St. Ambrose – Bk 2 – Chapter 16

Vision-of-EzekielSt. Ambrose assures Gratian of victory, declaring that it has been foretold in the prophecies of Ezekiel. This hope is further stayed upon the emperor’s piety, the former disasters being the punishment of Eastern heresy. The book closes with a prayer to God, that He will now show His mercy, and save the army, the land, and the sovereign of the faithful.

136. I must no further detain your Majesty, in this season of preparation for war, and the achievement of victory over the Barbarians. Go forth, sheltered, indeed, under the shield of faith, and girt with the sword of the Spirit; go forth to the victory, promised of old time, and foretold in oracles given by God.

137. For Ezekiel, in those far-off days, already prophesied the minishing of our people, and the Gothic wars, saying: Prophesy, therefore,Son of Man, and say: O Gog, thus says the Lord— Shall you not, in that day when My people Israel shall be established to dwell in peace,rise up and come forth from your place, from the far north, and many nations with you, all riders upon horses, a great and mighty gathering, and the valour of many hosts? Yea, go up against my people Israel, as clouds to cover the land, in the last days.

138. That Gog is the Goth, whose coming forth we have already seen, and over whom victory in days to come is promised, according to the word of the Lord: And they shall spoil them, who had been their despoilers, and plunder them, who had carried off their goods for a prey, says the Lord. And it shall be in that day, that I will give to Gog— that is, to the Goths— a place that is famous, for Israel an high-heaped tomb of many men, of men who have made their way to the sea, and it shall reach round about, and close the mouth of the valley, and there [the house of Israel shall] overthrow Gog and all his multitude, and it shall be called the valley of the multitude ofGog: and the house of Israel shall overwhelm them, that the land may be cleansed.

139. Nor, furthermore, may we doubt, your sacred Majesty, that we, who have undertaken the contest with alien unbelief, shall enjoy the aid of the Catholic Faith that is strong in you. Plainly indeed the reason of God’s wrath has been already made manifest, so that belief in the Roman Empire was first overthrown, where faith in God gave way.

140. No desire have I to recount the deaths, tortures, and banishments of confessors, the offices of the faithful made into presents fortraitors. Have we not heard, from all along the border—from Thrace, and through Dacia by the river, Mœsia, and all Valeria of thePannonians,— a mingled tumult of blasphemers preaching and barbarians invading? What profit could neighbours so bloodthirsty bring us, or how could the Roman State be safe with such defenders?

141. Enough, yea, more than enough, Almighty God, have we now atoned for the deaths of confessors, the banishment of priests, and the guilt of wickedness so overweening, by our own blood, our own banishment— sufficiently plain is it that they, who have broken faith, cannot be safe. Turn again, O Lord, and set up the banners of Your faith.

142. No military eagles, no flight of birds, here lead the van of our army, but Your Name, Lord Jesus, and Your worship. This is no land of unbelievers, but the land whose custom it is to send forth confessors— Italy; Italy, ofttimes tempted, but never drawn away; Italy, which your Majesty has long defended, and now again rescued from the barbarian. No wavering mind in our emperor, but faith firm fixed.

143. Show forth now a plain sign of Your Majesty, that he who believes You to be the true Lord of Hosts, and Captain of the armies ofheaven; he who believes that You are the true Power and Wisdom of God, no being of time nor of creation, but even as it is written, theeternal Power and Divinity of God, 1 Corinthians 1:24 may, upheld by the aid of your Might Supreme, win the prize of victory for his Faith.

 

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