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Chapter LIV.—That those who refuse to sacrifice are to be dismissed from Military Service, and those in Prison not to be fed.

Failing, however, to obtain obedience in this respect also, at length he threw off the mask, and gave orders that those who held military commissions in the several cities of the empire should be deprived of their respective commands, in case of their refusal to offer sacrifices to the demons. Accordingly the forces of the authorities in every province suffered the loss of those who worshiped God; and he too who had decreed this order suffered loss, in that he thus deprived himself of the prayers of pious men. And why should I still further mention how he directed that no one should obey the dictates of common humanity by distributing food to those who were pining in prisons, or should even pity the captives who perished with hunger; in short, that no one should perform a virtuous action, and that those whose natural feelings impelled them to sympathize with their fellow-creatures should be prohibited from doing them a single kindness? Truly this was the most utterly shameless and scandalous of all laws, and one which surpassed the worst depravity of human nature: a law which inflicted on those who showed mercy the same penalties as on those who were the objects of their compassion, and visited the exercise of mere humanity with the severest punishments. 3153



Compare Church History, 10. 9.

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