Chapter XLVI.—Constantines Letter to Eusebius and Other Bishops, respecting the Building of Churches, with Instructions to repair the Old, and erect New Ones on a Larger Scale, with the Aid of the Provincial Governors.
“Forasmuch as the unholy and willful rule of tyranny has persecuted the servants of our Saviour until this present time, I believe and have fully satisfied myself, best beloved brother, that the buildings belonging to all the churches have either become ruinous through actual neglect, or have received inadequate attention from the dread of the violent spirit of the times.
“But now, that liberty is restored, and that serpent 3193 driven from the administration of public affairs by the providence of the Supreme God, and our instrumentality, we trust that all can see the efficacy of the Divine power, and that they who through fear of persecution or through unbelief have fallen into any errors, will now acknowledge the true God, and adopt in future that course of life which is according to truth and rectitude. With respect, therefore, to the churches over which you yourself preside, as well as the bishops, presbyters, and deacons of other churches with whom you are acquainted, do you admonish all to be zealous in their attention to the buildings of the churches, and either to repair or enlarge those which at present exist, or, in cases of necessity, to erect new ones.
“We also empower you, and the others through you, to demand what is needful for the work, both from the provincial governors and from the Prætorian Præfect. For they have received instructions to be most diligent in obedience to your Holinesss orders. God preserve you, beloved brother.” A copy of this charge was transmitted throughout all the provinces to the bishops of the several churches: the provincial governors received directions accordingly, and the imperial statute was speedily carried into effect.
[Licinius, thus designated for the subtlety of his character.—Bag.] More probably for his wickedness, and perhaps with thought of the “dragon” of the Book of Revelation. The word is δρ€κων, not ὄφις. It is the latter which is used in the LXX, where the English version speaks of the serpent as the “subtlest.” For historical and symbolical use of the words, compare Fergusson, Tree and Serpent Worship (Lond., 1874), and Conway, Demonology and Devil Lore (N.Y., 1879, 2 v.).