A History of the Church in Seven Books

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    Saggistica, Religioni

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The emperor Constantine, having thus embraced Christi anity, conducted himself in a manner worthy of his profes sion, building churches, and enriching them with splendid offerings: he also either closed or destroyed the idolatrous temples, and exposed the images which were in them to popu lar contempt. But his colleague, Licinius, retaining his Pagan superstitions, hated the Christians; and although for a while, from dread of Constantine, he avoided exciting persecution openly, yet he managed to plot against them covertly, and at length proceeded to acts of undisguised malevolence. This persecution, however, was local, not extending beyond those districts where Licinius himself was: but these and other public outrages could not long remain concealed from Con stantine, and knowing that he was indignant at his conduct, Licinius had recourse to an apology. Having by this obse quiousness propitiated him, he entered into a specious league of friendship, pledging himself by many oaths, neither to act again tyrannically, nor to persecute Christians. Notwith standing the solemn obligations under which he had bound himself,'his perjury soon became apparent for he ceased not to prejudice in every possible way the interests of Constan tine, and to exercise the greatest severities on Christians. He even prohibited the bishops by law from visiting the un converted Pagans, lest it should be made a pretext for pro selyting them to the Christian faith. Hence, while in word he concealed the bitterness of his hostility, the reality of it was too keenly felt to be screened from the public eye; for those who were exposed to his persecution, suffered most severely both in their persons and property.

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