Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Life of Constantine with Orations of Constantine and Eusebius.: Chapter III
1. And gladly does he accept and welcome this sacrifice, and commend the presenter of so august and noble an offering, by protracting his reign to a lengthened period of years, giving larger proofs of his beneficence in proportion to the emperors holy services to himself. Accordingly he permits him to celebrate each successive festival during great and general prosperity throughout the empire, advancing one of his sons, at the recurrence of each decennial period, to a share of his own imperial power. 3506
2. The eldest, who bears his fathers name, he received as his partner in the empire about the close of the first decade of his reign: the second, next in point of age, at the second; and the third in like manner at the third decennial period, the occasion of this our present festival. And now that the fourth period has commenced, and the time of his reign is still further prolonged, he desires to extend his imperial authority by calling still more of his kindred to partake his power; and, by the appointment of the Cæsars, 3507 fulfills the predictions of the holy prophets, according to what they uttered ages before: “And the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom.” 3508
3. And thus the Almighty Sovereign himself accords an increase both of years and of children to our most pious emperor, and renders his sway over the nations of the world still fresh and flourishing, as though it were even now springing up in its earliest vigor. He it is who appoints him this present festival, in that he has made him victorious over every enemy that disturbed his peace: he it is who displays him as an example of true godliness to the human race.
4. And thus our emperor, like the radiant sun, illuminates the most distant subjects of his empire through the presence of the Cæsars, as with the far piercing rays of his own brightness. To us who occupy the eastern regions he has given a son worthy of himself; 3509 a second and a third respectively to other departments of his empire, to be, as it were, brilliant reflectors of the light which proceeds from himself. Once more, having harnessed, as it were, under the self-same yoke the four most noble Cæsars 3510 as horses in the imperial chariot, he sits on high and directs their course by the reins of holy harmony and concord; and, himself every where present, and observant of every event, thus traverses every region of the world.
5. Lastly, invested as he is with a semblance of heavenly sovereignty, he directs his gaze above, and frames his earthly government according to the pattern of that Divine original, feeling strength in its conformity to the monarchy of God. And this conformity is granted by the universal Sovereign to man alone of the creatures of this earth: for he only is the author of sovereign power, who decrees that all should be subject to the rule of one.
6. And surely monarchy far transcends every other constitution and form of government: for that democratic equality of power, which is its opposite, may rather be described as anarchy and disorder. Hence there is one God, and not two, or three, or more: for to assert a plurality of gods is plainly to deny the being of God at all. There is one Sovereign; and his Word and royal Law is one: a Law not expressed in syllables and words, not written or engraved on tablets, and therefore subject to the ravages of time; but the living and self-subsisting Word, who himself is God, and who administers his Fathers kingdom on behalf of all who are after him and subject to his power.
7. His attendants are the heavenly hosts; the myriads of Gods angelic ministers; the super-terrestrial armies, of unnumbered multitude; and those unseen spirits within heaven itself, whose agency is employed in regulating the order of this world. Ruler and chief of all these is the royal Word, acting as Regent of the Supreme Sovereign. To him the names of Captain, and great High Priest, Prophet of the Father, Angel of mighty counsel, Brightness of the Fathers light, Only begotten Son, with a thousand other titles, are ascribed in the oracles of the sacred writers. And the Father, having constituted him the living Word, and Law and Wisdom, the fullness of all blessing, has presented this best and greatest gift to all who are the subjects of his sovereignty.
8. And he himself, who pervades all things, and is every where present, unfolding his Fathers bounties to all with unsparing hand, has accorded a specimen of his sovp. 585 ereign power even to his rational creatures of this earth, in that he has provided the mind of man, who is formed after his own image, with Divine faculties, whence it is capable of other virtues also, which flow from the same heavenly source. For he only is wise, who is the only God: he only is essentially good: he only is of mighty power, the Parent of justice, the Father of reason and wisdom, the Fountain of light and life, the Dispenser of truth and virtue: in a word, the Author of empire itself, and of all dominion and power.
A general statement, such as Eusebius is fond of making. The elevation of his sons was about these times, but not on them exactly. Compare Prolegomena, Life.584:3507
[Dalmatius and Hanniballianus.—Bag.]584:3508
[Dan. vii. 18. It is surely needless to remark on so singular and vicious an application of Scripture as this, further than that it is either a culpable rhetorical flourish, or else an indication of a lamentable defect of spiritual intelligence in the most learned writer of the fourth century.—Bag.] “But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom.”—Revised Version.584:3509
Compare Prolegomena, under Life.
Next: Chapter IV
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