SELECTIONS FROM EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITERS: ILLUSTRATIVE OF CHURCH HISTORY TO THE TIME OF CONSTANTINE by Henry Melvill Gwatkin, M.A. First Edition, Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1893. Reprinted with additions and corrections, 1897, 1902, 1905. Prepared for katapi by Paul Ingram, 2013.
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XLXX. LACTANTIUS, De Mort.Pers.34.


The Toleration Edict of Galerius


Inter caetera, quae pro rei publicae semper commodis atque utilitate disponimus, nos quidem volueramus antehac, iuxta leges veteres et publicam disciplinam Romanorum, cuncta corrigere, atque id providere, ut etiam Christiani, qui parentum suorum reliquerant sectam, ad bonas mentes redirent: siquidem quadem ratione tanta eosdem Christianos voluntas invasisset et tanta stultitia occupasset, ut non illa veterum instituta sequerentur, quae forsitan primum parentes eorundem constituerant; sed pro arbitrio suo atque ut iisdem erat libitum, ita sibimet leges facerent, quas observarent, et per diversa varios populos congregarent. Denique cum eiusmodi nostra iussio exstitisset, ut ad veterum se instituta conferrent, multi periculo subiugati, multi etiam deturbati sunt; atque cum plurimi in proposito perseverarent, ac videremus, nec diis eosdem cultum ac religionem debitam exhibere, nec Christianorum deum observare, contemplatione mitissimae nostrae clementiae intuentes et consuetudinem sempiternam, qua solemus cunctis hominibus veniam indulgere, promptissimam in his quoque indulgentiam nostram credidimus porrigendam; ut denuo sint Christiani, et conventicula sua componant, ita ut ne quid contra disciplinam agant. Per aliam autem epistolam iudicibus significaturi sumus, quid debeant observare. Unde iuxta hanc indulgentiam nostram debebunt deum suum orare pro salute nostra, et rei publicae, ac sua, ut undiqueversum res publica praestetur incolumis, et securi vivere in sedibus suis possint.

Amongst our other arrangements, which we are always making for the use and profit of the commonwealth, we for our part had heretofore endeavoured to set all things right according to the ancient laws and public order of the Romans, and to compass this also that the Christians too who had left the persuasion of their own fathers should return to a better mind; seeing that through some strange reasoning such wilfulness had seized the Christians and such folly possessed them, that, instead of following those constitutions of the ancients which perhaps their own ancestors had first established, they were making themselves laws for their own observance, merely according to their own judgement and as their pleasure was, and in divers places were assembling sundry sorts of peoples. In short, when a command of ours had been set forth to the effect that they were to betake themselves to the institutions of the ancients, many of them were subdued by danger, many also ruined; yet when great numbers held to their determination, and we saw that they neither gave worship and due reverence to the gods, nor yet regarded the god of the Christians – we therefore in consideration of our most mild clemency, and of the unbroken custom whereby we are used to grant pardon to all men, have thought it right in this case also to offer our speediest indulgence, that Christians may exist again, and may establish their meetings, yet so that they do nothing contrary to good order. By another letter we shall signify to magistrates, how they should proceed. Wherefore, in accordance with this indulgence of ours, they will be bound to pray their god for our good estate, and that of the Commonwealth, and their own, that the Commonwealth may endure on every side unharmed, and they may be able to live securely in their own homes.


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