Chapter LII.—That after they had reached Mans Estate he was their Guide in Piety.
As long as the Cæsars were of tender years, they were aided by suitable advisers in the management of public affairs; but on their arrival at the age of manhood their fathers instructions alone sufficed. When present he proposed to them his own example, and admonished them to follow his pious course: in their absence he furnished them by letter with rules of conduct suited to their imperial station, the first and greatest of which was an exhortation to value the knowledge and worship of the Sovereign Lord of all more than wealth, nay, more than empire itself. At length he permitted them to direct the public administration of the empire without control, making it his first request that they would care for the interests of the Church of God, and boldly profess themselves disciples of Christ. Thus trained, and excited to obedience not so much by precept as by their own voluntary desire for virtue, his sons more than fulfilled the admonitions of their father, devoting their earnest attention to the service of God, and observing the ordinances of the Church even in the palace itself, with all the members of their households. 3350 For their fathers forethought had provided that all the attendants of his sons should be Christians. And not only so, but the military officers of highest rank, and those who had the control of public business, were professors of the same faith: for the emperor placed confidence in the fidelity of men devoted to the service of God, as in a strong and sure defense. When our thrice blessed prince had completed these arrangements, and thus secured order and tranquillity throughout the empire, God, the dispenser of all blessings, judged it to be the fitting p. 554 time to translate him to a better inheritance, and summoned him to pay the debt of nature.
The expression is over strong. Constantius, e.g., was not baptized until just before his death.