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III.

And there were also some who, after the tortures, were placed upon the stocks and had both their feet stretched through all the four holes, so that they were compelled to lie on their back on the stocks, as they were unable (to stand) in consequence of the fresh wounds they had over the whole body from the scourging. And others being thrown upon the ground lay prostrated there by the excessively frequent application of the tortures; in which condition they exhibited to the onlookers a still more dreadful spectacle than they did when actually undergoing their torments, bearing, as they did, on their bodies the varied and manifold tokens of the cruel ingenuity of their tortures. While this state of matters went on, some died under their tortures, putting the adversary to shame by their constancy. And others were thrust half-dead into the prison, where in a few days, worn out with their agonies, they met their end. But the rest, getting sure recovery under the application of remedies, through time and their lengthened detention in prison, became more confident. And thus then, when they were commanded to make their choice between these alternatives, namely, either to put their hand to the unholy sacrifice and thus secure exemption from further trouble, and obtain from them their abominable sentence of absolution and liberation,13211321    τῆς ἐπαράτου ἐλευθέρίας. or else to refuse to sacrifice, and thus expect the judgment of death to be executed on them, they never hesitated, but went cheerfully to death.13221322    [It is impossible to accept modern theories of the inconsiderable number of the primitive martyrs, in view of the abounding evidences of a chronic and continuous persecution always evidenced by even these fragments of authentic history. See vol. iv. p. 125.] For they knew the sentence declared for us of old by the Holy Scriptures: “He that sacrificeth to other gods,” it is said, “shall be utterly destroyed.”13231323    Exod. xxii. 20. And again13241324    Exod. xx. 3. “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”13251325    Eusebius, after quoting these passages, adds:—“These are the words of a true philosopher, and one who was no less a lover of God than of wisdom, which, before the final sentence of his judge, and while he lay yet in prison, he addressed to the brethren in his church, at once to represent to them in what condition he was himself, and to exhort them to maintain steadfastly, even after his speedy death, their piety towards Christ.”—Tr.


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