Chapter XLVIII.—Constantines Edict to the People of the Provinces concerning the Error of Polytheism, commencing with Some General Remarks on Virtue and Vice.
“Victor Constantinus, Maximus Augustus, to the people of the Eastern provinces.
“Whatever is comprehended under the sovereign 3194 laws of nature, seems to convey to all men an adequate idea of the forethought and intelligence of the divine order. Nor can any, whose minds are directed in the true path of knowledge to the attainment of that end, entertain a doubt that the just perceptions of sound reason, as well as those of the natural vision itself, through the sole influence of genuine virtue, lead to the knowledge of God. Accordingly no wise man will ever be surprised when he sees the mass of mankind influenced by opposite sentiments. For the beauty of virtue would be useless 3195 and unperceived, did not vice display in contrast with it the course of perversity and folly. Hence it is that the one is crowned with reward, while the most high God is himself the administrator of judgment to the other.
“And now I will endeavor to lay before you all as explicitly as possible, the nature of my own hopes of future happiness. 3196
Or “fixed,” “appointed.”512:3195
By a conjectural reading Stroth makes this “fools,” instead of “useless,” and renders, “For fools would not otherwise recognize the charm of virtue.”512:3196
[The remark of Valesius in reference to the difficulty of this chapter appears probable; viz. that it is partly to be attributed to Constantines own want of clearness, and partly to his translator, who has rendered obscure Latin into still more obscure Greek.—Bag.]