From Eusebius Pamphilus : His Ten Books of Ecclesiastical History, Faithfully Translated and Abridg’d from the Original, by Samuel Parker, Gent.; London : Printed for George Sawbridge at the Three Flower de-Luces in Little Britain, 1703; pp. 137-164.
THE General and Happy Reception which Christianity by this time had obtain’d in the World, among Greeks, Barbarians, and all the Nations under Heaven, cannot be represented, and is almost incredible. The Emperors themselves had not a little countenanc’d the Holy Profession by frankly indulging their Relations and Dependents in it, by preferring Christians to some of the best Posts of Honour and Power, and by placing such Persons in several other Offices of Trust and Command, as behav’d themselves affectionately and respectfully to the Christians, more especially the Bishops, whose Flocks were now become so considerable 138 and numerous, that every City had many very magnificent and spacious Churches within it, crowded all with Christians. But the more Numbers encreas’d, the more their Manners degenerated, and warp’d from the first Simplicity and Purity, into fraudulent and malicious Practices, to supplant one another, Evil-surmizings, Animosities, Detraction, Ambition, Vehemence, and Outrage, not to mention those Disputes and Emulations which arose among the Church Governors themselves. Now therefore sollicited by these Provocations the Justice of God was pleas’d to visit a disobedient and ungrateful People, and to Arm it self with the Weapons and Artillery of Blasphemers, who laid the Sacred Edifices level with the Ground, made publick Bonefires of all the Bibles they could seize upon, Dispers’d, Apprehended, Abus’d, Tortur’d, and put to Death many of the Holy Fathers of the Church, destroy’d the Persons and Estates of Multitudes of Christians, and (which was yet worse) the Faith, Integrity, and Consciences of not a few.
In the Intervals between the Persecutions of Decius, Valerian, and Domitian, had been taken away, the Lives of, here and there, a Christian, particularly among the Soldiery, and the Honours and Commissions of all that were in the Army, it being declar’d the Emperor’s Pleasure, That, unless they would Renounce Christianity, they should continue no longer in his Service. But in the Nineteenth Year of Dioclesian, 139 in the Month of March, upon the vigil of Easter, came abroad the Imperial Edicts for General Persecution of the Christians, commanding the Churches to be demolish’d, the Bibles burnt, all Christians in Publick Offices disgrac’d, and those of a Private Condition diesenfranchiz’d; and soon after, fresh Edicts were issued out, which order’d that the Bishops should be laid in Chains, and all other Christians oblig’d to do Sacrifice at their utmost Peril.
A great number of our Bishops persever’d with all sprightness to the very last Moment, under the sharpest Anguish of the Tortures; while others came presently to Terms. There was no Method, no Instrument of Death or Barbarity, as Scourges, Pincers, Drag-hooks, and the like, but what was employ’d against the Christians. They were half kill’d, and then thrown to Expire upon the Ground; many of them among the Carcasses of those whom the Heathens pretended to have sacrific’d; for their Policy had a double Edge, either to force the Christians to do Sacrifice, or, if they could not get the better, to set them out, at least, for Sacrificers.
At Nicomedia, the Imperial Edict was no sooner stuck up, but a zealous Christian of that place, and a person of the best Condition and Quality, came and Tore it down in the Face of the City, (where Dioclesian and Galerius then resided) and to the last Moment sustain’d, without the least Discomposure, the first Sallies 140 of their Fury, which were consequently the fiercest. Even, the Emperor’s Court yielded a plenteous Harvest of Martyrs, particularly the Noble Dorotheus, and several others, all Gentlemen of the Bed-Chamber. Peter, one of the number, (for the present Opportunity will not suffice to give the History of them all) being requir’d in the Presence of the Emperors now mention’d, to do Sacrifice, and absolutely refusing, was Stript to the Skin, born up on high, his Body flay’d with Scourges to the very Bone, and Salt and Vinegar pour’d and rubb’d into the Wounds; then he was laid out upon a Grid-Iron, and broil’d over a gentle Fire, and after some time yielded up the Ghost, asserting resolutely his Faith to the last Moment of his Life. Dorotheus, Gorgonius, and several others, endur’d a Fight of Afflictions no less terrible; Anthimus, Bishop of Nicomedia, was Beheaded; at the same time suffer’d a whole Army of Martyrs together, Men, Women, and Children, a Fire having accidentally broke out in the Palace Royal, which ’twas pretended, the Christians had kindled. Both Men and Women, in great Numbers at once, readily leapt into the Flames that were prepar’d for them; others in abundance were bound Hand and Foot, and flung into the Sea, as were also the Bodies of the Martyrs that had been Officers and Domestics of the Court, the Persecutors imagining that Divine Honours would be paid them, if they should let them be buried. Some time after, when there came 141 News of a rebellion (rais’d by the Heathens) in Armenia and Syria, Orders were issued out for the Imprisonment of all the Bishops, and the Gaols were so crowded with Bishops, Presbyters, Deacons, and Inferior Church-Officers, that no room was to be found for the Common Criminals and Malefactors. And (upon the Publication of the Resolutions for Torturing) the Number of those who suffer’d to the Death in Africa, Mauritania, Thebais, Egypt, and all the Provinces and Cities of the Empire, were so great, as almost to exceed those of Arithmetick. In Palestine, and in the City of Tyre, my self was a Spectator of the Tortures which my blessed Brethren endur’d, of their impregnable Constancy and Patience, and of the mighty Supports which they receiv’d from the Divine Mercy, while an extraordinary Presence of the Holy Spirit was manifested in them, and even the living Instruments of Execution, the Lions, the Leopards, the Wild Boars, the Bulls, were so restrain’d and over-rul’d at the Pleasure of their Creator, that although they were goaded with Red-hot Irons, and the Infidels forc’d the Holy Confessors to provoke and urge them; either they would not so much as make Approaches to their Bodies, or Retreat as soon as they came on, Sweating, Trembling, and Bellowing, while several of the Heathens coming in their way, were Gor’d and Tost by the Bulls, and carry’d off for Dead. In the Conclusion, when the Persecutors had often try’d in vain, and many of them 142 to their cost, to set the Wild Beasts upon the Martyrs, they put them to the Sword, and flung their Carcasses into the Sea. Procopius, upon his Examination, having with a ready Zeal asserted the Unity of God, and refus’d to pay Divine Honours to the Emperors, was immediately Beheaded; so were Alpheus and Zacchæus, when in Contempt of Scourging, Pincers, Racks, and every other Cruelty, they had stedfastly confess’d their Faith in one God, and in one Lord Jesus Christ. At the same time Romanus, a Deacon and Exorcist of the Church of Cæsarea, being at Antioch, where he beheld the Christians, in whole Multitudes together, frequenting and performing the Rights of Heathen Sacrifice, rebuk’d and censur’d them aloud, for which he was seiz’d, and sentenc’d to the Flames, but discovering an eager Satisfaction at the Stake, and in the Presence of the Emperor, the Sentence was alter’d to that of losing his Tongue, so he presently thrust it out of his Mouth, for the Executioner to cut it off. Afterwards he was thrown into a Dungeon, and there emaciated, rack’d, and strangled. Timotheus of Gaza, having first disappointed all other Essays of their Fury, was parch’d over a glowing Fire; and afterwards with Agapius and Thecla, who had also given very signal Proofs of their Constancy, sentenc’d to the Wild Beasts. Upon the Publick Celebration of a Popular Solemnity, Timolaus of Pontus, Dionysius of Tripolis, Romulus a Sub-Deacon of the Church of Diospolis, Pausis and Alexander, 143 (Egyptians) and another Alexander from Gaza, of their own free purpose, had their Hands bound behind them, and run up, in a Body, to Urbanus the Prefect, as he was going to the Amphitheatre, declaring themselves Christians, to the great Astonishment of the Prefect, who committed them to Prison, and within a few Days after, their numbers increasing to Eight by the Accession of another Agapius, who had formerly endur’d the Torture, and of another Dionysius, who had supply’d them with the Necessaries of Life, they were all on the same Day Beheaded in Cæsarea. Apphianus, Born in Lycia, descended of a very Honourable Family, and train’d up to Philosophical Studies at Berytus, (where he led a Life of severe and strict Sobriety, and preserv’d his Virtue in spight of all Sollicitations, either from his Fellow-Pupils, or his own Constitution) before he had yet attain’d to the Twentieth Year of his Age clandestinely, and without making the least Provision for keeping Soul and Body together, left his Father and Relations, their dissolute and irregular way of Life giving great Disturbance and Scandal to his Pious Disposition and Religious Resolutions, and, as conducted by the Direction of the Holy Spirit, came directly to Cæsarea. There it so fell out, that I had the Commission of instructing him in the Elements of the Christian Religion, and of Expounding the Holy Scriptures to him; and there, after he had pass’d some time in the Exercise of Ascetical Duties, inflam’d 144 with a Divine Ardour, and absolutely unaffected with the Terror and Consternation which the Proceedings of the Persecutors had occasion’d in that place, he went up calmly and unconcernedly to the Prefect, who was then upon the point of performing a Libation, and interrupting the Ceremony, took him by the Hand, and soberly reason’d the Case with him, dissuading him from the Practice, and shewing him the grossness of the Absurdity. Upon this he was violently seiz’d by the Soldiers, abus’d and beaten, and thrown into a Dungeon, where for Four and twenty Hours he was kept upon the Torture, and afterwards, when he protested over and over against the Proposal of doing Sacrifice, they Slash’d and Scarify’d his Body to the Bone, and batter’d his Face and Neck with Mallets of Lead. Then his Feet were wrapt with Flax soak’d in Oyl, which being set on Fire, scorch’d him so deep, that his very Marrow came dripping out of his Legs. But the Martyr defied the force of all these, or any other Torments they could expose him to; so he was again laid in Chains, and three Days after, having just Life enough left to declare his Faith, he was thrown into the Sea, when presently both Sea and Sky were convulsed with an Earthquake and Tempest, that rock’d all the Buildings in Cæsarea, and the dead Body of the Martyr emerging back on a sudden to the Surface of the Waves, was floated a Shoar to the place where he had suffer’d. Of this all the People of Cæsarea were Eye-witnesses. In 145 the City of Tyre, Ulpian, a Youth, after he had been mangled and batter’d from Head to Foot, was sown up in a Leathern Bag with a Dog and an Adder, and thrown into the Sea. Soon after Ædesius, the Brother of Apphian, having often already sustain’d the Torture, and been condemn’d to the Slavery of the Mines, as he beheld at Alexandria, how the Judge insulted the Christians of the greatest Gravity and merit, and deliver’d over the Chast and Devoted Virgins to the Common Bawds and Panders of the Place, conceiv’d such a Zeal and Indignation at it, as even to Insult and Affront the Judge, upon which he was tortur’d without Mercy, and then thrown into the Sea. At Cæsarea, when the Tyrant Maximin was present at the Theatrical Exercises, Agapius, who before had been Sentenc’d to the Wild Beasts, and brought out thrice with the Common Malefactors to the Place of Execution, but as often remanded, was now presented upon the Spot, and a Ruffian that had Murder’d his Master, led in with him. The Murderer prostrated himself for Mercy, and was immediately acquitted, the Multitude magnifying the Grace and Goodness of his Imperial Majesty with Shouts and Acclamations. Then the Usurper call’d Agapius to him, and commanded him to Renounce his Faith. Agapius told him aloud, That he was no Criminal, but a Servant of the one True God, whom he would never deny, and that he was prepar’d to meet and embrace any of the most exquisite Severities with Resolution and Pleasure. So a She-Bear 146 being let loose upon him, Agapius run to receive her, and after she had done her part in tearing him, he was carried off again to the Dungeon, and the next Day tost into the Sea. Theodosia, a Christian Virgin, about Eighteen Years of age, addressing her self to the Confessors, as they stood before the Tribunal, desiring their Prayers, was condemn’d by the Prefect to the Torture, and when the Flesh of her Sides and Breasts had been wrought off with Pincers, she was Sentenc’d to the Sea, having all the while preserv’d in her Looks a very visible Alacrity and Satisfaction. The rest of the Confessors were doom’d to the Mines, whither Silvanus, then a Presbyter and Confessor, but afterwards a Bishop and a Martyr, soon follow’d them, it being withal made a part of the Sentence that they should be crippled with Searing-Irons. Domninus, an Old and a Noted Confessor, was condemn’d to the Faggot. Auxentius, a Reverend Old Man, was expos’d to the Wild Beasts. Several of the younger Sort were castrated, and sent to the Mines : Others tortur’d and then imprison’d; among these my dear Friend Pamphilus, who chearfully underwent the Laceration of the Pincers, with several other Tortures, and was afterwards committed to Prison, so soon as he had baffled and confounded the Prefect Urbanus, whom the Justice of God did yet more effectually Punish, when Maximin, whose Creature and Confident Urbanus had always been, most unexpectedly disgrac’d, cashier’d, and in the Conclusion, cut 147 him off. Whereupon Firmilian succeeded in his barbarous Employment, and it seems was as well qualify’d as his Predecessor, for he crippled an hundred Families together with Searing-Irons, (Men, Women, and Children, unanimously retaining their Faith) and caused the Right Eye of every one of them to be pull’d out, and the Wound to be cauteriz’d, and then sent them to Labour in the Mines. The same Treatment, but with the Addition of Emaciating and Scourging, was the Lot of three Natives of Palestine, because they refus’d to play the Gladiator upon one another. With these there suffer’d certain Inhabitants of Cæsarea, and others of Gaza, who for Assembling to hear the Holy Scriptures read, were either crippled or else their Ribs uncover’d. A Woman of this Company being threaten’d with a Rape, inveigh’d very sharply against the Tyrant-Persecutor and his Officers, for which she was Scourg’d, Rack’d, and Pincer’d. Valentina, a Vow’d Virgin, as was also the former, could no longer restrain her self at the sight of the others Sufferings, but cry’d out, How long will you Torment my poor Sister? So she was presently seiz’d, and commanded to Sacrifice, and away they dragg’d her to the Altar, against which she spurn’d and stamp’d, til she had tumbled it down, and the Incense that was upon it. At this the Judge was all in a Rage, gave an Order that she should be Pincer’d worse than ever any Body yet had been, which accordingly was done, and then her Sister and 148 she were Burnt together. One Paul was in the same Instant under the Hands of an Executioner, and desir’d only a Reprieve for a few Moments, which when granted, he bestow’d in a publick Intercession for the Peace of the Holy Catholick Church, for the Conversion of the Jews and Samaritans, for the Conversion of the Gentiles, more especially of all then present, for the Prosperity of their Imperial Majesties, and for the Mercy of God towards his Judge and Executioner. So soon as he had ended his Prayer (which drew Tears from the Eyes of the Spectators) he stretch’d out his Neck for the Blow, and his Head was sever’d from his Body. Some time after this, an hundred and thirty Egyptian Confessors were serv’d in the same sort, as those from Thebais above-mentioned.
And now, when we begun to have some little appearance of a Truce and Relaxation, it seems it was nothing but a breathing Time for the Persecutors, the Edicts and Orders of the Usurper being on a sudden repeated and reinforc’d, and no Methods omitted either to Trepan or Compel us. But the Power and Artifice of the Adversary were too weak to vie with those comfortable and corroborating Influences, which the Blessed Jesus shed into the Hearts of his faithful Followers, whose Piety and Courage were so lively, that they had not the Patience to stay till the Inquisitors call’d them to Examination, but seiz’d the first publick Opportunity they could of declaring what they 149 were. Zebinas, Germanus, and Antoninus, a Presbyter, press’d in upon the Prefect, as he was Sacrificing, openly importuning him to Renounce his Idols, and Embrace the Belief of the one True God, for which freedom and the generous Professions they made of their Faith in their Saviour, they lost their Heads upon the Spot. The same Day, Ennathas, a Virgin, (by Order of one Maxys, a Tribune, of a scandalous Life, and unauthoriz’d to Act as Judge) was most abusively treated, Lash’d, led Naked through the Streets of Cæsarea, and by the Sentence of the Prefect, (before whom she stedfastly persisted in the Profession of her Faith) consum’d at a Stake. Nay, so Savage was the Rage and Rancour of the Prefect, that he would not allow the bodies to be put into the Ground, but they must be left expos’d for the Birds and Beasts of Prey, and Centinels plac’d to prevent the Removal of them. And as well within as without the City, Limbs, Guts, Bones, lay scatter’d up and down, to the Great Offence of the Heathen Inhabitants themselves, who many of them declar’d their Abhorrence of such surprizing and unparallel’d Inhumanity; while the very Stones and Walls of the Publick Edifices express’d their Resentment by a most unaccountable and miraculous Phænomenon; for though the Season was remarkably Calm, Serene, and Dry, yet Drops of Moisture, as it had been from weeping Eyes, run trickling down every where upon the Buildings, which the People themselves interpreted a Rebuke 150 from Heaven to the harden’d and unrelenting Authors of our Calamity. Some of my Readers perhaps will imagine this an idle and superstitious Tale, but as many as are willing to be determin’d by Authority of Eye-Witnesses, and other creditable Testimonies, will entertain better thoughts of it.
Shortly after, certain Egyptians, that had Ministred to the Occasions of the Confessors in Cilicia, receiv’d the same Sentence with those Confessors, which was loss of Eyes and Crippling; three of them (Ares, Probus, and Elias) were put to Death, the two last Beheaded, the first Burnt. Petrus Aprelamus, a Youth of an Ascetick Life, was also committed to the Flames, the Judge, and all the Court, having to no purpose earnestly besought him to consider how many happy Years such a vigorous young Man had to live in the World, if he pleas’d. At the same Stake died Asclepius, a Bishop among the Marcionites, most unhappy in a Zeal not according to Knowledge.
We now arrive at the History of Pamphilus’s Martyrdom, whose Person I have always most entirely lov’d, and whose Memory I shall ever Honour. He was the only one of Twelve Confessors, that had the Authority of a Presbyter, a strict Man in his Religion and Virtue, wean’d from the Satisfactions and Grandeur of the World, Fortunate and Indefatigable at his Exercises of Learning, more especially in the Study of the Holy Scriptures, Benevolent and Charitable to the very utmost of his Power; not 151 here to enlarge further upon a Character which I have already made the Subject of a separate Performance. Valens, another of the Twelve, was a Deacon, crown’d with Gray Hairs, and so conversant in the Scriptures, that he could Repeat them all Memoriter. Paul of Jamna was a Third, acted by a Warm but Holy Zeal, and had formerly suffer’d the Torture of the Searing-Irons. These Three had already lain Two Years in Prison, and there probably might have continu’d longer, but that a Second Company of Egyptian Christians were apprehended upon their Return from Cilicia, whither they took a Journey to visit the Confessors. These, being Five in number, upon their Examination and Profession of their Faith, were committed to Prison; and the next Day with Pamphilus, Valens, and Paul, were brought forth again before the Judge. The Five Egyptians, who call’d themselves, each by a Prophetic Name, Elias, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Samuel, and Daniel, were put to as many, and as terrible Tortures as the Wit of the Prefect could find for them. Then the First being ask’d his Name, answer’d him, he was Elias, which sounding new to the Prefect, he demanded his Country. Elias told him he was a Citizen of Jerusalem, meaning that which is above. At this the Prefect was again vext and bewilder’d, and so order’d him to the Rack, and during the Execution, inquir’d what and where this Jerusalem was. The Martyr told him, it lay toward the East and Sun-rising, and that none but the Servants 152 of the True God belong’d to it. Now, then the Prefect was more impatient than ever to learn the Situation of this New Jerusalem, fancying that the Christians had form’d a design of Erecting a Community and Fortifications in Defiance to the Power of his Master, and therefore he try’d him with a fresh Process of Torture. But still Elias abides by the Sacred Allegory, and at last is Sentenc’d to lose his Head; as were likewise the other Four, having endur’d the same Tortures as the Former. Then ’twas demanded of Pamphilus, Valens, and Paul, whether they would comply yet with his Majesty’s Will, which refusing, they were deliver’d over to the Headsman without further Torture, the Prefect knowing them too well to suppose that Experiment would answer his ends upon them. The next who gave him Disturbance was a Youth, named Porphyry, Educated under Pamphilus, and a Member of his Family. Porphyry requested that the Bodies might be Buried, at which the Prefect falling into a Rage, examin’d him, and requir’d him to do Sacrifice. Porphyry declar’d himself a Christian, and that he would never pay Obedience to such a Command. So was scoop’d to the very Bone, ript to the Bowels, and then Sentenc’d to the Stake, to which he pass’d with a wonderful Satisfaction and Assurance, wrapt in his Philosophical Pallium, and communicating his Directions and Counsels to his Friends that attended him. So soon as he was got near enough to the Flames, he suck’d them 153 greedily into his Mouth, and all the while he was Burning, invok’d the Name of his Saviour. Seleucus soon overtook him, he was a very Robust and Comely Person, and had formerly held an honourable Commission in the Army, but resign’d it upon taking a Resolution to employ the whole of his time in serving an assisting the Poor and Helpless. At the beginning of the Persecution he had undergone the Torture of the Scourge. The occasion of his Martyrdom, was his carrying the news of Poryphry’s Sufferings to Pamphilus, (not yet Executed) and his Saluting one of the Martyrs with a Kiss. Next, Theodulus, Devout, and of a very great Age, a Domestick of the Prefects, and highly esteem’d by him for the many faithful Services and good Offices he had done him, by his resolute Behaviour and Answers put his Patron out of all Patience, so in an instant the Sentence of Crucifixion was pass’d upon him. Julian made the Twelfth of the Number, a Man of singular Piety, Probity, and Courage, and under extraordinary Influences of the Blessed Spirit. Before he was come up to the State of Examination, receiving Intelligence that the other Martyrs were in the midst of their Conflict, he sprung on as fast as he could, and at his arrival beholding their dead Bodies upon the Ground, eagerly and joyfully embrac’d them one after another, which he had no sooner done but he was brought before the Prefect, and Sentenc’d to be Burnt. Four Days and Nights the Bodies 154 lay uncover’d upon the Ground for the Birds and Beasts of Prey, but neither the one nor the other came near them, and Providence so order’d it, that they were all decently Interr’d. Some time after, Adrianus and Eubulus coming to Cæsarea, with a purpose of visiting the Confessors, were Apprehended and Examin’d, and (having asserted their Faith, and undergone the Torture of the Pincers) were torn by Wild Beasts, and then Beheaded; as (in Process of Time) was the Prefect Firmilian himself, and some others his Accomplices, the Almighty giving Evidences of his Justice in the fall of his Enemies, as the Power of his Grace had shin’d forth in the Death of his Martyrs.
And here I might set before my Reader, a View of those Corruptions and Schisms, which, while the Persecution was devouring the Church, bred in her own Bowels, as if she could not suffer enough from the Tyranny and Madness of an Usurper, unless her Sorrows and Provocations were aggravated by the Animosities and Ambition of some of her own Governors, who rendering themselves unworthy of so Sublime an Authority and Character, were many of them, (as God permitted) brought under the Yoak of a miserable bondage, and consign’d to the wretched Offices of Grooms and Camel-drivers. But this as being a most unacceptable Subject, I shall leave to return to our Account of the Martyrs, which tends much more to the Honour of our Holy Professions, as well as our own Improvement.155
The Persecution had now lasted near upon Seven Years, when a short Respit of Connivence interven’d, till the Prefect, a Libertine, and a very cruel Man, sent malicious Complaints of us, the Year following, to the Tyrant; and then came down the Procurator of the Mines, who ranging the Confessors into separate Companies, order’d away some to Cyprus, and others to Libanus; the rest were dispers’d in Palestine, and made Slaves. Only Four, Peleus, Nilus, Patermuthius, and a Presbyter, he sent to the General of the Forces that were in Palestine, by whose Order, upon refusing to Abjure their Christianity, they were Burnt. Those Confessors, who were not in a Condition to Work by reason of their Age or Infirmities of Body, had a peculiar Place of Residence assign’d them : The Chief of them was Silvanus, (to be distingish’d from him of Gaza) a most worthy Bishop, upon whom the Persecutors had taken all Opportunities of indulging their Malice from the very beginning of the Persecution. He had a great many Christians of Egypt to bear him Company; and among the rest, one John, whose Eyes had been punch’d out of his Head before, but yet (when himself and his Fellow-sufferers were crippled with burning Irons) the Inquisitors were not satisfy’d till they had sear’d the Cavities. This Excellent Person had a prodigious Memory, and was able to Repeat without Book all Parts of the Holy Scriptures, as I my self can attest, for I have often been present when he 156 has pronounc’d the Lessons at Divine Service, as exactly and easily, as if he had Read them. Beside these two, there were of the same Company Thirty seven more, who by exercising the Publick Duties of Worship and Discipline, in a little time so provok’d the Prefect, that he Beheaded all the Thirty nine at one Execution. In Egypt, Men, Women, and Children innumerable, stedfastly professing their Faith and Trust in their Saviour, endur’d the Scourge, the Rack, the Pincers, and every other Torture, were Burnt, Drown’d, Beheaded, Famish’d, Crucify’d, some in the usual manner, others with their Heads downwards, and left to hang Starving upon the Cross. In Thebais ragged, sharp Conchs were us’d instead of Pincers; the Women were hung high with their Heads downward, and one Leg ty’d behind; others were corded up fast to Trunks or Arms of Trees, and others torn a sunder between the Boughs hawl’d together, and then let loose again. Scarce a Day past, for several Years, but a Body of Christians were tortur’d and destroy’d; and as soon as one Company had receiv’d their Sentence, another crowded up to the Tribunal to declare themselves, and afterwards run exulting and rejoycing to their Execution, and under the very keenest Extremities of Torture, and the last Agonies of Death, sung Psalms and Songs of Praise to their Creator; insomuch that there return’d a frequent Necessity, for a fresh Supply, both of Executioners, and their Weapons 157 (to which I my self was Eye-witness). Among those, who counted as Dung all worldly Pre-eminences and Advantages, (whether of Power, as Publick Officers, or of Esteem and Reputation as Learned Men and Philosophers) that they might gain Christ by asserting the Faith, was Philoromus, the Emperor’s Receiver and Treasurer at Alexandria; and Phileas, Bishop of Thumis, who had formerly held the best Places, and born the prime Honours among his Country-men, and had ever acquitted himself with great Applause. Their Relations, their Friends, and their Judge, begg’d of them to have a prudential Regard, if not to their own Persons, at least to their Wives and Children, but neither could Menaces, Persuasions, nor Contumelies, at all sway them, and so they were both Beheaded; the latter having left us a Monitory Epistle, which he wrote away to his Church immediately before his Martyrdom, and wherein he sets before them the Fortitude and Constancy of their Brethren at Alexandria, and the barbarous Methods of Execution practis’d upon them, that they were bruis’d with Clubs, and scourg’d with Rods, Thongs, and Ropes; corded up by the Waiste, rack’d and torn with Pincers from Head to Foot; some hung up by one Hand, some planted Face to Face with their Feet off the Ground, and their Bodies undertruss’d with chains, in which manner they were lodg’d, perhaps a whole Day before they died, and then were tumbled and dragg’d along 158 the Pavement, while others lay with their Bodies upon the Ground all wounded and raw, and their Legs bent backward, and distended to the very utmost width; others were after Torturing thrown aside, and left to make the best of a miserable, agonizing Carcass, of these died some out-right, others not till they had lain in the Dungeon for several Days after, and others again recovering upon their further refusal to do Sacrifice, were dispatch’d out of the way. In Phrygia the Soldiers set Fire to a whole City at once, all the Inhabitants professing themselves Christians, from the meanest to the mightiest : In this Conflagration fell Adauctus, who had always approv’d himself a truly Pious Christian, and a magnanimous Confessor; he came of a very Illustrious Family, and was one of the Emperor’s Prime Ministers. In Arabia, they Brain’d the Christians. In Cappadocia, their Legs were broke in Pieces. In Mesopotamia, they were hung with their Heads downward and suffocated over Charcoal. At Alexandria, there was nothing to be done without Mutilations and Mangling. At Antioch they were broil’d over gentle Fires; Others thrust their Hands into the Flames, rather then they should touch the Libations; Others, when the Inquisitors came on to apprehend them, threw themselves down from the Tops of Houses. A certain matron, a truly Christian Heroine, Rich and Honourable, and happy in two Maiden Daughters, Young and Beautiful, being seiz’d by the Soldiers, and 159 concluding they would offer Violence to her Children’s Chastity, and not omit any other abominable Methods, by which they might hope to force them and her self to do Sacrifice, took an Opportunity (and the two Virgins with her) to Drown her self in a River. Two other Virgin Sisters, of good Birth and Fortune, of a fervent Piety, a severe Virtue, and a lovely Form, at the Command of the Persecutors jump’d into the Sea. In Pontus, sharp Spikes were run up under the Nails of the Christians, and along their Fingers; scalding Lead was pour’d upon their bodies, and horrid Applications were us’d to Torment their Bowels and Privy-parts, till at last, when the Prefects and Judges, who all along emulated and vy’d against one another in the Contrivance of their Cruelties, had tir’d out their Inventions and their Officers too, they promis’d us that now they would be better-natur’d and more merciful, and we should find that neither the Emperors nor themselves bore us the least Ill Will, or meant us any Harm, of which Multitudes of the Christians were soon convinc’d, when they had their Eyes put out, or else were Crippled, or sent Slaves to the Mines, not to mention a thousand other Tokens of their Tenderness. But still the Vehemence of this fiery Opposition serv’d only, more and more, every Day, to confirm and enhaunce the Credit both of the Christian Religion, and of its invincible Votaries.160
Among the Prelates and Pastors that suffer’d, were Lucian, a very Learned and Religious Presbyter of the Church of Antioch; (that had pleaded the Cause of Christianity before the Emperor himself); Tyrannio, Bishop of Tyre, tortur’d in the first place, and then drown’d; Zenobius, a Presbyter in Sidon, who died under the Torture of the Pincers; Silvanus, Bishop of Emisa, was thrown to the Wild Beasts; Silvanus, Bishop of Gaza, very Old and Decrepit, was Beheaded in the Mines, and with him Thirty nine Christians besides. At Alexandria suffer’d with Peter, the Venerable Bishop of the City, Faustus, Dius, and Ammonius, his Presbyters. Add to these, Hesychius, Pachumius, Theodorus with several other Egyptian Bishops and a Multitude of Ecclesiasticks. But now to turn our Eyes back a little.
The flourishing Estate of the Empire, and the Grandeur and Felicity of the Emperors, before these Counsels of Violence were taken, passes the Power of Description it self. But the face of Affairs most remarkably vary’d for the worse, when the Emperor Dioclesian falling under a most untoward Indisposition of Body, resign’d, and with him his Collegue, Maximian, and their Successors, Constantius and Galerius, agreed upon a Partition of the Empire. Not long after Constantius died, a Prince honour’d both alive and dead for his extraordinary Clemency and fatherly Care of his Subjects, and withal a generous Patron and Protector of the Christians, recommending his 161 Son Constantine for his Successor who was accordingly without delay proclaim’d Emperor and Augustus by the Army, and with his Father’s Authority and Virtues inherited his Esteem and Affection for the Christian Religion and the Holy Catholick Church. Soon after, the two Emperors, Constantine and Galerius declar’d Licinius also Emperor and Augustus, which Maximin ( who had no other Title than that of Cæsar) very much resenting, conferr’d upon himself the Imperial Stile and Character; and Maximian also reassum’d it, but hang’d himself before he had perfected his Treason, and all the Statues and Ensigns that had been erected to his Honour, were broke in Pieces.
Maxentius, the Son of Maximian, was playing the same Game of Usurpation and Tyranny at Rome, and in all the Western Provinces, as Maximin in those of the East, though, as for the Persecution in the West, it continu’d no longer than Two Years. At first his Politicks prompted him to favour and caress the Christians, but afterwards he drew off the Mask, and there was no Wickedness so vile and brutish, but he committed it, abusing the Wives and Daughters of the Citizens, as well Noble as Plebeian, making Frolicks of Massacres, Murdering Senators to come at their Estates, and Rippling up Women with Child to gratify his Magical Curiosity and Superstition. In fine, he ruin’d and impoverish’d the City to that degree, that at last the Necessaries of Life 162 were hardly to be procur’d. Yet Maximin outwent him a long length, for being entirely bigotted to the Pagan Worship, Incantations and Mysteries, he prosecuted the Christians with more Spleen and Rigor than any of his Predecessors, Built and Repair’d the Heathen Temples, and thought nothing too good or too much for the Priests and Augurs; beside, that for Oppression, Rapine, Luxury, and Lust, he scarce ever had his Fellow. However, the Christians found it easy to defeat the worst of his purposes; all the Miseries and Torments he could inflict upon them, had no effect, nor answer’d his Aim and Expectation; for even those of the weaker Sex, that were destin’d to be forc’d, laid violent Hands upon themselves. A Christian Lady at Alexandria, of the best quality and Extraction, was sent into Banishment by him, after he had first taken every thing from her, but her Virtue and her Life, of which the former struck him with such an awful Regard, as prov’d the Preservation of the latter. Another Lady at Rome, Wife to the Prefect of the City, being surpriz’d by Maxentius’s Messengers, and knowing that her Virtue and Honour lay at Stake, begg’d leave to step into her Chamber for a Moment, and so soon as she was got out of sight, struck a Dagger to her Heart. In a word, these Usurpers turn’d the World upside-down, and for Ten Years together (the Publick Calamities beginning and ending with Persecution against the Christians) in all Places, and among all Parties whatsoever, 163 there was nothing to be seen but the Face of War, and the Effects of Fury, beside a Famine and Pestilence which brought up the Rear.
When the Church had now been so many Years bleeding, and as yet there was no other Prospect than of greater Severities to come, it pleas’d the Divine Providence to interpose very miraculously in our behalf, by pouring forth the Dregs of his Fury upon Galerius, whose Body on a sudden became, as it were, one Lump of Diseases and Putrefaction, and all Parts of it generated Worms of so noxious and deadly a Scent, that the Contagion carry’d off many of his Physicians and Attendants. The Misery of this Judgment made the Tyrant recollect himself, so that having confess’d the Heinousness of his Crime, and the Justice of God in his Punishment, he gave Orders for the Persecution immediately to cease, and that the Christians should enjoy the full and free Exercise of their Religion, and their Churches be Rebuilt. And to this Purpose was issued out a Revocation of his former Edicts against them; in the Conclusion of which, ’tis requir’d that they offer up Supplications to their God for the Emperors, and all their Subjects. Soon after expir’d this unhappy Man, that had been the first Mover, and most malicious Manager of this bloody Persecution.164
BOOKS IX, X.