) by process of time did the church of Christ grow and shoot up daily more and more, profiting and spreading through all quarters, which neither envy of men could infringe, nor any devil could enchant, neither the crafty policy of man's wit could supplant, so long as the protection of God's heavenly arm went with his people, keeping them in good order, according to the rule of Christian life.
But as commonly the nature of all men, being of itself unruly and untoward, always seeketh and desireth prosperity, and yet can never well use prosperity; always would have peace, and yet having peace always abuseth the same; so here likewise it happened with these men, which through this so great liberty and prosperity of life began to degenerate and languish unto idleness and delicacy, and one to work spite and contumely against another, striving and contending amongst themselves, for every occasion, with railing words after most despiteful manner; bishops against bishops, and people against people, moving hatred and sedition one against another, besides also cursed hypocrisy and simulation with all extremity increasing more and more. By reason whereof the judgment of God, after his wonted manner, (whilst yet the congregation began to multiply,) began by a little and a little to visit our men with persecution, falling first upon our brethren which were abroad in warfare; but when that touched the other nothing or very little, neither did they seek to appease God's wrath and call for his mercy; but wickedly thinking with ourselves, that God neither regarded nor would visit our transgressions, we heaped our iniquities daily more and more one upon another; and they which seemed to be our pastors, refusing the rule of piety, were inflamed with mutual contentions one against another. And thus, whilst they were given only to the study of contentions, threatenings, emulations, mutual hatred and discord, every man seeking his own ambition, and persecuting one another after the manner of tyranny; then, then, I say, the Lord, according to the voice of Jeremy, took away the beauty of the daughter of Zion, and the glory of Israel fell down from heaven, neither did he remember the footstool of his feet in the day of his wrath. And the Lord overturned all the comely ornaments of Israel, and destroyed all her gorgeous buildings, and, according to the saying of the Psalm, subverted and extinguished the testament of his servant, and profaned his sanctuary in destruction of his churches, and in laying waste the buildings thereof, so that all passengers spoiling the multitude of the people, they were made an obloquy to all the dwellers about. For he exalted the strength of his enemies, and turned away the help of his sword from her, nor aided her in the battle, but ceased from the purging of her and her seat. He struck down to the ground and diminished her days, and over all this poured upon her confusion. All these things were fulfilled upon us, when we saw the temples razed from the top to the ground, and the sacred Scriptures to be burnt in the open market-place, and the pastors of the church to hide themselves, some here, some there; some other, taken prisoners, with great shame were mocked of their enemies; when also, according to the saying of the prophet in another place, contempt was poured out upon the princes, and they caused to go out of the way, and not to keep the straight path.