Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning
Page: 255"And so, after the service of baptism was read, they baptized him with all the ceremonies belonging to this mysterious sacrament. So that Constantine was the first of all the emperors who was regenerated by the new birth of baptism, and that was signed with the sign of the cross."[446:1]
When Constantine had heard the good news from the Christian monk from Egypt, he commenced by conferring many dignities on the Christians, and those only who were addicted to Christianity, he made governors of his provinces, &c.[446:2] He then issued edicts against heretics,—i. e., those who, like Arius, did not believe that Christ was "of one substance with the Father," and others—calling them "enemies of truth and eternal life," "authors and councillors of death," &c.[446:3] He "commanded by law" that none should dare "to meet at conventicles," and that "all places where they were wont to keep their meetings should be demolished," or "confiscated to the Catholic church;"[446:4] and Constantine was emperor. "By this means," says Eusebius, "such as maintained doctrines and opinions contrary to the church, were suppressed."[446:5]
This Constantine, says Eusebius:
"Caused his image to be engraven on his gold coins, in the form of prayer, with his hands joined together, and looking up towards Heaven." "And over divers gates of his palace, he was drawn praying, and lifting up his hands and eyes to heaven."[446:6]
The hopes of wealth and honors, the example of an emperor, his exhortations, his irresistible smiles, diffused conviction among [Pg 447]the venal and obsequious crowds which fill the apartments of a palace, and as the lower ranks of society are governed by example, the conversion of those who possessed any eminence of birth, of power, or of riches, was soon followed by dependent multitudes. Constantine passed a law which gave freedom to all the slaves who should embrace Christianity, and to those who were not slaves, he gave a white garment and twenty pieces of gold, upon their embracing the Christian faith. The common people were thus purchased at such an easy rate that, in one year, twelve thousand men were baptised at Rome, besides a proportionable number of women and children.[447:1]
To suppress the opinions of philosophers, which were contrary to Christianity, the Christian emperors published edicts. The respective decrees of the emperors Constantine and Theodosius,[447:2] generally ran in the words, "that all writings adverse to the claims of the Christian religion, in the possession of whomsoever they should be found, should be committed to the fire," as the pious emperors would not that those things tending to provoke God to wrath, should be allowed to offend the minds of the piously disposed.
The following is a decree of the Emperor Theodosius of this purport:
"We decree, therefore, that all writings, whatever, which Porphyry or anyone else hath written against the Christian religion, in the possession of whomsoever they shall be found should be committed to the fire; for we would not suffer any of those things so much as to come to men's ears, which tend to provoke God to wrath and offend the minds of the pious."[447:3]
A similar decree of the emperor for establishing the doctrine of the Trinity, concludes with an admonition to all who shall object to it, that,
"Besides the condemnation of divine justice, they must expect to suffer the severe penalties, which our authority, guided by heavenly wisdom, may think proper to inflict upon them."[447:4]
This orthodox emperor (Theodosius) considered every heretic (as he called those who did not believe as he and his ecclesiastics professed) a rebel against the supreme powers of heaven and of [Pg 448]earth (he being one of the supreme powers of earth), and each of the powers might exercise their peculiar jurisdiction over the soul and body of the guilty.
The decrees of the Council of Constantinople had ascertained the true standard of the faith,